Wilds of Tasmania

Pools of light, Southern Ocean

Amongst epidemic lockdowns, I made two trips to Tasmania in the late summers of 2021 and 2022 and undertook four long bushwalks in remote parts of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Quartzite crags, South West Tasmania

We traversed dolerite and quartzite mountains, button-grass valleys and wild coastlines. Over 40 days in the wilds I gathered a bunch of satisfying images, which can be seen here

Alpine herbfield, South West Tasmania
Wind-beaten shrubs, South West Cape

A win for Gardens of Stone

Waratahs, Newnes Plateau in the new Gardens of Stone SCA

Late in 2021 the NSW Government announced that a new 30,000 hectare Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area would be created over over the Newnes, Ben Bullen and Wolgan state forests near Lithgow. This is something environment groups have been campaigning on for decades and will bring stronger protection to this remarkable landscape. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service are now busy planning for new visitor facilities, restoration of damaged areas and conservation of natural values, including the spectacular ‘pagoda’ rock formations, rare swamps and many threatened species.

Already-approved underground coal mining will continue, but the surface will finally receive the level of management it deserves. The new reserve even comes with $50 million for establishment, partly to generate tourism and benefits for the Lithgow economy through visits to the new reserve.

Headwaters of Bungleboori Creek, with Blue Mountains National Park in the background. The foreground will now also be protected in the new Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area.

Eco-arts project

As part of  recovery  from the Black Summer bushfires in the Blue Mountains, the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute secured a grant for an Eco-arts project that would combine citizen science with artistic responses to the dramatic changes in our local bushland. Recovery: the exhibition is an online show with a wonderful diversity of contributions from many local artists.

My own offering is in two photographic collections. In Blue Gum: Cradle of Conservation I joined forces with local ecologist and photographer Wyn Jones to compile a photographic history of a special place that really copped the epic landscape events of 2019-2020: drought, fires, floods and growth. The iconic Blue Gum Forest has a unique place in the hearts of many bushwalkers and nature lovers, and the collection spans nearly 150 years of how photographers have seen the forest. My solo exhibit, Transfiguration, explores how fire and flood have both changed and revealed the environment of the Blue Mountains, visually, physically and ecologically. If you visit these exhibits, please also read the text that goes with them.

High Tasmania

A belated post from a 2019 walk….

Walls of Jerusalem National Park

I like wild and bleak landscapes. Tasmania’s Central Plateau is one of the largest extents of alpine country in Australia, with huge areas over 1200 metres elevation and many peaks over 1400 metres. Its the roof of the island. Although remote and windswept, the plateau is far from barren. Lake-studded expanses and rocky pavements are densely embroidered in the most exquisite montane gardens, featuring Pencil Pines, Snow Gums, cushion plants, fern bogs and (very prickly) scoparia shrubs . I have long wanted to cross the whole plateau, and in October 2019 we walked for 12 days from north to south, from the Great Western Tiers near Deloraine, through the Walls of Jerusalem to the Lyell Highway near Lake St Clair. Most of our walk was through World Heritage listed reserves, and justly so.

A selection of images can be seen in the Tasmania gallery.

Mountain tarn, Central Plateau

New wilderness book

Late in 2018 The Wilderness Society released a book that was ‘forty years in the making‘, Wilderness: Celebrating Australia’s Protected Places.  To quote TWS: “This magnificent book showcases landscapes protected over 40 years of Wilderness Society campaigns. This includes Kakadu, Daintree, the Kimberley and, of course, Tasmania’s mighty Franklin River. Its pages tell the inspiring story of how people power can rescue the future.”  Hallelujah to that.  Its 180 pages, 30 cm x 30 cm and you can even buy a Special Edition with a ‘clam shell box’!

The book includes six of my images, and can be purchased here to help celebrate past wins and to support ongoing TWS campaigns for nature.

