Palm Beach Headland Has Been Officially Named Australia's First Urban Dark Sky Place

Calling all Sydney stargazers: head to the Northern Beaches for the city's clearest views of the universe.
Maxim Boon
Published on July 02, 2024

New South Wales has plenty to boast about when it comes to marvelling at the night sky. Back in 2016, Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran in central western NSW was named the southern hemisphere's first Dark Sky Park, and now, the state has earned another nocturnal first.

On Tuesday, June 25, Palm Beach on Sydney's Northern Beaches was officially declared Australia's one and only Urban Dark Sky Place by DarkSky International. It joins a cohort of just nine other destinations worldwide with Urban Dark Sky Place (UDSP) status, spread across the US, Mexico, Japan and Canada — each notable for their efforts to protect natural night-time environments from light pollution.

Achieving this astronomical accolade is no mean feat. The Northern Beaches Council worked with Ausgrid to devise bespoke street-lighting solutions to ensure public safety while reducing light pollution. It also collaborated with the National Parks and Wildlife Services, community leaders and local businesses to put together a compelling application that underlined the area's existing significance.

Perched on the tip of the Northern Beaches peninsula and sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and Pittwater on the edge of Greater Sydney, the Palm Beach UDSP spans 62 hectares, covering Governor Phillip Park and parts of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park including Barrenjoey Headland. Beyond this footprint's popularity with tourists (and fans of Home and Away), it's also an area dotted with important First Nations heritage sites, including protected examples of ancient rock art such as the Barrenjoey Fish and Red Hands Cave.

Image: Michael Apolpowdhic

"This site is special, being a National Park and listed on the NSW State Heritage Register due to its rich natural and historical value. [UDSP status] will provide another reason for people to enjoy and respect such a beautiful location," National Parks and Wildlife Service area manager Chad Weston said.

DarkSky International's Dark Sky Places Program has been scouring the planet for the best places to stargaze for 23 years. There are five different Dark Sky accreditations, recognising publicly or privately owned conservation areas and parks, remote sanctuaries, reserves that are surrounded by populated areas, communities with sensitive outdoor lighting ordinances and Urban Dark Sky Places, like Palm Beach Headland, that maintain good dark sky conditions despite being located near urban centres with significant light pollution.

To find out more about Palm Beach Headland's Urban Dark Sky Place status, visit the DarkSky International website.

Top image: Ed Hurst

Published on July 02, 2024 by Maxim Boon
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