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How to See the Southern Lights TASMANIA AUSTRALIA

southern lights tasmania australia

Planning to see the Southern Lights Tasmania, Australia? In this comprehensive guide, we explain where and when you can see the aurora australis in Tasmania, the likelihood of seeing them, and travel tips and tour options.

If you’re ready to embark on an adventure to see the elusive southern lights in Tasmania, then you should make sure you are prepared with all the information you need before you head off. Unlike the northern lights, the southern lights are much more difficult to spot, therefore chasing them requires much more careful planning on your part to get the timing and location just right.

In this article, we explain exactly what you need to know, plus links to more information, so you can prepare for your southern lights Tasmania adventure the right way.

Can You See Northern Lights in Australia?

In a sense, yes, you can see the northern lights in Australia… except that they are actually called the southern lights.

The term ‘northern lights’ refers directly to the natural phenomenon known as the aurora borealis. However, in the southern hemisphere, there is a similar phenomenon known as the aurora australis – more commonly referred to as the ‘southern lights’. We explain the difference between the northern lights and southern lights in our article when and where to see the southern lights. The thing to remember is that they are basically the same thing, except that northern lights happen around the north pole (Arctic), while southern lights are around the south pole (Antarctica).

Generally, the further south you go the better your chances of viewing the southern lights in Australia are. One of the best locations in all of Australia to view the southern lights is Tasmania. Having said that, seeing the aurora australis in Tasmania is still quite unpredictable, and usually only occurs when auroral activity is very high. The most southern point in Tasmania you can easily visit, Bruny Island, is located at only 43° S which is well outside the southern auroral oval. This auroral oval is placed at 65-75° S according the Australian Bureau of Meterology, and refers to the area in which the southern lights can be reliably seen.

This doesn’t mean the southern lights cannot be seen in Tasmania, but rather that they can only be seen during periods of high solar activity and geomagnetic storms. According to the website the aurora australis can be seen in Tasmania when the K index is 7, which indicates a fairly intense geomagnetic storm.

So, when planning your travel to Tasmania to see the aurora australis, keep this in mind as you read through this article or other websites that talk about visiting the southern lights. Not trying to put you off, rather, we just want to explain the reality.

Where Can You See Southern Lights Tasmania?

map southern lights in tasmania

#1 Goat Bluff Lookout

Goat Bluff is one most popular destinations in Tasmania for hunting the southern lights. The light pollution in the area is extremely low, which makes viewing the aurora australis an easier task. The bluff is a dangerous place to visit at nighttime, so special caution must be taken to prevent falls when you are walking through the brush. Jagged cliffs surround the vantage point on 3 different sides, and it is a long way down to the bottom.

#2 Gypsy Bay

Another popular destination within Tasmania can be found along the shores of Gypsy Bay. Here, you’ll find the Dodges Ferry as well as Primrose Sands, a pristine beach that runs along the shores of Gypsy Bay. Some of the best photo opportunities of the southern lights can be found right on the beach, which is easily accessible. However, if you want to get the best photo opportunity, then head on down to the Gypsy Bay boat ramp, which provides some of the most awe-inspiring views imaginable.

#3 Tessellated Pavement

For a truly unique destination to view the southern lights, head on over to the Tessellated Pavement. This site features very unique geology that you cannot find anywhere in the world. Most people who visit the site, initially assumed that it was man-made. You will need to walk a short distance down a dark trail in order to get to the beach, but once there you will have a simply amazing view. For safety, make sure to only visit the area when the tide is no more than 0.7 meters as the area can be quite dangerous when covered with water.

#4 Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain is one of the most spectacular locations in all of Tasmania. When the conditions are perfect, it is also one of the best destinations on the entire island to view the aurora australis. This popular destination is located north of Hobart, so the southern lights must be slightly stronger. One of the best locations in and around Cradle Mountain can be found along the shores of Dove Lake.

#5 Cape Tourville Lighthouse

There are many amazing places to visit inside the Freycinet National Park, but one of the best vantage points can be found at the Cape Tourville Lighthouse. When most people think of the park, the first thing that comes to mind is Mount Amos, Wineglass Bay, or even Hazard Beach. And while all of those are excellent places to visit while inside the park, the lighthouse is the perfect place for viewing the aurora australis.

