A Little Western Dreaming

A Little Western Dreaming

I joined a group of fellow enthusiasts for a 4-day photography trip in Western Australia recently. We spent 2 nights in Perth (taking in the city and Nambung NP in the north), then headed south for 2 nights to Busselton (taking in the famous ’Busselton Jetty’, Sugarloaf Rock and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse).

As an East Coaster, I was really looking forward to sunsets involving the ocean. And WA delivered … big time!

Back [l-r]: Khosrow, Tim (host), Bruce & Jake;
Front [l-r]: Rodney, Kate, Chris and me. (image courtesy of Khosrow)

I was then staying on afterwards to visit to beautiful Mandurah, the ‘Gold Coast’ of WA, to visit some resorts and check out this holiday hot-spot!

Mandurah (from Silver Sands Beach)

The photography trip started out in Perth. There was no rest for the wicked. All bar one of us flew in and met up at the airport on the Thursday, then drove to the apartment to drop off bags, quickly freshen up and get camera gear ready to photograph the city at sunset and night from Kings Park.

Waiting, waiting!

It’s a beautiful city and it was lovely watching the light of day fade away and the city light up.

Perth City and Swan River

The elevated platform proved a great vantage point, especially for traffic light trails!

Perth at night

If you’re wanting to try your hand at a Perth night-time city scape shot but with reflections on the water instead of light trails, head to the waterfront at South Perth. Rodney captured this shot from there after the photography trip.

Beautiful Perth Cityscape [Image © Rodney Topor]

The next morning was a very early start to shoot the iconic, and much photographed, Crawley Edge boat shed, which sits on the banks of the Swan River at Matilda Bay, a nostalgic reminder of the river’s past.

It’s thought to have been originally constructed in the 1930s. In the 1940’s, it was apparently bought for £5 when the Nattrass family purchased the property behind; they then built a larger, more modern boatshed around the original. It has been rebuilt, repaired and sold a number of times over the years.

I think you anticipate that something like this is quite remote and would take some getting to! We were all surprised that it was on a fairly main road, the boardwalk to the jetty was literally straight off the footpath – we had traffic shooting past the whole time we were there.

The jetty’s not in great condition and there’s not a lot of space for front-on shots, so we all had to take our turn getting our ‘iconic’ shots.

Crawley Edge Boat Shed

Some more adventurous participants even waded into the river!

I was literally only about a metre off the footpath when I shot this

Sun risen and photos taken, it was time to head back for some much needed breakfast. We then headed north to ‘The Pinnacles’ in Nambung NP (about 2-3 hours north of Perth, depending on whether you take the right turns or the wrong turns!) for sunset and Milky Way shots.

Am I still on planet Earth? Very alien landscape!

Rising out of the ‘alien sandscape’, The Pinnacles are ancient limestone pillars left behind after the sand was washed away by flowing water. Some are several metres tall, and they come in every shape and size you can imagine – a few will even make you look twice! It’s hard to believe you’re only 6km from the ocean. Apparently, the Dutch mistook them for the ruins of an ancient city in 1700.

You can drive or walk around the 4km unsealed ‘Pinnacles Loop’ (there are marked bays along the way to enable you to park and walk around), or or park your car at the Discovery Centre and walk the loop (approx 1 hour).

We came here to photograph them at sunset and then later with the Milky Way rising gloriously behind them once it got dark. They did not disappoint!

Beautiful Pinnacles sunset

Once you get away from city lights, it’s absolutely amazing how many stars you can see. At one stage I just laid down on the sand and took it all in! I would have loved if we could have stayed here all night …… but it got cold!


Feeling insignificant!


Interestingly, ancient Aborigines scanned the night sky using its secrets to survive the Australian landscape. When ‘The Emu’ appeared at a particular angle in a particular part of the sky, it signalled the time to go foraging for emu eggs!


‘The Emu’ in the Sky stretches across the Milky Way (source: Barnaby Norris)



Tip! Consider how long you’ll be out amongst the pinnacles and take enough refreshments and snacks for everyone! There is a café at the Discovery Centre (open 9.30am-4.30pm), however, once you’re out there, you won’t want to be heading off because someone’s thirsty or hungry! Please respect this beautiful environment and take all your rubbish with you when you leave.

The following day we packed up and headed south to Busselton for a couple of nights. The first night we headed to yet another iconic attraction, Sugarloaf Rock, a gigantic granite rock-island looming up out of the ocean at Cape Naturaliste, for sunset shots. It’s called ‘Sugarloaf Rock’ because, well ….. it apparently looks like a sugarloaf (how sugar was produced and sold until the late 19th century), which has a conical/triangular shape!

Sugarloaf Rock

The clouds really came to the party for us that night and made for quite a spectacular sunset! I’d forgotten to change into hiking shoes, so didn’t make the descent to the bottom. The elevated position worked out just fine for me I think – look at those stunning clouds near the horizon – this is one of my favourite shots from the whole workshop!

Tip! Take care, it’s a very jagged, rocky terrain.

Sunset done, we headed back to Busselton to take night time shots of the famous Busselton Jetty and grab a late dinner (standard during photography trips!).

Busselton Jetty at night

Extending almost 2km out into Geographe Bay, the heritage-listed jetty is the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere! It seems to go on forever.

The next morning we headed back into Busselton to capture the jetty at sunrise! And what a show Mother Nature put on for us that morning!!

Beautiful Busselton sunrise

You can take a walk out on the jetty, or jump on board the famous Jetty Train, to reach the Underwater Observatory where you will discover some of the 300 different marine species below the jetty. A small fee is charged to access the jetty.

We then headed south to Cape Leeuwin for lighthouse photos and what turned out to be yet another spectacular sunset over the Indian Ocean! The Historic Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is situated at the most south-westerly tip of Australia, standing at the point where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet.

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
Amazing sunset at Cape Leeuwin

Next morning we headed back to Perth and that marked the end of the photography trip. Not only did I end up with 100s of photos to review and process, but I now have another group of photography buddies!

I then headed south to Mandurah. Click here if you’d like to read the Mandurah blog.



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