Capturing the Cosmos: Under the Stars with Dr. John McGrath  


Dr. John McGrath is a talented local photographer and astronomer with an insatiable passion for capturing and sharing the beauty of the cosmos and the wonders of the natural world.  

He has dedicated his life to exploring remote mountain ranges, underwater reefs and the skies and merged this love of nature with photography. Through his lens, he skillfully captures celestial bodies and stunning landscapes, delivering awe-inspiring images that ignite a sense of wonder and curiosity.    

Driven by a deep appreciation for the universe’s mysteries, Dr. John McGrath continues to inspire others with his captivating work, inviting us all to gaze at the stars and embrace the infinite beauty that surrounds us with his regular ‘Under the Stars’ Astronomy Tours held at Capricorn Caves. 

Dr. John McGrath, in his own words, passionately shares the motivation behind his work and why he does what he does below. 

“Understanding the scale and beauty of space and the universe is all about imagination. My imagination was sparked when I was only 8 or 9 years old by pictures and drawings of space objects and rocket launches in early astronomy books.  

I also grew up in the rich era of science fiction movies of the early 80s with hungry aliens hunting down astronauts living on bases on the Moons of Saturn or Jupiter and various other planets. It’s no wonder as a kid I dreamed of being the first person to walk on Jupiter! 

As a teenager, I was the youngest member by far of the Canberra Astronomical Society. I borrowed telescopes and scanned the skies with near frostbitten limbs at 3am on many cold -5C Canberra winter nights. I even did a course to operate the 1890 manufactured 9″ Oddie telescope at Mt Stromlo Observatory. 

I fondly remember looking at Saturn in great detail through it. Sadly, it burnt down in the 2003 bushfires. Life then got in the way with both work and play, a PhD in vaccine development, lots of bushwalking and then kids and a mortgage. But I’ve never stopped looking at the stars and I’ve never forgotten learning the sky the hard way well before the internet.  

As a crocodile tour guide for years, I jumped at the chance when the Capricorn Caves asked me to do some astronomy tours. Doing tours brings me back to my childhood and revealing the universe to people has refreshed in me that sense of wonder of the universe.  

I’m back in love with astronomy again (thank you Capricorn Caves!) and that reflects in passionate and engaging tours. If people understand and appreciate the universe better, then they’re more likely to give thought to caring for our tiny blue dot a lot better. Space is too big and violent for us to go anywhere else.”  

Capricorn Caves are truly fortunate to have the wonderful Dr. John McGrath leading the ‘Under the Stars’ Astronomy Tours. With his extensive knowledge and passion for the cosmos, Dr. McGrath brings a level of expertise and enthusiasm that elevates the entire experience.  

His ability to captivate audiences with his engaging storytelling and deep understanding of astronomical phenomena is truly remarkable. Whether it’s unraveling the mysteries of distant galaxies or unveiling the wonders of our own solar system, Dr. McGrath’s ‘Under the Stars’ Astronomy Tours are both educational and awe-inspiring.  

Check our website for the next available session but be sure to secure your spot as they book out fast! 

  • star rating  The cave was amazing, the tour was worth every cent. This tour is suitable for everyone who can walk, and it offers access for those with mobility issues. There is... read more

    July 5, 2023

    star rating  It was just an amazing experience to have a guided tour through the cave system and learn about the formation and history of the caves. The cathedral part of the... read more

    July 5, 2023

    star rating  Terrific tour. Excellent guide (Hudson) really informative and friendly. Explorer experience was easy to manage. Highly recommended. Must book ahead. We saw a lot of people arriving with no booking... read more

    July 5, 2023
  • star rating  Very interesting tour I was a bit nervous as had to crawl in a tunnel but it was short and 2 swing bridges - but that’s me a whimp but... read more

    Naomi G
    July 4, 2023

    star rating  Visited Capricorn Caves & did the Cathedral Tour it was value for money, if you like learning about and observing some natural beauty. Some stairs/ramps but not tiring.... read more

    Mark T
    July 2, 2023

    star rating  Very informative. Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable. Listened to Alleluia in the Cathedralamazing experience. Daughter and I enjoyed this experience. We learned a lot about the ecosystem in the... read more

    Soana B
    July 1, 2023
  • star rating  Great informative tour, with a fantastic coffee and cake to finish. There is a little gift shop to pick up your souvenirs.

