Western Australia is known to have some of the darkest night skies on earth and because of the vast landscapes, it’s fast becoming a global astronomy destination for many, especially since you can get the best views of the Milky Way Galaxy here ?
If you haven’t heard of stargazing, it’s a fun activity where you observe the moon and stars in the night sky! It’s like seeing yourself as part of a bigger picture and that can be very liberating, if you ask us ;) Plus, you get to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation at the same time.
Can’t wait to give it a try? ? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here are some tips to help you get started:
When to do it
Stargazing is best done before the full moon, so check the phase of the moon before you plan your trip! You can download apps like Star Walk
(iPhone) or Google Sky
(Android) on your mobile or tablet which will let you know what stars to look for from your location and it’s pretty accurate too.
What to take with you
Stars can be unpredictable and patience proves to be a virtue :P Here are some things that you should have before you begin your quest:
- A camping mat or sleeping bags for your rest periods.
- Food, drinks and warm clothes to keep you happy and comfortable.
- A camera or a telescope (you don’t need a fancy one!). For DSLR, we recommend Canon T5i or Nikon D5600.
- Most amateur-level DLSRs come with a kit zoom lens, so that’s good enough for astrophotography ?
- A tripod to provide a stable platform during long exposures!
When it comes to setting up the camera, it’s best to set the ISO to the highest level, and change the shutter speed to slow. That way, you’ll be able to capture a decent photo of the stars ?
: Start planning now and book 30 days before your trip where you can enjoy Singapore Airlines' special early bird fares from SGD528
! Promo ends on September 30th 2018.
Now you’ve got everything ready, let’s head out. Here are 8 best stargazing spots in Western Australia for your first astronomy adventure!
1. Lake Clifton @ Perth, WACredit: @nath_whiting on Instagram
Lake Clifton may be known as one of the few places in the world to have ancient thrombolites. Thrombolites are actually ancient living fossils that have been around for about 3500 million years! ? But that’s not the only thing that keeps people coming, this small lake also happens to be a famous stargazing spot!
Located just an hour and a half from Perth by car, you can detect almost thousands of stars on clear nights by the jetty! It gets even better when you visit on moonless nights as you can witness the magnificent Milky Way.
2. Pinnacles @ Nambung National Park, WACredit: dylan_odonnell on Flickr
Though it can get pretty chilly out in the Australian desert, it’s worth it to witness the beautiful night sky. At the Pinnacles, you can discover cosmic wonders like the Milky Way! The desert is huge, and almost anywhere you go will prove excellent for stargazing.
Credit: @alexwise on Instagram
Experienced hikers and camp enthusiasts should head out and hit the park’s trails for a night walk. But if you are not an outdoor person, anywhere around the desert has stunning vistas too. Under the stars, the shapes of the Pinnacles will cast dramatic shadows that would look great in photos!
: If you’re up for camping, there is an accompanying campsite here called the Pinnacles Campground! Do note that camping or sleeping in vehicles are only permitted in the designated campsites.
3. Sal Salis @ Ningaloo Reef, WACredit: Tourism Western Australia
11 hours away from Perth, Sal Salis in Ningaloo Reef is another great place for stargazing. Although it takes you long hours to arrive at this gem, we’re sure that your stargazing experience will be great!
The best thing about this place is that it takes remoteness to a whole new level. Due to its location that’s right in the middle of a wilderness camp and nestled in the sand dunes, exploring it by night is truly magical.
4. Vlamingh Head Lighthouse @ Exmouth, WACredit: Tourism Western Australia
If you’re stargazing along the Ningaloo coast, don’t leave just yet! Drive over to Exmouth which is only about 1 hour away from Ningaloo.
Once you’re there, you may be lucky enough to witness a myriad of stars and constellations at the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse! While you’re there, why not catch the beautiful sunrise and sunset too? ?
: Singapore Airlines is having a flight promo to Perth where you can enjoy a valued discount from SGD528
if you book 30 days before your departure! Promo ends on September 30th 2018.
5. Frenchman Peak, Cape Le Grand National Park @ Esperance, WACredit: Tourism Western Australia
In the southern coast 8 hours away from Perth by car, a visit to Cape Le Grand National Park is a must for every stargazer – whether you’re a beginner or an experienced one. Once you’ve set foot in the park, lay out on deck chairs and look up!
As the sun sets over the park, darkness reveals the expanse of the galaxy and that’s when you get the best view of the stars! To get an even better view, hike up to the top of the Frenchman Peak.
6. North Dandalup Dam @ Whittaker, WACredit: @wylie.chan on Instagram
Who would have thought that a dam would be a great spot for stargazing? An hour away from Perth by car, the North Dandalup Dam seems to be immensely popular among stargazers and astro-photographers, and we’re not surprised why.
The astronomical views from the dam are fabulous as it is located away from urban sprawls where light pollution is at its worst ☹️ It’s quite a good location to start with too as it’s not too far from Perth and you only need basic equipment to get the show started.
7. Karijini Eco Retreat @ Karijini National Park, WACredit: Tourism Western Australia
With minimal light pollution, noise and haze, Karijini is a stargazing haven. There’s nothing quite like an Australian outback experience where you camp out and see the sky ablaze with the light of stars around, far away from the city (16 hours away from Perth!).
: There is a star gazing tour that runs every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights at the Karijini Eco Retreat. The tour costs AUD30 per person. However, do note that children under the age of 6 are not allowed. For more info, click here
8. Lancelin Sand Dunes @ Lancelin, WACredit: @jeremyallain on Instagram
And last but not least, one of our favourite places in Western Australia – Lancelin! An hour and a half north of Perth, here you can sandboard the vast sand dunes in the day and then relax on a dune peak at night as you take in amazing views of the galaxies above.
Exploring the dunes by night can be great but also disorienting. So be careful and come prepared with a flashlight to help you navigate. It can get pretty cold at night too, so get your sweaters ready!
: If you're already excited about Perth, book your flight tickets 30 days prior to your trip with Singapore Airlines and you'll be entitled to their special early bird promo from SGD528
! Promo ends on September 30th 2018.
Western Australia, with its fascinating blend of pristine night skies and bright stars makes it the perfect place for stargazing activities. And as the moon rises and the stars shine, it’s a good reminder for all of us of how big this beautiful world is, and just how small we are ? So are you willing to give this activity a try? ?
This article was brought to you by Tourism Western Australia.