Giraween National Park

  • 19/11/2015

“Fancy a road trip?” “Sure! Where to?” That’s the typical question and response muttered between my friends and myself. The conversation this time happened to be for a long drive to Giraween National Park with stops along the way to make the most of the venture.

Friday night, 2:15am; The time I’m supposed to be at Mark’s house ready for the road trip. I wake to a number of missed calls, texts, and a knock at my door; It’s 2:40am! Oops, I’ve slept in, my alarm either failed to go off or I’d swiped snooze without batting an eyelid. He had driven to my place! Quickly I pack all my gear, we load up his 4×4 and we’re off, but I’ve put us behind schedule. I’m usually prompt, so although I’m still waking up I am feeling awful knowing that we’re behind schedule because of me. We make great time though, and arrive into Aratula to meet another friend, Gareth, who jumps in and three strong we head to our first location; Sunrise at Lake Moogerah.

It ends up being a rather cloudless sky for us at Lake Moogerah. It’s not a disaster though and we make good use of the conditions and and makeshift props available to us by the waters edge as the sun rises over the distant mountains.


On the road again, heading further from Brisbane, but with stomachs rumbling we make a breakfast pit-stop. Filled and fuelled we’re off again, detouring via Allora to see if the sunflowers are in bloom. Premature was our visit, with no hint of their golden faces shining upward. Disheartened we drive back through Allora and onto the highway continuing toward Giraween National Park.

We made a short pit-stop at Underground Creek, a little deviation off Pyramids Road. The flat dirt walking track starts at the small carpark and is a very easy walk. After about 300m there’s a choice of venturing right to Dr. Roberts’ waterhole (~1.2km return) or Underground Creek (~2.8km return). We did both, but Underground Creek was worthy of most of our time. Underground creek follows Bald Rock Creek upstream, and there’s a rather spectacular over hanging cliff carved into the granite boulders. After our short walk and wandering around, under, through and over Underground Creek, we were back on the road driving around the corner to the carpark for The Pyramids. At this point, we had left Brisbane, viewed sunrise from Lake Moogerah, drove around Allora, had breakfast, checked out Underground Creek, and made it to The Pyramids carpark all before 11:00am. Hungry and thirsty once again under the scorching Summer heat, we went for a quick stroll around the base of The Pyramid in Giraween National Park to check out the cascades and granite formations. Giraween National Park is 260km south-west of Brisbane near Stanthorpe on the Queensland and New South Wales border but it is worth the drive through some beautiful scenery to be enjoyed along the way. Giraween is not the typical National Park, well, not the tropical parks on the outskirts of the Queensland coastline people may be accustomed to. Giraween (place of flowers), is home to precariously perched giant boulders, with gorgeous wildflowers in Spring. You’ll be likely to see a few Kangaroo’s too!

Back to the carpark and time for more food and drink, lunch time! Food devoured and thirsts quenched, we collected our gear, and made our way upward to the summit. The Pyramid is an unusual one. It doesn’t really require any climbing (unless you choose to scale the boulders along the way), but it is incredibly steep and there are with all outdoor activities there are some things to consider before attempting the summit trek. The granite rock is smooth and in wet or moist conditions becomes dangerously slippery. Attempting The Pyramid in such conditions would likely be perilous or at least resulting in grazed limbs; Do not attempt this in wet weather or in winter months early morning with precipitation on the surface. Shoes with thick tread are essential. Wear protective clothing and apply sunblock – there is not too much shade up the top and the direct sunlight can be harsh. Before you make your way down, take a photo of the balancing rock – there were many groups that day who went up and down without even viewing the balancing rock, it’s one of the best features after all that effort!

Onward we marched. There is no phone reception at the bottom of The Pyramid, but half way up once the rock formation stairs are reached, there’s some reception all the way to the top – A Godsend for someone like me who had to check back in at home on a loved one. I have trekked to the summit previously, but this time I felt it was a little harder – perhaps accounting for the sleeping bag and 3 man tent I was carrying this time. Reaching the summit with hours to spare before sunset, we fired off a few timelapses from various points around the boulders.

