Vast, rugged and peppered with photogenic points of interest, Western Australia is a rewarding place to explore, especially if you’re into photography. With my camera in hand, I picked up a hire car from Perth Airport and set out to see as much of the landscape as realistically possible over three weeks.
Scheduling time for scenic walks and sampling highly-regarded wines produced on estates in the Margaret River Region meant making the tough decision to miss out the tropical north of the state. So Purnululu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s home to the Bungle Bungle Range, plus Karijini National Park, remain on my bucket list.
Without heading any further north than Kalbarri National Park, more than 300 miles up the coast from Perth, I was able to capture a selection of stunning images and experience enough of Western Australia to know I’d love to return.
Snap #1: Hutt Lagoon aka The Pink Lake
In a state that’s known for its arid climate and tough mining heritage, this 8.5-mile-long pink body of water may seem somewhat incongruous. Seawater seeps into the lagoon and evaporates, leaving an ice-like crust around the edge of the lake.
Located close to the town of Gregory (formerly Port Gregory), Hutt Lagoon’s blushing colour is provided by algae. As I photographed by the shoreline a local explained how the algae is regularly harvested to produce beta-carotene, a natural food dye.
If you enjoy photographing wildlife, take a look at the long-legged St Andrew’s Cross spiders who sit in the webs they’ve woven by the shore. Thankfully, they’re unaggressive and have patterned yellow abdomens, which make for striking photos if you capture the arachnids contrasting against the pink lake.
Pro tip: Visit Hutt Lagoon on a still morning or afternoon and capture clouds reflecting on the pink surface of the lake.
Snap #2: Busselton Jetty
The southern hemisphere’s longest pier juts 1,841 metres into Geographe Bay and offers great opportunities for photography, both above and below the water’s surface.
You don’t need expensive underwater housing to withstand the water pressure as you photograph marine life around the heavy wooden piles supporting the pier. Busselton Jetty has an underwater observatory that plunges eight metres into the Indian Ocean. Of course, snorkelling and scuba diving will get you even closer to the colourful fish, sponges and corals.
The jetty was built from 1865 to enable the loading and unloading of ships, so stands as an iconic reminder of Western Australia’s industrial history and has a free-to-visit interpretative centre. You can chat with local fishermen and photograph them in action. I took a boat trip, to capture the jetty from a seaward angle, then rewarded myself with an ice cream from a café close to the jetty.
Pro tip: Pack a tripod and capture Busselton Jetty silhouetted against the dusk sky while enjoying sunset on the beach.
Snap #3: Jurien Bay Marine Park
Indian Ocean Drive cuts through Jurien Bay Marine Park, which stretches 62 miles along the coast from Green Head, a resort with silver sands 124 miles north of Perth.
The area has laid-back seaside towns, picturesque bays that remain fairly quiet even during December and January, plus a multitude of marine life. Whales migrate past the coast from May to December and can be viewed during boat tours. I enjoyed strolling barefoot along the beaches looking for seashells, whose form and patterns proved rewarding to photograph.
Pro tip: Use a polarisation filter to emphasise the contrast between the pristine beaches and deep blue sea.
Snap #4: Kalbarri National Park
The diversity of Kalbarri National Park’s landscape makes it a great place to pause and photograph. You can capture coastal scenes and see a plethora of multi-coloured wildflowers if you’re here between July and October.
The region’s sandstone appears to glow deep red in the early morning light. The Murchison River has carved a deep gorge into the bedrock, making this a spectacular landscape to view from elevated vantage points or while walking. Following a five-mile circular trail – called The Loop, in typical no-nonsense Aussie style – gave me opportunities to find spots to convey the beauty and remoteness of Kalbarri. While the scenery is good it’s also worth keeping your eyes out for fossils exposed in the sandstone. Eurypterids – giant sea scorpions – once roamed here and have left their mark.
Pro Tip: Use the iconic rock formation, Nature’s Window – an arch formed by erosion – to frame Kalbarri’s landscape.
Snap #5: Nambung National Park
Many visitors enjoy a trip to this national park for the beaches at Kangaroo Point and Hangover Bay. I stayed hangover-free, rising in the town of Cervantes (124 miles north of Perth) well before sunrise to drive to the Pinnacles Desert for first light. At that time of day the soft sunlight paints the limestone formations within the arid landscape a velvety honey shade of gold. It’s like walking through a natural sculpture park and a joy to see via the viewfinder of a camera.
You might hear locals suggest the landscape is best viewed from August to October, when wildflowers are in bloom. Even in December and January, the peak tourist months, you’ll have this popular place to yourself if you arrive early enough.
Pro tip: Capture the Pinnacles in series of images, so you have everything from close-ups of single formations to broad shots conveying a sense of the landscape.
Snap #6: Super Pit gold mine at Kalgoorlie-Boulder
Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Australia’s largest outback city, lies 370 miles eastward of Perth. The settlement grew after prospectors discovered gold in 1893. Thanks to grand, late Victorian architecture and covered walkways I found the broad streets enjoyable to explore with my camera. As I wandered about photographing the facades I couldn’t help but feel this place would be the ideal set for a Wild West movie.
Most people shy away from visiting industrial sites while on vacation but I found the sheer scale of the Super Pit inspirational. Approximately 700,000 ounces of gold are mined from the site each year. From the viewing gallery it’s possible to observe and photograph huge mining vehicles working deep within the contoured pit. They appear tiny at the bottom of the open cast site, which will eventually reach a depth of 600 metres.
Pro tip: Book a flight over the Super Pit to shoot aerial photos depicting the vastness of this active gold mine.
Snap #7: Yanchep National Park
On entering Yanchep National Park, 31 miles north of Perth, I was told visitors aren’t allowed to cuddle the park’s koalas because of the risk of chlamydia. Mentioning I didn’t realise they had the disease prompted the member of staff at the gate to beam a broad smile and say, “no, it’s to protect the koala colony”.
A 240-metre boardwalk provides opportunities to get close to these tree-dwelling marsupials and take photos that fill the frame. You may see koalas in the wild elsewhere, but visiting Yanchep is a way of guaranteeing you take home quality shots. Visiting the park will enable you to see and photograph other Australian wildlife too. Mornings and late afternoons are the best times to see native birds and western grey kangaroos bouncing around the park’s grassy areas.
Pro tip: Take your time observing koalas and shoot a series depicting their behaviour, including feeding and climbing in the eucalyptus trees.
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