Milky Way Landscape Shot Australia

Astrophotography Trip to Wilsons Promontory National Park, Australia

In this my first photoblog, I will walk you through the steps I take in planning a trip to photograph the night’s sky.


Photographing the night’s sky starts by choosing the right location at the right time. You want little to no light, including no moon light, and little to no air pollution or moisture.

Australia. It is a Night Sky Paradise.

Australia is a rare place for the night photographer with large accessible and safe areas that have absolutely no light or air pollution and with little air moisture.

You can see the colour of the Milky Way with the unaided eye.

Milky Way through the Gum Trees
Milky Way through the Gum Trees. Queensland Australia. July 2018. Copyright Gordon More

(While I know not everyone can travel to Australia, you can still use the same tools and planning I use for areas closer to home)

The Trip.

Long story short, my normal job cut my Christmas Holidays short and I found myself on New Year’s Day sitting on a plane heading to Melbourne, Australia, with the return flight booked for February 7, 2020.

Of course, I packed all my camera gear.

I had arranged with work that I would take the last week off before heading home, as vacation time.  Then use that week for a night sky photo shoot.

Light Pollution.

During my free time, away from my normal job, I used my favourite online Light Pollution Map, Dark Site Finder to find a good place to set up my camera gear for my week off.

Light pollution around Melbourne Australia

Because of the horrendous fire season Australia was experiencing, everything north-east of Melbourne had their sky’s filled with smoke.

Fire Smoke Coverage in Australia at the time

In 2018, I had already spent a week taking night shots west of Melbourne, along the Great Ocean Road.

So, that left me looking at the area south-east of Melbourne, at a peninsula jutting away from Melbourne’s light pollution and into the Tasmanian Sea.

Light Pollution around Wilsons Prom National Park

After a little bit more research, I discovered the area was a National Park called Wilsons Promontory National Park aka Wilsons Prom.

Site Inspection

On Sunday January 11, I drove the 450 km round trip to Wilsons Prom National Park to make sure the location would work.

The drive went through a landscape that had me thinking I was in Devon, England. Rolling green hills, lush farms and small country roads. The area is the exact opposite of what most people think of Australia.

After 3 hours of driving, I arrived at Wilsons Prom National Park with only 2 hours to explore before heading back to Melbourne.

I spent that time walking along Wilsons Prom’s Squeaky Beach. Named after the sound the fine white sand makes with every step.

Squeaky Beach Australia

The location was perfect. Low vegetation, with wide open vistas of the sky. The beautiful beaches and rolling hills would make a perfect foreground for any star shots.

Split Rock in Wilsons Promontory National Park in Victoria, Australia

While I knew Wilsons Prom had no air or light pollution, the park being right on the ocean made me a little concerned about possible moisture, clouds and rain.

But this is Australia during its worst drought in recorded history. Surely I would be okay….right?

Lunar Schedule

The next step was checking the lunar cycle. While the full moon is beautiful, it floods the sky with too much light washing out the stars using

My vacation would be January 31 to February 6. The lunar schedule showed a half moon, leading towards a full moon on February 9. With the moon-set at 12:01 am on February 1, moving 30 minutes later each day. With my last night having a moon-set of 2:56 am.  

Unfortunately, that would mean late nights and early mornings. Tiring but doable.


The perfect accommodation is finding a place where I can take night shots and time lapses within a few steps of where I sleep.

If that is not possible, I need a place close to my photo-shoot location as I really don’t like wasting time driving long distances late at night. Not just for safety, but also to manage fatigue.

Sadly, January and February are Australia’s summer months, so all the places in the park were fully booked.

Thankfully, I found the perfect place right outside of the park. Only minutes away from the park gate.

Yanakie House.

Picture embedded from and not mine.


I finished work on January 31 and drove to my place at Yanakie House…. and then this happened.

If you don’t know how to read a weather chart, let me break it down for you.

Day 1. Rain.

Day 2. Rain.

Day 3. Rain.

But I didn’t waste those days, instead I spent exploring the park and scouting for the perfect places to set up for night photography.

Really, it wasn’t all the bad.

Cloudy Forest Vereker Outlook in Wilsons Promontory National Park
Vereker Outlook. Copyright Gordon More
Road to Cotters Beach Wilsons Promontory National Park Victoria Australia
Road to Cotters Beach. Copyright Gordon More

Finally the rain stopped and the sky started to clear late on day 3, February 3. Unfortunately, with such a late start the moon was not going to set until 12:58 am.

While the sky didn’t completely clear, I was able to catch a few great shots.

Milky Way Self Portrait Milky Way Mount Oberon Wilsons Promontory National Park Australia
Me in my element. Copyright Gordon More
Milky Way image between the rocks in Australia
Night Stars over Squeaky Beach. Copyright Gordon More

Day 4. Perfect Weather. But the moonset was at 1:31 am.

I relaxed and napped during the day.

At 8:30 pm I headed out to hike the 3.4 km trail to the 535 metre summit of Mount Oberon.

Sunset over Tidal River
Sunset ontop of Mount Oberon. Copyright Gordon More
Moonlight in Australia
Moon Setting from Mount Oberon. Copyright Gordon More

Unfortunately, the wind was very powerful, so I only had a chance to take this shot.

Milky Way Wilsons Promontory National Park Victoria Australia
Milky Way over Mount Oberon. Copyright Gordon More

Hiking down, in the dark, was so peaceful. A few animals came out and I had a great visit with one of my favourite Australian’s.

Wombat Break

On the drive back , I stopped and took a few more star shots.

Road to the Milky Way Wilsons Promontory National Park Victoria Australia
Road to the Milky Way. Copyright Gordon More
Milky Way Landscape Shot Australia
Light on the Milky Way. Copyright Gordon More

Then at the end of the night, I pointed my camera straight up and took this shot.

Milky Way in Australia
Just the Milky Way. Copyright Gordon More

Thats how I plan and then excute my night photography trips. Just the adventure makes it worth it.

In my next few photo blogs, I will explain my camera set up and how I edit/develop my images.

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