Australia ~ Eclipse '23

29 April 2023

Near Perth, I crossed paths with Justin, a remarkable Canadian mountaineer, wilderness trailblazer, eclipse chaser, and world traveler with whom I'd been exchanging travel trips for a few years. (His travel site is here.)

I visited the highlights of eastern and central Australia in 2012. But I waited for the eclipse of 2023 to visit Western Australia. I just missed cyclone Ilya, and it was clear skies all up the coast:

● Started with Perth and Fremantle then

● Flew up to Exmouth where the total solar eclipse narrowly grazed the edge of Oz

● Spent a weekend in Broome before...

● A cruise along the Kimberly up to Darwin

Perth was impressive with a growing blue skyline and a clean, bustling downtown. It's home to over two million friendly people and is the capital of Western Australia. I'd heard Perth was an urban success story but it still exceeded expectations.

Fremantle is a historic port city just outside of Perth. It was established in 1829 as a British penal colony and became an important hub for trade and commerce. With lots of well preserved 19th-century architecture and many good restaurants, "Freo" is a popular tourist destination.

The total solar eclipse of April 20, 2023, was unusually short and narrow:
❶ Totality only lasted about one minute instead of two to five minutes or more.
❷ Its umbra (totality) was only about 25 miles wide (40 km), not the usual 60-100 miles wide (100-160 km).

Nevertheless, over 21,000 people travelled to this remote location where the population is usually 3,000 to experience the one fantastic minute plus the dramatic, increasingly gray light, that leads up to totality. Above is the area where the people in my tour group set up their tripods or relaxed in the shade.

My great group with two from Venice, two from DC, and one from Russia.

We had a cool breeze and waves of the Indian Ocean setting the stage for nature's big show. This photo accurately captures the odd, increasingly grayish light, along with the strange "sunset" sky 360° around the horizon. I took this shot just before totality because I did not want any distraction during those 62 precious seconds. I added the round moon later which makes this pic very close to what I experienced.

After the eclipse I flew up to Broome for a weekend before embarking on a cruise along the Kimberly. Above is a spectacular sunset from Cable Beach in Broome.

Why travel around the world to see a 62-second total eclipse?

I'm not an eclipse fanatic. I have only seen totality five times — in Hungary, Libya, China, Oregon, and now Australia. (Plus a failed attempt in the South Pacific.) But I do love total solar eclipses.

Also, for me, this eclipse was also a chance to glimpse the western side of the big country (the world's sixth largest) and little continent (the world's smallest) of Australia.

The next post is about my cruise along the Kimberly coast of northwest Australia.