As the sun made it’s way down behind the horizon, on the other side of the mountain we could not help but notice the monstrous cloud formation in the distance brewing a violent storm. The Heavens were on our side as we stayed dry and with the best views around. We were presented with an illustrious masterpiece; a stunning sunset, clouds that became violent with thunderstorms so active and chaotic we didn’t know where to look.



After watching the sun set, for the stars and thunder storm to light the night sky, we made our way down through the night guided only by torchlight. After all, what goes up must come down. I will confess that going down is much easier on the legs, but my toes felt snug pushed hard against my shoes which had a bit of give. Back at the 4×4 we made our long way back to Brisbane. Arriving at home I found my way into bed seemingly exactly 24 hours later to where my adventurous road trip began with me frantically waking up.

Whilst only The Pyramid was scaled this time round, we will surely be back, perhaps when the Sunflowers are in bloom, to tackle the rest of Giraween National Park; Castle Rock, The Sphinx, Turtle Rock, and Mount Norman.


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If you have any questions about this road trip and hike to know more, feel free to contact me! Let me know your thoughts!

Steel Spinners

  • 06/11/2013

Steel wool spinning evokes a feeling of being MacGyver every time you light up. It’s inevitable and unavoidable. Your apparatus is a home made concoction of whatever you can find lying around. It typically involves a whisk (simple kitchen one will suffice), some rope to attach it to, a bit of steel wool, and a lighter. You’re then limited to your imagination. The results are petty impressive with a long exposure photograph. If you want to be super technical you can craft your own devices to create perfect circles and such. I’m yet to do that, but it will happen one day.  I’ve only tried steel wool a handful of times, and literally learned something new each time. It definitely can be a ‘whisky business’ as I’ve had a few near misses of setting fire to my surroundings, so just in case you try this for yourself, I urge you to attempt it with caution, and prepare for the inevitable; have something handy to extinguish anything that may catch alight as a result of your masterpieces. These are just the beginning of my foray into lighting up my surroundings. I’ll update as I go, and refine this ‘skill’. Maybe one day I’ll even add steel wool spinning to a resume.

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The Underground.

  • 15/10/2013

There’s a saying that goes along the lines of ‘It’s been right under my nose the whole time” and in this particular instance, I’m referring to my feet. I’ve walked all around Brisbane, looking for something new and different to photograph, something not many people have done before me, or will after me. I’ve looked upward to buildings, crouched down low to the grass to see what’s there, and I’ve even turned the camera around toward myself a couple of times, but until recently that’s all but where my search for something new stopped. I was looking in the wrong directions. I then discovered a thing called urban exploration (urbex), and the world before me changed. I started keeping my eye out for all those places your Mum taught you to stay away from; that abandoned house, that rusty fence, the broken window…and the big drain pipe with spiders and uninviting darkness. In my spare time after work, I was researching, I was scoping my neighbourhood and I was doing reconnaissance missions of venues that were likely candidates.

I never thought I’d find myself looking underground for inspiration though, but it happened, many times before writing this blog, and will continue many times after. My friends likely look at me now with quizzical perplexed facial expressions, and silently question my sanity, wondering to themselves ‘Tony what are you doing bro, why go down there?’ The simple truth is, because I can. Life is short, to be enjoyed, and I don’t want to sit idly by watching others enjoy the things that I could do or explore. A major part of that involves me getting out there and going beyond my own expectations and finding inspiration in the weirdest of wonderful places. Turns out venturing six feet under is just one such avenue I’ve encountered that does just that.

