The Backyard Universe

Multicultural night sky & astronomy experiences in South Australia

Heysen Trail & Fleurieu Peninsula shuttle bus services

Nature, scenery, geology, winery & day tours



Frequently asked questions

Skip to Accessibility -- Children -- Prices & payments -- Private group tours & other tour dates -- Tour locations -- What to bring & wear -- Weather

What's it like on a tour?

Also our contact details; and our tour Terms & Conditions, our tour cancellation policy, and our privacy policy


Covid-19 safety update

as of 15 Mar 2021

We resumed our tours and shuttle bus services in June 2020, after 12 weeks of mandatory shutdown and the development of a government-approved Covid safe plan before reopening.
To comply with current Covid-19 health regulations the following rules apply to all our tours & trips until further notice:


In addition to our existing cleaning procedures, all equipment and vehicles are also being disinfected between all tours. Our staff are also getting daily temperature and health checks.


Accessibility

Notes and photos are included on each tour's description page. Click on the photos to see a larger version.
For night sky tours we always pick locations that are safe to walk around in the dark, easy to walk to in the dark from your parked car, and accessible for our heavy telescopes. This also makes the locations wheelchair and pram-accessible, and easy for mobility aids to traverse.
If you're short or you have a balance problem, we've got free-standing stepladders with grab rail available on all tours. Ideal for small children too!
We've also got a kneeling pad for when the telescope is looking near the horizon.
One of our telescopes can be used from a seated position or from a wheelchair, but this requires specific preparations on the day. Our online booking system will ask if anyone in your booking has difficulty standing up.
If you need to be accompanied on tour by a certified carer/assistant, then your carer gets free entry.


Children

Most of our tours offer reduced prices for families and children, but any children must be accompanied by at least one responsible (and paying) adult.
Very young children on night sky tours depends a lot on the individual child, and on how active they've already been on the day. We've met 3 year olds who stay alert and well behaved for an entire tour and ask us profound questions too. Meanwhile their older sibling falls asleep 10 minutes after the tour begins....
Free-standing stepladders with grab rail are available on all tours.
We've already done many tours with an occupied pram or stroller parked nearby, or a picnic blanket with kids inside sleeping bags.

On our day tours, young children tend to ignore our presentation and instead try exploring for whatever interests them. You may have some extra rocks and other items by the end of the tour  🙂

We do not have any baby capsules or child seats for our minibus, but 3 of its 11 passenger seats are fitted with anchor points for your own capsule/seat.


What do your prices include?

All tour prices and payments are in Australian Dollars and include 10% GST, plus any booking fees, credit card fees and booking agent commissions. See the individual tours’ descriptions for any specific inclusions or exclusions in their advertised prices.
Any refunds are also processed in Australian Dollars; so if you paid us with an international credit card your refund may be affected by variations in Currency Exchange Rates.

What is Adult / Child / Family pricing?

For our public night sky tours:

Note: some of our third-party booking agencies are unable to display all of our price categories.

Prices for private group & school group night sky tours depend on the location and the group size. Contact us for a quote.

Prices for special events involving other businesses may be different from our usual categories. For example if we need to comply with Australian liquor licensing laws at a venue, then a "child" is anyone under 18 years old. See the special event's description for details.

Prices for our minibus trips & transfers depend on the number of passengers and the specific details of the journey. Contact us for a quote.

What payment methods do you accept?

   (1) Online bookings on our website:
      MasterCard credit & debit cards.
      Visa credit & debit cards.
      American Express credit card.
      Alipay 支付宝
      Some of our third-party online booking agencies may accept additional types of cards.

   (2) Payment in person on the day of tour (or travel). Contact us first:
      Cash (in Australian dollars).
      Our mobile EFTPOS accepts MasterCard, Visa, American Express; and the EFTPOS cards issued by Australian banks, credit unions & Australia Post. It also works with most smartphone digital wallets.

   (3) Direct Payment from your bank to our bank:
      name -- The Backyard Universe Pty Ltd
      BSB -- 633 000   (Bendigo Bank)
      account -- 157 173 428
      payment reference -- your name, or our invoice number
      SWIFT code (for payments from outside Australia) -- BENDAU3B

   (4) We can also issue invoices in some circumstances, by prior arrangement.


Where are your tour locations and can I go without booking first?

No, you can't go to a tour without booking first. Because...


What do I bring or wear to a tour?

