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.
A WARNING: BECAUSE OF THE ALIGNMENT OF SATURN TO THE EARTH,
THE RINGS WILL NOT BE VISIBLE FOR MOST OF 2024 AND 2025,
SO BOOK NOW FOR BETWEEN NOW AND MID DECEMBER.
Dark Sky Gold Stars Sunset Dinner
Journey to one of the earth's darkest places.
$290 Adult / $255 Child TOUR INCLUDES:
· Tour of the night sky by an astronomer on the River Murray clifftop
· Use of provided telescope and red torch lights to view stars, constellations, planets, clusters and galaxies
· Guided tour of Ngaut Ngaut Archaeological Cultural Site with Aboriginal people described as the world's first astronomers
· Main meal at Swan Reach Hotel or Bowhill Store
· Luxury travel in small group tour vehicle/s from Mannum to the River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve area and return.
· Insightful and light-hearted commentary on your journey, about townships and locations between destinations
Journey to one of the earth's darkest places.
$100 Adult / $79 Child
Here’s your taster of Australia’s very first International Dark Sky Reserve with an incredibly special 1.5 hour astronomy only session – a shortened version of our Dark Sky Gold Stars Sunset Dinner.
Self-drive to one of the darkest places on earth, meeting at the Walker Flat Community Hall to be led clifftop to your guided tour of the night sky with unforgettable viewing through our powerful telescope.
· Tour of the night sky by an astronomer on the Murray River clifftop
· Use of provided red torch lights and telescope to view the night sky
The Dark Sky Gold Stars Sunset Dinner tour is a unique gift for a special occasion!
Gift cards are valid for booking strictly 12 months from the time of purchase.
Please let your special someone know that we're unable to issue extensions beyond the 12 months from your date of purchase, so encourage them to book without delay!
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 Carpark by the River Ferry Crossing & public toilets, 4 Randell Street Mannum, SA 5238. Please note spelling of 'Randell' for technology purposes, as there is also a street named 'Randall' in Mannum.
Drive or Taxi: Mannum is approximately a 1h30 drive from Adelaide. There is no transport shuttle option from Adelaide provided by our business, as your tour hosts are based in and around Mannum.
Parking: There is plenty of free parking at Arnold Park by the River Ferry Crossing, 4 Randell (not Randall) 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. Ultimately, Mother Nature is in charge! We certainly understand this experience is a bit of gamble and requires commitment. 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 1pm forecasting from BOM. By 2pm at the very latest you will be notified if the careful examination by astronomers of weather and cloud forecasts are favourable for the tour, or not. We are acutely aware most of our customers require as much notice as possible for travel plans from Adelaide or regional South Australia. Please understand we cannot provide assurance to you in the leadup to the tour day, so contacting us to forsee Mother Nature's plans, will not result in the certainty you seek, and we ask that you respect and trust the process. You only need to seek out our Google and Tripadvisor online reviews from others to know that when the gamble pays off, it is an incredible experience!
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.
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. Read below for our payment and refunding terms.
Just like booking a seat on a flight, your payment upfront is required to secure the date for your Dark Sky experience. If the tour is cancelled and you are unable to reschedule to another date, you will be refunded. Funds may take between 1-3 business days to arrive to your bank. If the tour is cancelled and you can make it another time, your booking will remain 'On Hold' and your money in credit. Booking fees and credit card fees are paid to external parties and are non-refundable.
We’ve considered the ability of our operating environment on this tour to accommodate the needs and preferences of individuals. Please advise in the notes section of your booking for any accessibility requirements and we will do our very best to ensure your experience is seamless. We have highlighted below some of the more common questions received regarding accessibility:
Walking on the tour is limited. The Boardwalk at Ngaut Ngaut Aboriginal Tours is a flat surface of approximately 100m. Our tour hosts can remain with you at the tour vehicle to show images if you are unable to walk that distance. There is a short 20m walk from the carpark to the dinner venues. The Astronomy site is a flat surface with no walking involved. Stools are provided for seating during the astronomy session. Walkers and walking aids are welcome, however please note this in your booking so that we can allow space in our vehicles/trailer.
Wheelchair Accessibility is not provided in our touring vehicles, however it is common for customers in a wheelchair to follow behind in your own supplied vehicle and commentary will be provided to you at each stop along the travel path. Both dinner venues have wheelchair accessible dining areas and toilets. The astronomy site is a flat, bitumen surface, suitable for wheelchairs. We have a second telescope which can be adjusted to height specifically for viewing while seated in a wheelchair.
Deaf customers are very welcome and may bring an interpreter to communicate in Auslan. We provide red lights at the astronomy site for visual accessibility to your interpreter.
Please Note: Due to the limited capacity on our touring vehicles our experiences require payment for support workers, carers and interpreters. For self drive option, this will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
The answer is whenever there is a clear sky! The stars visible in our night sky change during the year. Sometimes you will see the Milky Way, other times Saturn, Jupiter or Orion. At times a gibbous night shows the Moon crescent. Every season brings us a different group of out-of-this-world objects to view, so just join this tour when it suits your calendar!
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.
The area is known for its dry climate, low rainfall of 12-14 inches per year average, and often cloudless skies. The weather here can be vastly different to that of the nearby capital city of Adelaide or Adelaide Hills on any given day.
Spring and summer can sometimes be windy with warm balmy nights, while autumn and winter can be still and calm with crisp clear nights. And when it rains the atmosphere is cleansed, and can bring some of the most spectacular viewing immediately after!
Yes. We arrive back to Mannum usually between 10.45pm to 11.15pm 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, Harbour Mannum, Bridgeport Hotel, Riverview House Younghusband, Rabbiter's Hut B&B or Reedy Creek Retreat for accommodation.
When booking, be sure to let them know you are travelling with us! While our Dark Sky experience is weather dependent, our local accommodation providers are not. If your experience is cancelled, please have a Plan B prepared. The Murray River Lakes and Coorong Tourism website is an excellent resource in planning other terrific experiences in the area!
There is plenty of parking at the tour departure point, Arnold Park by the River Ferry Crossing, 4 Randell (not Randall) Street Mannum. Parking is free of charge, is under lights and in a public location. Parking is also supplied by your accommodation hosts at their establishments.
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. 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 10.45pm to 11.15pm, dependent on sunset time, size of the group and viewing in the sky.
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.
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 30 people.
Private charters can be arranged for a minimum of 20 passengers. Private charters are available on request outside the darkest moon phase event calendar dates, and the full capacity fare will be charged accordingly.
Infant: 2 years and under (travel free but must be advised at time of booking and your own car seat must be supplied)
Child: 3 to 16 years
Adult: 16 and over
We love children! Please note however, this Dark Sky Experience is quite a duration, and a late night return. Children of young ages may find the tour difficult to follow.
All children must be accompanied by a responsible adult, mindful of the enjoyment of other guests during the tour.
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.
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.
It's a short 100m walk from Mannum Motel and Mannum Caravan Park to the tour departure point at Arnold Park by the Ferries (4 Randell Street Mannum). We are unable to pickup from accommodation. Free carparking is available at the departure point.
Mannum has an On The Run fuel station open 24 hours. Beyond Mannum, there is no fuel available for purchase at night.
The most reliable mobile phone coverage is with Telstra. Vodafone coverage in regional areas is almost non-existent. At times, Optus is unreliable. Please ensure you have planned your travel path prior to arriving to the area.
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.