Astrophiles, or astronomy enthusiasts, should be prepared for an extraordinary event. On April 20, 2023, the town of Exmouth in Western Australia will witness a rare event – a total solar eclipse, which only happens once every 400 years. During a total solar eclipse, the moon’s shadow will fall in a 40 km wide track from the Ningalu area. During this brief moment, the area around the UNESCO World Heritage-listed seascape will be the best land-based spot on the planet to view the 62-second light show.
But for those not able to experience this galactic phenomenon firsthand, there are a myriad of stargazing experiences throughout Australia throughout the year. At a time when space and solitude are travel’s greatest luxuries, Australia shines bright, as the clear, dark skies of regional and outback Australia offer some remarkable stargazing opportunities. List these buckets depending on the type of sky-viewing activity you’re looking for. (Also read: 5 Most Beautiful Indian Highways for an Unforgettable Bus Trip )
Australia’s Top Dark Sky Experiences for Stargazers:
Many visitors come to Western Australia’s Monkey Mia to see its friendly dolphins, but what people don’t know ends here You can also learn about the night sky through Aboriginal eyes on an Aboriginal astronomy tour. Tours include listening to ‘dream stories’, cooking damper over a fire, and meditating to the sound of a didgeridoo. Further north in Broome, Western Australia, Ngurrangga Tours’ guides reveal how constellations were made according to Aboriginal methods.
At the carbon-neutral Earth Century in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, astronomy programs coincide with cosmic events throughout the year. There is also an annual Dark Sky Festival for site observers and avid stargazers. But if you want to go to the East Coast, there is no shortage of experiences. In Burkettown in outback Queensland, the glow of the night sky is combined with Aboriginal storytelling by a Gangalidda guide with Yagurli Tours.
Dark sky areas
Australia has dark sky areas like Warrambungal National Park, where the only thing that shines at night is the Milky Way. For astronomy fanatics looking for something unique, Australia’s first international dark sky park is just outside the town of Coonabarabran, with Siding Spring Observatory, popular for day tours, and Milroy Observatory, which offers night-sky tours. Also, on Australia’s east coast, the star-studded skies above Norfolk Island have earned it the designation of Gold Level Dark Sky Town.
If you’re in South Australia, The River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve, just 90 minutes from Adelaide, also makes for an immersive star-gazing experience. Negligible light pollution in regional Western Australia makes it another great place to admire the night sky, where one can use stargazing trails to guide oneself.
Stargazing sleep experience
If you’re looking to stimulate your senses while stargazing, Australia offers some unique stargazing sleep experiences. At a northern latitude of 131°, very little separates the stargazers and galaxies overhead where glamping is topped off with stylish tents. From their bed or balcony, the impressive constellation of Uluru and Orion can be seen. Likewise, the Milky Way in the Blue Mountains is the only backdrop in Australia, where one can sleep looking at a bed of stars.
Three transparent domed tents, each equipped with telescopes and stargazing apps, also overlook the world’s second largest canyon. And in Tasmania, enjoy an alfresco night soak in an outdoor tub carved from a single piece of granite at Luna Lodge. A skylight-filled private eco-dome to enjoy the southern stars in bed, just 30 minutes from Hobart, feels like its own planet.