There are few photographic techniques that have captured the imagination of landscape photographers like long exposure photography. The ability to take an ordinary scene and give it a unique and even otherworldly feel is addictive.
There are many ways to create long exposure photos, from using neutral density filters or shooting in low light, to stacking multiple exposures in photoshop. Whichever technique you use to create the final images, they can be stunning.
The technique works well wherever there are both moving and stationary elements within the scene. It works particularly well with landscape, seascape, and cityscape photography. Leaving the shutter open allows the moving elements to blur. All you need to get started taking long exposure photos isa camera and a tripod.
Here are 13 examples of my own long exposure photos that I’ve created over the last few years. I hope you enjoy them, and if you haven’t tried it for yourself, may they inspire you to give long exposure photography a try.
If there’s one thing I love about travelling around Australia, it’s the hilarious place names. Many of them are indigenous names that just sound funny, and some of them are english names that make you wonder what they were thinking. A few of my favourites incude Cock Wash, Mount Buggery, Tittybong, Boing Boing, Chinaman’s Knob, Burpengary, and Nowhere Else. Call me juvenile.
When I saw the name Booti Booti National Park, I knew I had to go there. It turns out that Booti Booti isn’t just a funny place name, it’s a gorgeous sliver of land on the New South Wales coast with the ocean on one side and a freshwater lake on the other. With Boomerang Beach, Seal Rocks, and Myall Lakes National Park just down the road, I’m pretty sure I’ll be back.
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As a photographer, the search for new locations is endless. Unless you shoot exclusively in a studio, you’re going to need to spend some time finding photography locations, and you want to use this time wisely.
If you’re a location-based photographer, scouting is vital if you want to find new and fresh photography locations in your hometown. Even if you’re a travel or landscape photographer, researching photography locations is important if you want to be prepared and make the most of the places that you’ll be travelling to.
This is the first of a two-part series on researching and planning your photoshoots. This guide will show you some tools and techniques for finding photography locations. Part Two will show you how to plan your next photoshoot in detail.
How To Find Photography Locations
The first thing you’ll need is a rough idea of where you want your photography location to be. It might be as big as a country or as small as a beach or suburb. The larger the area, the more potential locations you can find.
Once you have an idea of where you’re looking, the search is on. If you use a combination of resources and tools, you’ll have more success in finding good locations. Each of the following photography location apps and websites have their pros and cons. You’ll need to experiment and find what works for you.
The first is probably the place you’re already getting your inspiration. You’re likely using social media to find photography locations, but using it effectively takes some thought.
Love it or hate it, Instagram is one of the best places to find great photography locations. The photo-sharing app has a few features that make researching locations easy.
The ability to geo-tag photos makes finding great locations super simple. Punch the name of the place you’re researching into the search bar and you’ll see a bunch of photos that have been geo-tagged with that location.
Hashtags can also be useful, if you can find the right ones. You could search for #NewZealand, but you’ll have more success if you use location-specific hashtags like #NZMustDo.
Another way to use Instagram to find photography locations is to look at location-based accounts. These will often be tourism or crowdsourced accounts that re-share some of the best photos from the area.
These techniques do have their flaws, but if you take some time to sift through the crap, you’ll usually find something that has potential. When you find a photo that you think has potential as a photography location, save it for later. We’ll take a look at what to do with them in Part Two.
Pinterest is an invaluable resource for finding photography locations. As a social bookmarking website, Pinterest allows you to research locations and bookmark them for later.
Where Pinterest is useful for photographers is in finding location guides that have been shared there. Users don’t pin photos in the same way they do on Instagram. They pin links to websites and blogs, meaning that instead of each pin showing you one location, they can show you a bunch of them.
Pinterest is a search engine, so search for boards or pins with the place you’re searching for and you’ll be shown a ton of relevant pins. Make sure you’re search is specific. Searching for “New Zealand” isn’t going to help you much. Try something like “New Zealand photography locations” or “Pacific Coast Highway”.
