Australia

 

 

All my trips start on an airport…and since I live in Viseu, a small city without one, the first stage is always to drive the 300 km to Lisbon airport or the 150 km to Porto airport. This time the adventure starts in Lisbon. Here I go! See you soon :).

 


 

Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

 

 

So here I am after finally getting a sim card to use here in Australia for the next 3 weeks. Things didn’t start so well regarding the weather. Yesterday was reasonable but today it has been raining most of the day. If they knew I would bring rain, they would have called me sooner to end with the terrible wildfires of the last few weeks :). Yesterday morning I went to the Blue Mountains National Park, located some 100 km way from Sydney. It’s a vast forest area with some impressive canyons. My idea was to shoot some waterfalls as well but the lack of rain means there’s not enough water to make it work, so I didn’t even try. More waterfalls will come later in my journey. After lunch I decided to visit Bondi Beach, one of the most famous urban beaches in the world…and I got a taste of Sydney traffic! I ended up my day photographing the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Too windy though, so I’ll give it another try later today…but I don’t think I’ll have better luck. Tomorrow I’ll fly to Melbourne early in the morning and then I’m off to the Great Ocean Road, where my trip will really start. Lets hope for better weather :)

And please forgive me the quality of the picture. I’m on a tablet and can’t really check colors, sharpness and so on. The better photos will come after the trip.

 


 

Great Ocean Road
Great Ocean Road

 

 

Today my time was dedicated to The Great Ocean Road. I had been here 10 years ago and always wanted to come back with more time and better weather. The day ended up being successful, after the scare in the morning, still in Sydney, with heavy rain. But here it was fine. The problem with this road is that it’s quite famous worldwide and that makes it a tourist circus. These days everyone is a photographer but respect doesn’t come in the box with the camera. Oh well…despite the behavior of these idiots, I think I got some nice pictures. Tomorrow there will be some more Great Ocean Road and then I’m off to The Grampians National Park, the first unknown place for me. It will be the real beginning of the adventure. See you tomorrow.

 


 

The Granpians
The Grampians

 

 

There’s not much to say about today’s drive. Unfortunately the weather is still rainy and it became really crappy after mid day. The good news is that I was able to make the most of the morning and that resulted on a couple of decent images, a victory considering the conditions. It was a shame because the Grampians seem to be a really beautiful Park, at least for what I was able to see through the fog. Despite the weather, I was able to enjoy the trip and saw my first kangaroos of the trip, both alive and dead. It’s quite a common sight around here to see dead kangaroos on road sides.

Tomorrow I’ll drive back to Melbourne. The plan is still open but if the weather stays the same, I’ll go straight to the city and see what I can do there. We’ll see. Dubai, be warned! I’ll be there by the end of the month and I’m sure it will rain in the desert :).

 


 

Melbourne
Melbourne

 

 

If I only knew how the day would turn out today, I wouldn’t had complain about the weather yesterday. Thank God that tomorrow I’m out of here and I’m going to a very far place :). Anyway it’s official that Melbourne hates me. 10 years ago it was not too far from here that I got a speeding fine and this time I get this crap weather. Very few photos today and all of them taken in about 30 minutes at the end of the afternoon, because that was all the time it didn’t rain. The ideia was to make some night photography of Melbourne but the rain came back before the night arrived. Oh well. Just so you understand the situation, this weather thing is being discussed on TV and radios. In the last couple of days there was 4 times more rain than on the entire November last year! But even so, I wouldn’t stay in the hotel the entire afternoon after arriving to Melbourne so I went to Phillip Island, some 130 km away, known worldwide for being the home of the Australian MotoGP Grand Prix. Even with all the rain, I was able to see that it’s quite a nice place.

As I mentioned before, tomorrow morning I’m leaving to Ayers Rock (or Uluru as the natives call it). Considering that the place is pretty much a desert, I’m sure I’ll get rid of the rain at least while I’m there and hopefully, for the rest of the trip!

