Travelling Down Under

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by mooseontheloose, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    I may have the opportunity to travel to Australia next year during the month of August if I get accepted to the conference I want to go to in New Zealand at the beginning of September. Due to work regulations on conference funding, I would only be able to stay in NZ for 10 days, which is why I want to focus on Australia beforehand.

    I've been to Oz before, but it was a month of teacher training up in Cairns during the rainy season (Feb), and I got rained out of every tourist thing I tried to do up there on the weekends. At the end of the month I thought that Uluru/Kata Tjuta/King's Canyon would be a safe bet, but a cyclone that had hit the top end continued inland as a major rain depression and I had five days of rain and gloomy skies and getting stuck in the red mud in the middle of the desert as a result. The only upside to the rain was manageable temperatures and seeing waterfalls pouring out of the canyon. But this was when I was only shooting with a P&S camera, so basically I have no good photos from my time there.

    In any event, if this works out, I'll have the entire month of August to explore some parts of Australia, with the major focus being photography. I'm not a beach person or someone that does a lot of activities. I'll be travelling alone as usual, which is great in terms of doing what I want, but not so great when it comes to keeping costs down.

    Of course I already know quite a lot about Australia and I've been through the guidebooks, but what I really want to know is, photographically speaking, what locations would be the best to visit at this time of year? I think the NT would be good, Tasmania, maybe not so much. Any suggestions for an itinerary?
     
  2. mgb74

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    I'm just a visitor from years ago, and I don't know how it will be in winter, but one vote for the Blue Mountains.
     
  3. raoul

    raoul Member

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    August is the depth of winter here. Can you plan the trip for September, after NZ - weather is usually very mild then in the southern parts.
     
  4. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    I know. Unfornately, the university holidays in Japan are August and part of September, but if I did Oz in September I'd only have two weeks, really. Besides, I was planning on using my 10 days in NZ in September, because I think August would be even worse over there. Luckily I have friends on the South Island I can visit, which would make up for bad weather.

    As a Canadian, I think I can handle whatever Australia throws at me weather-wise (especially seeing how poorly the Aussies I know here handle the mild Japanese winters :wink:), but the question is, is winter in Southern Australia grey and rainy, or cold, blustery, but with blue skies? I will most likely fly in and out Sydney, and wouldn't mind heading over to Melbourne and doing the Great Ocean Road, but is it worth it at that time of year?
     
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  5. raoul

    raoul Member

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    Winter in the south can be grey and drizzly... but you do have some clear, cold, stunningly blue days. Problem is that it is likely hit and miss. But certain things such as waterfalls would be good at this time of year.

    Really depends what you want to photograph :smile:
     
  6. woosang

    woosang Member

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    north

    IN winter I would say stay in the north If you have the time do the north west like Broome Monkey Mia etc.. Darwin is bearable in August and you can access a lot of the National parks in NT that are flooded in summer.
     
  7. Ross Chambers

    Ross Chambers Member

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    As an Australian I'd recommend New Zealand. It's such a compact landscape; the 8 hours or so drive from Auckland to Wellington alone includes desert, semi active volcanoes, farm land, lakes, Maori settlements, seascapes (if you detour a little) and cityscapes.

    I do, however, suspect that the weather i.e. light is unpredictable there currently as it is in Australia.

    The Blue Mountains as posted is tricky for me as a B/W photographer, contrasty when you're in the bush on a sunny day, low brightness range on a dull day--but could be fine for colour pics.
     
  8. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Australia over the last 1½ years, has generally been the wettest since 1974-1975. So I would suggest you do some research regarding places you may think of going to, to ensure they are not underwater still.

    You could go to Cape York to the Tip, August is usually the best time to get there as the rivers are down and vehicles can get through, however that would mean an organised tour, which wouldn’t be cheapish, but would probably get you to places and things you have never heard of.

    My first successful trip to the tip was in 1980, third attempt. Water was down to waist high; we floated the bikes across the Jardine River.

    The Great Ocean road is quite over rated, yes it’s not too bad, but I wouldn’t call it spectacular at all. I have been on it on motorcycles for the last 45 years, but now it’s just a tourist thing with overblown suggestions.

    Central Australia, whilst often freezing in the nights at that time of the year, can be terrific. Bring a tripod for astro photography. One favourite pastime is lying down wrapped in a sleeping bag and looking up into the night sky and counting satellites.

    My suggestion is to contemplate central Australia; it’s the time I have often been there. Bring warm clothing and sunscreen.

