Travel between Sydney and Coonabarabran

Please advise the AAO of the details for your next observing run. Use our Observer Travel Notification Form.

Coonabarabran is about 500 kilometres north west of Sydney. Most people travel to Coonabarabran either by air or car, though other modes of travel (train/bus) are possible for the adventurous or those with time to spare. 

By air

There are no longer commercial flights to Coonabarabran Airport. The closest main airport in the area is Dubbo Airport which is currently serviced by Qantas (code sharing with Eastern Airlines) or Regional Express. Bookings can be done online on their respective websites.

Getting to Siding Spring from Dubbo Airport

Hire cars are available at Dubbo Airport and booking in advance is advised and the trip takes about two hours.
Hire car companies operating out of Dubbo airport include AvisBudgetThriftyHertz and Courtesy Cars

You can also book a taxi from Dubbo Airport - the taxi fare is in excess of $AUD415 each way (April 2009 price) if pre-booked with Coonabarabran's Satellite taxis. Hailing a taxi in Dubbo for travel to the telescope will cost in excess of $AUD600.

By car

You can use the Google map below to work out directions to Siding Spring Observatory and the AAT.  Or alternatively, click on this Whereis link to view the route plotted from Sydney to the telescope.

Travellers to or from Coonabarabran by road should be aware that:

  • The quality of the main highways varies and the journey involves secondary roads.
  • Road conditions change change suddenly and catch drivers unaware, especially if they are travelling fast.
  • Drivers should heed road signs, especially speed limits.
  • In some sections the road passes through countryside frequented by kangaroos. Which constitute a serious traffic hazard especially during twilight and at night. Start your journey early enough to avoid them when approaching Coonabarabran.
  • The road journey between Sydney and Coonabarabran is about 7 hours. Drivers should be well rested before they embark on the journey and frequent rest breaks along the way is advised.

Hire cars in Sydney
Visiting observers should make their own car hire bookings. The companies used by AAO staff and visitors are:

Europe Car and Thrifty Car Hire.

Other companies you may prefer are Avis Car Rentals, BudgetHertzRed Spot Car Rentals and Bayswater Car Rentals

By train

The regional division of NSW TrainLink offers a linked train/bus service to and from Coonabarabran. The service operates as a train from Sydney to Lithgow, then bus from Lithgow to Coonabarabran, approximately 8 hours travel time. The train leg through the Blue Mountains is very picturesque. The service departs from Sydney Central Railway Station. Alternatively, leave from Strathfield. A combination train/coach ticket can be purchased as one ticket from the CountryLink office at Central Railway Station, or Strathfield Station, or online at NSW TrainLink

 For international visitors, you may be able to book a NSW TrainLink ticket through your local travel agent.

The bookings phone number within Australia is 13 22 32 or +61 2 4907 7501 for international callers.

If you require further assistance please contact AAT Admin

AAO Coonabarabran