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To Boat Harbour for Whales

The weather has been almost perfect this weekend – for a winter weekend, and its been a cold one this year! With winter cabin fever feeling like its taking over we headed north about 45 minutes to the edge of beautiful Port Stephens to Boat Harbour.

From the easternmost end of Ocean Parade in highest part of the suburb, adjacent to Tomaree National Park there are striking views of the coastline. On a clear day it is possible to follow the coast southwards to the horizon, well beyond the City of Newcastle (our home). It’s a popular spot for whale watching in the winter as they migrate north and today was no exception.

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The path leading out to the point was quite busy when we arrived.
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The view looking south, at the furthest point of the rocks you can see the magnificent Stockton Sand Dunes rising out of the landscape.
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The sea was rough but not wild like it can get here.

We had barely made it to the top of the walking trail and started to look out into the blue abyss before we saw what we had come searching for – a whale!

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Our first spotting for the day.

Quite a few pods passed by quite quickly and all on the move, not too much splashing around and certainly no breaching.

Then the pause, so i went hunting around for a few shots whilst we waited (and hoped) for the next pod/s to make their way past.

I always love the sea mist on the coastline, but find it hard to capture and even harder to edit. I was quite happy with these ones considering i had my 100-400mm lens on.

As i was hunting through the view finder for mist compositions the views of the Stockton Sand Dunes came into view, and i had to take some photos. The ripples and rises of the dunes are so clear. The two people standing on the rocks in the first picture provide some scale.

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Stockton Bight sand dunes in the Worimi Conservation Lands.

Created thousands of years ago, they are the largest moving coastal dunes in the Southern Hemisphere and the dunes tower as much as 40 metres above the sea level. The Worimi Conservation Lands include over 25km of coastline – most of stunning Stockton Beach, which curves 32km from the Hunter River at Newcastle to Buribi Point in Anna Bay, Port Stephens. Behind the dunes is a forest of blackbutt and smooth-barked apple gums, with paperbark pockets.

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Stockton Bight sand dunes in the Worimi Conservation Lands.
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Moon spotting in the daylight

And finally in the distance along Stockton Bight we saw another couple of pods approaching. Capturing whales with the dunes in the background was an absolute highlight and a shot i hadn’t really considered so i stoked.

Closer they came …

come on, keep comingĀ  …

Can you imagine being the guy in the sea kayak or the fishing boat!

and closer they came …

and with the flick of a tail they were gone, and so it was time for us to go as well.

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Wave of the tail to say goodbye

What an awesome way to spend Sunday afternoon. Thanks for stopping by.

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Drone over Water .. or not?

After a lovely family lunch we headed south to catch up with our good mate and mad photographer Mel from Left of the Middle Photography. Mel has recently joined the drone craze and has been a lot more adventurous then i have been game to be, so we figured we’d laugh about it together and try a few more things!

After a few location changes due to wind and airspace usage we settled on Blacksmiths Beach in Lake Macquarie.

I haven’t really messed around with many of the settings so today, i decided to see how i would go using the manual settings on the camera

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First shot – not so good, the highlights on the waves are blown out badly.

The next batch are still a little blown out but not as much.

I’m flying with the DJI Spark, which is an awesome little piece of gear, and it was the size that drew me to this one, so i could pack with us when we hike and travel, however the downside is doesn’t RAW files for photos, which mean the photo files are less forgiving, so getting it right in camera is really important.

You can see with these two the sky is quite blown out which is a shame because the waves are awesome!

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Looking north back towards Newcastle

I haven’t been real keen on getting my little Sparkie out over water, so Mel’s challenge for me today was to get it over water. This was about as close as it got so if over the high tide line counts i passed.

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Nature’s own version of lace
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Even got a bit fancy with a 3 image panorama.
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The people help to give some perspective, and this was shot at probably the highest i’ve been about 75m.
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Someone was digging for a very long time!

I definitely feel a little more confident with the drone so here’s hoping for some good weather, spare time and legal airspace to get it up in the air again soon.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Dolphins off King Edward Park

With the truck still at the car dealership getting its gearbox fixed our weekend plans had taken an unexpected turn, so we headed into King Edward Park, which is known for one of the best views in the city and also for its whale and dolphin watching vantage point.

The whales seem to be a bit quieter this year, or maybe we just haven’t had the same amount of time to stare out into the blue abyss hoping to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures cruising their way north for warmer waters.

Almost as soon as we pulled up we spotted a pod of dolphins playing in the waves. I grabbed my camera and shot off a few frames, thinking they would disappear pretty quickly.

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Dolphin Wave
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Dolphin Surfing

Whilst we were fixed on the dolphins we heard a plane, which isn’t that unusual as the park is on the flight path for the airport but this wasn’t a commercial jet – it was Matt Hall – famous Red Bull Racer. The Care flight chopper also decided to join in the fun.

The dolphins were still frolicking up and down the beach so i managed to get a few more shots and some video footage.

They were having so much fin chasing the waves, jumping and diving out the back of them.

We were sorry to see them finally swim off about an hour later.

This little guy had been sitting on the telegraph pole keeping an eye on us for a while.

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It’s possible he was watching for food, not us LOL

As the wind started to pick up, and the end of sunlight for the day was approaching we headed for home only to be greeted by these two beauties outside the front door.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

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Sleepy Sunday Migration

The wind was blowing, the sky was blue but that warm doona enticed us to stay in bed a little bit longer this morning, so after a bit of a later start we headed into the beaches to see if we could spot some more whales – this time with camera in hand!

We started at the ocean baths and walked around to Newcastle beach.

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Empty Ocean Baths
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Great viewing platform
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Looking back to the Ocean Baths
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Newcastle Beach

We grabbed a quick breaky and hot chocolate at a cafe that looks out over Newcastle Beach – Liquid Gold Cafe – check ’em out if you’re in town.

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Just what the Doc ordered on a windy cold morning

We saw a few puffs of whale breath far out in the ocean so we made our way back to the baths hoping a few might pop up closer to shore.

The wind was whipping the top off the waves.

Whilst the canoe pool was empty the waves were just lapping over the back due to their size and some were washing over the back of the main pool.

As we hadn’t seen any whales earlier in the day, we headed back again in the afternoon after my meeting and we did at least manage to spot these guys, but that was a close and as active as they got today, i think they definitely had the sleepy Sunday migration blues today.

The whales may not have been playing, but the surfers were out and trying not to get munched my the waves.

The wind hadn’t dropped and the waves were still being whipped about by the wind and it was too cold to stick around for sunset today.

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Rainbows and Sunset

With no plans for the evening, and after a great afternoon catching up with friends, we headed into the Ocean Baths for a walk and maybe a sunset shoot. We had driven past the beaches earlier in the day and saw some whales up nice and close, so we were hopeful we might see some more at sunset.

When we arrived it was cold, windy, a little bit wet, sunset was looking like a bust and there were no whales! So yeah pretty ordinary. We walked around to Nobby’s and back and i decided given we were there i should try and capture something! So this is the afternoon’s attempt.

The wind and rain swept through …

The rainbows and sunshine came out …

and then the colour started to appear …

ahh that pumphouse, you just can’t go past it …

light over Nobby’s – seems like the harbour would have been the place to be tonight …

Looking back to the west …

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