Northam looks to the sky as astrotourism a new drawcard

Sky high: The Bilya Koort Boodja centre's Michelle Winmar with Astrotourism WA founder Carol Redford, Ross Rayson and Victoria Williams.
Sky high: The Bilya Koort Boodja centre's Michelle Winmar with Astrotourism WA founder Carol Redford, Ross Rayson and Victoria Williams.

Northam's tourism scene is looking to take advantage of an "emerging sector" of the industry after becoming an astrotourism town last week.

Last year the Stargazers Club WA commenced a project to create destinations for stargazing and astrophotography in regional Western Australia.

Thanks to a federal government grant, the project has expanded in the 2019/20 financial year and will take in the Shires of Northam, Chittering, Coorow, Lake Grace, Wagin and West Arthur.

Stargazers Club WA founder Carol Redford said looking up at the night sky in the Wheatbelt made for stunning views.

"Astrotourism is an emerging sector of the tourism industry and is gaining in popularity right around the world," she said.

"Western Australia has one of the best dark night skies on Earth and is well placed to add a new layer to regional tourism economies.

"There are now 15 towns across the Wheatbelt and Mid West welcoming visitors to see WA's world-class night sky."

Shire of Northam manager of tourism and events Victoria Williams said the new venture could be a boost to the region's tourism offerings.

"The project has developed a solid foundation over the last year - astrotourism is gaining in popularity," she said.

"The Shire of Northam is currently working with Astrotourism WA to identify a number of suitable locations to add to the map and to develop information for tourists and locals to discover stargazing in Northam."

Ms Williams said astrotourism provided an opportunity to bring people to Northam.

"Links between this project and Bilya Koort Boodja operations are also being considered, given the strong link between Nyoongar heritage and the stars," she said.

"The Shire of Northam is developing tourism in a number of areas at present, and it is thought that astrotourism will be an exciting addition to what is currently offered to visitors."

For more information, visit the website at www.astrotourismwa.com.au.