As with Instagram, most of the results won’t be any use, but if you spend some time sifting through it, you’ll find some gold. When you do, Pinterest makes it easy to save them. Just create a new board for that location and re-pin them there. You can make the board public or private. Remember to add detailed descriptions so you can find them later.
Photo Sharing Websites
If sifting through the wealth of half-naked selfies on Instagram or the vegan brownie recipes of Pinterest are too much for you to bear, try going where the photographers are. Photo-sharing websites like Flickr and 500px have been some of the best resources for finding photography locations for years.
They’ve both had their ups and downs, but Flickr and 500px have always been havens for people who love photography. They’re mostly selfie and vegan brownie free. These websites have large communities of photographers who love to share not just their photos, but their knowledge.
There are a couple of ways to use these sites. Searching for images with the place name you’re looking for will show you images that have the name in their description or tags.
You can also search for location-based communities. This can be a great way to network with other photographers who live there or have spent time there. You can often find photography locations by asking a question in these communities. You’ll be surprised how helpful people can be. You might even find a buddy to show you around.
You can save images you find using the save feature, but I prefer to pin them to the board in Pinterest that I’ve created for the location. It keeps all the photography locations I’ve found in the same place, which makes finding them easier.
If you’re not familiar with the location you’re researching, there is always a photographer who is. You don’t need to know them or even contact them. You can find photography locations purely by searching for local photographers in the area and checking out their work.
A quick Google search for “New Zealand landscape photographer”, or something similar, will likely give you a bunch of results. Spend some time looking through their portfolios and social media accounts and you’re bound to get a few ideas.
Keep in mind that many photographers won’t share their photography locations. This is usually because they don’t want to see another beautiful location trashed by Insta-hordes. This should always be respected.
If there’s one tool I use more than any other to find photography locations it’s Google Earth. You’ll be amazed what you can find by just looking at satellite images. Even in popular locations, there will always be spots that are relatively unknown because they’re not visible from roads or trails. Google Earth helps you find these.
When you’re trying to find photography locations using Google Maps, it’s worth zooming in and spending some time looking for spots that would be easily missed when looking at the larger area. When you find something that has potential, save it and move on. You can come back to it later.
If you’re looking for landscape photography locations, there are a couple of tricks to help you see the contours of the area. Firstly, viewing the landscape from a birds-eye view will never show you the shape of the earth. You need to enter 3D mode in Google Earth, which will allow you to move around and zoom in and out to see the landscape as it appears in real life.
The other thing I often do is enter Terrain Mode in Google Maps. This changes the map from a satellite view to a topographical view, making it far easier to see the shape of the landscape. It makes it easier to find mountains, valleys, gorges, cliffs, etc. I’ve found countless photography locations this way that I would have completely missed using Google Earth.
You can’t search for anything online without going to the search giant, Google. There are a couple of ways that Google is useful for finding photography locations.
The first, and most obvious, is Google Image Search. Plug in the name of the area you’re searching in and see what it comes back with. Depending on the location, you’ll often find you need to get more specific with your search phrases. Something as simple as “New York photography” will give you more useful results than just “New York”.
You’ll also get some useful results by doing a regular web search for phrases like “Noosa photography locations” or “Queensland road trip”, just like I mentioned with Pinterest search. These results will often tell you about popular locations that you’re already aware of, but they’ll often have some surprises.
Don’t Be That Guy
It’s worth mentioning at this point that you always need to be careful about copying other photographers’ work. There are very few places left on earth that haven’t been photographed, and there’s nothing wrong with getting that cliché shot at a popular location.
What I’m referring to is taking someone else’s image and trying to replicate it. This article is written to show you how to use the resources available to research and get inspired, not steal other people’s photos.
Collecting Your Locations
When you’ve found some potential photography locations, you’ll need to save them somewhere. As I’ve mentioned, one of the ways I do this is to create a board in Pinterest with photos and links for ideas and inspiration. This is a great starting point, but I usually want something more detailed also.
Yes another Google product. My Maps allows you to create maps with layers in which you can save locations or trips. I’ll create a map for a trip I’m planning, or photography locations in an area that I live or plan to visit at some stage in the future.
