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Twelve Apostles- Great Ocean Road

I don’t know how we did it, but we did. 11-days travelling from Western Sydney down through Victoria and along the Great Ocean Road and back again, with a full and intensive list of locations to shoot that included beach treks, bush walking, cliff sliding, whale watching, rock hopping, a dislocated knee and many, many, many, many stairs. All the while missing my three boys and my husband terribly. Luckily I had my pals Louisa and Richard with me to keep me happy and busy, and we did have a blast. Often times we were so busy I didn’t have time to think about anything else but the job at hand, which is just the way I like it. As long as I have a few hours each afternoon to back up my photos and have a power nap, I am a happy lady. Ready to start the action all over again.

My first stretch of road was a 3.5 hour trip to meet my mates in Canberra, then straight on to Merimbula on the South Coast of New South Wales. We spent two nights here to take advantage of the many gorgeous things in the area, and I had been dying to get this far South for a couple of years now. It also gave us a good opportunity to catch up, have dinner at the local pub and get set for our adventure. Of course that couldn’t happen until we had shot the sunset on our arrival 😉

We were not blessed with fantastic sunrises/sunsets while we were there, so I may need to revisit by myself another time, but we did have success finding whales on our cruise off the coast of Eden. We were lucky enough to find a dozen or so humpbacks frolicking in the waters enjoying a day in the sun taking advantage of the minimal swell.

Now it was onto Phillip Island… A hefty 8 hours on the road with a stop at Nethercote Falls added in saw us arrive just on time to our sunset location… “The Pinnacles” where we had a 40-minute trek and cliff climb to reach our destination. Louisa and I set off whilst Richard went to check into our hotel and unpack our things for us. While we clumsily navigated the steep descent to the bottom of the bay. We were lucky to get what we wanted before the incoming storm set in and scale back up the cliff for our walk back without being soaked. You could say that neither of us are the fittest women in the world. So when Louisa collapsed in exhaustion panting at the top of the climb whilst I filmed her on my smartphone, I was in hysterics. An amazing Pink sun set on the horizon as we left the look out, so we stopped to take a quick shot of that also.

 

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SS Speke shipwreck

A 4am start saw us up and at it again and on our way to find the shipwreck SS Speke. I knew where it was from studying the internet, but with no time to scout for it the day before we were going in blind… literally. It was still dark and we had to use torches to follow the trails around the headland before descending to the bay below. The ship was right there, and the history of it was interesting to read about. One casualty was recorded and the Captain charged with negligence after mistaking a bush fire for a beacon.

After returning to our lodgings and waking our sleeping prince, Richard, it was time to move on. This time was only a short 2 hour drive to the beautiful Mornington Peninsula. We arrived far to early for check-in so went off to scout our next days sunrise location, Portsea pier. Having found it, we decided that the pier actually looked brilliant in the middle of the day, turning the waters a stunning aqua that needed to be photographed NOW, and not wait until morning (Sleep in anyone?) After snapping away for half an hour it was off to the pub for a steak lunch and a relaxing drink. I took the opportunity in this downtime to ring my boys back home. It broke my heart to hear that my sensitive middle child had cried 2 nights in-a-row missing me terribly. And I began to question why I came so far away for this long? I know its my job, and other people travel for work, but the fact that I LOVE my job makes me feel like a selfish cow. Landscape Photography has long been dominated by men, and now I know why. Woman are usually the primary caregivers and therefore it is easier for a man to travel and leave his wife at home knowing that their children are safe and happy with their mum. But at my home I am the primary caregiver. Usually only shooting sunrises and sunsets whilst my kids are in bed, or on holidays while they are still sleeping in the caravan with their dad. The rest of the time I am home editing, blogging, cleaning, cooking etc and the kids are ALWAYS with me. So to take off on a trip like this is hard on everybody. My husband had to rearrange his work to do school runs, my mum had to help on weekends when hubby works. I know I am very blessed to have such a wonderful support network, but this is why this is only the 2nd ever time I have gone away for more than 2-days without them. I really had no choice but to keep going…the trip was paid for, plus I was sharing the car with friends. All the planning that went into the trip needed to be carried out. I do however, want to teach my three boys that a woman, can have a career and a dream too. They have no sisters to watch grow up, and learn how girls can be, so I want them to treat their future wives as equals, whose goals and aspirations are equally as important as their own, and the best way to teach them this is by my example. If something is worth doing, then it is worth doing well. You should ALWAYS chase your dreams.

So the show must go on, and the next shoot was sunset at Cape Schanck. There is an awesome Rock formation along with a lighthouse which looked amazing at dusk.