#6 Bruny Island

Known for its food, wine and art, Bruny Island is also the most southernmost point in Tasmania (and all of Australia) that you can easily visit. As such, it offers excellent views of the aurora australis when conditions are right. On the island you can enjoy various restaurants, fine arts and craft, and other sightseeing activities such as tours and the Inala Jurassic Garden and Nature Museum. The island also has several accommodation options, if you want to stay a few days to seek the aurora. Bruny Island Photography even runs aurora photography tours on an ad hoc basis, when aurora activity is predicted to be high.

While there are other areas in Tasmania that are more south-situated than Bruny Island, these are either basic campgrounds, or densely forested and very difficult to access.

When Can You See Southern Lights Tasmania?

Winter (June – August)

Just like viewing the northern lights, the best time to view the southern lights is during the winter. Since Australia can be found in the southern hemisphere, the winter time occurs between the months of June and August. This is the darkest time of year, which makes it perfect for hunting for the elusive lights.

Spring (September – November)

During springtime, which occurs between September and November, the nights are still long enough to view the southern lights with ease. The weather is also more hospitable, as there is not as much of a need for wearing extra layers of clothing to stay warm.

Summer (December – February)

Summer takes place between December and February, and during this time of year, the days are much longer than the nights. As a result, it’s not the best time to visit if your plan is to view the aurora australis. However, it is still possible to view the elusive lights between midnight and 4 in the morning, if you are willing to stay up that late.

Autumn (March – May)

The autumn season is very similar to the spring and takes place between March and May. The weather during this time of year is more hospitable, and the nights are long enough to provide ample time to hunt for the aurora australis. The nights begin to get slightly cooler, so extra layers of clothing may be needed.

Other considerations

In addition to choosing the right season and month, if you have the freedom to choose your vacation dates, then we highly recommend you set your holiday dates on a year that auroral activity is predicted to be high, as discussed in this article. This is especially important for seeing the southern lights in Tasmania, since Tasmania is located some distance away from the auroral oval, where the lights are only visible during periods of high solar activity.

Tours and Cruises to See Southern Lights in Tasmania

Hobart Stargazing and Aurora Tour

Everyone who visits Tasmania eventually wants to hunt for the elusive southern lights, and on this tour you can gaze out at the heavens above for 4 hours in search of natural phenomena.

Tasmania is known as an excellent destination for those who want to try Australian wine and eat some of the most amazing meals. But, as the southernmost destination in the country, it is also known as being one of the best locations in the country for viewing the aurora australis. There is literally nothing between Tasmania and the shores of Antarctica, which provides a stargazer with ample opportunity to view the heavens above. For 4 hours, with the help of an expert guide, you’ll be able to observe the night sky as you search for the elusive southern lights.

Tour Highlights

Beautiful Tasmania is the southernmost point of Australia. There is nothing between the southern tip of the island and Antarctica. From here, you can stare up at the clear skies and view the deepest fathoms of the universe. If you are lucky enough, you will also have an opportunity to view the majestic aurora australis. Not only will you be joined by an expert guide who will help you traverse the endless reaches of the night sky, but you will also have access to high-powered telescopes and binoculars to help you explore the farthest reaches of our universe. Don’t forget to stay warm with the included hot drinks and sweets.

What’s Included
  • Private Tour Guide
  • Visit the Summit of Mount Wellington
  • View the Sunset over Hobart
  • Hunt for the Elusive Southern Lights
  • 2 Hours Access to High-Powered Telescope
  • Coffee, Tea, and Hot Chocolate
Why It’s Popular

When most of the world thinks of Tasmania, the first thing that comes to mind is the Tasmanian devil. But there is so much more to the island than meets the eye. Not only is it an excellent destination for food and wine, but it is also the best destination in all of Australia for viewing the southern lights. With the help of an expert guide, you can spend hours gazing up at the stars in search of the elusive lights.

Search for The Southern Lights

Spend 7 days touring through some of the most popular destinations in beautiful Tasmania as you hunt for the elusive southern lights.

Tasmania is one of the best locations in all of Australia to view the southern lights. It is also one of the most picturesque regions of the country. From Hobart, not only will you have plenty of time to see just about everything that Tasmania has to offer, but you will also have plenty of opportunities to stare up at the night skies as you hunt for the elusive aurora australis. Discover other nearby destinations like Bruny Island and Port Arthur.