I create a layer called “photography locations”, and then add any location I can find into that layer. The advantage of My Maps is that it gives you a visual layout of the locations you’ve saved that you may want to visit. This helps a lot when you’re on a road trip and want to plan your route, and even where you stay.
One of my favourite features is that you can share your maps with others you’re travelling with, who can also contribute to them. You can even embed them if you have your own photography blog.
Researching and finding photography locations is vital, whether you’re travelling somewhere new or in your hometown. It’s good to get into the habit of always staying on the lookout for new spots and having an idea of the locations you want to photograph. What do you do once you have a list of potential locations, though?
Part Two of this series will discuss how to take the photography locations that you’ve found and plan your photos. Whether you’re planning a landscape, cityscape, astro, or portrait shoot, planning your photography can make the difference between success and failure. Subscribe below if you don’t want to miss Part 2.
Having an online presence is essential for photographers. Whether you’re a hobbyist wanting to show off your photos, or a professional wanting to make money by selling your photography services, being found online isn’t optional. If you’re in it for the long-term, you need to start a photography blog.
There are many way to share your photography online, such as social media, photo-sharing sites, and portfolio websites. They all have their pros and cons, and it’s a good idea to take advantage of multiple platforms. None of them will give you the benefits of your own blog, though. You may not think blogging is for you. I didn’t either, but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for my photography.
Why You Should Start A Photography Blog
There are many benefits to having your own blog that you’ll never get from other services. These are just a few of them:It’s yours forever. You’ll be building your own platform that will always be there.
You can do it your way. You can make it what you want it to be without the rules, features, or costs changing.
You’ll be more visible. If Instagram makes you feel like a drop in the bucket, it’s because you are. Google loves blogs, so you’re more likely to be found be people searching for what you’re sharing.
Your blog can double as your portfolio. You don’t need to have separate blog and portfolio sites if you want to keep them in the same place.
It grows over time. The authority and visibility of your blog increases the longer you add to it.
Free vs Paid
So, you’ve decided to start a photography blog. The first question to ask yourself is whether to go the free option or the paid option. While it’s tempting to take the free option, I would encourage you to consider a paid blog.
Free blog services are easier to set up and maintain, but have a few limitations. You can only have a choice of a few themes, meaning you don’t have anywhere near the same level of customisation options. You can’t use your own domain, so you’ll always be renting on someone else’s land. You also don’t have the option to monetise your photography blog if that’s something you might want to do now or in the future.
A paid blog is the better option, and much more affordable than you might think. You have almost unlimited theme and customisation options. You can use the one site for your blog, portfolio, and store. You can add plugins, which allow you to add many other features and connect other services. You can even connect it to other photography portfolio websites like SmugMug.
The biggest advantage of going the paid blog route is longevity. If you see a blog as an investment in the future of your photography, you want something that allows you the freedom to grow and change the way you want. When you start a photography blog right, it’s a powerful foundation to build your online presence over time.
5 Steps To Start A Photography Blog
Fortunately, it’s not difficult to start a photography blog. Once you’ve made a couple of important decisions, you can have it set up and installed in a few minutes. Making it look and feel the way you want takes a bit longer, but that’s the fun part that never ends. I’m still tweaking and changing mine years later.
1. Choose Your Blog’s Domain
This is the biggest decision. Think of your domain as the home address of your blog, which is yours forever. It could be your own name, the name of your business, or even what kind of services you offer. The domain extension is also worth considering. You could use something generic like .com, but you may also want to consider a location-specific extension like .co.uk.
There’s no right or wrong, but I would suggest keeping it as simple as possible. Again, you need to think long-term. Something like www.londonweddingphotography.co.uk may be fine for now, but what happens if you stop shooting weddings or move to a new location? That domain is now useless to you.
For my blog, I opted for a domain that I will always be relevant no matter what I’m blogging about or where I’m based – www.rowansims.com. I’ll always be Rowan Sims and the .com isn’t location-specific. I considered using .co.nz, but I’m glad I didn’t as I’m not currently based in New Zealand. As a travel photographer, the .com works well.
