Stars at the Forktree Project
Stars at the Forktree Project

Why you should consider a trip to Carrickalinga to check out the stars

02 Jul. 2024 4 min read

Stargazers rejoice, Carrickalinga has been declared Australia’s first Dark Sky Community.

After years of collaboration between the Carrickalinga Ratepayers Association and the District Council of Yankalilla, Carrickalinga has recently been announced as an International Dark Sky Community.

The accreditation means the small coastal town is an exceptional place to stargaze thanks to very little light pollution.

Located on the Fleurieu Peninsula, Carrickalinga is far enough away from the glow of Adelaide and has very few streetlights. This means exceptionally clear skies, which is great news for stargazers and wildlife alike.

Want to learn more about what it means to have your night sky internationally recognised? Here’s everything you need to know.

Why you should consider a trip to Carrickalinga to check out the stars
Aurora Australis at The Forktree Project in Carrickalinga. Image: The Backyard Universe

What is a Dark Sky Place?

DarkSky International, who are working to reduce light pollution, certify communities, parks and places across the world that protect dark sites through responsible lighting and education.

There are more than 200 Dark Sky Places across the world, protecting 160,798+ square kilometres of night sky.

There are different kinds of certification depending on the location – covering parks, sanctuaries, reserves and communities.

Carrickalinga’s accreditation as a Dark Sky Community recognises that it is a town with quality outdoor lighting policies, and a community committed to protecting and treasuring their starry skies.

What is light pollution?

Light pollution is unnecessary or inappropriate artificial light, going beyond what would occur naturally and what we might need.

This can come from cities, illuminated signs, streetlights, electronic billboards, sports stadiums, factories, our homes and more.

Much of this light isn’t properly shielded, and instead of simply helping us safely move around at night, it can spread into unwanted places.

More than simply interrupting our view of the night sky, inappropriate artificial light can negatively affect wildlife, people and the environment alike.

Nocturnal animals sleep during the day and are active at night. Excessive light where there shouldn’t be any can disrupt their normal behaviours like breeding, foraging and migrating.

According to the Australian Government, light pollution can:

  • Stop turtle hatchlings from finding the ocean
  • Disorient migrating birds
  • Affect the availability of food
  • Prevent fledging seabirds from taking their first flight as they only fly under the cover of darkness
  • Stop nocturnal animals from feeding in lit areas because they risk being eaten by predators.

Lighting that uses fossil fuels to generate electricity can also introduce more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to rising global temperatures.

For us humans, artificial light can also disrupt our circadian rhythm and melatonin (we’ve all heard about how we shouldn’t scroll on our phone before bed).

Why you should consider a trip to Carrickalinga to check out the stars
River Murray Dark Sky Reserve. Image: @adeltritus

Are there other Dark Sky Places in South Australia?

While Carrickalinga is the country’s first Dark Sky Community, we’re very lucky to have some other spectacular spots that have been recognised for their exceptional night skies.

The River Murray region was declared an International Dark Sky Reserve in 2019, and offers some of the darkest skies and brightest stars in the world.

Located about 100km from Adelaide, the core of this reserve is in Swan Reach Conservation Park, which boasts an area of 2,000 hectares of untouched Mallee bushland and is only accessible via 4WD.

If you don’t have a 4WD, the Dark Sky Reserve also covers the Ngaut Ngaut, Brookfield, Ridley and Marne Valley conservation parks.

The Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, in the northern Flinders Ranges, is also an International Dark-Sky Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary runs different activities to allow you to experience the stars for yourself, including 4WD sleepout tours and observatory tours.

Where else can I stargaze?

If you can’t get to Carrickalinga, don’t fret! We recently rounded up some of the best national parks in South Australia to take in the night sky in all its glory.

If you want to learn more about DarkSky International and their work, be sure to visit their website for news, resources and more.

Have we got you planning your next outdoor adventure? Get prepared by finding out everything you need to know about safely enjoying a campfire.

Main image credit: The Backyard Universe


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