Australia: land of contrast – a photo essay

Australia: land of contrast in photos

This is a guest post from Laurence of Finding The Universe. His site is one of my favourite travel blogs as I’m often blown away by his incredible photography:

I spent a year road tripping around Australia, and the thing that got me the most about this country, other than its sheer vastness, was the variety of scenery and sights on offer.

From desert-like sand dunes to tropical rainforest, from incredible beaches to splendid mountains, from natural gorges to man made artworks, Australia kept me enthralled. And I barely even made it to Queensland!

Though I run the risk of sounding like a clichéd brochure – Australia really does have something for everyone. Let me take you through some of the diverse sights I found whilst travelling in Oz, and let me know if you agree!

© Laurence Norah - findingtheuniverse.com : This is Uluru at sunset. It's a bloody long way from anywhere, and it's “just a rock”... but wow. What a rock!

I thought I’d start with a classic. This is Uluru at sunset. It’s a bloody long way from anywhere, and it’s “just a rock”… but wow. What a rock!

Australia is home to one of the worlds greatest road trips, along the Great Ocean Road in the state of Victoria. These rock outcrops are part of the Twelve Apostles, which is arguably the highlight of the road trip.

Australia is home to one of the worlds greatest road trips, along the Great Ocean Road in the state of Victoria. These rock outcrops are part of the Twelve Apostles, which is arguably the highlight of the road trip.

When I thought of Australia before I visited, lush verdant forest was not the first thing that sprang to mind. I was, it turns out, entirely wrong. Forests like this coastal rainforest in the Otways are spectacularly green and eminently explorable. Hurrah!

When I thought of Australia before I visited, lush verdant forest was not the first thing that sprang to mind. I was, it turns out, entirely wrong. Forests like this coastal rainforest in the Otways are spectacularly green and eminently explorable. Hurrah!

Now this is more the Australia that I imagined, although I never thought that the outback could be quite so weirdly colourful. This is the Painted Desert, just outside the underground mining towm of Coober Pedy. It's not hard to see where the name came from!

Now this is more the Australia that I imagined, although I never thought that the outback could be quite so weirdly colourful. This is the Painted Desert, just outside the underground mining towm of Coober Pedy. It’s not hard to see where the name came from!

Won weekly Times Photography competition : The massive scale of the Australian outback means that there is plenty of room for plopping a bit of art here and there without bothering anyone.

The massive scale of the Australian outback means that there is plenty of room for plopping a bit of art here and there without bothering anyone.

This is Antony Gormley’s “Inside Australia” piece, which spans ten square kilometers on a dry salt lake in Western Australia. It is, as with many attractions in Australia, a long way from anywhere. Still worth the visit though!

Castle Rock, NSW : I mentioned mountains I believe. This is the view from the top of the “Castle” in Morten National Park across to the New South Wales coastline. This walk was probably one of the toughest day hikes I've ever done,

I mentioned mountains I believe. This is the view from the top of the “Castle” in Morten National Park across to the New South Wales coastline. This walk was probably one of the toughest day hikes I’ve ever done, and was my favourite day hike in Australia.

The most immense storm ever hit us shortly after. My tent was washed away. Being British, it would be remiss of me to talk about a place without mentioning the weather. Outback storms can be fierce and seriously dramatic – as this one was! The brunt of it hit camp seconds after I got this shot, and washed my tent away. I slept in the car.

Being British, it would be remiss of me to talk about a place without mentioning the weather. Outback storms can be fierce and seriously dramatic – as this one was! The brunt of it hit camp seconds after I got this shot, and washed my tent away. I slept in the car.

Beach at Francois Perron National Park : The outback is a red place. Really really red. In this shot the red sand of the outback meets the sea in Francois Perron National Park, on the Western Australian coastline. The black line along the coastline is a flock of comorants. WA is the less popular coastline in Australia for travellers, but it really deserves some serious attention.

