Total Eclipse in Australia, November 2012

Anyone who saw the footage of eclipse hunters on Easter Island on 11 July may be wondering where they can catch a piece of daytime darkness for themselves. Locals on Easter Island will be glad to be left to get on with fixing up their Moai for the next plane-load of Polynesian pilgrims.

The bad news is that there’s a bit of a wait until the next blast of totality. The good news is that seeing it offers a chance to get into a seriously wild part of Australia. On 13 November 2012, the skies above Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory and Queensland’s Cape York peninsula will darken, before the path of totality whizzes south-east past the uninhabited Kermadec Islands (who knew where they were?) and across the international date line into 14 November.

Back a bit, Bush Tucker

Those familiar with Les Hiddins, better known as the immortal Bush Tucker Man will know all about Arnhem Land’s spectacular nature and vibrant Aboriginal culture. Bush Tucker Man, who bought the Top End of Australia’s culture and nature to millions worldwide  is very much alive, despite years of rumours of his untimely demise which seemed to emanate from the Australian community in London. After a few beers Les Hiddins was alleged by antipodean friends to have been eaten by crocodiles,  to have disappeared into Arnhem Land never to be seen again or (my favourite) to have toppled off an escarpment in the Macdonnell Ranges at the behest of a particularly zealous Director demanding that he should move back for a wide-angled shot. Les is happily still with us and enjoying his doutbless very unusual retirement.

Arnhem Land

Access is limited to many parts of Arnhem Land making visiting a challenge. Cape York is more accessible, being much beloved by 4×4 enthusiasts aiming for mainland Australia’s northernmost point. It should mean the tourist equivalent of a lottery win for the steamy country backwater of Cooktown and remote mining town of Weipa. This account of an overland trip to through Far North Queensland should whet your appetite. Bear in mind though that mi-November is the start of the wet season, and getting too far into the wild may be a challenge.

Cape York Peninsula in red

One cautionary note: us Londoners got massively excited by the 2000 Eclipse, only for a cloudy day to dull the spectacle. I watched from Parliament Hill in north London, where the disappointed crowd jeered the cloud cover. At least if you head for Cape York you’ll have something else to show for your efforts.

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