So as you may have guessed from my Facebook posts, we have returned home from our big adventure, albeit a little early. The plan was originally 6 months however as the mercury was starting to rise and the roads were getting busier, we decided that it was time to return home. Not that we had stopped enjoying ourselves….far from it (who wouldn't enjoy traveling around the country for 5 months) but we missed our family and once you start heading in that homeward direction, it’s hard to step on the brakes.
Regardless of the early return, we could not have asked for a better trip. We truly do live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I always knew we had some amazing natural wonders here, but you can never truly appreciate how amazing until you visit them. There are other great places all over the globe, however the furtherest abroad I have ever been is New Zealand and before jet-setting to anywhere else, I really wanted to experience what we had on offer in our own backyard.
I already have plans on where I want to go on our next trip! Autumn colours are calling me :)
Now that we have returned though, I really wanted to put together a post detailing some my favourite locations and images from the trip. The hard part though is deciding which locations to cover. Hopefully what I have included below will serve to not only show where we travelled but help you out with planning your own adventures.
Carnarvon Gorge - Queensland
Carnarvon is one of those places with so much to offer that it would be impossible to see it all in one visit. It is a place that I have explored many times over the last 5 years and I still can’t get enough.
On this particular trip I climbed up to Boolimba Bluff (something I hadn’t done before) and I was fortunate enough to witness one of the best sunrises I have seen in a long time. It’s always a gamble that the light isn't going to be right when you have to hike so far to get to a particular shoot (especially when that hike involves so many steps), however on this occasion my hard work was well rewarded.
For accommodation at Carnarvon Gorge, my recommendation is Takarakka Bush Resort. They have numerous options ranging from caravan/camping to cabins and studio rooms.
Flinders Ranges - South Australia
How do I sum up the largest mountain range in South Australia?! The word EPIC comes to mind a lot. With over 430kms of spectacular vistas, its hard to not come away in awe of the sheer size of this place. I wrote a post on this area earlier in the year (which you can read here) so to save repeating the same information, I will just say this - YOU NEED TO GO TO THE FLINDERS! and if you are a photographer YOU DEFINITELY NEED TO GO TO THE FLINDERS!!
Lake Bonney, The Riverlands - South Australia
If you are into Astrophotography, then Lake Bonney really needs to be on your list of locations to shoot. Lake Bonney is located near the town of Barmera in the Riverlands region of South Australia, approximately 230 kms from Adelaide. If you strike the right conditions with clear skies and low wind you can expect to get some great shots! You can free camp right beside the lake and while there are no facilities, you can’t beat the views.
Standing outside our caravan, almost knee deep in the water, I felt like I was surrounded by stars. You could see them in the sky and also their reflections in the water. It was almost as if the sky and the water were connected in one endless space of celestial light.
Murphys Haystacks, Eyre Peninsula - South Australia
Murphy's Haystacks on the Eyre Peninsula are Stonehenge-like, natural rock formations known as inselbergs. These uniquely shaped granite boulders are located 40kms south-east of Streaky Bay. There are a number of small groups of these in the area right in the middle of a farmers field! Their name originated when a traveller in a coach saw the formation from a distance. He thought the mounds to be bales of hay and he asked how a farmer could produce so much. As the farm was on a property owned by a man called Murphy, the rocks became known as Murphy's Haystacks.
The property owner allows self contained travellers to camp there for the night for a small fee of $10. Well worth the money as it allows you to be there to capture both sunrise and sunset. The farmer also produces his own honey and it is for sale there with an honesty box for payment. Do yourself a favour and pick up a bottle (or two) as it is the best you will ever taste!
The Great Otway National Park - Victoria
The Otway waterfalls have been on my ‘must see’ list for some time and I was so excited to be able to see them. The falls are a relatively short drive north-east from the Great Ocean Road and there are 3 main locations that you should visit. These are Triplet Falls, Hopetoun Falls and Beauchamp Falls.
I was fortunate enough (or unfortunate, depending on if you like staying dry) to photograph them during lots of rain, so the falls had a decent flow and the overcast weather made for great shooting conditions. The weather proofing on my gear was definitely put to the test that day! I must admit that despite the rain, I was having a fantastic time however my kids (who were soaking wet) did not share my enthusiasm :)
For info on what gear I used and how to best shoot the Otway waterfalls, check out this previous blog post.
Ladies Bath Falls, Mount Buffalo - Victoria
Ladies Bath Falls is the first point of interest you will come across on the road leading up to Mount Buffalo in Victoria's High Country. Mount Buffalo has over 90km of walking tracks featuring panoramic scenery, waterfalls and amazing granite outcrops. The history behind this location states that ladies on their way to the chalet on top of Mount Buffalo during the 1930's and 40's would take a break during the long train journey from Melbourne to refresh themselves at the falls before the final leg up the hill.
On this particular day it was a couple of very brave teenagers that were attempting to take a dip in the alpine water. Summer was nowhere in sight, so needless to say there were a lot of chilled screams as they jumped in.
Empress Falls, Blue Mountains - New South Wales
When you love waterfalls as much as I do, adding the Blue Mountains to this list is a ‘no brainer’. The Blue Mountains are approximately 2 hours drive inland from Sydney and are home to some of Australia’s most iconic landscapes and waterfalls. My favourite spot up there is Empress Falls along the Wentworth Falls circuit in the Valley of the Waters. I spent hours there just exploring different angles and compositions. It was an overcast day so the light down in the valley was perfect. There was a steady flow of people coming through but there are plenty of places to shoot from without having to worry about anyone getting in your shot.
There are over 900 stairs down to this location however it is definitely worth the effort. Plus there is a coffee shop/restaurant back up at the carpark so you can recharge with some food and a caffeine hit when you get back. Also, just before I captured this image I had the opportunity to watch a large canyoning group abseiling down from the top of the falls. If I had more time in the area I would have loved to give it a go. It looked like an awesome adventure!
Camel Rock, Bermagui - New South Wales
A short drive from the quiet little coastal town of Bermagui in New South Wales and you come to 3 craggy peaks rising up out of the ocean, commonly known as Camel Rock. The formation was named by Bass and Flinders during the first mapping of the coastline of New South Wales.
Taking unique images in this location is largely dependant upon the tide as particular viewpoints can only be accessed at certain times of the day. If you plan on visiting this location to shoot, be sure to check the tide times first. Sunrise is probably the best time of day to get some great light here but I have also taken some nice shots at sunset as well.
In total, over the 5 months that we were on the road we covered approximately 15,000kms. Initially this may sound like a lot, but compared to the rest of Australia it's barely scratching the surface. In a country that has so many diverse landscapes, it's easy to see why so many people are on the road touring Australia. I can't wait to set off and join them on our next adventure to explore the rest of what this great country has to offer!