Cape Woolamai Phillip Island

Dominated by steep rocky headlands and exposed to the ferocious force of the wind off the Bass Strait, the Pinnacles at Cape Woolamai in Phillip Island (situated just 1 1/2 hour drive from Melbourne) is an absolute treasure for landscape photographers. The area not only allows for spectacular grand vistas to be captured with the beautiful warm light of a setting sun to the west but also enables the creative landscape photographer to capture the smaller details, textures and patterns of the landscape made ever more evident by the low directional light at sunset. From the moment you set sight on this amazing scenery you can’t help escape the feeling of being transported to a far remote location – definitely no other scene within such a relatively short drive from Melbourne would provide this same feeling. The Pinnacles however is not for the faint hearted and involves a challenging decline and climb back! Read on for more details

Special Photographic Notes

Whilst I recommend you explore the area at your own free will, in addition to the Pinnacles rock formations on the right-hand side looking towards the ocean there is a very photogenic hidden cove at the base of the Pinnacles rock formations that could make for a great photograph. The rock formations on the adjacent side of the Pinnacles are just as spectacular in their own right so go exploring and let your imagination take control of what are endless opportunities for the making of a great photograph. As mentioned in the intro section, the nicely rounded boulders smoothed over thousands of years make for a very interesting foreground in your compositions.

Special Equipment

– Wide to Standard focal lens are recommended
– Lens/Filter cleaning clothes to keep your lens and filters dry from the ocean spray
– ND Grad filters to hold back the exposure of the sky (especially essential when shooting towards the Pinnacles during the time of sunset)
– Sturdy footwear with ample grip required for when descending down the steep embankment – take extra caution
– Water bottle for the walk there and back (approx 1hr 30 mins return)
– A torch to see where you’re walking as you’ll be walking back in the dark if shooting at sunset

Best Time of the Day

After shooting at both ends of the day (sunrise and sunset), I recommend that you visit the location for a sunset shoot. Although more difficult to achieve a balanced exposure when shooting the Pinnacles against the very bright light source produced from the setting sun behind, the warm and low directional light that is cast over the boulders and rock formations in the foreground make it well worth the effort. It is recommended that you arrive well in advance of sunset (minimum 30 minutes beforehand ) so that it allows you to set-up and wait for the optimum light to arrive.

Tidal Information

Although accessible at high-tide, it is recommended that you visit the location at low tide, or at the minimum when the tide is receding, as the surf can get quite rough.  Check local tide times at http://tide-times.com.au  and type “Phillip Island’ – the tide times are read from Woolamai beach.

Wind Information

As this location directly faces the open seas of the Bass Strait, you can expect the conditions to be windy. For this reason ensure that you continually check your lenses and filters to ensure that they are kept dry. A trick I use once I have set-up is to turn the camera around on the tripod and point the lens to me so that the front of the lens is not facing the ocean and is therefore protected from the spray. As another tip, it is recommend that you wipe any salt residue from your camera body and lens after arriving home and pat dry before storing.

How to Get There

Google Maps link

From the Cape Woolamai Surf Club car park located at the end of Woolamai Beach road, it is approximately a 45 min walk to the Pinnacles where you begin walking along the beach towards the point left of the Surf Club. Continue walking for approximately 10 minutes until you reach a set of stairs to your left; at this point the beach becomes a little more rockier and the rest of the walk continues along the cliff through grasslands. Continue along the marked path and keep to the left where the path divides shortly ahead of climbing the stairs. Continue for approximately another 30 minutes until you reach the point named the Pinnacles (you will know you are there when you see the resting bench). Now the tricky part… Follow the narrow path to the right of the bench towards the point ensuring that you take great care as the narrow path leads you towards the steep embankment looking down to the bottom. This is where you need to take extra care and where solid footwear with a good grip for traction. Watch your footing and keep low to the ground to avoid any risk of slipping. Once you get down you will be rewarded for all the effort with a stunning view and very often you have the place to yourself!

Thank you for your interest. I hope this guide has been of some value to you.

Ric

Author Bio

Ricardo Dacunha


9 Comments

  1. Anonymous December 20, 2010

    cape woolamai walk — I am 65 and have some restrictions on activity levels, but always keep trying., I did the walk to the Pinnacles, and tried to walk down, when you have camera gear and fear of falling its not easy. My friend got down the bottom but he hurt his wrist getting there. He advised me not to go down so I missed out on the good photos.

  2. Ben December 28, 2013

    Thanks for this. It can be difficult to find out information about exactly where something like this is located and how far you’ll have to walk to get there. This guide helped a lot though. I’ll be going within the next week 🙂

  3. Benjamin Perrin Photography January 3, 2014

    […] so I was thinking it would be a terrible photo shoot. I followed a guide on how to get there from http://www.freephotoguides.com. The guide was 100% accurate and it would’ve been hard to find this spot without the help of […]

  4. Peter July 12, 2014

    If you time it around low tide you can also get in along the beach. The rubble field is a bit of a challenge but I prefer it to coming down from the top. I only use the climb to get out at dark as the cliff top walk is preferable to boulder hopping with just a headlamp to see where you’re going.

  5. My Traveling Joys September 25, 2015

    Fantastic information! Thanks so much for sharing all your tips and information. My husband and I are heading to Phillip Island this weekend so I can’t wait to see The Pinnacles and take photos. Cheers! Joy

  6. Tejas July 18, 2016

    I was so excited to go and shoot there but apparently when I reached the bench, they have put a sign in place that says path closed because of the risk involved. Next time I’ll try and approach it from the beach on a low tide.

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