    Another suggestion may be the top end either in the Territory or the top left corner of Western Australia. This is getting sort of near to the end of the dry season and the water holes are starting to dry up, meaning the wildlife starts to congregate. Best would be a tour. I’ll try and get some information from a Canadian lass who stayed at our place for a while, she and her significant other had a whale of a time on a trip up the top end. Both from an Aboriginal cultural and food and custom thing, as well as general sight seeing. She’s quite into photography as well, stunning piccies.

    The east coast of Oz is reasonably touristy, nice in tiny bites, that’s all.

    The Flinders Ranges in South Australia is or could be very good at that time if the spring comes early. Air trips over Wilpena Pound and some organised trips to some of the spectacular lookouts and gorges are good. Four days to one week there, should see many things, but on the other hand you could find somewhere nice to just travel out from and come back every day.

    Mt Augustus in Western Australia is huge, it’s the biggest rock around, makes the rock in Central Australia look like a pebble.

    Lots of things to do, just requires money and time!

    Mick.
     
  9. Wyno

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    I'd definitely recommend doing the Great Ocean Road, just remember to drive on the left side of the road, and watch out for motorcyclists with the bike on the correct side of the road, but their heads on your side. The scenery along the road and into the Otways is really good and it is one of my favourite places in Oz.
    Mike
     
  10. polyglot

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    South and east will be the depths of winter: grey and rainy. Perth in winter gets rain too but often has nice clear cold sunny periods.

    If you go to the tropical areas like Cairns, it will be great that time of year. Since you have so much time, I would suggest doing the north of WA: Kimberleys, Lake Argyll, Karijini Gorge, etc. The weather will be beautiful and the scenery there is quite spectacular.

    The outback is a good bet for it not raining, but you can expect nights as bad as -10C with no facilities other than whatever tent/bag/vehicle you bring.

    Hell, with a month, you could do a Perth->Darwin->Adelaide trek and see so much beautiful stuff.
     
  11. OldBikerPete

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    I would recommend anything from Central Australia and points North at that time of year, Brisbane and points North if you're thinking of the East Coast. It's the most comfortable time of year to be travelling in that area. South of there will be wintry and cold. Then again, because you'll be comfortable, the pictures you get won't be of spectacular waterfalls (dry season) or dramatic weather. Your choice.

    PS: August is just the end of Winter in Australia and the weather is getting just a hint of the Spring instability at that time, so may be changeable at short notice.
     
  12. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    Wow, thanks everyone for the responses so far! You've already given me some great ideas that I hadn't thought about. As people have already mentioned, I think Northern WA and the NT would be good bets, just trying to figure out if I could afford (money or time) northern Queensland as well. I love the idea of photographing the night sky at this time as well, not that I've done a lot of it. Decisions, decisions....

    Is Melbourne (or SA, or Tasmania, or even southern WA) worth it in August? :wink: Or should I wait for a return trip at a better time of year?

    PS. My 1000th post! Finally!
     
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  13. canuhead

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    Melbourne isn't a 'beach' city so for me it's a wonderful visit any time of year although I find summers there a bit too much. I'm from Canada so the winter there would be early spring here, give or take. Melb is a great people watching/ street shooting city with a very cafe feel. So if that kind of vibe appeals to you, it'll be a good time. Not sure what it'd be like in the winter but if you have an opportunity to go to Kangaroo Island in South Australia, GO.
     
  14. polyglot

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    Melbourne will be wet and grey but not cold by your standards (lows of maybe 5C). Since you have the pick of the country, I wouldn't go there in August. It's pretty nice around October/November though, especially if you like cosmopolitan cities.

    You could do the ski areas between Vic and NSW but they're seriously crap compared to Whistler etc. I'm from Adelaide and I wouldn't bother being here in August - it's the coldest, wettest month, without even being spectacularly so. Kangaroo Island is good but there's a very good chance it will rain constantly in winter.

    Do the tropical thing, whether it's east or west doesn't really matter. West is much more remote and with more-lumpy ground, east has more support for scubadiving, reefs, etc.
     
  15. munz6869

    munz6869 Subscriber

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    Lows of 5C? Overnight maybe!! It's not that cold in August - more like mid teens and up. Melbourne's a great city for life and architecture though, at any time of year....

    Marc!
     
  16. Vaughn

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    Katherine Gorge and Kakadu National Park

    Only because they are the only places I have been in northern Oz. Both were wonderful and the rock art amazing. We left just as the Wet arrived, so it was a different time of year.

    For many years we had a subscription of Australian Geographic -- many articles on the large number of small parks and their beauty. A lifetime's worth of places to explore!

    Where ever you end up, enjoy!

    Vaughn
     
  17. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    I agree with Marc and Mike, but not with Mick. :wink: The Great Ocean Road is spectacular, and well worth the drive. Melbourne is less touristy than Sydney and nowhere near as cold as Sydneysiders or others would have you believe.
     