The outback is a red place. Really really red. In this shot the red sand of the outback meets the sea in Francois Perron National Park, on the Western Australian coastline. The black line along the coastline is a flock of comorants. WA is the less popular coastline in Australia for travellers, but it really deserves some serious attention.

Hellfire Bay : Speaking of beaches, Australia has no shortage of these, with some seriously impressive beaches to be found all around its coastline. This is Hellfire Bay in the Cape Le Grand National Park in Western Australia.

Speaking of beaches, Australia has no shortage of these, with some seriously impressive beaches to be found all around its coastline. This is Hellfire Bay in the Cape Le Grand National Park in Western Australia.

© Laurence Norah - findingtheuniverse.com : Australia is a place with an incredible cultural history, having been populated by the Aboriginal people for over 40,000 years before the white man rocked up and, well. History does not paint a pretty picture. Rock art like this can be found in all sorts of places, and it is truly fascinating stuff.

Australia is a place with an incredible cultural history, having been populated by the Aboriginal people for over 40,000 years before the white man rocked up and, well. History does not paint a pretty picture. Rock art like this can be found in all sorts of places, and it is truly fascinating stuff.

Speaking of art, here's another wacky bit of outback sculpture, found out on the Oodnadatta Track in South Australia. This one is called Planehenge.

Speaking of art, here’s another wacky bit of outback sculpture, found out on the Oodnadatta Track in South Australia. This one is called Planehenge.

Fitzroy falls, NSW : Sure, Australia can't compete with other countries when it comes to waterfall scale, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in availability. If you like a good waterfall, then you'll find plenty to get your waterfall on down under!

Sure, Australia can’t compete with other countries when it comes to waterfall scale, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in availability. If you like a good waterfall, then you’ll find plenty to get your waterfall on down under!

I have to admit, I was a bit of a fan of the outback. This is the wave rock, a giant rock formation that looks like a frozen wave. There is all sorts of science behind its formation, but really, what you'll want to do when you visit is pretend you're surfing it. Far more fun than reading about geology.

I have to admit, I was a bit of a fan of the outback. This is the wave rock, a giant rock formation that looks like a frozen wave. There is all sorts of science behind its formation, but really, what you’ll want to do when you visit is pretend you’re surfing it. Far more fun than reading about geology.

Sunrise over the sea

Sunset, Lagoon Beach

And really, I couldn’t finish without sharing a couple of sunrise / sunset photos. The first shot is of the sun rising across the eighty mile beach in Western Australia, whilst the second is the sunset at lagoon beach in Tasmania.

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed the photo essay – I’d love to hear your thoughts on the photos or Australia in the comments below!

Laurence. I’m a traveller, writer and photographer, slowly exploring the world on a trip I started in June 2009 after quitting the corporate life.

Laurence is a talented traveller, writer and photographer. Follow along with all of his adventures on his travel blog Finding The Universe, like his facebook fan page & follow him twitter.

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  3. Waw, all photos are wonderful. I visit your site first time but I made fan for yours. You shared beautiful photos. I love also Shannon Hartigan photography.Shannon Hartigan is one of the best international award winning fine art landscape photographer based in Newcastle, Australia. Shannon Hartigan provide International award winning fine art landscape photography of Newcastle and Australia Wide at shannonhartigan.com.au.

  4. says: Tricia

    Stunning imagery of such dramatic landscapes!

    We were relatively close to Australia last winter and contemplated hopping over from Bali, but finally concluded that it’s deserving of its own dedicated trip.

  5. says: Steph | DiscoveringIce

    Fantastic photos and excellent composition, colour and…well everything! Must check out his blog now!

  6. Wow, these photos are great! I love the one of the forest in particular, I’m in England so forests always remind me of home and running around when I was a kid. The blues in the sea and sky photos are pretty intense, too! Thanks for sharing.

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  12. says: Danyelle Franciosa

    Australia is one of the best country that I have ever known. The beaches there are very beautiful, the mountains and the falls as well. You really did a great job to take this photos and share it with us, I appreciate it very much.

