Dark Sky Festival shines a light on Total Solar Eclipse experience

The full events program for the Dark Sky Festival has been released as part of the State Government's extensive preparations for the Total Solar Eclipse 2023.
  • Dark Sky Festival program announced for Exmouth, Coral Bay and Onslow
  • Free and ticketed events on offer to visitors with existing plans to travel to the Coral Coast for the Solar Eclipse on 20 April 2023
  • Part of the McGowan Government's $22 million investment in the Total Solar Eclipse preparations and legacy 

The full events program for the Dark Sky Festival has been released as part of the State Government's extensive preparations for the Total Solar Eclipse 2023.

The festival will take place over four days in the Shires of Ashburton, Carnarvon and Exmouth to enhance the Total Solar Eclipse experience for visitors with existing bookings to these regions.

The festival includes a series of individual events across the Shires that will offer live music performances, family-friendly activities, exceptional dining experiences, stargazing tours and photography lessons for budding astronomers.

The Dark Sky Festival also includes the inaugural Jamba Nyinayi Festival, a Baiyungu Aboriginal Corporation event hosted by Traditional Owner Hazel Walgar at Cardabia Station near Coral Bay on 19 April, the night before the eclipse. Jamba Nyinayi will feature a drone show by Fremantle Biennale with storytelling from Traditional Owners as well as local and original indigenous music, dance, food and fire.

For music lovers, Dark Sky Festival offers a new three-day family friendly festival of live performances at SolFest in Talanjee Oval in Exmouth from 19 to 21 April, with local and Perth musicians. SolFest is free to attend for those with existing accommodation in the town of Exmouth.

Exmouth will play host to a seaside seafood barbecue as part of the festival, as well as a Totality Brunch at The Yacht Club, offering fine dining as the Solar Eclipse takes place. Fremantle Biennale's Aboriginal-inspired drone show will also take place on Town Beach in Exmouth on 20 April, the night of the Solar Eclipse.

There will also be a series of Stargazing Sessions with Astrotourism WA astronomy guides, an astrophotography exhibition and workshops, SciTech STEM-based activities for children and public talks including popular Western Australian astronomer Greg Quike.

In Onslow, a free waterfront street festival will be held on 20 April followed by a free concert with bands and DJs at Thalanyji Oval on 22 April. Astronomy will meet gastronomy at the Fervor Dark Sky Dining events at Dreamers Hill from 21 to 22 April.

Carnarvon will host the April 2023 Rocks Carnarvon Festival from 15 to 22 April with the support of the State Government, including community star gazing, virtual reality experiences, Aboriginal Night Sky stories with bush tucker and a day-long music festival for the actual day of the Solar Eclipse.

Thousands of international and domestic visitors are expected to travel to WA to witness the Total Solar Eclipse on 20 April 2023.

The solar eclipse will occur over a three-hour period, with totality in Exmouth at approximately 11:29 AM (WST) when the sun, moon and Earth align.

Exmouth is the best place in Australia located in the path of a 100 per cent eclipse but there will be near total eclipses across the region.  Onslow and Coral Bay will experience 99 per cent darkness while Carnarvon will enjoy about a 95 per cent eclipse.

The McGowan Government has announced almost $22 million in funding to help ensure readiness for a significant increase in visitors, including grants totalling more than $837,000 for 40 local Gascoyne and Pilbara businesses to build capacity.

The funding includes improvements to the region's roads, marine infrastructure, telecommunication networks and local facilities. The upgrades and grants will contribute to a lasting legacy for the region.

Representatives from 14 State Government agencies have been working in partnership with the local shires of Exmouth, Carnarvon and Ashburton, and the Department of Defence to ensure local communities, including businesses, are supported and the region is prepared for an influx of visitors.

The announcement of the Dark Sky Festival program follows the release last week of 3,000 general admission tickets for official Eclipse Viewing sites between Exmouth and Learmonth which can be booked online.

Ticketed events for Dark Sky Festival go on sale from midday today. Find out more by visiting ningalooeclipse.com

Comments attributed to Tourism Minister Roger Cook:

"The Dark Sky Festival is a wonderful series of family-friendly events that will bring residents and visitors with existing bookings together ahead of and during the Total Solar Eclipse.

"The eclipse is not only going to be an extraordinary and rare astronomical event. It will also be an experience to remember for visitors who spend time in the region.

"This festival will also act as a celebration of Aboriginal tourism and culture, and Western Australian food and wine, for the lucky visitors already heading to the Shires of Ashburton, Carnarvon or Exmouth for the Solar Eclipse.

"The McGowan Government is committed to creating a memorable experience for visitors alongside a lasting legacy for the Shires of Ashburton, Carnarvon and Exmouth.

"We are excited to see Dark Sky Tourism continue to grow in Western Australia and the Solar Eclipse is the perfect event to shine a light on all of our State's jaw-dropping astronomy offerings."

Minister's office - 6552 6500