In the morning we caught a car ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff where we were to start the first leg of our main reason for this trip….. The Great Ocean Road. I had on our itinerary to keep an eye out for canola fields along the way, as it was coming up to harvest time, and it was this stretch or road we found it. A couple of quick stops at some fields and away we went. We spent our first night at Anglesea. And our first port of call was Split Point lighthouse at Airley’s Inlet.

A good night sleep was in order for the next day was another early start. This time Lorne Pier was on the agenda. When we arrived it was drizzling with rain and we were a bit disappointed that we may have got up early for no reason. However just before first light, the rain stopped, as though it was just for us. Not only that but the wet pier was truly a gift as it enhanced the reflections of the sunrise and railings that would otherwise have not been there. In fact the shot I took, ended up becoming one of my favourites from the entire shoot. Goes to show you that if you wake up and hear rain, don’t just forget about it and go back to sleep… it could be just what you needed!

Then we set off to Port Campbell for a three night stay. I can’t tell you haw good it felt to not have to unpack and pack every night and day for those three days! Sunset came and we set off to Gibson steps and got down to the beach level to shoot ‘Gog and Magog’. Gog and Magog are two giant limestone stacks that stand side-by-side in the shallow surf, carved away by hundreds of years worth of rough-unyielding seas. Another favourite location for me to add to the list, it was glorious at sunset with the golden light reflecting of the wet sand at the base of these stone giants.

Over the next three days we were a mixture of excitement and exhaustion as we carved through the bulk of my itinerary. The list of locations went a little bit like this: Twelve Apostles (twice), Gog and Magog lookout view (twice), Bay of Islands (twice), Loch Ard Gorge, Island Archway, London Bridge, The Grotto, The Arch, Triplet Falls, Hopetoun Falls, Californian Redwoods, Hopkins Falls, and a jetty in Warrnambool….. phew.

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Gog and Magog

After saying goodbye to the longest home-base we had had, it was off to Melbourne. We stopped to look for wild Koalas on a slight detour through Cape Otway, and sure enough there they were in the dozens. Time for another stop…why not!!

Arriving in Melbourne 4-hours later we went for a drive to St Kilda, where I had designs on shooting the pier at sunset. I was gobsmacked by the light as the sun set directly behind the building shooting sun rays off in all directions. I really couldn’t have planned it better myself. Mother Nature really went all out for me, and I was grateful. Swarming with people on the pier, it wasn’t what I had in mind for the shot. So to compensate, I took 50 images at the exact same composition and exposure (exposing for the foreground) so that I could use layers in Photoshop to erase the people. I then used the same composition and took a shot exposing for the sky to blend together later. The final result was another fav of mine.

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St Kilda Pier

In the morning we headed to a pier I had seen a lot of images of and always wondered where it was. I finally found it through research and was probably looking forward to this the most. Princes Pier. You may or may not have heard of it but it is the remaining posts of underneath the old pier (it has been restored) that they left there to pay homage to its history, and to benefit the sea-life.

It was now time for our final sunset and I think Louisa had reached the end of her journey. Tiredness plus the fact she had already visited the beach boxes in Brighton before, saw me heading off on my own for the first time this trip. Just so you know, I was very proud of myself driving a big bulky manual 4WD through the city of Melbourne during peak-hour, when I am only used to an automatic Soccer mum station wagon back home. Melbourne road rules are freaky!!! Trams and weird streets with several lanes blocked by islands… What the????? Anyway nobody was hurt and I got there, thats all that matters right? Turns out I probably could have saved myself the trouble and gone there at sunrise instead because the boxes were crawling with people and I didn’t end up getting any shots I am really happy with anyway. But I did head into SouthBank after sunset to shoot the city lights at night which was kind of cool.

Morning time came and I decided to sleep in instead of getting up at 4am as we had an 8-hour drive ahead of us back to Canberra.

So our trip was over…. Many images and memories created and lots of laughs along the way. My boys survived and were happy to see me even making me a welcome home sign. Although they were at school when I arrived it made me smile and tear up. The day after I came home was my middle son, Jake’s 9th Birthday and I had purchased a puppy from a breeder in Orange and I was to pick her up from the airport in Sydney that day. He has long been an animal lover and asked so many times for a dog, and I had always said no. He had no idea what I had planned and was a complete surprise to him. He even burst into tears…. As did I (you may be getting the idea I am an emotional basket-case and you would be right!) It was such a special day and one I will never forget. It was great to be home!

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For more information on my trip and to get specifics on how to get to the locations mentioned in this post, head to my website to purchase your copy of my ebook for only $2.99. You will get all images and tips, plus exact locations and parking guides to all of these spots. To read more about this click here.