You’ve seen glimpses of it in my other blogs (Crazy House, Butter Factory), but for this blog I’m talking about going down man holes and drain pipes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle style. Within, or rather below Brisbane is a plethora of underground drains, a system so intricate and intimate that besides the men who built them many years ago, only a handful of people have had the pleasure of witnessing. Some are old and built in brick, creatively manufactured inverted tear drop tunnels. Others perfectly circular, or rock blasted. Then there are the modern concreted circular drains too. Some drains are an amalgamation of them all, fluctuating between man made and natural, the deeper in you go. Exploring these places, has been done well before my time (the graffiti with years etched into the walls is testament to this), and will continue many years to come. It’s a whole new world down there. These places, through my Internet research, have revealed a cult like following. Throughout the entire world are ‘cave clans,’ groups of people who pride themselves on exploring the world from a different angle, underground the citi

es they live. The first person to discover a new drainage system is given the privilege of naming it. Very diplomatic and ‘NASAesque’ with asteroids. These individuals pride themselves on keeping these locations private for the next person to discover themselves. In this blog I shall honour their code, and keep their locations sacred, but will reveal their names as I have come to know them. No, no I won’t. I can’t make it that easy for people. If I found them, so can you. That’s where the fun is to be had, the self discovery!

Above ground is the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The cacophony of a chaotic busy lifestyle built on the foundation we stand on today. Below that, underground, harbouring critters, spray painted works of art, and me, spinning my steel wool, is another world, a place where I’ve had the pleasure of exploring only segments of. Ladies and gentleman, the Brisbane underground…

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Butter Factory.

  • 14/10/2013

Akin to some of my other blogs I’ve written which allude to a recently discovered pastime, this one is no different. Essential ingredients typically include: 1 x SLR camera, a dash of mystery, a sense of adventure, and a venue that is either abandoned and derelict above ground, or underground where only a handful of people have visited. Today’s main ingredient; butter! Well what’s left of one, a factory that is! This was one of those recipes that when you start out in the kitchen with the idea of a fried egg you end up making an omelette and an English breakfast.

I was travelling north of Brisbane for work, and had planned on having an early night beforehand so that I could wake up even earlier and attempt some star trails before arriving at my actual destination (rural areas away from the city are the best for star trails, but I’ll save that for another blog). I misjudged sunrise and the amount of driving that I needed to get to work on time. The sun was coming up; I’d missed my chance for any star trails. Instead of sunrise photographs (I was an hour early to work and needed some form of motivation for the early rise), I remembered reading about a Butter Factory earlier in the week. It was as though I was meant to visit it instead. I recalled the Butter Factory at the precise time it was neccessary to; within 10 seconds the turn off for it along the highway was right in front of me. I made a swift detour from my normal work route, and headed toward my new destination, my english breakfast. I knew the town, but didn’t know its precise location. I eventually found it tucked away in a side street having stopped and asked a couple of locals for directions (I may be male, but I don’t care to ask for directions if I am able to arrive at my destination).

I drove in down the driveway, passed a few gated barriers with ease, parked my car and strolled right in. It may have been due to it being a rural town, but the security measures were scarce to none. I was pleasantly surprised in fact. I didn’t have long as I was due to be at work 40 minutes later and still had 30 minutes of driving ahead of me, but I did manage to enjoy all the graffiti, spider webs and rusty metal and get a few photos:

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  • 11/10/2013

Brisbane Festival went out with a bang in the form of the Sunsuper Riverfire spectacle on Saturday 28th September. It’s an extravagant symphony of aerial and ground effects, culminating with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) aerial flyovers and a choreographed firework display.

Normally I venture into Southbank or Kangaroo point for my vantage spot. The last time I went, back in 2010, I was late, and my viewing spot was less than desirable. This time, I tried my luck at Wilson’s Outlook, a vantage spot overlooking the Story Bridge with the city skyline for a background. I visited the night before to check out the view. Views of the rails, and no one else in sight. How that was to soon change!

View from Wilson's Outlook the night before Rivefire.

