CAROL Redford of Red Gully is a finalist in this year’s $10,000 Western Australian AgriFuturesTM Rural Women’s Award.
Ms Redford, who used to own the Gingin Observatory and now runs Stargazers Club WA, aims to mentor Wheatbelt tourism organisations and support astro-tourism businesses to attract visitors to regional towns.
Her profile said she was an avid stargazer who wanted to share her love of astronomy and help people from all over the world discover the night sky in Western Australia.
With astro tourism picked to be the “next big thing” in travel, she identified that WA’s Wheatbelt and Mid West towns, with their low light pollution, present an opportunity to capitalise on the growing international interest in celestial experiences in places where the sky is the darkest and most clear.
The southern hemisphere is recognised as where the best parts of the Milky Way are seen.
Wheatbelt and Mid West towns are far enough away from Perth light pollution for dark skies to be protected and the region is home to international space science projects like the Square Kilometre Array, Australian International Gravitational Observatory and the European Space Agency Deep Space Antenna.
Her project is commercially focused and she hopes to encourage Wheatbelt farmers and communities to proudly share night sky views with visitors.
She sees an important role for Aboriginal tourism businesses to share their stories and connections with the night and wants to encourage regional and metropolitan students, to engage with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the Wheatbelt for future employment opportunities in regional towns.
An experienced small business operator, she is a qualified marketing professional, has considerable experience working in state and local government, and served on the board Heartlands WA.
She is the Chair of Astronomy WA and with the Stargazers Club WA, she partners with Act-Belong-Commit, WA’s health promotion campaign to promote stargazing as an activity that’s great for mental health.
The Western Australian winner will be announced on Wednesday, March 28 at an event held at Government House.
The national winner will be announced in September.