Mt Howitt

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Hiking Boots
Alpine Parks map

This remote and pristine part of the Victorian alps just has to be one of Australia’s best kept secrets. For as long as I can remember, nothing makes me feel more invigorated and alive than being truly amongst nature and appreciating everything about your natural surroundings, and this journey into the Victorian high country definitely delivered this in spades.

Nestled in among the rugged and remote mountains of the Victorian Alpine park lies Mt Howitt, and the aptly named “Crosscut saw”, by far the most spectacular ridge-line in all of the alpine region. Getting here is no small feat, but also in relative terms not actually that hard. Type into your GPS the gorgeous little “town” of Licola and in 3 hours of beautiful countryside driving that meanders through flat farmland, into mountainous passes and through rivers and streams you will be there. Once in Licola, pop into the general store and grab yourself an alpine map, ask for some directions and perhaps even grab an ice cream or pick up any last minute supplies/fuel, as this is the last place you can do so as from here on in, you are on your own!

Heading out of Licola, over the bridge, turn left and drive. You will be entering National park and eventually a dirt/ gravel road that continues on for another 90kms, so make sure you have enough fuel and spare tyres if you get a flattie. You will eventually encounter a fork in the road, continue on left and keep going until you reach the Howitt Trail carpark on the right. This is the trailhead for your adventure.

Park up, locked and loaded fill out your intentions in the Parks Vic book at the start and head in. The first part of the trail is relatively easy as you meander through snow gum wetlands with mellow inclines and declines for about an hour until you reach Mc Allistar springs and the most beautiful alpine hut in all of Victoria, the architecturally designed Vellejo Gantner Hut. Here you can access water from the stream, toilet facilities courtesy of “the Loo with a view” and have a well earned rest and or bite to eat at the Hut. This hut is gorgeous, I can only dream of one day being trapped in a snow storm out here and lighting up the gorgeous stone fireplace and cracking a bottle of wine whilst waiting the storm out!. Until then its best to admire the hut for its design and surroundings as these alpine huts are designed for emergency use only.

Heading off on the most obvious path down away from the hut you will find yourself on a track for the summit of Mt Howitt, the Crosscut saw and the Alpine walking track. You will see many sights along the way including the aptly named “Devils Staircase”, gorgeous valleys, and promising views of the Saw as you make your approach.

Once you have opened into the clearing and reach the top you are greeted with some of the most spectacular views I have experienced in the victorian high country that’s for sure! We choose a lovely little flat section right on the ridge line of the Crosscut Saw and set up our camp. Calculating where the sun would rise we set up our tent so that when we opened our door we would be treated with the morning rays. Thats my top tip for the most glorious wake up call of all time!

Sunset was on fire and we were so lucky, everywhere you looked the light was painting layers of texture and colour and is something I will always remember for how vivid and interesting the landscape is.

We cooked up some classic dehydrated food and nestled in for the night, high up on the Ridgeline and under the stars all wrapped up in thermals, sleeping bags and cosy in our tent.

Sunrise was nothing short of breathtaking, and the light that poured in the valley illuminated the skies and opened up views never to be forgotten. Couple that with some fresh brewed coffee from the Aero press and you have morning as close to heaven as you can get in my opinion! You can keep your 5 star hotels any day, views like these cant be bought, only earned.

Heading back down mid morning and hitting the trail home, you cant help but feel stoked for having made the effort to experience something not everyone is willing to achieve. Top it all off with an ice cream and a swim in the pristine river back in Licola to revive the old bones and get you refreshed for the drive home and you’ve got yourself one hell of a little mini victorian weekend getaway.

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the track
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the view
the loo
McAllister hut
the path
morning light
Inside
kindling
dig here
Devils staircase
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flower+power
tree glow
the sunset
camp setup
all set
morning views
coffee?
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camp vibes
wake up
that view
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what its all about

South Island 2018

Its been done before, and it will be done again, but thats not the point. Yes NZ is a place of astronomical scale, beauty and wonder, but its also my place of birth. Something I hold dearly to my heart and consider myself very lucky to be able to truly call this stunning country home.

We went back to NZs jaw dropping South Island for another dose of winter goodness, but with a slightly different agenda to the usual bout of snowboard, beer, sleep, repeat. 

