Winter may be around the corner but that doesn’t mean you have to be cooped up at home and hide from the cold. On the contrary, it is the perfect time to explore and see Australia in a new light. Starlight, to be specific. As the temperature drops and the rainclouds clear up, winter is one of the best seasons to look towards the sky and get lost in the milky way. Although stars can be seen from many places, you have not truly experienced them until you leave behind the light pollution of large cities.
According to professional photographer, Sean Scott, the best place to go stargazing is anywhere away from artificial light. A few of his favourite places are out on the Gibbing River Road, the sand dunes on the Simpson Desert, and the mudflats out from Derby in the Kimberley. In order to fully experience star lights, you need to plan it with the moon as you do not want a lot of moonlight filtering through the night sky.
The best time to go stargazing is winter. With less humidity and clouds during the colder months, the skies are clearer, giving you a sharper view of the stars and most importantly, the Milky Way. During the colder months, the centre of the Milky Way is passing overhead, making winter a perfect time to experience this spectacular view.
Pretty keen to go astro touring now? Travel into the outback in search of the best viewing spot with this list to point you in the right direction.
Warrumbungle National Park
Where: Country NSW region, near Coonabarabran
Price: $8 per vehicle per day
Night Temperature: Average of 0°C but freezing temperatures are possible (-9°C lowest recorded temperature)
Known as the ‘Astronomy Capital of Australia’, the Warrumbungle National Park is the only Dark Sky Park in Australia and the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. The clear dark skies are protected from light pollution to make sure nothing ruins your view. If the milky way is not impressive enough by itself, the volcanic landscape creates a breath-taking backdrop for your gazing experience. The wonders also don’t disappear with the sunrise. Visitors can observe up to 190 species of birds or go on an Aboriginal discovery tour to learn about the sacred meaning of the landscape.
Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary
Where: South Australia, 130 km from Copley
Price: $29 powered site, $22 unpowered site (potential extra rates apply, email for current rates)
Night Temperature: Average of 3 – 4°C
The sanctuary boasts some of the best stargazing conditions in the Southern Hemisphere thanks to minimised light pollution and a high number of clear days per year. The 130 km drive from the nearest town is a trip worth making to experience one of several fully equipped astronomical observatories and lounge in one of the ‘sky chairs’ under the stars. Also take the opportunity to gaze below as Arkaroola is a geological wonderland with all types of minerals and metals hidden beneath. The best part? Out of the three parks, this is the only one that allows you to bring your pet along.
Where: Central Australia
Price: Non-powered camping $43 – 50 per night, powered camping $54 per night at Ayers Rock Resort
Night Temperature: Average of 1 – 4°C
The impressive desert landscape is an ideal setting to see the sky without anything getting in the way. Out of the three locations, this is the only area that allows you to stargaze while riding on the back of a camel or on a helicopter tour. If the sky isn’t bright enough for you, visit the Field of Light, a glittering art installation by Bruce Munro available until the 31st December 2020.