In the summer of 2017 I was fortunate enough to find enough time for some extended trips in my never-ending quest for the perfect Australian landscape photo. Adding several thousand kilometres onto my odometer, I was able to range from the Victorian coast, revisit some NSW national parks and coastal regions and even dip my toes into Queensland.
Over the years I’ve become increasingly more selective in my photographic output. Whilst every day was lovingly consumed by travel, scouting for shots, awaiting light or actively photographing there were many scenes discovered, even after a long hike that I considered not to be gallery worthy or lacking favourable conditions. Sometimes whole days went by without a camera even being removed from a bag.
On the flip side, I had some “sheer luck” moments, such as the view of Crescent Head during a storm. I put up my big umbrella and huddled under it, shielding myself and my gear. The wind picked up, and then the rain started, just a drizzle at first but pretty soon it was an onslaught. The setting sun chose to burst through the roiling clouds in a last defiant illumination, casting golden light on my scene. I captured the moment and seconds later it was swallowed by the storm and darkness enveloped the land like a shroud.
Another choice moment was finally getting some golden dawn light on Kanangra Walls with its prow-like cliff looming over the valley floor. I’d lost count of the many times I’d sat perched on this precarious outcrop only to be met with yet another fully clouded in, near zero visibility sunrise. It takes a certain kind of madness to keep coming back, but eventually persistence paid off. Fortunately it’s a wonderful place to sit and watch the morning unfold. The fog rises up out of the valley and offers tantalising glimpses of the view beyond only to playfully obscure it once more, usually until mid-day. This time I invested several days into it, until at last the veil was lifted at just the critical moment. A very satisfying outcome indeed.
Back in the mountains I had some good and bad luck in New England National Park. Hopefully the good is evident from the images, whilst the bad arrived in the form a flat tyre. No big deal you might think, until you factor in the remote nature of the location. I worked on swapping over my only spare, and had a worrisome night out knowing I had to drive back over the same rocky tracks the next day to regain civilisation. As it was, no further incident occurred, however the tyre was beyond repair requiring a costly replacement.
My luck played out well at Kosciuszko, with Wheelers Hut presenting itself in gorgeous dawn light diffused by a light fog. The trek was longer than expected. I’d nearly not made it. Opting to hike through the night rather than carry camping gear as well as my heavy camera equipment I’d trudged through the long, dark hours only to find myself racing at the finish to get ahead of the cresting sun. My haste won me the extra minutes needed for composition, so I was ready for the moment when it happened. I’d had the shot in the back of my mind for the last 35 years or more, so it was a real pleasure to see it come to fruition.
During this period, Kosciuszko also become the destination for a father-son adventure. Our ever keen 6 year-old convinced me he could take on “the big walk”, by which he meant the 20km “main range” loop that departs from Charlottes Pass, heads up to the summit via Blue Lake and returns passed Seamans Hut.
We managed it in three days, with one exciting night out on the mountainside and others car camping. It was a grand escapade, and he coped not just well, but splendidly, often leading out ahead and exclaiming about all the astounding views. Unlike our lad, I was completely stuffed by the end of the first days’ hike. Once we got the tent up I lay with aching muscles unable to rouse sufficient energy even to capture a snapshot for at least an hour.
It was a very windy morning that greeted us the next day. With 8km’s still to do, the gusts were so fierce we had to bend into the gale just to make headway. Our boy relished every moment. Some amusing videos show him almost launched into flight like a kite, with a big smile on his face. Great times!
So the question arises, where to next? That I can’t really say. I still have many grand plans for distant travels, but as ever budget is the stumbling block. I dearly wish to do some more hiking in Tassie whilst my legs can manage it. I’d also love to explore northern Queensland, and the whole top end. “One day” seems to be the mantra. Until then, I’m guessing it will be something more local.
Thanks for reading good people!