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TOP TEN PHOTOGRAPHY SPOTS ON THE GOLD COAST

In no particular order

 

Burleigh Heads

 

In my opinion, Burleigh Heads has to be one the most photogenic locations on the Gold Coast.  Situated half way between The Spit and Snapper Rocks it’s famous for its world-class surf break. Burleigh Heads and the National Park have numerous photo opportunities, so let’s start with the more popular compositions. One of my favourite spots is on the east side using the black volcanic rocks that surround the headland in my foreground. These boulders are extremely photogenic and unique to this area; and it’s just a matter of finding a patch of rocks that work for your shot.  Another popular comp is found around the north facing part of the headland, once again using the rocks in your foreground and leading up to the Surfers Paradise skyline in the background. 

Burleigh Heads can produce great images throughout the day, as the water clarity here is fantastic, so it’s worth a visit around mid morning to the middle of the day with a polarizer for some great blue water images.

 

There’s also a short walk that takes you around and over the headland that’s worth a look, as whales and dolphins can be seen throughout the year. The aptly named “Cock Rock” is a great vantage point on top of the headland than can be found by doing a bit of rock hopping before the main lookout on top of the headland.

 

Tide: All tides

Access: Easy, use the car park at the top of the hill and walk around the headland using the coastal path.

Time: Sunrise and sunset, middle of the day for blue water photography. The headland faces east to north so sunrise or sunset can produce great imagery.

Setup: Black boulder foregrounds, Pandanus Palms and blue water photos.

Essential equipment: Tripod, shutter release, polarizer for blue water shots, neutral density ( ND ) graduated filter.

Tips: Grippy shoes for the boulders and watch for large waves.

Lamington National Park

 

Lamington NP is a relatively short drive from the Gold Coast, but couldn’t be any different from the bright lights and beaches of the Goldy. Lamington National Park is split into two sections, The Binna Burra section and the Green Mountain section or better known as O'Reillys, as most of the walks leave from the O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat.

The National park is made famous for its ancient Gondwana Rainforest that can be found throughout the park, which date back hundreds of millions of years. The park has an area of 21,176 hectares with varying forest types including temperate Antarctic Beech forest through to sub-tropical rainforests and dry eucalypt forest.

 

Personally my favourite section is the Green Mountain / O’Reillys. This has some of the more photogenic walks and waterfalls in the park, not to say that Binna Burra isn’t worth a visit. Most of the trails start from the retreat and are well sign posted.  My top picks for waterfalls have to be Elabana Falls on the Box Forest Circuit and Chalahn Falls on the Toolona Creek Circuit. Morans Falls are worth a mention and an easy walk starting near the retreat. Both the Toolana Creek Circuit and Box Forest Circuit have multiple photogenic mossy cascades, waterfalls and wildlife on the walks so you’ll have your camera out for most of the hike.

Access: About an hour from the Gold Coast. Park at O’Reillys Retreat for access and information about the walks.

Time:  Any time of the day. For ideal conditions, photograph after rain on an overcast day for best images ( No dreaded highlights ).

Setup: Waterfalls, rain forest and wildlife.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, polarizer and shutter release.

Tips: Lots and lots of Bushman’s insect repellent for the leeches and ticks.

Currumbin

 

Another go-to sunrise location for a lot of Gold Coasters and it’s one of my favourites for sure. The best compositions are from Currumbin Beach looking north with Currumbin Rock as the focal point. There are some nice rocks that can be used as foreground interest on the lower tides.

 

Tide: All tides

Access:  Park at The Alley car park on Pacific Parade.

Time: Sunrise and sunset.

Setup: E / NE facing beach, great for sunrise and also sunset.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, ND Grad filter, shutter release.

Tips: The rocks at Currumbin Rock are like razor blades, so pack your thongs or shoes.

Curtis Falls

 

Situated on top of Mt Tamborine and not far from the bright lights of the Gold Coast.

Curtis Falls is a great looking fall enclosed in a fern and moss covered alcove with many compositions either from the look out or by getting your feet wet and photographing from the cascades.

To reach the falls is an easy 1 km track from the car park or the Curtis Falls Café.

 

Access: About an hour from the Gold Coast ( depending on where you’re coming from ). Park at Curtis Falls Café or at Dapsang Drive car park for access and information.

