Earlier this year we told you all about the once-in-a-lifetime adventure of exploring the Coral Coast Highway on a rugged road trip – but what about once the sun goes down?
There’s nothing quite like gazing up at a vast, wide-open night sky, and the otherworldly landscapes of Western Australia’s Coral Coast truly make it a breathtaking experience.
If you’re city slickers like us, you’ll be used to the frustration of trying to spot a constellation and instead getting an eyeful of light pollution. Venture out of the city? You’ll be well-rewarded with an expansive universe of twinkling stars – plus, the Coral Coast region is home to a number of dedicated Astrotourism Towns and stargazing sights, which are committed to creating the perfect astronomical experience through minimising light pollution.
Lake Thetis, Cervantes
Just two kilometres from the centre of Cervantes, Lake Thetis is one of the few places in the world to see ancient thrombolite formations. Over 3,000 years old, they form a spectacular backdrop to your stargazing – along with the rippling reflections of stars in the lake itself.
Although you’re just minutes from town, the site is well-shielded from light pollution. If you’re setting up telescopes or camera tripods, there are generous pathways which allow for plenty of gear and a conveniently located parking area.
Nearby, you’ll find none other than the iconic Pinnacles – the most visited West Australian attraction outside of Perth! Estimated to be 25,000 to 30,000 years old, the formations were originally formed by seashell deposits before the Indian Ocean receded. While they’re a remarkable sight under the bright West Australian sun, at night they are an astrophotography hotspot!
MacPherson Homestead, Carnamah
About two hours’ north-east of Cervantes, astro-lovers should find their way to the MacPherson Homestead in Carnamah. The heritage-listed Homestead was built in 1869, and is a designated observing site and welcomes stargazing visitors and their telescopes.
If you’re bringing your camera, the Yarra Yarra Lakes Lookout is the local hotspot for all things astrophotography. Spectacular, sweeping panoramic views make it a really special site, heightened by reflections of planets and stars in the lake’s surface.
Yandanooka Hall, Mingenew
During the spring, Mingenew explodes in colour with the arrival of technicolour fields of wildflowers – but it also boasts some of the world’s best stargazing! It’s even the site of the Mingenew WA Space Centre: first established by NASA, it’s the world’s most productive Satellite Laser Ranging station in the world!
The Space Centre is generally closed to the public, but they are known to do rare tours – keep an eye on the Mingenew events page, just in case. And while you may not be able to explore the inside of the centre, you’ll still be able to witness the incredibly powerful lasers beaming into the night sky!
Nearby, Yandanooka Hall is the perfect spot to spend a night stargazing. The designated observing site has heaps of room to not only set up tripods and telescopes, but enough room for RVs if you want to stay for up to 72 hours.
Little Lagoon & Eagle Bluff, Shark Bay
With a vast expanse of seagrass fields, stromatolites and wild red cliffs, Shark Bay is one of WA’s most unique landscapes. The peninsula extends into protected waters, and is home to not only a number of endangered species but plenty of incredible spots to enjoy the night sky.
Although Little Lagoon is less than 5km from Denham, you’ll feel like you’re on the edge of the world. A perfect spot to set up for an evening of stargazing, the lights from town will disappear as you approach the lagoon’s calm waters.
For a truly unique experience, Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Cultural Adventures will give you a whole new perspective on the night sky. Under the twinkling stars, you’ll enjoy a seafood and bush tucker dinner, listening to the sounds of the didgeridoo and Dreaming stories, learning all about the history of Gutharraguda and the Nhanda people.
20 minutes south, Eagle Bluff is a favourite for astrophotography enthusiasts. Spot sharks and turtles in the clear waters before the sun goes down, then enjoy the breathtaking view above, and the moonlit rocks around you.
And while it may not be an officially designated site, we of course had to mention the out of this world views from the aptly-named Kalbarri Skywalk – make sure to factor in time in Kalbarri when making your way through the region and hit up D’Guy Charters for a stunning sundowner followed by an evening of stargazing.
Quobba Lighthouse, Carnarvon
Before the sun goes down, the Carnarvon Space And Technology Museum is an absolute must-visit for any astral enthusiasts, and details Carnarvon’s integral role in Australia’s space history and even how they helped with the Apollo moon landing missions!
Similarly, Quobba’s famously powerful swell, explosive blowholes and iconic “King Waves Kill” sign makes it a spectacular spot to visit during daylight – however the Quobba Lighthouse also provides ample opportunities for astrophotographers to create some amazing images.
Of course, 2023 is one for the history books, with a one-in-a-lifetime astral event taking place. For three hours on April 20, Exmouth will be the best place on the planet to witness a phenomenal Total Solar Eclipse. Beginning at 11:27AM, a 40km wide shadow of the moon will graze the tip of WA, and for 62 seconds day will dramatically turn to night.
The day before, Coral Bay’s Cardabia Station will come alive for the Jamba Nyinayi Festival: a celebration of local Indigenous music, dance and cuisine, as well as an awe-inspiring site-specific choreographed drone show First Lights: Nyinggulu, presented in association with the Fremantle Biennale.
It almost goes without saying, but with all this stargazing you’ll be hitting the road and driving after dark. Make sure to use extra caution when driving at night, particularly in remote areas, and be extra-extra mindful of wildlife on and around the roads.
To find out more about where and how to enjoy the spectacular majesty of our vast night sky, head to the Australia’s Coral Coast website!
This article is sponsored by Australia’s Coral Coast and endorsed by us. Please see our Editorial Policy for more info.