Katoomba Hospital artwork

I was both surprised and pleased to be selected by art consultants to create a large-scale photographic mural for the new Community Dialysis Unit at Katoomba Hospital.  The brief called for a “memorable, restful and welcoming” artwork stretching the full length of the facility – a wall 23.5 metres long.  With windows and other interruptions, this was a challenging task, on a tight timeframe.  So I enlisted my colleagues and friends Ian Charles and Marianne Walsh of Nature Tourism Services to apply their aesthetic, design and photo-editing skills.

Part of the mural “Flourish”, showing windows

We came up with a composite of several misty forest scenes from the higher Blue Mountains, with some inserted flora and fauna.  The clients liked it and the printer completed a tricky install just in time for the opening in July.  We hope the mural improves the experience of dialysis patients, who visit the unit up to three times a week for up to fours hours at a time.  The unit is divided into three treatment ‘rooms’ and we designed the mural to provide some variety by being different but congruent across the rooms.

Plenty of research has shown the benefits of nature and art for health, wellbeing and recovery, and I was delighted to be able to use my photography for such a worthwhile purpose.


As much as I love the edge of the land, with all the drama, power and mystery of the sea, I haven’t spent much time on the coast for a while. So it was great to re-acquaint myself on two recent visits. In the depths of winter (a wonderful time to be on the coast), four of us walked for 12 days along the edge of Victoria’s Croajingolong National Park, into New South Wales and Nadgee Nature Reserve. We didn’t rush, so there was plenty of time at the two ends of the day for immersion and photography in a rich landscape. A selection of ‘wilderness coast’ images can be seen in this gallery.

Granite dusk, Croajingolong National Park

Then in August our family spent a week on the South Coast of New South Wales, in the Bawley Point-Kioloa area, wedged between two beautiful national parks – Meroo and Murramarang.  Every morning before dawn, and some evenings, I’d sneak out to prowl some new section of coast with my camera.  Thanks to so many conservationists and forward-looking governments, NSW is lucky to have extensive sections of coast that have not been marred with headland mansions and other blights. Some South Coast images can be seen in this gallery.

Sunrise on Willinga Creek lagoon, on the edge of Meroo National Park

Sierra Nevada, California

Leaving Iceberg Lake, near Mount Whitney

The Sierra Nevada is the largest stretch of wild country in the ‘lower 48’ of the United States, and a superb alpine landscape. Pioneer conservationist John Muir came to love the Sierra, which he described as the ‘range of light’. He made the area pivotal in the birth of the modern nature conservation and national park movement. In 1984 I did a long ski journey through the High Sierra and swore one day to return for the rock climbing. It only took 34 years, but in 2018 a friend and I made the pilgrimage.  We climbed in Tuolumne Meadows, a little in Yosemite, and enjoyed long routes on six High Sierra peaks. Inbetween we visited some other wonderful places such as the Alabama Hills and the White Mountains with their ancient Bristlecone Pines.

Half Dome sunset
High Sierra joy

See the galleries for more California images.

Australian Geographic and The Wilderness Society

One of my images has been lucky enough to again be selected as a finalist in the 2018 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition. “Truncated” depicts a graceful Blue Mountains Ash (Eucalyptus oreades) on the escarpment at Mount Victoria, and was picked for the Botanical category. This competition gets tougher every year with an increasing number of entries, so its pleasing that one of my ‘humble trees’, from so close to home, got in the mix this time. You can see all the finalists here, and the exhibition opens at the Australian Museum (Sydney) and the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) on 24 August 2018.

‘Truncated’ – finalist in the Botanical category, 2018 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year

On another front, an image of mine from the Pilliga will appear in The Wilderness Society’s 2019 Landscape Calendar, in support of the campaign against gas extraction from this important natural area. Its not just the gas, but the damage to underground water and the dismemberment of the landscape with hundreds of wells and hundreds of kilometres of roads that is at stake. You can read about the campaign here.

Sandstone outcrop, Timallallie National Park, Pilliga

ACF Diary 2019

Three of my images were selected for the Australian Conservation Foundation’s 2019 Diary….look out for it later in the year. I enjoy my photos being used to promote and support efforts to protect nature in Australia.

Rockfall, West MacDonnell National Park (to appear in the 2019 ACF Diary)

Copyright Ian Brown Photography