 


 

A estrada que dá a volta à rocha
The road that goes around the rock

 

 

If it’s true that I’ve been complaining a lot about the weather the last few days, today I have no reason to do so, unless I want to be really picky and say that it’s too hot. Yep…39 degrees celsius at the time of arrival to Yulara, the name of the little village where the resorts that receive all the turists who visit “the rock”, known as Ayers Rock or Uluru, the aboriginal name, are located. When I arrived I got a good surprise waiting for me, since Avis upgraded my rental car for free. Nice touch. Due to the very hot weather and also because the attractions here are important but just a few, photography was reserved to the end of the day, when I could finally shoot the rock I wanted to visit for such a long time. It’s really an impressive place. You can only understand the real size of the thing once you see it for the first time from the plane. This really is a world appart from urban Australia.

Tomorrow the day will start even earlier than usual, since the sunrise around here is at 5:50! Not cool :). At least I’ll sleep well knowing that the chance of rain is zero!

 


 

Apesar da estrada principal ser asfaltada, a maioria são assim
Altough the main Road is asphalt, most of them are like this one

 

 

Today the day started at 5 am and was spent inside the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, exploring all kinds of angles to shoot the rock formations, as well as other views of this area. This is really a beautiful and peaceful place, which despite living out of tourism, at least at this time of the year, the number of people is not overwhelming and it doesn’t ruin the experience to the visitors. The only downside of this place is the price of things. I did have a fisrt taste when I booked my hotel but when a coke costs 4 dollars, things are bad :). I guess that’s the price of isolation. Ohh…and the flies! They are trully annoying! During the afternoon the weather changed and created some dramatic skies for some different pictures. The day ended with some spectacular Light.

Tomorrow the day will start really early once again, with a last visit to the park for the sunrise and then a long drive of over 450 km to Alice Springs, the largest city of the australian Outback, with a visit to Kings Canyon on my way there.

 


 

A paisagem de hoje foi assim...quase sempre igual
This was the landscape today. Almost always the same

 

 

Today was all about driving. After a very nice sunrise still at Ayers Rock, I hit the road for the long trip to Alice Springs. Along the way, a visit to Kings Canyon. It’s an interesting place but if you ask me if it’s worth the extra 150 km to get there, my opinion is no, not a chance. The day was overcasted once again but since I spent most of it in my car, it didn’t upset me that much. The few hundred km of today’s drive were hard to go by, specially because the landscspe is pretty much always the same and the long straight road is quite boring, made me very sleepy at times. Alice Springs doesn’t have much to get my attention, honestly. I decided to drive here only because I really wanted to experience part of the outback by car. In the photo you can see the kind of landscape present on most of the drive.

Tomorrow I fly to Darwin just before lunch time for yet another stage of my trip, this time in the north of the country. This is where it will be normal to get some rain since the climate over there is tropical and the rain season already started. We’ll see. Anyway, my final destination is not Darwin but Kakadu National Park, a few hundred km south. Tomorrow I’ll be there to tell the story :).

 


 

Parque Nacional Kakadu
Kakadu National Park

 

 

Speaking on a photographic point of view, my day started just before sunset. Due to my flight from Alice Springs to Darwin and then the drive here to Kakadu National Park, the day was pretty much gone…but this is how things work. On trips like this one, a few days are always lost moving from one place to another. Anyway, the pictures were not many but I think I got a couple of good ones and if that’s the case, it was a successful day. As the night arrived, I experienced the most violent thunderstorm of my life. There were so many thunders that it looked day time…and it was raining really really hard. It was just for about 10 minutes but it was impressive. Lets see if the weather improves during the night as I have a sunrise to shoot tomorrow :).

And tomorrow I’ll photograph around the park and if the weather allows it, it will be a busy day from sunrise to sunset. We’ll see.

