We’ve been hearing talk of the 2012 solar eclipse for years, but now it’s just three weeks away and Far North Queensland is the place to be on Wednesday November 14.
Just after 0630 local time, the moon will pass between the Earth and the Sun, and we are in the heart of the very narrow band of land area that will experience the total solar eclipse. Large numbers of visitors are coming to FNQ from all over the world, and many of them hope to see the eclipse on the east coast at places like Cairns and Port Douglas. But cloud is common on FNQ’s east coast in November. As the picture above shows, it looks stunning, but could be enough to prevent a clear sighting of the eclipse.
Some folk reckon you have a much better chance of clear skies inland that morning, on the high country west and north-west of Cairns. It’s lovely country up there, and depending how far you go, it’s remote, and the limited accomodation options have been booked out for ages. One popular choice is a music festival on a cattle station on the old Palmer River gold fields.
The site sits close to the centre-line of the eclipse zone, where totality, the time the sun is completely obscured, will be longest. I hear six thousand tickets have been sold so far and it’s probably 150 years since the area has seen so many people all at once. Back then, thousands of fortune-seekers were trying their luck here in the Palmer River gold rush. Only a handful of people live in the area these days, and apart from the festival camping area, the only other place to stay is the Palmer River road house.
It’s a camp ground, fuel and food stop, on the road between Mt Carbine and Lakeland. Andrew and Karen Stewart run the place, which is popular with travellers heading for Cooktown via the Mulligan Highway or on to Cape York Peninsula. The camp ground here is booked out for eclipse day and it’s expected many people attending the dance festival up the road will pull in here for meals and some of the souvenirs, like stubby coolers, t-shirts, tea towels and 3-D postcards bearing the 2012 solar eclipse logo.
Listen to Andrew Stewart tell Brad Ryan about preparations for eclipse day.
More about Palmer River road house
More about the Palmer River gold rush