Outback Astronomy

People looking at stars in the outback

'Outback Astronomy' offers personalised tours of the night sky, providing intriguing facts and showcasing dazzling sky objects. Unlike the city where light pollution makes star gazing difficult, Broken Hill is the ideal location for naked-eye and binocular-assisted astronomy tours.

Linda Nadge has lived and worked in Broken Hill for 18 years holding senior manager positions in both mining and regional development before setting out on her small business endeavour.

She wanted to create a small business that allowed her to continue living in Broken Hill and that was different so she could attract tourists to this incredible part of NSW.

"I always enjoyed astronomy as a hobby and then I started to think about the possibility of that becoming my business," Linda reflected.

"To start out, I did a lot of research and went on field trips to help me refine my ideas," she said "I had a mountain of work ahead of me so I joined the Broken Hill Chamber of Commerce, which is where I first found out about the Business Connect program."

"My first year was a little daunting," she said. "My Business Connect advisor helped me to develop my business plan and also guided me through my options."

"The tours I am running now are just the first step of my business, in the future I hope to introduce an observatory and add an educational component to the business," she said. "My advisor helped me to get underway and to start building my business without needing the large infrastructure in the very beginning."

In just 12 months of operation, 'Outback Astronomy' has become one of regional NSW most captivating tourism experiences. It featured as one of the world's "hottest new experiences for 2015" by Lonely Planet. Linda continues to create new and interesting tours that also feature the town's aboriginal and mining history.

"Running a tourism experience in Broken Hill is very rewarding but there are still challenges to overcome," she added "Location can be a challenge but people are willing to travel for a unique activity like this once they know it is available."

"The majority of my promotion is online and I have plans to expand how we use our website to make it more interactive in the future," she mused "As internet speeds improve that will open up more marketing opportunities for us."

Ann Rogers, President of the Broken Hill Chamber of Commerce said the Business Connect program has added a profound depth to the services Broken Hill was able to offer to its small business community.

"This program allows a higher degree of professionalism to the education and support available to small business in Broken Hill and in our isolated communities," she added "As a result, Far Western small businesses are better connected, better networked and have the opportunity for substantial growth not realised prior to the program."