Tag: blackheath

Centennial Glen – Grade 3

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ABOUT: Centennial Glen is a deep gorge just on the western side of Blackheath. Above the actual gorge area is great for sunset shots out into the Megalong & Kanimbla Valley with a fantastic vertical cliffs each side. Descending into the gorge area is quite quick and there are some great cascades over orange rocks to the left (as you get to the main path) or if you don’t mind a bit of scrambling a lovely vertical drop waterfall (to the right) which is quite unique (you do need to take some waterproofs and suggest going with another person particularly in wet weather here. For sunsets up top there is a 10ft boulder on the path (just before it descends to the right) which I always climb up, on the left side, to get a good vantage into the open valley below.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: An ultra wide lens is recommended down in the gorge to capture the tight structures but on top at sunset a 24-35mm is OK, particularly to do panoramas across the scene. Of course a tripod for waterfalls and dark sunset blends, and a polarizer for the cascades to reduce reflections.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Park at the end of Centennial Glen Rd as marked below and follow the trail downhill (it is marked with a map and times), not the route through the steel gate. It only takes about 20 mins to get to the lower part of the gorge where it gets quite tricky to continue down to Porters Pass areas, and only about 10 mins to the sunset spots at the top (best ones are after going around……

Govetts Leap – Sunrise Grade 1

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ABOUT: For those photographers who want the easiest lookout, being 20 seconds walk from the car, but one that offers a fantastic 180 degree view of Govetts or Grose Gorge. It is ideal at sunrise as it is east facing with Mount Hay and Banks in the distance, with a mid foreground of Pulpit Rock on the left. Panoramas are very popular from here also as Govetts Leap/Falls with their 180m drop are on the right side providing a nice frame. Night photography is also recommended although Sydney light pollution is evident over the far escarpment. The only negative of this lookout is easy foregrounds so consider platforms 5-20 mins either side of the tourist lookout.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: You can park a few meters from a long platform so bring strong tripods for low light photograph. A moderate wide angle 28-35mm will give the most pleasing coverage, but ultra wides can get the right Bridal Veil waterfall plus the left high cliffs in one shot. Recommend the usual neutral density or reverse grads and a long telephoto for zooms down the left Grose Valley and distant hills.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Park right next to the photo platform. Consider a short 5-10 minute walk down to one of the two lower platforms for less ‘touristy’ shots & a little more peace if midday.


A Landscape Photographers Guide to Australia’s Blue Mountains


Inspired by other guides for photographers in well known areas of the world (eg: Colby Brown’s Yosemite) I thought I would put together a page / few screens that (a) demystifies the Blue Mountains for visiting photographers and (b) acts as a nice upfront, illustrated walkthrough to my more detailed location-by-location guide on this site. This ‘hotspot’ photo location list also details best gear to bring and best times etc:). The general tourist or hiking sites tend to not consider the ‘photogenic’ aspects of the mountains, even though many come for that, so this site is also a response to that.

For now though a broad sweep introduction to photographing Australia’s Blue Mountains – All text and images © Gary P Hayes 2017.

Print or Tablet friendly downloadable PDF version 1.8MB A Landscape Photographers Guide to Visiting the Blue Mountains, Australia


Point Pilcher, Medlow Bath – Grade 1

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ABOUT: A fenced lookout at the end of a 5 minute dirt road drive from Medlow Bath. It offers a side on view of what you get at Evan’s Lookout with a nice foliage foreground. As it is north facing you get the cliff faces being lit up by the morning and evening light but wouldn’t suggest going there in the middle of day hours. The viewpoints here are limited but the main composition is lovely as you can see in my image here. It is also a good point to get down onto the Grand Canyon trail below you.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A 35mm style lens will capture the basic shot but also a good panorama can be had as you are on a 120 degree view ridge. A medium telephoto will allow you to compress Mt Banks in the distance with the middle ground rocks too.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Drive down to the very end of Grand Canyon road (accessible from Medlow Bath on the right side of the Great Western Highway) and park. The main lookout is a few seconds away.

Mount Blackheath LO – Sunset Grade 2

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ABOUT: Mount Blackheath is a climbers dream and offers good valley and foreground sunset possibilities for photographers. The lookouts are best on the left of the official railed platforms as you can get the mount’s ridge in shot with a distant view of Mount Piddington and the Blackheath plateau in the distance. The gentle slopes of the Kanimbla below work great at first or last light.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Sturdy tripod, a ultra 14-17mm wide lens to get the widest vista recommended but also a medium telephoto for trees and other detailed shallow focus foreground. A grad kit essential

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Follow Mount Blackheath Road to the end, it feels like a long 30 min drive from Blackheath as it doubles back on itself. The car parking is obvious at the end. Walk to lookout/s about 2-4 mins.

Shipley Kanimbla View – Sunset Grade 1

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ABOUT: Sometimes it is nice to get off the edges and down into the valleys. There are a lot of small roads that wind around the Kanimbla & Megalong with fantastic views up onto the cliff walls at sunrise and sunset. The Shipley road takes you down into farmland and there are a few lakes to use as reflective foreground but access to some may require permission.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: For stitching or dynamic shots a tripod of course but a wide 24mm range lens should cover most situations. A 4WD and small kit as the roads can be tricky in places.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: The photo here is at the Google map spot but the valley roads are there to be explored, but again beware of private land and ask permission in some areas.

