TRAVEL BLOG

Australian Landscape

A Landscape Photographic Safari Trip of Western Australia.

Travel Diary May 2017- July 2017.

Day 1 the 3rd of May 2017

After being ill for five days I decided to delay my departure for this epic trip by one day. There is something about the night prior to leaving on a big trip which gives you little sleep. Up at seven am to continue packing and getting those last minute things done. With the camera Gear and everything else you need it takes about 20 hours of packing before you can even think of leaving the warmth of your home.

I eventually hit the road at 12:40pm nearly forgetting to pack the hiking boots. A long six hour drive lay ahead of me for my first night camping at the Hattah Lakes National Park. This trip will be different as I am breaking in my new camera, a Fujifilm Medium Format GFX50s. It promises to deliver some fantastic images with files over 100MB the detail should be fantastic. I have chosen the 32-64mm f4 lens for this trip. That is on top of my vast Nikon gear I have packed.

Arriving in Darkness I found my self unknowingly back in exactly the same place as I camped in June 2006, where I started  these long Photographic Safari Trips.

Over the years I have established a tradition of on my first night I have some nice champaign with some exotic cheeses and Pate, yum yum. I am privileged to do these trips.

(Photo above The Great Australian Bight, below hatch Lakes N.P)

.Lloyd Howlett 01 - 1

Day 2 the 4th of May 2017

Hattah Lakes National Park 

When the birds wake so do I (It Helps to set the alarm on the I phone). The best time for photos is early morning just after dawn or around sunset. Winter usually offers a much softer lighting based on the Sun’s height in the sky.

This is the first time I have had to play with the new Fujifilm GFX50s. It is amazing, just on the aspect ratio setting it gives me so much flexibility with,  4:3, 16.9 or my new favourite 66:25 which is a wide angle panoramic aspect of 8256×3048 25mb.

On these trips you plan, plan and pack but I find there are always things you need to fine tune and adjust. I spent three hours in Mildura ( Victoria / Australia) shopping and getting those annoying little things sorted. Such as a new weather station for the camper trailer, food ect.

Then to drive a further 1.5 hours down the road for the fruit inspection station just outside of Renmark South Australia. Which means an other trip to the supermarket for fresh fruit as well as a quick visit to the Pharmacy for a sinus spray. ( Will I ever loose this dam cold.) to arrive just on dark for my second nights camp at the “Worlds End Camping Ground”. Which is near Burra South Australia.

Day 3 the 5th  of May 2017

Worlds End Burra S.A

Up early to further tweak the car and trailer for better use of space. An unusual thing happened  this morning. I have had my Ultimate Camper Trailer for over 8 years and have had over 425 nights in it but this morning will be one the most memorable. As I was packing up the king size bed which is in three equal parts I discovered a small mouse under the mattress. This has never happened previously. Did I mention it got down to 2 degrees last night.

I dropped  in to Burra for a quick cup of coffee  and proceeded to drive to Terowie  to admire the old disused rail station and some vintage cars which are allowed to linger and rust.

I then decided to drive to Peterborough for a Lunch break where I had the Pleasure of seeing my dream vehicle a four wheel drive motor home called an Earth Cruiser using an Iveco truck as the base. I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of the company.  The price has gone up a little bit since i last looked at them. The new price is around $440,000 not cheap but a great way to travel.

This one had lithium batteries which would run the air conditioning. And yes it did weigh 6 tones but surprisingly it got 16L per 100km, not bad economy.  Arriving at Port Augusta later in the day feeling still not well I refused up the Nissan ($1:29 per litre surprisingly cheap) and headed off to my next campsite Iron Knob. I was desperately looking forward to a shower as the information I had received suggested that a hot shower would be a reality. this sadly was not to be.

When I arrived it was beautiful and quiet, so you assume that the workers for the mine had retired for the day, how wrong could I be. They started work at about 7pm and continued till 5am. Guess who had a near sleepless night listing to large earth moving truck, diggers less than 1 Km away.

Day 4 the 6th of May 2017 Iron Knob

After that terrible nights sleep at Iron Knob it was just fantastic to get a good nights sleep. So glad I spent the big money ($12:00) and brought new warm pyjamas for the trip. Nothing like a sleepless night, waking up at 7am with little sleep feeling a bit tired. On the road by 9am I decided to drop off at Kimba only  one hour down the road, I was concerned that the trailers wheel bearings and breaks were  not functioning properly as fuel economy did not appear fantastic. As it turned out everything was functioning as it should. So I decided to remove the power chip for the engine managment system. One hour later I am back on the road.

