Australia

Australia Photo Prep Part 4 – Photography Planning for the Great Ocean Road, Australia

For those of who read my Art of Travel Photography series, you know that one of the most important tips for taking good travel photos is to understand what you will be photographing before you travel.  This is important for a number of very good reasons.  First and most importantly, if you aren’t familiar with what is at your destination, you might not even make time to see some of the amazing things you could have seen, let alone photographed them.

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Even if you do have a good itinerary planned that covers all of the top things that you would like to see at your destination, understanding exactly how you are going to photograph these subjects or locations before you travel can save you valuable time.  I like to know where the best spots that give you the best angles are before I arrive.  That way I am not wasting valuable travel time trying to figure out where to take the best shots.

Finally, understanding what you want to photograph and how you want to photograph those subjects or landscapes before you travel will help you prepare what type of gear you will need to have with you.  For instance, what time of day is best to photograph at these locations?  Where are the best spots at these locations to capture sunrises or sunsets?  What type of lens will be best for capturing the subjects or landscapes at these locations?  These are just some of the questions that the proper advanced research can answer.

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With about a month to go until our trip to Australia and New Zealand and the itinerary for our trip all set, I figured now was as good a time as any to start doing the photo prep for the trip.  In this series, I am going to walk you thru my photography prep for each of our destinations in Australia and New Zealand.  If you haven’t had a chance to review my planning process for our Australia and New Zealand trip, I have linked those articles for you to review below.

In the fourth installment of my photography planning for the trip, I am going to cover our fourth destination, which is the Great Ocean Road near Melbourne, Australia.  I am going to outline the research I did on what the top photography locations along the Great Ocean Road are, where it is best to photograph in those locations, which time of day it would be best to photograph the locations, and what type of photography equipment I will need to get my desired shots.

Resources I Used

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When doing photography planning for any trip, the first step I take is to do research on the location to see what there is to photograph, where the best places to photograph those subjects or landscapes are, and when and how to photograph them.  When it came time to do my research on the Great Ocean Road, here are some of the best resources that I used to do my research.

With these resources in hand, I sat down to start looking for places and things that I would like to photograph along the Great Ocean Road.  By doing this research now, it will ensure that I don’t miss photographing anything spectacular when I tour the Great Ocean Road and it will also help save me time trying to determine when and how to photograph the subjects and locations that I have identified.  If you would like to learn more about the process I use when I do my photography research, I would suggest that you check out my Art of Travel Photography – Planning Your Shots guide.

Photo Spots I’ve Identified

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After doing my research, I identified ten locations along the Great Ocean Road that I really want to take photographs at.  I am going to cover each of these locations in greater detail, but as a summary, I have included a map and a list of all ten locations for you to review below.

Great Ocean Road Photo Locations Map

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Cape Patton
Cape Otway Lightstation
Loch Ard Gorge
Twelve Apostles National Park
Gibsons Steps
Californian Redwoods
Teddy’s Lookout, Lorne
Point Lonsdale Lighthouse
Split Point Lighthouse, Aireys Inlet
London Bridge, Peterborough

Cape Patton

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Photograph from Google Street View at Cape Patton

The first location that I have decided to highlight along the Great Ocean Road in Australia is Cape Patton.  Cape Patton lies in the middle of what is widely considered the most beautiful and scenic stretch of coastline along the Great Ocean Road.  There aren’t a lot of places to pull over and admire the beauty of the coast in this stretch of the road, so I would strongly recommend stopping at Cape Patton.  Besides, it is one of the highest viewpoints you will find on the Great Ocean Road, so the views are truly breathtaking.  I would recommend carrying a wide-angle lens with you to capture some amazing landscape shots of the coast.

Cape Patton - Photo Map

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Lucky for me, when I will be touring the Great Ocean Road in late September of this year, the sun will be rising in an almost ideal location for me to get some great sunrise shots at Cape Patton.  The sun won’t set in an ideal location while I will be there, but I should be able to still get some decent sunset shots if we decide to visit Cape Patton in the evening instead.  If you are going to be visiting in late November or early December, the sun should set in a much more ideal location for great sunset shots from this location.  Remember, if you are going to take sunrise or sunset shots, you should have a sturdy tripod with you.

Cape Patton - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

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Cape Otway Lightstation

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Photograph from Google Street View at Cape Otway Lightstation

The first of three lighthouses that make my list of the top photo locations on the Great Ocean Road in Australia is the Cape Otway Lightstation.  Not only is the lighthouse beautiful, but it sits on some absolutely beautiful coastline.  I am a big fan of lighthouses as I love to incorporate them in my pictures, which is why I am very excited to get some shots at this location.   To understand where the lighthouse is and how to access it for your shots, please refer to the map I included below.  I would recommend bringing a wide-angle lens to get shots of the entire lighthouse and the coastline.

