Northern Territory - Australia
The Top End provides an abundance of opportunities for the nature photographer. From awesome sunsets to majestic waterfalls, huge varieties of birds to the fearsome crocodile and don’t forget some of the best lightning storms you are ever likely to see.
So when is the best time to visit? This is not an easy question to answer as each season offers different photo opportunities. There are 2 main seasons, the Dry (May to October) and the Wet (November to April).
The climate undoubtedly is more favorable during the dry with the humidity dropping significantly along with the overnight temperatures. Beware, the landscape is very parched, brown or black from bush fires. The air can be very hazy from the bush fires which tend to destroy some great vistas. All is not lost as the haze tends to provide some great sunrises and sunsets where the sun tends to be a great big orange ball. Also a lot of tracks and roads open up after flooding to give greater access across the Top End. Towards the end of the dry, as the waterhole's start drying up, sees masses of birds congregating in what’s left of the billabong's and the Crocodiles become more visible as they tend to “sun bake” in the cooler time in order to keep their body temperature up.
As for the “Green” (Wet) season, as the name suggests, the tropical woodlands are a lush, lush green and the air is clear (except when raining). The whole landscape comes to life. The sunsets become very spectacular with great cloud formations displaying a myriad of hues as the sun goes down over the Arafura Sea. Waterfalls are running again (get in early before they are cut off) and very dramatic skies start appearing especially in the afternoons making way for the most spectacular lightning shows going.
Five of my favourite photo opportunities within an hour & a half of Darwin.
This provides some great “up close” wildlife opportunities, Crocodiles and other reptiles, huge amount of bird varieties including Jabiru’s, Brolga’s, Eagles, Heron’s, Egret’s, Geese and many others. Just over an hour from Darwin with the last 18 km's on dirt road. Get there before sunrise as there are good landscape opportunities with sunrise and mist over the billabong. Mary River Houseboats at Corroboree offer a number of different boats to hire and they have one called a leisure boat that makes an ideal photo platform if you only have ½ or 1 day otherwise the houseboats are the way to go. They only operate April to November and book ahead as they are popular. Details can be found at:
A leisurely 130 km drive south of Darwin, this park has some magnificent waterfalls, cascading off sandstone escarpments. Pockets of tropical rainforest can be found throughout the park along with some great swimming holes (take note of the signs). Head out early (to beat the crowds) and visit Florence Falls first up as the morning light is preferable where as Wangi and Tolmer Falls are better in the afternoon.
A bird lover’s paradise, less than an hour for Darwin with 230 bird species are listed for this area. The former rice paddys are also home to the huge Lotus Lilies which have all manner of birds walking over their large leaves. A number of viewing platforms have been constructed and a walkway through the monsoonal rainforest.
This is probably the most strenuous shoot of them all. Fannie Bay is in Darwin Harbour approx 5 minutes from the CBD. It pays to pick up some cheese and crackers, call past the bottle-o for some of your favorite beverage, armed with your folding chair and head to any spot along Fannie Bay. Set up and relax to take in the spectacular sunset. Oh! You might like to take a shot or two of a spectacular sunset as well.
Darwin is the place to do it, generally between November and March. Whilst storms are quite often bigger in other places, few are as consistent, with the Darwin Area having around 90 days of lightning a year. So your odds are pretty good. Not only are there thunderstorms but massive thunderheads and impressive squall lines. For more information, I suggest having a look at renowned Darwin Storm chaser, Mike O’Neil’s site. www.stormscapesdarwin.com It has lots of storm info, photos and how to chase and photograph storms.
Some examples of photos from these areas can be found on my web site www.encimages.com.au
Good shooting and please enjoy your visit.