Pulpit Rock Blackheath – Sunrise Grade 2

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ABOUT: Pulpit Rock is a unique spot in the mountains with a railed walkway that goes out right to the edge of a promontory that juts out into the Grose Valley pointing in the direction of Govett’s leap. Fantastic views can be had looking West, South and East so sunrises and sunsets are possible. It is tricky to get good foreground off the thin walkway, but there are some great vistas and foregrounds looking east on the steps just before the end, and the steep cliffs on the right are worth exploring photographically at sunset.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: To capture the sheer vertigo inducing nature of this lookout near the end bring ultra wide lenses. Grads are optional as you might be tempted just to take the cliffs and valleys with little sky but for sunsets out across the valley necessary. Fantastic panoramas can be had with 35mm lenses too.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: The lookouts on 4 levels are about a 10 minute walk downhill from the designated car park area. The road in can be tricky in wet weather so 4WD recommended.


Perrys Lookdown – Sunrise Grade 2

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ABOUT: A series of lookouts and walks down into the Grose Valley, Blue Gum forest and campgrounds. But close to the car park there are fantastic views to the right down the Grose towards Evans and Govetts areas (which are just down the right track and past the gully). Fantastic tree canopy for foreground and on misty days the views looking right are stupendous.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Moderate wides 35mm are great for constraining the scenes better and on dynamic light sunsets a tripod is critical. A moderate 85mm telephoto is good for framing some of the distant cliff groupings or some views to the left of the walls of the opposite ridge.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Follow the Perry’s Lookdown trail until you reach the end, about 20-25 mins drive. 4WD not totally necessary.

Hat Hill LO – Sunset Grade 3

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ABOUT: Hat Hill is a small mound on the Blackheath to Perrys Lookdown fire road and provides unique views across the bushland into the Grose on the left and right. It is only a short walk to the top from the trail park and great at sunset which sets behind lighting up the undulating valleys below and there are a few nice rocky features on the top to use as subjects.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Good tripod and moderately wide lenses. Great stitched panoramas can be had from the top.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Drive down the Perrys Lockdown road, after it turns into a dirt track Hat Hill is about another 5-8 min drive.

Hargraves Lookout – Sunset Grade 1

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ABOUT: Hargraves Lookout is at the end of a long ridge that sits in the middle of the Kanimbla/Megalong Valleys. On the left are views to Medlow Bath and you can see the Hydro Majestic perched on the ridge, ahead you look towards Katoomba and on the right into the rural farms of the Kanimbla. A trail leads you right onto the tip of the ridge for some great foreground opps.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A mix of lenses but moderate wide best to capture some of the ridge your own and distance cliffs. A long lens for isolating interesting rocks and buildings to the left. The sun sets on your right and with clouds and a tripod you can capture some stunning big sky sets.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: It is a good 20-25 min drive from Blackheath (you turn off GWH across the train tracks) and well signposted after that.

Evans Lookout – Grade 1

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ABOUT: Evan’s Lookout is the second big lookout spot in the Blackheath area offering tremendous wide open views of the larger Grose Valley area. The upper viewpoint allows views down into the Grand Canyon entrance on the right while the lower left viewpoint allows you to get a better framing on the Grose River running out into the distance. Great sky shots can be had but tricky to find good foreground unless you jump over the steel railings on the left side of the area.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Super wides around 18-24mm are good plus some long telephotos 100-400mm range to isolated distant ridges. The sun rises right and sets behind so limited ‘sun’ ray options, but tripod essential anyhow.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Clearly signposted off the Great Western Highway and a big parking area with facilities. Walk to the edge only about 4 mins.

Mermaids Cave – Grade 2

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ABOUT: This is a unique glen and half cave most famous for being used as a set in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (the bit where he visits the kids in the underground dwelling with stilt houses etc). It is a tiny slot canyon leading to a small enclosed waterfall and glen which can be very photogenic in the right light with some mist around.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A very constrained space for photos so ultra wides a must, but given it turns into a lovely glen walk too a macro for flora and fauna recommended. Also it will often be very low light in the cave area so a tripod necessary too.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: After the turnoff from Shipley Road (which comes from Blackheath centre) drive down Megalong Road for about 1km until you get to the hairpin bend in the low image here. Park on the open rocky area which is on the inside of the bend and then walk across the road to the entrance to Mermaid Cave environment.

Wind Eroded Caves – Grade 1

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ABOUT: This is a large 20m high overhang in the cliffs 2 mins west of Anvil Rock car park. It is sedimentary erosion vs wind, but it’s effect is stunning at sunrise or sunset. I walked 15m further & up & found higher more intimate caves with views across to the Grose.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: You could handhold an ultra wide here for good effect, but higher up a tripod to get the caves & distant Grose blended or use a grad. Not much distance photography here, but some good flora macro very possible.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Follow the dirt road from Blackheath almost all the way to Perrys Lookdown, but make a left turn about 1km before Perrys towards Anvil Rock and Wind Caves are about 1km up the hill. Walk left from the car park to the Caves.

