Blog & News • 18 Feb 18

See the Stars from Our Dark(est) Skies


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By Julie Bates

We have the best stars in the world. 

Ok – so technically, they’re not OUR stars, but from our backyard, you can see them clearer than possibly anywhere else in the world.

So when was the last time you looked to the stars and marvelled at the magic views of our universe?

Our unique night skies have attracted attention from some of the world’s most renowned star gazers – and right now we’re on the road to becoming South Australia’s first Dark Sky Reserve (and one of only a few in the world!). A small campsite near Mannum, named Meldanda, has some of the darkest skies ever measured by astronomers, and the local Mid Murray Landcare group (with a few other supporters) are working towards getting it accredited and formally protected.

So while there’s plenty of people who come to our region for its untouched beauty during the daylight hours, they’ll now be coming to look at our unlit skies after the kids are in bed.

This is rare anywhere in the world. However, as environments change and artificial light dominates the night in most places, it’s here in our Murray River Lakes and Coorong region (only an hour from Adelaide) that boasts some of the most incredible views to the stars – and we want to make sure it stays this way.

And of course, our locals already know this. Ahem, we’ve been enjoying unfettered access to the night sky in all its glory since … well, since forever.

The rest of Australia is starting to pay attention to us as well, as crews from Ten’s The Project recently came out to film a feature on our dark skies, fetching over 40,000 views online, and millions of people when it went live on air. The news of our incredible dark skies has also been featured in The Australian newspaper, ABC and lifestyle bloggers across the world.

So if you’re an amateur astronomer (the pros have already visited), perhaps it’s time to pop your telescopes and tents in the car, and come for a drive. 

If you head towards Mannum, there’s plenty of places to stay for the weekend, and my friend Dave Hartley (local photographer, owner of River Shack Rentals and all round good guy) can help you find some riverside accommodation. AND, if you ask him nicely, he might be able to sneak you in for a photography tour of the dark skies as well!

Or – take some extra time off and make a proper trip of it – why not spend the week exploring all of the magic during the daylight hours too, we’ve got more too see than you could ever imagine.

Come for a drive, turn off your lights, and LOOK UP!


Find out more about the Mid Murray Dark Sky Reserve project here.


About the author

Originally hailing from the city, Julie Bates now resides with her family in the heart of the Murray River, Lakes and Coorong region, with property only metres from the world-famous Monarto Zoo. Julie has fallen in love with the region, and has been lucky enough to combine her experience in tourism, with her passion for bringing more people to the region she now calls home. Julie knows every stretch of the region, and the characters who live and work along it. If you ever meet her, she’ll tell you about the great places to eat, play and explore; the magical scenery she gets to see every day (and stars at night); AND with her tribe of three kids, she can fill you in on the most family friendly itineraries for a weekend (or week) away.