Far North Queensland place to be for November 14 solar eclipse
WITH just over nine months to go until one of the biggest tourism and astronomical events in the history of Cairns, the countdown is on until the Far North experiences the magic of a total solar eclipse.
Tuesday marks exactly nine months to the eclipse at 6.39am on November 14, with more than 40,000 visitors expected to flock to the region for the event.
A series of major events are set to hit the Far North to coincide with the eclipse, including a marathon and family-oriented event at Port Douglas, an indigenous festival at a yet-to-be announced venue and an electronic music and lifestyle festival at an undisclosed location about three hours northwest of Cairns.
The last time a total solar eclipse was seen over mainland Australia was in December 2002, where more than 30,000 visitors camped out in the desert near Ceduna and Lyndhurst in South Australia to watch the spectacle.
Cairns’ close proximity to an international airport, coupled with its status as a global tourism hotspot, means even bigger crowds are expected here in November.
The eclipse will be visible from Innisfail and Atherton to the south and between Cooktown and Lakeland in the North, with the best mainland viewing angle passing almost directly over the top of Cairns, the northern beaches, Port Douglas and Mossman.
Anywhere between Cairns and Wonga Beach will see more than two minutes of eclipse, with Oak Beach, south of Port Douglas featuring the longest eclipse over the mainland.
Cairns Regional Council said planning had started across the region, with the council’s first priority ensuring local businesses and the economy could benefit from the visitors to the region.
Council spokeswoman Lea Guy said a taskforce has been set up in conjunction with Advance Cairns to manage the event and the resulting tourism boom.
"They have the council’s full cooperation, covering every possible logistics requirement," Ms Guy said.
"Things like traffic control, where people are going to be at any given time and accommodation are all being considered.
"Our first priority is ensuring that local businesses have the opportunity to capitalise on the event."
One local business looking forward to the boom the eclipse will bring is the award-winning Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort at Woree.
Manager Lloyd Smith said bookings were starting to roll in for the weekend, but they still had room available.
"We’re ready, willing and able," he said.
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Main event: Manager Lloyd Smith says his Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort at Woree is "ready, willing and able" to meet any demand for the solar eclipse in the Far North. Picture: STEWART McLEAN