Western MacDonnell Ranges

May 21, 2016  •  1 Comment

This week’s blog a little further afield than the local botanical gardens, like normal, this time I managed to head out to Central Australia, Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.  I booked on to a photography workshop ran by the Australian well known nature and wildlife Photographer Steve Parish. Via his Nature Connect Site.


Where I booked on the Western MacDonnell Ranges 5 day tour.

It started off with a train ride from Campbelltown to Sydney Airport where I boarded a plane for Alice. As I boarded the plane it was fairly full no spare seats but Turns out I was actually sitting beside Steve on the flight over, Now what are the chances of that on a full plane. It turns out that all but one of the participants were on the same plane.

apon arrival at Alice we all got in a Maxi Cab together and headed off to the hotel again pure coincidence but we were all staying at the same hotel. We booked in and Steve suggested since everyone’s together that maybe we could unofficially go out for an afternoon shoot even though the tour didn’t start till the next morning, no one disagreed and we agreed to meet up in a few hour’s time to give everyone a chance to unpack and set up their gear.

So I assemble my gear and turned two carry one camera bags into one usable backpack with both cameras mounted on my Spider pro belt holster.

As I had a few hours to kill before we headed off I went over the road from the hotel where the Todd river bed is and took a walk along the river bed to see what was about as a small ridge was opposite and I thought I take a walk and see what was on the ridge.


After those shots I headed back to the hotel and we all headed out to Simpsons Gap for the afternoon, Our first shoot together less one. We drove out to Simpsons Gap and on the way stopped by to shoot this range.  This was one of the things I picked up from this workshop long lens stitch panoramas. This shot reminded me of the old western movies the colours are what does it I think for me. But certainly not the American wild west.

Then on to the Gap, After all the rain the last few days there was plenty laying around out there.  Though pretty sure this one is one of the more percent sources of water as last tim eI was out that way this one had water in it as well. 

There was a small group of little rock Wallabies living on the rocky hill side, this shot captures one having a yawn. 

So after a Yawn what better to do than have a chew on your tail I guess. These shots the light was already going so low light and higher ISO was used so you can start to see some of the effects of upping the ISO in the background, but sometimes to get the shot you have to make sacrifices as long as you know what your getting your self into, these ones won't make for good prints, but still the make great memories.  


That night we all ate together in the restaurant and the final member of the group arrived introduced themselves and retired for the night as they had spent the most of the day travelling on a bus up to Alice. 

The next morning we drove out to the Alice Springs desert park there was some light rain falling most of the morning as you'll see in these shots from time to time, but certainly made the animals more active, and the bird life was certainly very active so plenty of chances for some decent shots there.  


The first one here is an Eastern Barn Owl. 

The Owl and the next few shots were part of a free flight show were the birds were flying free,  the next few shots are of a Brown Falcon in flight the same type of bird I caught earlier in the river bed in the wild. 


After the show we took a walk around the park where they had several aviaries that you can walk into, others had clear glass that you can shoot through. So the next series of shoots are a combination of each, see if you can pick the difference. 

This next shot is of an Orange Chat. (Epthianura aurifrons)

Still trying to ID this little one, should have taken a few shots of all the ID plates in the various aviaries, One for next time in the mean time I'll try and get the ID of this one and update this post when I do. 

A Spinifex pigeon. (Geophaps plumifera) There was a small group of these in one of the open aviaries, Though through out the trip we say plenty in the wild as well.  



Crimson Chat. (Epthianura tricolour) This ones not fully coloured up as yet. 

The park also had a pair of Dingos, but again we were to see a few in the wild later on and certainly hear them at night calling out. This shot was again taken in the rain but makes a nice effect in the background I think. 

A nice portrait of a Dingo. 


Next up both of them eventually appeared on the log together. This is one of those cases when it paid to revist a shot as early on there was only one up there and later on when I returned I got this shot. 

From the Desert part we drove out to the Glen Helen Gorge resort where we stayed of the next few nights. One we had unpacked and settled in we went out to a local lookout across a small cause way for a sunset shot, at the time there was a small trickle across the causeway, that was soon to change in the coming days. 

