WA prepares for amazing astronomical event to eclipse all others
- Final preparations underway ahead of 2023 Solar Eclipse on 20 April
- Tens of thousands of visitors expected to travel to the Ningaloo region to experience the phenomenon
- $22 million McGowan Government investment supports readiness and leaves legacy
There is just one week to go to the 2023 Solar Eclipse with government agencies, shires, businesses and communities from across the State working together to be ready to host the event.
Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to be in the region for the moment the moon passes between the sun and earth in perfect alignment to cast the area below into darkness.
The eclipse will take about three hours, with totality set to last about 62 seconds. This means there will be plenty of time for visitors to make the most of their stay in the region, including the Dark Sky Festival.
To help ensure a safe and enjoyable event, representatives from 14 State Government agencies have been working in partnership with local government and the Department of Defence to ensure communities and businesses in the region are supported for the event.
This approach to planning and preparation has taken place along with an investment of almost $22 million by the McGowan Government, to assist with readiness, but also to leave a lasting legacy of upgrades and infrastructure for the region.
As final touches are underway, extra operational and emergency personnel are starting to join enthusiasts in and travelling to the region including:
- significant operational resources from the Western Australia Police Force in Shark Bay, Carnarvon, Coral Bay, Exmouth and Onslow;
- about 80 additional Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) staff and volunteer personnel including operational staff, career firefighters, Marine Rescue and State Emergency Service volunteers, Volunteer Fire and Rescue crews and Bush Fire Brigade volunteers from across WA;
- extra Department of Health staff region wide, including an extra 35 paramedics and volunteers; and
- an RAC Rescue helicopter available 24/7 while the Royal Flying Doctor Service will be on standby to take seriously ill or injured patients to centres at Karratha, Geraldton or Perth.
Visitors are being urged to plan and prepare, be patient and be courteous on the road.
As part of the State Government funding, $7.9 million has been committed to infrastructure upgrades and traffic management with Main Roads deploying more than 60 crew, 72 variable message signs, mobile traffic signals, CCTV monitoring and live traffic data.
Works have also been undertaken to deliver safety improvements at a number of intersections along the Minilya-Exmouth Road, while upgrades have been made to six rest areas along both the North-West Coastal Highway and the Minilya-Exmouth Road. This includes new sealed entry and exit roads, new seating and shade structures, and sealed ACROD parking.
There has been a $5.4 million commitment to bolster telecommunications with the help of Telstra to improve coverage and connectivity in the area over not only the event period but also for the future.
These works include:
- the provision of eight temporary mobile base stations in the area in Exmouth, Bullara Station and Coral Bay. This will help meet the increased demand for calls and data on the Telstra network and also provide additional Triple Zero capacity for people using other mobile networks in the case of an emergency; and
- the provision of five portable Wi-Fi self-contained mobile platforms that will provide free public Wi-Fi to people within a 200m radius of each Wi-Fi hotspot site. This will be open for anyone to use.
In addition, Telstra has funded a capacity upgrade of its existing mobile base station in Exmouth and has built two new permanent cellular base stations - one in Exmouth and another at Onslow. This will ensure improved connectivity for local residents and visitors after the eclipse event.
Those who aren't in the region won't miss out, with a dedicated fibre connection allowing the eclipse to be livestreamed to the Digital Tower at Yagan Square and around the world.
Many visitors have already booked tickets for the Dark Sky Festival from 19 to 21 April.
This curated program of music, culinary, art and cultural events includes free concerts, dark sky dining, family activities and stargazing.
The Jamba Nyinayi Event at Cardabia Station, which will be held on 19 April (and shown at Yagan Square), is one of the Dark Sky Festival events celebrating Indigenous culture and the Dreamtime story of the eclipse.
This event also presents an opportunity to promote the State's stargazing, astronomy and astrophotography offerings to the world.
There will also be a series of festival events across the region. In Exmouth, the headline acts will be The Waifs on 19 April and Hot Dub Time Machine on 20 April. In Onslow, the Shire of Ashburton's events include The Waifs on 20 April and Eskimo Joe on 22 April.
No matter where or how you participate on 20 April, it is never safe to look directly at the sun, and doing so may cause eye damage.
If you do choose to use methods such as eclipse glasses, make sure you understand the risks. Visit the Healthy WA website to ensure your safety.
To find out more about the 2023 Total Solar Eclipse, visit https://ningalooeclipse.com
Comments attributed to Deputy Premier Roger Cook:
"This is going to be an extraordinary event but most importantly we want it to be an extraordinary experience for everyone that witnesses the eclipse.
"That is why we have spent so much time planning all the logistics to ensure it runs as smooth as possible.
"The Ningaloo region is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world which we are looking forward to showcasing to thousands of new visitors.
"This is literally a one-off event so WA Government agencies have been liaising closely together to manage the planning and logistics for the 2023 Solar Eclipse, so visitors enjoy a safe, sustainable and successful event.
"The WA Government has committed to creating a memorable experience for visitors, as well as delivering a lasting legacy for the shires of Ashburton, Carnarvon and Exmouth, by investing almost $22 million in announced funding for upgrades and improvements to roads, marine infrastructure, telecommunication networks and local facilities.
"This event presents an opportunity to promote the State's stargazing, astronomy and astrophotography offerings to the world, and we expect many visitors will explore our State beyond the eclipse event and enjoy all it has to offer, including some of the darkest night skies in the world."
Comments attributed to Transport Minister Rita Saffioti:
"Thousands of people are expected to descend on Exmouth for this once-in-a-generation event and we want to make sure everyone gets to their destination and home safely.
"Over the past 12 months, we have been undertaking safety improvements of key arterial roads in and out of Exmouth, as well as upgrading rest areas along the journey including sealing entry and exit roads, installing seating and shade structures, and ensuring these stops are able to cater for ACROD requirements and large coaches and buses.
"The upgrades we've undertaken for this event will complement the work our Government has already undertaken in recent years to widen and seal around 41 kilometres of the Minilya-Exmouth Road.
"Main Roads will have crews out in force to help manage traffic movements on the roads to and from Exmouth with around 60 crew, 72 Variable Message signs, mobile traffic signals, CCTV monitoring and live traffic data all being deployed.
"Please drive safely and follow the directions of traffic management."
Comments attributed to Mining and Pastoral Region MLC Peter Foster:
"This is a really exciting time to be in Exmouth and our State's North-West, and it's a privilege to share this unique experience with the world.
"The McGowan Government has put in a significant amount of work to make sure Exmouth and the surrounding Shires are equipped to handle the influx of travellers expected for the Total Solar Eclipse.
"This is about creating a memorable experience for visitors, but also ensuring the region will benefit from the infrastructure upgrades for years to come.
"I can't wait for the TSE festivities to begin, and I hope this opportunity allows people from across the globe to marvel in WA's pristine, untouched landscapes and celebrate one of the oldest and richest continuing cultures on Earth."
Tourism Minister's office - 6552 6500
Transport Minister's office - 6552 5500