Australia is one of the best countries in the world for stargazing. With its wide open spaces and low light pollution, there are plenty of places to set up a telescope and explore Australia’s night sky.
Whether you’re a hobbyist astronomer or looking to give stargazing a go, this past time is a great addition to any Australian itinerary. Best of all, if you are wondering how to travel Australia cheaply, stargazing is a campervan activity that requires no electricity and can help you stretch your travel budget. To assist you in planning your stargazing adventures, we have put together this guide with everything you need to know about stargazing, including what equipment you need and the best spots for stargazing around Australia. Let’s dive in!
Stargazing is the act of observing the stars and other celestial bodies in the night sky. It can be done with the naked eye. But, if you want to get a closer look at the stars, you can use binoculars or a telescope.
We’ve been looking up to the night sky in wonder forever, dating back as far as ancient Greece. There is plenty of research showing how light pollution is bad for us and wildlife and the benefits of unplugging under the natural light of the stars. As such, it’s no wonder that many people find stargazing to be a very relaxing and therapeutic activity. Along with it being a great cost-effective campervan activity, it's really a win-win!
Interested in learning the stargazing basics? Luckily, all you really need is a nice clear night sky… and that’s about it! When sitting outside, just remember to turn off all lights and allow enough time to let your eyes adjust to the stars.
Some other essentials for stargazing in Australia:
And what better way to experience it all than in a campervan! Whether you are planning a backpacking trip in a campervan and utilising free camping spots or want to park up in national park campsites, stargazing and campervan adventures really go hand-in-hand.
You can stargaze any time of year when the weather is good. In saying that, planning a trip around a new moon is particularly good as the moon won’t obstruct your view or pollute the air (with light) as much. In terms of when to head out at night, you’ll want to wait for the sun to set completely.
There are many different things that you can look for when stargazing, including planets, constellations, nebulae and shooting stars. Looking at the sky from down under offers a different astral landscape to observe than in the northern hemisphere. There are many galactic and intergalactic objects that you can only see in the southern hemisphere. These items of interest include:
Top tip: If you want to learn more about what’s in the night sky, we recommend downloading a star chart app such as SkySafari or Star Chart. These apps will show you what objects are visible in the night sky on any given day and where they are located.
Western Australia is known for its wide open spaces and stunning coastal-desert landscapes. These are some of our top picks of places to stargaze in WA:
Karijini National Park
Karijini National Park is located in the Pilbara region of WA and is home to some of the darkest skies in the state. A night at one of the local campgrounds would not go astray.
Roebuck Bay in Broome
For anyone visiting Broome, a trip to see the Staircase to the Moon at Roebuck Bay is a must. This natural phenomenon occurs when the tide is low, and moonlight reflects off the exposed sand flats. These variables create the illusion of a staircase leading to the moon. However, this is also a top spot to do some stargazing on the new moon also!
Wave Rock in Hyden
Wave Rock is a 15-metre-high rock formation that resembles a giant wave about to crash. It's located about three hours east of Perth and creates a stunning backdrop for astrophotography.
Lake Clifton is located south of Perth and is famous for its thrombolites (ancient biological rock formations) which are thought to be some of the oldest life forms on Earth. This ancient landscape provides the perfect backdrop to an evening of stargazing.
Pinnacles in Nambung National Park
The Pinnacles desert is home to a landscape of stunning limestone pillars that rise out of the desert near Cervantes. This spot is about 2 hours north of Perth. The remote location of this park provides a perfect opportunity to view the Milky Way. Best of all, there are plenty of freedom camping campgrounds close by to park up for the evening.
Top tip: Western Australia is also jam-packed with stunning free camps that are equally perfect for viewing the night sky! Be sure to check out the best free camping spots in WA to add to your itinerary.
There are plenty of great stargazing spots in South Australia, but one of the best is Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park. Located about 5 hours north of Adelaide, this national park is home to some of the darkest skies in SA. Here you can find Wilpena Pound. This natural amphitheatre is ideal for stargazing, especially during meteor showers. Another great option is Lake Torrens which is perfect for observing Southern Cross and Scorpius.
Some other popular spots for stargazing in South Australia include:
River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve
River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve covers more than 3,200 square kilometres and is best known for its dry climate and cloudless skies. It’s the perfect recipe for exceptional dark skies.
PLincoln National Park
Lincoln National Park is located on the Eyre Peninsula, about three hours west of Adelaide. The park is home to stunning cliffs and a rugged coastline - perfect for cliffside stargazing.
Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park
Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park is located on Yorke Peninsula, about 2 hours west of Adelaide. It's known for its sandy beaches, sheltered bays and clear night skies.
