A Pilbara council is aiming to combine the first hybrid eclipse visible in Australia for more than 1000 years with an emerging tourism industry to entice travellers to visit to the region. The Shire of Ashburton passed a motion at last Tuesday’s ordinary meeting to become a member of Astrotourism WA and put in place an astrotourism strategy to help launch an “astro-themed” self-drive trail. The motion stated membership would cost $15,958 split across two financial years, with the current split of $7979 already allocated in the 2020/21 budget. As part of the strategy, a new stargazing area in Onslow proposed to be located at the termite mound viewing area and Tom Price’s TV Tower at Mt Nameless. A Shire officer’s report stated the hybrid solar eclipse visible from Onslow on April 20, 2023, was the first time in more than 1000 years a hybrid eclipse had been visible from Australia. “This will bring a high level of visitation to the wider region, demonstrated in a survey completed by Tourism WA,” it stated. “In the survey, there was an indication that 50,000 people will visit Exmouth, the Gascoyne, and the Pilbara regions to witness the eclipse.” Shire president Kerry White said the region had spectacular night skies and limited light pollution. “With our vast region and little light pollution, both those who are awed by the starry nights, and those who are avid astronomers are amazed at the clarity and brilliance of the milky way in the Pilbara,” she said. “Engaging with Astronomy WA will assist us in determining the best environments from Onslow to Tom Price to develop star-gazing locations and hopefully meet the criteria to be listed as an Astrotourism Town with key observing sites. “Across WA, small and remote towns have created special places and protected the dark night skies to develop astrotourism as a niche market and we would like to take a similar approach in Ashburton and create a self-drive star gazing trail,” she said.