• Sam Wilson

Visit the Snowy Mountains

Where the drive is as spectacular as the destination!

Thanks to Wikipedia - The Snowy Mountains, affectionately known as “the Snowies” are the highest Australian mountain range stretching from the Australian Capital Territory through Southern New South Wales and into Northern Victoria. The Snowies contain Australia’s highest mountains including the Australian mainland’s highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko, which reaches 2,228m above sea level.

'Enjoying The Journey' - Part of the stunning drive between Jindabyne and Tumut

What a beautiful surprise it was visiting this region for the first time in 2021 - not once, but twice in a month!

Now I'm not going to pretend I travelled nearly anything like all of this region, but it’s times like these that makes you appreciate just how big our country is - I don't think there was a day that we drove less than 300km!

Courtesy of - https://www.atn.com.au/index.html

The first visit was the result of 3 previously cancelled tours due to the pandemic - two in New Zealand, then one in Tasmania. To be safe I transferred to a private tour and we decided on the snowy mountains and I cannot say I was disappointed one bit.

This was in April, and in my planning and packing I thought of the usual mid season clothes, only to receive a message two days out telling me that snow was predicted - what?!? - it was only April.

Trees in show charlotte pass
Charlotte Pass at sunset - snow in April!

That proved to be correct and I got to see the first snow I had seen in over 20 years! We spent the first couple of nights in Jindabyne and got to visit Charlotte Pass - oh my, such fabulous scenery, the boardwalk around the snowgums is just brilliant, and those views - simply breathtaking!

Photographing The Snow

This was a first for me and presented a new challenge, and not just because you're so cold that your fingers don't work properly so gloves are a must!

  • The camera can struggle with all the white which can make your snow look 'grey' in the images. A way around this is to overexpose when shooting so you get nice white snow.

  • Batteries also drain a lot quicker in the cold so it's a good idea to keep a second battery in pocket close to your body heat rather than in your camera bag where it's colder.

  • Condensation can form on the outside and inside of your camera when you bring it in from the cold. To prevent this, don't put it straight into a really warm environment, get it out of the bag ASAP and let it warm back up slowly to room temperature.

  • Conditions can change very quickly, so make sure you have plenty of layers and a cover at the ready to help stop your camera getting wet when you're out in the field.

Trees In Snow
Getting off the beaten path

From here on in I’m going to meld the two trips together as there was a fair bit of crossover. So so much driving followed, and one of the best drives was along Alpine Way from Jindabyne to Khancoban - incredible scenes at almost every bend, brumbies - we even drove through Siberia.

Another lovely drive we did was along Long Plain Road and Tantangara Road where we saw plenty of brumbies and a dingo (which I unfortunately only managed a blurry photo of).

Photographing the Brumbies

There is a fair bit of contention around these horses that I’m not going to touch on, I am just in awe that we saw these beautiful animals on a few separate occasions, even in the snow which we were very excited about, considering it was still only autumn.

My photography is usually landscape based - so it's on a tripod with things that mostly don't move(water aside), so photographing the brumbies was a challenge for me.

  • They were in different lighting as they moved in and out of shade. They were also a fair distance away which meant putting a telephoto lens on so they didn't look like ants!

  • These lenses are heavy which can make for camera shake that can equal blurry photos, so let's just say I've had to delete quite a few. I'm blaming the weight but I guess there's a chance if could have been too much coffee in the morning?!?

  • To combat these issues I needed to use a higher shutter speed and a higher ISO to ensure I got sharp photos that weren't underexposed

A standout along this drive was Coolamine Homestead, which is a great example of the huts used in the area from the 1800’s through to the mid 1900’s. We were also lucky enough to see a couple of kangaroos just before sunset.

If you drive just a bit further down you will arrive at the Blue Waterholes, which is a great area to explore, have lunch and admire the stunning green gum trees that were so prolific here.

Please note that these roads are unsealed and closed between June and October, and a 4wd vehicle is recommended at the other times of the year - 2wd in dry weather only.

Snowgums at sunrise trees
Snowgums at sunrise - Charlotte Pass

Did I mention that it snowed?!?

One of the highlights of our trip to Koscioszko National Park; Yarrangobilly Caves are one of NSW best kept secrets - explore the roughly 440 million year old caves filled with stalagmites, stalactites and delicate decorations like shawls and cave corals. Allow plenty of time here as you can also walk down a stunning thermal pool. Snow chains are recommended in winter but we were so excited to drive through snow on the way in. Luckily it wasn't very much and chains weren't required.

I'm sad to report that I was too excited to even put a jacket on, let alone take any decent photos with my camera that day - guess I'll just have to go back another day - terrible huh!?!

There really is no end to the potential for photos in this area - all I can say is give yourself plenty of time to pull over when you see something interesting, and get off the main roads to explore - you just never know what you may find!

Even if it's just for fun phone shots like these -

That’s it for now

Next up I'm going to talk about photographing during the day - it's not all sunrises!

'Driving By' - this is the result of 3 separate images blended together in Lightroom to make a panorama. Lightroom makes this so easy, but that's a story for another day

I chose the road less travelled and now I have no idea where I am!

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