Once you’ve decided on a domain and checked that it’s available, you’ll want to make sure there aren’t any existing websites using something too similar. It could lead to legal problems further down the track that you don’t want to deal with.
2. Set Up Hosting for Your Blog
The second big decision you’ll need to make is where to host your site. A host is a company that keeps your website’s data on its servers and shares them with the internet. Hosting isn’t expensive, but you want to know that they’re reliable.
I’ve used a few different hosts and would only recommend one. SiteGround is rock-solid, affordable, and has the best customer service I’ve experienced. You can register your domain and set up hosting in one place for $3.95/month. It couldn’t be easier.
3. Install WordPress
If you want to start a photography blog on the right foot, you’re going to want to use WordPress. There are other options, but they don’t even come close. Around 30% of the websites on the internet use WordPress, so it’s solid.
If you use Siteground or similar hosting services, you can install WordPress directly when you set up your domain and hosting. It’s a simple process that just takes a few clicks. This is standard these days, so if the host you’re considering doesn’t offer this service, I would seriously consider if they’re the right one for you.
4. Choose A Theme for Your Blog
Finding a theme that you like and includes the features you want takes some time. It’s not hard to find a theme that looks great, but it’s vital that it’s well built. There are a lot of themes available that are built for aesthetics first and function second. This may not be apparent until you find that your blog is constantly breaking, things don’t work properly, or worse – Google is penalising you.
There are WordPress developers that have a reputation for building solid themes that work well and look great. I’ve used a few over the years, and the best I’ve come across are Elegant Themes and StudioPress. They both have a range of themes available, some specifically built for photography blogs, and they’re both great options. The current design of this blog uses Elegant Themes.
When choosing a theme, you also need to consider how much work will be involved in making it look the way you want. Some themes work straight out of the box and only require you to add your info and photos. Others need a larger investment of time and effort to make your own. Deciding what’s right for you will depend on how much time and knowledge you have.
When you’ve chosen and downloaded your blog theme, you’ll need to install it. It’s easy with WordPress. In your dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes, then click Add New. In the next screen, click Upload Theme, then you’ll need to upload the theme file that you’ve downloaded. After WordPress has installed the theme, simply click Activate, and you’re done.
5. Customise The Look and Feel of Your Blog
This is the fun part. You can start adding your own photos, logo, profile information, and social links. If you want to dig deep, you can play around with colours, fonts, and layouts if your theme allows. I wouldn’t recommend playing around with the theme code unless you know what you’re doing.
There are millions of plugins that you can install that will add just about any feature you can imagine. Plugins allow you to integrate services or add features that aren’t included with your blog theme.
Some plugins add a visual feature, like the social follow widget in my sidebar, which uses a plugin called Monarch by Elegant Themes. Others work behind the scenes, like Yoast, which helps your blog get found by search engines.
If you want to offer sales through your site, you can use a powerful plugin called WooCommerce. It allows you to sell physical products, such as prints, or virtual products, such as stock photography or eBooks. It’s a great, free alternative to paid sales services.
If you want to show off your portfolio on the same domain as your blog, there are a few ways to do it. If your theme doesn’t include the feature, you can add it with one of many portfolio gallery plugins. If you would prefer to host your portfolio and sell prints through a separate service like I have, you can link them directly. Services like SmugMug and PhotoShelter allow you to use your own domain, so you can have your blog at yourname.com and your portfolio at portfolio.yourname.com.
You’re only limited by your imagination when it comes to customising your blog. If there’s something you don’t know how to do, there’s a wealth of information online to help you do it, and there’s always the option of paying a professional developer to make things look and work the way you want.
Share Your Photography With The World
You didn’t think you could start a photography blog without sharing anything did you? What you choose to share and how often you do it are entirely up to you, and that will change over time. You could start by sharing your photos and telling the stories behind them. Write about the process of planning, creating, and editing them.
Remember that even though it’s a photography blog, what you write is as important as the photos. If you want to be found by people and search engines, you need text to draw them to you. Write about what you love and then share it will whoever will listen.
