Recently I went on a road trip to Shoal bay to visit the amazing Zenith Beach and Mount Tomaree. Amazing is an understatement when I talk about this location! It's impossible for me to count the number of beaches i have been to in the four odd years of my photography journey, but Zenith beach would have to be in my opinion, in the top 3 of the most beautiful and photographic beaches in New South Wales. Others include Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay and Catherine Hill Bay Beach.
Zenith Beach is a 400m long beach situated in the Tomaree National Park between two conical headlands, Mount Tomaree which is approximately 160m high, and Stephen's Peak, measuring in at 140m high. This location is a gold mine for seascape photo enthusiasts because you have a beautiful beach to explore during sunrise and also the summit of Mount Tomaree, which is great of a late afternoon and sunset.
This location is approximately 2.5 hours north of sydney, on the mid north coast of New South Wales. For those tavelling from Sydney, take the M1 Freeway towards Newcastle and continue until you cross the Hexham bridge. See the map below
From this point on you should be using your GPS (because every man and his dog has a GPS) OR a trustie map, and head towards the Tomaree National Park. Once you arrive, there is limited parking located at the end of Shoal Bay Road, however there is plenty of parking close by. Check out Zenith Beach, or if a hike is what you're after then lace up your shoes and make sure you have plenty of water!
The Mount Tomaree summit walk is approximately 1km in length, which doesn't sound far but the majority of it is on a steep incline. Look for the Tomaree National Park sign (see below), located at the end of the car park, and follow the arrow to the walking tracks.
The track starts to wind up the mountain. Continue until you reach the next sign and follow the arrow to the left towards the summit. There's a little picnic area to the right if you need a break and want to refuel with water and food.
So far you've travelled a significant distance uphill and your legs are starting to burn. But this is nothing yet. Keep following the path until you reach the dreaded stairs. This is where you'll put in the real work. I was carrying my F-stop Ajna mountain series camera bag with tripod attached, so the extra 20-25kg of weight on my back made it a lot harder.
It's pretty hard to get lost from here on in. You may need a thousand water breaks if it's a hot day (take plenty of water), but its pretty much straight on up until you reach the summit! Once you get to the top the view is amazing and totally worth the pain it took to get there. I rest my case with the photos below...
The next morning I woke about 40 minutes before first light, grabbed my bag and tripod and headed down the path to Zenith Beach. I had done plenty of research on this location and some scouting the day before, so I had a rough idea where I wanted to set myself up for sunrise. There are a number of rocks at the southern end of the beach which make an interesting foreground with the movement of the waves in and amongst them.
As sunrise approached I realised that mother nature wasn't going to be kind as the sky was filled with grey clouds. Nonetheless, I continued on and made the most of a stunning landscape. Mount Tomaree acts as an interesting backdrop because of its unusual conical shape, and the bright blue water is not like any i'd seen before on the mid north coast. I was even greeted by a pod of around 20 dolphins who seemed to stick around the whole time I was taking photographs. I worked with the conditions I had to produce a misty and storm like images and was even lucky enough to catch a glimpse of blue sky towards the end. Here are some of the photos below, I hope you enjoy!