From March through to October, the core of the Milky Way becomes visible once again in our skies after taking a break over the summer months.
Needless to say, that if it is a clear weekend night when there is little to no moon around, you'll find me in a paddock or similar with my cameras pointed to the sky.
A couple of Friday's ago was no exception to this rule. With the new moon due on the Sunday night, the thin sliver of a moon wasn't due to rise until just after 5am on the Saturday morning. By this time the sky would be starting to lighten with the approach of the sun anyway.
I was fortunate to knock off from work at about 1.30pm, so after heading home and sorting out my kit, I hit the road at 3.30pm. A quick stop at the servo for some fuel (and a couple of bottles of Coke) and I was on my way. I was heading out towards Rathdowney, with no exact location in mind. I was hoping to find some cool old structure (windmill, shed) or maybe an old cemetery. So, after I passed through Beaudesert, my eyes were constantly scanning the paddocks I was driving past. Soon it was time to leave the main road and start searching the one lane dirt tracks. All the while I was searching for my astro features, I cold see that the sunset was warming up to be some quite spectacular as well. Maybe I could get a 'two for the price of one' destination. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be.
I happened past a property that I could see from the road had a very 'rustic' looking timber dwelling about 400 metres inside the fence line. A more modern (and nowhere near as rustic) house was about another 500 metres past that. I pulled up at the gate and thought about heading in to the house. A couple of minutes later, and after a few discussions with myself, I put my ute back in to first gear and drove away, with the hope that I might find something else just around the corner. Well, that didn't happen, so it was time to do some back tracking and time to do some sweet talking!
I drove in to the house, and called out, hoping that someone was home. Fortunately there was, and after a quick conversation outlining my weirdness and what I wanted to do, the lady agreed for me being able to spend the night on her property to shoot the stars and the rundown shack. To my absolute surprise, there was also a couple of other interesting buildings and a few gnarly trees close at hand as well. I could tell it was going to be a great night under the stars!
I drove my ute back to the old farmhouse and parked up, conveniently positioned just out of shot. The one thing I wasn't expecting was how long the grass was around the house. It didn't look that high from out on the road. In some areas, it was around chest high. So, the first thing I did when I pulled up was put my long pants on as well as my steel capped boots. Better to be safe then sorry.
I grabbed my camera and tripod out of my case and wandered over to the old house. It was pretty beaten up. No wall linings, broken and missing floor boards, no ceiling, no windows and missing external chamfer boards. It was in a bad way. Just how I like them! I headed inside, and to my surprise, there was this cool old armchair perched in the front room. What is it about abandoned old places and chairs? They just seem to go together like peanut butter and ladies (that was for all of you Talledega Nights fans out there!) But seriously, I don't think that I have ever explored an abandoned building without a lone chair popping up somewhere. Uncanny.
By now, the sun had well and truly set, and the sky was starting to get nice and dark towards the east, and Venus was setting in the west. It was time to get myself sorted for a night of Astro!
There was so much to shoot. Outside the shack. Inside the shack. The old dead trees. The old machinery shed that didn't have much roof left.
Later after the core of the Milky Way had risen, it was time to shoot some big panoramas.
It was such an awesome night, with the only thing that sent me to bed being the extremely heavy due that kicked in around 1am. I lasted until 2am, but then it was getting ridiculous. I rolled the swag out in the back of my ute and grabbed a couple of hours sleep before sunrise.
Sunrise didn't offer too much due to the lack of clouds, but the low fog in the valleys made up for it. It certainly was a great little overnight adventure.