Manning Gorge, on the Gibb River Road, is a great example of how photography can help us see a place with fresh eyes and experience a familiar location in new ways. Every time I’ve been there over the last six years different things catch my attention and I walk away with very different photos. Instead of photography taking over the experience it can help us to slow down, help us pay attention and encourage us to keep exploring.
When I first visited Manning back in 2013 it was late in the Dry Season. The waterfall had stopped running so my photos were all about the sandstone gorge itself and those beautiful burnt orange colours. The busiest part of the tourist season was over so the place was quiet and still. Aboriginal rock art in the gorge was a nice reminder people have been sitting on these same rocks and looking at these same colours for millennia.
My second visit was early in the Dry Season in 2015 and the waterfall was at its best. We sat there with a beer in hand and lost ourselves in that Kimberley magic. It was a perfect opportunity to capture the waterfall in full flow.
I went back the following year in October and spent a couple of days relaxing next to Manning Creek, next to the campground. The photos were all about the paperbark reflections, the wildlife and the downstream end of the gorge. I discovered a beautifully ugly chick tucked away in the hollow of a Boab tree and saw my first pair of Channel-billed cuckoos on that visit.
Last year, mid season, it was all about trying to capture the waterfall from a different angle – trying to find a new perspective to tell a different story.
What I love about these long exposure shots is that you get to sit back and soak it all up while the shutter is open and the camera does its thing. There’s no crazy photo chase. It all unfolds very slowly and as it should be.
What can I say…. Manning Gorge is the Kimberley in a nutshell. Elegant waterfalls. Rugged sandstone. And wildlife that’s waiting to be discovered for those who take the time to look. Endless inspiration. Endless possibilities.
Do yourself a favour, turn the TV off and get out and explore.
If you are travelling the Gibb this year make sure Manning Gorge, accessed via Mt Barnett Roadhouse, is on your list. You won’t regret it.