Discover an enchanting journey in the heart of Australia’s very first International Dark Sky Reserve.
Meet the stars of the region – Astronomy guides touring you through the night sky and Aboriginal custodians welcoming you to their ancient rock shelter.
Our Gold Stars Sunset Dinner Tour introduces you to one of the darkest places on earth with virtually no light pollution.
Dark Sky Gold Stars Sunset Dinner
Journey to one of the earth's darkest places.
We’ve teamed up with the stars of astrophotography, astronomy and the local tourism industry to take you on a journey of our remarkable backyard. We’ve known for decades it’s one of the darkest places on earth, and recordings of this darkness measured at 21.9 on a scale of 0 to 22. About 200-300 stars can typically be seen in Southern Hemisphere urban areas, whereas an estimated 5000 can be seen from your tour site, including a better view of the centre of the galaxy (the Milky Way)!
Your tour meanders along the roadside path parallel to the Murray River. A popular nesting ground for cockatoos and plentiful wildlife, this farming district has its own story to tell. Cross the river on the ferry for your glimpse of impressive ancient cliffs and marvel at the sights from lookouts.
Discover the highlights of this 130 million-year old natural playground with our internationally accredited dark sky, slow waters, sandy cliffs and steadfast characters. Stay a while and return to your real life once you have let the river and its night sky truly work its magic.
The Dark Sky Gold Stars Sunset Dinner tour is a unique gift for a special occasion.
Gift cards are valid for 6 months from the time of purchase.
To purchase a Gift Card, click on the black button ‘Buy Gift Card’ under the ‘Book Now’ button on the Gold Stars Sunset Dinner tour page.
Meeting Point: Arnold Park by the River Ferry Crossing, 4 Randell Street Mannum, SA 5238
Drive or Taxi: Mannum is approximately a 1h30 drive from Adelaide. There is no transport shuttle option from Adelaide from our business, as your tour hosts are based in and around Mannum.
Parking: There is plenty of parking at Arnold Park by the River Ferry Crossing, 4 Randell Street Mannum, SA 5238. Accommodation options of Mannum Motel and Mannum Caravan Park are within 100m walking distance from the meeting point. We have compiled a list of recommended accommodation options.
River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve: covers more than 3200 square kilometres of magnificent Murray River, small townships, conservation parks, farmland and some of the darkest skies on the planet.
Weather is vital as telescopes are affected by wind, clouds and rain. Weather forecasts change daily and are unreliable until the day of the tour. Once you book, you will be asked to continue with your plans to attend this tour until you are contacted on the day of your tour via SMS/ text message with confirmation or cancellation. Your booking email will state ‘Confirmed’ meaning your seat is confirmed, however the tour departure is not confirmed until the day.
Our team holds a conference at 10am and the majority of the time we are in touch with you immediately after this decision. However, very infrequently we are undecided, and wait until the 2pm forecasting from BOM. By 3pm at the very latest you will be notified if the careful examination by astronomers of weather and cloud forecasts are favourable for the tour. We are acutely aware most of our customers require as much notice as possible for travel plans from Adelaide or regional South Australia.
Stargazing in the wind, rain and clouds is not enjoyable. We want you to see the stars and we cancel in advance when we know we can’t deliver. In the event of weather prohibiting your Dark Sky tour from proceeding, we email you within 24 hours to offer you an alternative tour date if possible. Otherwise, you will receive the option for a refund of payment already processed.
We want you to see the stars. We study the weather and cancel in advance if we can’t deliver. When we commit to the 5-6 hour journey, we have the best intentions for viewing, however there is no guarantee of weather interruptions. Once a tour commences, you will meet the astronomer on the clifftop regardless. If clouds appear, we will wait for them to clear and then resume the tour, or look at alternatives in a different direction. If the clouds don’t clear when we are already onsite, you will be offered to book another date for a self-drive option from Mannum to the site, to join on another occasion at no extra cost. Once a tour commences and you willingly participate, there is no refund or rescheduling offer.
The answer is whenever there is a clear sky! The stars visible in our night sky change during the year, so every season brings us a different group of out-of-this-world objects to view.
This tour does not operate everyday of the year. Selected dates are generally based on dark dates of the moon phase calendar. Please refer to the River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve Moon Phase Calendar here. We avoid holding viewing nights when the moon is very bright because you cannot look through a telescope during this time, and we want you to see a Dark Sky.
Yes. We arrive back to Mannum usually between 10.30pm to 11.00pm depending on sunset time, viewing in the sky and the size of the group. We recommend you stay overnight at Mannum Motel, Mannum Caravan Park, River Shack Rentals, Mannum Airbnbs, Bridgeport Hotel, Riverview House Younghusband, or Rabbiter's Hut B&B for accommodation.
When booking, be sure to let them know you are travelling with us!
The River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve is an excellent way of impressing international clients, team bonding or just getting your corporates amongst nature. Please contact us to custom build a tour for your group using the Gold Stars Sunset Dinner Tour as a base. We have optional guest speakers, additional locations and transport options.
Dress warm with layers, jacket, scarves and beanie. It can get cold on the clifftop at night time, even in summer.
Please wear comfortable, enclosed shoes. There is a short boardwalk at Ngaut Ngaut and a short walk to dinner from the carpark.
Tour meeting time is usually 4.20pm, at Arnold Park, Mannum (next to the Visitor Information Centre). On Saturday's and at other times, the tour departure may be amended to 5.20pm and you will be notified at time of booking. Arrival time back to Mannum following the tour is approximately 10.30pm in winter and closer to 11pm in summer, dependent on sunset time and viewing in the sky.
A minimum of 6 confirmed passengers is required before the tour will depart.
You will be sharing this tour experience with others.
We have various touring vehicle options and at times the group size may vary from 6 people to 20 people.
This tour is not a private charter unless the maximum of 20 passengers is reached by numbers in your group. Private charters are available on request, also outside the darkest moon phase event calendar dates, and the full capacity fare will be charged accordingly.
There is no transport shuttle option from Adelaide from our business. Your tour hosts are based in and around Mannum. Please refer to the ‘Location’ page for more information.
You will be asked to choose your meal on arrival at the meeting point of the tour and we will phone this through to the venue for pre-order. Please come prepared with your meal choice.
SkyView Lite is a good app for iPhone, and Stellarium is the recommended choice for Android. Please download these to your phone prior to the tour if you wish and feel free to use this during the astronomy session onsite.
Please find attached a general night sky description for the current month.
River Murray International Dark Sky
The River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve is Australia's first.
It joins an elite group of remarkable dark places around the world. The Reserve includes some 80 kilometres of the magnificent Murray River, small townships, Conservation Parks, farmland, and some of the darkest skies on the planet.
Covering more than 3,200 square kilometres, the River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve is known for its dry climate and cloudless skies. Measurements have shown exceptional darkness right across the region, and SQM readings of 21.9 are common on a scale of 0 to 22.
The Reserve received accreditation from the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) in October 2019.
The River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve is an initiative of Mid Murray Landcare SA working closely with the Mid-Murray Council and aims to raise awareness of the problems of light pollution and its impact on Australia’s unique nocturnal wildlife.
Your tour host is the driver of your vehicle departing from Mannum, and also the welcoming local who introduces you to the human stars of the region. We’ve handpicked the best of the best to showcase the region.
For any questions about our Gold Stars Sunset Dinner, Corporate or Private tours, please get in touch by email to email@example.com
(please leave a message if we can’t take your call immediately)
Assisted by a nature-based tourism small grant from the Department for Environment and Water.