 


 

O momento negativo do dia
The negative moment of the day

 

 

Sometimes, even if we have it all figured out and everything planned, things can happen that are not under our control and we have to change our day…and no, this time was not weather related. Today’s plan was to go shoot a couple of waterfalls, both close to another, and two of the most beautiful places in the park. So I left in the morning, since the distance was quite significant. When I finally get close, I leave the main road, turn left to a gravel road, and see what you can see in the picture. A big disappointment, of course. I didn’t give up right away but a few meters ahead, the road was indeed closed. Oh well, these things can happen. So I went with plan B, which was to shoot another waterfall but when I got there, another one with almost no water running. Not a good trip for waterfalls so far.

Today was also a difficult day as a driver. First, 2 kangaroo on the road, just like if they were waiting for me there…but since I was going slowly, I saw them with plenty of time and they just went away as I got close. The worst was still to come though. As I was going at around 120 km/hour, a freaking crocodile appears right in the middle of the road. I have no idea how I was able to react in time to move the steering wheel and avoid the animal. I even turned around to go back and confirm it was indeed a crocodile. Oh well, things that wont happen in Portugal…but it was a scare :).

Tomorrow,the last few visits here at the park, then a visit to Katherine and finally the trip back to Darwin, where I’ll stay for the night.

 


 

Detalhe de uma das cascatas de hoje
Detail of one of today’s waterfalls

 

 

Today was the day dedicated to waterfalls. I decided to scrap my visit to Catherine off my travel plan and decided to head to Litchfield National Park instead. This is a smaller park when compared to Kakadu and it’s overlooked by many. However, I found here two beautiful locations to photograph in the morning. The weather was not brilliant but cloudy skies are not too bad to shoot waterfalls. It’s amazing how most of the times I find these incredible places completely desert, all to myself. Sometimes there are 2 or 3 other people around but I thought things would be much more crowded…I assume it’s because it’s low season for tourism right now. I was a bit affraid about the weather condition around here but it has actually been quite nice most of the time, it only started to rain this afternoon, which put an early end to my day. In any case, I have been able to shoot the most important spots in each location until now and that’s the most important thing.

Tomorrow I move forward to another stage of my trip. A flight at 6:25 in the morning will take me to Cairns, in the northeast of Australia. The weather over there hás been kinda bad, at least that’s what I have been watching on TV. We’ll see what I will find.

 


 

A estrada que percorri hoje
The road I drove today

 

 

Today was beaches day. I arrived to Cairns almost at mid day and the weather was strange. Cairns geography is formed by beaches on a short strip of land and then you have mountains which go almost all the way to the ocean. The sky was fantastic right over the sea and the beaches but it was completely overcasted over the mountains, even with fog covering the top of them. That’s the main reason why I decided to shoot the beaches today and despite the weird weather once again, it was a successful day since I got at least one picture I really like. I started at the city of Cairns and drove north on a sea side road, all the way to the city of Mossman, some 60 km away. A road full of beautiful landscapes, as it can be seen on the picture above. Mossman, located a bit inland, was completely cloudy, so I decided to turn back.

Tomorrow’s plan will once again depend on the weather. Since it has been very unstable almost every day of my trip, I need to keep my schedule open :). As long as it doesn’t rain, I’ll be fine, considering the forecasts I’ve been watching on TV.

 


 

Rain forest in Kurunda
Rain forest in Kuranda

 

 

The day ended at around 1:00 PM because of the rain but since it started at sunrise around 5:30 AM, it wasn’t as short as it may seem. Despite the bad weather, the morning did hold on without rain but the very cloudy skies didn’t allow for much when it comes to photography. Regarding photography, it was a very poor day but I managed to visit a vast area anyway. Even with heavy clouds, I decided to go inland and to the mountains, a region that it’s very different from the area closer to the ocean. The mountains are covered by rain forest and behond the mountains there are big sugar cane plantations and a lot of grazing fields.

And that’s pretty much it for today. Tomorrow I’ll do the longest drive to Cape Tribulation, where two World Heritage sights get together…the Daintree rain forest in land and the Great Barrier Reef in the ocean.

