Where else can you go for a stunning visual display that looks like you can take a step out onto the ocean and climb right up to the Moon?
There is a phenomenon best visualised in Broome, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, where you can witness this beautiful natural event.
You can see the Staircase to the Moon on for three days during the Australian winter months, from April through October.
The Moon slowly rises above the ocean and paints golden light on the mudflats just off Roebuck Bay. You can view this spectacle from Town Beach.
How Does it Happen?
So just what happens to make this such a singular experience?
If you come to the beach ahead of sunset, you will be able to watch the Moon rise slowly above the horizon.
As it rises, it touches different parts of the mudflats and leaves them glowing, a bit at a time.
It’s caused by the receding tide combining with a rising full moon for a beautiful sight the likes of which you will not see in other parts of the world.
Besides Roebuck Bay in Broome, you can also stop at Hearson’s Cove in Pilbara for a look at this magnificent optical illusion.
You can also see it at Cooke Point in Port Hedland, the Lookout at Cossack, and Sunrise Beach in Onslow.
The geography of these areas—and Roebuck Bay is our recommended site for viewing this event—boasts a tidal range that exposes quite a bit of the mudflats, up to 160 square km. The tidal range measures the difference between the exposure of land at low tide compared with the water level at high tide.
It is the light of the full moon reflecting off these exposed mudflats as the Moon rises over the water that creates the phenomenon. The rippling effect of the mudflats enhances the light of the Moon as it plays over their surfaces.
Some people remark on the difference in the time of moonrise from one night to the next to the last. However, while there is much that is unusual about this event, the gap in moonrise times is pretty typical. No matter where you live in the world, the Moon may rise at one time one night and then as much as an hour later the next night.
What Will You See
Reports of the Moon’s appearance as it rises vary. Some insist that it’s a huge, glowing red orb. Others have posted photographs of it in all its golden beauty.
At any rate it will peep above the horizon timidly and ascend slowly. Once it edges above the horizon, however, most people agree that it gives a huge, majestic appearance against the darkening night sky. As it gets higher and higher, it will create the optical illusion that makes you feel one with nature.
Enjoy the Local Community
Some visitors report a festive throng of people there to view the event amidst the bustle of local markets selling food, drink—and their wares. Others tell of quieter evenings without the noise of any commercial interference. You can check with the local visitors centre to find out what might be happening on the night you plan to attend.
No matter what type of atmosphere you’re hoping for, bring a beach chair and a camera. You don’t want to miss it, because it might be ages until you get to see the Staircase to the Moon again.