  18. tomalophicon

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    Central Australia is a fantastic place with a good base being Alice Springs. It will be chilly though with biting winds and below 0 temperatures overnight, but the sun will more than likely be shining! There is plenty to do and you won't be bored even after 4 weeks.
    Beware of Zillions of tourists though during winter.
     
  19. Ian David

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    I actually really like the Australian "high" country in winter, largely because it looks very different from the European and US alpine country. I wouldn't necessarily rush there for the skiing, but I do love the mix of Australian bush and a bit of snow. Then again, maybe it's just me - my wife isn't such a big fan!

    Ian
     
  20. MattPC

    MattPC Member

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    Thinking about central and Northern Australia be aware that distances are vast if traveling on land. This makes for a an awe insprising 'feel', but can burn a lot of time and money. I really would not be doing this alone. It's shockingly easy to get stuck 'nowhere' for days on end. eg. a tiny amount of rain 500km away can flood the road your'e on to totally impassable in a few minutes. A lot of 'highways' are'nt sealed.
    If you plan ahead reasonably well there are very cheap flights on all the mining routes. eg, Brisbane to Mackay for as little as $59 if you're lucky. Mackay is the gateway to the Whitsundays, nice but touristy. (and, of course, coal central...)
    Transport into central Australia is best done on the railway that runs north-south (Adelaide/Darwin/Adelaide). You will get to see vast areas of central Australia, but photo ops will be limited as the train moves constantly.
    If you fly into places, (Alic Springs say) you will need some type of transport. The bigger attractions (er, Ayres rock say) will of course have tourist transport, but you will be stuck with the happy snappers, the light will always be wrong/flat/etc.
    Organised tours will be safest.
    In NZ on the other hand, even in rainy cold august, you can hire a cheap car (say 10 yr old corolla or the like) and tour the whole country on your own. Normal tourist saftey for a 'western' country of course, but stay in country pubs, small town motels etc. I rode motorbike there for years, our strategy was 'if it's raining in the east, go west, raining in the west, go east. Hardly ever more than 1/2 a day coast to coast.

    Feel free to ask for more (I can be positive, really<grin>).

    MattPC
     
  21. derwent

    derwent Member

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    I'm gonna say that the outback would be great, central western NSW would be good, and as said above the High Country is absolutely stunning at that time of year albeit bloody cold.
    As for my beloved Tasmania, naturally there is no bad time to visit, but I would say the best time is March to May with April probably the peak. The large number of deciduous trees in autumn foliage combined with eucalypt forests combine to make great photography, and the light at that time of year is stunning.
    It's also the time of best weather, before the cold sets in but after the hot dry summer.
    Winter is all about bare branch trees and snow capped mountains, black and white heaven.
    Everything browns off in summer.
    Spring is often windy with lots of frost and fog and still snow on the mountains, but new growth everywhere looks great too.
     
  22. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    Thanks Matt!

    In all likelihood I would be travelling by plane or train, but I like the idea of having my own transport in the Uluru area, specifically to get great light. I did use a tour there many years before, but of course was limited to where they drove us, at what time of day, and the fact that it rained every day in the Simpson Desert while I was there.

    Although I'm not adverse to driving long distances through the middle of nowhere (done it many times in Canada after all), I'd probably stick to smaller, more focused areas due to unfamiliarity with the terrain/climate, time, and cost.

    In any event, this is still just in the preliminary stages as it all depends if I'm still in Japan next year (!) and, if I am, if I get accepted to the conference I want to present at in Wellington.

    Edit: Derwent, just saw your post. I'd love to go to Tasmania -- it's been a dream of mine for many years. I do love the raw, bare nature of winter (my favorite season to photograph), but the weather might be an issue (not as a local, but as a tourist). It's definitely still on the list, but for now it's a wait and see game for me.
     
  23. Andrew K

    Andrew K Subscriber

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    I'd go visit Tasmania.......It's compact, you can travel between many sights in a few hours, and the scenery can be spectacular.

    Maybe spend a week in Melbourne, then go down to Tassie for a couple of weeks?

    It depends what you want to see..if you are a landscape person then Tassie, if you like people/cities then I'd come to Melbourne (theres also a photo market in September in Box Hill - about 1/2 hour by train from the city centre. It's the biggest photo market in Australia with around 80 tables held in the old Town Hall building)

    As a born and bred Melbournian I love Melbourne, but also love wandering around Sydney, but the pace of life can be hectic compared to Melbourne..however in September Sydney will be a bit warmer, and the harbour and coastline are stunning..plus The Rocks is a great area to wander around...