Monthly Archives: September 2013

Venus Setting at Pot Alley – Kalbarri National Park

It had been over 10 years since I last visited Kalbarri (mid-west Western Australia). Before that my family had regularly holidayed there during my childhood and teenage years. Returning now with astrophotography capabilities the 4 nights I was in Kalbarri was a bonanza for both daytime landscape photography and night astrophotography.

It was disappointing to discover in the time since last at Kalbarri urban sprawl has occurred including the introduction of many new streetlights in new housing developments, streetlights often on completely vacant streets (no houses, and obviously been that way for some time). Street lights which don’t point all the light down at the ground. Such a waste of electricity, money, and the town’s night sky which otherwise could have remained a tourist attraction. As a result it was hard to exclude light pollution from photographs at many of the gorges.

Venus setting over Pot Hole Alley

This photograph shows Venus setting over the ocean from the cliffs of Pot Alley on the 6th September 2013. Pot Alley is one of the many coastal gorges of the Kalbarri National Park. The red/yellow colours of the cliff are quite striking, lit in the foreground. This is the first of many astro photo’s I captured over a 4 night stay.

Below is a photograph showing the similar area and me during a sunset photography trip there earlier in the afternoon (photograph courtesy of my wife).

Roger Groom at Pot Alley

CAUTION – “DO NOT DO THIS AT HOME”! I advise against doing night photography in the gorges without proper precautions such as: Having someone else with you, other people knowing where you are, having long lasting and bright torches/lights and taking extreme care. The gorges are without doubt dangerous places especially at night, it is easier to slip at night on the dusty slopes and wobbly rocks, easy in the dark to become temporarily disorientated potentially losing your way, not see a freak wave approaching, and not realising how close you are to a cliff. The wind is also unpredictable and often strong.

Finally, here is one of many sunset photographs from the Pot Alley area:

Cliffs at Pot Alley

Under the Milky Way at Kalbarri National Park

Sitting under the Milky Way at Kalbarri National Park

My wife sitting under the Milky Way at Kalbarri National Park (Island Rock).

When I mentioned Kalbarri gorges and astrophotography it wasn’t long before my wife told me she was coming to make sure I didn’t come to grief. Perhaps prudent concern considering my recent ankle injury and the rugged Kalbarri landscape!

Here Christine is sitting patiently waiting while I shoot a bunch of astro pics. She’s sitting on a bench at the path which meanders 1m from the edge of a ~100-150m cliff face with no railing. It was a bit disconcerting at times hearing the huge waves crash at the bottom and having the stiff offshore wind blowing.

It’s worth taking extreme care around these gorges. The paths are generally well formed (the one shown is even wheelchair friendly!) but the cliff’s are steep and the ground often uneven, slippery with sand over rocks, or such, and mobile reception patchy. I do prefer working in a group/team at such places, for peace of mind.

Throughout my childhood my family often came to Kalbarri for holidays. It’s been 12 years since I was last here, and it’s great to return for some long awaited astrophotography at Kalbarri. In the years since 2001 there’s been significant upgrades to the national park, which together with improving technology makes astrophotography of these locations a possibility.