Tag: sunrise

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


Prince Henry Cliff Walk – Sunrise Grade 1

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ABOUT: This walk is a very popular just below the cliff top from West Leura to West Katoomba. It takes in many of the tourist central spots but at dawn or after sunset it is a great photographers playground. Most of the lookouts are large & look South into the Jamison with a variety of foreground & cliff orientations, plus there are some lovely gullys which on misty days become very atmospheric. Panoramas are spectacular from many of the locations.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: If you reccy the lookouts you can park only minutes away from most of them, so bring a full kit, unless walking the route. Tripods are critical for early hours and a good range of ultra to moderate wide lenses and graduate neutral density as it is a big sky in front of you from here.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: See detailed map below and scout the lookouts, but photographic friendly ones are Spooners, Lady Darleys and Lady Carrington. Car parking all the way along just above the trail.

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)


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.

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.

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.

Juliet’s Balcony LO – Sunrise Grade 3

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ABOUT: This is the next lookout below Vanimans on the trail that goes from Scenic World down the Furber steps and offers amazing mid-cliff views of Katoomba Falls on the left to the sisters and a slightly obscured Mount Solitary. It’s attraction to me is the trees and foliage in the foreground that can be used to frame a perfect shot at sunrise. The sun often rises just above the distant sisters and in the mist the sun rays can be extraordinary.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A good tripod for sunrise, grad filters to match the valley to the sky (at least 4-5 stops as the valley is in complete shadow) and as wide a lens as you have. A 100mm is good for vertical shots of the falls or the sisters also.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: As for Vanimans, park in the scenic world car park and go up to the entrance. Follow the wooden walkway off to the left until a sign directs you down towards the Furber steps. Walk past Vanimans, keep going down for about 10 more minutes until Juliet’s Balcony is signposted – it is easy to miss it.

Lady Carrington LO – Sunrise Grade 2

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ABOUT: This lookout is surround on both sides by trees but does offer a unique view of Mount Solitary with the ‘sisters’ ridge on the right and tableland stretching out on the left. It is great early mornings with mist when Mount Solitary rises in the distance so worth going if you see mist from easier vantage points.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A simple wide 24 or 35mm would do to capture the scene and light contrasts will necessitate a tripod of course.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: This lookout is one of the first on the Prince Henry Walk which you can access from Echo Park – walk towards the sisters bridge area and it is a signposted walk up some steps on the left before you get to the steep steps down onto the sisters. About 10mins to the trail and another 5 to this lookout.

Cliff View – Grade 1

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ABOUT: This is probably both the easiest to get to lookout and also one of the most expansive. The paved, wheelchair friendly, trail is only 5 mins long and takes you to a view that takes in Scenic World area on your right (Katoomba Falls just out of sight and tropical valley) and the wide open Jamison ahead and left. Clear views of Mt Solitary and Ruined Castle plus narrowneck bending around from the right. Go early or late to avoid crowds.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A ultra wide 14-17mm range is great to get the whole scene or panorama stitching works great too. For misty mornings or sunrises off to your left, bring a tripod.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Park in the Katoomba Cascades car park, just around the corner from Katoomba Kiosk area and follow the signs.

Echo Point – Sunrise Grade 1

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ABOUT: Echo Park / Point is the main tourist centre of the Blue Mountains and as such one has to be aware of the crowds at certain times and the fact that it has been photographed millions of times. That said very early or late and you can have the place to yourself when stunning sunrises, sunsets and changeable weather provides endless photo opps. The three sisters view or the wider Jamison panorama are always worth the early or late effort.


PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: The sisters view can be done on a 35mm lens but bring a full range of lenses & try something different. There are lower viewpoints plus ones just behind the platforms that offer some interesting foreground. Tripods of course for golden hours.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Lots of paid parking near the park, or free just down the road a little towards Leura and a 5 minute walk back.

