If you've been looking for more inspiration in nature photography, then Sydney's South West region is the next place you need to explore. Spend the weekend outdoors capturing the beauty of nature and life from some of the most stunning surrounds Sydney has to offer.
Think shimmering lakes, winding rivers, silver gums, hidden trails, bumpy tracks, striking landscapes and unique flora and fauna. Grab your camera and let these great locations catch your eye. The great thing is it's all free. The best things often are.
1. Thirlmere Lakes National Park
If you like landscapes and misty lakes, then Thirlmere Lakes National Park is for you. There are five freshwater lakes and excellent picnic and barbecue areas to enjoy with friends and family. If you prefer walking, there are some great tracks you can explore or even go bird watching or canoeing, if you want to get even closer to nature.
Thirlmere Lakes walking track is a 6 kilometre walk around three of the park's lakes and picnic areas - Gandangarra, Werri-Berri and Couridjah, and the historic Heritage Pump Station. The area contains an unusual and assorted array of flora and fauna, so it's the perfect location for bird life and water photography.
Location: Pumphouse Road or Slades Road, Thirlmere
Stunning flowers at Thirlmere Lakes National Park
2. Warragamba Dam
This is an ideal location for nature photography. Enjoy stunning views, beautiful bush surroundings and plenty of rich history.
Opened in October 1960, Warragamba Dam is one of the largest domestic water supplies in the world. It currently stores around 80 percent of Sydney's water.
Outside the Visitors Centre, you can take photos of the stunning Lake Burragorang. Visit each of the three viewing platforms to get different perspectives. There's pedestrian access to parts of the Warragamba Dam wall and is well worth the 80-steps down.
Make sure to see Haviland Park while you're there. A native Australian garden, it is perfect for snapping exotic plants and botanical species. It is also an ideal setting for a family picnic.
The Picton Botanical Gardens is an ideal place to walk or cycle along the 6 kilometre track within the gardens. This fantastic park features barbecues, picnic tables, shelters, amenities and is open from sunrise to sunset.
Location: Regreme Road, Picton
Picton Botanical Gardens
4. Dharawal National Park
Enjoy a walk or cycle along the scenic tracks of The Dharawal National Park, a park you may not have even heard of. Bring a picnic and your swimming gear for a dip in Dharawal's Madden Falls and Minerva freshwater Pool. Minerva Pool is a sacred women's place for the Dharawal People. It is a request that only women and children enter the waters of the pool.
Keep an eye out for local fauna, like cockatoos and swamp wallabies. Featuring many lookouts, walking tracks and bike trails surrounded by beautiful sandstone formations.
For nature lovers, The Georges River National Park features so many spectacular natural wonders, flowing rivers and stunning rock escarpments with breathtaking views.
You will want to take your time here, soaking up the best of what nature has to offer.
Location: Georges River Road, Kentlyn
Georges River National Park
7. Ingleburn Reserve
Situated on the Georges River, the Ingleburn Reserve contains the historic Ingleburn Weir, which was constructed in the late 1930's to provide a swimming area for the local community.
Find a spacious area surrounded by native forest and take your pick of plenty of tables and BBQ's for everyone to enjoy. There's also a playground with the latest equipment for kids. The amenities have also been recently updated to provide more comfort and safety.
Follow a short trail to the gorge through endangered bushland. Early morning or dusk is for best bird watching and glimpses of native wildlife.
You can even try your luck fishing from the Gorge or canoeing down the river. Whatever you do, you can be sure there'll be plenty of photo opportunities.
The Keith Longhurst Reserve is rich with significant scenic and cultural value. The area offers many walking tracks, leading down to the Georges River.
The walk starts flat and allows you to get familiar with the stunning bush setting, full of colour and sound. Clear views of the mountains and Georges River are visible along the pathway.
The track begins to descend, meandering further downward, towards the basin. Soon, the basin comes into view, with it's waterfalls and local bird life. If you are lucky, you might see a tortoise, as we were lucky enough to, on a recent trip here. It is very relaxing, a great place to sit and reflect and recharge.
Going back up is a little more challenging, so feel free to take your time. Pretty soon you are back on the flat ground heading out of the bush.
A beautiful bush walk set among the silver gums, only 10 minutes from Campbelltown.
Location: 240 Georges River Road, Minto Heights
The View Heading Back Up the Reserve - Photo by Phoebe Hackett
Simmo's Beach is located on the Georges River. It has easy access, with picnic facilities and a nice beach area which make it a popular site for local residents.
The key features of the reserve are extensive areas of bushland, with proximity to the Georges River and connectivity with the Georges River Regional Open Space, ensures it provides a great range of recreational and photography opportunities.
Photographers, amateur and professional, find your glow trekking the greenest tracks, bike, swim and sun worship, revel in natures beauty and unearth all the hidden gems that South West Sydney has waiting for you.