Planning a photography trip ‘Down Under’? Want to capture Australia in Pictures? Here are some of the prettiest places in Australia, with everything you need to know to plan your trip and select your perfect location.
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Australia in Pictures – picking the prettiest places to photograph
There are so many beautiful places in Australia, it’s hard to select only a few of them. Still, we want to help you make the best choices for your trip, so today we’re introducing you to some of the most famous Australian landmarks, best vantage points and hints to photograph them.
We’ve selected a mix of both the most beautiful famous places to visit, but also some slightly ‘off the beaten path’, to help you if you want to enjoy a little of the famous Australian wilderness.
Photographing Australia’s famous landmarks- when to visit
Australia has a population of just 25 million people but is over 7 million square kilometres in size. Therefore, there is a lot of space, natural untouched attractions, and plenty of beautiful places to see.
The climate varies throughout the 6 states and 3 territories, meaning travelling to all the destinations below will be optimal at different times. As a guide, the northern areas will be warm all year round, and the southern areas can cool down during the winter period from May to August.
The Outback or remote areas tend to be more extreme, with high temperatures during the day and lower at night. Packing layers will help a lot to keep you comfortable, particularly if you want to take photos during both the heat of the day and the chill of the night.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in and show you some of the prettiest places to visit in Australia- and how to photograph them.
Australia in Pictures- Map of the most beautiful places in Australia
Want to see where these places are? Here’s an interactive map to help you plan your trip.
Big Red Sand Dune
Yes, there are sand dunes in Australia, located in remote Outback Queensland outside of the small town of Birdsville. The Big Red sand dune is the first and largest of 1100 sand dunes travelling into the Northern Territory, through the Munga-Thurri National Park.
It stands at 40 metres high and will require your own four-wheel-drive vehicle to get up it or take an organised bus tour from Birdsville. If you have the energy, you can even walk up in about 10 to 15 minutes.
Australia in Pictures- how to photograph the Big Red Dune
Most people will visit the Big Red Sand dune for sunset or sunrise photography. This can be done from anywhere on the dunes, with unrestricted views of the desolate valley and other dunes in the distance. Having people in the photo will add perspective and give others a sense of size and a classic Australian Outback feel.
Alternatively, practice your texture and ‘close-in’ photography by trying to capture the ripples formed by the wind in the sand. Accessing the dunes early in the morning will be great for this with fewer footprints disturbing the texture.
Fairy Pools Noosa
The Fairy Pools are a local swimming spot near Noosa Heads where you cool off in some natural rock pools. It’s an easy 2 hour trip from Brisbane; not the easiest to find, but well worth the extra effort to locate. To access it, you need to hike along the Noosa Coastal walk to one of the rocky headlands. From there, you exit the track and carefully walk down the rocks, and enter the pools.
Beautiful places in Australia- how to photograph the Fairy Pools
Early morning sunrise shots are probably best here, especially with the number of people trying to swim in them during the rest of the day.
Daytime shots will feature some beautiful crystal clear waters, and timing will be crucial for the spa effect brought over the rocks from the waves. If you own a drone, this will be easy to manoeuvre around while capturing some of the coastline.
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and is easily accessed by barge from Hervey Bay and Rainbow Beach. The area is popular for beach camping, along with the many different sites you can see there. This includes but is not limited to freshwater swimming at Lake McKenzie, & Eli Creek, The Pinnacle’s rock formation, Champagne Pools, or the Maheno Ship Wreck.
Australia in Pictures- how to photograph Fraser Island
All of the points mentioned above are great locations for photos, and you can adjust your creativity with different lighting throughout the day.
Lake McKenzie has amazing crystal blue waters with silica white sand, therefore photographing outside during midday (the brightest light), is probably the best. There are plenty of places and opportunities to capture this wonderful Island, but some of the best views are at Indian Head and looking all the way down the beach.
Great Barrier Reef – one of Australia’s most famous landmarks
The Great Barrier Reef stretches 2300 kilometres from Port Douglas in North Queensland, to Bundaberg in the south. It’s the largest reef system in the world containing 3000 reefs, 600 islands, 300 coral cays, and 150 mangroves. This is one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World and one of the many landforms that can be viewed from space.
Australia in Pictures: How to photograph the Great Barrier Reef
Obviously, trying to photograph the Great Barrier Reef from the water will require an underwater housing for your camera or Go Pro. Strobe lighting will come in handy depending on how deep you go, to help counteract the loss of colour, but don’t spend a lot of money on this unless you do a lot of diving.
A macro lens and fast shutter will be better to capture the small creatures and fast moving fish. On the other hand, a wide-angle or Fisheye lens is preferred when you know you’re going to encounter larger creatures like Manta Rays, sharks, groupers, or whales.
