Usually over the Christmas break I head up to the Blue Mountains to do some hiking and visit some the amazing places up there.
This year we visited Blackheath, The River Caves Canyon and the Grand Canyon.
Below are a few of the photos from these trips:
My daughter was recently married in Hawaii and while we were there we decided to go on a doors off helicopter flight over the Ohau island with Makani kai Helicopters.
Due to poor weather on the day of scheduled flight it was necessary to reschedule to another day and Makani kai Helicopters were very obliging in assisting us in rescheduling with limited time available.
The weather on the day of the rescheduled flight was great and we had a very smooth flight.
Here are a few of the images taken from the helicopter.
A few weeks ago we headed out on a trip with our camper trailer in tow and no real route to follow. All we knew was that we wanted to head to Victoria and see the Great Ocean Road.
It was our first trip with the camper trailer and we didn’t realise how much extra fuel we would use. It wasn’t until the car started beeping and a light lit up on the dashboard that we realised how much more fuel we actually used. Luckily we were less than 5 kms from Holbrook and we could limp in there to fill up the car and a few jerry cars.
Leaving Holbrook we made our way down to the Murray River at Albury and after crossing over into Victoria we started looking for a campsite along the Murray River. We found one that we liked not far from Rutherglen and it was called the Police Paddocks.
Even though it rained a fair bit which was to be expected because we were in Victoria, it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm for camping. We enjoyed being in the outdoors and being away from the stresses of work.
The next morning we packed up to drive to Swan Hill where we stayed in a cabin so that we could get an early start for the drive to Murray Sunset National Park. We were lucky that we left early for the drive to Murray Sunset National Park as we had trouble finding somewhere to camp there and actually did not know where we were. After driving for hours through sand, dirt and gravel tracks and not seeing anyone else we decided that we should set up camp before it got dark so we found a suitable location and had one of the best nights of the trip.
I woke early, about 4am and looked outside to see the amazing night sky and all the stars that were visible.
There is always a bit of excitement on a trip and this one was no exception as we got bogged about three quarters of the way up a sand dune. After lowering the air pressure in the tyres and engaging low range we were able to get out of trouble. The photo below looks back on the dune that we were stuck on as was taken as we approached another one. Don’t forget that we were towing a heavy camper trailer at this time which made it a lot more difficult.
We had actually planned to camp near a lake in the Murray Sunset National Park but they were all dry so after navigating our way out we decided to head to Wyperfeld National Park as on the map it looked like they had a huge lake. We were disappointed again as the lake there had also dried up but we didn’t have time to find somewhere else to camp and set up there for the night. We realised that you don’t need a TV when you have a campfire and a starry night.
Still in search of a lake with water we headed south in the morning towards Lake Albacutya. The route to the lake took us through some barren burnt out forest and were began to wonder if we were lost again.
When we finally arrived at Lake Albacutya we found a paddock with some tracks across it. Apparently it hasn’t been full since 1984! We ended up driving about 13 kms across the lake bed and were only interrupted by a mob of about 50 kangaroos.
After driving across Lake Albacutya we headed down to The Grampians and found a nice little camp ground “The Plantation Campground” near Halls Gap to stay for a few days. It was a free campground with pit toilets, water and when it wasn’t raining, a view of the Grampians. It wet and windy for most of the time that we were there but we still enjoyed our stay. The campground that we had planned to stay in was closed as the area is still recovering from the January, 2014 bush fires.
We weren’t alone at our campsite as there were plenty of kangaroos around to keep us company.
With all the wet and windy weather we didn’t get much of a chance to see the Grampians but we did find Lake Londsdale. We were told that it was only about 10% full but I’m not sure how true that was as there looked to be a fair bit of water in it.
We left the Grampians and then headed to Port Fairy near the start of the Great Ocean Road. Port Fairy is a lovely little seaside town with lots of attractions for tourists.
One of the highlights for me at Port Fairy was the seal that visited when I was down at the wharf shooting the night view of the port. I could hear something blowing and was wondering what it was until I spotted the seal peering at me. I raced back to the car to change lenses and grab a flash so that I could take a photo of him.
