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Ultimate Guide to Chasing the Southern Lights: Aurora Australis in Pemberton


Welcome to the ultimate guide to experiencing the Aurora Australis in Pemberton, Western Australia. Winter in Pemberton offers a unique and mesmerizing opportunity to witness the Southern Lights. On clear winter nights, this natural light display paints the sky with stunning hues of green, pink, and red. Pemberton's minimal light pollution makes it an ideal spot for stargazing and aurora hunting. This guide covers everything you need to know to make the most of this magical experience.

What is the Aurora Australis?

The Aurora Australis, also known as the Southern Lights, is a natural light display predominantly seen in high-latitude regions around the Antarctic. It occurs when solar wind particles collide with the Earth's atmosphere, creating vibrant light displays. The best time to see this phenomenon in Pemberton is during the winter months when the nights are longest and the skies are clearest.

Best Viewing Spots in Pemberton and surrounds.

  • D'Entrecasteaux National Park, with multiple locations offering vast open skies free from light and smog pollution, providing an unobstructed view of the Aurora Australis.

    • The Yeagarup dunes themselves are a breathtaking sight, making it a perfect spot for both stargazing and photography.

    • Both Callcup Hill and Warren Hill tracks offer a spectacular vista of the ocean and place to stare at the sky.

    • South of Northcliffe, catch the spectacular view from Mt Chudalup (be careful climbing in the dark - you do not have to get to the top) or witness it over the Southern Ocean from Tookalup near Pt D'Entrecasteaux.

  • Pemberton's Main Street

    • You do not have to go far to see the Southern Sky in Pemberton - as the valley flows North to South. Light pollution from street lights may get in the way but still makes it achievable to see.

  • Pemberton Golf Club

    • Located above Pemberton town, the golf club is on one of the highest elevations in the area with plenty of clear views of the sky.

Preparing for Your Aurora Hunt

Weather and Timing

Check the weather forecast to ensure clear skies.

The best time to view the aurora is between 10 pm and 2 am, but be prepared to stay out longer if the conditions are right.

What to Bring

Warm clothing: Pemberton winters can be chilly, so dress in layers and wear a beanie.

Thermos with hot drinks: Keep yourself warm while waiting for the light show.

Camera and tripod: Capture the stunning display with long-exposure photography.

Blanket or reclining chair: Make yourself comfortable as you gaze at the sky.

Tips for Capturing the Perfect Photo

Camera Settings

Use a wide-angle lens to capture as much of the sky as possible.

Set your camera to manual mode and use a high ISO (1600-3200).

Use a long exposure time (10-30 seconds) to capture the light trails.

Focus manually to infinity to ensure sharp stars and aurora.

If you only have your phone here are Kieran's tips.

  • On an iphone there is a little arrow at the top of the screen - when you tap that the menu of photo adjustments is shown at the bottom of the screen above the capture button.

  • Check if your phone has a night mode - this is the time that the lense is kept open to let as much light in as possible. On an iphone it looks like a moon in shadow. The Auto is usually set but you can adjust it to a maximum of 10s

  • The next setting you can change is the exposure, which is the size of the lense used to capture the image - this is usually at -1.0 but you can adjust it depending on the camera to +2.0.

  • Finally, its important to keep the phone as still as possible. Use the camera setting to make sure your phone does not move. (Prop it against something if you do not have a holder for it, I have even placed it on the ground outside and it captured the whole night sky beautifully.)

  • Learn, play and get familiar with your device!


  • Include some of the natural landscape in your shot to provide context and scale.

  • Experiment with different angles and perspectives to create unique compositions.

Witnessing the Aurora Australis in Pemberton is a magical experience that should be on every nature lover's bucket list. With its minimal light pollution and stunning natural landscapes, Pemberton provides the perfect setting for this celestial event. Use this ultimate guide to plan your trip and ensure you make the most of your aurora hunting adventure.


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