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Budget-friendly must-dos on your next camper road trip

Embark on a budget-friendly campervan road trip and explore Australia’s national parks, visit iconic landmarks, and relax on stunning beaches without breaking the bank. Discover hidden gems and enjoy scenic drives, all while cooking your own meals in your campervan's kitchenette. Visit local markets for fresh produce and unique souvenirs, camp under the stars at low-cost sites, and connect with locals for insider tips on the best affordable spots. Capture lasting memories of your adventure with plenty of photos along the way.

Check out our favourite affordable things to do in cool places around Australia.

 

Alyssa Tresider
/ Categories: AU Blog

Best Spots For Stargazing In Australia.

There is nothing quite like marvelling at the Australian night sky — watching countless stars glisten against the backdrop of an inky abyss— while you rent a travel van to explore Australia. If you're planning a van travel adventure and searching for the best things to do in Australia, you can’t go wrong by adding a night of stargazing to your road trip itinerary planner. 

Not only is stargazing on your road trip Australia a perfect way to unwind in the evening, but it is also easily one of the best free things to do in Australia. Plus, there are plenty of great ways to enjoy the vast Southern cosmos on an Australia road trip, from cozy, secluded campgrounds to observatories with impressive telescopes. Let’s dive into the essentials of stargazing and our list of the best vantage points in the country, from Queensland's Great Barrier Reef to Tasmania's remote wilderness.

 

What is Stargazing?

Stargazing is the simple yet enchanting practice of observing celestial objects like stars, planets, and constellations. Many of these incredible sites you can see with the naked eye or with a telescope. It's a pastime transcending generations and cultures, providing direction, inspiration, and a little simple joy in the business of everyday life. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians relied on the stars for navigation and mythology. Today, stargazing has become a universal activity, perfect for a little unwinding and reflection after a big day of adventure. 

The dark skies of an Australia road trip (especially those in the more remote regions) are perfect for this hobby, offering clarity that city dwellers rarely have the chance to experience due to the excessive light pollution. For more tips on stargazing basics, make sure to check out these resources:

 

What You Need for Stargazing

To truly enjoy the wonders of stargazing, it is essential to add a few destinations to your road trip itinerary planner with minimal light pollution. Aside from the destinations, it is important to pack warm clothing because temperatures can dip significantly at night, especially in remote Outback regions or during the winter months. Binoculars or a telescope are handy for a more detailed look at celestial bodies, but you can still see plenty with the naked eye. Aside from this, your campervan comes with a few additional comforts, such as blankets, cushions, and folding chairs (at additional cost) that you can use to keep you comfortable while you stargaze. And, of course, remember snacks and a headlamp with a red light to preserve your night vision. 

 

When to Go Stargazing

You can stargaze any time of year if weather conditions cooperate, but avoid bright moon phases, which obscure faint stars. October and February are particularly favourable due to lower lunar brightness. Pick a location where the moon is out of direct view, and venture out after sunset for a dark, unobstructed sky. Technically, the sky is darkest around midnight, providing a perfect window to marvel at the Milky Way or catch meteor showers. That all said, always consider seasonal weather conditions for visibility. That way, you can adjust your road trip itinerary planner accordingly.

 

What's the Best Way to Explore the Best Spots for Stargazing in Australia?

For unparalleled access to remote stargazing sites, there is no better way than to rent a van to travel the iconic landscapes of Australia. A Cheapa Campa campervan ensures you can stay as close as possible to the night sky while maintaining the flexibility to reach Australia's most dazzling locations. Van travel allows you to settle into a campground right at the doorstep of your chosen stargazing destination–many of which also happen to be some of the best freedom camping spots in Australia. Whether at Coonabarabran for the world's best Milky Way views or at Kakadu National Park to glimpse the Southern Cross, you'll be primed for adventure with the comfort and convenience of a campervan.

 

The 11 Best Spots for Stargazing in Australia

Whether you're simply looking for free things to do in Australia on your road trip adventures or just want to tick off the best things to do in Australia, stargazing ticks both boxes! Best of all, Australia's vast, remote landscapes offer ideal conditions for stargazing, with wide expanses of clear, dark skies stretching from coast to Outback. In this section, we'll highlight the 11 best stargazing spots across Australia, from the tranquil waters of the Great Barrier Reef to the rugged wilderness of the Warrumbungle and Kosciuszko National Parks.

 

1. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

The Great Barrier Reef is known for its vibrant marine life, but it's also an unparalleled location for stargazing. By day, dive into crystal-clear waters and explore the world-famous coral ecosystem. By night, sail to an isolated cove, lie back on the deck of a boat, or simply settle in by the beach and marvel at how the stars shimmer on the water's surface. To reach the reef by campervan, you can head north from Brisbane for about 18 hours for a larger road trip or fly directly into Cairns and rent your campervan from there. Stay at a beachfront campground, like Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows & Leisure Park near Cairns.

 

2. Coonabarabran, New South Wales

Coonabarabran, the Astronomy Capital of Australia, offers some of the country's darkest skies. A visit to the Siding Spring Observatory (home to the largest optical telescope in Australia) will allow you to see the cosmos through professional-grade equipment. Here, you can attend a stargazing tour to witness breathtaking views of celestial bodies with minimal light pollution. To reach Coonabarabran by campervan, drive about 6 hours northwest of Sydney via the M1 and Golden Highway. The town's Gateway Holiday Park provides the perfect base camp to explore this stargazing haven.