Leaving Port Fairy to head to Princetown we typed in the address to our navigator which sent us down a street that was a dead end. At the end of the street was a cul-de-sac with another car parked in it. The street wasn’t wide enough to turn around with the camper trailer so I had to go wide and onto the grass to turn around. Big Mistake! We become bogged and could not get out even disconnecting the trailer and lowering the tyre pressure. Luckily Danni found a helpful resident who just happened to have some 4wd recovery tracks to get us out.
On the way to Princetown we passed the Bay of Islands but unfortunately it was in the middle of the day and not the best conditions to photograph it. I did take a panorama of it with my phone though and it looked pretty good. We realised that the best way to photograph the rock features along the Great Ocean Road was from a helicopter. I made enquiries with one of the pilots about removing the door for me so that I could get some shots but he said no as it would be too cold for him!
Arriving at the Princetown Camping Ground we were surprised that no one else was there, not even a caretaker! There was a note on the office door saying that if it was unattended that you could set up camp and come back later to pay. We spent two nights at the camp ground and did a fair bit of exploring around the area. It always pays to take the route less traveled (unless you get bogged) and doing so we discovered a stunning valley along the Old Ocean Road.
We have never seen so many rainbows as we did whilst in Victoria however given that it rained on and off most of the trip it is understandable.
Superb Fairy Wrens are usually difficult to photograph as they are quite shy and rarely stand still for any length of time. We were camped next to a family of them at Princetown and I managed to take quite a few photos of them.
To be continued
Not long ago a myself and few photography mates headed up to Stockton to spend the weekend shooting the sand dunes. I have always been fascinated by shapes and shadows formed by the wind on the dunes and jumped at the opportunity to shoot them. The most important thing to do is to let the car tyres down to about 15 psi as without doing so the car would get bogged in the sand.
Stockton Beach is located north of Newcastle and is famous for its fishing, the sand dunes and the Sygna Wreck.
The Sygna wreck has been there since 1974 although there is not too much left of it now as you can see above. I had expected something a bit more photogenic than this so was a disappointed.
I definitely wasn’t disappointed by the sand dunes though and we shot them in the afternoon, at sunset, sunrise and the early morning. Each time they looked different due to the amount of light falling on them and the position of the sun.
You can see in the shot above the shape of one of the sand dunes and the colour as the sun sets. The wind has created an interesting shape with eye catching ripples.
In this shot the sun is setting over Newcastle and if you look closely you can see my mate Chris setting up for shot on the distant dune.
4WD drive access to the dunes is very limited and they can only be accessed by the tourist buses which do not operate during the best times for shooting the dunes. We covered a lot of distance by foot walking over the dunes to find compositions that we liked.
Stockton Beach is also home to Tin City which are a collection of fisherman’s shacks that were built after the 2nd World War and are still in use.
Stockton Beach is definitely worth another visit and will be organising a trip in the near future.
The road to Tibooburra took us through flat and an often desolate landscape without many features to break the horizon. There were some distant hills and very few trees. Despite the barren landscape we still enjoyed the drive as the combination of the red dirt roads and deep blue skies is something that we never tire of seeing.
Plenty of road kill along the way meant that we spotted a lot of Wedge Tailed Eagles and I did my best to capture a few photos of them.
These birds of prey are magnificent creatures and I wanted to stop every time that we saw some but Danni had other ideas. Despite the protests I still managed to stop quite a few times but the eagles didn’t seem to like having their photos taken. I would fearlessly walk as slowly as possible towards them shooting as I walked and every time they felt I was too close they would fly further away. I would then keep stalking them until I realised how far I had ventured from the car.
All day during the drive the clouds were looking fantastic and I was keeping an eye out for a lone tree or some other feature that I could use as a focal point. I finally spotted a lone tree in the distance to use so I left Danni in the car on the side of the road whilst I headed off towards the tree. By positioning myself in the right position I was able to compose the photo so the clouds were streaking out from behind the tree. There was also a cattle track to use as a lead in line to the tree.
We had planned our arrival in Tibooburra to coincide with the State of Origin game as we couldn’t miss the decider. How was I to know that NSW would lose again and that I would be only of the two people in Tibooburra supporting the Blues!.
Tibooburra is quite an unusual landscape and has a lot of granite outcrops dotted around the area and even in the middle of town.
Wild goats were plentiful in the area and have adapted well to harsh climate and sparse vegetation.