Overall, there is little light pollution in the Northern Territory, so a lot of the state offers ideal stargazing conditions. These are the top places to go stargazing in the Northern Territory:
luru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) is one of Australia's most iconic landmarks. Located in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, it offers some stunning opportunities for stargazing and astrophotography. This is easily one of the best things to do in Australia.
Kakadu National Park
If you want to experience the best stargazing in the north of Australia, head to Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. This remote location is perfect for stargazing as there is very little light pollution.
East Point Reserve in Darwin
East Point Reserve is located on a headland just 10 minutes from Darwin CBD. It's popular with locals and visitors alike thanks to its panoramic views, walking trails and dark night skies. It’s ideal for stargazing!
The Red Centre is a haven for dark skies. Alice Springs, Kings Canyon and Devil’s Marbles are just a few of the must-do’s in this area. Plus, with a variety of freedom camping campgrounds and remote caravan parks throughout this region, there are plenty of places to park up and enjoy the night sky.
Queensland is known for its lush rainforests and enviable coastlines. However, it also is home to some spectacular stargazing spots! Some of the top places to go stargazing in Queensland include:
Kingaroy Observatory offers incredible stargazing all year round thanks to its location near the Tropic of Capricorn. You'll be able to see planets, nebulae, star clusters, and more through their high-powered telescopes.
Winton Wetlands are home to some of the darkest night skies in the state. They offer regular astronomy events where you can learn about the stars and constellations visible overhead.
Kangaroo Point Cliffs
On a clear night, you can see the Milky Way stretching overhead when you visit Kangaroo Point Cliffs.
Somerset Dam has become a hotspot for amateur astronomers thanks to its lack of light pollution. You'll have an incredible view of the stars here.
Whether you want to venture into the outback or stay close to Sydney, there are plenty of places to see the stars in NSW. A few popular spots for stargazing in New South Wales include:
The Blue Mountains offer some of the best stargazing in the state thanks to their high elevation and lack of light pollution. Be sure to head up there on a clear night for some amazing views!
Terrey Hills is located just outside of Sydney, making it a great place to escape the city lights and get lost in the stars.
Mudgee Observatory is a working astronomical observatory that offers public viewing nights. Here you can look through their telescopes and learn about what you're seeing in the night sky.
If you want to experience stargazing in true Australian style, then head out to Outback Astronomy. They offer tours and events in some of the darkest locations in NSW, so you're guaranteed an incredible view of the stars.
Mount Kuring-Gai is perfect for city dwellers who want to escape light pollution but don't want to travel too far from home. It's only an hour north of Sydney, but you'll feel like you're miles away from civilisation when you gaze up at the stars here.
Best known for the stunning daytime views along the Great Ocean Road, Victoria is an underdog when it comes to stargazing in Australia. A few popular spots for stargazing in Victoria include:
This historic Observatory offers public viewing nights where you can learn about Victorian astronomy and look through their antique telescopes. Melbourne Observatory is a great place for history buffs and stargazers alike!
The Grampians are a set of mountain ranges just three hours north of the popular Great Ocean Road. They offer some of the best views in Victoria thanks to their high elevation and lack of light pollution.
Mount Burnett is perfect for beginner astronomers as it's only an hour’s drive from Melbourne. The Mount Burnett Astronomical Centre offers public observing nights. Here you can learn about and observe different astronomical objects through their telescopes.
Cape Schanck Lighthouse Reserve
Cape Schanck Lighthouse Reserve is one of Victoria's best-kept secrets when it comes to stargazing. On a clear night, you can see southern constellations like Orion and Scorpius rising over the Bass Strait from here. Be sure to visit during summer for optimal conditions!
Tasmania is unique in that 40% of the landmass is covered in forested national parks and reserves. This means that this island state has plenty of spaces with very little artificial light! One of the most popular spots for stargazing in Tasmania is in the Cradle Mountain region.
Top tip: Tasmania is also renowned for its magical display of the Southern Lights Aurora Australis. If you are looking for a unique celestial experience, be sure to check out the Hobart stargazing tours!
Whether you’re an experienced astronomer or someone who is just wanting to explore the night sky, there are countless places to enjoy quality stargazing time in Australia. No matter what state you're in, there's sure to be an incredible spot nearby where you can escape city lights and find yourself lost in the stars. This is by far one of the best free things to do in Australia.
Ready to go stargazing for yourself? What better way to experience it all than from the comfort of your own campervan. There’s nothing quite like ending a day of exploring rugged up, staring up at the constellations and marvelling at the vastness of our galaxy. Then, enjoy the short stroll to your van to sleep in comfort for the night.
Experience this for yourself and book your Mighty campervan online. Want to learn more about where to stay throughout Australia, as well as top tips for a cheap campervan trip in Australia and more, before you arrive in Australia? Check out the Mighty blog.