Australia

Around the same time last year my family and i made a trip to the east coast of Australia. Whilst this wasn’t my first trip to Australia it was my first trip where we spent a bit more time in the nature as opposed to focusing on friends. It had also been about 6 months since i had received my DSLR and thus was the first time i would be able to use it to photograph an environment completely different to that of Holland.  Before heading to Australia we made a stop over in Singapore for a few days to get reacquainted with where i was born. In Singapore is also where i bought my first lens that didn’t come with the Camera. A macro lens, the Nikon 105mm f2.8. At the time i knew allot less than i thought i did when it came to macro photography. Or well in fact photography as a whole.

above: Port Douglas

Anyway our first Stop in Australia was in Port Douglas which was primarily a week in the sun. We had a condo close to the beach so you would essentially walk out of the place walk across the road take a path through the trees that separated the beach from civilization so to speak. The wall of trees, primarily palm trees i believe, made this beach very different from anything I’ve ever seen. It gave the place a very tropical feeling. The weather however was far from tropical, at least for the first few days we where there. It reminded us very much of Holland, which naturally wasn’t what we were looking for. Whilst beaches and the sun bathing that comes with it is really the last thing I’m interested in the different environment provided for very interesting walks especially since the beach was rather long. It would take you a few hours to get from one end to another. I made that walk a few times during the stay there and my favorite part was getting to the other end as the further you got from where we were staying the less people there where and the more nature was prominent. Instead of the hum of human speech you could clearly hear the crashing of the waves on the shore and the cries of the birds that sounded surprisingly close by.   At the far end of the beach i found mangroves and a particular section of the beach i found a river that led inland. Though i couldn’t walk along the river for far i saw the most interesting fish species in the water.

above: Daintree Rain forest

Our next stop was if I’m not mistaken, the Daintree rain forest which is supposedly one of the oldest rain forests in the world. We ended up renting a cabin in the rain forest which was far from luxurious but it was most certainly interesting and allowed us to go on a night time Rain forest tour. You saw the most interesting species of spiders and frogs and even sleeping birds. I’d say the sleeping birds was probably the most interesting I’d seen on the trip. They looked allot like fury tennis balls on a stick, incredibly cute.

My favorite part of that tour would have to have been when we came to a small clearing which allowed us to look up at the night sky which was truly spectacular. I’ve never seen so many stars in my life. In Holland you can practically count the number of stars you see in the sky on your two hands. Its one of the most densely populated countries in the world so light pollution really gets you. Especially since we live very close to allot of greenhouses. Seeing a site like that made it even more special. Naturally we also made trips into the rain forest during the day as well where we saw waterfalls, streams and just about everything you’d expect in a rain forest, except wildlife, we saw surprisingly little amounts of animals except Cassowary’s, which look a bit like a modern day velociraptor. They are supposedly pretty rare and its very possible to go into the rain forest for several days without seeing any. We happened to see a female and on a different occasion a male with its two kids. Apparently with cassowary’s its the males that stay and raise the kids. What is not apparent from my rather abysmal photo of them is their size. The two you see here are in fact kids. The full grown adults seem to be only a little shorter than an average adult human.

One thing that anyone who wants to take photos in a rain forest needs to remember is the lack of light. The rain forest is dense enough to stop allot of the light from reaching the ground. It may not really be apparent when your walking but your camera will certainly pick up on it. On the shot of the cassowary i was shooting with a shutter speed of 1/20 at an ISO of 1250. I don’t remember my aperture but assuming i used my 18-55mm lens the aperture would have been around f5.6 which isn’t fast by any means but even with an aperture of f2.8 you’ll want to crank up the ISO higher than you would like. I would have done very well bringing my tripod with me but of course it had to break in Singapore right before the trip. That being said you probably wouldn’t want to lug your tripod around in the first place.

The last place we stayed in was without doubt my favorite. It was an island called Hinchinbrook. The island never had more than 20 guests on it at any given time and when we were there the number fluctuated anywhere from 8-12 i think. At times our family of 4 contained half of the islands guests. We stayed in tree houses, which where literally in the trees. Though to be fair the houses where built on the rocks so the house wasn’t literally in the trees. These houses where built so that when the island was viewed from a distance it very hard to see any development. This gives you a greater sense of isolation especially when we we’re out in the kayaks looking back at the island we stayed. You just couldn’t see any form of civilization, only nature everywhere.

At any rate despite the islands isolation from just about everything there was plenty to do. We went for walks around a part of the island, snorkeling and on one of the evenings we took out the kayaks to watch the turtles feeding. When they said we would see the turtles feeding i didn’t exactly know what to expect, but i was certainly surprised by the size of them. It has been to long to accurately guess their size but they would probably be at least half my length and weighing a few hundred kilos.  It is one thing to see turtles and fish swimming in the aquariums at the local zoo but seeing several colossal turtles sometimes not more than 15 meters away, in their habitat is something completely different. Not only did we see turtles that journey however we also saw a school of flying fish bouncing over the water followed by the dorsal fin of a much larger fish. The whole trip was like a scene taken from a nature documentary.

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