Laurel Hill and the beautiful Sugar Pine forest
A summary of a memorable adventure & a Visual Diary of our travels.
What an amazing part of Australia, Sugar Pine Forest, located in the beautiful Laurel Hill at the doorstep of the vast Snowy Mountains and Great Dividing Range. Around 2 and a half hours from central Canberra and just under 5 hours from Sydney it is a long journey, but I promise you its worth the adventure!
This was by far one of the most incredible adventures I've ever undertaken, and totally spontaneous at that. Ryley and I originally set out on a short two day trip to Canberra which ended up stretching into three and out to Laurel Hill. We honestly didn't know what to expect, all we had seen was photos on Instagram, which were just insane! We were well and truely along for the ride. After spending the night at a freeway rest stop just outside of Canberra we began our trip by wondering around the city just shooting photos and seeing where the day would take us. The light was quite dull and we were struggling location wise so we made the decision to just back up and take the trip to Laurel Hill and see what all the fuss was about! Fueled up on lots of coffee and terrible servo lollies we set off, under the guide of trusty ole google maps.
The drive was definitely a long one, for us it was around 5 or 6 hours from the Blue Mountains with countless stops along the way. That's the beauty of traveling with two photographers, the countless stops on the side of the freeway or at some random town just to shoot the sun going down or an interesting subject. We came across a particularly special location just outside of Gundagai on the turn off to Laurel Hill. It was no picturesque landscape but it was a unique, run down mechanics shop which had several broken down, decrepit trucks and cars out the front. The trucks were perfectly positioned in line with the sunset creating wonderfull burst of light which lit up each individual crack and intricacy within the wreak, providing a rare composition. Our timing and spontaneous decision to stop is what made this so special, along with the opportunity of creating such a run down environment so alive and exquisite.
There are several small towns about 40 minutes to an hour out of the forest itself, Tumblong and Adelong being the largest, these towns are crucial if you are in need of supplies or to charge batteries like us! They are also beautiful in their own right. Everybody we met were very friendly and helpful.
We didn't arrive until after dark, so setting up the tent was pretty interesting. It was insanely creepy arriving at the time we did, it was super quiet and the forest was incredibly daunting in its scale. It was almost a full moon so light was just hitting the tops of the pines, bringing out those intense Harry Potter vibes! To make it worse all we could see in the distance, through the column of colossal pines was a single light. Super creeped out, we decided not to go to close and just set up the tent. Turns out there was an older dude setting up lights to shoot long exposures so it was fine. Still creepy though. Anyway we woke up early the next morning to shoot sunrise. This was such a special experience, one that I will remember for long time to come. Dazzling light began to peak in and out of the pines, creating a truely exquisite golden yellow haze which spread like wild fire through the small forest. Unfortunately I had very little charge and only one battery for my camera which died shortly after the light began to rise, I was able to create some interesting long exposures of the tent in the forest but that was about it.
We decided to return to Adelong in order to charge our battery's and attempt to find a memory card for Ryley and for my drone. We searched around the town from the local grocery store to the newsagent but came out empty handed, turns out we were able to find everything we needed at the local Australia Post office! So if you need that extra storage and you are in Adelong hit the lovely Aus Post ladies up! We found a small corner store/cafe along the main street where we could have breakfast and charge our cameras, the cafe was awesome! And had one of the best cappuccinos I've ever had! Forget Italy, Paris or your best local barrister, Adelong local cafe and burgers has got you covered, and if your feeling a little under the weather their " Hangover " burger will pick your spirits write up, yes its called the hangover burger and it looks and tasted exactly like you would expect.
We later returned to the forest and shot sunset, where we are able to get our best images and the sun was in a much more favourable location. If you love photography your guarranteed to love this place, its in a class of its own. If you are considering making the trip down I definately recommend bring a better tent than we did as well as some warm clothes and lots of them! Especially if its during winter, we froze in our one man tent which we both squeezed into, but that's all apart of the adventure though right? I would also recommend doing the trip with a buddy, not just for company but for photos, the forest is a portrait photographers' paradise, especially so if your into moody landscapes featuring a presence. It's also creepy as hell at night, with wild life cracking branches all around so yeah, you get me... You may even get the chance to get a photo of some wild Brumbies in the early morning. We also only really ate Pringles so try and be more prepared than us and bring decent food as there ain't much around! But definitely hit up the local Adelong cafe, it's well worth running into the lovely couple who own the cafe and grabbing some breckie and a coffee, or just hanging out and recharge your battery's for over and hour or so...