View from Wilson’s Outlook the night before Rivefire.

With the reconnaissance night being successful, I assumed claiming a vantage spot at 2:30pm, so early in the day for a 7pm firework display was ample time. It would also have given me a chance to capture the aerial flyovers earlier in the day prior to the final event. Turned out I wasn’t the only one with that location idea. You know what they say when you assume, it makes an… Yeah no need to continue. I arrived with excitement to Wilson’s Outlook with camera and tripod in tow, only to find people with tents pitched, cheese platters, and alcoholic refreshments to keep them going. I wanted to join them, I wanted to be them, but alas, I was too late for that particular direct angle of the Story Bridge and I had to find a new spot! I begrudgingly made my way half way up the hill toward the Story Bridge. I found a spot and set up. Wonderful! I was pleased. I really wanted to shoot the Story Bridge this year because it recently underwent a $1.3 million lighting upgrade allowing it to change colour essentially at the flick of the switch. I had to make the most of this; I was certain they would incorporate it into the spectacle, and I was glad for my vantage spot!

Story Bridge secondary vantage spot near Wilson's Outlook. The boat down the bottom would actually have been annoying in my original shot, as it moved constantly and made for a nuisance motion blur.

Story Bridge secondary vantage spot near Wilson’s Outlook. The boat down the bottom left of this shot would actually have been annoying in my original shot, as it moved constantly and made for a nuisance motion blur. I even had enough time to attempt a quick star trail photo; the beginnings of which can be seen in this photo.

First up were the ADF aerial displays which were staggered throughout the day, synchronously altering between the Super Hornets, and the Eurocopter Tiger and MRH90 Helicopters. My first attempt at capturing the Super Hornets fly by at 3:30pm was abysmal. They were faster (and noisier) than I expected and I couldn’t focus in time. I had to learn fast, and for their 5:40pm show, I think I did. I’d seen the helicopters practice throughout the week, but they were still as enjoyable to watch come game day.

Super Hornet.

Super Hornet.

Super Hornet.

Super Hornet.

MRH90 Helicopter flying toward the Wheel of Brisbane at Southbank.

MRH90 Helicopter flying toward the Wheel of Brisbane at Southbank – This is from earlier in the week during a practice run.

Super Hornet passing the Story Bridge.

Super Hornet passing the Story Bridge at 3:30pm.

Super Hornet passing the Story Bridge at dusk.

Super Hornet passing the Story Bridge at dusk.

They were just the by product of the day though as I along with the other 500,000 odd people waited for the main event at 7:04pm; the final Super Hornet fly over and the detonation of the first firework.

Light trail of the Super Hornets flight path, and the first firework ignition of Riverfire 2013.

Light trail of the Super Hornet flight path, and the first firework ignition of Riverfire 2013.

Sunsuper Riverfire lit up the city at 7:05pm in a pyrotechnic explosion of colour and noise. For 20 minutes, 6,000 fireworks, from 19 locations around Brisbane, were meticulously ignited.

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Before I knew it, Riverfire was over for another year. As the smoky aftermath of the fireworks consuming the night sky slowly started to fade, the crowd began to disperse making their way home. With my memory card filled, I packed up my gear and made my own way home, stopping off for a well earned drink to reflect on the day and eagerly view what I captured.

It was a typically great event, one that I always appreciate – the co-ordination of such a big event is something I truly value and there need to be more events like this each year. There’s something about fireworks that I will always enjoy; I’ll be the old man in 50 years time still marvelling and ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’. If I’m in the country, I’ll be there again next year, this time, earlier than anyone else, and equipped with a sleeping bag and stash of food!

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Brisbane Festival.

  • 09/10/2013

Each September the Brisbane CBD comes alive and the skyline is transformed into a wonderful concoction of bright lights shining from every which way upward into the stratosphere.

For anyone who knows me, or my photos, then they know that bright lights with a cityscape background will always pique my interest . Like a moth to a flame, I just can’t help myself. A photo opportunity if I ever saw one!