It amazes me on paper I am only traveling 400km but allowing for photography it can take most if not all of the day. Finally arriving at Penonla around 5pm, looking forward so much to that hot shower, so good in fact that I had one the next morning.

Day 5 the 7th of May 2017

Penong

Still not hitting the road as early as I would like, the local tourist attractions the  Windmill Museum amazing you would not think there could be so many types of Windmills.

I took a slight detour to Fowlers Bay what an amazing place to visit right on the waters edge with sand dunes on the edge of town.

I had decided to camp on the edge of the Nullarbor Cliff’s. You Silly follow it down to the cliff ’s  (4wd recommended) turn right and follow the road to the camp area. It really helps to have good digital mapping so as you don’t drive past the camp site.

Arriving it was incredibly windy, later that night I went out of the camper for a couple of minutes only to arrive back seeing my cooks knife scabbard on fire next to the stove. I quickly put out the fire, a minute longer and I could have easily lost the trailer, the strong winds I believe caused the scabbard to be blown on to the gas stove.

Day 6 the 8th of May 2017

Nullarbor Cliffs 

After a very windy night I awoke to just a stunning view from the cliffs, there is a turn off just east of the Nullarbor motel. This day was to be just amazing with fantastic views of the cliffs in the Great Australian Bight.

Also had the privilege of seeing and photographing dolphins surfing a wave. The amazing thing is that i shot the images with the Fujifilm GFX 50S using the 32-64mm lens and the resolution was so high that I could get a good image. I also shot with my D4 at 200mm seals playing on the rocks.

Amazing, I feel very lucky to capture these images. I later went through the SA / WA  border crossing where they took my onions away from me.

I took some time out to discover the Eucla Old Telegraph Station which sadly had been covered with graffiti.

Day 7 the 9th of May 2017

Free Camp 

This would be an uneventful day with little KM Traveled. On the road late in the day as I had not adjusted my clock minus two hours for the Western Australia time zone. I decided to pull over after an hour behind the wheel  to transfer 4 litres of Diesel from the gerry cans to the main fuel tank. I was then shortly back on the road and drove to Madurra Lookout where I wanted to back up my camera files,  this would be much harder than I expected. So two hours later I discovered that I had a two corrupt memory cards or my Mack-book Pro cant read 16 mg cards. Such a long wast of time, it was now 1:30pm.  An hour or so later on the road I came across a sign declaring the longest straight section of road in Australia 90 Miles or 146.6 KM a very boring section of road. When I arrived at my campsite for the night it was still 25 degrees. I was begging for a shower so I plugged in the Glyn hot water maker and stripped off in the campsite for that long awaited shower.

The one thing about being on the road is the people you meet, I was taking some photos on sunset with my new very special Fujifilm GFX 50s when my neighbour invited me to pre dinner drinks.

Day 8 the 10th of May 2017

Free Camp Western Australia

After a lovely warm night I woke to the sound of light rain on the canvas roof of my Ultimate camper. It was 5 am and the trucks started rolling past. On then road by 9am still on the long straight Nullarbor road. It amazes me today I traveled 400km and it took most of the day. Norseman was a disappointment, as there was no takeaway available and was was available was 200% of what you would expect to pay.

Feeling tired i decided to set up camp some 60 km south on the road to Esperance.

This Night was to be incredible with a wild thunder storm lasting from 7pm till  9am the next day. I have never over the course of a single night seen so much lightning.

Day 9 the 11th of May 2017

70km south of Norseman Western Australia

So hard to sleep last night with all the rain and lighting. I decided to have a rest day (no driving especially after 2700km of driving) and get the simple things done that always need to be done on these trips. Sew a button on a shirt, check car oil, try to repair UHF radio, and much more boring stuff. There is always something to do.

The interesting thing about this campsite is that I noticed a freight train with 4 engine pull 161 freight trucks.

Day 10 the 12th of May 2017

70km south of Norseman

So Much for the rest day the day prior. On the road at 8am for Esperance my first call will be the local radio shop. I had worked out that my UHF radio handset had developed and un reparable fault.

My next step was to go the the local supermarket for some much needed    supplies, bread, fruit and new clean Jeans.

I found Esperance to be a lovely town, I really liked the Norfolk Pines which lined the foreshore. I particularly noted that in 1915 a huge fleet of Australian troop ships assembled in this vast bay for deployment to the Turkey and thus starting the Australian ANZAC legend. If you like the birth of a nation.

After some basic shopping I was on my way to the Le Grand National Park. I had no expectations, this place certainly does have the wow factor. Loved the beautiful blue water, just stunning.

