ABC’s Landline television show visited Western Australia in March 2019. The team filmed a story on the emerging Astrotourism industry coming out of the Mid West and Wheatbelt regions. The story is scheduled to air on ABC Television on Sunday, 14th July 2019. 

How it Happened

In October 2018 Carol Redford, Founder Astrotourism WA, wrote to ABC’s Landline television show. The emergence of Astrotourism as a new layer in the regional tourism industry is an interesting story for WA where the night sky is incredibly dark. It was exciting when ABC Landline Reporter, Sean Murphy, got in touch. It was a great chance to promote how Mid West and Wheatbelt Local Governments are working together to harness the natural wonder of the night sky for tourists from around the world. The project is generously supported by many Local Governments. Who’s involved? A stargazing night was organised in Carnamah, one of nine Astrotourism Towns taking part in the project. The event was held at the historic Macpherson Homestead, the Shire of Carnamah’s observing site. It’s a place where people are welcome to visit for stargazing and astronomical activities. A team of stargazers was assembled and filming got underway!

Who was Interviewed?

The ABC Landline team of three, including Reporter Sean Murphy, arrived in town ready to start filming on Friday, 1st March 2019. There was a lot of ground to cover to bring the story to life. The Astrotourism Town network was represented by the Shire of Carnamah’s Council President, Merle Isbister and former CEO, Karen Oborn. Their interview focused on the recent adoption of a new Council Lighting Management Policy. This Policy will assist the Shire of Carnamah to maintain and improve the quality of its night sky. Andrew Bowman, Co-Chair of the North Midlands Project, highlighted how they’ve been strengthening communities in the Mid West region through high-quality and engaging arts, culture, history and heritage experiences. Next it was on to Macpherson Homestead to celebrate with filming under the stars. Stargazers Club WA’s Donna Vanzetti and the Astronomical Group of WA’s Roy Deering brought up telescopes for visitors to look through. It was a spectacular sunset followed by a dark night sky. More than 60 locals turned out to support the evening. One L of a Good Feed provided salt bush fed lamb rolls for dinner and everyone enjoyed the green laser pointer tour of the constellations and the view through the telescopes. The Landline team were equipped with special red lighting and a myriad of cameras to bring together a wonderful story for television. Landline interviewed Carol Redford of Astrotourism WA on the verandah of the historic Macpherson Homestead. She explained the unique attributes of Western Australia that make it a world-class stargazing and astronomy destination.
WA’s professional Astrophotographers including Michael Goh of Astrophotobear, Stephen Humpleby and Kylie Gee of Indigo Storm Photography contributed amazing astrophotography to the story. Michael decided to spend the night at the Homestead and captured a stunning time lapse sequence of the Milky Way rising. Greg Rowbotham, Cosmic Consultant, and PhD student Robin Cook from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) helped out with telescopes and a visit to the Carnamah District High School for the story. The Mid West is home to the Square Kilometre Array which is in Astrotourism WA’s backyard! There are now some terrific astronomical study and career pathways for WA students! During the days following the stargazing event, both the Minister for Tourism, Hon Paul Papalia MLA and Prof Peter Quinn, Executive Director at ICRAR were interviewed for the story.

When Can I See it on Television?

It was an incredible collaborative effort from the Astrotourism community. The story is scheduled to be aired on Sunday, 14th July and it will be exciting to see the results. Keep up to date with ABC Landline online…

Ready to plan a stargazing holiday?

Check out the Astrotourism Map to discover dark sky stargazing destinations in Western Australia.