On April 20 at 11:27 a.m. local time, the town of Exmouth in Western Australia will witness a rare natural phenomenon – a Total Solar Eclipse. The Ningaloo region surrounding the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef will be the best land-based place on Earth to witness the 62-second light show as the shadow of the moon passes over the area in a 40-kilometer wide track.
However, for those who will miss this extraordinary event, Australia has a lot to offer to celestial enthusiasts. From Aboriginal astronomy tours to dark sky zones and stargazing sleeps, Australia is a celestial-centered getaway that is not to be missed.
One of the most unique experiences is the Aboriginal astronomy tour in Monkey Mia, Western Australia. While most people visit the area to see friendly dolphins, visitors can learn about the night sky through Indigenous eyes. Dreamtime stories are shared, and visitors can cook damper over a fire and meditate to the sound of a didgeridoo. Ngurrangga Tours in Broome also offer a similar experience where guides reveal how constellations were formed according to Aboriginal lore.
Further north, in Burketown, outback Queensland, Yagurli Tours offers an astronomy program that is combined with Aboriginal storytelling by a Gangalidda guide. In the Northern Territory, at the carbon-neutral Earth Sanctuary in Alice Springs, astronomy programs are available throughout the year, coinciding with cosmic events. The sanctuary has an on-site observatory and hosts an annual Dark Skies Festival.
Australia is home to numerous dark sky zones, which are designated areas with minimal light pollution. Warrumbungle National Park, a 5.5-hour drive northwest of Sydney, is one such zone, where the only thing glowing at night is the Milky Way. Australia’s first International Dark Sky Park is just outside Coonabarabran, a town that is also home to Siding Spring Observatory, which offers daytime tours, and Milroy Observatory, which provides night-sky tours. Norfolk Island, off the east coast of Australia, has earned the designation of Gold Level Dark Sky Town due to the star-splashed skies above it.
The River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve is also just an hour and a half from Adelaide, South Australia’s capital. Regional Western Australia is another excellent place to admire the night sky, with stargazing trails to guide visitors.
For those seeking a unique stargazing experience, Bubbletent Australia in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, offers three transparent domed tents, each fitted with telescopes and stargazing apps that overlook the world’s second-largest canyon. Longitude 131°, located in the Northern Territory, offers elevated glamping with stylish tents that provide an excellent view of the impressive mass of Uluṟu and the constellation of Orion from the bed. Visitors can also curl up in a cozy swag on their balcony for an even more immersive stargazing experience.
Tasmania’s Luna Lodge provides another unique experience with an alfresco night soak in an outdoor tub carved from a single piece of granite. The eco-dome is equipped with a skylight for guests to enjoy southern stars in bed, creating an otherworldly experience that feels like its own planet.
Australia is a destination that offers a variety of unique celestial experiences, from Aboriginal astronomy tours, to dark sky zones and stargazing sleeps. Visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Aboriginal culture, gaze upon the Milky Way, and indulge in unique accommodations that offer the perfect backdrop for stargazing. Whether it’s to witness a Total Solar Eclipse or simply to admire the beauty of the night sky, Australia is the perfect destination for those looking for a celestial-centered getaway.