Untamed Beauty


By: Ellen Hill             Photos: Gary Hayes Photography

Far from the madding crowds, where primeval landscapes stretch untamed into the skyline, photographer Gary Hayes points his lens at nature’s craggy features.

Endless predawn waiting for the sun’s first wands of light to differentiate between the murky undulating sprawl of land below and the now sleeping stars of heaven above has paid off.

The rock pagodas of Newnes plateau and Ben Bullen State Forest on the western side of the Greater Blue Mountains light up and he captures in an image with his signature sunburst, the exact moment the new day is born.

It is a familiar routine for Hayes, who prefers to explore and photograph the wilder areas of the Blue Mountains.

After the iciness of Winter and extended lockdown, he looks forward to Spring in the Blue Mountains with its freshness and warmth, renewed energy and invigorating bush tracks.


Hayes fell in love with the Blue Mountains during regular visits since 2000 before settling with partner Laurel at Mt Victoria in 2014.

He is particularly enamoured with the areas away from the more popular tourist zones of the upper Mountains – the unique geology and geography of Newnes Plateau and Ben Bullen State Forest.

``Every time I take Americans on tours they say: `Hey, it’s like the Grand Canyon with trees!’, and one thing that attracted me was that sense of big valleys accessible to look into from the plateau, and all being covered in ancient forests.

``I found the pagoda areas of the extended Gardens of Stone intriguing as well. I saw pictures of those in 2000 and remember thinking they were like ancient lost cities in the middle of nowhere.

``It's that uniqueness combined with the magical atmosphere – the misty valleys, the fauna and the birdlife. It’s very special, there's no other place like it on planet Earth and it's one of the oldest landscapes on the planet.’’


In Spring, native flowers add a delicate surprise to the otherwise subtly coloured eucalypt-covered landscape.

``The native Spring flowers are a shock: all the purples and yellows and reds popping up where before there was pretty flat colour.’’

While most Spring flowers seen in cities were organised plantings, natives appeared in unstructured drifts and surprising cervices – as they had done for eons.

Hayes looks forward to the return of visitors to the Blue Mountains after a three-month hiatus due to the pandemic.

``It's part of the joy I get, seeing the wonder in their eyes, taking them to waterfalls, stunning lookouts via magical viewpoints that they don't know, and teaching them on tours and workshops how to capture their memories in photographs like I do.

``If you see other people enjoying it for the first time, it rekindles that passion in yourself.’’

Hayes’ spectacular landscape images are available for purchase as prints. He also commercially licenses photographs.

Outside of lockdown, he runs workshops and his photographic gallery, 68 Kanimbla Valley Rd, Mt Victoria, is open weekends.

Go to https://garyphayes.photography/ for more information or to purchase an image.


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