Excursion to Binna Burra

The Canberra Photographic  Society is planning an excursion to Binna Burra, in Lamington National Park in Queensland, for three full days and four nights, arriving Monday 24th July and leaving in the morning of Friday 28th July.

This is a rainforest destination with Gondwanaland flora, wildlife, creeks and waterfalls and some great vistas.  There are lots of walks available ranging from short ones to long ones.  Here’s a PDF map of the walks.   Here’s a summary of the walks from the BinnaBurra Lodge site and here’s some more detailed information from Queensland National Parks.  Binna Burra means “where the Antarctic Beech trees grow” in the local Aboriginal language and the Lodge opened in 1933.


Waterfall near Binna Burra, Infrared Colour Film, 10 Jan 1981.


The main reason for the timing is that rainfall is low at this period.  It is also fairly cool, with mean temperatures ranging from 10°C to 23°C.  This also means there are no ticks or leeches.

The excursion is for financial members of the Canberra Photographic Society only (and their spouses).

There is a variety of accommodation available.

  • There are rooms in the lodge.  Casuarina rooms can be double or twin share and have shared bathroom facilities.  Acacia rooms can be queen, double or twin share and have ensuites and mountain or rainforest views.
  • There are sky lodges which are 1, 2 or 3 room apartments with king beds or twin share.  They are more modern and a better standard of accommodation and have impressive views.
    • The Photographic Society of Queensland recently booked a stay at Binna Burra and particularly wanted to be able to take advantage of the evening view from the Sky Lodges.
    • There is also the possibility of an extra person on a sofa bed in rooms and sky lodges.
  • Then there is camping.  You can have powered or unpowered sites or a Safari Tent for from 2 to 6 people which is provided with beds, vinyl floors, a fire pit and lighting but no power.  You can also hire linen for the safari tent.

There is also the possibility of hiring a conference room for a few hours to have a showing and discussion of photographs.

Camping costs are straightforward.  $28 per night for an unpowered site, $35 for powered and $105 for a safari tent, irrespective of the number of persons.

Room costs are more nebulous because we can book as a group and get a group discount and may all pay the same rate.  When I can tell them how many will be turning up, they will offer us some options and rates.  Ostensibly, a Casuarina room with two persons and breakfast and dinner included costs $130 per person per night, an Acacia room with two persons $185 and a 3-room sky lodge with 6 people $147.  It depends how many people we have and what we may receive as a group discount.  See update below.

There are two main ways to get there.  You can drive or you can fly.

  • Ride sharing might be a possibility for the drive option though it’s too long to do in one hit – probably around 12 hours.
  • Perhaps the most likely option is flying, to Brisbane or Gold Coast airports and Binna Burra Lodge will pick people up from those airports.  Canberra to Brisbane direct takes 1 hr 40 to 50 each way and costs from $321 return.   Canberra to Gold Coast takes 1 hr 30 to 40 each way if direct flights are available on that day and costs from $311 return.
    • Binna Burra Lodge will pick people up from either airport for a cost per person each way of between $175 (1 person) and $44 (4 persons), $49 (5 persons) or $41 (6 persons).
  • Going by train is a third option for pensioners, who can go free (though $10 for first class and maybe $100 for a sleeper).  Perhaps combined with a rental car.
    • The Lodge also picks people up from Nerang Station but the logistics of getting there from Canberra may be more trouble than it’s worth.  (Perhaps they’ll pick up from Brisbane Station too).

So the cost per person probably works out to between $900 and $1,230 for rooms and flying, less whatever discount we get.  (Of course, camping could be much cheaper).

In order to get the group discount, we need to have a group.  So please indicate if you are interested.  People can join later but may or may not get the group discount and the fewer who initially commit the less the discount will be.  Also, group rooms may be together which may not be possible for people joining later.


To reserve a place you will need to record the following details in a comment below or send me an email at zenophon@velocitynet.com.au .  Places are still available.  See update below.

  1. Name (singles) or Names (couples)
  2. Definite commitment or expression of interest
  3. Preference and availability for dates, whether that affects commitment and whether you prefer to include weekend dates
  4. Whether you prefer a room or intend to be camping and any preferences you have in either respect.

Even if you send an email, please record your name(s) in a comment below.  This will facilitate group discussions later on.

Update (28 March)

A group of us are going and most of us are staying in a four-bedroom house near the Binna Burra Lodge, Alcheringa.  This appears to offer more spacious and better quality accommodation than the sky lodges and at better value.

Currently we still have space for up to an additional two singles or a couple.  Cost will be $105 per person per night for one single or $200 for two singles or a couple.

