After a few interstate and international trips, I was stoked to recently work on a campaign much closer to home with DNSW. The Central and North Coast of NSW boasts some of the most beautiful and underrated landscapes in Australia. From tropical beaches, golden mountains of sand dunes and one of a kind sea caves, this part of Aus is one of my all time favourite places to shoot.

A woman looking down on a beautiful beach

Tomaree Head lookout

What I love about living where I do in Wollongong is that it’s close enough to Sydney yet feels like worlds away. This is the exact same vibe I got from visiting areas like Port Stephens, Newcastle and Nelsons Bay. Almost every beach and strip of coastline we ventured out and explored was relatively empty, particularly at sunrise and sunset when the only footprints in the sand were our own. Best of all it was only a short 10 minute drive back to civilisation where fine coffee and food was always ready to greet me with open arms.

Aerial view of a clean beach.

Looking down on Zenith beach from Tomaree summit.

It’s no secret that I enjoy shooting sea caves. For the last couple of years I have made several visits to the Central Coast to shoot some real hidden gems. There are numerous caves to explore and they are constantly changing throughout the year due to tidal shifts in the sand.

Without a doubt, the best time to be inside one of these caves is at sunrise. It’s a powerful experience being surrounded by tons of earth. As the cool sea water rushes over your feet, the sun slowly breaches the horizon, bringing all your surroundings to life in an unmistakable golden glow.

A man inside a sea cave at sunrise.

Rob absorbs first light at Caves Beach

Sunrise inside a sea cave.

Sunrise, Caves Beach NSW.

An unexpected treasure on this trip however, was the pristine Zenith beach at Shoal Bay. This small strip of clean sand is surrounded by some impressive peaks that tower over the edge of the ocean, a relatively unique sight to Australia.

Long exposure seascape photography.

Long exposures at Zenith

Without a doubt, the highlight of this trip would have to be the incredibly photogenic sand dunes at Stockton. This bight contains Australia’s largest sand dune system with numerous peaks, dips and valleys stretching well over 30kms. Yes, 3okms of photographic goodness!

Sand dunes at sunet.

Golden hour – Stockton

Jumping on a few quad bikes with the guys at Sand Dune Adventures, we blazed off in the search of some untouched mounds of glorious golden sand. Fortunately the wind continuously reshapes the dunes here, creating a new landscape with fresh compositions on a daily basis. The best time to shoot the dunes is definitely during golden hour, as the sun is within its last hour from setting. During this time shadows and textures become more pronounced and the colour of the sand itself begins to change from white to gold and then a soft pink.

A girl running through golden sand dunes.

Emelie chasing light at Stockton.

Golden sun over sand dunes.

Rob embracing last light.

A woman walking along sand dunes.

Midday shadows

I could have wandered these dunes for days on end. There is literally unlimited compositions here to shoot, from abstracts to panoramic landscapes, this place is up there as being one of my all time favorites. The video below showcases a few quick highlights from the adventure.

I guess what I really learned from this trip is that you don’t necessarily have to jump on a plane and travel far to really ‘get away’ for a while. Social media has definitely brought out the inner wanderlust inside all of us but it’s nice to know that no matter your budget or location, life long memories can be made right outside your back door.