This time I wanted to be a tourist in my own country, something I never thought I would have said 13 years ago when I embarked on my exploration of the world, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Now as I taste things differently so to speak, I am truly in awe of the country I couldn't wait to leave and have literally only scratched the very, VERY surface exploration in what is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world. 

 

The funny thing about exploration is, the more you unearth, the deeper your desires seed to uncover, discover, and experience all the adventures you possibly can.

So without further ado, heres a little recollection of some of our time in Gods country this August of 2018.

 

Mt Cook National Park

Sunset at Hooker Valley lake

Sunset at Hooker Valley lake

The nights are void of any light pollution

The nights are void of any light pollution

 

I couldn't even tell you how much there is to do in this remarkable part of the world, but I sure do hope to discover all there is to offer on each and every visit I make to this place, because I already can't wait to go back. 

We stayed at the awesome Aoraki court motel, literally in the heart of Mt Cook national parks small village. **HOT TIP** you want to make sure you take all the food you want with you there because there are no real supermarkets unless you want to eat at the restaurants, personally, I was too exhausted from hiking to eat out!

Tasman Glacier

Sunset at Tasman Glacier

Sunset at Tasman Glacier

We spent 2 nights here in total so on night one we ventured off to Tasman glacial lake to experience our first sunset, and were given the hot tip from our hotel that there were many Icebergs in the lake, winning, kinda, as that means melting glaciers. Bittersweet beauty really. We ended up coming back for another sunrise here on our last morning too, that good!

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Easy to find, a 10 min drive from the village and clearly signposted from the main road. The walk takes about 30 mins and is an easy trail, nice way to warm up those hiking legs for the more trails to come! 

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Hooker Valley track

Sunset at the foot Mt Cook

Sunset at the foot Mt Cook

Hooker Valley track is no joke, not for how hard it is, but for its ability to literally place you smack bang in the mountains and make you feel like you have entered the remote wilderness of the Southern Alps. The track is super easy to find as it is 5 minutes from the village, again signposted off the main road. The walk takes 1.5 hours one way and crosses 3 epic suspension bridges and a tonne of changing terrain conditions from light bush, to black rocky cliffs, stunning river crossings, alpine tarns, and finally arriving at an enormous lake full of icebergs. We left at 5am to catch the sunrise, and boy were we not disappointed, just remember pack the right gear, when you stop hiking things get cold quick!!! We liked this place so much we came back again for sunset too! thats 38000 steps in one day. Safe to say we slept well that night!

The many faces of the track

The many faces of the track

Hooker Valley showing us how its done

Hooker Valley showing us how its done

Wanaka

She stands the test of time

She stands the test of time

With so so much to see and do, Wanaka is truly the gateway to adventure thats for sure! We stayed here for a week and got up to all sorts of goodness, from sunsets on the lake, snowboarding up at Cardrona, beers at amazing lakeside bars, gorgeous coffees to get you going  and a whole bunch of photography and exploring.

We visited the tree on a few mornings and were just amazed at the different conditions we were lucky to encounter, I was even lucky enough to bump into some photography legends @mitchperfect @brentpurcell @kirtsy.tamatea doing their thing. Such epic photographers so go check em out (as if you haven't already) 

The tree showing why its so popular

The tree showing why its so popular

A different perspective

A different perspective

Amongst all the snowboarding and good times we had one thing looming over us, literally, Roys peak. See we've always wanted to get up here for a sunrise but for one reason or another, have not made it. Not this time. So on our last night we made breakfast the night before, set the alarm, and ventured off for a 3 am start.

3 hours and 1500 odd metres straight up this track is brutal, for brutals sake. Im not gonna lie, its tough and a real leg burner. Not trying to brag (I am) we charged the thing in 2 hours flat. Talk about hustle. and I'm pleased we did, because sunrise up there was something I will never ever forget. We hiked through cloud and arrived to a starry, starry night. As day broke the colours exploded and we were literally left looking out at the world from above the clouds. A moment well learnt and well enjoyed.

Above the clouds

Above the clouds

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Milford Sound

Sunset showing off

Sunset showing off

No small drive from Wanaka we set off for Milford sound to catch what looked to be a promising sunset, through mountainous roads, finding valleys and through the tunnel to the land of waterfalls we made our way to the 8th wonder of the world. We were treated to moody skies with unreal breaks in the cloud and this just made for one of the most surreal sunsets I have ever witnessed. We stayed in Te Anau so only had 1 sunset here, but man am I looking forwards to coming back here and exploring more of the region of Fiordland and experiencing as much as I can!