 


 

The beautiful Captain Cook Highway
The beautiful Captain Cook Highway

 

 

Today the weather was much better than the last two days. Not perfect but way more acceptable, specially during the morning, as usual. I decided to go north once again, along the beautiful Captain Cook Highway, which could be one of the most amazing seaside roads in the world if trees and other vegetation didn’t cover the view of the landscape along the way…that’s what it seems on the parts where you can actually see the views. It was around 140 km from Cairns to Cape Tribulation, crossing the Daintree river by ferry along the way. The cape region is very beautiful, with the rain forest in all its glory, with all the smells and sounds associated to it and with a very well controlled tourism, made of small lodges hidden in the middle of the jungle :). It was also a very nice day photography wise, both for the locations I visited and also for the weather. Finally a day that justifies the Queensland moto “sunshine state”.

Tomorrow I leave early in the morning, at 6:00 AM, to the last stage of my trip and one stage I’m waiting with great expectation. I hope the weather forecasts get it wrong once again…because once again, rain is the thing for the next few days. It’s incredible how in a country of this size, almost all of it is under rain forecast. Such is my luck! See you tomorrow :).

 


 

O navio que liga a Tasmania e Melbourne
The ship that connects Tasmania and Melbourne

 

 

First of all, my apollogies for being away yesterday but the truth is that there wasn’t a lot to say anyway. The reason why I didn’t post my diary was simply because I didn’t have Internet access where I was staying. It happens quite a lot around here. There are a lot of places where there’s no signal at all and it usually Works on big cities only, at least Vodafone Australia, the one I’m using. There’s a good chance it will happen again tomorrow.

Anyway, the day was horrible, it was raining most of it and today was even worse because together with the rain, there was strong winds, taking down trees to the middle of the roads, and so on. If this continues, the pictures of Tasmania will be very easy to edit, since there won’t be any :). I took a few Just to feel better with myself but nothing decent or usable, really. Tomorrow the forecast is a lot better and if turns out to be true, then I’ll spend the day in the car, trying to do in one day what I had planned for 4, at least the most important places. That way, even if the remaining days are as bad as the first ones, I’ll have something done.

I know that by the picture I posted, it looks like the weather was perfect…and it was…from 5:00 PM on! If it stays like that tomorrow, awsome! On that photo you can see the huge ferry that connects Devonport here in Tasmania, and Melbourne in mainland Australia. The ship has 11 decks, being the first 4 to transport cars. The trip takes 11 hours.

The plan for tomorrow is wide open. If the weather turns out to be better as they say, then I’ll be driving all over the place, all day. If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, that’s simply because I don’t have Internet once again. If I do get Internet, I’ll be here.

 


 

Praia no nordeste da Tasmania
Beach on the northeast of Tasmania

 

 

I managed to get internet today afterall, thanks to the hotel wifi connection. Today the weather was not horrible like on the last two days but sadly it wasn’t good for photography either. It was perfect in Devonport where I was in the morning but as I got closer to the east coast of the island, it got cloudier and cloudier to the point it was completely cloudy when I arrived here. It didn’t rain, thankfully, but the sky was terrible for photography and my mission today was to try to make the most of the little bits of blue sky I could find. Lets say that this trip has been a real test to my creativity so far.

Weather aside, this region is really really beautiful, with beaches with incredibly white sand. I spent most of the day going up and down the coast, trying to find the best sky possible and visiting the most beaches I could. I’ve done over 6000 km by car on this trip so far. Early in the morning, before I came here, I shot the sunrise on Cradle Mountain, on a beautiful spot on the shore of a lake. The sky was completely clear but the light Just didn’t happen. Actually, I didn’t get a great sunrise or sunset so far, with amazing colours like it happens sometimes.

Tomorrow I’ll be on my way to Hobart, main city on the island and state capital. I’ll visit some more beaches and sea side spots as I drive South. We’ll see how the weather turns out.

