I’m so excited to share this one with you. Behind the scenes and lots of outtakes from a recent editorial job.
A few months back Air Canada’s inflight magazine EnRoute contacted me to see if I was, one – available to go on an assignment to photograph a story on Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, two – if I could swim and three – if I was up for diving with enormous whale sharks?
Ningaloo had been on my top three destinations to shoot, so needless to say that email response to Canada was sent back at lightning speed – yes please, I’m in, sign me up, I’m available, I can swim and I love whale sharks ( I think!) YES!
Ningaloo Reef is very isolated – as you draw closer, you can feel the remoteness intensify.
You fly into Perth and then take a smaller plane north to the RAAF base airport in Exmouth, on the coral coast, then 4WD down the highway until you completely lose mobile reception… then you keep driving for a bit longer. Remote doesn’t come easy, and that’s the way it should be.
This is Oz (seriously) our bush pilot who took myself and the delightful Canadian journalist Caitlin Walsh Miller, who I travelled with, up to shoot the aerials of the reef and the range for the story.
This is where I spent three nights, at Sal Salis, a beach side safari camp nestled in the sand dunes within the Cape Range National Park. The colours of the landscape are iconic, everything glows golden and the natural beauty of the region is otherworldly.
Every colour of Australia is here.
It truly is where the red earth of the outback meets the turquoise waters of the reef.
Being within nature with a light environmental footprint is a true modern day luxury. The tents have no electricity, instead they are lit by lanterns, with a larger solar powered communal tent where you come together and dine on locally caught produce.
I would lay awake each night in the turquoise hammock, too excited to sleep. Listening to kangaroos bounce along the dunes in the silver moonlight, while watching the star filled nights sky explode with activity from shooting stars and satellites.
Water is scarce, so showers are quick and fast here. Jump in, jump out.
This is Damo, originally from Frankston in Victoria, who is a guide at Sal Salis. With him, we hiked through the Cape Range National Park, taking in the rocky gorges, carved by ancient flowing rivers.
Damo asked me if I could send him a shot of him at work, within the landscape for his mum, as she is yet to visit.
And this is where is just got totally ridiculous! The colours. That landscape. There are no words which come close.
It needs to be seen by air. The colours are electric and the forms of the landscape so graphic. I had goosebumps of joy the whole time.
Our pilot Oz flew us over the fringes of the coast in his small plane. Flying high up to take in the expansive colourful vista, then scooping down low to take in every shade of emerald and turquoise of the reef. Shooting out the window while trying not to lose my camera in the force of the wind.
With every turn of the plane I would erupt with squeals of sheer awe and excitement, deafening the pilot Oz through the internal headset (soz Oz).
I didn’t think the experience of the aerial vistas could be over shadowed, but I was wrong. Hello, Whale Shark Diving Day.
We headed out with Live Ningaloo, a bespoke tour group who are very knowledgable and specialise in small group diving experiences with whale sharks and are devoted to the sea life of the reef.
No more than 10 people aboard, it was really intimate to be in the open waters with such a small group and to be able to swim alongside the enormous whale sharks. If you want to have the best experience in the water with the whale sharks I would highly recommend Live Ningaloo – plus they are a delight to hang out with.
Despite their huge size, they are completely harmless. Being so close to such a magnificent animal left me rather emotional. I certainly had a ‘cry in my snorkel’. Nature sure does have a way of stirring the heart.