Searching for summer

After spending a large proportion of the Australian summer experiencing winter in Europe, I was desperate for some sun and warmth. To make up for missing most of summer, we decided to spend a week of the April holidays in Cairns soaking up the sunshine. Unfortunately the weather had other plans. About two weeks before our trip, Far North Queensland was impacted by a rather late season cyclone. Fortunately this didn’t effect us or our travel plans, however, the damp weather proceeded to hang around for just about all of our week. Suffice to say we didn’t see a whole lot of sun. On the positive side though, temperatures were warm which almost made up for the lack of sun. Due to the rain, I sadly didn’t do much photography at all, but did take a few shots of some of our excursions which I’ve finally gotten around to editing.

After studying the weather forecast, we picked the day which had the least likely chance of rainfall and took a 2 hour drive south to Innisfail. There isn’t much at Innisfail but that wasn’t why we went there. Our reason for the day trip was to visit Paronella Park, located just outside of Innisfail. My sister and brother-in-law visited Paronella Park on their honeymoon and after posting a few pictures on Instagram, I knew that I had to visit should I find myself in Cairns. The history behind Paronella Park is quite amazing. It was founded in 1929 by Jose Paronella, a Spanish migrant, who dreamed of building a castle. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Jose but in the end he did get his castle as well as a magnificent garden. Today, the ‘castle’ is a ruin, yet the effect of the buildings and lush tropical gardens are beautiful and somewhat resembles Jurassic Park! We did a walking tour of the park and I was able to photograph some of the landmarks.

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You can’t really tell from the photos, but most of these were taken in the pouring rain while juggling an umbrella.

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In it’s heyday, Paronella Park would have been quite something! If you ever find yourself in Cairns, make sure you take a trip to Paronella Park as it is well worth it (and hopefully the weather will be better for you than it was for us!).

The drive between Cairns and Innisfail features some lovely scenery. There are plenty of sugar cane crops as well as lookouts over waterfalls and picnic spots. One stop that we did make was at the Babinda Boulders…

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On our last full day of the trip, the sun finally decided to appear from behind the rainclouds and we headed north to Port Douglas. If you haven’t visited, Port Douglas is rather touristy (a bit like Cairns), however there is a nice lookout and some beautiful beaches. Here’s the view looking out over Port Douglas

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One of the local icons of Port Douglas is St Mary’s by the Sea. It is a gorgeous building set in a beautiful location making it a very popular wedding ceremony venue. I’d love to photograph a wedding there someday!

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The photograph below is of an ornamental ginger plant which you see a lot around the tropics in Australia and beyond. I remember first seeing these plants in Vanuatu several years ago and thinking that they were quite unique.

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The main beach in Port Douglas…

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The image below was taken during a little walk we took to kill time before our flight home. As you can see, the weather was spectacular, just in time for our departure. Oh well! Plans for our next sunshine-filled holiday are underway and hopefully the weather at the end of September is a little more cooperative.

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That pretty much sums up our trip to Cairns. The whole week I only shot 106 photos, most of which were at Paronella Park and well below my usual average number of photographs. One positive about all the rain was the forced relaxation that it resulted in. I spent one day of the trip editing all of my Europe photos which reminds me that I still need to do my review post of our big adventure. Watch this space!

Phillip Island Adventure

We’ve now been home from our Phillip Island adventure for just over a week. We drove down to Phillip Island (roadtrip!) so that we could help out with all things techie at the Christian Venues Association ‘Connect 12’ conference. It was lovely to have a change of scenery and to be spiritually refreshed and challenged. It was also the first real test of my brand spanking new 5D Mark III as I was asked to do the photography of the event (I’ll post more about that soon). We didn’t have much spare time, however we did manage to get out one afternoon to explore Phillip Island.

A couple of years ago at a photography workshop I was made aware of a spectacular rock formation on the tip of Phillip Island. Having seen the amazing images from this location, it was high on my list of places to visit while we were there. Thankfully we were blessed with some beautiful weather and so we made the hike out to Cape Woolami to visit The Pinnacles…

All of the images that I had seen of The Pinnacles were taken from a rocky beach which looks directly on to the formation. You can probably tell from the image above that there is quite a drop down to the beach. After contemplating how we might get to the beach for some better photos, we eventually found a narrow path which rapidly became a narrow, very steep path. After risking life and limb, we made it to the beach and it certainly did not disappoint. The image below is my favourite frame from the afternoon.

