Stargazing in Melbourne is becoming more and more popular. And, although light pollution will hamper many efforts to get out and marvel at the huge “balls of gas burning billions of miles away”, there are quite a few phenomenal spots near Melbourne perfect for stargazers. No matter the time of year, it’s always perfect when you’re looking up at the night sky and feeling amazed by the cosmos and its celestial wonders.
We’ve rounded up a few favourite places to see the stars near Melbourne, with or without a telescope or binoculars; however, those always help. If you’re on a road trip interstate, check out an internationally accredited Australian Dark Site, which you can find in NSW, SA and QLD.
Any stargazing in Melbourne list wouldn’t sit right without a mention of the Melbourne Observatory. Located in the Royal Botanic Gardens, the site typically runs tours thanks to volunteers from the Astronomical Society of Victoria who share all their knowledge with curious, amateur stargazers.
Unfortunately, the starry night tours are not up and running right now. But, the ASV does plan to have sessions soon. Keep an eye here for further developments.
Mt Martha Observatory
On the first Friday of each month, the Morning Peninsula Astronomical Society holds public stargazing nights at the Mt Martha Observatory. Using a wide array of telescopes supplied by their members, the public can head along for phenomenal views of the sun, the moon and all the stars that are visible.
The night also includes a multimedia presentation to spark your interest and give you the low-down on what you’re about to see. The MPAS is a volunteer-run Astronomical Society founded way back in 1969, and the location at Briars Historic Park was the first registered amateur observatory in Australia.
Pre-booking is required and tickets for adults cost $15.
Snake Valley Observatory
Snake Valley in Western Victoria is home to some pretty dark country skies, which makes it a prime location for stargazing in Victoria. In 2015, they were granted the gold-level rating as an Australian Dark Sky Site Australian Dark Sky Register. This means they’ve got the darkness needed for deep sky observing and astrophotography.
Located between Ballarat and Beaufort, the Snake Valley Astronomical Association welcomes visitors once a month to their public nights. And if you can’t make it on one of those nights, you can reach out and organise a group booking on a suitable night.
Phillip Island Observatory
This private observatory is one man’s mission to guide you through space and show you all that he knows when you’re visiting Phillip Island. All ages and levels of knowledge can be catered for and there are also accommodation options for you to stay the night and make the most of the stars up above.
Using the most up-to-date equipment available, you can see the planets, the stars and beyond while out at Phillip Island and away from the city glow.
Mt Burnett Observatory
Originally built in 1972, the Mount Burnett Observatory faced closure a decade ago but thanks to a handful of members from the Astronomical Society of Victoria it was saved. And, not only is it back up and running but it has been improved. Now, space enthusiasts in the Dandenong Ranges (and those willing to make the trip out east), can make use of the facilities for some night-time fun with the stars.
Parks and other sites
Winton Wetlands, Benalla
The Southern Hemisphere’s largest wetland restoration project is just outside of Benalla at Winton Wetlands. It’s also one of Victoria’s top stargazing spots thanks to its generally clear and unobstructed skies overhead. Bring your telescope, binoculars or just use your eyes to see as many stars as you can because out here the sky is fabulous.
Tack on the Winton Wetlands Lunette Walk to your adventure to see a rare geological feature—a sand dune formed over millennia on the edge of the swamp.
The local astronomy club typically set up shop on the Observation Pad located near the Mokoan Hub & Cafe on the northern foreshore.
Leon Mow Dark Sky Site, Heathcote
Found about 1.5 hours north of Melbourne near Heathcote, the Leon Mow Dark Sky Site is only available for use by members of the Astronomical Society of Victoria. They have a general viewing field and an astrophotography area as well as a clubhouse with a few creature comforts to make a visit more accommodating.
Public stargazing nights at Leon Mow Dark Sky Site are rare, but the ASV does hold nights closer to the city, typically at Caulfield Racecourse.
SkyHigh, Mt Dandenong
The Dandenong Ranges lookout is super popular for views of the city (and all the way out to the Mornington Peninsula), but its views of the carpet of stars that get rolled out night after night are pretty splendid as well.
You can go from one of the best sunset spots in the state to one of the better stargazing spots near the city in a matter of moments. The Sky High venue is open all year round. Make the most of your evening under the stars with dinner at the restaurant—bookings here.
Lerderderg State Park
Just 70 kilometres northwest of Melbourne, you can find Lerderderg State Park. The Lerderderg River cuts right through it and over the years has carved a deep gorge that blocks out plenty of light pollution from surrounding areas, which makes for some spectacular nighttime views of the stars.
Set up camp and wait for night to fall for a magical display just over an hour west of Melbourne.
- Macedon Ranges
- The cleared western slope of Mount Macedon, near the car park, throws up heavenly views of the night sky.
- Lake Eildon National Park
- Look for the hills on the southeast side of Lake Eildon for prime stargazing.
- Lake Tyrell
- With perfect conditions, the stars are reflected on the still lake below.
- Grampians National Park
- From the Dunkeld Arboretum to Mount Arapiles and everywhere between, the Grampians have got stars to boot.
- Wilsons Promontory National Park
- Being by the water can make clouds and rain a factor to consider when stargazing at Wilsons Prom, but when everything is right the Milky Way shines bright in all its colourful glory.
- Cape Schanck Lighthouse Reserve
- With the right conditions, you can even see the Southern Lights from this location.