I love Southern Hemisphere stargazing. You don't really need a guide unless you're the sort who can't recognize constellations at home. Here's some tips to help you prepare now.
1) You need star maps. Even if you're familiar with the constellations from home, they'll look completely different when you try to trace them "upside down."
The best maps are found in "The Stars -- A New Way to See Them" by H.A. Rey. Copy the pages for the Southern Hemisphere 10° to 30° South and also the pages showing Argo the Ship and also the Centaur.
2) Bring a small flashlight. You'll do even better if you can find a bit of red plastic, like a red balloon, to cover the beam. This keeps the white light from deadening your night vision.
3) The Yaluru resorts, like hotels everywhere, are drenched in light that will keep you from seeing the dimmer stars. After dark, get in your car to drive in toward the national park. Down the road a short distance, there are no more lights.
4) Start by looking southeast. You'll find Alpha Centauri and Agena, the great southern Pointer Stars. On April evenings, they point up to the Southern Cross. The Cross is lying on its side, with its long axis pointing horizontally.
By the way, you'll probably discover the Southern Cross to be a lot less impressive than you've been told. On a number of occasions, I have amazed Australians by pointing it out to them, demonstrating that it's no more luminous than other constellations, and that it looks more like a kite than a cross. Still, don't miss it!
5) You're going to have a problem on April 5 and 6 because the full moon in Australia falls on on the night of April 6-7 in 2012. On the one hand, you'll see the lunar features you're used to "upside down." For instance, the Lady in the Moon rises face down, then spends the night standing on her head. Look for the Boy in the Moon, made up of the same features as the northern Man in the Moon when they are seen inverted.
On the other hand, the dimmer stars will be washed out. It will be harder to trace fainter constellations, although of course you will still see the bright stars.
6) We found that the skies in the southern states are no worse than those in the Northern Territory, unless you'll be overnighting in urban areas. You can enjoy darker skies later in your trip, after you leave the Northern Territory, when the full moon is past.
7) Don't forget the early morning hours. The stars move through the night Before dawn, you'll get a preview of the Austral winter sky. Vega and Deneb are winter stars there.
8) Don't forget the Magellanic Clouds. Since they aren't official bright stars, they may get overlooked. If you can dodge the full moon, they're quite noticeable to the naked eye. The Magellanic Clouds are galaxies of their own, close enough to us that we can make them out as sizeable patches of stars rather than a mere misty blur like Andromeda.
If you forget your star charts, here's what you do. Look south. (Remember how you find south: Use the pointer stars to locate the Southern Cross. In April, where the Cross points right in early evening, that's where the south star ought to be (except that in our epoch there is no south star).
Now, go back to Alpha Centauri. Make an imaginary line from Alpha Centauri through the dark spot of the south pole to a bright star low in the southwest. That bright star is Achernar.
The two Magellanic Clouds straddle the imaginary line, slightly closer to Achernar than to Alpha Centauri. The Large Magellanic Cloud is above the imaginary line, the Small below.
Edited: 10 March 2012, 23:28