What a drive

What a drive

Mossy rocks

Mossy rocks

Soo much to see

Soo much to see

Last light

Last light

There is so so much more that we saw and did, but thats for another time . Safe to say I'm really happy with the effort we put in getting every sunrise and every sunset we could bar 1 or 2. The funny thing is I feel like this trip is just the recce for a whole new world of exploration that I am researching to undertake. Who ever thought I would become a tourist in my own country. Couldn't be happier:)

A long exposure photographic guide to the 12 Apostles

Its iconic, breathtaking, diverse, and a photographers playground. The Great Ocean Road is full of opportunities to take all types of imagery from candid holiday Snaps, dreamy long exposures, mystical Milky Way astro and anything in between.

Here is an account of a recent trip I made down this stretch of coast to take some photos, eat some great food and enjoy all that this part of Victoria has to offer.

The reason for writing this??... I have scoured the net reading other peoples logs, accounts, and recollections of photographic journeys and I have found it super helpful and inspiring to have some sort of information to help me plan my own little adventure, so my hope is this lil piece gives you some inspiration and insight as to how to achieve your own little Great Ocean road adventure. so please share it around if you feel someone could benefit from this.

Starting in the afternoon I left Torquay, Vic to head straight to the 12 Apostles lookout for some sunset long exposure opportunities. It takes approx 1.5 -2 hours inland to get to the lookout, and once there we parked up, headed to the main "viewing deck" of the Apostles and parked up with the millions of other like minded travellers to witness the last of summers sunsets in full swing.

My advice is to get there at least an hour before sunset to get your best vantage point to set up your composition. I did not do this. I arrived right on sunset, muscled in, set up my tripod, camera, knocked up a composition (easy here) and played with long exposures and simpler single shots and was lucky enough to witness yet another gorgeous light show courtesy of Mother Nature.

 

This is a long exposure I set up Using my  Manfrotto Tripod ,  Canon 5d mkiv  paired with a 1 7-40mm f4L  series lens and a Hoya 1 0 stop ND filter   30secs  F9  ISO200

This is a long exposure I set up Using my Manfrotto Tripod, Canon 5d mkiv paired with a 17-40mm f4L series lens and a Hoya 10 stop ND filter

30secs

F9

ISO200

Next Stop after we finished with the sunset photography was the Port Campbell holiday park where we had booked a site for $30 and parked up the van to set up camp. This campground is epic, Backs right onto the river and smack bang in the centre of town. It also has lush kitchen facilities/ amenities and is super clean. We then rolled into town for a kid you not, some of the BEST wood fired pizza I ova e had in a LONG time. No photos here. scoff time. If your in town, hit up Grassroots Deli cafe, handmade dough, cold drinks, hot wood fired oven. need I say more.

Full and happy with the night sky looking clear it was back in the van and back to the 12 apostles lookout, this time heading towards the furthermost lookout to the left facing Gibson Steps for some Astro Photography. Facing the camera in the direction of the Milky Way just slightly left of the Monoliths, I played with shutter speeds until I reached the correct exposure, starting at ISO 3200 and F2.8 for 20secs, then increasing my Shutter speed until I was happy, reframing as I went to better compose my shot once I had seen where the Milky Way Core was situated within my frame, I came away with a shot I am reasonably happy with, granted there is some cloud in there that I had to wait out but thats  all apart of the learning ( and patience) experience for me.

 

This is a long exposure I set up Using my  Manfrotto Tripod ,  Canon 5d mkiv  paired with a  24-70 f2.8L USM II Lens   30secs  F2.8  ISO2500

This is a long exposure I set up Using my Manfrotto Tripod, Canon 5d mkiv paired with a 24-70 f2.8L USM II Lens

30secs

F2.8

ISO2500

After this long and cold night session, I recommend a blanket, some tea and some tunes to make the time more enjoyable for your partner (sorry ness) it was time for bed to be fresh for an early start at dawn.

an hour before dawn, 6am, we woke up to a mass of low lying fog making everything invisible. Theres 2 trains of thought here..go back to bed its a write off, or give it a crack and see what happens. We chose the latter and were rewarded with cascading waterfalls of mist rolling into the sea off the land. We headed back to the same spot, Gibson Steps lookout and met up with amazing local photog Craig Richards, go check him out, he's huge, an amazing shooter, and suuuoper nice guy!(fellow chef too).

