River Murray Dark Sky Reserve set to named only place in SA with perfect view of the Milky Way
A 3300sq km Landcare site stretching along the Murray River is set to be officially named the ‘only place in SA where stargazers can see the centre of the galaxy’, otherwise known as the Milky Way.
Representing the incredible diversity in Landcare after 30 years of the national movement, the River Murray Dark Sky Reserve – running from Bow Hill to Blanchetown – could soon to be awarded International Dark Sky status after three years in the review process
“It’s one of the darkest places on earth and being recognised by International Dark Sky is like getting world heritage listing for the stars,’ says Chris Tugwell, chair of Mid Murray Landcare SA who have been working towards the significant accreditation. ‘Light pollution is a huge pollution around the world, we need to protect places that are very dark, and this area is one of the darkest places in the world.”
A view of the central Milky Way as seen from Meldanda in the River Murray Dark Sky Reserve. Credit: Andrew Cool @adeltritus
Less than two hours outside of Adelaide with the ‘core site’ at Swan Reach Conservation Park, the stellar project is part of Landcare’s 30 Year anniversary celebrations, indicating how diverse and wide-ranging Landcare has come since the late Bob Hawke launched the national formation in 1989.
“Local people in the region know the gateway to the stars is there. They experience it every night but visitors from the rest of the country, and the world, they have no idea. We have visitors whom come here who are completely speechless. And that means big things for business and tourism in the area.
And why Landcare is involved, light pollution has a huge impact on animals breeding cycles, and insects and pollination of plants. Preserving darkness is incredibly important with preserving an ecosystem.”
Looking West over the River Murray Dark Sky Reserve. Credit: Andrew Cool @adeltritus
Darkness is measured on a scale of 0 to 22, with 22 being total darkness. Preliminary measurements in the Mid Murray came in at 21.97 – making it an area of significance for international stargazers.
There are only two other Dark Sky reserves in Australia – Warrumbungle National Park in central western NSW and Winton in Queensland.
Murray Dark Sky Reserve is part of Landcare’s 30 Year anniversary celebrations, indicating how diverse and wide-ranging Landcare has come since the late Bob Hawke launched the national formation in 1989. A unique union of farmers and conservationists coming together to protect and restore the Australian environment, this ever-growing sweeping movement now boasts over 6000 groups across the country and hundreds of thousands of volunteers.
And as our 30 Years of Landcare celebrations continue till the end of the year, we want to hear your Landcare story, Landcare Australia is curating a collection of stories that exemplify the landcare ethos and play a leading role in changing Australia’s approach to sustainable agricultural practices, environmental protection, land and water conservation, biodiversity and landscape restoration whilst connecting communities.