Max Harris is a regular road-tripper who can often be found behind the lens at locations he discovers along his travels.
His latest personal discovery is the Lara Wetlands in Central Queensland, an oasis of abundant wildlife and stunning natural light.
In this contribution to BIGNews Max describes the magical attraction of the wetlands, how you can access them from BIG4 parks, and opens up his photo library for a unique slideshow from his travels around our great nation.
Words and images by Max Harris
I am comparatively new to caravanning with this being my third year on the road.
Last year I covered 21,000km trying to see everything possible, and price was a year of lost sleep and stress - completely at odds with the idea of relaxing in retirement.
I would often start by pointing the car and van in any direction and heading off – without a plan - resulting in a number of adventures and travelling fails. But it also some uncovered some tourism gems, including this one I’d like to share with you.
One of the most amazing places my partner Terri and I have been to is Lara Wetlands in Central Western Queensland, 28km south of Barcaldine and 78km north of Blackall on Lara Station, on parklands of more than 6100 hectares.
The stunning property was opened to the public for the first time in 2014.
After shaking the living daylights out of our 21-footer down the usual red dirt track (about 12km) we came to a gate, and once inside and down a bit we found this fabulous oasis with lush grassy surrounds around a natural swamp.
Imagine our surprise to learn that these wetlands have a thermal controlled Artesian mineral hot spring. Now I know that I must have imagined the effect that this pool had on me but I'm sure it took away some of the wrinkles I had gathered together over some 70 years of life, so of course I was in that pool every day.
The birdlife was incredible, as well as the sunsets – which prompted my winning entry in the BIG4 sunset photo competition. The natural colours, the stillness and remoteness of the location made it easy to grab some spectacular photos.
The stars at night were amazing and provided a gorgeous velvety backdrop against the shapes and form of those dead trees that teemed with the weary bird life that spent their days feeding on the insect life and plant life at this amazing spot.
I was up every morning for the ever-changing sunrises and watched in awe at the palette of colour that transformed the daylight into night at the end of each day.
Do yourselves a favour and go slightly out of your way and view this place I promise you, you won't be disappointed stay a while.
This photo was taken from the lookout at Cape Leeuwin light house in Augusta, Western Australia. The day was somewhat stormy with the sun peeking through an ideal scenario for a rainbow. Visit while staying at a BIG4 park in South West WA.
Cape Leeuwin is the most south-westerly mainland point of the Australian continent and where the Indian ocean meets the Southern Ocean. It gets very chilly up there but the views are fabulous. Visit while staying at a BIG4 park in South West WA.
Here’s a beautiful beach located along the Ningaloo coast. Ad you can see the water colours are gorgeous, and the beaches are ideal for swimming and snorkelling, with fish, corals and turtles abundant. Ningaloo Reef can be easily accessed from RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park.
My partner Terri and myself during happy hour watching the spectacular sunsets of 80 Mile Beach, located between Port Hedland and Broome. It’s such a popular fishing spot that it’s often shoulder to shoulder in season. Great place to charge your batteries for what lies ahead on your adventures.
This location is approximately 600km south of Darwin, in an area known for its scenic escarpments and Boab trees. We were watching a fisherman who’d tempt the sea eagles, kites and other predatory birds with small fish he’d caught, and these wild birds responded in spectacular fashion, allowing me to snap this image.
There’s better waves up and down the coastline, but Surfers Paradise beach is still the most photographed location on the Gold Coast. And after all these years you can still get a unique perspective - thanks to my drone. Stay at nearby BIG4 Gold Coast Holiday Park or NRMA Treasure Island Holiday Park.
There’s nothing like a WA sunset, one of the few places in Australia where you see the sun disappear into the sea. Combine this with friends and refreshments at Cable Beach, and it really doesn’t get much better.
The power of the Ord River spillway in action in Kununurra, Western Australia. This dam on the 320km-long river was completed in stages throughout the 20th century.
A spoonbill perched on a submerged branch at the Lara Wetlands. The wetlands are like an oasis in the central Queensland region.
Lara Wetlands offers many fantastic photo opportunities – it’s a must for photographers and bird lovers and just a great place to kick back. Like most places, the magical hour is early morning.
Did I mention the bird life? Here’s a white crane foraging for food in the shallows.
Nesting cockatiels give a shout out from an old tree stump in the wetlands. Early morning or just on dusk is the perfect time to photograph the wildlife and magical sunsets.