For night sky tours our advice is to wear more layers of clothing than you think you will need. It's easy to remove a layer or two if you're too hot, but it's impossible to put on an extra layer if you forgot to bring it to the tour. Remember when choosing your tour clothing that (1) you're outdoors in an exposed area, (2) there's usually some air flow, and (3) winter night temperatures at some venues may drop below zero degrees C after midnight.

For our daytime tours we strongly recommend closed footwear such as walking shoes, sandshoes or boots. Thongs and sandals may break or slide off of your feet on slopes and rocky surfaces, and they offer insufficient protection against rocks and sticks and thorns. Some venues we visit also require closed footwear as a condition of entry.
In sunny weather it's also a good idea to wear a hat and sunscreen, and bring a full bottle of water.


What's it like on a night sky tour?

Some comments from previous tour guests:


Weather

Our night sky & astronomy tours are all “Weather Permitting”. Telescopes are not much affected by cold, but they don’t like strong winds and they can’t see through clouds or rain. On the day of the tour we will be reading the weather & cloud forecasts for the evening, and examining latest weather satellite images. If conditions are unfavourable the tour will be cancelled, and we will try to notify you via a message to your mobile phone before 4pm on the day of tour. Conversely if weather is favourable we will notify you to confirm your tour is ON.

Cloud Forecasts at our public venues are unreliable before the actual date of a tour, so there's no point asking us "is my tour still happening?" until the day.

If we cancel your booked night sky tour, we will try to offer you an alternative tour date if possible. Otherwise you will receive a refund of any payment we've already processed; or the option to convert to a Gift Voucher.

If clouds interrupt a tour in progress, we'll wait for them to clear and then resume the tour. Or look at something else in a different direction.

We have occasionally started tours later than scheduled if we know sunset clouds are going to clear away. Or earlier than scheduled if we know a clear evening will become cloudy later. We'll notify everyone of the changed starting time in the tour confirmation message.


For daytime tours which are outdoors and exposed to weather, we will cancel the tour (or modify en route) if there's thunderstorms or heavy rain in progress, or forecast to happen during tour. The tour will also be cancelled if the roads & tracks we use have been officially closed by the relevant authorities.
We will do a daytime tour if it's only light rain / occasional showers, but we may modify it to avoid walking on any steep slippery slopes, or driving on any "dry weather only" tracks.
Shade temperatures exceeding 40 degrees C are common during November to March. If it's a hot day our vehicle(s) will be carrying extra drinking water. We may also modify the tour to reduce your risk of heat exhaustion. If Catastrophic Fire Danger conditions are forecast then many of our venues will be closed as per their safety policies, and we will cancel the tour due to "severe weather" as per our tour terms and conditions.


The Heysen Trail traverses a variety of public lands, parks, reserves, and private properties. The part of the Heysen Trail we service is within the Mt Lofty Ranges fire district.
All Heysen Trail segments that cross private property are officially closed during our annual Fire Danger Season (normally early November to mid-April). Segments on public lands & reserves will also be closed on any days of extreme / catastrophic fire danger and on days of Total Fire Ban.
For your own safety we will not transport you onto an officially closed part of the Heysen Trail. Contact us if you're unsure about your proposed walking date and location.


Private group tours and other tour dates

Tour dates at Port Elliot need to be arranged in advance and approved by the local council. The venue is a public reserve and historic site. During the colder months the venue is frequently afflicted by fogs and low clouds that form along the coastline. This is a local weather phenomenon: it may be cloudy along the entire coastline from Goolwa to Victor Harbor, but clear a few kilometres inland. Consequently we offer our tours at Port Elliot only during the summer months.

Additional tour dates at Wirrina Cove, our darkest venue, can usually be arranged by us with a couple of weeks notice. The golf course doesn't get used much at night, but may occasionally be unavailable for various reasons.

Some of the "gaps" in our tour calendar are due to Full Moons or prior bookings. We don't recommend picking a tour date near a Full Moon.

We can also do, subject to our availability:

If you're planning a night sky tour at your venue, pick a spot that: We have used school ovals, golf courses, rooftop car parks, private airstrips, private driveways, and "the back paddock" before.
Contact us to arrange the details. A contract and regular invoicing may be appropriate for regular work at a venue.

We have: We also work (or have worked) with a lot of other businesses & tourism venues. Some of them are listed below:




OK...so you still have a question that wasn't answered already? Contact us.

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