Cheers heard across Cairns and Far North as total solar eclipse exceeds expectations
IT was the awe-inspiring moment grey skies threatened to take away, so when the clouds parted to reveal the first total eclipse in Australia in a decade, the collective cheer from thousands of revellers could be heard across the Far North.
For about two minutes, day turned to night and stars reappeared while onlookers at the Northern Beaches, Cairns, Port Douglas, the Tableland and Cape York soaked up the atmosphere from the land, sea and air.
Total solar eclipse thrills Cairns and Far North Queensland as region plunges into darkness
Pictures: Eclipse2012 Festival | Cairns Eclipse 2012
Social media reaction: Cairns Eclipse 2012
Some decided to make the event even more memorable with marriage proposals, people rising above the clouds in hot-air balloons and tourists watching the event from the decks of cruise ships.
Social media sites went into overdrive, with hashtags Eclipse, Cairns, and Palm Cove trending on Twitter while rumoured glimpses of eclipse-gazing celebrities including Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz and Bono made their way on to Facebook.
Eclipse 2012 Festival revellers at remote Palmer River gathered at dawn to watch the breathtaking moment of totality before continuing the party atmosphere.
The weather didn't dampen the spirits of those who rose shortly after sunrise to gaze to the heavens from Cairns Esplanade and northern beaches as crowds collectively cheered when complete darkness fell at 6.38am.
Ingham pilot Josh Liddle decided last minute to take two mates and three welding masks to Mareeba for a fly-in visit yesterday morning.
"It was great -- a lot more spectacular than I thought it was going to be," he said.
The light-plane pilot said he only made the decision to take the flight about 12 hours prior.
"I'm glad I made the trip to look at it. You can see why it gets such a following.
"We had to take welding helmets because that's all we could get at the last minute -- all the solar glasses had sold out."
In Kuranda, 1300 gathered on a private property, including more than 40 scientists from around the world but they were unable to record data because clouds only parted for about 15 seconds during totality.
Palm Cove proved to be a popular spot for boaties, paddleboarders and outriggers and Port Douglas crowds gathered to capture the eclipse on Four Mile Beach while cruise ships docked out to sea.
P&O Cruises' Pacific Dawn and Pacific Jewel were in prime position on the Coral Sea as eclipse chaser Peter Anderson talked to cruise passengers watching the rare event from the pool deck.
"Everyone on board was thrilled with the spectacle and it was particularly memorable to see it from the deck of a cruise ship," he said.
Cairns police applauded the behaviour of onlookers as traffic woes subsided during the morning.
"No disturbances were reported and traffic flows were not significantly disrupted during the hours surrounding the much-anticipated event," Senior Constable Russ Parker said.
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Look up: Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas.
The big moment in the Far North.