The next day we drove out to the nearby Ormiston Gorge, not too far from where we were staying.   This one’s a shot of a Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, (Acanthagenys rufogularis) that was near where we parked. So many different birds out there that I wasn’t use to, looks very much in the style of the Wattle Birds and seams to fill that roll out there.  

One of the things that Steve taught us was how to take a photo and get creative with it and turn it into something of an art work not that photos are not art but to take it to a different place, this was one of my first attempts at this and for a first go I was happy with the results given time I hope to be better at this one of the people of the tour had been doing this for a while and some of his work was great so something to aim for later with practice. 

One of the many river gums growing on the gorge face. The white trunks against the orange rock are certain a sight.

This shot is a sunset shot but the river is just a few meters up form the cause way and as you can see its no longer a trickle but a flowing river, the Fink River was actually a river, that put an end to our trip to palm valley, as the way into the valley is along the river bed, not this week as it was actually a river for once, still made for a nice sunset shot.  

This shot is of the Glen Helen gorge at night right outside my room.  This was my first attempt at shooting the milkyway and for a first attempt happy with the results. I was setting this one up at 20 seconds exposure with my fisheye lens and light painting the ridge with my spot light, the shot was taken at 3:00am in the morning and this one turned out a lucky shot as Glen Helen gorge is about 150 km west of Alice so pretty much the middle of know where and at 3:00 am the place is pretty quiet turns out that during this exposure someone arrived by car and the car did a turn in one of the turning circle and just happened that its head lights swept along the ridge at a steady pace enough to create this effect, nice, how luck can you be some days. 

This shot was from the lookout again that the first sunset shot was taken but a few days later after the river had dropped. An early morning shot.

One of the highlights of the trip from me was a helicopter flight of the local area around Glen Helen gorge the scenery for the ground is amazing and from the air even more so, the next series of shots are from the short 30 minute flight we had but some great shots and amazing scenery from the air. We had several days at Glen Helen gorge and were trying to pick the day with the best light for the flight, as the first day was still raining a bit not a great day, turns out we fly on our last day there and as we took off the sun started to come out so we got some shots with nice lighting on the ranges. 

After the flight we drove off back toward Alice On the way back we stopped at Ellery Creek Big Hole where again you can see the river gums and the orange rock. Again another percent source of water so a fair bit of bird life around.

This is a pair of White Plumed Honeyeaters that came in for a drink, love the way the far one peers under the near one. 

We stopped along the way as we say fit depending on what we say and this time a dried river bed with a few pools of water in the deeper parts, again with the river gums along the side. 

From there we drove off to Standley Chasm, this is a narrow gap in the range and vertical walls, at mid-day the light lights it up, we just missed the full light in the chasm but saw enough to get an idea what it would look like, Guess I have to go back now one day to catch the light there.  

After that we headed back to the hotel in Alice and from there got unpacked got to our rooms and then got ready to head out for our final shoot of the tour, the old Telegraph station at The Original settlement of Alice springs, around the telegraph station are a few rocky outcrops were a group of Rock Wallabies reside, so here are a few shots of the wallabies at the old telegraph station. 

This first shot was as I got out of the van a Brown Falcon flew over so just had time to get this shot exposure was a little underdone as I didn't really have to time set the shot but lightroom saved it a bit.



This last shot was a fitting end to the tour as we were leaving so was one of the wallabies so that ended out Fantastic 5 day MacDonnell ranges tour with Steve and Ruth. A great trip and some great shots. Steve and Ruth did a great job and everyone enjoyed them self on the tour. Well done to the pair of them. 

If you enjoyed the shots in this blog there are more over at the MacDonnell ranges gallery follow the link here.


You can run the slid shot by clicking slideshow in the top right or just scroll thought the images. 

Don’t forget to check out Steve’s web site for any events he has coming up, check back over the next month or so as he adds in more. 



Thanks for dropping by my blog, Be back next week with some more, around the Botanical gardens back home. 






Jeff Adali(non-registered)
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