It probably wasn’t the most ideal time to visit in terms of the light, however I was quite pleased with what we were able to see and photograph. The setting sun certainly made for a beautiful walk back to the car after our little adventure to photograph The Pinnacles.

Mudgee

Just a quick post this evening to share one of my favourite images taken while in Mudgee a few weeks ago. It was photographed at the Lowe Winery on a gorgeous winter’s day. I’m intrigued by the road and where it may lead…both literally and metaphorically.

It has been an exciting couple of weeks photography-wise. I’ll blog again soon but it has involved a new addition to the family and an awesome shoot!

 

Autumn

While it isn’t my favourite season, I love the spectacular colour that Autumn produces. This season has certainly not disappointed – I’m certain that the colour around Sydney has been more intense this year and has been beautiful to behold. A few weekends ago, we took a drive to Mount Wilson to enjoy a picnic and photograph the Autumn colour. While there, we visited Windyridge, one of the many gardens that call Mount Wilson home. It was a glorious day and we soaked up the sunshine.

I’m fairly certain that the following image is of a weed, however with the intricate detail, it made for an interesting macro subject.

And finally, my favourite frame of the day…

It is a beautiful time of the year to be out photographing (especially portraits) and it’s not too late to appreciate the last of the Autumn colour. I hope that you can get out and enjoy it as much as I do!

South Australian Adventure – Part 4

As I write this, our South Australian adventure has sadly come to and end and I am now at home. Since my last post, we travelled to Hahndorf on Tuesday and then into Adelaide on Wednesday. The weather in the Adelaide Hills wasn’t so great, so other than visiting a couple of shops and wineries, our time in Hahndorf was fairly quiet. We drove through some beautiful countryside, including many vineyards. I love the patterns that the vines make on the hillsides surrounding Hahndorf. Here are a couple of photographs that I took of them.

As you can see, it was a pretty grey day!

Our time in Adelaide was very relaxing with next to no photography! I didn’t mind this so much as it gave me a chance to put my feet up.

All in all, the trip was fantastic and I would love to return some day. South Australia is a beautiful place, with much of the scenery containing those gorgeous rolling hills that we first saw at Rapid Bay. While I’d still love to be on holidays, it is good to be home and back into a ‘normal’ routine. I’m about to start a 10 week photography course through the Australian Centre for Photography and I’ve got a couple of shoots lined up that I’m really looking forward to. I’m also excited to finally have the time to continue to develop my business. I’ll be sure to keep blogging about all of these adventures!

South Australian Adventure – Part 3

We are now well and truly past the half-way mark of our South Australian adventure! The last couple of days have been spent exploring the Barossa and Clare Valleys, both very beautiful spots that I would happily return to any time! I’ll recap some of the highlights of the last few days in this post.

While making our way to Kapunda from Mannum on Thursday (Kapunda is technically not part of the Barossa Valley, but close enough) we decided to visit the Lyndoch Lavender Farm. Unlike the Emu Bay Lavender Farm on Kangaroo Island, many of the bushes at the Lyndoch farm were flowering. Between the heavy rain showers which had followed us all day, we were able to take a walk around the farm and photographed the flowering lavender.

Each week the Barossa Farmers Market is held on Saturday mornings, just outside of the township of Angaston. We decided to get up early and enjoy breakfast at the markets. There was plenty of yummy produce available for sale at the markets and we certainly enjoyed our breakfast of Barossa bacon and free-range organic eggs on Lyndoch bread rolls! We wandered the markets for a while and I snapped the following photo of one of the store holders speaking with a customer…

No visit to the Barossa Valley is complete without sampling some of the local wines. We visited a couple of wineries, with the highlight being Penfolds (I have a penchant for Penfolds wines 🙂 ).