This time with the camera firmly pointed towards the amazing Gibson Steps I fired off a bajillion shots as the light changed and illuminated the fog in all its glory. I hope you get this lucky too!

Here is on of my fav long exposures that really dramatises the way the mist falls into the ocean I think.

 

This is a long exposure I set up Using my  Manfrotto Tripod ,  Canon 5d mkiv  paired with a  2  4-105 f4L USM  and a Hoya 1 0 stop ND filter   60secs  F9  ISO100

This is a long exposure I set up Using my Manfrotto Tripod, Canon 5d mkiv paired with a 24-105 f4L USM and a Hoya 10 stop ND filter

60secs

F9

ISO100

Wrapping things up after a delicious bowl of oats for breakfast it was off to The Great Otway National park for some Waterfall adventures. Driving for another 1.5hrs we headed straight to Hopetoun falls to get some more dreamy long exposures as the morning light was cascading through the dense rainforest. Head along the Great Ocean Road and into Beech Forrest and you will fins Hopetoun Falls nestled within  the Californian redwoods forrest.

A great spot for long exposure photography from almost any angle, this waterfall is so picturesque with a tree trunk that has literally fallen and landed in the waterfall.

A short 10 min walk down some wooden steps from the carpark and you are in another planet of lush jungle foliage, be careful, be considerate, be respectful of the forest and enjoy this gorgeous part of the world.

This is a long exposure I set up Using my  Manfrotto Tripod ,  Canon 5d mkiv  paired with a  24-70 f2.8L USM II Lens   0.4secs  F9  ISO100

This is a long exposure I set up Using my Manfrotto Tripod, Canon 5d mkiv paired with a 24-70 f2.8L USM II Lens

0.4secs

F9

ISO100

Thats not all the spots you can visit, such as Loch Ard Gorge, Beauchamp falls, The Grotto, The Shipwreck etc but just some food for thought to hopefully help you plan your own little mission!!

2018. Goals, Intentions, Aspirations.

Man she came around quick! 2018 is already well and truly upon us and its got me thinking about my goals, what I would like to achieve, and how I aspire to achieve them.

In the past i have always been a new years resolution kinda guy, don't get me wrong, I'm all for a resolution, but this year I have opted for more of a realistic approach to setting some goals and mapping out ways in which i plan to achieve them.

2017 was a year of learning for me. I made a resolution to devote every spare minute I could to learning more about the art and science of Photography, and what a year it has been. I have been out shooting in some  jaw dropping places, many of which I live surprisingly close to, which i count my lucky stars for trust me. I have watched every tutorial, read every blog, studied every magazine I could to learn more and more about this craft, and I am stoked with my results thus far. By no means do I have it all figured out, but boy am I enjoying the journey. Literally.

More than taking photos themselves, Photography has become a vessel to me, a cause for adventure, and has opened up so so many amazing places to me, and opened my eyes to countless more.

Below is my list of goals I have for my photography and the journey I am on, so if you feel like seeing where i hope to head, please enjoy, and i wish you all the best in your own goal setting.

So here's to a cause for adventure and a prosperous new year to all and I hope you get all the banger shots and go on all the adventures to get them!

Jan Juc Cliffs

1: STYLE - something I am working on, thinking about, and constantly  developing. I am pumped to continue to develop my own style.

NZ showing off

2: TRAVEL - I have always loved to travel, and have been fortunate enough to have seen soo many amazing places in this world, but it seems photography has sparked something deep inside me that has fired up the desire to see and travel to as many places as possible. This year I hope to get to NZ, JAPAN, HAWAII, and as many new places in AUS as i can to shoot shoot shoot!

 

SUP'er in LORNE

3: PRINTING - I have always been a fan of prints, they blow me away. This year I intend to work with some local printers and get ome of my works calibrated and printed/ framed. Who knows maybe I can even sell some!

Ness in Glenorchy

4: PEOPLE - I am so lucky to have a beautiful partner like Ness to take pictures of, she is my partner in crime and travel! Looking forwards to taking more shots of people in their environments and developing more skills to capture their stories and emotions.

Team Wedding

5: WEDDINGS - I love em. Everything about them. The people, the places, the style, the food. I just want to shoot em. Portfolio coming soon!!!

