How to Level up Your Southern Lights Experience

Blue Hour Aurora over Betsey Island, Tasmania

Tasmania’s answer to the Aurora Borealis is its own version of the Northern Lights: the mysterious and mesmerising Aurora Australis. Your best chance of seeing the Southern Lights – an extraordinary phenomenon which glows ghostly neon green and purple on the far southern horizon – is during the darkest depths of winter. We spoke to Tasmanian-based “aurora expert” Daniel Schoedler from Premier Travel to get his top tips for catching one of nature’s greatest shows.

What to know before you go

aurora australis cape bruny lighthouse luket scharke

Typically, Aurora Australis appears over the South Pole, so you’re most likely to spot the phantom light show in Tasmania’s southernmost regions. Daniel Schoedler leads stargazing and aurora-chasing expeditions from Hobart and recommends the peak of kunanyi / Mount Wellington, Bellerive Beach in Hobart’s east and Goat Bluff on the South Arm Peninsula as prime aurora hotspots. On the right night, the southern shores of Bruny Island could also be ripe for an aurora spectacle.

A successful Aurora sighting depends on the light’s forecasted strength on a particular night – Schoedler relies on the My Aurora forecast app and a private astronomer forecaster to help plan trips – and an absence of clouds and wind. The Premier Travel team helps guide guests towards the most favourable conditions. In the event that the aurora remains elusive, guests still enjoy a fascinating stargazing experience using three powerful portable telescopes.

You’ve never seen the night sky like before. Book your winter adventure to Tasmania now.

Where to stay 

bruny island coastal retreats cloudy bay beach house

Whether you're planning on setting up camp on kunanyi / Mount Wellington, Bruny Island or the South Arm Peninsula to spot the Southern Lights, you'll need a cosy place to retire to after an evening of adventure.

Kunanyi / Mount Wellington and Bellerive Beach are both less than 30 minutes from Hobart. Check in to one of the opulent rooms or suites at The Tasman in Hobart’s historical centre – the hotel runs guided wine tastings, which is the ideal way to start a night of stargazing. Alternatively, the elegant Lumière Lodge in West Hobart is a circa-1890s Victorian townhouse that has been restored to its original splendour, complete with antique oil paintings, a clawfoot bath and a fireplace. 

For access to Aurora viewing spots on the South Arm Peninsula, The Point is a modernist retreat with ceiling-to-floor windows that sits on 20 hectares of unspoilt farmland and a private headland. If you’re light-seeking on Bruny Island, Cloudy Bay Beach House should be your top pick. The three-bedroom house offers expansive outlooks over the wild waters of the Southern Ocean and, hopefully, those thrilling lights.

How to get the most Insta-worthy snaps

aurora australis simon kruit tourism tasmania

“If you can, please bring a pro camera with you,” says Schoedler. “And the second most important thing is a tripod. If you hold the camera in your hand you will get a shaky picture.” The Premier Travel team will help you make the most of your camera’s features to get the best shots of the night sky but if you’re not an expert, don’t despair. “Smartphones can actually take pretty decent pictures, especially the newer models which have very good cameras,” Schoedler adds. Try your phone’s time lapse feature to watch the vivid colours dance across the night sky.

More Tasmanian dark sky and earthly light experiences 

beaker street festival tourism tasmania

Much like its northern counterpart, the Aurora Australis unfortunately works to its own enigmatic timetable. But there are many other ways to experience Tasmania’s luminescent phenomena throughout the Off Season. The week-long Beaker Street Festival in August in the state’s south explores the mysteries of light and dark, with dark-sky dinners led by astronomers, glow-in-the-dark flora and fauna tours and late-night adventures to scour the seas for bioluminescence. A little further north, the east coast town of Bicheno will hold its annual celebration of light, Bicheno Beams, from 29 June to 20 July, featuring two laser shows that are set to music and alternate nightly.

The chilly season is a little different in Tasmania. Discover the southern state’s wild take on winter. Book now.

Bruny Island, Tasmania

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SEE ALSO: 22 Ways Winter in Tasmania Will Amaze You

Image Credit: Luke Tscharke, © Bruny Island Coastal Retreats, Simon Kruit, Fred + Hannah and Beaker Street

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