Chris Bray is an Australian Geographic photographer and keen adventurer who grew up sailing around the world. Chris runs photography courses around Australia and photo safaris around the world through his company Chris Bray Photography.
KANGAROO ISLAND, OFF the coast of South Australia, is known as the ‘Galapagos of Australia’ and it’s easy to see why. South Australia ranks in the world’s five top destinations according to Lonely Planet, and this compact and colourful island – just a short flight or ferry trip from Adelaide – is one of the state’s major attractions.
Having run photography tours on Kangaroo Island for the past four years, we’ve now compiled a list of the top five wildlife photography experiences that our guests love the most!
Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures – run by former crayfisherman Andrew – will whisk you out in his jetboat, reliably finding the resident pod of dolphins, which come right up and play around the boat.
While you can easily reach your waterproof camera underwater or put your GoPro on a stick, amazingly, you can even jump right in and swim around with the dolphins, for the most incredible photos (and an unforgettable experience).
Never baited or fed, these wild dolphins usually hang around out of their own innate curiosity until the chilly water temperature encourages you to climb back onboard. On your way home you’ll visit sea lion haulouts, osprey nests, cormorants and more as you cruise along the island’s spectacular coastline where the orange sandstone cliffs meet the sparkling water.
This is sandy beach is the only place in the world where you can see and photograph the endangered Australian sea lions so conveniently and at such close quarters.
A parks guide will escort you down to the sands of Seal Bay from where you can photograph the interactions and behaviors of this energetic marine mammal. You can photograph sea lion pups playing in the white sand, bulls battling for supremacy; mothers suckling their young and, if you’re lucky, even catch one surfing back into the beach through the waves.
The best way to photograph these seals is to organise a private twilight tour after hours – not only for golden lighting, but you’ll be the only group on the beach so you won’t have other people in your shots.
Usually just getting a distant shot of Australia’s largest bird of prey – the wedge-tailed eagle – is exciting enough, let alone having one perch patiently right in front of you in perfect lighting and against a natural bush background for breathtakingly detailed portraits.
Add other rarely encountered bird species to the list including white goshawk, black-breasted buzzard and sooty owl, and you’re in bird photography heaven. The Raptor Domain is an environmental and educational raptor rehabilitation center catering for orphaned, injured and sick birds of prey. They have two public viewing education shows a day where you can manage some great shots of birds in flight, but again for photography it’s best if you can book a private session where you can position the birds just how you want, in perfect lighting against the perfect background for some incredible shots that you could never obtain in the wild.
A beautiful, quiet location for a sunrise shoot, Duck Lagoon is often cold and misty while you’re setting up, but when dawn breaks this lagoon comes to life. Black swans slide through the golden veils of sun-lit mist, blue fairy wrens flit from twig to twig, lorikeets, rosellas and galahs screech and chatter overhead, swallows swoop through the beams of light and if you look to the trees, it shouldn't be hard to find yourself a lazy koala or two as well.
I love it here, and you'll get some magic shots – there's even some little wooden bird hides along the lagoon’s shoreline and ancient rusty cars and bits of farm machinery around providing added visual interest.
If you go for a stroll through the local koala walk, you're guaranteed to find several lazy grey bundles in the trees to photograph, sometimes quite low and active.
The area is also alive with birdlife including the superb fairy-wren, spotted pardalote and scarlet robin. There’s usually a grey kangaroo or two grazing or lazing in the fields surrounding the koala walk, which in spring can sometimes turn into a carpet of yellow flowers.
Of course there's much more to Kangaroo Island than just it’s wildlife – the island boasts impressive cave systems, unique rock formations including the Remarkable Rocks and Admiral’s Arch, desert dunes other stunning landscapes and seascapes.
To hone your photography skills and experience this natural haven, we offer five-night photography tours to Kangaroo Island every November. Limited to eight guests and including luxury accommodation, private doors-off plane charters for amazing aerial shots, private sessions at Seal Bay, Raptor Domain, dolphin swim, in the caves and more.
And Australian Geographic Members get $100 off!
Visit www.ChrisBrayPhotography.com for details and book early as this tour always sells out.