Tag: explorers range

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


Cathedral Reserve, Ferns & Giant Tree – Grade 2

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ABOUT: For woodland photography this 30 minute walk through giant ferns and trees is worthwhile. The large Messmate tree was recently hit by lightning but is still an impressive site growing out of the fauna below, not quite Sequoia standard but close. The walks around the Cathedral Reserve are also worth exploring with large eucalyptus and gum pockets as well as colourful trees in the autumn.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A wide lens for capturing panoramas in the woods or looking up at the large trees but a standard lens is useful as well as a macro for details on the forest floor.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Follow the main road through Mount Wilson towards Mount Irvine or the Cathedral reserve signposts. Park in the reserve and look out for the Cathedral of Ferns signs. You will cross the road to get onto the main trail.

Rigby Hill – Sunset Grade 3

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ABOUT: A great high spot on the northern edge of, and above the Grose Valley. Almost directly across from Perry’s Lookdown, and a few hundred meters from Walls Lookout. This offers views east and west and you can walk (be careful) down each side of the hill vs staying just at the top. Several sheer drop offs offer their own vistas too and it is best at sunset when the sky lights up on the right/centre depending on the time of year.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: For sunsets a grad ND and tripod essential along with a mix of ultra and medium wide angle lenses. The view left into the Evans/Govetts part of the Grose is good with a medium telephoto, perhaps 85mm or so.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: After you turn off Bells Line of Road at the Walls/Pierces pass car park, keep on the dirt road track until the lower car park, 2 minutes further. Park and take the left walk marked to Rigby Hill, approx: 25 minutes up and 15 back.

Autumn Mount Wilson Village – Grade 1

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ABOUT: Mount Wilson is a lovely town set in the northern wilderness areas of the Blue Mountains and a long way, metaphorically, from the bustling Great Western Highway towns. It is beautiful visiting in Autumn when the many gardens, tree lines roads and surrounding woods show off their rich warm leaves particularly good at sundown.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A tripod, moderate wide angles and graduates filters to dampen down the bright sun coming through the leafy wood lined areas. A macro essential if you are into taking many of the varieties of plants in the handful of gardens in the town.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Well signposted off the Bell’s Line of Road whether coming from Bells/Mount Victoria side or the longer Richmond direction. About a 10-15 minute drive off the main highway.



Mount Tomah Botanical Gardens – Grade 1

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ABOUT: One of the main tourist attractions on the Bell’s Line of Road between Richmond and Bells (the through to Mount Victoria) these gardens are well worth a mid to late afternoon wander. As well as the obvious macro shots of flowers there are some great walks with views over the distant Grose and across Mount Hat, but also some wild forest trails with great ‘sun burst’ potential as in my shot here.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A mix of moderate wide lenses for set scenes in the gardens plus a specialist macro lens. Tripod for garden foreground and distant views with bright skies – particularly off the decking of the main building at the top

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: A very well signposted attraction, map below.

Du Faurs LO Mt Wilson – Sunset Grade 1

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ABOUT: Mount Wilson is a fascinating place for photography, particularly of the tree lined roads in the town – this lookout is just next to the village fire station. It provides wonderful views over the high wilderness back towards Bells Line of Rd and rocky outcrops to the left and right down into the Wollamgambe Canyon. The various foreground rocks are impressive and great for foreground as the sun sets directly opposite the lookout.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Moderate wide angles 24-35mm range and tripods with a good neutral density graduation filter kit most useful.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Drive towards Mount Wilson and at the fire station as you enter the village make a left turn, you can drive down to the actual lookout park or park at the top and walk down.



Grose Valley Head – Sunrise Grade 3

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ABOUT: A rarely photographed view at the head of the Grose Valley with great views down the first tributary which are fantastic into the sunrise and with some mist in the air. The view is also half way down the ridges so gives a natural frame to your photos.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Moderate wide angles 24mm range are great for coverage but 50mm-100mm great for compositions looking down the valley. Grads for keep the sky under control and tripod for the low light of sunrise.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Near to the Google marker there is a right turn off the Darling Causeway. Use a 4WD and follow the track right to the bottom. Explore the views above and below the lower park and walk along the trail around the rocks.

Walls LO – Sunset Grade 3

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ABOUT: A long stretch of cliff looking down, west to east into the Grose Valley. Majestic views and 300-400m drops look great at sunset particularly as the sun goes down over the south cliffs in front of you.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Ultra wide angles if you want cliff edge, valley and cloudscapes in one shot, but a 50mm is good for the obvious stitched panoramas. Tripod & graduated neutral density filters essential for balancing sun and dark land.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Park on the car park just off Bells Line of Road and follow the marked track for about 25-30 mins. Be careful to take torch for late return journey on the same trail.