 


 

Deixa-me comer!
Let me eat!

 

 

Now that my trip is close to the end, the weather is finally improving :). Today was indeed great but sadly I wasn’t on the most spectacular places anymore…and it’s also true that I don’t know how the weather was there anyway. The day ended up being great, no matter what, specially with the visit to the Freycinet National Park in the morning. The view of the Wineglass Bay was amazing and well worth the 3 km walk. What a beauty! After this visit I started my way back to Hobart, stopping a few times in some interesting places for some photos. At the end of the day I drove to the top of Mount Wellington for a fabulous view of Hobart at sunset time. A perfect way to finish my day.
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Tomorrow will be the lastday of my adventure in Australia. In the morning I’ll visit a few more spots here around Hobart and in the afternoon I’ll get my flight to Sydney where I’ll board my Emirates flight to Dubai in the evening. I did suffer with the weather but it ended up being a fantastic trip none the less. See you tomorrow.

 


 

O jipe e a paisagem de hoje
The jeep and landscape of today

 

 

Due to my long flight yesterday, I couldn’t post my daily update. Now that the painful trip is done, here I am in Dubai. In the morning I decided to stay close to the hotel as I was really tired from the flight. In the afternoon, and after resting a bit, I went on a tour to the desert on a 4×4, which involved some scary but super fun dune bashing. And as a bonus, there was time for some nice sunset pictures. The day ended with a dinner in the middle of all that sand.

Tomorrow I’ll visit two of the most iconic buildings in Dubai. The world’s highest, Burj Khalifa and the world famous hotel Burj Al Arab. Unfortunately I couldn’t get access to the top of Burj Khalifa during the day, which would be a lot better for photos…but it will be a great experience anyway. We’ll see how the day goes. I’m really not a big city person.

 


 

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa

 

 

Today I walked many many miles. In the morning I went to Burj Khalifa even if I would go back there later in the evening, since I wanted to get some day light pictures. In an attempt to find images that worked, I walked all the way around the building but at a certain distance, and that meant a lot of walking! I also got the confirmation of something I already knew. I really suck at urban landscapes. I just can’t see cities. Can’t find images that work. Oh well. In the afternoon I went to the other famous building in Dubai, the Burj Al Arab hotel…and once again I had to walk a lot, since the public beach from where I would be able to shoot the building is quite far from the building itself. Finally, in the evening I went back to Burj Khalifa to take some night shots and to go to the At The Top observation deck. I also watched the water, light and sound show that happens on the fountain just in front of the building…and what a mess! So many people watching and trying to capture the moment with their phones and tablets. Great pictures they will have, specially at night :).

Tomorrow I’m going to Abu Dhabi. Since I’m close, I’lo visor another of the Emirates main cities…but really…I’m here for 2 days now and I’m tired of it already. I’m a nature person. I leave the malls to people who like window shopping :).

 


 

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – Abu Dhabi

 

 

Coming back to Portugal and finding such cold weather is no fun at all :). That’s right…the trip is over and I want to apologize for the lack of updates de last couple of days but being so tired and with my trip back to Portugal, I really didn’t feel like writing.

Now that’s I’m very comfortable back at home and that I finally slept in my bed, I can finally think back and write about the highs and lows of this expedition. When I decided to go back to Australia, I know exactly what I was going to find. Some of the places I had visited previously and the other I knew very well from pictures and also from reading a lot about them. However, no matter how much you prepare for a trip like this, there are always factors which are not under our control. One of those factors is weather. Along my entire trip I didn’t stop complaining about the weather and the truth is that I had to fight against the crappy weather most of the time. You will never notice it by the pictures I’ll post online the next few weeks but, obviously, those are the best ones, taken when the weather was better. In reality, some of the days were, photographically speaking, a complete disaster :). Despite this “small” problem, the trip was awsome and even on those days I didn’t take decent pictures, I was able to visit the places and that stays with me in the future. I was able to visit almost every state of Australia, something that many Australians haven’t done.

