Top 5 Aussie Getaways with Travel Photographer Robert King

24 May 2021
How the pandemic year helped world-renowned travel photographer, Robert King, explore his own backyard – here he shares his top 5 Aussie getaways to holiday here this year –

2020 was a challenging year, to say the least – for me, a travel photographer whose day job is to travel the world for global brands and photograph some of the rarest, hidden treasures on earth, the grounding the pandemic imposed on us all helped me fall in love with my home country and explore my own backyard. Before the pandemic hit us, I made great plans to visit the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Fiji, Switzerland and Chile. Instead, I embarked on journeys closer to home along the East Coast, which truly opened my eyes to the beauty of our land and how lucky we are to be Australian. 

Here, I’m delighted to share my top getaway spots, right here at home – whether you’re a beach bum or the adventurous type, there’s something for everyone in our Australia, our home

Chilled beachside living – Forster, Mid Coast NSW

I live on the Central Coast, but I’d never actually explored the coast until this year when flights were grounded and the only way to get away was a road trip. So, I packed my car and drove South as far as Murramurang National Park, and then all the way North to Forster. I can honestly say I was blown away by the beach stops along the mid-coast – Seal Rocks, Elizabeth Beach, Blueys Beach and Boomerang Beach. Unlike the staple (tourist-y) beaches along the east coast of Australia, these quieter stretches of sand and water promise true serenity and are the perfect location to relax and unwind. They also offer some of the best surf conditions and are the epitome of beachside living.

Top 5 Aussie Getaways with Travel Photographer Robert KingTop 5 Aussie Getaways with Travel Photographer Robert King

These areas are also great for coastal hikes, where (if you’re lucky!) you might even catch Whales migrating along the coastline. I was lucky enough to witness the beauty of Whales breaching – a sight I’ll never forget.

Surf, hikes, and camping – Shoalhaven, South Coast NSW

Top 5 Aussie Getaways with Travel Photographer Robert KingTop 5 Aussie Getaways with Travel Photographer Robert King

This region has always been a favourite of mine and only recently I had the opportunity to explore it more intimately. I embarked on the famous ‘100 Beach Challenge’ – from Seven Mile Beach to Depot Beach, the local council has outlined the 100 best beaches along the 170km coastline to explore – and I checked off 30 in 5 days. For anyone who loves white sand beaches, look no further than right here at home. The Shoalhaven region has the whitest sand in the world and the clearest blue water, making it possible to truly explore the local marine life – Whales, Dolphins, Stingrays… you name it.

Shoalhaven was severely affected by the 2019-2020 bushfire crisis and the efforts into regeneration and regrowth of their national parks and wildlife is truly incredible and something which needs to be seen to be believed. Pebbly Beach campground has just reopened and local kangaroos who fled at the time of the fire catastrophe have slowly begun to return, so you wind up camping up close and personal with the roos, which is pretty epic!

Swimming with sharks – Port Lincoln, SA

I've heard many extraordinary stories about Great White Shark diving at the Neptune islands (off the coast of Port Lincoln) and recently made the bold decision to experience it for myself. Let me caveat, this is not an experience for the fainthearted, but it was certainly one that I will never forget. Swimming near these magnificent apex predators up close and personal, sometimes even four at a time, each clearly harbouring its own unique personality – some calm and calculated, others erratic and aggressive – was absolutely remarkable. I was fortunate enough to meet ten to fifteen different sharks over the week I spent there, but it isn’t uncommon for there to be no shark sightings for days on end, so it can be a matter of luck and timing.

Top 5 Aussie Getaways with Travel Photographer Robert KingTop 5 Aussie Getaways with Travel Photographer Robert King

For those in search of a lesser predatory sea life experience, these waters are also home to Sea Lions, whom I can confirm from my own encounters are incredibly playful and interactive creatures and swimming with them is likely one of the most unique and joyful experiences you’ll ever come across. Whilst most wildlife experiences are generally short and fleeting, these wonderful and friendly Sea Lions seem to love and crave human interaction and would genuinely swim and play with you all day if you could spend the time and weren’t at risk of pruning from hours spent in the water.

Sightseeing – Sydney, City

Top 5 Aussie Getaways with Travel Photographer Robert KingTop 5 Aussie Getaways with Travel Photographer Robert King

There’s truly no place in the world quite like Sydney Harbour – ask anyone from overseas (and I have), we as Australians are often guilty of taking our iconic postcard view for granted. I prefer to spend a weekday exploring the harbour as you can take in the incredible views without the standard weekend foot traffic that’s typical with Sydney sites. My absolute favourite two locations to photograph are from the base of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Over the years I’ve explored the many different angles of our iconic harbour view, and I can confirm that it is its most magical at sunrise.

Another must-visit spot in Sydney is Bondi Beach – especially this summer. In the current climate, the crowds are mitigated and controlled so it’s actually really pleasant to spend a day surfing between the flags and reading a book on the sand, without the usual heaving crowds.

Ancient culture & mythology – The Blue Mountains, NSW

The Blue Mountains should be on every Aussie’s bucket list. An easy 2-hour drive or train ride from Sydney, it makes a great day trip and is a relaxing, picturesque getaway to a region that is rich in culture from the first people of Australia and their connection to the land.

The major highlight here is no other than the iconic Three Sisters – a famous 200-million-year-old unusual rock formation that traditionally holds a famous Aboriginal Dreamtime legend about love. Aside from the folklore, the view is magnificent in its own right, especially at sunrise when the sky glows a deep orange and the valley lights up with colourful sun rays.

Top 5 Aussie Getaways with Travel Photographer Robert KingTop 5 Aussie Getaways with Travel Photographer Robert King

The Blue Mountains region is lesser known for its gorgeous canyons and valleys, with masses of trees and other flora, which can be explored on foot along purpose-built hiking tracks. The hikes are not difficult and there is always a rail to hold on to, so take deep breaths of fresh air and enjoy the view.

All images in blog Copyright Robert King.
Follow Robert on Instagram to see more of his fantastic work.

A Final Word from Robert

I’ve spent so long chasing beautiful and new places far away from home, that I wasn’t expecting the past year, grounded in Australia, to bring these incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experiences to my doorstep. It showed me that sometimes we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be, if we just take a moment to stop appreciate it.

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