Ever since I took up photography as my full time profession I’ve been blessed to have done a lot of travel to some amazing destinations around the world. But what a lot of people may not realise is that there is so much beauty right here at my doorstep. I live in New South Wales, Australia and it plays host to some unique and inspiring photography locations right across the state. From waterfalls, seascapes, lakes, mountains and forests, this state allows us to escape the hustle and bustle of our busy lives to find locations where we can connect to true and natural beauty.

So, to entice you to get out and see them for yourself here are my top five NSW photography locations that’ll make you feel small:

1.The Budawangs National Park

The Castle - Budawangs NSW

Located west of Milton on the South Coast, the Budawangs is in my opinion, one of Australia’s greatest natural treasures. Boasting a range of mountains to summit and various hiking and climbing routes, the views here will simply leave you breathless. Hiking through the wilderness here allows you to disconnect from the everyday noise of life and reconnect with what matters most.For your first visit, I recommend climbing the iconic ‘Castle’ which will take a full day of solid hiking along with some exposed climbs with vast mountain and coastal views up to the summit. There are also some camping areas around if you wish to see the Budawangs in the magic hours of sunrise and sunset and spend some time further exploring the lush Monolith Valley and surrounding Shrouded Gods mountain, Mt Nibelung and Mt Cole.

Shrouded Gods summit, the Budawangs NSW

2.The Blue Mountains

Waterfalls, canyons, valleys and mountains, the Blue Mountains is a nature lover’s wonderland right in the backyard of Sydney. Suitable for a day trip or week-long visit, there is enough here to suit people of all fitness levels including several lookouts that are a stone’s throw from a car park. Govett’s Leap, The Three Sisters and Flat Rock are all easily accessible and provide some of the best mountain landscape views in the country. For the more adventurous, the Valley Of The Waters and Grand Canyon hikes are great day trips which will get your heart rate up and lead you through lush forests filled with towering waterfalls.

Waterfall in sunlight

3.Laurel Hill Sugar Pine Forest

Winter - Laurel Hill Sugar Pine Forest

The first time I saw an image from this forest I had a hard time believing it was in Australia. Here, rows of colossal pine trees create an atmospheric cathedral that will make you feel like a child in the presence of giants. Visiting at sunrise is a must do, as warm golden light slowly brings to life the towering locals and creates an incredible atmosphere with long shadows and soft scattered light. The only thing that rivals this experience is the magic of a white winter that will on rare occasions completely transform the ambience of this place.

Sunrise Laurel Hill forest

4.Stockton Sand Dunes 

Stockton sand dunes, NSW

Innumerable golden textures, peaks and patterns the roll on as far as the eye can see. There’s not much not to love about Stockton sand dunes. This section of coast can make for some unique photographs and can be explored by quad bike, 4wd or on foot. With the wind constantly sculpting the dunes, every trip is unique. Once again, I recommend visiting at sunrise when the low-lying sun creates pronounced shadows and the sand shimmers gold.

Sand dunes, Stockton NSW

5.Sydney Royal National Park

Curracurrong Falls, Royal National Park Sydney NSW

Towering cliffs carved by the sea, hidden waterfalls, swimming holes, lagoons and secluded beaches, the list goes on and there’s no reason why you wouldn’t want to visit the RNP which is the world’s second established national park (after Yellowstone in the US). I’ve visited here several times over the years but the highlight for me is the stunning Curracurrong Falls which plummets from the headland into the ocean below. This unique waterfall is easily accessed along the coastal walking track from Wattamolla, heading south along the track to Eagle Rock.


Curracurrong Falls

The more time I spend in and around nature and its beauty the more passionate I have become about protecting these environments, especially for future generations. I look at my son, who has taken up my habit of scanning the sky for possible rainbows or an epic sunrise or sunset, and I wonder if he’ll have the same privilege of enjoying these stunning landscapes that are in our backyard.

Unfortunately, each day we hear and see more and more evidence of the negative impact our carelessness, particularly with rubbish, is having on the environment. A lot of people litter thinking it’s not a big deal, particularly if they are in an urban area. But what we all need to realise is that our rubbish travels, it often ends up in the ocean destroying the environment and wildlife that live there.

It saddens me when I turn up to a waterfall or even just a beach car park and see rubbish that someone has carelessly left lying around. It’s such a small thing to hang on to your rubbish until you can find a bin. You may not think your actions make a difference, but if we all started taking some responsibility, at least for ourselves, then our environment would be so much better for it.

So I encourage you all to get out and see and appreciate the beauty NSW has to offer, but I also beg you to be considerate and take your rubbish with you. Don’t be a tosser, put your rubbish in the bin and encourage your mates and family to do the same, so we can enjoy our natural landscapes for many years to come.  If you see someone littering from a vehicle, you can even report this online to help prevent the continuation of this behaviour.

I believe the words of the well-known explorers’ proverb should be echoed now more than ever;
“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time”.