Narrow Neck Plateau LO 3 – Sunrise Grade 2

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ABOUT: This again is an un-fenced open cliff edge that looks directly into the Jamison with steep drops along its 30 meter or so length. I found this lookout back in 2006 on a weekend trip to the mountains and use it when too much mist covers the early part of Glen Raphael track. Fantastic on misty morning and some really interesting rocky foreground for sunrises directly opposite & a few eucalyptus trees too, but otherwise quite open. A good view of landslide with Katoomba in the background too from the right side, at the end of the ridge as it bends.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A solid tripod and if you are getting to the spot before sunrise, descent shoes & warm accessories. A 14mm-20mm gives good overall coverage of the valleys but medium telephotos are great for isolating Mount Solitary off on the right.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: A really easy spot, follow Glenraphael until the locked gate and park. Use the custom map below for specific location, but walk for about 5 mins mins on the easy fire track downhill. Just after it levels out look on the left for a couple of unmarked rocky steps and a small trail that takes you out to the ridge, which is only a 1 minute walk.


Olympian Rock – Sunrise Grade 1

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ABOUT: Between Wentworth Falls and Katoomba is Leura and it has some fantastic hidden treasures. The cliff views between Sublime Point and Three Sisters are some of the best in the mountains. All look into the Jamison and some seem to be on top of Mount Solitary. Olympian Rock is one such viewpoint, left of this image, it is a large open fenced platform but each side of it are unfenced options. Try to get a misty or cloudy sunset as it goes down to the right and skims the clouds with a red glow.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A moderate wide angle 35mm is good but the ridges in the distance and a deceptive back view of the three sisters benefit from a medium telephoto, 85mm or 100mm to capture detail and textures. Tripod obviously for sunset and strong ND grads to bring the sky down.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: There is space for cars opposite 27 Olympian Parade or anywhere on that road. The walk start is inset next to number 27. About a 4 min mild descent to the lookouts and cliff walk.

Den Fenella LO – Sunrise Grade 2

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ABOUT: The Den Fenella trail is a delightful moderate descent through a fantastical victoriana fern gully with small waterfalls and bridges which then opens onto a stunning midway down view of the Jamison Valley. The lookout is actually a dead end and a small platform but there are a number of great photo ops from here, including distant morning mist and cliff views, a steep cliff vertical on the right and a postcard framed valley view. The sun comes up from the left and lights up the opposite side, but the picturesque nature of the view allows that.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Bring your tripod for lovely mini waterfalls on the way down including a cave waterfall near the lookout and a variety of lenses for the lookout itself. Tripod for sunrise balancing and blending.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Park in the main Wentworth Falls car park and walk to the right hand side and pick up the signs there. Approx 30 mins descent and 45 back.

Sublime Point – Grade 2

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ABOUT: A very easy to get to lookout which extends far into the Jamison Valley which means sunrise and sunsets are possibilities. The rising sun from the left lights up distant Mount Solitary and any mist in the valley, while the sun sets over narrowneck ridge and works great with fragmented cloud around. The lookout is fenced but quite large and some foreground exists including a couple of nice trees, but the walkway leading up to the main lookout offers much better sunset foreground. Also there are unfenced sections en-route too which have one of two great vantage points.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: As usual tripods are needed for the golden hour shots but on cloudy days you can handhold and take telephoto shots without issue. I can get very windy on this lookout so wear a few layers in winter months. Best lenses are wides naturally and 14mm to 24mm most useful range. Bring a telephoto for good cliff edge shots and mist in valley close-ups

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Very simply drive to the end of Sublime Point Road and park. The lookout is approx. 8 min walk down a gradual gradient and the last part is on fenced rocks.

Honeymoon Bridge Three Sisters – Sunrise Grade 2

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ABOUT: Rather than just take images of the Three Sisters and Jamison Valley from the top lookouts at Echo Point, walk down to the sisters themselves and take some amazing shots looking east and west with cliffs each side. At sunrise and sunset the place is ablaze with colour and atmosphere.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A fisheye lens is a great speciality one to open up the narrow gaps between the sisters, especially on the metal bridge between them. A 14-16mm range is good too. Getting the sky and darker cliffs balanced requires a tripod for blended exposures. Also a medium telephoto to shoot the echo point platform is fun.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Just follow the concrete trail which is left of the echo point complexes. The last bit is on a v.steep steel staircase, so beware with lots of kit. Don’t be tempted to do the Giant Staircase, just yet!


