When it comes to landscape/seascape photography locations, Bombo Quarry is easily up there with the best in the world. A short drive from my home, Bombo is a place that has inspired much of my early coastal photography and after countless visits I’m still more than happy to share a sunrise by its iconic walls. If you’re wondering how to get to Bombo then please read on for a simple location guide, photo’s and tips.
Roughly 2 hours from Sydney, Bombo is located near Kiama on the South Coast of NSW. Although there’s two parking options, the easiest is using the car park at Panama St, Bombo beach (see below) which is only a short 10 minute walk from where you’ll be shooting. From the car park simply follow the walking track east until you reach a fork in the road. Both directions are fine to take however veering left is slightly faster. After you’ve curved to the left continue on for roughly 100 metres until you see a small opening in the bush on the right (if you’ve reached the water treatment building you’ve gone too far)
Follow the right turn through the scrub and down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs simply turn left and walk another two minutes and you will soon find yourself standing in the midst of the immense basalt columns. Welcome to Bombo Quarry. Please see below for a primitive map with hand drawn directions.
What To Shoot
One of the best things about Bombo is that it’s great year round and boasts an endless amount of compositional options. Sunrise is generally the preferred time to shoot however sunset works fine as well. There are options to face north, south, east or west and the ocean tide offers something new at every height. The swell size is something to consider as larger swell (6ft+) will often produce some incredible displays of power as it breaks over the basalt columns creating a waterfall effect. Smaller swell may not be as dramatic but it can allow access to the ‘trenches’ on lower tides. To see Bombo at its best plan a visit during high tide with some large swell at sunrise.
Forgive my lack of originality, but there’s no official name for this section of Bombo and ‘The Wall’ is what it’s always been in my mind. For good reason, this is the most popular section of Bombo to photograph and receives the best light at sunrise during Autumn. Standing here, you can’t help but feel as though you’re somewhere isolated, far from civilisation on the edge of the world. As the ocean charges and crashes against the basalt columns it’s a moving and powerful experience, particularly in large swell. Just take extra care, if you fall, you’re not coming out in one piece. Tip: Using a wide angle is the obvious lens choice here but consider using a telephoto to get in tight and capture some of the finer details of the water dripping down and over the rocks.
Walk to the far end of the quarry and you’ll find an opening framed by two pillars which gives way to the rushing sea. This spot can really get your heart rate up as the ocean surges down the trench, often exploding several feet high. Most of the time I walk away from shooting here with salt water dripping off me. The best time to visit is early summer when the sun aligns down the trench for a only a couple of weeks.
A rare yet incredible sight to behold, when the sea is raging and swell direction is just right, waves will blast up and over this section of the wall and create a surging, temporary waterfall. The difficult thing about shooting here is that you are blind to what the ocean is doing and can only listen nervously as it thunders in the distance, wondering if a surge is about to violently breach the wall. Patience is definitely needed (it took me close to 3 years to capture this) and sets that have enough might to break over may be 10 minutes apart, with the ‘waterfall’ only lasting 2-3 seconds. To give you an idea of the power needed here, the wave that created this blasted 3 times my height above the wall before crashing down. Be prepared to get wet. Tip: Swell needs to be at least 6ft+ for any chance of seeing the waterfall created.
‘The Opening’- This is the iconic sight you are greeted to when you first step into the quarry. Keep an eye on the waves as they can often crash through (or over) the wall although this is what can also make some great reflections t use in your foreground.
‘Southern Trench’- Only accessible in low tide and great to shoot in summer when the sun rise aligns with the opening. Located on the southern end of the main wall.
Without a doubt, Bombo is one of the states best night photography locations. Tucked away from any city lights, the Milky Way is highly visible here and the large, flat basalt walls make for great subjects to shoot with the shallow depth of fields required when shooting astro.