Wave Rock, Hyden
Just outside the town of Hyden in the Wheatbelt
330km from Perth, 3hr 40m drive
Wave Rock is a granite cliff, eroded over millions of years into the shape of a perfect wave. The vibrant colourful streaks caused by rainwater running over its surface give Wave Rock a striking appearance. The area is a popular spot for camping and hiking, and is a great destination for astrophotography. Being so far from any big town, the skies are dark and the rock itself makes for very interesting foreground for your astro-photos.
Lucky Bay, Esperance
One hour from Esperance in Cape Le Grand National Park
770km from Perth, 8hr 20min drive
Lucky Bay may be the most beautiful beach in the world. The sand is pure white and squeaks underfoot due to its pure quality. The water is perfectly clear and deep turquoise. As if this place couldn’t get any better, there are two more reasons you must visit Lucky Bay; firstly, the friendly kangaroos who lounge on the beach, and secondly the chance to photograph the Aurora Australis.
On a clear night with high solar activity you may be able to capture the Southern Lights with a long exposure. The night we took the photo below we could not see the aurora with the naked eye, but a 20 secondexposure revealed the beautiful purples and greens.
700km from Perth, 9hrs drive
Wooleen Station is a working cattle station in Australia’s Golden Outback focussed on conservation and eco-tourism. Being so far from any source of light pollution means conditions are perfect for stargazing. We camped at Rocky Outcrop campsite 7km from the homestead and had the site to ourselves. The stars were so numerous and bright that some pictures looked almost fake.
More from Wooleen Station:
Conditions in the outback are so good that this region was selected as the site for the Murchison Wavefield Array, a network of 2048 Antennas, arranged into groups and spread over several kilometres. Together these form a low-frequency radio telescope with a 30 field of view of the night sky. Scientists hope to investigate the first stars and galaxies, mapping the night sky, detecting and characterising variable and transient radio sources (disclaimer: I don’t know what that means but it sounds cool!).
You can find out more about the Wavefield Array in their interesting infographic here.
Lake Clifton, Mandurah
Half an hour south of the seaside town of Mandurah
110km from Perth, 1hr 12m drive
Lake Clifton is one of my favourite places for astrophotography as it is just 15 minutes drive from my home in Mandurah. It is just far enough tescape the light pollution of town. Lake Clifton is home to some of the rarest living fossils on earth; Thrombolites. These innocuous looking blobs in the shallow lake are actually colonies of living organisms and some of the first life found on earth. The oxygen they produced formed the first oxygen-rich atmosphere allowing species such as ourselves to evolve and thrive. They also make a pretty interesting foreground to our astrophotography. This is one of my favourite spots for light painting with my flashlight. The results can be out of this world.
Lake Clifton was the site of my first ever astrophotography attempt, and the first time I accidentally captured the southern lights. You can read more about that trip, how I almost deleted the photos thinking they were smeared with light pollution, and great family hikes around the lake here.
Vlaming Head Lighthouse, Exmouth
A short drive from Exmouth around the Cape Range
1,270km from Perth, 14hr drive, or 2hr flight Perth to Learmonth Airport
The town of Exmouth is the entry to two of the most spectacular, yet relatively undiscovered places in Australia; Ningaloo Reef and the Cape Range National Park. There is plenty to keep you entertained hiking through the canyons of the Cape Range, or snorkelling with turtles and rays on the world heritage listed fringing reef. The fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down and the stars come out.
The Vlaming Head Lighthouse is a popular spot for astrophotography. I was lucky the night I took the photo below. The good lighting on the lighthouse was actually provided by a car parked atop the range about 10km away!