I decided to drive up the road the the Frenchman’s Cap carpark with a camper trailer this was a terrible idea as the turning circle of the car and trailer was just larger than the carpark. I am the worst trailer reverser in the world. I did get some assistance and was eventually able to turn around not easy but totally achievable with some good guidance.

Day 11 the 13th of May 2017

Lucky Bay Western Australia

Lucky beach1 - 1

Up just before dawn 6am I can tell you just how much I hate getting out a warm bed but after 10 hours of sleep I was not tired. the photo opportunity was just amazing. Lucky bay is such a beautiful spot. With little daylight, less than 11 hours there was so much to do and the weather was a bit questionable.

So after a hearty breakfast a quick climb up Frenchman’s Peak. Which is a very scary walk up a steep rock face to the summit. Believe me the views are just fantastic. I would not recommend this walk in the heat of Summer, on a windy or wet day.

Frenchmans Peak

Frenchmans peak

Just prior to sunset this bay is a photographers paradise, I would recommend walking up the cliff face just next to the campground for great results.

Upon review the Fujifilm GFX50’s has a more shallow depth of field than I would have expected using the 32-64mm lens. Based on shots taken at f11-f16. Still learning how to get the best out of this camera.

Day 12 the 14th of May 2017

Lucky Bay Western Australia

With the desire of getting some more brilliant photography of Lucky Bay in the Le Grand National park I set the alarm for 6am. Cloud had build up and the vision of the bay was less than magnificent so I decided to stay in bed for a little longer. I was amazed just how damp my bedding and mattress was, not sure if it was the heavy rain a few days earlier or just the humidity (95%).

Esperance is a lovely town with a amazing fore shore, the port is huge. I would recommend a the scenic costal drive west of the town just stunning.

On Trips like these I don’t have the luxury of waiting for good weather so I decided to push on.

After looking at a few National parks I was driving past the Munglinup free camp and even though it was only 2pm, given the fact the sun was out. I thought it was very important for me to dry my damp bedding and trailer out.

An other night in a damp cold bed was just not a good idea as I still had this cold thing lingering. The local BP road house had showers for only $2 this was a bargain I could hardly refuse.

Day 13 the 15th of May 2017

Munglinup Free Camp

What an amazing day this would turn out to be starting out with a cool morning of 12 degrees but a strong sun to just appalling wet weather at Albany

It is something that I had not thought of for a while but later this morning I hit an endless big storm on the road followed by just very strong  head and cross winds. This does affect your fuel economy and overall engine performance when towing.

I arrived at Albany around pm to be treated with just disgusting weather, this is danger of traveling to the south coast of Western Australia at this time of year. Very reluctantly I decided to book my self in to a motel for the night as that dam cold was still with me nearly two weeks later. I did not fancy a other cold night  with heavy rain in the camper trailer again.

Probably a great idea with my cold still with me. Lots to see and do in Albany but the rain and poor light was against me that night. Time to enjoy pizza some wine and a good nights sleep.

Day 14 the 16th of May 2017

Albany Western Australia 

Up at six am again with an aim of photographing the beautiful backdrop which makes Albany, with not great weather and poor light I decided to do some work on my Website. Primarily up loading my Western Australia Travel blog for the last 12 days. A good investment in time. For me with a limited time budget and poor weather for photography one of the must see things in Albany was going to be the National ANZAC Centre. Just amazing.

I also dropped in and saw the Gap and Natural Bridge, Just an amazing site to see.  The weather on this part of the coast was not looking good, so I decided to head north to Mt Barker an eventually spent the night at Lake Queerearrup. What a special find and photography offered great light for more photography.

The one thin I like about being on the road the the people you meet. I cam across two lovely couples who were touring around with there caravans. I also came across an elderly couple that I had met on the Nullarbor at a free camp. These trips are a bit like a traveling circus most people are traveling in the same direction so you do meet up purely by chance every few days or so.

Day 15 the 17th of May 2017

Lake Queerearrup Western Australia

Up just before dawn to capture the very best of lake Queerearrup such a still morning ideal for those great reflective photos that look so good at dawn. I am beginning to really like the narrow landscape function that the FujiFilm GFX50’s offers. Really helps my creativity by seeing the world through a narrow perspective as apposed to 4:3 or 16:9 ratios. Personally I thinks it looks pretty cool. It gives the affect of a wide angle panoramic view even though I am shooting at 32mm  or 25mm inn a 35mm format.

