South Pacific Star Party

From 1993 to 2019, the Astronomical Society of NSW has hosted its annual South Pacific Star Party (SPSP) at its 43-hectare country property, Wiruna. This wonderful dark-sky location is near Ilford, NSW (between Lithgow and Mudgee), about three hours' drive north-west of Sydney.

The SPSP provides amateurs with the chance to meet other amateur and professional astronomers, and observe under dark skies with superb seeing conditions, through all types and sizes of telescopes.

Sadly, the event was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 for COVID reasons. We do hope that the annual SPSP can be held in 2022. More information will appear here in due course. 


The content below will be relevant when it is determined that we can actually hold the event again, at which time, ASNSW Members and SPSP mailing list subscribers will be notified.


The SPSP typically includes daytime talks and workshops, while evening events include observing, socialising, and sky tours (naked-eye and with telescopes) for those of you who are not so familiar with the stellar skyscape. Other participants are usually more than happy to let you look through their telescopes as well. You do not need to bring a telescope.

Wiruna is also a bird-watcher's and nature-lover's paradise, with an abundance of colourful native Australian birds (Wiruna Bird List) and occasional possums, wombats and kangaroos. There are about 60 acres of bush on the property for those who like bushwalking. 

For those who seek off-site daytime activities, take the link to regional tourist attractions including Wollemi National Park.

Anyone registering must agree to abide by our Policies, in particular the Wiruna Light Use Policy, and also agree to the Terms and Conditions for SPSP Registration. Thank you for reading through these documents. If paying by credit card (preferred), note that the ASNSW uses the Member Jungle Payment Gateway, so you'll also need to accept their Ts and Cs

In summary:

  • Participants MUST register in advance by the due date. 
  • Numbers are limited, so register early. 
  • The event typically sells out in two weeks.
  • There are no waiting lists.
  • There is a Member discount for ASNSW Members. 
  • A "family" consists of up to three (3) related adults and any number of related children (children may be up to the age of 16). 
  • You will need to supply your car rego number or other transport details for safety reasons. 
  • You will have to confirm that you have read and agree to abide by all ASNSW Policies that apply at the SPSP and that you will ensure that all participants on your registration will abide by the Wiruna Light Use Policy.

Please read the comprehensive Terms and Conditions for SPSP Registration  and the SPSP FAQ for further details.

Please refer to the ASNSW Policies page for details of policies that apply at the SPSP. 

There are several Location/Accommodation combinations to choose from:

  • Barry Gerdes Lodge - Limited shared accommodation in the actual Lodge (book by email to the Treasurer before you register), but plenty of room for camping vehicles and tents.
  • Camping Vehicle on Lower Camp Ground - You will be allocated a numbered site, approximately 6 metres by 7 metres, for your camper van, camper trailer, caravan, motor home or other camping vehicle. All ancillary equipment, including your car (if towing), gazebo, solar panels, popup amenities, etc., must remain within your allocated site. There are 24 sites available. 
  • Permanent Tent or Caravan - ASNSW Members who already have their own facility should select this option.
  • Staying Off Site - This is for anyone planning to use alternative accommodation and just drive in daily and leave each evening. Cars should be parked near the main gate. 
  • Tent in Bon Glen - Bring a rake to clear a patch between the trees to set up. Not suitable for camping vehicles.
  • Tent in Imaging Alley - Space available for individual and group tents (where several individual members from a visiting Society all attend and want to get together). First in best dressed, but please be considerate to leave as much room as possible for other participants. 
  • Tent on Lower Camp Ground - Open space or wooded edge-locations with vehicular access and mown grass. Please be considerate to leave as much room as possible for other participants.

Astroimaging Competition
Competition details will be posted here before the next SPSP. 

Astronomy Innovations Showcase (for Telescope Makers and Software Developers)
If you wish to display your innovation to other participants, you may do so informally on the observing field on Saturday morning. If you wish to show a software innovation to other participants in a convenient environment, the Image Processing Pit (backing onto the Check-In Tent) will have tables, seats, mains power and recharging facilities available for participant use. There are no awards for these innovations, but we do hope you'll share your wisdom and experience with other participants.

T-shirt Design Competition
The design for the next SPSP (whenever it takes place) has already been chosen. Plan for the future and send your design anytime. 
The design should be ONE COLOUR on a plain background (e.g. black on white or white on black) and should be A4 in size. The colours of the T-shirt and print are chosen by the ASNSW committee. However, you may recommend a colour combination to suit your design. Your image may be submitted as a JPG or PDF file. Send your design by email to committee(at)asnsw.com. Note that minor changes to the design may be requested to enable effective printing.