Time:  Any time of the day. For ideal conditions, photograph after rain on an overcast day for best images

( No dreaded highlights ).

Setup: Waterfall and rain forest.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, polarizer and shutter release.

Tips: Lots and lots of Bushman’s insect repellent for the leeches and ticks.

Surfers Paradise

 

Currently, Q1 and Soul are the two tallest buildings in Surfers Paradise and both make for great focal points. The best compositions are found from the beach either looking north or south with the Surfers skyline on the left or right depending. Sunrise is the best time for this particular image, as the buildings catch the light from the rising sun.

 

Access: Parking anywhere on the Esplanade.

Time: Sunrise is best.

Setup: City skyline and beach imagery.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, ND Grad filter, shutter release.

Tips: Make sure to pay your meter if the Meter Maids aren’t around as the parking inspectors don’t mess around.

Natural Arch / Bridge

 

Natural Arch is truly a unique location and well worth being in the top ten. This waterfall has been formed over millions of years by water wearing away the Basalt Rock and under cutting into the cave below.

The best compositions are from inside the cave looking out and up on the walkway looking into the cave, which gives some perspective to the cave and waterfall inside.

 

If you visit after sunset, glowworms can be seen inside the cave which opens up some more photographic possibilities.

 

Access: These falls are easily accessed on the well-maintained walkway from the Nerang-Murwillumbah Road car park.

Time:  Any time of the day. For ideal conditions, photograph after rain on an overcast day for best images

( No dreaded highlights ).

Setup: Waterfall and rain forest.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, polarizer and shutter release.

Tips: Don’t disturb the bats in the cave, they don’t like it.

Fingal Causeway

 

Not quite on the Gold Coast but it’s only just across the border and a popular location for sunrise and sunset for local photographers. The Fingal Causeway is a mass of hexagonal columns formed from lava from Mt Warning many moons ago.

There are a few compositions here and it’s just a matter of working the area to produce a great image. There’s also a lighthouse here, which makes for interesting images, it’s quite popular with astro photographers and best visited when the celestial core is overhead.

 

Access: Park at the Lighthouse Parade car park and walk along the sand track until you reach the lighthouse, then The Causeway is off on your left.

Time: Sunrise/ sunset and night photography.

Setup: Interesting rocky foreground and lighthouse images.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, ND Grad filter, shutter release.

Tips: You can walk out onto the Causeway but be extremely careful on large swells and high tide, as it’s easy to be caught out and stuck.

Greenmount and Kirra

 

This area of the southern Gold Coast is where you come to get some incredible blue water images, especially in winter during a dry spell and there’s little rain flush from the Tweed River.

My picks are Greenmount Hill looking towards Surfers Paradise and Kirra from the Groyne. Kirra is also a great spot to grab a sunset, especially around low to mid tide as there’s some great rocks to use as foreground interest.

 

Access: Park anywhere between Kirra and Snapper Rocks.

Time:  Midday for great blue water images, Kirra for sunset.

Setup: White sand and clear water.

Essential Equipment: Polarizer.

Tips: Parking can be difficult during a large swell as it’s a world-class surfing location. So get there early to get a park.

The Spit

 

The Spit is on the north end of the Gold Coast and a great location for sunrise photography. The beach has a sand-pumping jetty that juts out 800m and is extremely popular with fisherman. The jetty makes for a great focal point, shooting either underneath, on the left or right of it.

 

Access: Park near the Kiosk on SeaWorld Drive and walk towards the beach via the path.

Time: Sunrise and Sunset.

Setup: Beach and jetty.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, ND Grad, shutter release.

Tips: Careful when photographing under the jetty as there is a run off and large waves

The Arts Centre

 

This is a great location for sunset and twilight images of Surfers Paradise skyline and a popular location for local photographers. This location in the right conditions produces mirror reflections of the city skyline and with a colourful sunset can produce great imagery.

 

Access: Park at the Bundall Arts Centre and walk around the man-made lake towards the waterway.

Time: Sunset.

Setup: City skyline images at sunset.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, ND Grad filter, shutter release.

Tips: Choose a still evening to get reflections of the buildings.

Thanks for reading, I hope this helps out when planning your next photo shoot on the Gold Coast. VC