  13. says: AnitaMac

    You have done Australia proud with this collection. Breathtaking shots. I love the diversity that Australia has on offer – it does have something for everyone! Sadly, I did not make it to the outback – but it is high on the list of reasons to return! Mind you – a return to the lush tropics, reef, cosmopolitan cities and the Great Ocean Road…..no wonder it is such a great destination! Can’t get enough.

  14. says: Dominique

    Australia is a beautiful country (and continent), looks like a delightful place to travel to. I so love these amazing photos!

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  17. says: Chad @ Road Dog Travel

    Wow, Awesome photos! They really do show the great diversity of Australia. It just moved up on my long list of places to see.

  18. says: Kate

    I love that photo of the storm as well as the Planehenge. The first is really powerful, you can really feel too little compared to the power of nature and the latter is simply cute and a very good parody of the Stonehedge.

  19. says: Kerri

    Incredible photos…I loved every second of my time in Australia and dream of going back…total cliche but I left my heart there 🙂 the photos you have chosen sum it up wonderfully.

  20. Deep vibrant colours, and a great sense of the dramatic landscape – looking forward to visiting the country again in a few months’ time.

    Thanks for your post, Laurence, and thanks for hosting, Samuel.

  21. says: A Montrealer Abroad

    Breathtaking photography – you really know how to make readers want to visit Australia, Laurence!

  22. says: Sam

    Great photos Laurence. Reminded me of some of the places I’ve been to in Australia, and inspired me to visit many I haven’t.

  23. The big photos are great and make Australia more inviting.

    The near-horizontal lightning strike and the long line of cormorants really get to me.

    It’s not that Australia isn’t inviting – it’s just that is seems so far away and not on the way to anywhere.

    I wonder, do Australians feel that way too?

    – reminding me that Australia has a lot of wildlife

    1. says: Laurence

      Thanks David 🙂 I know that the locals are aware that their country is absolutely massive – many of them remarked that I had seen far more of it than they had. It’s a place that many leave to explore until later on – they all shoot over to Europe first to see what that is like before exploring their own back yard. I decided to give it a year because of the sheer scale, which is just mind boggling. You really can’t see it quickly!

      What really sticks out in my mind to illustrate the size was that when first flying there, the plane crossed the Australian coastline, and there was still five hours of flying time before we reached Sydney. Staggering stuff!

    1. says: Laurence

      It’s an amazing place. We camped on the beach, and saw all kinds of incredible sea life, from rays to sharks to the elusive and rare dugong 😀

  24. says: Lozintransit

    I’m definitely more of a social photographer but this is really breathtaking stuff. It would ahve been nice to see some people also just to capture the amazing scale.
    Even some shots of the process of taking these photos as I almost feel like they were snapped by predator drones or RC helicopters consdiering some of the angles.

    1. says: Laurence

      Some of those photos were taken from somewhat daring positions I must admit.. I’d get in terrible trouble with my better half if I posted photos of me taking them 🙂 (and I waited ages to get the picture of the wave rock with no people pretending to surf! Most of the other shots have no people in them because there were no other people – Australia is full of a lot of empty space – one of the things I really enjoyed about it :D)

  25. says: Dean

    Great photos of my home country. Australia certainly is a land of contrast and you’ve captured it nicely. The only photo you’re missing is snow. Yep it snows in Australia too 🙂

    1. says: Laurence

      Hey Dean 🙂 My first night camping in Australia, just after we arrived, was spent up in the Blue Mountains in June. I can definitely confirm that you get snow in Australia as a result of that experience 😉 We headed north quickly!

  26. says: JoAnna

    Beautiful photos! I’ve only spent three weeks in the country but there’s so much more for me to explore. I’d love to see the wave rock someday.

  27. says: Jeremy

    Those photos are jaw-dropping. I spent a year in Australia and loved every second. Couldn’t put my camera down. You really captured the country well. Nicely done.