Excursion to Point Hicks

The Canberra Photographic  Society is planning an excursion to Point Hicks Lighthouse where we can stay in the lighthouse cottages.  Point Hicks is in Victoria at the end of a road from Cann River, about 4½ hours drive from Canberra.  The excursion will be for three full days and the tentative date is for the nights of 11th to 14th November, arriving on the night of Friday 11th November and leaving on the morning of Tuesday 15th November.  Final dates will depend on preferences of participants and what dates are available at time of booking.

The excursion is for financial members of the Canberra Photographic Society only (and their spouses).

Food, drinks and linen are not supplied.  Linen can be supplied for a $15 fee but they prefer not to do this.  There will be no wifi and some phone coverage at a few places.  A washing machine is available at $4 per load though probably no-one will need this.  There are fireplaces and wood in the cottages and bungalow.

Camping is also available at Thurra River, about three kilometres from the lighthouse.

Point Hicks is the tallest lighthouse in Australia, with a tower 150 feet high, and we will be able to enter the lighthouse.  There is a wreck a little way south of the lighthouse, there are large sand dunes nearby and there are two three-man canoes available for hire for use in the Mueller River, about four kilometres from the lighthouse.  If we are lucky we may see dolphins, seals, whales, wombats, goannas and a variety of birds.

Here are some links with more information :



Looking down Point Hicks stairwell to Keeper on pulley, 17 July 1987
Arca-Swiss 5×4″ monorail camera. 90mm Schneider Super Angulon, Fujichrome 50


Cost will depend on how many people go and how many dwellings we use.  There are two cottages and a bungalow.  Each cottage has a double bedroom, a twin bedroom and a bunk room with four bunks (each 1.9 metres long).  Cottage #1 also has a second bunk room.  The bungalow has a double room and an outside toilet.  All have cooking facilities and equipment.

That makes a total of 22 people but we will probably limit numbers to two per bunk room for a total of 16.

At up to 16 people, depending on numbers, costs per person for four nights range from $245 to $350 for double room, $200 to $280 for twin room and $127 to $173 for a bunk.  The bungalow is $480.

However, for standard rate December, January and long weekends, costs per person for four nights range from $238 to $390 for double room, $185 to $310 for twin room and $129 to $205 for a bunk.  The bungalow is $560.

The default date is for four nights starting Friday 11th November, for which both cottages and the bungalow are currently available (if the website is accurate).  We have booked Cottage #1 and the Bungalow.  We are still able to book Cottage #2 if we have a couple to take the double room and in that case, berths may be availoable there.

  • Other possible dates with both cottages and the bungalow available are for weekends starting Friday 2 December*, 27 Jan*, 3 Feb, 17 Feb, 24 Feb, 3 March, 17 March and 24 March.
  • Possible dates with Cottage #2 only and the bungalow are weekends starting Friday 15 October, 18 November and 10 March*
  • Possible date with both cottages (but not bungalow) is 20 Jan*
  • Dates with asterisk are at higher “standard” rate.

Beds will be allocated on a first-come first served basis.  Couples will have priority for double and twin rooms.  Bunks will only be available if double and twin rooms are full.  Default order of preference for rooms is as follows:

  • Couples:
    1. Double room
    2. Bungalow (outside toilet)
    3. Twin room
    4. Bunk
  • Singles:
    1. Twin Room
    2. Bunk

Reservations must be final, at least by midnight on the night of Thursday 9th June You commit to paying a 50% deposit in early June and if the default date is available, the remaining 50% in early October.  You must pay the full amount which can be refunded only if someone can take your place.  (Note:  I expect to be travelling between 14th August and 7th October, so I may not be very responsive to emails in that time).

You can record an expression of interest or commit to requesting a berth later than that.  Additional beds may be allocated if available and we might later be able to rent a second cottage or the bungalow if there is sufficient delayed interest and they are still available.

Final payments (in October) will be adjusted for any later participants so the amount may differ from the initial deposit (potentially probably less).

To reserve a place you will need to record the following details in a comment below or send me an email at zenophon@velocitynet.com.au :

  1. Name (singles) or Names (couples)
  2. Definite commitment or expression of interest
  3. Preference and availability for dates and whether that affects commitment
  4. Whether you accept the default order of preference for rooms, or else your preference
  5. Alternatively, whether you intend to be camping (you can arrange that yourself through the Camping link above when dates are finalised)

Even if you send an email, please record your name(s) in a comment below.  This will facilitate group discussions later on.

“What is the best camera for landscape and wildlife photography?”

This comes from a comment I made to an article on John Enman’s blog.  He had been asked by someone “What is the best camera for outdoor and wildlife photography?”  That stated me thinking.  I read “outdoor” as “landscape” but that makes little difference.

I think “what is the best camera for landscape and wildlife?” is likely to be the wrong question.


Near Boolcoomatta Station, South Australia


A better place to start is:

  • What do I actually photograph and what do I aim to photograph?
  • What forms of output do I use and aspire to?
  • What are the restrictions of my equipment including camera and lenses and support?
  • Am I getting the best possible results from my existing equipment, given its limitations?

Then, having considered and answered all those questions:

  • Are the limitations of my equipment restricting me and if so in what way?
  • Is purchasing new camera or lenses a sensible choice in these circumstances?



White-tailed Sea Eagle, Hokkaido, Japan


For example, if someone is only posting to the web and only shooting in the middle of the day, getting better equipment may not make much difference.

Landscape and wildlife photography have different requirements but are similar in many ways.

In both cases the most important thing apart from lighting and exposure is that it should be sharp where it needs to be. And unless you can use a shutter speed high enough to get images as sharp as they would be on a tripod, you should use a tripod. You should test to see what that will be at different focal lengths and it is likely to be significantly higher than the old film standard of one over focal length (depending also on VR/IS). A cheap tripod may not be much use, though. It should be a good tripod (which is likely to be expensive) and carbon fibre if you want a light one.

For landscapes, any lens may be suitable, it depends on the subject and your preferences.   I perhaps prefer ultrawides but in that case you have to understand how to compose with them. Long telephotos are the go for wildlife, really good ones are very expensive and don’t expect an all-purpose ultrazoom to be very sharp.

If we’re talking DSLRs or mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses, the quality of your lens is likely to more important than the quality of your camera. In general, though, the smaller the sensor of your camera, the less capable at higher ISOs. This is compounded if you are using a slow all-purpose zoom.



Assynt, Northern Scotland


You should in general shoot landscapes at low ISOs, using a tripod where necessary, and adjusting apertures for optimal sharpness (look at reviews for your lens) and optimal depth of field. In this case, high ISO capabilities of the camera are not so important. Street photography in low light, though, is a different matter. Also, for night landscapes in the unlit countryside, it is useful to have a fast lens and a camera capable at high ISOs so your exposure times with star trails don’t spiral out of control, or so your exposure times can stay low enough (10 secs say) to keep stars still.

For wildlife, though, you are likely to use high shutter speeds and often need to shoot in low light. So as well as a long lens, it is advantageous to have a fast lens and a camera that is capable at high ISOs. The longer the lens is, the more essential a tripod is likely to be as well.  Also, autofocus is critical and DSLRs still have the advantage here.

A final constraint is weight, particularly where you are carrying your equipment in a pack or are travelling. If your back is OK, your legs are OK, your health is OK and you have a good pack, you can carry a heavy pack for considerable periods of time should you choose to do so. This may be very valuable to get the right shot in the right place at the right time. I used to carry a 25 kilo pack in long walks in my 30s. These days I would probably keep that to 16 kilos and my light pack (mirrorless equipment) is probably about 8 kilos. However, there is no point carrying equipment you don’t use and sometimes travelling very light can be an interesting exercise.


Any takers for a trip to South Australia?

I have signed up for a four-day photographic workshop at Boolcoomatta Reserve, which is a Bush Heritage Australia property.  The workshop is run by Boris Hlavica and costs $500.  It involves bringing your own food, drinks, bedding and towels and staying in twin-share shearing quarters with shared bathrooms and toilets.  I have several seats available in my Subaru Outback station wagon.  It is around 12 hours drive, two days for one person, perhaps one day with driver rotation.  There could also be a day in nearby Broken Hill and environs.

Please contact me if you may be interested, either by email or with a comment to this post.


Preparing to Travel

A version of this post appeared in Capital Image a few issues ago. This is the original version from my blog – Murray Foote

Murray Foote


DSCF0477-3-Edit Ceiling and chandelier, Jama Masjid, Delhi


I adapted this post from an article I recently wrote for the Canberra Photographic Society. It draws on my travel experiences over the last few years and includes some monochrome versions of my images from India.  The main focus is travel with photography in mind.


DSCF0588-3-Edit Ceiling, Humayan’s Tomb


Of course what I’m talking about is what I have found useful for myself. Others will no doubt have different experiences, opinions and preferences.


DSCF9675-Edit Children on the street in Vrindavan


What to read beforehand

Since this was a pre-organised tour we didn’t have to arrange our own accommodation or transport inside India. For my first time in India this was a great advantage.  I purchased a couple of guide books and took them with me, however I found them largely a waste of time because we didn’t need to worry…

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