Sydney Harbour – Australia’s most famous landmark
Fun Fact: Sydney is NOT the capital of Australia, although it is the largest city with close to 5.3 million people living there.
One of the biggest and most iconic landmarks in the whole of Australia has to be the Sydney Opera House- instantly recognisable worldwide with its distinctive white sail-shaped structure.
The Sydney Opera House stands in the middle of Sydney Harbour, took 14 years to build, and cost 102 million dollars. It was UNESCO heritage listed in 2007 and can be viewed up close, or from hundreds of points around the bay.
Australia in Pictures: How to photograph the Sydney Opera House
You can absolutely walk right up to the Opera House and take photos from close up, but shooting from areas slightly further away (like Garden Point and Mrs. Macquarie’s Point) will allow you to capture the Opera House along with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background.
From the other side, The Rocks suburb will provide a side-on view of the sails, with a larger view of the Bay behind. Another way to capture this Australian icon is to take a ride on a ferry. All ferries depart from right beside the Opera House and allow you to shoot from the boat, while Luna Park and Kirribilli Point will provide a different perspective again.
The Gold Coast was made famous back in the 80s for being one of the best beach destinations in Australia. It is the biggest non-capital city and a huge tourist hub for locals and overseas visitors. More than 10 million people visit this area in South East Queensland to explore the beaches or take day trips into the Gold Coast Hinterland.
Australia in Pictures- how to photograph the Gold Coast
How you photograph this area will depend on what you want to capture. There are choices from beaches, skyscrapers, creeks, bushland, waterfalls, wildlife, or rainforests. What you will need to do is pick your times for certain experiences and try and beat the crowds.
Due to the Gold Coast facing east, shooting the sun over the horizon will mean fantastic sunrises- if you get up early enough! It is still possible to take sunset shots of skyscrapers or facing the hinterland.
A long-range lens will work well at vantage points like Burleigh heads or Currumbin beach, capturing a view looking down the beach. The dense forest will keep a low light scenario for slow shutter exposures and waterfalls, but you will still need to go early if you’d like to capture photos without people around.
12 Apostles – one of Australia’s most famous landmarks
The Great Ocean Road stretches 244 kilometres from Torquay to Allansford in Victoria. It’s a very popular road trip and almost all of it boasts incredible scenery. However, one of the most famous Australian landmarks is along this route- the 12 Apostles.
This is a limestone coast and over time natural limestone rock formations have formed due to wind and water erosion. This is how the famous 12 Apostles rocks were formed.
Australia in pictures: How to photograph the 12 Apostles
Most of the areas aren’t directly accessible, although specific paths and lookout points can make viewing and photographing a little easier. The 12 Apostles lookout point is actually in the middle of the 12, meaning they are split so you can’t get them all in one photo.
However, viewing six of the Apostles on the one side is still a superb sight, or try a helicopter flight if you want to capture them all. Early morning or late afternoon visits will reduce the number of other people around and you’re likely to experience an incredible sunset.
Alternatively, you could try out Astrophotography with the Milky Way or the unique occasion of Australis Borealis (Southern Lights).
The Pinnacles rock formation is located in Western Australia about 2 hours north of Perth. They are very unusual pointed structures and look like something that came out of an alien movie. They have been formed over 25 thousand years ago after the sea reseeded and left deposits of sea shells behind. The coastal wind erosion exposed these pillars and range in various heights in the Nambung National Park.
Australia’s most beautiful places- how to photograph the Pinnacles
You’re able to walk around and photograph The Pinnacles 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, giving you plenty of options on how best to capture them.
The area is a low-light pollution zone (dark sky) and is a great place for Astrophotography. During the day, the discovery centre is open and you can purchase a pass for car entry and drive the 4 kilometre loop track. This also allows options to see a wider area and different size Pinnacles to capture.
Uluru/ Ayers Rock- one of the prettiest places in Australia
Uluru (commonly known as Ayers Rock) is one of the most famous landmarks in Australia. It stands 348 metres (1142 Feet) above the ground, 10 kilometres circumference base, and is made of red sandstone rock. It’s often explored with Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) with different hikes and site seeing locations in the National Park.
Australia in Pictures: How to take the best photos of Uluru
Depending on what and how you would like to photograph, there are many different options available. Due to safety, there are some specific sunset and sunrise platforms situated around the park for your convenience.
There are plenty of close-up and texture shots you can take around the base but please remember that this is a sacred place and there are plenty of sites where photos are not allowed. Due to the size of the rock, getting further away will allow you to get it all in frame.
Ultimately, one of the best photography locations would have to be from the air in a balloon or helicopter flight. TOP TIP: pick your flight time strategically for the golden hour (either morning or evening) to ensure your best shot.