A blog can be incredibly powerful, but it takes time and effort. Try to post regularly, even if it’s once a month to start with. Don’t expect too much overnight, it’s a long game. Writing is a skill as much as photography. The only way to get better is to do it.
Don’t forget – it’s supposed to be fun, so enjoy it.
I’m slightly embarrassed to admit it took me almost a year of living on the Sunshine Coast in Australia to visit the Glass House Mountains. I don’t know if it was because I was more taken with the Queensland coast. Maybe it was living in Canada and seeing the Canadian Rockies that made me hard to impress when it comes to mountains.
Whatever it was, I’m glad I got over it and visited the Glass House Mountains National Park on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast last week. I climbed Mt Ngungun (pronounced noo-noo, apparently) for sunrise and needless to say I don’t regret it. The Glass House Mountains are around 25 million years old and are yet another reason you have to visit Queensland.
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There’s really nowhere on earth quite like Queensland. Where else can you find desert, rainforest, mountains, islands, coral reef, and some of the most spectacular beaches on the planet all in one place? It’s an enormous place, but if you want an epic Queensland road trip, you can see most of the good stuff by following the coast up from Brisbane to Cairns.
If you’re sticking to the coast, the Brisbane to Cairns drive is less than 24 hours. You can easily do a coastal Queensland Road Trip in under 2 weeks and still visit all the must-see sights. I’m all about road trips and slow travel, so I spent a month doing it, and I still only scratched the surface. There’s so much to see, do, and photograph.
The Ultimate Queensland Road Trip
These are the locations you won’t want to miss. If you’re pushed for time, you won’t be able to visit them all, but if you have 10-14 days it’s totally possible. Obviously, since we’re talking about a Queensland road trip, it will help if you have your own vehicle. Even if you don’t, you’ll still be able to follow this itinerary, as there are buses between Brisbane and Cairns that stop at all these locations.
Whether you’ve driven, flown, bused, or hitch-hiked into Brisbane, you’re gonna want to spend a night there. Brisbane has an unfortunate reputation as a bit of a hole. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s just been compared a little unfairly to Sydney and Melbourne, two of the most liveable cities on earth.
I really liked Brisbane. If you like amazing food, rooftop bars, and live events virtually every night of the week, I’m sure you will too. We spent a couple of nights at the Brisbane City YHA. We timed our visit perfectly as one of my favourite comedians – Stephen K Amos – was on tour. He gave us a few good LOLs and we spent the rest of our time there exploring the city. I particularly liked the New Farm and Fortitude Valley areas.
Brisbane, like most of Australia, is insanely expensive, so if you’re on a budget you’re not gonna want to hang around too long. As much as I liked Brisbane, I was itching to get out of the city and on the road.
Your first stop after leaving Brisbane should be Noosa Heads, on the aptly-named Sunshine Coast. Think gorgeous beaches, epic surf, coastal walks, and more amazing bars and restaurants. Noosa is a big tourist attraction thanks to all of the above, so you won’t want to visit during the holidays. Any other time, though, it’s a super chill little town.
All within a short distance from Nomads Hostel Noosa, you’ve got one of Queensland’s best surf beaches, stunning walks that follow the coast through Noosa National Park, the beautiful Noosa river, and loads of food and beer to top it all off. Hastings St has a bunch of great options, but can be pricey. I recommend heading up to Noosa Junction, where the best bars, food, and nightlife can be found.
Since long before arriving in Australia, I’ve been wanting to visit Fraser Island. The largest sand island on earth and a UNESCO World Heritage listed site, there’s nowhere on earth quite like it. Think rainforests, crystal-clear lakes and rivers, whales, dingoes, turtles, beaches, and a whole lotta sand. You’re gonna want to make sure you have your camera for this one, because Fraser Island has some incredible photography spots.
Fraser Island was the place I was most excited about visiting on my Queensland road trip, and it didn’t disappoint. We had three nights camping on the island, and really only scratched the surface. It’s 4WD only on the island, so if you don’t have a vehicle that’s set up for extreme off-road driving, you’ll need to rent one or go with one of the many Fraser Island tours.
