Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Category Winners - Gardens of Stone: In Focus

Jochen Spencer

Professional Series          4039, 4040 and 4041

Frost and Fire #1, #2 and #3

Heavy snowfall covers the burnt landscape of the Lost City pagodas.


David Roma

Professional Rock Formations           3807

Pagoda Puddle

A clear puddle on a pagoda top looking out into the valley.

The pagoda forms an ‘arrow’ directing your eyes into the valley. I used a polarizing filter to cut the glare. The Gardens of Stone are a photographer’s playground with so many rocks to climb and so many different compositions to play with.


Warwick Chate

Professional Landscape           3666

Wolgan Sunset Panorama

Approximately 300 degree stitched panorama, post-sunset.

With sunset approaching I excitedly rock-hop and scramble through the maze of the Temple of Doom searching for the perfect view. From its most northerly point the distant cliffs and valleys of Wolgan Gorge reflect the delicate light.

I’m torn between photographing and simply being in the moment. I capture my image then sit quietly atop my rocky perch, watching subtle hues wash across the sky.

I walk out under dim moonlight, pondering my return to this spectacular landscape.


Jaime Plaza

Professional Flora/Fauna          4094

Waratahs, Waratah Ridge


Jenny Pollak

Non-Professional Series - Joint Winner          4047, 4049 and 4051

Faces of Stone 

Give them tongues with which to talk,
See how their facades speak less of men
And more of the elements.
Look with what eloquence they speak of the rain,
Coal-black stains tracing their strict paths on faces of rock,
Every articulate trail a funeral cortege filing down Main Street,
Women weeping into stone handkerchiefs.

And the wind, wrapping its quick fingers around old sediment,
Archiving sweet epitaphs in honeycombs of rock.
Rivers too, pouring their syllables,
Easing through cracked passages.
Less is more (they say),
Chiseling stone with editorial hands.

Now on stone's suggestible cheeks, a wealth of evidence.
Many auspicious guests have feasted here
Since Earth first smashed her plates
Against her table of rock.

History wears the years at stone's expense!
But when men, their coal seams undone, their mines collapsed,
Are finally gone (their transient speech silent),
Stone will tell all that came to pass,
Recounting each successive course, licking her lips.

Faces of Stone 3
Looking up at a vast rock face.

Faces of Stone 4
Two rock faces ‘converging in a kiss’.

Faces of Stone 5
Looking down into a slot.


Sue Lightfoot

Non-Professional Series - Joint Winner          3920, 3921 and 3923


One can only imagine how long you have waited,

Waited trapped below, for fire and rain.

When I first saw you, your essence unsettled me, ungrounded me,

Your magnetic energy drew me down as I moved freely amongst your shadows.

I will not forget our encounter,

Your fleeting presence was full of life,

Full of vibrance,

Full of HOPE.

Heart of the Gardens

Pink Flannel Flower



Brenton Jones

Non-Professional Rock Formations          3930

Eye of the Pagoda

Traversing the pagodas revealed this surprising eye and face.

You don't really appreciate these unique landforms until you get up close and study them properly. This morning, the distant and near pagodas were hidden by thick fog. No sunrise for me today!

From on high, the landscape below seems like it’s underwater – rocks are struggling to break through the covering foggy blanket.

I continue north along the top edge of a rock shelf when I'm stopped by the ‘eye’. There's only one problem – how to get the shot when there's no room to stand and set up my tripod. Handheld it is!

It's not until I review the images later that the rock formation presents more than just an eye. The positive and negative space reveals a face, one that is laughing at me for having left camp at 4:30 am to make the journey. Well worth it I’d say!


David Brazil

Non-Professional Landscape          3998

The Island - Carne Creek Gorge

From one of the last pagodas on this Carne Creek gorge lookout, I was drawn to this isolated rock island sitting below the main cliff line. The strange angles of the dead trees give a vertiginous perspective to the image. Their stark, white trunks suggested the black and white treatment.


Akos Lumnitzer

Non-Professional Flora/Fauna          3936

Sooty Owl in hollow

An adult Sooty Owl preparing to leave for its nightshift just after dusk.

The Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa tenebricosa) is found in tall wet forests. It usually roosts inside tree hollows or in dark cave overhangs. While they are not rare, being nocturnal and generally not easy to detect, they often go unnoticed. Sooty Owls share the same niche as Powerful Owls, although their dietary needs are somewhat non-conflicting, which means the two species can generally coexist peacefully.


Brendon Plaza McCune

Junior          3948

Pagoda wall at sunset.

My dad took me to a magical place in Newnes State Forest and told me that it was “not protected from mining”. I could not believe it!

We carefully picked our way around beautiful rock formations looking for the best spots to take photos, so we could show the world how important it is to get this area protected forever. Waiting for the best light, I listened to Lyrebirds, watched a wonderful sunset and took photos until dark.

I used a torch to light the pagodas, exposing for nearly a minute, in order to get some stars in the sky. We spent the night in this wild place, getting up early to catch the sunrise. It was a very cold and frosty morning. Seeing the pagoda country at a time when very few people have, was an extraordinary privilege I will never forget.

Pagoda wall