Cradle Mountain is located on the small island of Tasmania, just off the coast of Victoria. It’s a huge highlight for the area and you will be in awe over its raw natural beauty, local wildlife, and divine views. There might even be some snow around.
How to photograph Cradle Mountain
Due to it being in the most southern state of Australia, the weather is mostly cold, wet, and not always the best conditions for photography. However, if you’re lucky enough to visit in good weather, then you won’t be disappointed.
It takes a full day hike to see it both from a distance and up close. Alternatively, short helicopter flights are available from Launceston for the amazing views from up high. Be sure to use a gimbal or some sort of stabilisation on your camera to counteract the shake from the helo.
Carnarvon Gorge National Park
The Carnarvon Gorge National Park lies about 9 hours west of Brisbane. This is a popular spot for hiking, with the main gorge hike being 19.4 kilometres return. However, there are plenty of other sites and places to explore.
How to photograph Carnarvon Gorge
The highlights of the National Park are the Amphitheatre and the Moss Garden. A wide-angle lens would be ideal to capture millions of years of erosion, which has formed the slot canyons, rock faces, and large areas viewed up close. A high zoom lens will help with wildlife and shooting down Carnarvon Gorge.
The early morning or late afternoons will have the sun reflecting off the surrounding mountains. This is also a great time to capture the bright colours of the local plant life and reflections in the gorge waters.
The Bungle Bungle range are natural Bee-hive rock formation located in the Purnululu National Park, northern Western Australia. These domes stretch over 450 square kilometres and were created by active faults and erosion depositing materials for over 300 million years. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site and, due to crazy high temperatures, can only be visited from March to October each year.
Australia in Pictures: How to photograph the Bungle Bungles
From the ground, you can walk around freely to different points and platforms available in the area. This might require photographing with a wide-angle lens to fit a single Dome in the frame.
However, due to the sheer size of this magnificent range, a helicopter flight is one of the best ways to experience it. Travelling with a lens supporting a lot of different zoom ranges will help you capture it all.
Just off the coast of Perth in Western Australia, lies Rottnest Island and best known for some amazing clear waters, white sandy beaches, and military history. It’s also known for having Quokkas, which have been tagged as the happiest animals in the world and are perfect for a selfie. The Island is only small, and the best way to get around is by bicycle. This gives you the freedom to choose your sites and stay as long as you want at each.
Australia in Pictures: How to capture Rottnest Island
At every turn, you’re brought upon another glorious beach, great for swimming or capturing the reef systems in the water. A great travel lens will come in handy here and allow you to change up when needed.
The Quokkas can be found all over the Island, and just take a little time and patience to get the right shot. You can even do this on your phone, as demonstrated by Thor himself! (Chris Hemsworth posted a photo which went viral, showing him doing this.)
Cobbold Gorge is located in Northern Outback Queensland and is only open from April to October each year. It’s a private cattle farm that supplies tours, camping, and fixed accommodation to the tourists to witness the breathtaking Gorge.
The tours include paddleboarding down the slot canyon, walking over a glass bridge, a comfortable boat tour, or a helicopter ride.
How to photograph Cobbold Gorge
There aren’t too many options for photographing Cobbold Gorge as organised tours are the only way to see it. The Boat tours are probably your best option, as long as you can get a seat at either end for unrestricted views. This tour also takes you over the Glass Bottom Bridge and allows 5 to 10 minutes shooting down the Gorge.
Mitchell Falls in the Kimberley
Mitchell falls is located in the Kimberley region and northern Western Australia. They are one of the biggest waterfalls in Australia with a 4 tier formation and requires a hike to get in and around it.
The roads into Mitchell falls are blocked during the wet season, but there are still options to fly into the accommodations.
Australia in Pictures: How to Photograph Mitchell Falls
Photographing adjacent to the falls is probably your best viewpoint, apart from being in the air. There are several different positions along the cliffs, and these are available by hiking the Punamii-Unpuu trail.
Walking in and around the falls can be great for close-up experiences and adding a person into the shot, but to get them all in you’ll need to pull back to further away.
Chris Fry is the writer and photographer behind Aquarius Traveller, where she shares her journeys and provides valuable information and inspiration for your land and underwater travels. She lives in Australia, and has travelled to 36 countries and across Australia.
Here are her best travel photography tips:
- Favourite camera for travel photography – The best camera to use is the one you have with you! I use an Olympus OMD and my lens accommodate under the water and out of the water, but if I don’t have that around, my Samsung phone does a pretty good job.
- Favourite photo editing software – Lightroom
- Favourite destination visited (so far!) – So very hard to pick, totally depends on when you had planned and how well those plans came together. But I do like Summer locations for diving and tropical feels like Hawaii & Mexico
- Best travel photography tip for beginners – Whatever your niche, learn about your camera and get out there to test your settings.