We recently took a trip up to Mount Buller in eastern Victoria, accompanied by some good friends. It was our first visit to the alpine resort, and of course I was looking forward to the photography opportunities this trip was going to present.
It had been four years since our last snow trip to Mount Baw Baw. In other words, it had been a while since I'd photographed in the snow. So I had a bit of homework to do. It was time to brush up on my snow photography knowledge in the days leading up to our trip. I had to refresh my memory on the camera settings I would play with to bring out the brightness of the snow and the sharpness of the natural features. There were some boring (but still important) bits - I had to remind myself of the precautions I needed to take to prevent moisture entering my camera.
Road trips are fun. I always look forward to the journey as much as the destination. On the way to Mount Buller we got to see lots of rolling hills, cattle and shades of green! I find these scenes are so relaxing for the mind.
It can be difficult to find a safe spot to pull over, but we did manage to find a nice spot near Yea where I happily hopped out for some photos.
We also stopped at Lake Eildon just outside of Mansfield. We could feel the cold here!
The drive up Mount Buller itself is quite scenic. On Saturday, which is probably the busiest day of the week for the mountain, we spent close to an hour in traffic. But it was one of the rare occasions where you don't mind being "stuck" in slow moving traffic, because the landscapes we were driving through were simply breathtaking!
Interestingly, the views we saw on the Friday and Saturday were quite different. Friday was a clear day so I managed to capture some stunning views from the main village. I even got to admire a beautiful sunset while everyone enjoyed some tobogganing.
The story was a little different on Saturday. It was quite foggy and it kept snowing throughout the day. Visibility was poor. Unlike the previous day, we could barely see past a couple of metres.
We had planned to do a walk to the summit that day. Funnily though, as we started ascending, we questioned whether it was worth going all the way up if we wouldn't be able to see anything. We approached a ski patroller to ask for directions, and then we asked whether it was worth walking to the summit. He bluntly replied "ummm, no". There wouldn't have been much to see. He suggested we take a different track and walk to a cafe instead.
Even this was quite a hike though, made even more challenging with the camera bag in tow. The slopes were steep, and we had to keep a constant lookout for skiers and snowboarders emerging from the thick fog. Looking down the slopes also made me imagine how I'd tumble if I slipped or got hit by a skier. Meanwhile, the camera kept coming in and out of the bag depending on how badly it was snowing.
The lack of visibility did make for some interesting photography. It had a very dream-like feel to it. Everyone in the distance looked like ghosts!
We made the best of the 1.5 days we spent at Mount Buller. At the end of the day, we'd head down to Mansfield - we stayed at the beautiful 3 Wise Monkeys. The luxurious and comfortable home was situated on a farm, which was a beautiful scene to be waking up to in the mornings.
The drive back home was equally fascinating. We happened to take a wrong turn near Strath Creek, but it ended up being a worth-while deviation. It led us to the Murchison Gap Lookout, which showed-off some stunning views despite the rainy weather.
Overall, the trip was very fulfilling. Not only was it a fun and refreshing break, it gave me the opportunity to explore Mount Buller from a photographer's perspective. I went without any expectations other than with a mindset to photograph, and the unpredictable weather conditions gave me some memorable challenges to embrace!