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.


Cahills Lookout – Grade 1

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ABOUT: A very accessible concrete lookout with the Megalong ahead and Narrowneck Ridge to the left. It has 3 levels and the lower left one is best for images with Narrowneck and the lower right one for images of the cliffs overlooking the valley. Great at sunset but good on overcast days too and even sunrises if good broken cloud about.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Ultra wide lenses or wide and be prepared to stitch images for big panoramas. A long lens to spot interesting features or distant sunrise effects. Graduated ND filters very important

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: A sizeable car park and a 3-4 minute walk down the path. Avoid the centre lookout for photos as it has no obvious foreground. See custom map below for relative location.


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.

Narrow Neck Plateau LO 4 – Sunrise Grade 3

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ABOUT: A ledge that has stunning views across the U shaped Cedar Valley, Lake Burragorang in the distance, a back view of Mount Solitary & weathered rocks make fabulous foregrounds. The sun comes up from the left, creates wonderful rays across the mist & trees in the valley and skim lights up the edges of the Mount Solitary ridges – castle head and ruined castle can also be seen from the reverse angle.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A solid tripod and if you are getting to the spot before sunrise, descent shoes & warm accessories. A 14mm-20mm gives good overall coverage of the valleys but some nice ridge layers can be had with a 35mm-50mm. Very long 200mm+ forLake Burragorang.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Follow Glenraphael Drive until the locked gate, where you can park. Use the custom map below for the specific location, but walk for about 20-25 mins on the easy fire track. Just before the track goes very steeply up to the right you will see two stakes and an obvious trail going off to the left across some smooth rocks. Follow this for about 5 mins up a small hill, at the top keep level and follow the trail around to the right, it continues on a thin track through a usually overgrown area and a 2-3 minute walk later out to the obvious rocky platform. Views before the outcrop on the left looking down the gully out to ruined castle and Solitary, then the ridge outcrop through……

Narrow Neck Plateau LO 1a – Sunrise Grade 2

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ABOUT: A fantastic view into Jamison Valley with red glowing Landslide cliffs on the left and the tops of the cliffs around the valley framing a great shot, especially if clouds around. A tight platform for 1 or 2 people only.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A ultra wide and tripod a must, but a 20mm can work well.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: See the custom map below. Park on the first large rocky open area on right at Narrow Neck LO 1 then continue walking for about 50 meters until you see a gap in the bush at the dip in the road and short down slope (hold onto a tree for the big step) on the left, through the trees out to an un-fenced small outcrop.

Glen Raphael View, Blue Mountains

Narrow Neck Plateau LO 2 – Sunrise Grade 2

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ABOUT: A wonderful natural viewpoint on a rocky outcrop and especially good with mist & broken cloud for sunrise. It is possible to spend 3 hrs on the ledge if good broken cloud cover is around after dawn. Good for photo group of 3-4 people potentially.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A strong tripod for long shots & potentially some movement in the clouds, but to contain the dynamic range with bracketed shots. 14mm-24mm for wides & 85mm for nice cliff shots.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: See the custom map below for exact location. Park on the first large rocky open area on the left (about 5 mins after leaving Cliff Drive) & walk down through the obvious gap on the right, down a short rocky slope to an open platform (beware of the drop offs near the end of the 2 minute mini trail).

Jamieson Valley Dawn, Blue Mountains cComp

EagleHawk LO – Sunrise Grade 1

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ABOUT: Probably the easiest lookout in the mountains but a nice alternate view of the Three Sisters, Mount Solitary and partial view of Katoomba Falls on far left and Narrow Neck on far right – good at both at sunset (red glow coming from the right) and sunrise (appears over the sisters ridge) and ideal with mist in the valleys.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A 35mm lens provides good coverage, but a 14mm get the top of the falls, sisters and solitary. Also an 85mm will give a good tight perspective on the sisters. Foreground limited to just top of the canopy though.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: There is room for two cars on cliff drive near the lookout, and it is literally a 20 sec walk to the fenced lookout – even a bench there for your camera bag 🙂