We left Tibooburra the day after we lost the State of Origin and headed towards Cameron Corner – I couldn’t up with all the Queenslanders walking around looking superior!
It was interesting drive and we saw our first ever clay pan.
We couldn’t visit corner country without having a look at the Dingo Fence. At over 5,000 kms long it is the longest fence in the world and is still used to keep the dingoes away from the sheep in the South East part of Australia.
After a quick visit to Cameron Corner for a beer and a chat to the owners of the store we decided to head back to Fort Grey Campground to camp for a few days. We were very surprised to find that we were the only ones staying there and it was nearly two days before anyone else arrived. We had the choice of all the prime camp spots so we set up right next to one of the shelters to provide a bit of protection in case it rained.
The shelter included fresh water and free gas BBQ’s which was totally unexpected. As we were the only ones around we didn’t feel the need to pack everything away when we went exploring.
The only problem with this was the birds stealing our food – they ate nearly a full packet of chips and I caught one flying off with half a packet of Nice biscuits.
On one of our walks we were surprised to find Lake Pinaroo and even more surprised that it is was full of water! A lot of the lakes that we have visited on our travels have been empty but this was one wasn’t. It was a haven for the bird life of the area and in the evening thousands of Corellas literally covered all the trees on the opposite side of the lake. It’s hard to explain the sight and sound of so many birds in one place and it needs to be experienced personally.
Until you get away from the city lights you do not realise how many stars there really are in the sky. While I was waiting for Danni to wake up (I had convinced her that she should watch the sunrise with me and witness the Golden Hour) I took a few shots of the starry sky.
The morning’s sunrise wasn’t a spectacular one but it give me the opportunity to show Danni why I get up so early for my photography. The rising sun just lit the trees a beautiful golden colour.
We would have both been happy to spend the rest of the holiday camped right here as it was so peaceful (forgetting the thousands of Corellas that is) but we had accommodation booked at Silverton and we needed to leave after two nights. At least it gave me time to shoot the sunrise and the sunset.
This was my favourite photo from Lake Pinaroo and was taken late in the afternoon as I was waiting for the sun to set.
The next stage of the trip was to the historic town of Silverton which will be included in the next update.
As soon as we arrived back from our last trip to the outback regions of NSW my wife, Danni and I couldn’t wait to plan another trip to explore more locations. After looking at a map of NSW and googling various locations of interest we decided upon a route that was a big loop around the NSW outback.
We had planned to leave bright and early on the Sunday morning and drive straight to Lightning Ridge but we are both impatient and as soon as the car was packed on the Saturday night we headed off. We made it to Dubbo and caught a few hours sleep before continuing on to Lightning Ridge. For those that haven’t been to Lightning Ridge it is an opal mining town and is dotted with mounds of opal dirt. There are self guided tours that you can take by following the colour coded car doors.
Some of the locals seem very protective of their opal mines.
A popular place in Lightning Ridge is the hot artesian baths which are a constant 41.5 C and is a very relaxing way to end the day.
There are quite a few odd looking “dwellings” around the town including houses made out of glass bottles, sheets of iron around caravans and a church that was built for the movie “The Goddess of 1967”.
In the background of the church photo you can see all the mounds of opal dirt. We hadn’t seen enough mounds of opal dirt at this stage so we decided to pay a visit to the Club in the Scrub and the Hilton Hotel at Grawin. These are both very interesting places to visit and you are bound to see a few unusual locals around the area. Make sure that you pack your golf clubs as the Club in the Scrub has it’s very own golf course!
After spending a pleasant two nights at the Opal Cottage we packed the car up again and headed west towards Wanaaring where we had booked a nights accommodation in the pub at the bargain price of $65!. I must admit that you get what you pay for but the bed was comfortable and the shower was awesome (hot and powerful).
Only the way we passed through a lot of wide open spaces and some scary towns. You don’t feel very safe when you towns with every window and door barred.
We had planned to drive directly from Bourke to Wanaaring but a road train had become stuck on the dirt road and the road was blocked to traffic. A quick look at the map and we found that if we headed north through Fords Bridge and further towards the Qld border that we could cut across and then drive back down to Wanaaring. Fords Bridge is basically a pub on the side of the road but we stopped and had a few beers and lots of laughs with a few locals. We don’t know how it happened but the quick visit turned into a longer one and we ended up playing a TV quiz type game on the front verandah of the pub.
