Planes, Trains, and Four-Wheel Drive

Opera House

Greetings from the Outback!
We have finally arrived at Boolardy Station in Western Australia!! Judd, Hamdi, Cassie, and I have spent the last 3 days traveling from Arizona to the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO). After a long and difficult week of school and preparing for the trip, we were all completely exhausted. Judd spent the week packing, grading papers, and coordinating the last stages of the shipping of the DARE equipment container. Hamdi and I spent the week finishing the power supply, soldering connectors onto the RJ45 cable that will serve as the long power cord, and packaging the frequency generator. We all put in long hours this week to make sure everything was working perfectly before we left! Hamdi and I, the amazingly dedicated nerds we are, stayed a few nights until 12am in the lab soldering and testing the power supply. 🙂

We started our trip March 15 by flying to L.A. for our connecting flight to Sydney. The 14 hour plane ride to Sydney served as our night of sleep (or for Hamdi, who claims to not be able to sleep on planes, “special sleep”). Our flight arrived just after 6am on the 17th in Sydney, and after we made it through customs and baggage claim, we took a train to see downtown Sydney since we had a layover of several hours. Seeing the renowned Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the Botanical Gardens was a spectacular experience.

After stretching our legs out we headed back to the airport for our last flight to Perth, which was a measly 4 1/2 hours. After shimmying all of our luggage and equipment into a cab, we made it to our hotel for the night. Bright and early this morning, which was the 18th, we set out on the long drive to Boolardy Station. On the way, we stopped at Bunnings, which is exactly like Home Depot or Lowes, to pick up a few last supplies, and then later at a very cute bakery to grab some lunch. After 8 hours of music, laughter, and kangaroo sightings we finally made it!! Worn out and stiff, we settled into our rooms and then met up with everyone else staying out at the site for dinner in the common area.


The housing here is quite the experience! We have cute frogs that find our toilets a nice place to hang out. Apparently, Hamdi has a very special relationship with the frogs, because most of them are in his room. Besides the frogs, it is raining here which can cause issues with the dirt roads. We are hoping to be able to make it out to the site tomorrow to check out another of Judd’s projects, EDGES, which is another radio telescope to measure the temperature of radio signals from the early Universe. The DARE antenna and receiver will arrive at the site in another day or two. Until then, Hamdi and I will be putting the final touches on the power supply, working on EDGES, and rearranging the computer rack for the DARE receiver.

Toilet Frogs

Also, I am keeping a log of all the best quotes from the trip. Hamdi, even though he disagrees with us, puts us all to shame in this category because his quirkiness is constantly providing us with laughter. Today’s quotes were:
“There is lots of room for innovation!” -Hamdi

“My body is like hardware and music is like software; it changes the infinite configurations of the hardware.”

“I wish I could move my feet. It would give me more degrees of freedom.” -Hamdi

There will be updates and more pictures posted every day throughout the week, so keep a look out!