It’s the latest trend in wellness travel and we’re on board. So follow your stars — literally — and book your next vacay to one of these prime stargazing destinations in Australia.
When did you last look up at the sky and count the stars? If the answer is ‘when I also last wore pyjamas with teddies on’, it may be time to plan a stargazing trip.
It’s well-known that being out in nature is good for your health — even more so in the dark.
“Your senses are slightly heightened in a dark environment, so you could find it actually increases the effect,” explains psychologist Ada Blair.
“Stargazing makes you realise you’re part of something bigger, and that can be very comforting and make the small problems you’re dealing with seem insignificant.”
The feelings of awe and wonder that stargazing produce have proven physical benefits, too. A recent trial at the University of California, Berkeley found that awe causes a near instant drop in the level of stress chemicals associated with lower immunity and increased rates of inflammation.
And while you can stare at the stars anywhere in the world, the best locations are where there’s little light pollution. Trips to these spots — known as astro tourism — is a growing travel trend. In light of this, destinations famous for their night views are stepping up and offering unique night-time experiences and accommodation designed for perfect stargazing. Here are some places where you can give it a try.
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Broken Hill, NSW
This famous outback town is also prime stargazing territory. Stay at the Broken Hill Outback Resort, where you can sky-spot from private decks or picture windows (even from the bath in some rooms).
To get even closer to the stars, Outback Astronomy is just a short drive away and offers a variety of night experiences. What it calls ‘lazy sky gazing’ is the perfect end to a holiday evening.
Info: Cabins start from $155 a night and camping is also available (brokenhilloutbackresort.com.au). Outback Astronomy’s Hang Out with the Stars tour starts from $57 (outbackastronomy.com.au).
Take a two-hour night tour across one of Australia’s largest salt flats and you’ll look through a state-of-the-art telescope while your local guide explains how the Gangalidda people interpret the stars and the universe stretching light years above your head.
Info: The two-hour tour costs $65 (yagurlitours.com.au). Overnight accommodation at nearby Savannah Lodge starts from $150 per room per night (savannah-lodge.com).
Kooyoora State Park, Victoria
In a peaceful pocket of the Loddon Valley — located 2.5 hours north of Melbourne — this leafy park boasts uninterrupted sky views. Book a camp site at Camp Koorooya (or the Kooyoora Park Retreat flat if camping isn’t your thing) to take advantage of the spectacular night-time activity — shooting stars are a speciality.
Even better, visit one of the seven local wineries to pick up a bottle of your favourite red in the day then kick back and enjoy the best nature has to offer when the sun goes down.
Info: Basic sites at Camp Kooyoora cost just $20 per adult (campkooyoora.com).
Sal Salis, WA
Open the flap of one of the luxury wilderness tents facing the ocean and backing on to the sand dunes of Cape Range National Park, and you can watch the stars from your bed (yes, an actual bed) at this luxury safari camp. The exclusive campground is in the middle of a designated Dark Sky area and to enhance the experience, light levels within the camp are kept to a minimum.
Info: The resort is open from March to November. From $849 per person per night. All packages include meals, drinks and water activities (salsalis.com.au).
West Kentish, TAS
Lots of open spaces and very few people make Tasmania the perfect destination for stargazers. For a truly luxurious experience, gaze up at the night sky from the warmth of your private outdoor spa bath at Eagles Nest Retreat near Cradle Mountain. Each ‘nest — a.k.a. holiday house — has a range of indoor and outdoor spa options from which you can enjoy the magnificent surrounding views.
Keep an eye out for the Aurora Australis, the Southern Hemisphere version of the Northern Lights.
Info: From $360 a night (eaglesnestretreat.com.au).
River Murray Dark Sky Reserve, SA
Australia’s newest internationally accredited stargazing space is also one of the darkest places on the planet (darksky.org). This is even more surprising when you discover it’s just a 90-minute drive from Adelaide in the Swan Reach Conservation Park. There are no facilities within the park, so unless you want to camp out, you can sign up to a stargazing tour with a local tour operator.
Info: Accommodation at the nearby Swan Reach Hotel starts from $60 a night (swanreachhotel.com.au). The Dark Sky Platinum Star Sunset Dinner Tour ($435, jugglehouse.com.au) includes meals, accommodation and spectacular sightseeing.