Gantheaume Point, Broome, Western Australia © Jason Charles Hill
Australia’s most healing landscapes (according to Australia’s best photographers)
Step in to one of Australia’s vast natural landscapes and you’ll feel as though you’ve entered another world. Here are 10 healing environments that’ll help you breathe a little deeper and feel a little lighter.
Compiled by Natasha Dragun
Being in nature makes you feel good – the great outdoors can improve your mood and soothe your soul, and if one thing’s for sure, this country’s not short of wide-open spaces. Australia’s best photographers are extremely adept at capturing the country’s most healing landscapes – the locations that make your spirit soar, your mind quieten and your heart rate slow down. Read on for their favourite places in Australia to disconnect from the modern world.
Lord Howe Island, New South Wales
- James Vodicka: A prolific contributor to travel campaigns for Tourism Australia, Baillie Lodges and Lord Howe Island Tourism
- Based: Airlie Beach, Queensland
- Instagram: @jamesvodicka
“Its landscapes – soaring volcanic cliffs, lush subtropical rainforest, immense coral reefs, shipwrecks, pristine golden beaches – have an immediate soothing effect on your soul. With only 400 visitors allowed to visit the island at one time, you can travel knowing it’ll always be a perfect paradise with plenty of peaceful spots to clear your mind. That’s such a rare thing these days – there aren’t many secret places left like this on Earth.
“Being this close to nature changes the way you feel and think. And, as there’s no mobile phone reception and very little Wi-Fi, the island forces you to escape from everyday life.
“There’s something special about Lord Howe Island that I haven’t felt anywhere else, and it’s a feeling I find difficult to describe. Spend enough time on the island, exploring its diverse underwater environments and Jurassic peaks, and you’ll no doubt develop a deep affinity with the place that leaves you conflicted over whether to share your discoveries with all who will listen, or keep them as your own precious little secrets.”
Bondi Beach, New South Wales
- Eugene (‘Uge’) Tan: Founder of Aquabumps, a website and daily email dedicated to beach life around the world.
- Based: Bondi, Sydney, New South Wales
- Instagram: @aquabumps
“It’s incredible to have a beach like Bondi so close to the city, with waves every day, which means you can surf before and after work.
“I love the light on the east coast of Sydney; my favourite time to shoot here is in the early morning. I often swim in the dark, before dawn, and no matter what I always jump out of the water feeling amazing – disconnected from trivial things in life, but connected to nature and completely at peace.
“It’s almost spiritual to be down there; feeling that cooling sensation of the sand and the water, and then spotting manta rays and even whales while you’re swimming or surfing while the sun rises over the horizon – what a way to start the day.
Byron Bay, New South Wales
- Craig Parry: Ever wondered who photographs Byron Bay locals Chris Hemsworth and the humpback whale Migaloo? Craig Parry’s your man.
- Based: Byron Bay, New South Wales
- Instagram: @craigparryphotography
“I grew up in Byron; it’s my happy place. I love that I can be on a boat photographing whales one minute (including Migaloo, an albino humpback whale, who has been spotted passing through Byron’s waters since 1991), swimming the next, then hiking through rainforest an hour later. This immediate connection to nature makes you feel really emotional, and appreciate everything you have.
“I’ve noticed an abundance of wildlife recently: more butterflies spawning, heaps of turtles in the water. I have a little secret spot I love to swim where I’m guaranteed to spot turtles and fish on a daily basis – and then there are the whales.
“While parts of Byron are busy, there are other pockets, like national parks, where you can feel a million miles away. Sometimes you don’t see another soul. There aren’t many places like that left in the world.”
Cape Peron, Western Australia
- Jarrad Seng: A photographer, filmmaker and creative director, Jarrad has worked on tourism campaigns, art installations and short films around the world
- Based: Fremantle, Western Australia
- Instagram: @jarradseng
“Cape Peron is tough to get to – you need a four-wheel-drive. When I visited recently, I was with Aboriginal guide Darren Capewell, and we endured a bumpy – but beautiful – ride through the Francois Peron National Park that surrounds the cape. Suddenly, the landscape opens to reveal red dirt, soaring cliffs, white beaches and azure ocean. It hits you in the face, in the best way possible.
“There’s absolutely no-one around, and the setting is so peaceful and calming. We’re always running around frantically in our day-to-day lives, and often get so lost in work we forget to appreciate what we're doing. But this place forces you to slow down and just breathe nature in.
“Take your shoes off, really feel the sand and soil, and appreciate the incredible end-of-day light that only Western Australia offers, dazzling the cliffs with gold.”
Uluru, Northern Territory
- Lauren Bath: Australia’s first professional Instagrammer, Lauren has an impressive client list, including Tourism Australia, Switzerland Tourism and the Canadian Tourism Commission
- Based: Gold Coast, Queensland
- Instagram: @laurenepbath
“You feel the magic of Uluru even before you land at Ayers Rock Airport. This is the beating heart of Australia, and an incredibly spiritual place. The first time you step foot on the soil here you feel it in your bones – there’s a real and immediate bond.