Hervey Bay is a popular base for exploring Fraser Island. It’s also the place to do a whale-watching tour. Each winter, tens of thousands of humpback whales migrate up the east coast of Australia to breed. If you’re doing your Queensland road trip around this time, I definitely recommend going whale-watching. Seeing these incredible creatures close-up is something truly special.
Other than Fraser Island and whale-watching, Hervey Bay is a pretty sleepy little town. If you’re not whale-watching, or if you’re self-driving Fraser Island or doing a tour from Noosa, I would skip Hervey bay. It does have a massive pier that’s worth a look.
It must be the only town in the world named after a year. The Town of 1770 was the second place that Captain James Cook landed in Australia that same year. Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy are so close that they’re basically the same place. It’s a cute, quiet little town that makes a good base to explore the area.
Seventeen Seventy is the place to join a tour of Lady Musgrave Island, known for some of the Great Barrier Reef’s best diving and snorkeling. The area is also surrounded by national parks, which are great locations for bush camping and hiking.
I would skip Mackay and head a further half-hour to Cape Hillsborough National Park. It’s a beautiful headland that has a few different beaches and campgrounds to choose from. We unfortunately missed out on the only Queensland National Parks campground (which are only about $6 per person), but lucked out and found a hidden gem of a campground at Halliday Bay.
If you’ve ever seen photos of kangaroos on the beach, they’re likely here in Cape Hillsborough. Every morning, kangaroos and wallabies come down to the beach to eat seed pods that have washed up on the beach overnight. Or so we were told. What actually happens is a “tour guide” puts food down for them, along with orange cones to keep the crowds back. Not exactly what I was expecting. On the plus side, you’ve made it over half way from Brisbane to Cairns.
Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays
The only instructions I was given for our Queensland road trip were from my partner-in-crime, Rach. “I want to spend my birthday on an island!” What better place to spend your birthday than Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays?
We spent three nights in Airlie Beach, and LOVED it. We didn’t intend to stay that long, but due to some trouble with our 4WD, Al Bundy, we needed to stay an extra night. I was completely okay with it.
For such a popular tourist destination, the town has a surprisingly laid-back feel. We spent Rach’s birthday jetting out amongst the Whitsunday Islands, snorkelling amongst the coral reef, sunbathing on Whitehaven Beach, watching whales play, and drinking cold beers on Palm Bay Island. Bliss.
There are a ton of Whitsunday Island tour companies based in Airlie Beach. They offer everything from half/full-day tours to overnight reef-sleep packages and self-charters. Whatever you choose to do, don’t skip the Whitsundays. It really is one of the jewels of the Great Barrier Reef.
Townsville and Magnetic Island
I’ll admit, I didn’t know a lot about Magnetic Island before our Queensland road trip. I knew it was off the coast of Townsville, and that was about it. Sometimes it’s better to visit a place without any expectations.
Magnetic Island has so much going on, you’re gonna need a full day at least. I wish I had stayed a night there and made it two days. If you get the early ferry, you can watch the sunrise from the boat (always a great start to the day). You can get a bus pass for the day, which will take you all over the east side of the island.
Make sure you don’t miss The Forts hiking trail. You can see some old WWII forts, and if you’re lucky, some koala bears. Also, Radical Bay is a gorgeous little cove that you can’t miss. Watching sunset over Horseshoe Bay is a pretty epic way to finish the day.
North of Townsville, on the Cassowary Coast, lies Mission Beach. It’s actually a few beaches, but the whole area has come to be known as Mission Beach. If you go in winter, like we did, you’ll find you’re well and truly in the territory of the grey nomads, a horde of retirees escaping the colder southern states.
This sleepy little collection of beaches is paradise. Endless, white-sand beaches, palm trees, crystal-clear water, and the perfect climate will make you want to unpack and stay forever. This is a great spot to spend a day or two reading and chilling on the beach. If you can’t sit still, you can catch a boat the short distance to Dunk Island, just off the coast. I also recommend checking out Kurrimine Beach, north of Mission Beach.
