Philip Island, Victoria, Australia by Russell Curr

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Philip Island, off the coast of southern Victoria is renowned for fairy penguins, seals and great fish and chips, especially at the San Remo fisherman's co-operative by the pelican feeding area adjacent the pier. What is not publicised about this coast are the massive white pointer sharks that feed off the seals that populate the rocky reef just off shore from where this photo was taken. Its a spot I have been visiting for years. In fact my parents first took me camping to Philip Island when is was about 6 years old, and I have been visiting most years since. Its a wonderfully photogenic island with wild rocky cliffs, turbulent surf, as well as calm, safe sandy beaches, paperbark forests and also the famous Barmah trees. The day of this photo it was blowing a gale coming directly up from the Southern Ocean and being April it was cold. The difficulty in a long exposure shot like this (it was 2.5 seconds) is keeping the tripod from vibrating too much in the wind. The Pentax 645z with the 80-160mm lens is no lightweight system, but it still needed a firm hold to prevent vibration. After several attempts I was pleased with this shot as it conveys some idea of the wild ocean that batters this southern coast. I was using a Format Hi-Tech Prostop 10 ND filter (the 100mm version) to slow the wave motion and create a sharp contrast with the rocks.

This area is known as the Knobbies and over the past 20 years much work has gone into rehabilitation, removing old beach shacks, re-planting native vegetation and eradicating foxes completely from the island. This has led to a rapid grown in the Cape Barren geese and swamp wallaby populations. Just behind where this shot was taken are dense coastal grasslands, home to these large geese and wallabies. Its possible to approach the geese to within a couple of meters so they provide excellent photographic subjects and the wallabies can often be seen popping their heads above the long grass as you pass. They tend to be shy but with a long lens they are also an easy subject to capture. After a few hours out in this wind the fish and chips of San Remo become a most attractive option.


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