Now…about the United Arab Emirates…I just got the confirmation of something I know for a long time. I’m really not a big city person. Big buildings, big shopping malls, lots of traffic…those things do nothing for me. In the end I got the experience of visiting yet another corner of our world and I ended up having fun in some situations, like the 4×4 drive through the desert dunes or going up to the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and enjoy the views. And that’s one thing…in the U.A.E., everything needs to be the tallest, the biggest, the most expensive, the weirdest. Everything has to be better than what exists somewhere else. Anyway, there’s one thing I would bring back to Portugal…the price of fuel (less than 50 cents a litre)!!!

In a few days I’ll write here something more photography and equipment related, about what worked and what not, if I would change anything, and so on.

But I would like to thank you all who followed my adventure these last few weeks and keep coming here…more trips to follow in 2014 :).

 


 

Photographing the Burj Al Arab Hotel (picture taken with cell phone)
Photographing the Burj Al Arab Hotel (picture taken with cell phone)

 

 

I’ll finish this journal with a short review about the conditions I found for photography on my trip and about the equipment I took with me this time.

Australia is a huge country and that means it has a great variety of climates which create a great variety of landscapes. For this reason, the country offers excellent oportunities for travel or landscape photography. Unfortunately, I didn’t get lucky with the weather and visited the country in the worst possible time. As I mentioned on one of the days I was there, in 2 days they got 4 times more rain than the monthly average. The crappy weather was with me for most of the trip and if it’s true that I managed to do my work in between the rain drops, the less than helpful weather ended up reducing my time to photograph by a lot. These things happen on this area of photography…sometimes everything goes just fine when the odds are against you, other times things don’t work so well even when they were supposed to.

When it comes to equipment, I’ll start with my decision to leave the laptop at home and take just a tablet with me. Will I do it again? Yes I will. Everything worked out as planned and now that the trip is over, I know it was the right choice. The tablet allowed me to work on the daily updates of this page, allowed me to do some quick edits on my pictures, allowed me to do daily backups of my pictures to an external hard drive and, above all, didn’t become a distraction every night just as it was the case with the laptop on previous trips. And I was able to travel lighter.

People who followed my trip and who care about these things, know that this time I decided to take a couple of Sony A99 with me. The big change was the need to live with an EVF for the first time. I have used EVFs before with other cameras (Sony NEX-7 for example) but never on a entire trip. I always said that optical viewfinders were much better than the electronic ones but this time with the Sony cameras changed my opinion partially. I still think that no EVF to date provides the experience of looking through a big, nice full frame OVF…but now I can appreciate the advantages that come with working with EVFs. Both bodies worked just fine (used both, each one on half of the days) and didn’t have a single issue the whole duration of the trip. I had the opportunity to even test the weather resistance of the A99 since it got a nice shower in Sydney. However, in this situation my biggest fear was my beloved Sony 24mm, since it’s not officially weather sealed and it got really wet. I was happy to see it did survive and didn’t give me any problems the rest of the time. If it’s not weather sealed, it’s very very well built. The only less positive thing I can say about the camera is the battery life, which is understandable due to the EVF. For the first time I had to change batteries in the middle of a working day, which is not terrible but it’s not very practical or even recommended in some situations, specially in dusty or umid environments. On my next trip I’ll take a grip just to avoid these battery changes. My choice of lenses worked just fine and I didn’t miss any other focal lengh.

My biggest challenge was, other than the weather, to shoot in Dubai. As I mentioned before, I really suck photographing cities. I can’t find interesting points of view, can’t avoid less interesting objects, it seems that I can’t see urban landscapes. For this reason, I ended up not shooting much in U.A.E. and my time was spent travelling around and visiting the region.

And I’m done. The first travel journal on this latest version of my site is finished. Once again I hope that it was nice for you to follow my adventure down under. Two new trips are already being planned for 2014, a short one in May and a longer one in October. More details in a few months :).

 

 

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