Shooting Travel Photography in Sydney and Melbourne

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I just got back from shooting travel photography in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, and want to share a few highlights of my trip. Here are the spots I recommend checking out if you’re in either Melbourne or Sydney for a few days and want too shoot some travel photography of your own in one of these exciting Australian cities.

My Favorite Sydney Travel Photography Locations

Darling Harbour

If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you’ll already know that I’ve got a real soft spot for shooting high-rise skylines from across an open expanse of water. Nothing beats the combination of slick contemporary glass and steel architecture, high-wattage colored lighting, and the reflective surface of a lake or river at night.

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Fireworks at Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia – Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III – 15.0-45.0 mm @ 18.677 mm – 20,0 sec a ƒ / 11 – 100 ISO

My guide to Miami photography locations already features a bunch of images of this kind, but this didn’t stop me from heading straight down to Sydney’s Darling Harbour to reel off some  antipodean-flavored cityscapes to add to the collection. Darling Harbour was definitely one of my favorite Sydney travel photography locations and is a must-see for any traveling photographers touching down in New South Wales for either a long or a short stay.

Sydney City Center

From Darling Harbor it’s just a short hop over to Sydney City Center. The city’s lively central business district offers every kind of subject for travel photography, from soaring towers of finance to fantastic opportunities for candid street photography at ground-level. It’s also where the world-famous Sydney Opera House is located and is home to the city’s stunning botanical gardens. Easily one of the all-round best locations for travel photography in Sydney.

Australia, Sydney, architecture, australian, bay, bridge, city, cityscape, downtown, harbor, harbour, landmark, landmarks, landscape, opera, sea, sky, skyline, skyscraper, sunset, sydney harbour bridge, tourism, tower, travel, travel destination, urban, water, waterfront
George’s St., Sydney, Australia – Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III – 15.0-45.0 mm @ 15 mm – ¹⁄₁₂₅ sec a ƒ / 4,5 – 2000 ISO

Chinese Garden of Friendship

For me though, the best photography location in Sydney for those with green (shutter) fingers is the Chinese Garden of Friendship. Offering a beautiful lake, pagodas, waterfalls, romantic willows and bamboo, and cute little bridges straight off of an antique vase, this Ming Dynasty-style park is very centrally located between Sydney town hall and the vibrant Haymarket neighborhood; home to Sydney’s China Town.

Australia, Sydney, architecture, australian, bay, bridge, city, cityscape, downtown, harbor, harbour, landmark, landmarks, landscape, opera, sea, sky, skyline, skyscraper, sunset, sydney harbour bridge, tourism, tower, travel, travel destination, urban, water, waterfront
The Chinese Gardens of Friendship, Sydney, Australia – DSC-RX100M6 – 24-200mm F2.8-4.5 @ 24 mm – ¹⁄₃₀ sec a ƒ / 5,6 – 125 ISO

Bondi Beach

No trip to Sydney would be complete without checking out Bondi Beach. Coming from a nation with an equally strong appreciation of beach-life, I was particularly curious to check out how Aussies do it. Bondi is definitely one of the liveliest beaches I’ve visited in Australia – indeed, it can get pretty crowded down here at certain times – but this just makes it an even more fruitful destination for camera-toting street-flanneurs such as myself. I’m still unsure as to who made the more interesting photography subjects though: sun-bleached Sydneysiders or eccentric tourists?

Australia, Sydney, architecture, australian, bay, bridge, city, cityscape, downtown, harbor, harbour, landmark, landmarks, landscape, opera, sea, sky, skyline, skyscraper, sunset, sydney harbour bridge, tourism, tower, travel, travel destination, urban, water, waterfront
Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia – DSC-RX10M3 – 24-600mm F2.4-4.0 @ 600 mm – ¹⁄₅₀₀ sec a ƒ / 8,0 – 100 ISO

My Favorite Melbourne Travel Photography Locations

Southbank

Just south of Melbourne’s CBD (that’s Central Business District, not emasculated cannabis products) lies the high-rise Southbank neighborhood. Here an array of stunning architecture lines the famous Yarra River, and great views can be had from the riverside promenade. A bustling entertainment neighborhood, Southbank is also where you’ll find the Melbourne Skydeck: offering incredible vistas of the city from a glass-floored cube on the 88th floor of the Eureka Tower.

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Southbank at dusk, Melbourne, Australia – DSC-RX100M6 – 24-200mm F2.8-4.5 @ 24 mm – ¹⁄₁₀₀ sec a ƒ / 4,0 – 2500 ISO

China Town

The oldest Chinese-settled district in the Southern Hemisphere, Melbourne’s China Town developed during the 1850 Victoria gold-rush, and remains a great location for capturing lively street-life today. It’s also a fantastic place to eat.

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Chinatown, Melbourne, Australia – DSC-RX100M6 – 24-200mm F2.8-4.5 @ 36 mm – ¹⁄₄₀ sec a ƒ / 4,0 – 640 ISO

Although Australia has the reputation of being all sunshine and barbecues, Melbourne actually has a dark little secret: it can get pretty cold and wet in this part of the country. But southeastern Victoria’s moody weather has an upside when seen from China Town; combined with all the glowing colored neon signs, high precipitation can make for some pretty atmospheric travel photography. A must-visit on a wet Melbourne evening!

Just be sure to bring an umbrella to cover your camera when shooting those long exposures!

Flinders Street Station

Ever-popular on “the ‘Gram”, Flanders Street Station is nonetheless a pretty stunning piece of architecture. And even if it’s been photographed a million times already, sometimes the challenge of finding a fresh angle on an old favorite can really help to push a photographer towards more creative solutions. Definitely worth checking out!

Final Thoughts

When it comes to travel photography, Sydney and Melbourne offer a wealth of fantastic shooting locations. Even if you just have a few spare hours in town, the Sydney and Melbourne neighborhoods I’ve mentioned above are all fairly central and easily accessible, so you should have no trouble shooting off at least a few good travel photographs of your trip.

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