Astrotourism is looking up in the Wheatbelt

July 26, 2019 at 3:39 PM

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Astrotourism activities including stargazing nights and astrophotography are increasing in popularity across the Wheatbelt and Mid West. 

Astrotourism WA is an emerging business that is assisting Local Government to realise the economic potential of WA’s dark night sky. Carol Redford, founder of Astrotourism WA is coordinating the Astrotourism Towns project, supported by nine Local Government Authorities in the Wheatbelt and Mid West. 

The Shires of Dandaragan, Moora, Perenjori and Wongan-Ballidu in the Wheatbelt and Carnamah, Mingenew, Morawa, Three Springs and the City of Greater Geraldton in the Mid West, were the founding supporters of the Project. Each local government selected special places to welcome visitors for stargazing, astrophotography and astronomical activities. 

In 2018/19 Ms Redford organised over 30 regional events and workshops reaching over 1,500 people. Community stargazing nights have been held in each town in the last year including well attended events at Lake Thetis near Cervantes, the Moora Lakeview Golf Club and at the Wongan Hills Airport where the night sky is perfect for stargazing. 

These regional stargazing events attracted not only local community members, but out of town visitors as well. Over the year, in excess of 100 people stayed overnight in the Astrotourism Towns for these events. Over 75 telescopes were deployed at regional events and telescope help was offered to 20 regional residents.

In 2019/20, the Project will expand with additional towns. The Shire of Lake Grace has received $36,000 from the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Community Stream Fund to boost Astrotourism across the Shires of Chittering, Lake Grace, Northam, Wagin, West Arthur and Coorow. 

Ms Redford said, "After this first exciting year, regional communities have a much greater understanding of how special the night sky is in regional WA. Global light pollution is increasing 2% every year across our planet and destroys the view of the stars in many places." 

"My aim is to help regional towns in WA adopt best practice lighting management so that we keep our world-class dark night sky. Visitors will travel from around the world to see what we have, because you just can't see it everywhere anymore." she said. 

The Astrotourism WA website includes a map of WA’s Astrotourism Towns and What’s up in the night sky

Watch the feature story on ABC’s Landline.

Carol Redford Astrotourism WA 300x300.pngSouthern Cross Stargazing Windmill night photo 300x300.png

Image credit: Carol Redford

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