Stromlo Weekend

Stromlo Weekend

I like Canberra. I never used to but it has grown on me over the years. I still have no idea how to get to anywhere except Mt. Stromlo but I’m getting there. I don’t often get down there in Summer and I am not so sure those scorching hot dry days would suit me so well but, being a winter person, the cold blustery days suit me just fine.

I arrived late on the Friday afternoon and caught the sunset. With the sun going down so too was the temperature. Martin from Rocky Trail set up a gas heater inside the marquee and we chatted and ate dinner. I crawled off to bed early, keen to get wrapped up in the warmth of my sleeping bag. At some point in the wee hours of the morning the temperature went sub-zero

I awoke to a thick frost covering the car. The chill made it hard to get up. It was the final round of the Shimano GP series though and I have been shooting this series for a few years now. Stromlo is one of my favourites on the circuit there are some great views to be had around the hill.

A couple of hundred people turned out for the race. I got out onto a new section of track on the backside called slippery rock. Although i say new the track itself is old but its new to the race and new for me to shoot. I made my way upward shooting at various locations along the way. At the top of the section I was greeted with a great open vista across to the Brindabella range to the west.

Day dawned warmer but soon cooled off as a cold wind set in. Today it was the Elite Sprint Cup, a new race for, as the name suggests, some of the top names in the Australian XC racing scene. The course was only 2kms long and as I was here to shoot editorials rather than competitor shots I found myself running around a lot more trying to cram in as many shots and locations as I could in the short time. Thankfully it was a nice compact track. One of the things I love about Canberra at this time is the golden blooms of wattle And this short course ran straight through one of the finest stands of wattle trees at Stromlo. It also ran across the 4 cross track and so I found myself running between the 2 sections each lap. It was great to see the impressive pace these athletes all kept up.

The rain moved in as we were packing up. I heard mention that it was snowing 10kms up the road in the hills so I took a short detour (completely in the wrong direction) and dashed up into the Brindabellas. I had all the weather on the way there rain followed by hail followed by sunshine followed by snow. As I near the top of the range the snowfall became quite heavy and started to sit on the road. Since I realised I was no longer going around corners but rather more drifting around them I turned back down the hill and decided to start the long drive home

Posted by Richard in Bikes, Events, Places
Stromlo for the Shimano GP

Stromlo for the Shimano GP

And yet again, though this will be the last time for a while, it was back to Canberra. This time it was round 4 in the series of this year’s Shimano GP taking place at Mt Stromlo Forest Park. 

We went down on Friday afternoon and sat around having dinner together with the Rocky Trail race organisers Martin and Juliane. It was a nice relaxing evening catching up and talking through the race season so far. Then off to the car to set up for the night.  The Saturday dawned chilly but not frosty like the previous weekend’s Rollercoaster, no frozen puddles this weekend. There was no brilliant sunrise though just a flat grey sky.

I had the option of getting a lift to the top and walking down or start at the bottom and walk up. I decided on the bottom as I wanted to shoot the riders among some of the beautiful wattles that were in bloom down there before the sun burnt through the clouds and made the light too harsh. Unfortunately, this meant that all up my day was spent walking uphill and shooting riders as they came uphill, not usually what I would normally choose. As it was the soft cloudy light stuck around for most of the day so I could have done it the other way around.  Over the rest of the day, I slowly made my way uphill making the most of the soft light by shooting in the trees. There are some great views around the track which makes Stromlo one of my favourite to shoot. I tried to include these in my shots as much as possible (no point in having these views if I don’t use them).

At the end of the day, I ended up near the top at Echidna Pass shooting the riders as the came through a gap between a couple of big boulders. Having shot there before I count the gap as an old favourite of mine. Gil finished off his day shooting in the trees below me on skyline which was great as it meant that I could get a lift back down the hill.

We didn’t hang around for too long afterwards but drove back North and headed out to Bungonia Gorge for the night. A couple of lookouts there overlook a slot canyon down in the valley below. Plans are already being made for an excursion down into the canyon.

Below is a small selection of the shots from the day. 


Posted by Richard in Bikes, Events
Stromlo Rollercoaster, the final round.

Stromlo Rollercoaster, the final round.


It’s hectic weekends at the moment as I flit from race to race. Not that I am complaining mind you, I love travelling round and visiting a new place each weekend or revisiting as the case may be. This time it was back to Stromlo in Canberra for the final round of Rocky Trail Entertainment’s Fox Rollercoaster.

With three tracks running the Rollercoaster covered a large section of Mt Stromlo. We went down on the Friday so we could have a bit an explore around the area. We drove out west past Cotter Dam and along Paddy’s River to the space station at Tidbinbilla. We spent the night camped up along the river. Snug as it was wrapped up in the sleeping bag it was an icy morning with puddles frozen and a layer of frost over everything.

Saturday was practice runs at Stromlo. Gil and I took our cameras and headed off to the vapor trail or, as it was known on race day, the Camelbak Track. Gil took to the top half while I explored the lower half. I was quite keen on getting a few shots of the big wallrides in action plus we were just doing a bit of recon for shooting locations on race day. Not nearly as many people were hitting the wallrides as I had expected but I did manage to get a couple of shots. With locations scouted I started on my way back down heading via a field where I knew the kangaroos gathered and snapped a few shots. The sounds of music further down the hill lured me on to the dirt jumps where I met the guys from backbone BMX and did a few shots with them to finish off the days shooting.