Walls Cave Walk – Grade 3

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Blue Mountains Photography

ABOUT: Although the massive Walls Cave is at the end of this short trail and is very impressive & has good aboriginal heritage the more photogenic area is the small canyon just before you get to it. A pool, stepping stones & views of ferns and a slot canyon are worth exploring.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A few small trails so pack light. A 20mm wide should provide good coverage of the slots, but the dynamic range of the light with mean a good tripod and some blending perhaps.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Park on the Evan’s Lookout Road parking area and it is about a  20-30 minute walk down a gradual hill. To get into the canyon areas some rock scrambling may be necessary depending on time of year.


Hanging Rock Baltzer LO – Sunrise Grade 4

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ABOUT: One of the mountains most iconic photographic formations, Hanging Rock looks like it is about to topple off the Baltzer Ridge. Sunrise is best as it lights up the rock, but I have been there on partially cloudy late mornings with good results. You can hop onto the rock over a 90cm slit, but photo ops are not worth it.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Good walking boots as the last section down to the photo ‘edges’ is a little steep and rocky. A good moderate 35mm wide angle will capture solid views, but consider ultra wides on the edge taking in the height of the surrounding cliffs too. Also walking a 50-100m beyond the hanging rock for other interesting Grose views.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Part at the end of Ridgewell Rd at the gate that blocks your way to go any further. Then walk for approx. 4.5km – the track is easy with only a few rocky sections, but it is a bona fide fire trail for the whole route to Baltzer Lookout. The distance between the ridge & down to Hanging Rock is only 5 mins or so but on a quite slippy and vertical slope (be careful).


[weatherzone mode=”currentweather” postcode=”2785″ locality=”blackheath”]

ORDER PRINT: You can order a print of the above photograph here.


Anvil Rock – Grade 2

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ABOUT: Anvil Rock is a fantastic viewpoint to see along the deepest section of the Grose Valley and directly opposite the face of Mount Banks and it’s 300+m drop. The valley runs below on a left to right bend and the railed platform below the actual small ‘anvil’ rock, has good step views (without much foreground sadly). Good at both sunset and sunrise due to the sun setting left and right of its NE orientation but better photogenic (with foreground) views can be had on the escarpment just off the short 5 minute walk from the car park area.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Moderate wide angles and some medium telephotos 105mm ish for distant views to Walls Lookout and Mount Banks cliffs of 500m height, across the valley. Consider a panorama of the northern walls of the Grose too.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Follow the dirt road which starts as Hat Hill Rd from Blackheath almost all the way to Perrys Lookdown, but take the obvious left turn about 500m before Perrys Lookdown – Anvil Rock and Wind Caves are about 1km further and both features are only 5mins from car park.

Govetts Leap Falls – Grade 3

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ABOUT:A sheer 540ft drop, the biggest in the Blue Mountains (only about 80ft short of Yosemite’s Bridal Veil in California – often seen in famous shots taken from Discovery View). The falls trickle most of the year round but in spring it is a powerful sight or after a big downpour (at least a days worth). Although you can see it from the cliff tops and Govetts Leap car park view, a short 15 min walk will get you midway down for dramatic shots looking up and down or 25-30mins and you can stand beneath them.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: An ultra wide to capture a close up view on the trail, or standard 50mm type lenses to capture it from Govetts or to the left of it on the trail to Evans lookout. A tripod to blur the water of course, and clothes to wipe spray from the sometimes wet walk down.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: From the main Govetts Leap car park take the track to the left that winds down in front of the main platform, past two lower lookouts and then on to the falls.

Grand Canyon Trail – Grade 4

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ABOUT: A great trail for a mix of shots from small waterfalls, gentle open canyon, high cliffs & lovely fern walkways. Best after moderate rain when the whole trail comes to life.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A moderate wide lens and tripod to capture the overall ambience and perhaps a panorama, an ultra for wide opens out the canyon.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: The whole trail is about 2-3 hrs more if you stop regularly for images. The climb out from either end can be taxing. Trail loop starts & ends near Evan’s Lookout.


Beauchamp Falls – Grade 4

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ABOUT: A very large and beautiful waterfall which very few photographers ever get to. It is about a 30ft drop and 40ft wide or so with a traditional fan shaped spread. You have to scramble across a few rocks to get the best positions and on large flow days only one or two positions are available, on small flow days you can walk right up to the front of it on small rocks.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A good sturdy large tripod for silky blurred water and a wide lens, 24mm or wider. A telephoto for nice details especially in the middle of the falls.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: You need to go on the Grand Canyon trail starting from the Evans Lookout area After about 30-40mins when you cross the river for the first time on the stepping stones go LEFT (Rodriquez Pass option) instead of RIGHT (the Grand Canyon option). After about 20 mins you will come to a cabled, official landslide crossing area. Go across that then down to the right (back across the landslide) to the falls which you can hear clearly.