THE Inland Astro-Trail is an astro-tourism, cultural heritage, STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) and community development initiative to link and promote sites of astronomical significance in south-eastern Australia's rural inland, and to bring together new opportunities for inland communities.
Parkes welcomed astronomers, scholars, arts and heritage practitioners, tourism operators and space-science enthusiasts for Big Skies Collaboration’s first Inland Astro-Trail Symposium last week.
The symposium was co-hosted by Inland Astro-Trail Inc., Destination Network Country and Outback, Parkes Shire Council, Central NSW Councils (CENTROC), the University of Canberra through the Big Skies Collaboration and Arts OutWest.
IAT Symposium participants discussed the future of the Inland Astro-Trail from many different perspectives and then began the process of developing a strategic implementation plan for this visionary endeavour.
A distinguished array of guest speakers and panels spoke of cross disciplinary approaches to art and science, the value of education programs and event engagement with astro technology, astronomy, sky stories and star gazing.
We were encouraged to see science as a human endeavour available to all and that astro heritage is connected to all cultures.
“We have an array of world-famous astronomical research observatories and sites of astronomical significance which, together, offer us unique opportunities to catalyse new economic, social and cultural opportunities,” said Dr Merrill Findlay, the Central West writer who first proposed the Inland Astro-Trail concept.
“The Inland Astro-Trail would link and promote these sites to funnel visitors to inland communities along existing road and rail networks between Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra.
“It could also support astro-tourism operators, arts and heritage practitioners, STEAM Outreachers, and First Nations groups through a program of special themed events along the full length of the astro-trail.”
The Symposium was followed by the Inland Astro-Trail’s first AGM, and dinner at The Dish Cafe with guest speaker Dr Jane Kaczmarek, resident astrophysicist and STEAM outreacher at the Parkes Radio Telescope.
“We hope to officially launch the Inland Astro-Trail in 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon mission,” Dr Merrill said.
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