The Sapphire Coast stretches from Bermagui in the north all the way to the Victoria boarder in the south covering approximately 225 kilometres of pristine coastline. It is blessed with two internationally recognised landscape photography locations at its gateway, Horse Head Rock and Camel Rock. These two locations attract photographers from around the world travelling specifically to Bermagui to shoot this two icons. However one question is always asked; what other great locations lie within this remote stretch of paradise?
Having spent the past two years photographing the area, I would like to share my list of 10 great landscape photography locations on the Sapphire Coast and when to best shoot them.
1. Horsehead Rock, Bermagui
Surprisingly this formation actually looks like a majestic horse head. Its positioning on a exposed rocky shoreline makes this location a seascape photographers dream. Sunrises are the best time to shoot Horsehead Rock especially if you can catch a colourful sky. Safety is a big concern when accessing this location. Photographers must prepare to enter and leave this location on a low tide or face getting stuck. Horsehead Rock is also a popular location for astro photography. During early 'astro season' (March - July) the milky way core aligns perfectly with the horses face.
2. Camel Rock, Bermagui
Camel Rock is also located in Bermagui and only 100 metres from Horsehead Rock. You actually pass Camel Rock on the hike around to Horsehead. Best conditions for Camel Rock is during big swells. The dramatic rock formation is well complimented with an equally dramatic swell giving the formation a good beating. The best lighting conditions for Camel Rock are sunset as the late afternoon rays light up the western rock faces. A colourful reverse sunset is the ultimate capture.
3. Blue Pool, Bermagui
Sunrise at Blue Pool could possibly cement Bermagui the most photogenic town in Australian for landscape photographers. Blue Pool is a fantastic 'go-to' location as it has something to offer in all conditions and seasons with easy access from the car park. Try capturing a fully mirrored coloured sky reflected in the still waters of the pool or the spill over flow created from a big swell.
4. Aragunnu Bay, Mimosa Rocks National Park
Between Bermagui and Tathra is Aragunnu Campground in Mimosa Rocks National Park. This culturally sensitive area has some of the most beautiful rock formations on the coast. The small bay to the north of the camp area offers a stunning sunrise composition with a rounded boulder bay in the foregrounds surrounded by basalt castle like headlands in the distance. The ultimate conditions to shoot sunrise is in summer when the sun rises in the middle of the bay. Also try going during high tide and low swells to give the small bay a full looking and smooth water effect. Try your luck with a panorama and capture the entire bay.
5. Gillards Beach, Mimosa Rocks National Park
Next location on the road trip is sunrise at Gillards Beach. At the north end of the beach is a group of pinnacle looking rocks jutting out from the sand. They are statuesque on their own however combine them with a high tide to capture the water flow around the base of the rocks. The end result his a simple yet timeless photo.
6. Tathra Wharf, Tathra
In the small town of Tathra is the historical wharf. This building is the heart and soul of the town with a strong historical connection back to many of the towns local residents. Tathra Wharf is an excellent winter location having both a visible sunrise and sunset from the wharf platform. There are endless compositions from every angle, including above and below. Winter also offers a front row seat to the whale migration with whales often stopping here for a short break. Did I mention the wharf is also home to one of the best cafes on the coast.
7. Bournda Island, Bournda National Park
Between Tathra and Merimbula is Bournda National Park. The main attraction here is Bournda Island. Sunrise at any season and in any condition is great here, plus there are endless compositions to be found. The trick is capturing it all in one photo so put on your widest angle lens. Hang around after the sun comes up and practice your wildlife photography in the reflective lagoon just behind the island. The ultimate bird photo is to capture a White Bellied Sea Eagle carrying a fish in its talons. This location is culturally and environmentally sensitive so please treat it with respect.
8. Fishpen, Merimbula
If colourful boathouses, rickety jetties and small wooden boats are your thing then you can't beat a sunset shoot at Fishpen in Merimbula, although the sunrises can be equally beautiful here also. Fishpen is a great place for an easy shoot as you can literally park and shoot from the window of your car if needed. If the north east winds becomes too strong at Fishpen (as they often do during summer) jump in the car and take a 5 minute drive around to Top Lake. This locations also offers a spectacular lake view sunsets...with protection from from the north easterly winds.
9. Pambula River Mouth, Pambula
Everyone should witness a colourful sunrise at Pambula River Mouth once in their lifetime. The pristine calm waters and reflective sand beach will enhance and boost any colour in the sky. The location offers a couple of great sunrise composition options, one from the boat sheds back in river mouth. The other out on the river mouth beach. Both offer an beautiful vantage point to shoot the sun rising above the headland on the opposite side of the river.
10. Old Man Rock, Ben Boyd National Park
Test your photography skills with a winter sunset at Old Mans Rock in Ben Boyd National Park. Although it doesn't look like an old man from the shore, this strange twisted shaped rock has an open lattice section underneath which at a certain time in winter beams sunlight directly through it like a torch. Combine this with some colourful high cloud and you have a wining landscape photo.
11. Humpback Highway, Winter Whale Migration
As an added bonus if you come during the whale southern migration season (September to late November) be sure to jump on one of the many whale watching cruises and try your luck shooting these majestic animals. I recommend the crew at Merimbula Marina as they are photography enthusiast themselves. If you set yourself up on the right hand side of the bottom deck they will position the boat with the photographer in mind (ie, in the best light position with landmarks in the background). Put on your tele lens and set your shutter speed to ultra fast to capture a humpback as it breaches into the air. The ultimate shot is capturing two whales in a double breach....if you are very very lucky.