Like all my trips, this one was about chasing the golden hour.
Not missing any sunrises and sunsets is my favourite way to experience a place and the Australian landscape is so diverse, it’s hard to not get lost in the mesmerising views at the most photogenic time of the day.
The unpredictability of the weather (Melbourne!), rushing to reach the perfect sunset spot as soon as the sun starts breaking through the clouds. Challenging my skills to see how far I can push my gear to capture those fleeting moments are some of the things I love the most when taking photos outdoors.
I feel myself drawn to return to the same places at different times of the day and year to see how the changing light affects a landscape and my mood. For this trip, we decided to adventure towards unfamiliar places past the insta-famous spots of the Great Ocean Road and find new hidden gems.
The drive from Torquay was easy. We meandered the coast road blasting Tokimonsta with the windows down until we reached Warrnambool. This town has a special place in my heart. I left Italy five years ago and landed work on a farm here, experiencing a true Australiana introduction.
It felt amazing to be back and see that nothing had changed, revisiting familiar places through the lens of my camera.
I was itching to return to The Belfast Coastal Reserve and re-live my first Australian sunsets. This fragile desolated long beach is surrounded by incredible sand dunes and is one of my favourite places in Victoria. Reachable through a skinny and hidden road, it can easily be missed.
When we could hear the sound of the ocean from the dusty road we parked our car and started walking.
We followed horse tracks left by visitors before us, winding through golden grass fields that enveloped our path to the water.
The sun had just started to go down on the sand dunes and the rocks that surround the beach and the colours of the sky and the water slowly began to change. With not a soul in sight, the landscape at times felt a bit surreal as the mist floated from the waves, turning gold, making everything look magical.
The wind started to pick up, becoming so strong we could barely hear each other so we just sat there in silence. Watching the sun go down, the sky darkened and the golden hues waned, opening space for the stars and the moon to shine bright.
I woke to my alarm, dark outside and excited to adventure towards Port Fairy.
We drove through the foggy and quiet streets on an early Summer morning to Griffiths Island, a tiny island home to one of the many charming lighthouses in Victoria. On the way there, we spotted a few surfers out catching waves in the still chilly morning and decided to stop.
I love watching surfers doing their thing out in the water, braving waves no matter what time of the day or year. I love the sense of freedom I get from them patiently waiting in the water and it reminds me of how I feel when I am outside taking photos of incredible landscapes waiting for the light to be just right.
I kept moving here and there, following the surfers with my feet and my camera, hoping for “the shot” as my boyfriend patiently waited in the car. As the carpark began to fill up, we headed off for the lighthouse.
We made it with the light still soft. The yellow tones of the sun were intensified by the foxtail grass that surrounds it, showering everything in enchanting golden light. We encountered so many native birds and wallabies strolling around, undisturbed, and it felt like we were miles away from any city.
The sun was high in the sky now and we were in desperate need of coffee and food.
We started our walk back, talking about the places we were going to visit next, curious to see what this unknown part of Victoria would look like.
Re-fuelled we drove the next few hours and entered Cape Nelson State Park.
The tall bush surrounds the roads that cut through the park making it hard to see what’s hiding beyond… I love the sense of discovery these places offer.
It was a warm day and we didn’t mind stopping every few meters to check out where the little paths in the bush would lead to, hoping not to be surprised by any snakes passing our way.
We spotted a couple of people grabbing their surfboards from the top of their car and followed them on foot down the long wooden path, with no idea what there would be at the end of it.
The track opened to a bigger platform on top of the rocks facing the open water.
This spot had probably the clearest waters I have ever seen, I instantly started taking photos of the waves and the surfers patiently waiting for a good break.
My only regret here was not having the right gear to get in the water with the surfers, but it’s already on the list for next Summer.
We left slightly unsatisfied for not having enough time to capture more of this incredible spot, leaving the Victorian coastline behind and heading inland towards Mt Gambier, South Australia.
After a couple of days exploring the volcanos and beauty of the limestone coast, we decided to base ourselves in Tantanoola, a small town in SA where the cockatoo population far outnumbers the human inhabitants.
Every afternoon, we drove back and forth on the wind farm scenic drive, stopping along the deserted roads to pick flowers, looking for wildlife and taking photos.
Here, with no surprise, we experienced some incredible sunsets, with dramatic pink and grey skies.
The landscape looked completely different each time due to the unstable weather and every day we were able to discover something new we missed the day before.
Not quite ready to return home to Melbourne we turned inland and a three-hour drive later, we arrived in The Grampians.
I have been dreaming about visiting the National Park for years and expectations were high.
We settled into our home for the night, a stunning paddock placed on 22 acres of golden bushland. Some friends joined us and we left on our usual sunset mission to one of most famous spots in the Grampians, the Balconies.
I grew up in a small town by the water in Italy and this was the first time I experienced the mountains and their ever-changing tones. The sun slowly fell behind the mountain peaks.
I decided to make my way back to one spot that caught my eyes before and sat there alone, admiring the sun’s finale in awe.
These are the times where everything looks so perfect, I like to turn my camera off, sit down and just enjoy the moment.
At the beginning of my photography journey, I would get caught up in trying to get the perfect shot and forget to be present. I now think I’ve found the perfect balance of shooting while travelling.
The light changed from bright orange to pink, finally giving way to soft blues during the last moments of light. Everything around me instantly turned black, a cold wind following.
I returned to the paddock exhausted but with my heart and SD cards full of incredible memories, with the desire to experience these places all over again.
28 years old
Born in Monopoli, Italy. Based in Melbourne, Australia.
Ary works as a full-time photographer shooting with a wide range of clients and creative collaborators. She is one of those lucky, hard-working few who has reached the elusive level of pairing adventures and travel with their passion and work.
Ary uses photography as a means to express herself without constructs of right and wrong. Attracted to the connections she builds between herself and the world around her through her lens.
Inspired by creatives and others, who may come from nothing, but challenge themselves to grow, push boundaries and constantly evolve. Ary cites her older brother and musician come artist/photographer Taku who motivate her to in her practice.