Southern Sky and Our Ridgetop Cabin in Australia

Robert Downie @intrepidphotos
· November 2018 · 2 min read · Australia · #life

Milky Way in the southern sky rising high above a cloud filled Wollombi Valley with the Watagan mountain range rising above the cloud inversion in the distance. The brightness on the horozion is from the lights from of the NSW Central Coast about 40km away. This shot was taken looking out from our remote cabin in Australia, we lived full time at the cabin for 7 years.


The cabin sits on 40 acres along its own isolated ridge-top that has 4WD only access and takes about 1.5 hours to drive there heading north from Sydney. It has been quite the change leaving this behind to move to the frozen north of British Columbia in Canada. The shot below is how the cabin looked during late autumn and winter.


Below is a image taken as single exposure with the light in the cabin coming from a single candle.


I am often asked what I miss having moved to Canada, and it is strange the things you miss the most. One is the smell of the frequent super cell electrical storms in summer that we used to have. I took the shot below from the front veranda on the cabin, it is looking out towards the mountains to the east as a thunderstorm passes over. The trees on the property were frequently hit with lighting, one of the hazards of ridgtop living. I also miss those eucalyptus trees and how diverse the shapes are compared to the predominantly coniferous forests up here in Northern Canada. Then there is the incredible range of colorful birds and their amazing birdsong that you have in rural Australia. It is something you don't realize you would miss until you no longer have it. Plus there are the obvious things like driving down to the beach to go surfing. And the joys of a Mediterranean climate, winding roads though vineyards and olive groves, and super mild winters where you can sit around outside eating amazing locally sourced foods while drinking red wine at an open fire.


If you would like to learn a little bit more about my background in photography you can read the interview @photofeed did with me here.

Robert Downie
Love Life, Love Photography

All images in this post were taken by and remain the Copyright of Robert Downie -


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Amazingly beautiful photos. The Milky Way in the Aussie bush is spectacular. Its even better 500km inland from the coast where there is no light pollution. It looks like that with the naked eye - no long exposure!

Thanks. It is amazing out west. I have spent a bit of time inland shooting astrophotography. Hope to spend some more time 4WD touring out their next year. That said the areas around Sydney have super clear skys as long as your looking away from the coast as it is mostly national park (its actually on some measures the largest temperate forested wilderness area in the world ). It is also sandstone country and the dirt is very sandy so the wind does not pick up dust which can be a problem out west. Our property is surrounded by national park in almost every direction for quite some way and people are surprised how dark the skys are there. There was a public observatory near us the (Koolang Astronomical Observatory) but it has since been privatized and not open to the public anymore.

The photo of lightning is breathtaking!


It's not ordinary photos like I often see, but this phenomenon is very extraordinary with all natural phenomena that you never miss to become the best photo object @intrepidphotos !!

Thanks. Appreciate the kind words and that you took the time to comment.

Wow. This looks like you're in space literally. Lovely.


Very nice shots. I don't think I'd want to be up in the cabin during a thunderstorm, though... lol. DId you use a filter, or is the sky dark enough out there to capture the milky way without one?

No I don't use filters for my astrophotography. I don't know what sort of filter would help either. They sky in most of Australia is very dark as their is much less light pollution in the southern hemisphere.

Ah. Here in Minnesota, we have some very dark areas too. Near the city, though, you can use filters that block certain wavelengths of light, effectively canceling out noise pollution. They're very expensive, though.

I wanted to get this one, until I saw the price tag: Night Filter on B&H

Oh ok. No I don't use anything like that.

That lightning photo is fantastic...

I can't help but feel anxiety thinking of living in a remote place for an extended period of time. GIVE ME THE CITY!

You just need a good hot tub and espresso machine and you can live anywhere. It is more physically rather than culturally remote. There is a restaurant and wine bar within 3 minutes drive; and another 3 restaurants and a pub within 15 min drive as it is in a wine growing region where people from Sydney drive the couple of hours up to B&B for the weekend.

Only crazy recluses call it expresso 😅

lol expresso ... espresso ... I will fix it. I have been in North America too long and forgotten how to spell.

I need to take my own coffee and back country Nanopresso to work to survive the coffee culture over here. I better stop now or I will offend @derekkind again.

Actually interesting history of the spelling. Perhaps I am just old school and going back to the Latin routes of the word.

"Contrarians have pointed out that expresso is the norm in France, Portugal, and Spain. Admittedly the art of making the drink was invented and perfected in Italy, so it’s understandable that the terms used in that country should get favored-nation status. But Italian corrupted the Latin root, which has … wait for it … an x."

Whatever the source of its appeal, 'expresso' has had a long and not entirely disreputable history. The Oxford English Dictionary lists it as an acceptable variant. Between 1945 (date of the OED’s first citation) and 1960, it was permitted in The New York Times, with 43 uses compared with 122 for espresso. The paper noted in 1947 that “the Bazaar Francais has some new single-cup pots, one of the expresso style from Italy,” and in 1954, “Expresso coffee has been familiar in New York’s numerous Italian restaurants for many years.”

The spelling was also widely used in Britain, especially in references to the coffee houses popular with the bohemian set in Soho. The Spectator in 1958 referred to “the expresso poet with his impeccable Oxford accent, grovelling in dirt.”

Since the 1970s, espresso has reigned, an apparent consensus one can see evidence of in Garner’s entry and in Weird Al’s finger-wagging.

Only a crazy Latin/French recluse would call it expresso.

It is a very valid point and you almost had me accepting either spelling. But I'm more inclined to stick to the "S" as language does change in spelling and meaning and new things need adopting.

Yes Agreed . I am with the Italians and they can spell it however they want as it was their baby after all. I was just retrospectively covering my tracks for my mistake which turned out to perhaps not be a mistake depending on your point of view !

Wonderful post!! I would like to contemplate that spectacular sky, amazing photos, thanks for sharing!


wow love the lit up cabin with Milky Way. Best sky I've ever experienced was camping near Leadville, Colorado. Leadville is 10,000 ft above sea level. We were out in the woods a little ways and the sky was so bright with the stars.

Nice. A bit of altitude always clears up the sky ;-)

Oh,It is very nice photos and wonderful.All photos are great and the best for me.Some are cool and peace.Some are active and refresh.So you post is the best ;my friend.


Just breathtaking photos.