“I’ve been about six times in recent years, but every experience is just as magical and moving. I still remember the first instance I photographed stars there – it was mesmerising. I found a remote road, pulled up and set up my tripod. Apart from the twinkling overhead, it was completely dark and pristine, and there was a palpable energy.
“I felt, and always feel, totally connected to the land here.”
The Tasmanian west coast
- Rob Mulally: Whether he’s photographing in a big city or atop a mountain, Rob’s images inspire travellers – little wonder he’s contributed to major international tourism campaigns
- Based: Sydney, New South Wales
- Instagram: @robmulally
“Tasmania’s west coast is extremely remote, and not easy to get to. But I love places like this, where it almost feels like you’re travelling back in time. Exploring Port Davey/Bathurst Harbour Marine Reserve is like being at the end of the Earth. It’s an incredibly tranquil feeling. The setting – a beautiful lake, mountains, forest – is calming yet adrenaline-inducing at the same time. You’re at the mercy of the extremes; nature is in control here.
“There’s no phone reception, but the natural drama is so engaging you won’t want to reach for your device. It’s like staring at a real-life painting, all dark and moody, with one epic landscape after another.
“There’s such great excitement in places like this, where you feel like you’re the first person to ever visit.”
The Kimberley, Western Australia
- Jampal Williamson: Co-owner of image production company Salty Wings, Jampal’s multi-award-winning images have starred in many Tourism Australia campaigns
- Based: Gold Coast, Queensland
- Instagram: @saltywings
“It’s hard to describe Western Australia’s Kimberley region in words – this is a place you feel. I experience supernatural emotions there. It’s a place that makes you contemplate the bigness of nature, and the smallness of humans. Its sense of wonder and awe is humbling.
“When I’m in the Kimberley, I make sure to slow down, listen and acknowledge the spiritual significance of the land and the Aboriginal communities. Seeing how they connect with the landscape – and have done for tens of thousands of years – always leaves an impression.
“This part of Western Australia is one of the world’s last wilderness frontiers. It needs to be protected. It’s incredibly diverse: dinosaur footprints, red dirt and aqua blue water, fertile valleys of palms and waterfalls, desert landscapes and mountains… You can walk from searing heat to a cool pocket in a matter of minutes. It’s Australia’s very own Jurassic Park.”
North Stradbroke Island, Queensland
- Kara Rosenlund: A photographer and author, Kara’s images have been published in major global travel magazines. You can shop her prints on her website.
- Based: Brisbane, Queensland
- Instagram: @kararosenlund
“I’m in love with the culture and landscape of North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) in Queensland’s Moreton Bay, and I escape there whenever I can. No matter how many times I visit, the island gives me such a sense of joy and freedom. There is something truly healing about travelling somewhere over water: the tensions of the modern world disappear by the time the ferry reaches Minjerribah (a 45-minute trip from the south of Brisbane).
“Having the opportunity to be in the moment and watch the day unfold from sunrise to sunset gives you a feeling of connection to the landscape, where the beach meets the bush. I’m also in awe of the Quandamooka people and their connection to country.
“Mornings start with a beach swim followed by a nature walk with my camera to see what I can find. I also really love escaping to Myora Springs, a spiritual place where the fresh water collides with the salt water.”
Murray River, Victoria
- Ewen Bell: The recipient of countless travel photography awards, Ewen also writes travel stories and hosts photography tours around the world
- Based: Melbourne, Victoria
- Instagram: @ewenbell
“The landscape of the Murray River in northern Victoria is unlike anything else in the country. Life here revolves around the waterway – and always has. It’s humbling to sit quietly next to a river gum that may be hundreds of years old, a tree that was here long before the whitefellas (Europeans) came, and gave shade to Aboriginal communities who farmed these river banks and floodplains. Today, the river feeds nearby orchards, farms and wineries from Rutherglen to Swan Hill, where they make powerful red wines that can survive in this kind of terrain.
“The land is really flat – there are no mountains at all, which means that you get every last drop of the sunset. The end of the day here is something spectacular.
“Whenever I’m here, I feel really connected to the land. It’s not about travelling – it's just about being. You feel small in a big landscape like this.”
Stockton Sand Dunes, New South Wales
- Gab Scanu: Samsung, Google, Louis Vuitton… Gab’s striking travel and lifestyle images are in demand by some of the world’s biggest companies
- Based: Sydney, New South Wales
- Instagram: @gabscanu
“The landscape here is super-vast, and always changing – these are moving sand dunes, so you get a new perspective every time you visit. The contrast of the ‘desert’ against the sea, with incredible shapes, angles, textures, highlights and shadows… it’s so amazing that I now visit a handful of times every year.
“Being here takes you to another world. It really challenges your imagination; it inspires you to escape and be creative. The setting just goes on forever. It feels like you have the entire world to yourself.”