The rest of Saturday was spent visiting some more wineries, enjoying a gourmet lunch with supplies purchased from Maggie Beer’s (we visited on Thursday afternoon) and the Farmers Market, as well as a return trip to Maggie Beer’s to watch a live cooking demonstration.

Sunday saw us head north from the Barossa, through the Clare Valley to Burra. One of the things I was most looking forward to about our visit to Burra was being able to photograph an old ruin that is somewhat of a local icon. The building is located just outside of Burra, surrounded by a grain crop, and features on just about every piece of tourist information about the township. The building has long been abandoned, and is now home only to several pigeons, however it was made famous after being featured on the cover of the Midnight Oil album Diesel and Dust. Interestingly, the original photograph for the album was taken by well known Australian photographer Ken Duncan. You can read about the story behind Ken Duncan’s photograph of it here (click on the story button under the image). Having seen images of the field around the ruin planted with a canola crop, I was hoping that we too would see it in that state as many of the canola crops here are flowering and they look spectacular. Alas, there was no canola for our visit, only a grain crop (my guess is either barley or oats), yet it still looked quite beautiful surrounded by the lush green vegetation of the crop. And those gorgeous rolling hills so common to South Australia are in the background! We visited the ruins during ‘golden hour’, so the light was stunning! Here are a few photos from our visit.

Ian also enjoyed photographing the ruins during golden hour!

Did I mention how awesome the light was?? Beautiful….

Tomorrow we head for the hills – the Adelaide hills – and will spend the night at Hahndorf. We briefly visited Hahndorf last November and it is a gorgeous little town with a strong German influence. It will be good to explore the region some more before we head back to Adelaide for the last couple of days of our trip. It’s hard to believe how quickly the time has flown by and that our trip is almost over. We have seen some breathtaking scenery and I feel very blessed that we have had this opportunity. I’m looking forward to doing some more photography over the next couple of days and I’ll post about our adventures again soon!

P.S. If you ever find yourself in Burra and in need of a meal, I cannot recommend La Pecora Nera enough! We enjoyed our dinner on Sunday night so much that we went back again tonight (Monday). The pizza and pasta is authentic Italian and is just as good (if not better) than what you would find in Italy! Don’t get me started on the hot chocolate though…oh my goodness…so thick that I had to eat it with a spoon! YUM!

South Australian Adventure – Part 2

The adventure continues! We have now left Kangaroo Island and, after spending last night in Victor Harbor, are in Mannum on the Murray River. Since my last post we explored more of Kangaroo Island, having visited much of the western end of the island and south coast. On Tuesday morning we headed out to Cape Borda lighthouse which is on the northwestern tip of the island. Built in 1858, the history behind the lighthouse and it’s keepers is quite fascinating. Life was certainly very difficult for those living in such a remote place two centuries ago! The image below is of Cape Borda lighthouse.

Tuesday was also spent visiting West Bay in Flinders Chase National Park and a return trip to Remarkable Rocks to photograph the sunset. Despite there being less cloud than on Sunday’s expedition to Remarkable Rocks, the light was entirely different! We had some lovely golden light on different sections of the rocks but the beautiful soft light which we experienced on Sunday was absent on the rocks that I featured in my last blog post. Here is one of the images that I captured of the golden light.

As you can see, the light really highlighted the red in the rocks!

Yesterday was spent exploring the south coast of KI, with visits to Seal Bay (most of its occupants were sleeping in the sunshine on the beach!), a Eucalyptus Oil farm, a honey farm and a brief drive around Penneshaw as we waited for our afternoon ferry back to the mainland. The image below was photographed at Seal Bay – the view down the coast was quite spectacular!

Today we travelled from our overnight stop at Victor Harbor to Mannum via Goolwa, Strathalbyn and Murray Bridge. It has been a relatively quiet day photography-wise, however I’m looking forward to getting back into doing lots of photography when we get to the Barossa Valley tomorrow. From a photography perspective, I’m pretty sure that the beautiful landscapes of Kangaroo Island will be difficult to beat, however it will be good to enjoy some different scenery over the next couple of days. I’ll be sure to post some more photos of our adventures very soon!

South Australian Adventure – Part 1

We are now three days into our South Australian adventure and have been having a great time! My apologies in advance for the length of this post as I try to compact 3 days into one post!