Brisbane Festival ran from the 7th – 28th of September, and in total I believe I frequented the light show at least five times.

A quick self portrait between laser shows. I found the blue shaped seat and added it for reflective effect.

A quick self portrait between laser shows. I found the blue shaped seat and added it for reflective effect (and a place to rest).
These lanterns were a makeshift open roof for the outside pub below (out of shot).

These lanterns were a makeshift open roof for the pub below (out of shot, next photo).

The decorative lanterns above the pub.

The decorative lanterns above the outdoor pub.

Brisbane Airport Light Garden by Tony Assness (l bet he's the butt of all jokes). LEDs which changed colour synchronously with music.

Brisbane Airport Light Garden by Tony Assness (l bet he’s the butt of all jokes).  These LEDs changed colour synchronously with music.

In the eye of the action on the green at the Santos GLNG City of Light show.

In the eye of the action on the green at the Santos GLNG City of Light show.

Another vantage point;  Cultural Centre bus terminal.

Vantage point; Cultural Centre bus terminal.

Vantage point along the river of Southbank.

Vantage point: Southbank.

Lasers from another vantage point on the William Jolly Bridge.

Vantage point: William Jolly Bridge.

Vantage point from the Goodwill bridge. Little less colour this time around.

Vantage point: Goodwill bridge.

Stomie Mills' project. 4 metre tall pink rabbits interchangeably placed around Brisbane. This one was spotted at Kangaroo Point.

Stomie Mills’ project. 4 metre tall pink rabbits interchangeably placed around Brisbane. This one was spotted at Kangaroo Point.

For more photos, past and present, join me over at Instagam: @tonnes.


  • 17/08/2013

Annually in August, the country comes to Brisbane and shows the city what it’s made of. The Royal Queensland show (the Ekka to the locals), is Queensland’s annual agricultural show. It attracts upwards of 400,000 people over the 10 day event, and was created to showcase Queensland’s culture, produce, resources and initiatives. Something I think us city folk tend to neglect to worry about and appreciate.

For a small fortune you can gain access to the RNA showgrounds in the heart of Brisbane. Once inside you blend in and immerse yourself into the chaotic atmosphere akin to what I could only describe as a country daycare – people dressed in their horse riding boots and jeans, and kids overdosing on sugar running rampant with excitement. There is a bounty of animal competitions and presentations, along side other performances to enjoy. This year I managed to enjoy motorbike backflips, a ballet performance with segments from The Nutcracker, and watch a magician blow my mind. There’s also Sideshow alley and the showbag pavillion which can quite easily empty your wallet in 30 minutes. That’s not forgetting about the numerous food and beverage outlets selling strawberry sundaes and foot long dagwood dogs which equally bleed you dry. Be prepared to line up for those sundaes, they’re popular! This year though I survived the temptations of over priced burgers and dagwood dogs, and was able to still enjoy myself whilst steering clear of any showbags. The chocaholic within curses me for not getting a chocolate showbag, but I did bring supplies and it was sufficient for my sugary tooth.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to photograph a carousel ride, at night, and this time I was prepared. In my possession I actually had a camera capable of doing so (my first DSLR which I’ve now thankfully upgraded from), a tripod which would hold steadfast, and the knowledge to actually do so. What I love about the photographs I had seen beforehand, was that they captured the wonderful colours the rides emit to the untrained non-phtographic lens eye. Our eyes can’t slow down motion to get a blur that makes sense. We see the blur and lose the focus or we focus too hard and lose sight of the bigger, brighter and more beautiful picture. Cameras however see beyond all that, and merge the two, and on that particular night I was sure to try capture it.  The pinnacle of any good evening ends with fireworks too, and with bi-nightly fireworks, which round out each day the show is in town, I was truly in my element. Here are a few from my first time shooting fireworks and rides:







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