River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve
The River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve is located on the northern border of the Murray River, Lakes & Coorong Region. For those dark sky chasers out there, recent measurements in the River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve came in at 21.97 – darker than many other accredited regions from across the globe. Stretching across 3,200 square kilometres, the reserve is the only one in Australia and one of only 15 in the world.
Spanning over such a large and diverse space means the reserve has an array of Astro hot spots, ideal star viewing areas and tour options available. Come and watch our night skies.
About International Dark Skies
The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) is the world’s leading dark sky organisation which accredits six types of designations based on their level of darkness. The award winning International Dark Sky Places (IDSP) Program was founded in 2001 to protect and preserve places with dark, unpolluted night skies.
There are only 15 Dark Sky Reserves in the world and the River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve is one of them!
A dark sky reserve consists of a “core” zone meeting minimum criteria for the sky quality and natural darkness. This zone is surrounded by a buffer zone with light policy controls enacted to protect the darkness at the core. Our core site is the Swan Reach Conservation Park – a area of 2,000 hectares of untouched Mallee bushland – it is home to exceptional starry nights and nocturnal life.
The Best Lookouts
Whether it is an Astro Hot Spot or the ideal location for star viewing, we have selected the 15 best places to visit during your time in the River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve.
Grab your telescopes, binoculars, maps, camping equipment and cameras, and be ready to immerse yourself in the wonder of the milky way. Just be aware, if you are self-driving to our region, there are many unsealed roads to access some of the best viewing sites, and while a 4WD isn’t necessary in terms of access, there is a lot of rubble, dust and wildlife to consider when travelling by car.
For more information, please find the River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve Map.
- Bear Fence Lookout: Close by to the Barossa Valley, this lookout is a great first stop for anyone wanting to glance at the night skies.
- Blanchetown Oval: An ideal place to stare in awe at the night sky while staying in a small local township.
- Towitta Reserve: Ideal for an uninterrupted view of the night sky.
- Sedan Oval: A fantastic star viewing area for families who are wanting to stare at the sky without the worry of little ones outdoors in the dark.
- Big Bend Lookout: An easily accessible Astro Hot Spot along the road between Walker Flat and Swan Reach, on the east side of the river.
- Meldanda: A structure educational campsite, open to the public seven days a week. Entry is free but a $5 per person fee applies for overnight campers. Bookings are essential, see fact sheet for more information.
- Cambrai Oval: This star viewing area is another great spot to relax and enjoy the stars in a comfortable, easy access and nature free location.
- Black Hill Cemetery: Perhaps more for the brave, this is a unique place to view the stars.
- Shell Hill Reserve: This is a small and hidden location, with a historical story to tell.
- Kroehns Lookout: Easily accessible from the east side of the river, this is close by to Ngaut Ngaut Conservation Park making it a great place to stop if you’re taking a day trip to the region.
- Maynards Lookout: A scenic little spot, equipped with picnic table and bins, this is an ideal safe place for families who want to glance at the stars over the river.
- Walker Flat Lookout: The stars in the sky here explain perfectly why so many holiday goers visit the area and stay in a holiday house. Recommended to visit during the winter months.
- Palmer Lookout: The magnificent local icon – bear rock – makes a great photography opportunity.
- Younghusband Lookout: Close by to Mannum, this star viewing area is great for photography but not recommended for children.
- Purnong Lookout: A great Astro Hot Spot to capture the river corridor underneath the magic of the galaxy.
Please Note: Many of the townships within the River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve have lookouts, parks and reserves available for viewing the stars. Before going, please consider the time of year – slightly more populated areas, including lookouts near the river, could affect the darkness of the sky due to additional lighting, such as from shacks.
Experience the River Murray at Night
One of the most unique aspects of our River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve is the 80km stretch of the magnificent River Murray.
Enjoy the night skies from a houseboat, a river shack or go camping on the river bank. If you have time to catch the sunset, we recommend watching it at the Big Bend Cliffs, the limestone walls will glisten and glow in the evening rays.
There is plenty of river activities to take your River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve experience up a level!