Hopetoun looking amazing

6: BLOG - I love writing, adding images, and telling a story, I think that's a really intrinsic part of photography. I Intend to create as many stories and updates as I can through the year of projects I embark on and hopefully some useful information for those who are interested in the subject at hand.

Behind the Lens

7: BUSINESS - I am really going to knuckle down and focus on marketing, creating a brand, and how to position myself in the big wide world of photographers. At the end of the day- getting my work out there would be a huge buzz!

BELLS BEACH

8: WATER PHOTOGRAPHY - This year I am going to get a housing, and start getting some of them epic water shots, the amount of times I'm surfing and harp on about "how i wish I had a camera out here".. its coming.

CLIFTON SPRINGS

9: COMPETITIONS - I plan to enter as many competitions as I can that come my way. Not for the sake of winning. But to put myself out there and to take the critique and criticisms that come my way so I can learn, grow, and develop as a photographer.

Pt Addis

10; WORKSHOPS - I already have a few great workshops in both on location and post processing booked with the legends at Project Rawcast ( if you havn't heard it, check out their podcast on itunes!) and plan on attending as many as I can squeeze in . Definitely stoked on learning more technical aspects of shooting outdoors and how to best utilise my equipment and continue to develop my skills post processing!

NZ South Island winter 2017

Its always a special feeling when i get back to Wanaka, a place where I have spent a fair amount of time enjoying ski seasons and all the crazy times that go with them.

I look at the place a lot differently these days...call it age haha. There is so SO much on offer down here, the more you look , the more you find. Snowboarding in the winter is always my favourtie go to down here, be it my old stomping grounds Cardrona, or the always epic Treble Cone..and if the bank account allows...EPIC heli skiing! But this time we found ourselves exploring waterfalls, hiking to glaciers and looking for those special moments of light that only this part of the world can provide.

I am really looking forwards to making the trek down here again in Summer for some campervan/ hike life and exploring some of the amazing DOC huts you can hike and camp in!

 

We spent our fist Night in Lake Tekapo after flying into Christchurch, had dinner at a local, watched the mighty ABs take the Bledisloe again then i tried my hand at astro for the first time. FAIL. the clouds came to ruin the party but i did learn alot!!!

We spent the majorty of the trip based in Wanaka, this included waterfall photo shoots, river crossings, mountain walks, lakeside sunset beers, snowboarding, glacier hiking, roadtrips for burgers and views, more snowboarding, more beers, and good times with great mates.

We then decied to head to Methven for our last 3 nights for some epic snow at Mt hutt, BIG MOUNTAIN, properly stoked on that place, we scored epic blue skies and cold conditions making for some of the best riding of the trip! Followed by Hot tubs, beers, bike rides, shack rests, river sunsets, this was a trip to really soak in the NZ nature- but it feels like after living there till i was 25, i have only scratched the surface! CANNOT WAIT to get back there, hike more, camp more, photo more, explore more!

Peep some pics below from our time! Have already printed and framed some of these and so stoked on the results!

The deserted Glendhu road that takes you to Raspberry flat for numerous hikes, waterfalls, huts.

The deserted Glendhu road that takes you to Raspberry flat for numerous hikes, waterfalls, huts.

Ness trying not to get too wet from all the mmist from these amazing Falls

Ness trying not to get too wet from all the mmist from these amazing Falls

Charlotte and Brunos trusty Pajero making one of the 11 ford crossings at pace

Charlotte and Brunos trusty Pajero making one of the 11 ford crossings at pace

Bali

Every time I land in Bali and head straight to my local fav beachfront bar and sip on the first delicious ice cold Bintang i always wonder why I wait so long to be here.Our first week in Canggu played all the crowd favorites, with a few new additions thrown in for good measure. We had a mixed bag of weather, cloudy, sunny, cold, hot and the swell was not in my favor this time but that's ok - good opportunity to get out and about, take some photos and enjoy the Island of the gods in a different light!

Once we spent a few days on the mainland we ventured over to our favorite little island Nusa Lembongan for some sun, cold beers, warm water and a few cheeky little waves - until i broke my one and only board. Rookie error.

Finally we spent the last few days nestled along the clifftops of Uluwatu soaking up the rays, the cocktails and getting absolutely rattled on the reef! A few sunset sessions at Singlefin was enough to ease the pain of not being able to surf from too many deep reef cuts..until next time Bali, thanks for always delivering the good times!

 

Tides out at Nusa Lembongan

Tides out at Nusa Lembongan