Tag: gardens of stone

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


Glen Davis Road, Capertee – Sunset Grade 1

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ABOUT: Glen Davis road is one of the hidden delights of the Greater Blue Mountains. It is a 35km stretch between Capertee on the main highway and Glen Davis at the entrance to the Wollemi National Park. There are a variety of types of shots along it’s length from monolithic peaks, green glens, rolling farms and big open ‘wild west’ style valleys. The right turn (Glen Alice Rd) before you get to the village is even more picturesque too.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Bring a full range of kit and moderate wides through to medium telephoto with tripods for the golden hours very important.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Start at Capertee and the road gets very interesting after about 15km when it opens up into the widest part of the world’s widest canyon.

Wolgan River – Grade 2

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ABOUT: The Wolgan River flows out of Wollemi National Park and into the open Wolgan Valley. It passes through Newnes and when in full flow offers interesting compositions of foreground river leading up to high cliffs. It is worth exploring spots along the Newnes to Wolgan resort stretch and requires some scrambling down river banks to get best locations.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Bring a tripod and graduate filters as the light difference between foreground river and sunlit background can be vast. A 35m is a good overall foreground to background coverage lens but consider a longer 85mm + to compress the scene.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Drive to the end of the tarmac part of Wolgan Road (about 20km from Lidsdale) and pick up the river on the un-sealsed stretch towards Newnes.

Newnes, Wolgan Valley – Grade 2

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ABOUT: Newnes is at the end of the Wolgan Road and alongside the River Wolgan. It’s hub is the old Newnes Hotel (which is now a museum, small kiosk & rental cabins) & a few campsites and some interesting ruins. All photographically interesting a worth spending a couple of hours getting some unique Australiana & historical shots.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Best under some cloud cover and most shots can be handheld as the vertical cliffs around mean you don’t need to use a tripod. Bring ultra wides and even a macro lens for details on the old mining equipment & buildings.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Pick up the Wolgan Road at Lidsdale and follow it for about 25km until you can go no further, that is Newnes. Lots of photo opps enroute of the river & cliff faces.

Glen Davis, Capertee – Sunset Grade 1

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ABOUT: Glen Davis is a tiny hamlet at the end of the Capertee Valley and at one of the main entrances to the Wollemi National Park. Although it is residential primarily it has a few quirky old buildings and side roads with abandoned buildings for foreground with the imposing cliffs in the background.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Best at sunset when the cliffs are warm and juxtaposed against the green foregrounds. Bring a tripod and ultra wides to capture the scale of the village and backgrounds. A grad filter to balance dark parts of the village with bright sunlit vistas

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Turn right at Capertee (if coming from Lithgow) and follow Glen Davis road for 35km and Glen Davis is at the end of the road. Some unsealed roads but OK for 2WD cars.

Wolgan Valley – Grade 1

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ABOUT: The Wolgan Valley is a majestic deep walled treasure trove for photographers. Drive from the main highway all the way to Newnes from the Castlereagh Highway about 35km stopping at various lookouts & points of interest. The Wolgan Gap has great views down the valley, there is a great stream at the far end of the valley and endless shots of rock walls and monolith rocks enroute. Golden light hours and mist are great combinations too for photos.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Bring a range of lenses and filters and a tripod as there are many different scenarios as you travel through the valley. The golden light hours require as usual tripod and good set of grad filters.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Easily marked from right turn (from Lithgow) on the Castlereagh Highway at  Lidsdale.

Pearsons Lookout, Capertee Valley – Sunset Grade 0

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ABOUT: Capertee Valley is hailed as the world’s widest canyon and it is certainly full of photogenic potential. The Gardens of Stone National Park is nearby and overlaps and Wolgan Valley is just around the corner. Pearsons lookout is one of the highest overlooks of the whole ‘Canyon’ and offers good views of Pantoney’s Crown mid right of shot.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: As the world’s widest canyon, panoramics are best from here and late afternoon and sunset ideal, but sunrise will provide great sculptured lighting across the peaks. A super wide and medium lens for panoramic stitching.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: The lookout is as marked and a 30 second drive off the main highway up a short hill – only 2km from Capertee Village.


Cape Horn – Sunrise Grade 1

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ABOUT: The Wolgan & Capertee valleys are hidden gems of the Greater Blue Mountains. Wolgan is particularly photogenic and has high valley walls each side which look fantastic rising out of a morning mist from the valley floor or up top looking down. Cape Horn is a lookout at the end of an hour or so along a 4WD track along the ridge looking down into the end of the valley with Mount Wolgan rising in the middle of the scene.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A full kit in the car and sturdy tripod and graduated and neutral density filter kits. Spare batteries if overnighting.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Take the left after the Google marker in a good 4WD only. Follow this dirt road for about 45mins to 1hr, when you get to the T-junction make a left.  You will eventually end up on the detailed map below. Follow this to Cape Horn As the Cape Horn car park is a good way off the main road it is ideally suited to overnighting, as the sunrise is spectacular and there are lots of Pagodas to explore in the near vicinity.

Please note the diagram should say ‘Cape Horn’ not ‘Hornes or Hourn Point’ (thinking of Mt Victoria)


Pantoney’s Crown, Capertee – Sunset Grade 2

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ABOUT: Pantoney’s Crown is a remarkable mesa rising from the Capertee Valley (the worlds widest canyon). It is hard to get close to but can be viewed from various lookouts. My favourite is from Glen Davis road but Pearsons Lookout has a distant view. Sunset is best from various locations between  17-21km from Capertee on Glen Davis road and as the sun lights up the top section of this stunning rock. But there are a few farm tracks (mostly private) which will get you closer.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: For distant shots of Pantoney’s Crown from Glen Davis, a 200mm+ but a 85mm to keep some of the environment in shot. Tripod essential to keep image sharp here.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Park along Glen Davis road on this map or a few km or so either side for personal taste. There are a few tracks which will get you closer but private land can be an issue.