    June 28, 2023

    star rating  Fantastic, definitely worth doing if in the area. Interesting history on these caves. Guided tour was good

    June 26, 2023

    star rating  A truly exhilarating experience. My husband and I stayed the night at a cabin at Capricorn Caves and were so impressed with the hygiene and cleanliness of the cabin. The... read more

    June 18, 2023
  • star rating  Very special experience visiting these caves and listening to Amber explaining about the cave formations and their continuing work in preserving its nature.

    June 17, 2023

    star rating  Amazing caves so different from any other caves I've seen looking forward to visiting again when they have Opera in The Cathedral Cave, if you are in the area... read more

    June 16, 2023

    star rating  An excellent experience full of learning opportunities an very eco tourism. Some special features that can only be experienced on this tour.

    Tracy C
    June 11, 2023
  • star rating  I joined a morning tour at 9:30 and the atmosphere in the morning was so great! I and my family enjoyed it very much! the tour guide was very knowledgeable.... read more

    June 10, 2023

    star rating  Heading north towards Cairns, I chose to take a rain check on visiting Capricorn Caves. However, with more time on my hands, I decided to make this a priority. And,... read more

    Greg W
    June 5, 2023

    star rating  We had a good tour in the Capricorn Caves with an enthousiast guide. The caves were on average quite accessible with some nice passages for those group members that wished... read more

    Harrie M
    June 4, 2023
  • star rating  Cave adventure was excellent, guide was very knowledgeable about the caves, after doing the adventure tour second tour was bit of a let down

    May 28, 2023

    star rating  Interesting tour. I particularly loved the Cathedral tour. Just amazing to sit there when our guide turned the lights off slowly and we sat in darkness as the... read more

    Maria L
    May 25, 2023

    star rating  My son (15 yrs) and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the caves today. The tour guide was super-friendly and extremely informative. We learned so much! An absolutely stunning cave.... read more

    May 24, 2023
  • star rating  Great tour. Izzy the tour guide was very informative. We live in Mackay and it has been on mt to do list for a long time. Glad I did it... read more

    May 20, 2023

    star rating  Our guide was very well informed and gave us a lot of info about the caves. The caves were amazing and we got some great photos. I would recommend this... read more

    May 19, 2023

    star rating  A great tour, Amber was knowledgeable and enthusiastic , highlight was the acoustics in the cathedral for sure

    May 17, 2023
  • star rating  Unexpectedly wonderful experience at the Capricorn caves, especially in the Cathedral Cave - fantastic effort made to make the whole visit truly worthwhile! Our guide, Amber, was informative and enthusiastic.... read more

    May 17, 2023

    star rating  So glad we planned a visit to the caves. Wish I would have ventured even further into the caves with a longer tour.

    Jeannie C
    May 13, 2023

    star rating  Really interesting tour even though we did the 45minute one. Rory our guide was great. Very informative and knowledgeable. Only improvement I could suggest is a more vibrant light... read more

    May 10, 2023
  • star rating  Tour guide was just perfect, wouldn’t have changed the way he delivered in any way. Thanks so much! Look forward to doing another tour one day!

    May 9, 2023

    star rating  Amazing tour with Lizzie, we did so many cool routes and was way for adventurous than we were expecting. Lots of tight crawls and the bats were amazing. Thank you!

    May 8, 2023

    star rating  Was an amazing cave system , we only did the cathedral and was hoping to do another more advanced track but was booked out .
    Would definitely come back again... read more

    April 29, 2023
  • star rating  Amazingly tranquil. Cabins extremely comfortable. Cave tours a most, just beautiful. Friendly staff who provide excellent service.

    April 27, 2023

    star rating  Fantastic family day out. We did the family adventure tour (with two 9 yr olds) and they loved it. Our guide James was informative and engaging and kept the atmosphere... read more

    April 23, 2023

    star rating  Our tour was amazing we all had an awesome time and our tour guide, James, was great helping people who struggled, he definitely is worth more money

    April 13, 2023