Cape Otway Lightstation - Photo Map

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The stars are going to be aligning perfectly when I visit the Great Ocean Road in late September of this year because the sun will be rising and setting in the ideal location for me to get some great sunrise and sunset shots at Cape Otway Lightstation.  As you can see in the map I included below, the sun will be both rising and setting along the coastline, which will allow me to hopefully incorporate some colorful skies into my lighthouse shots.  If you would like to get some sunrise or sunset shots of the lighthouse, I would recommend bringing a sturdy tripod with you.

Cape Otway Lightstation - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

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Loch Ard Gorge

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Photograph from Google Street View at Loch Ard Gorge

Although the most infamous photography location on the Great Ocean Road undoubtedly goes to another location on my list, the Loch Ard Gorge is certainly one of the most popular locations to take photographs at.  When you scout out the location on Google Street View, it isn’t difficult to see why this location is such a favorite.  The beauty of the steep rock cliffs, crashing waves, and rugged coastline are impossible to describe with just words.  When you visit Loch Ard Gorge, make sure you bring a wide-angle lens with you because you will want to capture as much of the landscape as you can.

Loch Ard Gorge - Photo Map

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Unfortunately for me, when I tour the Great Ocean Road in late September of this year, the sun will not rise or set in optimal locations for me to get some epic sunrise or sunset shots of the Loch Ard Gorge.  I should still be able to get some shots with great light if I shoot during the Golden Hours, but you will have far better luck with sunset shots if you visit between mid-October and mid-February.  If you are visiting to get some sunset shots, make sure you bring a sturdy tripod with you.

Loch Ard Gorge - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

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Twelve Apostles National Park

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Photograph from Google Street View at Twelve Apostles National Park

Widely considered the most scenic spot on the Great Ocean Road, the Twelve Apostles Viewpoint at the Twelve Apostles National Park is also the most infamous location on the Great Ocean Road.  In fact, if you mention the Great Ocean Road to many travelers, the visual of the Twelve Apostles is almost synonymous with this legendary roadway.

When you see pictures of the Twelve Apostles on Instagram, Pinterest, or even in Google Street View, it isn’t hard to understand why visitors flock to this viewpoint by the thousands each year.  If you would like to better understand where this park is and how to access the best viewpoints, I have included a map for you to review below.  You should definitely have a wide-angle lens in your camera bag when you visit because you will want to capture as much of the coastline and landscape as you can.

Twelve Apostles National Park - Photo Map

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While the angle of the sunset won’t be absolutely perfect when I visit the Twelve Apostles National Park in late September this year, I should still be able to get some decent sunset shots if I visit during the Golden Hour in the evening.  The sunsets at the Twelve Apostles are absolutely legendary, so it really is a dream of mine to get some of my own epic sunrise or sunset shots at this viewpoint.  Remember, if you want to get your own Golden Hour shots at the Twelve Apostles you should bring a sturdy tripod with you.

Twelve Apostles National Park - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

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Gibsons Steps

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Photograph from Google Street View at on the beach down Gibsons Steps

Located in Twelve Apostles National Park, adjacent to the viewpoint for the Twelve Apostles that I highlighted above, is the Gibson Steps access point to the beach below.  The views from down on the beach next to the Twelve Apostles is a great contrast to the views that you get from up above.  If you think the sea stacks look big from up above, wait until you see how large and imposing they look from ground level on the beach with the waves crashing.  When you visit the beach at the bottom of Gibson’s Steps, make sure you bring a wide-angle lens with you so that you can capture as much of the beach, coastline, and rocky cliffs as possible.

Gibsons Steps - Photo Map

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Since the location of the beach below the Gibson Steps at the Twelve Apostles National Park is adjacent to the viewpoint of the Twelve Apostles that I highlighted above, the situation with the sunrise and sunset from this location is the same as it was for the Twelve Apostles Viewpoint.  I should be able to get some decent sunset shots when I visit if I plan my visit correctly.  Again, if you plan to get some sunset shots from this location, make sure you bring a sturdy tripod with you.

Gibsons Steps - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

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Californian Redwoods

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Photograph from Google Street View at the Californian Redwoods

Before I started doing this research on the Great Ocean Road, I had no idea that Californian Redwoods existed anywhere outside of the Pacific coast of the United States.  In case you aren’t familiar with these amazing trees, they are very prevalent in California and southern Oregon and there are several national parks in the United States that have been designated to protect these amazing trees.  You can read more in my Muir Woods National Monument and San Francisco Guide.

I would definitely recommend bringing a wide-angle lens with you when you visit because you will be in close quarters when you are in the forest and will want to have a wide range of view.  If you would like to get some creative shots that show just how big these trees really are, I would suggest taking a picture of the canopy looking up (as you can see in the image above).

Californian Redwoods - Photo Map

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Because you will be in so close to the forest at this location, it isn’t the most ideal location to get great sunrise or sunset shots.  If you would like to get some great shots during the Golden Hours on the Great Ocean Road, I would suggest you plan to visit one of the other locations I have highlighted in this guide during sunrise and sunset.  If you do, remember to bring a sturdy tripod.

