Australian Centre for Astrobiology “Grand Tour”

1 - 7 August 2022 

Following the success of the past three Grand Tours in 2013 and 2015, and 2018, the ACA is proud to announce the return of the "Grand Tour" fieldtrip on 1-7 July, 2022. As a contribution to the astrobiology community the Australian Centre for Astrobiology will run a field trip to sites that every astrobiologist or geobiologist should see at least once in their lives.



Australian Centre for Astrobiology “Grand Tour”

The Australian Centre for Astrobiology at UNSW is running another Astrobiology “Grand Tour” in August 2022, led by Professor Martin Van Kranendonk, a leading expert in Precambrian geobiology. This field trip in Western Australia will visit sites that every astrobiologist or geobiologist should see at least once in their lives. It will be a high level educational and cultural/sensory experience that will enrich all participants – scientists and non-scientists alike!

The trip will traverse back through time, starting with the spectacular, living stromatolites of Shark Bay, with a rare opportunity to swim with these protected microbial structures. Following this, we will visit the remote sites of fossilised stromatolites from the c. 1.8 billion-year-old (Ga) Duck Creek Dolomite and c. 2.4 Ga Turee Creek Group, and walk through the transition across the rise of atmospheric oxygen (the GOE). We will then camp at Karijini National Park and hike through a canyon with walls made of 2.5 Ga Banded Iron Formation (BIF), and swim at the beautiful Fortescue Falls. Following this will be a visit to stromatolites of the c. 2.7 Ga Fortescue Group, then the c. 3.4 and 3.5 Ga fossiliferous units of the Pilbara Craton, including newly discovered geyserite in the Dresser Formation, site of the oldest evidence for life on land.

Expect intense discussions about such topics as the timing of the origin of life and oxygenic photosynthesis, whether life ever was (or still is) on Mars, the composition of the Archean atmosphere, and the setting for the origin of life. As well as the science, we will enjoy some spectacular scenery, memorable campfire dinners, and sleeping under the southern stars. Daytime temperatures will be mild (20-30°C) dropping to 5-10°C at night. Rain is possible but unlikely.

Dates: Monday 1st – Sunday 7th Ausgust, 2022.

Location: Western Australia, starting and finishing in Perth (exact address TBC).

Transport: Air (Perth-Carnarvon and Port Hedland-Perth) and 4WD Bus.

Accommodation: 1 night in a Perth hotel on Sunday 31st July (prior to tour start), 5 nights camping (tents and swags or cots provided).

Places will be strictly limited to 15 due to the capacity of the 4WD bus and camping facilities to be utilised.

Cost: AUD$4,600 per person.

Student scholarships available (closing date Wednesday 4th April)

Please make all enquities to:

Pondering life and science: the trip that changed me
A couple years ago, in 2015, I went on a trip of a lifetime — a trip that completely changed my life. I know that’s a big statement, but I stand by it.  Where did I go? I didn’t achieve personal enlightenment in a secluded meditation retreat in India, nor did I realise my life long dream of summiting Mount Kilimanjaro. I went on a camping trip to the blisteringly hot, dusty, red, barren region of the Pilbara in Western Australia to ponder life … with a bunch of scientists.    Read more