The best aerial views of Australia

Nick Rains first photographed from a helicopter during the America’s Cup and he’s been hooked on seeing the country from up high since. For 30 years now, Nick has been scouring the Australian landscape from great heights, seeking the aerial perfect picture.

Nicks’s new book, Aerial Australia, is a culmination of his work from the windows of a helicopter, or, as is often the case, windowless whirlybirds.

When you view Nick’s wonderful work, you get a sense of tranquillity. However, as Nick says, once he pokes his camera ‘even slightly out of the window, it becomes a live thing in my hands, bucking and twisting in the high wind’. So, you can imagine how difficult it must be to capture such amazing shots of Australian landscapes and cityscapes.

Having seen Nick’s book, and all the amazing photos inside, I wanted to know which ones were his favourite. So, I asked him to choose the best ones from each state. And I’ve even picked one of my own – Northern Territory – to round out the entire nation.

Q. Nick, the book is amazing, with so many awesome pics. But tell us, which are your favourite aerial views of each state, and why?

A. Nick
Having flown over so many parts of this huge continent I have noticed that many places that photograph well on the ground simply don’t look as good from the air. More to the point, the reverse is true too – many places that you’d not look at twice on the ground, look stunning from above. Here are my favourites from each state – next time you are flying overhead, see if you can pick them out.

QLD
The Gulf coastline. On the ground, you mostly see endless flat mangrove flats but from the air it’s a colossal network of rivers and estuaries, particularly to the west of Karumba. Being very tropical, you’ll also see some sensational cloud formations.

WA
This is a difficult one because it is such a large and varied state, this is a difficult one. But if I must choose, I’d say the Kimberley is my top pick, although the south-west is pretty good, too. The rugged orange sandstone of the Kimberley coastline is very distinctive and quite difficult to see from the ground – it being so remote. From the air, you get an excellent sense of scale, too.

NSW
Easy one – Sydney Harbour. From high above the harbour you can clearly see the full extent of the intricate network of bay, beaches and inlets. I’m told the coastline within the harbour extends between 200km and 300km, depending on how you measure it. Whatever the figure, on a sunny, clear day it’s staggering.

SA
Simpson and Tirari Deserts. If you want to get a sense of how big Australia is, try looking down on these deserts where endless dunes stretch to the horizon. On average, they are 500m to 1km apart, so give a thought to the early explorers like Sturt who crossed these endless spaces the hard way. 

Click NEXT to see the rest of these stunning aerial photographs.

TAS
Wineglass Bay. This is one place that looks as good from the ground as it does from the air. The perfect sweep of the bay, flanked by the rocky headlands along the Freycinet Peninsula make this one of the great sights in Australia.

VIC
Loch Ard Gorge. Only from the air do you get a true sense of the incredibly convoluted and deeply eroded coastline near Port Campbell. Next time you are in the area, don’t pass up the helicopter rides from the visitor centre.

ACT
Last but not least! The standout feature of ACT is the amazing symmetry of the capital’s road network and, in particular, the avant-garde design of Parliament House. Once again, the layout is all but invisible from the ground but from the air, it’s quite clear how it all fits together.

Thanks Nick, now for my favourite pic of the Northern Territory …
It’s difficult to go past the shot of the Adelaide River as it winds through 17 loops crossing the Mary River Floodplains near Darwin. You would never see this from the ground, so it’s simply spectacular to see from the air.

Which is your favourite image? Have you ever taken pics from a plane or helicopter? Why not share your experience with our members?

Nick’s book Aerial Australia can be purchased from all good booksellers or online at Dymocks

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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