 

3. Warrumbungle National Park, New South Wales

Neighboring Coonabarabran, Warrumbungle National Park is Australia's first Dark Sky Park. Its unique volcanic landscape adds to the beauty of the star-filled skies above, providing stunning silhouettes against the Milky Way. From Sydney, it's a 6-hour drive northwest via the M1 and Golden Highway. The Camp Wambelong Campground within the park offers excellent facilities for campervans. Here, you can set up camp beneath the towering peaks and explore the wonders of the night sky — easily one of the best low-cost freedom camping in Australia. 

 

4. Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales

Kosciuszko National Park, Australia's highest national park, is a pristine stargazing spot where you can observe the Milky Way with incredible clarity. After spending the day climbing to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko, you can head back to camp for the night to soak up the panoramic views of the stars stretching across the mountainous horizon. Stargaze safely by bundling up for the colder climate. You can reach Kosciuszko from Canberra by driving 2 hours south via the Monaro Highway or 5 hours from Sydney. The Island Bend Campground provides scenic and low-cost riverside freedom camping for a comfortable overnight stay in your campervan.

 

5. Broken Hill, New South Wales

If you have the Outback mining town of Broken Hill on your road trip itinerary planner, don’t miss the chance to stargaze in this vast desert landscape. With wide-open skies and almost no light pollution, you'll witness stars twinkling like diamonds. For the best stargazing, visit the Outback Astronomy for an unforgettable night-sky tour or join one of their iconic Milkey Way Hangouts. If you are trying to take advantage of low-cost freedom camping, you can find a secluded spot at the Starview primitive campsite just 12km outside Broken Hill. Otherwise, The Broken Hill Tourist Park has full amenities for campervans and easy access to the town's attractions. To reach Broken Hill, drive 13 hours west from Sydney along the Barrier Highway. 

 

6. The Grampians National Park, Victoria

Nestled in the heart of Victoria, The Grampians National Park is a sanctuary of natural beauty and one of the best stargazing spots in Australia. Here, the lack of city lights makes the Milky Way glow brilliantly against the night sky. The park offers several campgrounds, but Borough Huts Campground and Jimmy Creek are the best for stunning night sky views. Set up camp in one of the park's designated areas and spend the night exploring the cosmos amidst ancient rock formations and lush bushland. The Grampians are about a 3-hour drive from Melbourne via the Western Highway, making it an ideal weekend escape in a campervan. 

 

7. Flinders Ranges, South Australia

If you are planning a road trip through South Australia, you will not want to miss the chance to stargaze at the Flinders Ranges, where rugged mountains meet endless desert plains. In this remote and peaceful area, the wide-open skies reveal the magic of the Southern Hemisphere's stellar display, including constellations, planets, and distant galaxies. Best of all, it is located only  5 hours north of Adelaide. Set up camp in Wilpena Pound Resort to enjoy guided bushwalking and cultural tours as well as spectacular stargazing.

 

8. Uluru, Northern Territory

Next on our list of the best places to stargaze in Australia is Uluru, one of Australia's most iconic landmarks. As night falls, the stars above this ancient monolith are like a thousand diamonds scattered across the sky. The surrounding desert skies offer unparalleled views of the Milky Way, while the Uluru astronomy tours help you understand the traditional Aboriginal perspectives of the stars. Uluru is about 5 hours southwest of Alice Springs via the Lasseter Highway. The Ayers Rock Campground offers convenient facilities for campervans and easy access to this sacred wonder.

 

9. Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory

Want to explore the vast, ancient landscapes of Kakadu National Park, where Aboriginal culture and the natural world blend seamlessly? Kakadu, just a 3-hour drive east of Darwin via the Arnhem Highway, is a perfect addition to your Australia road trip. This is another special corner of Australia where you can take part in a guided stargazing tour that will teach you about the significance of the night sky in Indigenous Aboriginal culture while letting you witness the stars twinkling over the rugged terrain. The Cooinda Lodge Campground provides a great base for your stargazing adventure (just be sure to check the accessibility report before setting out in a 2WD campervan.)

 

10. Margaret River, Western Australia

If you are planning a Western Australia campervan getaway to explore the pristine coastline of Margaret River by day, then we have you covered with with a stellar stargazing spot for the evening. While this region is renowned for its wineries and rugged beaches, its minimal light pollution, aided by ocean breezes that keep the skies clear, makes Margaret River one of the best stargazing spots in Australia. The Boranup Forest and Cape Leeuwin are particularly notable for their stellar views of the cosmos, where you can witness constellations like the iconic Southern Cross. Located about a 3-hour drive south of Perth, you can easily access this gem by campervan. On arrival, stay at Margaret River Tourist Park for a central location to stargaze and explore during the day.

 

11. Tasmania

If you want to experience the best stargazing in Australia, look no further than the island state of Tasmania. Whether you're surrounded by the rugged beauty of Cradle Mountain or gazing from the pristine beaches of Freycinet National Park, Tasmania offers diverse stargazing opportunities, including a unique chance to glimpse the ethereal Aurora Australis (Southern Lights). With over 40% of the island dedicated to forested regions and the resulting minimal light pollution across the island, Tasmania is a haven for astronomy aficionados. Best of all, travelling by campervan from Hobart or Launceston lets you access a range of campgrounds like Cradle Mountain Discovery Holiday Park or Freycinet National Park's campgrounds, which are perfect bases for stargazing.

 

Think Stargazing in Australia Sounds Like Fun?

From the ancient landscapes of Uluru to the serene coastline of Margaret River, Australia offers plenty of incredible stargazing spots. Whether you're a seasoned astronomer or simply looking for the best free things to do in Australia at night after a big day of adventure, stargazing is a must-do when renting a travel van. Think stargazing in Australia sounds like fun? Book your Cheapa camper online today and pick it up from any Cheapa branch to start your stargazing adventure!

 

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