How you can enjoy stargazing in South Australia’s new reserve

How you can enjoy stargazing in South Australia’s new reserve

Enjoy stargaz­ing? Head to the Riv­er Mur­ray Dark Sky Reserve for the best and bright­est view of the stars above SA.

Not all night skies look the same.

Light pol­lu­tion is increas­ing­ly dulling the night sky for peo­ple on Earth, many of whom will nev­er see the Milky Way.

But if you head to the Riv­er Mur­ray Inter­na­tion­al Dark Sky Reserve, you’ll see some of the dark­est skies — and bright­est stars — in the world and have first class seats to the one of the best views of the Milky Way in Australia. 

How you can enjoy stargazing in South Australia’s new reserve

Accred­it­ed by the Inter­na­tion­al Dark-Sky Asso­ci­a­tion, the Riv­er Mur­ray Dark Sky Reserve is the first of its kind in Aus­tralia and only the 16th in the world.

An Inter­na­tion­al Dark Sky Reserve con­sists of a dark core’ zone sur­round­ed by a pop­u­lat­ed buffer zone where pol­i­cy con­trols are used to pro­tect the dark­ness of the core from light pollution.

You don’t have to go very far from Ade­laide to find one of the best spots in SA for stargaz­ing. About 100 km from Ade­laide, the core of this reserve is in Swan Reach Con­ser­va­tion Park, an area of 2000 hectares of untouched Mallee bushland. 

While it’s a great view­ing loca­tion, the park is only acces­si­ble by four-wheel dri­ve (4WD). If you’re keen to go there, entry is free but there are no facil­i­ties so you need to take enough water, food and sup­plies, and take all waste away with you.

If you don’t have a 4WD, don’t despair – you don’t need to be at the core to make the most of the dark sky. The Dark Sky Reserve also cov­ers the Ngaut Ngaut, Brook­field, Rid­ley and Marne Val­ley con­ser­va­tion parks

Click on image to down­load the map

You will get a great view from most places in the reserve but here’s some suggestions:

1. Enjoy stun­ning views from a houseboat

Grab your binoc­u­lars, cam­era or tele­scope and jump on a boat or house­boat on the riv­er between Younghus­band and Blanchetown. And if you feel like step­ping ashore, there are ovals in many of the small towns.

How you can enjoy stargazing in South Australia’s new reserve

2. Take in the sights from Big Bend cliffs

The cliffs are the tallest on the Riv­er Mur­ray and are spec­tac­u­lar view­ing in their own right. There are sev­er­al look­outs near Nil­dot­tie and anoth­er at Kroehn’s Landing.

How you can enjoy stargazing in South Australia’s new reserve

3. Enjoy stargaz­ing at Mel­dan­da, Cambrai

A struc­tured edu­ca­tion­al camp­site just near the town­ship of Cam­brai, the Mel­dan­da prop­er­ty is open to the pub­lic with no entry fee, although there is a $5 fee per per­son for overnight campers.

The camp­ing area is next to the Marne Riv­er and is designed for large groups. Book­ings are essen­tial.

How you can enjoy stargazing in South Australia’s new reserve

4. Feast your eyes on the sky at Walk­er Flat

One of the best-known spots along the riv­er, Walk­er Flat has a clifftop look­out, reserves at the boat ramp and Het­tner Land­ing, and sev­er­al camp­ing areas. 

5. Rel­ish the stars from Black Hill Cemetery

If you want to add extra atmos­phere to your night out under the stars, this old ceme­tery on Quar­ry Road is a great place to see the night sky because it’s in the mid­dle of nowhere.

How you can enjoy stargazing in South Australia’s new reserve

Wher­ev­er you decide to set up, don’t for­get to check the weath­er fore­cast, espe­cial­ly for cloud cov­er, before head­ing out.

Depend­ing on where you are, be aware that many native ani­mals are active at night, so look out for wom­bats, emus and kangaroos.

Did you know?

The Ngan­gurkau, Nga­iawang and Ngarkat peo­ple were the first inhab­i­tants of the Mid Mur­ray dis­trict, and Ngaut Ngaut Con­ser­va­tion Park sits at the junc­tion of these com­mu­ni­ties. Ngaut Ngaut is a spe­cial place and the stars are inte­gral to their tra­di­tions and sto­ries of this area.

Acknowl­edg­ing this spe­cial loca­tion as a Dark Sky Reserve fol­lowed more than two years of hard work by Mid Mur­ray Land­care, Mid Mur­ray Coun­cil, Mur­ray Riv­er Lakes and Coorong Tourism Alliance, Astro­nom­i­cal Soci­ety of South Aus­tralia and the Depart­ment for Envi­ron­ment and Water.

For more ideas about fan­tas­tic spots for stargaz­ing, check out our blog 5 top parks for stargaz­ing in South Aus­tralia.

(Main image cour­tesy ofadel­tri­tus)

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in Novem­ber 2019.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living