Early Sunday morning and apparently the temperatures hit a chilly -4. So I awoke to yet another frosty morning. I don’t mind the cold temperatures but it does make it harder to get out of bed in the morning. Race day all went smoothly. Gil and I shot at the locations we had scouted the day before. Gil got some great shots of a drop up top while I shot lower down on a berm I knew of. I even managed to get a few more sneaky wallride shots in.

A huge congratulation to all those place-getters and an even bigger one to Michael Vanos and Vanessa Thompson who won the male and female elite series. You can, as always see the full results on the Rocky Trail website here. All the images are available for viewing on the Outer Image website here and don’t forget to download your shots if you raced on the day.

A huge thanks to all those who made the series as wonderful as it was. Top of the list is Martin and Juliana of Rocky Trail Entertainment without whom we wouldn’t have a series in the first place. To the fine folks at Fox racing and Camelbak for sponsoring all the races. To all the caretakers that maintain the tracks that the races are run upon and of course to all the competitors who are the soul of the series and who make each event so much fun


Posted by Richard in Bikes, Events
Side trip to Canberra

Side trip to Canberra

I had a weekend free of sorts so I took a trip to Canberra. I had donated a print to the charity Pedal 4 Pierce for their upcoming auction at Fight Night. The framers had insisted that I come down and sign the print before they finished the frame. I had also been wanting to do a shoot with Chris Jefferys, the founder of Pedal 4 Pierce, outside of a race setting as we had always done until this point so that they had a selection of images to use for promotional purposes.

So I guess a little bit of background is in order here first for those that don’t know. Pedal 4 Pierce was a charity started by Chris when he was 10 years old. Chris decided he wanted to ride bikes but did so to raise money for research into a worthy cause. He chose muscular dystrophy as his focus and Pedal 4 Pierce was born. He has been at it for the last 7 years or so. I also asked an outlet of talented dirt jumpers, Jack Baker and Tom Wrigley, to join me for a day shooting down there on some of the local trails that we knew about. The jumps are made from orange dirt that contrasts beautifully with the green of the surrounding vegetation. They had been extended quite a bit since I last shot down there so there was plenty of fresh angle to shoot from.

I also managed to squeeze in a quick shoot for Copic Australia. They brought along one of their new bikes that they had just finished building up, plenty of being on the bike. It was a full steel frame but super light. Keep an eye out for it on the Enduro trails.

The other reason for the trip was just to have a better look around Canberra and its surroundings. I was never too enamored with Canberra before but every time I go down there it grows on me a little bit more. So I drove out into the Brindabella National Park where things were nice and frosty and did a little exploring. There is a lot more exploring needed in this area. I am back down in Canberra next weekend so I shall continue with my exploration then.

Posted by Richard in Bikes, Places
North Black Range Bouldering Festival

North Black Range Bouldering Festival

I went down to Canberra to catch up with Duncan Brown, a professional climber and boulderer. Each year Duncan puts on a bouldering festival in the North Black Range near Canberra. The area is strewn with large granite boulders and Duncan has developed a mass of boulder problems and is still putting more in.

The festival was small key which was nice being that it is held in a National Park but it definitely has the potential to be larger still. There was probably about 50 people or so over the weekend who all split into groups and went off exploring the various areas. The whole region is so large that it was rare for two groups to bump into each other unless it was intentional.

In the evening a series of games were held around the campsite. Prizes were given out by the event sponsors for events such as crashpad stacking and who could do the most pull ups on a flake of rock. All in all a nice relaxing time away and good to be out and shoot something different for myself again.

Posted by Richard in Climbing, Events, What's going on
Redass Downhill, Round 4: Stromlo

Redass Downhill, Round 4: Stromlo

The weekend gone saw Gil and I, under the guise of OuterImage, make the trip down to Canberra to cover the final round of the Redass State Downhill at Mount Stromlo Forest Park and put on by Rocky Trail Entertainment.

It’s the first time I have shot downhill racing at Stromlo. Gil and I started at the top then leapfrogged our way down. It can be hard to shoot at Stromlo as the light becomes quite harsh through the day and race day was no exception. Bright blue skies and a glaring sun kicked up some harsh shadows on the course. During times like this, you really need to pick the location well and let the rider ride through a sun patch or use flashes to lift them out of the shadows. The track was dry and dusty which can make for some great shots though as the dust gets thrown up and can really add a sense of movement to the shots.

There are some great features on the course including the Rock Garden, G20, Road Gap and Triple Treat. Unfortunately they also took a toll on the riders this time round. Perhaps as it was the final round the riders put that extra bit into the race and pushed themselves just a bit too far. The dust also can be rather treacherous for the riders taking away from the grip of the tyres.

All in all, it was a great finish to a great season. There are a few smaller races to coming but the next big one will be the Cannonball at Thredbo again. Hope to see you all there.

Posted by Richard in Bikes, Events