To give you an idea of the kind of design that works, you may look at images of past winning entries by navigating from the main menu to: Resources > Photos > Star Party>SPSP T-shirts > SELECT

Each registered participant, aged eight-years-old or more, will receive a ticket in the Lucky Prize Draw. Tickets must be put in the correct bucket upon entry to the Meeting Hall before commencement of the Lucky Prize Draw, and winners MUST be present in the Meeting Hall to claim their prizes.

Adults whose tickets are drawn are able to choose from the selection of prizes, which usually range from magazine subscriptions right up to complete telecope packages.

There is a separate draw for kids (ages 8 to 16). The major prize in the Kids' Draw is usually a 6" Dobsonian telescope.

Lucky Prize Draw tickets are colour-coded for adults and kids. A Juniors' Draw for 5- to 7-year-olds may also be offered, depending on suitable offers from sponsors.

The ASNSW is grateful to our fabulous sponsors whose outstanding generosity contributes to the popularity of this event.

There are areas allocated for camping and caravans. Barbecues and firewood are provided on site. Hot showers and flush toilets are available in the Ladies and Gents amenities blocks. Great hot food (breakfast, burgers, coffee, etc.) is available for purchase at the SPSP from the 1st Kandos Scouts, who set up in the Pavilion. The prices are reasonable and this is a very convenient way to enjoy the SPSP. Other general supplies are available from Kandos, Rylstone, Lithgow and Mudgee. The Meeting Hall is used for talks and the Lucky Prize Draw, as well as for the Saturday-night roast dinner and the daytime vendor stalls. You can use the gas stoves, barbecue and pizza oven in the Bush Kitchen for food preparation, though this area may become crowded. There is a covered Recharging Station adjacent to the Meeting Hall.

Registered participants will receive, by email, a detailed "SPSP Info" PDF booklet with additional details. This will be sent out about a month before the event.

The limited on-site accommodation in the "Bunkhouse" is reserved for guest speakers and their families. Overall participant numbers are generally limited so that participants do not have to face excessive queues for showers and toilets, do not run out of water and are able to participate in all activities in comfort.

Some history of the SPSP is documented here: History of the SPSP.

SPSP1 May 21 - 24, 1993
(attendance 200+)
SPSP14 March 31 - April 2, 2006 SPSP27 May 2 - 5, 2019
(attendance 293)
SPSP2 May 6 - 9, 1994
(attendance 170+)
SPSP15 April 13 - 15, 2007 SPSP28 May 21 - 24, 2020
(cancelled due to pandemic)
SPSP3 May 26 - 29, 1995
(attendance 200+)
SPSP16 April 4 - 6, 2008  SPSP ...  
SPSP4 May 17 - 20, 1996
(attendance 180+)
SPSP17 May 22 - 24, 2009    
SPSP5 May 9 - 12, 1997
(attendance 265+)
SPSP18 May 14 - 16, 2010    
SPSP6 March 27 - 30, 1998
(attendance 280+)
SPSP19 April 1 - 3, 2011    
SPSP7 March 19 - 22, 1999
(attendance 300+)
SPSP20 April 19 - 22, 2012
(attendance 206)
   
SPSP8 March 30 - April 2, 2000
(attendance 400+)
SPSP21 May 9 - 12, 2013
(attendance 215)
   
SPSP9 March 23 - 26, 2001
(attendance 380+)
SPSP22 May 22 - 25, 2014
(attendance 262)
   
SPSP10 March 15 - 17, 2002
(attendance 400+)
SPSP23 May 14 - 17, 2015
(attendance 310)
   
SPSP11 March 28 - 30, 2003
(attendance 400+)
SPSP24 May 5 - 8, 2016
(attendance 321)
   
SPSP12 March 19 - 21, 2004
(attendance 305)
SPSP25  May 25 - 28, 2017
(attendance 301)
   
SPSP13 March 11 - 13, 2005
(attendance 317)
SPSP26  May 10 - 13, 2018
(334 registered,
255 attended*)
   

* Refer history link above for write-up of extreme weather conditions in 2018.

For those looking at a more comfortable style of accomodation, there are other options instead of camping at Wiruna.

  • The nearest Motel is at Kandos, about 25 km from Wiruna.
  • There are Cabins at Cherry Tree Hill, about 10 minutes' drive away, or at Wattle Flat, about 20 minutes' drive towards Bathurst via Sofala.
  • A list of off-site accommodation options will be reviewed post-pandemic and further details will be made available in the SPSP Info booklet.

If staying off-site, you will be required to park in the car park near the main gate so that your car headlights do not interfere with observing when you leave at night. 

Every year, the ASNSW and all participants are grateful to a band of more than forty volunteers who help with the preparations and safe running of the South Pacific Star Party (SPSP). All the procedures are documented online so, if you think you might be interested in helping out, check the web pages here: Volunteering at the SPSPIf you haven't volunteered in the past, but think you would like to, please get in touch with treasurer(at)asnsw.com.

We would like to thank our generous sponsors who have donated Lucky Prize Draw prizes in recent years: