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DSC_6772The Pinnacles are the dominating feature of Cape Woolamai 

Located around an hour and a half drive from Melbourne CBD, Cape Woolamai is found on the eastern most tip of Philip Island. The cape is somewhat typical of rugged Victorian coastline and is dominated by clifftops and rocky outcrops.

Although the entire cape is spectacular, the Pinnacles, an outcrop of 3 pointed rocks, are the most well known and awe inspiring feature, and a heaven for landscape photographers.

Gear

Wide angle lenses are recommended and a sturdy tripod is essential. Cape Woolamai faces Bass Strait, whose open seas can be a little rough at the best of times, so you will definately need to contend with wind on some level.

Most of the best vantage points are to the east of the Pinnacles, meaning that at sunset you will likely be watching the sun dissapear behind the rocks. This can make for some dramatic images but means that a balanced exposure is quite difficult. ND graduated filters are ideal for combating this.

Where there is wind, there is also seaspray, so ensure to take a cloth or several to keep lenses clean between shots.

As for non photographic equipment, comfortable shoes with lots of grip are essential, as well as food and water as you will likely be there a few hours. A torch is also recommended if shooting at the ends of the day as you may need to make the trek in darkness.

Getting There

Phillip Island is an easy drive from Melbourne, and Cape Woolamai carpart is just a few minutes over the bridge.

From the carpark, there are several walking trails of different lengths that lead to the Pinnacles. The fastest route is to start out along the beach itself. After approximately 10 minutes walk, a staircase will lead up to a path along the clifftops which in turn is a direct route to the Pinnacles. The walk in all is around 30-40 minutes. Along the way you may also find wallabies. Be sure to stick to the path as the area is home to many short-tailed shearwaters (mutton birds) who nest in the shrubbery.

Decending to sea level from the path can be tricky as the only way down is by a narrow path down a steep slope. Those with health issues may choose not to make the decent. Fortunately, there are many photo opportunities from the top of the cliffs.

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If unable to decend the steep slope to sea level, there are still plenty of options available at the top of the cliff face.

When To Go

Sunset during any season can be spectacular. Although the trip can be made at high tide, it is best to choose a low tide period as access to the beach will be a little easier, and more of the rocky headlands at the feet of the Pinnacles will be visible.

Also check the wind velocity will not be too high. It is a given at a location such as this one that there will be some wind, however extreme wind can be both dangerous and almost impossible to photograph in. On my own last trip, the wind was so strong, I struggled to hold my camera still enough to get a sharp image even at extremely high shutter speeds, and also couldn’t risk the decent to sea level.

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