The Astrotourism Towns project is helping country towns market their stunning night skies to potential tourists and increase visitor numbers in regional Western Australia.
Story Jill Griffiths Photo Kylie Gee
Morawa doesn’t seem like a place that would spring to mind when planning a great night out. But this small Western Australian wheatbelt town, about 350 kilometres north of Perth, is looking to put itself on the map as just that. Morawa is one of the first four towns to sign up with Stargazers Club WA’s Astrotourism Towns project.
The brainchild and founder of Stargazers Club WA, Carol Redford, says Astrotourism Towns aims to help West Australian country towns create exceptional places for people to visit to view and photograph stars. “Great stargazing needs dark skies,” Carol says. “And WA country skies are among the darkest in the world.”
There are world standards around the darkness of skies and an International Dark Sky Association that oversees accreditations. So far, there are 100 internationally accredited dark-sky places, only one of which is in Australia – Warrumbungle National Park in New South Wales. Carol says Western Australia is well poised to capitalise on a different opportunity.
“A small regional population dispersed over a large area means WA towns have low levels of light pollution,” she says. Carol plans to get schoolchildren involved in conducting light audits and learning to use telescopes, and is advising towns how to appropriately protect and enhance their darkness.
“Basically, there are three things that make for great stargazing on a clear night,” she says. “You need low light pollution, low air pollution and low humidity. With its low and sparsely distributed population, along with its dry climate, regional WA ticks these boxes.
This story excerpt is from Issue #121
Outback Magazine: October/November 2018