Once we arrived in Adelaide on Saturday, we picked up our car and headed to McLaren Vale. McLaren Vale is well known for it’s wine despite being the smaller cousin of the Barossa Valley. We sampled a few of the local wines and enjoyed the beautiful countryside. One particular highlight was the Hugh Hamilton winery as it has a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. Quite spectacular!

From McLaren Vale we travelled down the Fleurieu Peninsula towards Cape Jervis in preparation for our ferry trip to Kangaroo Island that evening. We had a few hours to kill so we made a little detour to Rapid Bay. Other than a recently upgraded jetty, we had no idea what was there but we were in for a treat! The rolling green hills on the way in to Rapid Bay were stunning…

From Rapid Bay we made our way down to Cape Jervis in time for the evening ferry trip. By the time we arrived in Penneshaw (Kangaroo Island) it was quite dark, so we didn’t get so see much on the drive to American River.

Yesterday was spent exploring the north coast of Kangaroo Island (or KI as the locals call it). A highlight included the Emu Bay Lavender Farm and their lavender flavoured ice cream. It was quite delicious! After spending our morning on the north coast, we headed west to our accommodation at Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat. We quickly unpacked the car, grabbed our camera gear and headed out to Flinders Chase National Park in time for sunset at Remarkable Rocks. Our first stop was Cape Du Couedic lighthouse:

Next stop was Admirals Arch, which was home to numerous sea lions. Getting to the arch required a short walk down a number of boardwalks and steps. Along the way, I had some fun with my telephoto lens, photographing the delicate groundcovers that somehow managed to survive the freezing gale which I’m sure was blowing straight up from Antarctica! I’ll save those photos for another blog post though 🙂

Eventually we made it to Remarkable Rocks and, along with a group of photographers on a tour (what are the odds!?), happened to be the only people there for sunset. It had been cloudy all afternoon on the western side of KI, but thankfully we did get to enjoy some nice colour in the clouds as the sun set. Here are a few images that I photographed of Remarkable Rocks at sunset. And yes, the rock formations are quite remarkable!

Today we visited Vivonne Bay, Little Sahara and enjoyed a delicious seafood platter for lunch at the Marron Cafe. In case you are wondering, marron is freshwater crayfish.

Tomorrow we are planning on heading to Cape Borda, West Bay and if the weather is looking good, we may make another trip to Remarkable Rocks.

As I wrap up this post, here are a couple of observations of life on KI:

  • All of the locals are very friendly. This is most noticeable when driving around as just about every local will wave!
  • The island lives up to its reputation of being home to gourmet food and wine. All the food we have enjoyed has been excellent. I think I’ll be joining a gym when I get home!
  • Despite seeing mostly roadkill during the day, there are thousands of Kangaroos and Wallabies that come out at night! Because of this, it is recommended not to drive between the towns after sunset.
  • The scenery around the island is quite varied depending on what area you are in. The centre of KI is largely farmland and is very lush, while the western end is windswept and rugged.
  • This is a place that you come to in order to relax.

 

Lorne

Things have been a little quiet on here during the last week, so I thought that it was about time I posted an update! At the moment I’m in Lorne, Victoria (for those of you who are more visual, here is a map!). I’ve been here since Saturday afternoon to attend a large education conference. It has been exciting, challenging and exhausting. I’m staying right on the beach which makes it very handy for getting out during sunrise and sunset to do a bit of photography. Also very handy is the fact that sunrise isn’t until 7.15am, which means that I don’t have to sacrifice too much sleep! I photographed the sunrise on Sunday morning however it wasn’t spectacularly brilliant – lots of cloud was on the horizon, blocking the sunrise. Unfortunately I missed a ripper of a sunrise this morning as the conference starting earlier. I was kicking myself that I missed it, so have determined to get up a bit earlier tomorrow so that I’m ready for the sunrise (and won’t be late to the conference).

This evening I noticed some nice colour happening in the sky during sunset, so I grabbed my camera and headed down to the beach. Here is what I captured:

Here’s hoping that tomorrow’s sunrise is another spectacular one!