Californian Redwoods - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

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Teddy’s Lookout, Lorne

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Photograph from Google Street View at Teddy’s Lookout

As one of the highest vantage points on the Great Ocean Road and easily one of the most accessible, Teddy’s Lookout in Lorne is a popular stop for photographers capturing the journey on the Great Ocean Road.  From this viewpoint, you can get some amazing shots of the rugged coastline that has made the Great Ocean Road such a popular tourist destination.  When you visit, I would recommend bringing a wide-angle lens so that you can capture as much of the amazing coastline as possible.

Teddy’s Lookout, Lorne - Photo Map

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When I tour the Great Ocean Road in late September, the sun will neither rise or set in the ideal location for me to get some absolutely epic Golden Hours shots of the coastline, but the sun will rise just off the coast at Teddy’s Lookout so I can get some great sunrise shots over the ocean.  For the best sunrise shots, you will need to visit in the late Autumn or early Winter (in the Southern Hemisphere).  If you do decide to visit to get some sunrise shots, make sure you bring a sturdy tripod with you.

Teddy’s Lookout, Lorne - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

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Point Lonsdale Lighthouse

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Photograph from Google Street View at the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse

While the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse may not be the prettiest lighthouse on the Great Ocean Road, in my opinion, it is the lighthouse that is in the prettiest location on the Great Ocean Road.  The lighthouse is very close to the water and is very easy to get the lighthouse and the beautiful coastline in your shots.  I guess this is why it has become such a popular stop for photographers who are traveling the Great Ocean Road.  If you visit, make sure you bring a wide-angle lens as you will want to get the whole lighthouse and as much of the beautiful coastline as possible in your shots.

Point Lonsdale Lighthouse - Photo Map

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Thankfully, when I will be touring the Great Ocean Road in late September the sun will rise and set in the absolute perfect locations for me to get some really great sunrise and sunset shots of the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse.  As you can see in the map below, the positions where the sun will be rising and setting are perfect for sunrise and sunset shots with the lighthouse and the coastline in the shots.  If you are planning a trip to see the Great Ocean Road and would like to get shots of the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse at sunrise or sunset, I would aim for visiting in in early spring and bringing a sturdy tripod with you.

Point Lonsdale Lighthouse - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

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Split Point Lighthouse, Aireys Inlet

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Photograph from Google Street View at the Split Point Lighthouse

The last lighthouse on my list of the top locations on the Great Ocean Road to photograph is arguably itself the most beautiful of the lighthouses you can see on this road trip.  Not only is the Split Point Lighthouse itself beautiful, but the area around the lighthouse has a lot of pretty viewpoints you can shoot from as well.  The Split Point Lighthouse isn’t as accessible or as close to the water as the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse, but the coastline is more rugged and picturesque near the Split Point Lighthouse.  If you decide to visit on your trip along the Great Ocean Road, make sure you bring a wide-angle lens to capture as much of the lighthouse and the coastline as you can.

Split Point Lighthouse, Aireys Inlet - Photo Map

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Lucky for me, when I visit the Split Point Lighthouse in late September of this year, the sun will rise and set in great locations for me to get some remarkable sunrise and sunset shots of the lighthouse.  This is probably the perfect time of year for getting shots of the lighthouse during the Golden Hours.  If you visit during the morning or evening to get sunrise or sunset shots, make sure you bring a sturdy tripod with you.

Split Point Lighthouse, Aireys Inlet - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

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London Bridge, Peterborough

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Photograph from Google Street View at the London Bridge

The last location on my list of the best places to take photographs in the Great Ocean Road in Australia is among the most popular locations that this epic road trip has to offer.  While the London Arch collapsed back in 1990, the small arch in the London Bridge is still there today and still a great piece of landscape to photograph.  If you aren’t familiar with this landmark, here is a picture of what the London Arch looked like before it collapsed.  If you are going to photograph the London Bridge, I would recommend bringing a wide-angle lens with you so that you can capture as much of the coastline as you can with the bridge.

London Bridge, Peterborough - Photo Map

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My luck with the sun continues with the London Bridge as the sun will be rising and setting in the decent locations for me to get some great sunrise and sunset shots when I visit in late September.  The sunrise and sunset angles aren’t perfect, but I should be able to make them work to get some colorful skies into my shots.  Remember, if you are going to take sunrise or sunset shots from this location, make sure you have a sturdy tripod with you.

London Bridge, Peterborough - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

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10 replies »

  1. I hope you can avoid the tourist buses at the Twelve Apostles. I was there earlier in the year and they’ve taken over the place, at least in the middle of the day.

    • Yikes! I hope so too! It has become the same way with some of the big spots in the US Southwest. Tour buses have completely changed the crowd levels.

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