Tour Highlights

Start your trip to Tasmania off just right as you arrive in beautiful Hobart city. On your first day in Tasmania, you will be introduced to your guide at the airport, and be able to enjoy a local lunch. From there, you will head towards the city center, where your guide will introduce you to the history of the region. While you are there, you will have the opportunity to visit the Museum of Old and New Art, or MONA as it is referred to locally. The museum is home to one of the largest collections of private art in the country.

While in the region, you’ll be able to visit the Huon Valley, where you will have the opportunity to visit one of the first copper stills in Australia that was made specifically for producing apple brandy. Not only will you have the opportunity to taste test the brandy, but you’ll also have time for tea. From there, you can head out to Bruny Island and hunt for the elusive aurora australis. It’s only a short ride by ferry out to the island from the picturesque town of Kettering.

From Bruny Island, you will have the opportunity to head on out to the Tasman Peninsula where your hunt for the elusive lights will continue. Not only will you be able to sit back and enjoy breakfast in the morning, but you will have plenty of time to view the many sites and sounds of the Peninsula before heading out into the dark to hunt for the aurora australis.

What’s Included
  • Private Tour
  • English Speaking Guide
  • Transportation Provided
  • 6 Nights’ Accommodations
  • 3 Breakfasts
  • 6 Lunches
  • Access to Port Arthur
  • Access to MONA
  • Access to the UnZoo Devil Sanctuary
  • Bonnie Island Ferry Tickets
  • 2 Evening Guided Tours
Why It’s Popular

For most who choose to visit Tasmania, it’s not all about viewing the famous aurora australis. There are so many beautiful things to see and do throughout the island, that will keep you busy throughout the day. You will have plenty of opportunities to check out the city center, as well as visit one of the oldest vineyards in Tasmania. As the sun begins to set, it’s time to head out into the darkness in search of the southern lights.

Aurora Photography Tour

This small group, boutique photography tour teaches participants the skills to take stunning photographs of the aurora australis from Bruny Island.

Managed by a local photography studio on Bruny Island, this aurora photography tour runs only when the conditions are favorable for seeing the highly elusive southern lights. With that said, the organizers claim that their strike rate for catching the aurora is 100%. As well as learning to photograph the lights, participants also learn to carry out post-processing on their aurora photos in hands-on classes.

If you are interested in capturing the aurora australis and can travel to Tasmania at short notice (when the tour provider deems aurora conditions to be right), you can add your name to the waiting list to be informed when the next course date is set. You will need to provide your own photography gear including camera, accessories and a range of lenses, so while it is not directly stated, it is implied that you have some photography experience already.

What’s Included
  • Small group size
  • Accommodation included
  • Transfers between Hobart and Bruny Island
  • Travel on the island
  • Photography coaching
  • Post-processing classes
  • Permits for entry and filming
Why It’s Popular

Run by locals who are intimately familiar with the Bruny Island landscape and skies surrounding it, this tour offers participants the best chance of capturing the aurora australis. The organizers make sure the tours only run when the auroral activity is predicted to be high, so you have the very best chance of experiencing the southern lights firsthand.

Final Thoughts on Southern Lights Tasmania Australia

This completes our guide on how to see the Southern Lights Tasmania, Australia. We hope this has been valuable in helping you plan your vacation to see the aurora australis and given you some good ideas.

In closing, the main thing we want to emphasize is that you plan, plan, plan.

The aurora australis in Tasmania is very elusive indeed, appearing only during periods of high solar activity. Tasmania is also quite susceptible to cloud cover, so as well as battling the risk of low solar activity, there is also the risk of cloud blocking the view.

Although we don’t like to say this, in honesty, we suggest you don’t set your expectations too high for seeing the aurora australis on your Tasmania vacation. Make sure you have other activities booked and enjoy the beauty of Tasmania for what it is, just in case those lights don’t show – they are called ‘elusive’ for a reason. But if you do happen to see them, they will seem even more magical as you will know how rare they truly are.

The best you can do, is to make sure you plan your vacation for a year with high auroral activity, and travel at the best time of year as discussed above. Download, learn to use and check an aurora forecast app, and try to spend a decent amount of time in Tasmania to give yourself a better chance of seeing the lights.

Happy hunting!

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