Despite having a great time at the pub we had to head off again before it got too late as it is not safe to drive on the outback roads at dusk due to the wild pigs, emus and kangaroos that often cross the road without warning. We nearly did get hit by a black pig that was was wide as it was tall and it came barrelling out from the scrub on the side and we narrowly avoiding colliding with it.
We drove for hours on the detour and didn’t see any other cars or people. There was a scary moment for Danni (she said something like Oh Shit) when the car slid off the wet road and into a boggy patch and stopped. It wasn’t a problem as I put the Navara into low range and drove it back onto the dry surface without any trouble at all.
If you look at this photo of the typical road you will understand how just a small amount of rain can turn it into a problem.
People of the outback seem to be having a competition to see who can have the most unusual mail boxes and this one was one of the most unusual ones that we come across.
Wanaaring is not a very big town and we didn’t stray far away from the pub while we were there. We were lucky to score the honeymoon suite out near the clothes line.
We woke to a foggy morning and did a quick tour of the town, from memory I think that only 3 families live in the town and they were all related! We had some time to kill as we needed fuel and the general store wasn’t yet open so we headed down to the Paroo River to cook some breakfast.
The fog still hadn’t lifted by the time that breakfast was finished but the general store was now open and we could fuel up for the drive to Tibooburra which is known as the most remote town in NSW.
Look out for the next instalment of Cameron Corner – There and Back, which will include Tibooburra and Cameron Corner.
Over the last weekend I headed out with my photography friends, Kath, Brendan and Don to a new location by the name of The Lost City which surprisingly enough can “found” in the Wollemi National Park.
To find the Lost City you need to first make your way to the Zig Zag Railway at Clarence NSW. From there you head out along a dirt road adjacent to the Newnes State Forest until you reach the Old Bells Line of Road where you turn right. You then continue along until you reach the Bungleboori Campground where you turn off the road and start travelling along a 4WD track which leads to a small car park which overlooks the Lost City. I must admit that the drive along this track was quite exciting as I had not previously needed to leave my car in low range for such an extended period of time. The track included some very deep holes, dodging fallen trees, driving over boulders and through small sections of water. Don, our fearless 4WD leader assured me that there would not be any problems driving in and he was right.
The Lost City is comprised of hundreds of exposed Hawkesbury sandstone outcrops which dot the surrounding mountains.
For me the main purpose of the trip was to be in a remote location away from city lights so that I could shoot photos of the night sky. Having done my research I knew that it was the perfect time for the Milky Way to be visible and all we had to do was hope that we had a clear night sky.
While we were waiting for darkness we used the opportunity to grab a few shots as the sun was setting and it created some stunning colours on the exposed sandstone.
In the image below you can see the path that leads up to the car park where we camped for the night. Having made quite a few trips up and down the path during the time that we were there I was a bit sore the day after.
As the sun started to set the clouds began to roll in and we knew that we would not have a much time to capture the Milky Way so we acted quickly to work out the best compositions as soon as it became visible. We also had to contend with a wind that had started to blow quite hard. During long exposures a wind causes havoc with things like trees and bushes and there is no way that you can keep them from blurring during the exposure.
In the photo of the Milky Way you can already see the clouds appearing and it wasn’t long before there were quite a few starting to obscure the Milky Way.
As a photographer you learn to make the best of the conditions that prevail so a longer exposure was used to capture clouds movement.
Without something of a known size in a photo it is often difficult to gauge the size of what you are looking at so I made sure that I captured an image which included my friend Brendan. By including him in the image it becomes a lot easier to put things in perspective.
Overall it was a very enjoyable and worthwhile trip. We all ended up with some great shots and even had a chance to photograph a dome created by my friend Kath.
If you would like any further information on the location, how the photos were taken or to purchase a photo simply use the contact tab on my website.
While we are planning on a new trip to outback NSW I thought that I would share some of the images taken on our last trip. Our last trip in the middle of summer in January, 2012 and we ventured from home to Hay the first day. Not a lot of photo opportunities as the Hay Plains are a bit boring to drive along as there was not much to see.
The next day we drove to Turlee Sheep Station where we would be staying for the next four nights. With a few days of temperatures around 40 degrees, the air-conditioned cabin was a great place to be in the middle of the night.
