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Impressions of Great Keppel Island

Landscape Photography with marysejansenart

A journey for the senses

Great Keppel Island Mangroves by Maryse Jansen
Great Keppel Island Mangroves

A rough boat ride to Great Keppel Island

The weather forecast predicts 40-80mm of rain today, and surely it is raining as I am making my way to the boat. I am wondering if I really want to do this today… I have planned to go for a long walk on Wop-pa or Great Keppel Island, 18km off the Capricorn Coast in Queensland. Armed with an umbrella and a raincoat, I hope for the best. With a beaming face our captain informs us that it is going to be an extremely rough ride, sick bags are handed out in anticipation. Well, at least I never get seasick, so that shouldn’t be a problem!

I quickly learn that this can never be assumed. It’s a rough ride, but I have experienced rough boat rides before. After handing out sick bags and tips to keep their gaze on the horizon to the people around me, I begin to feel incredibly disoriented and nauseous myself from about halfway the ride… Thankfully I don’t need the sick bag and I make it through. The captain is still smiling broadly and she compliments her passengers on doing so well under the circumstances. To disembark, we need to take our shoes off as we land knee deep in the surf. It is still raining.

Wop-pa is the original name of the island

I find a little shelter where I gather myself and get ready to embark on my walk. This island is the largest of 18 islands in the Keppel group with an area of 1454 hectares. There is a resort and some other accomodations, but the rest of the island consists of nature and a web of walking tracks to explore.

The original name of the island is Wop-pa, named by the traditional inhabitants: the Woppaburra people. The spiritual saltwater totem for the Woppaburra and the islands is Mugga Mugga, which you might know as the Humpback Whale. I don’t think that I will see any Humpback Whales today, as it is still a bit too early in the season. During my contemplations, the rain has eased to a drizzle so I decide to put on my raincoat and go for it.

Thirteen of the Keppel Islands form the Keppel Islands National Park, but Great Keppel Island is not one of them. It does belong to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The island consists of steep hills and cliffs, creating sheltered bays and 17 white sandy beaches. I begin to climb the hills through various forests. I can smell the Wattles flowering and I see their beautiful yellow flowers adding a sparkle of cheer to this very grey day. As I climb higher, the fragrance changes to the delicious lemony smell of Lemon-scented Gum Trees.

Landscape Photography

Almost unnoticeable, the rain stops and I take off my coat. I descend into a large wetland area. At the moment there is not a lot of water, as it’s low tide and these wetlands have a direct connection to the ocean. It’s a very picturesque area nonetheless and lined with mangroves.

I enjoy spending some time taking photos. Wide open landscapes that are very impressive in real life can look a bit flat on a photo. So when you take landscape photos, it is a good idea to look at having something in the foreground that creates some depth in your image. These mangroves are ideal for that purpose as you can see in the image below as well as in the featured image!

Great Keppel Island Wetlands by Maryse Jansen
Great Keppel Island Wetlands

I continue on and begin to climb the next hill. As I reach the top, the track follows along the ridge line for a while and I enjoy some beautiful vistas. I can’t believe my eyes as the sun breaks through the clouds! Suddenly the grey landscape bursts into colour: the water turns into various shades of turquoise and blue, the trees green and the rocks yellowish-brown, all of this creating a beautiful contrast with the white sandy beaches below. It could not have been better timed! What a great moment for photos of these tropical ocean views!

Check out my post about another amazing tropical island in Queensland: Magnetic Island!

Great Keppel Island by Maryse Jansen
Great Keppel Island

Birdlife on the island

So far, I have not seen much wildlife yet. As I descend once again, there is a sudden increase in bird activity! I spot some Rainbow Bee-eaters, Noisy Friarbirds, Laughing Kookaburras, a Spangled Drongo and a Varied Triller! I also see some quick, small birds that I don’t get a chance to identify. The sun has disappeared again, but the forest has come to life! An orchestra of twitter, screech and song unfolds – accompanied by lots of wing flapping and rustling in the foliage.

Eventually, I make my way back onto the beach, where I am welcomed by a Bush-stone Curlew and a bunch of Silver Gulls. The gulls keep me occupied while I wait for the boat. The blue skies have disappeared in a thick haze of grey which now creates it’s own beauty. The islands in the background become really vague which makes it look a bit mysterious, and there is just enough colour left to make the images interesting.

Beach on Keppel by Maryse Jansen
Beach on Keppel

The lighting for the Silver Gull portrait is just perfect!

Silver Gull by Maryse Jansen
Silver Gull

Indulging the senses

Thankfully, the waters have calmed considerably and the ride back is a breeze! What an amazing day it has been! All my senses have been indulged in the sights of beautiful landscapes, the sounds of an orchestra of birds, the smells of flowering trees, the feels of the wind in my hair, the taste of salt on my lips and even my sense of balance hasn’t been left out of the experience! Join me on my walk during the latest episode of ‘Come for a walk in the Australian Bush’ to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and vistas of Wop-pa/Great Keppel Island:

If you are interested in purchasing a print of ‘Great Keppel Island Mangroves’ or would like to see what the image looks like on the various merchandise products, please head to my shop. Any of the other images from this post you can find in my Beach Ocean Shore Collection!

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