This turned out to be a rest day, but you know there is always something to to do on a rest day. My bedding and sheets had not completely dried out form that terrible down pour at Norseman five days earlier. Nothing worse than hopping in to a dam bed every night when you can feel the dampness through the sheets. This did not help my cold which was still with me 3 weeks later.

So I hung some rope out to make a cloths line and put the donna, sheets,   pillows out to dry. The Mattress in the Ultimate Camper Trailer, is in there sections so all three sections were taken out of the trailer and laid across  the bonnet and roof of the Nissan.  It might sound like a waste of time but with in a few days my health improved. I take a moment to point out that my strategy was to head north and out run the bad weather, getting some warmth, which would be good for my dam cold.

I was again invited to join my new friends around the campfire for a few hours of social dialogue. I don’t think it matter how old you are when people are around a campfire with a common interest in this case camping everybody is as one.

Day 16 the 18th of May 2017

Lake Queerearrup 

Thought of getting up at six thirty am to take some further photos of the lake but cloud was having around making any benefit for leaving a warm dry bead not a good deal. I opted to sleep in for an extra hour or so.

So I was nearly ready to hit the road by nine am but after saying good-buy to to my new friends it was not till nine thirty that I was ready to leave. This would be a long day on the road traveling over 400km.

Not a god day for photography but driving so far north helped my cold. Some to the towns I drove through had some unique names like Toodayy  and Gingin. I finally selected free campground based on wikicamps App next to a river which had bridge works until six pm starring the next day at seven am. So tired that night I did not want much food just a good nights sleep.

Day 17 the 19th of May 2017

Moore River Bridge Rest Area 

Up prior to dawn after some rain over night, this was not an ideal location to camp and I was motivated to leave as soon as possible as heavy rain was predicted and there is nothing worse than packing wet canvas in a storm or it it is saturated.

So glad I left when I did. My first photographic stop of the day was the Pinicales National Park which offered a lovely drive through the park with some photographic opportunities available. Nice but the light was not in my favour. Within twenty minutes of leaving the heavens opened up heavily for the next 3 hours. So I was grateful for the limited time that I had at this amazing National park.

The weather was so bad for most of the day that any photographic opportunity was lost. I had decided to purchase a Mavic Pro Drone for aerial photography. I had found a shop in Geraldton which could supply me what I needed at a fair price, so the purchase was made.

It gets dark around 5.15pm So somewhere to stay was needed I found a cheep caravan pro just north tow where I could charge all my batteries of which I now had a lot .

Day 18 the 20th of May 2017

Geraldton

An other night of storms brought a power blackout in the area which was to last past my departure time of 12pm. So any opportunity to charge any extra batteries was lost and the trailer completely was lost. I packed up had a luke warm shower and left for where I did not know where.

I don’t usually stay at caravan parks but I do need to power up the trailer every few days to a week. Though

Day 19 the 21st of May 2017

Lynton Station (Farm Stay)

After a wet night and with no promise of good weather for a day or so I decided to spend the day at Lynton catching up with some of the things that needed to be done.

Laundry was on my agenda as no pair of jeans were clean 8 t shirts had to be washed an so much more, you get the idea.

It was also a good time to get the newly acquired Mavic Pro Drone out put it through some test flights and try to lean how to fly the thing. Not to hard at all to fly, I think the trick is to take things slowly as they are very expensive things to crash. Oh and a bit of fun to fly as well.

The optical resolution for laptop presentation was just amazing. So sharp and clear for something so small.

Day 20 the 22nd of May 2017

Lynton Station

After an other pleasant nights sleep It appeared that my strategy of camping hear for two nights had payed off. Good weather was ahead of me so my primary reason  for being on the coast ( good Photos) was to be realised.

This day was to be just amazing, after toast and jam with fresh farm eggs from Lynton Station. I decided to visit Prince Leonard of the Hutt River Provence.

What an amazing place, the prince was a sharp 91 year old who each day did mathematical formulas. His understanding of constintunitional law was amazing.  They have there on currency there and have a Navy thought no ships. They have also been recognised by quite a few countries.

I eventually returned to Lynton Station to retrieve my camper which I had parked while visiting the prince. I was now on the road to Kalabarri the costal views of the surf and the cliff was just amazing. By far the interesting coastline I had seen on my trip of 5000km (so far).

Day 21 the 23rd  of May 2017

Galena Bridge Murchison River free camp    

When you drive through the night for you campsite it is always amazing first thing in the morning what it looks like. One of the other campers who was near me said it looked like a luna landing I did not think the was to wrong.

I started the day chatting to and other camper who gave me some great tips on were I should camp on my trip, very helpful tips indeed.