Although the Brisbane to Cairns drive follows the coast, there is one location where I would recommend getting off the Bruce Highway and heading inland. The Atherton Tablelands is an elevated plateau southwest of Cairns, and if you like waterfalls, definitely worth taking a detour for.
If you turn off the highway north of Mission Beach and head towards Millaa Millaa, you’ll come across a circuit of three stunning waterfalls within a few minutes drive of each other. They’re pretty popular, so get there early. I was a little disappointed to see the area at the base of Millaa Millaa Falls has been concreted following some flood damage recently.
They’re well worth a visit, and you’re not missing much on the coast by taking the inland route. If you’re up for it, there are more waterfalls in the area that require a bit more driving. It’s a slow, windy road, but makes a nice change from the coastal route.
If you make it this far, congratulations. You’ve made it further north than most Australians ever will. You’ve not only made it all the way from Brisbane to Cairns, you’ve also reached the heart of Tropical North Queensland. I’m not sure exactly where the tropics begin, but somewhere along the way, you enter a lush, green world.
Cairns is bigger than I expected. There’s so much going on there, you could easily spend a week exploring the area, as well as the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns is super popular amongst backpackers, so there are a ton of hostels. The city has a pretty decent nightlife, if that’s your thing, and some great food.
We decided we hadn’t had our fill of the reef, so we took another tour, this time right out to the outer reef. We spent a few hours snorkeling amongst the coral, searching for turtles, and wearily watching the reef sharks swimming below us.
For many people, their Queensland road trip ends here. Whether flying out of Cairns or turning around and driving back south, far too many people don’t make it any further north. If you can find a couple more days to squeeze in, there are a couple more places I recommend you visit.
Is there anything that says “tropical paradise” like palm trees on the beach? Palm Cove is a little town just north of Cairns that we fell in love with. There’s not much there except the stunning beach, a few cafes and bars, and a whole lotta palm trees.
We met some backpackers who had stopped there on their Queensland road trip and decided to stay. After talking with them we were seriously tempted to do the same. We could live out of Al Bundy, and we already had our hammock strung up between two palm trees. What else would we need?
The only thing that motivated us to keep moving was what was still to come further north.
The northernmost point of our Queensland road trip also happened to be one of my absolute favourites. Cape Tribulation is less than three hours north of Cairns, and there’s nowhere in the world like it. It’s the only place on earth where two UNESCO World Heritage sites meet – the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
The Daintree is the oldest tropical rainforest on earth (over 100 million years old), and it extends right down to the coast. Standing on the beach and seeing a lush, green rainforest in the same place is kinda strange, but incredible to see.
Cape Tribulation is truly a tropical paradise. We stayed three nights, but easily could’ve made it a week or two. Noah Beach was one of the most secluded pieces of paradise I’ve ever seen. We literally had the whole beach to ourselves on more than one occasion. Cape Tribulation Camping also happened to be one of my favourite campgrounds on the whole Queensland road trip. Wood-fired pizzas tend to have that effect on me.
The Long Drive Back
The Brisbane to Cairns drive is a long one. Add the extra 150km to Cape Tribulation, and you’ve driven close to 2000km. If you’re flying out of Cairns or staying in North Queensland, count yourself lucky. We turned around and drove the whole way back down the coast.
If you’re driving back from Cairns to Brisbane, you could stop in to see the places you missed on the way up, or revisit the places you loved and wanted to explore some more. We did a bit of both.
However you choose to do your Queensland road trip, you will have one of the best experiences of your life. Now, go get some wheels, grab your camera, and create some incredible memories.
One of the great things about going on a road trip is that you have a lot of time to play with your camera. On my Queensland Road Trip, it seemed like I was out shooting almost every morning and evening. The scenery was different every day, as was the light, so I had a lot to play with.
The first three days of the road trip were spent on Fraser Island, which has no shortage of stunning scenery to photograph. I spent the first evening on the island creating these abstract seascapes of the waves at sunset. It’s not something I’ve done before, but it was fun to try something new. I’m pretty happy with the way this one turned out.
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