The reason that we chose to stay at this location was because it was a short drive down the road from Mungo National Park.
Mungo National Park has a lot of historical significance as it was the location for the oldest human remains in Australia which were dated as being 42,000 years old. Outside of Africa these are the oldest modern human remains discovered.
The highlight to me of Mungo National Park was the Great Wall of China
The road from Turlee to Mungo was not without its hazards. We always had to be on the lookout for emus and kangaroos as there were plenty of them around. Our way was often blocked by a ram that we nicknamed Nigel. No matter what time of day or which direction we were driving from we would come across Nigel standing in the middle of the road!
When we drove up to Nigel he would just turn around and run along the middle of the road for a few hundred metres in the same direction that we were heading.
Mungo National Park is a great place to visit and not just because I am a photographer. The tour guides were excellent and explained so much of the history of the location. It was easy to see why it has so much historical significance to the Aborigines.
I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the classic windmill scene while at Mungo
While staying at Turlee Station we took a day trip to Mildura and shredded a tyre along the way. We discovered that tyres do not last long when the wall is pierced by sharp stones! We were lucky to find a tyre shop open and were able to buy a new tyre for the Navara.
We made a slight detour on the way back to Turlee by visiting Perry Sandhills. The sandhills are slowly moving and covering the huge gum trees in the area. Much to the amusement of my wife Danni, I did try my hand at sliding down the sand dune on a piece of cardboard and failed miserably!
On the way back from Perry Sandhills we spotted another iconic Australian scene, the rusted old car on the side of the road.
The lovely hosts of Turlee, Nathen and Sophie Wakefield, invited us to spend some time photographing them while they worked with their sheep. Being a working sheep station in an isolated area, the whole family gets involved including the children.
Their young daughter took it upon herself to rescue any lambs that had been separated from their mother. She showed no fear walking through a herd of sheep that were nearly as tall as she was!
Next town on the itinerary was Menindee and Kinchega National Park. The stunning lakes of Menindee are often empty due to the droughts that we have experienced in NSW, however when we visited them they were overflowing to the extent that they were being pumped out into the river system. This was the first time in over 10 years that the lakes had been full. I am not sure what it is but myself and other photographers seem to have a fascination for dead trees and there are plenty of them located in the Menindee Lakes.
The serenity at the lake was amazing and was only shattered when Danni decided that she wished to catch up with her friends on the mobile phone (unfortunately, there was full mobile service out there)
We stayed at a lovely Red Earth Motel at Broken Hill and used it as a base for trips to one of the most interesting and quirky little towns that you could visit, Silverton. The hotel at Silverton has been used for many movies including Mission Impossible II, Razorback and Madmax.
Silverton is full of history and people with character. It is a haven for artists due to the beautiful and unusual subjects available to them.
We will definitely be returning to Silverton the next trip and will use it as a base a for a few days while we explore the area. The next town that we were visiting was White Cliffs which is famous for its opals and underground houses. We had planned to spend one day there and travel further north but the roads were closed due to flooding so we spent two days days in White Cliffs. The first night was at the White Cliffs Hotel which had some of the portable rooms used to accommodate the Olympic competitors at the 2000 Olympics available for use motel rooms. We witnessed the most amazing sunset while at Whitecliffs.
You can’t visit White Cliffs without staying at the Underground Motel as it is quite an experience to sleep in what is basically a hole in the ground. They have a plenty of rooms, a dining area, a pool and bar.
There were some wonderful sights and photo opportunities around the area and you can even try your hand at noodling for opals while you are there but make sure that you have a fossicking licence. We did find it interesting that the local council felt it necessary to have a big sign advising that you need a permit to bury someone in the cemetery. I would not have thought that there were too many people running around burying bodies without a permit. For fans of the Twlight series you will be pleased to know that I have found where the Cullens are staying for their holidays.
Some of the signs are confusing though, you have the huge welcome sign and then you have one like this which clearly indicates that they do not like tourists.
After 9 days of driving and enjoying the sights it was time to make our way back home. We decided to visit the home of Elvis at Parkes for a night to break the trip up as it was quite a long drive from White Cliffs. The trip home was via Cobar which is famous for its mining history.
All in all we travelled 3,800 kms in 10 days and can’t wait to do it again!!