Standing here in the dead of night at the top of 100m cliffs, with large waves pounding the coastline and strong gust 60km/hour winds, a ghostly feel is given to the “Shipwreck Coast” of the Kalbarri National Park. Being there in person it is easy to imagine the horror of coming to grief on this coast some 200 years ago, in the dark of night. Now the light pollution of Kalbarri gives some sense of civilisation, but then there would have been nothing but the daunting cliffs.
This night was plagued by very strong winds, preventing me from photographing at some of the other gorges. Where I did capture successful astro photo’s I was solidly pushing down on the tripod with a steady stance for the duration of all exposures. Certainly the strongest winds I have attempted astrophotography in! The loud pounding of large waves below the cliffs was really something else.
The cliffs are illuminated largely by starlight. The light pollution of Kalbarri visible above the cliffs would have been having little impact on the cliffs in the foreground. I was surprised after 30 minutes of eyes adapting, how much of the waves and coastline was subtly visible on this moonless night.
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.
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).
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: