Drive The Pilbara's Star Way - 10 To 12 Days
The wide-open starry night sky landscapes across the Shire of Ashburton in the Pilbara will take your breath away. Hit the open road and discover sunrises, sunsets and everything in between across Western Australia's North West.
From the protected boating waters around the Mackerel Islands and idyllic Onslow on the coast to the red sands of Tom Price and the National Parks of Karijini and Millstream. Let the stars be your guide you on a journey like no other on Earth!
Total Solar Eclipse 2023
If you’re travelling to Western Australia for the Total Solar Eclipse on 20 April 2023, Onslow is the perfect place to base yourself. The Onslow town itself is not in the “path of totality” (where the disc of the Moon will completely cover the Sun) and will only experience a 99.3% partial solar eclipse. However, only 40-45kms offshore, the Mackerel Islands are the place to be completely immersed in the shadow of the Moon. Here, you’ll see a total solar eclipse.
If you’re planning to be in Exmouth to witness the eclipse, make sure you travel the time to explore the Pilbara before or after the event. Onslow is 400kms or just over 4 hours drive from Exmouth. Check out the 10-12 day itinerary below that will have you discovering the amazing Ashburton region of the Pilbara. From reef to range, you’ll be under the stars every night on this wonderful road trip adventure.
Termite mounds near Onslow with the Milky Way in the night sky. Image: Astrotourism WA
Days 1-4: Onslow and the Mackerel Islands
Fly in and grab your hire car or arrive after a leisurely road trip along the coast to Onslow. The vibe in this town is cool, uncomplicated and relaxed. Onslow is one of the rare places where you can see both the Sun and Moon rise and set over the ocean! Head up to Dreamers Hill to see sunsets and sunrises in all their glory. The Staircase to the Moon can be seen on full moon nights from April to October each year. Practise your astrophotography at local attractions, The Termites and Old Onslow Town.
After a couple of nights in Onslow, catch the boat for some more adventures on Thevenard Island in the Mackerel Islands. There is so much on offer during the day followed by magical evenings dining under the stars! Thevenard Island is partly in the “path of totality” for Eclipse 2023 and will experience up to 20 seconds of totality.
Overnight: Onslow and the Mackerel Islands
Days 5-7: Cheela Plains (270 kilometres/3.5 hours)
Here’s the half way stop between the Ningaloo Reef and Karijini National Park! You’ll feel so welcome at Cheela Plains Station Stay whether you’re camping, caravanning or staying in the comfortable accommodation. The Cheela Café will fuel you up ready for a night under the stars. Here, you’re completely away from light pollution and to be dazzled like never before! If you have a 4WD make sure to explore Beasley Gorge and see the “Great Oxidation Event”. This is a rock timeline recording the rise of oxygen in the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere more than 2700 million years ago!
Overnight: Cheela Plains Station
Day 8: Paraburdoo (95 kilometres/1.25 hours) or Tom Price (115 kilometres/1.75 hours)
Tom Price information bay truck with night sky in the background
If you’re ready for your next spot of astrophotography, stay overnight in Paraburdoo! An incredible art sculpture called Resilience will captivate you for an entire eventing! Stay longer and you’ll be able to catch a ride with Pilbara Camel Trekking and Cultural Tours. Imagine your very own camel ride to the stars where you’ll discover how Aboriginal people, the world’s first astronomers, used the night sky to guide everyday life.
If you decide to travel through to Tom Price you’ll have a great stargazing night at King’s Lake. Make sure to call into the Tom Price Visitor Centre to get all the local stargazing secrets! At the information bay on the way into town, one of the huge mining trucks is there to greet you and it’s ideally positioned to take your own astro-image with the stars and Milky Way behind!
Safari Tents at Karijini National Park with night sky in background. Image: Astrotourism WA
Days 9-12: Millstream National Park (320 kilometres/4 hours) or Karijini National Park (160 kilometres/1.75 hours) from Paraburdoo
It’s time to decide which National Park to visit from here! Head north to Millsteam Chichester National Park and join Clinton and Ngurrangga Tours to soak in Aboriginal culture and heritage. Clinton is an award-winning tour guide and on some of his tours you’ll experience the night sky through his eyes. His overnight tour explores the Millstream-Chichester National Park and George Gorge. You’ll camp under the stars where you’ll learn more about connections for the Yindjibarndi people.
Or make the journey to Karijini National Park and the incredible gorges where adventure awaits. Remember to take in the night sky once again with Karijini’s Dales Gorge Campground Astro Tours run from April to September each year. Enjoy a night under the stars and see astronomical objects close up through telescopes.
For additional information about the locations on the Star Way, check out the following useful link www.astrotourismwa.com.au.
Driving times and distances are intended as a guide only and may vary depending on exact route taken. Accommodation options are indicative as to what is available in the area.
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