In a Land of Giants pt. 2

Click here if you missed Part 1!

So begins day 2 of our journey. 

Farewell to the towering giants of the Sugar Pine Walk, and onwards to the great expanse between us and the Snowy Mountains of NSW. Between us and there? Well none of us actually knew. The plan was to venture south, whichever way the map would lead.

What greeted us along the way… well in truth, was nothing like what I expected.

The drive to the Snowy Mountains i’ve seen before, as have many, many others. You go through Goulburn, down to Cooma and on to Jindabyne. The usual NSW bush alongside huge dual carriageways, Lake George, and the wide empty Cooma rock farms. However because we weren’t going the usual route, and in reality coming in through the back and skipping Cooma (and everything before it), we didn’t really know what to expect. It was all new for us.

It started off being eerily similar to the usual route via Lake George. The big Gums, the dense bush, and even a Lake.

A few quick snaps, a visit to a poor excuse for a toilet, and onwards we went.

Towering steeps to our left and a vast lake to our right. Waterfalls, and rock faces high above us teased us between the trees. The terrain around us became more rugged, as did the narrow road we travelled. Turns became tighter, and we climbed higher. Steep roads and tight turns that make the entry to Lithgow seem like a gentle hill. Up we climbed. Into the clouds, and a clinging fog. By now the trees were truly wild. Towering over the road, wondering who dare enter their world, their wilderness. Snow began to line the road. 

With only the odd gap between the trees, it was hard to grasp just how aggressively the terrain had climbed, but an impulse stop at a lookout changed that.

An interesting feeling, looking out at the valley. Watching the low clouds fumble and roll over the ridges and spurs, the peaks of the mountains completely hidden. In honesty it’s a similar feeling and view to the Blue Mountains, where I love the feeling of looking on the huge valleys and feeling small and insignificant. Humbled. However this was so different… In amongst the clouds, from such a high point - we felt tiny, sure… but insignificant? Hardly. I felt alive, and connected. Connected to the ridges and the spurs, the valleys, the rivers, the waterfalls and the clouds. When in such a remote and rugged place, in a valley so untouched and wild, I couldn’t help but feel humbled, and be brought to the same level as every other living thing that lay before me. The birds, the trees. Every living thing held such a level of importance, and there I was in amongst them. No more superior, no less, but rather a part of it as a whole.

A crazy man in shorts, thongs and a t-shirt reminded us that it was nearly freezing, so we made our way onwards, the feeling of being humbled hanging fresh in the air.

The feeling of vulnerability and being completely at the mercy of the wilderness didn’t exactly stop once we were back on the road. If anything it just got stronger. Thicker. There were times where we didn’t know what was 50m in front of the car because the fog hung so low and so dense. It was that feeling of anticipation and unknown that would spur us onwards.

As the terrain rose and fell over the next hour, so did the fog and the snow. Constantly teetering on the edge of the sky and land.
We spotted a sign that I recognised. Words I’d seen on an information board and remembered in the back of my mind. Here it was in the familiar brown tourist sign, indicating a turn off. So down the dirt road we went, and onwards to the Yarrangobilly Caves, deep within Kosciuszko National Park.

The thought of ‘caves’ got me excited enough… but then there was this tiny dirt road, winding through ancient forest, with snow covering its base. The most snow we’d seen on the trip yet.
The road descended quickly, winding in and out and around through a steep valley.

An old stone gate, park benches. A red roofed building, and towering limestone walls. 


Out comes the flash, and in we go.

First through a quaint forest track, that then opened to a vast limestone valley, with black and gold stone 440 million years older than ourselves.

An enormous open shaft above us gave us a taste of the sheer scale of this place. Towering at least 60m above us, water dripped of the hanging vines, and birds flew through the huge hole. Onwards along the track it got wetter, and darker, until an open steel gate invited us further.
In, we dove.

Incredibly dark. Ferociously quiet. There aren’t many words to describe the sheer level of unexpected awe we found. A random spur of the moment decision to turn down some dirt road, somehow lead to an immense and vast limestone cave system. Caverns that seemingly have no roof, and ancient, untouched formations that defy gravity. Sensor lights urged us on further.

We were the only ones in the cave. The entire system. Pure, and utterly inexpressible silence, only broken every now and again by a drop of water into a pool, that was likely thousands of years old.

Ducking and weaving through tight passageways and open chambers, the path lead in all directions. Down at first before doubling back, rising up some stairs then descending into another chamber. Again and again the path turned and tumbled, and we immediately were filled with a huge respect and appreciation for the people that would have first discovered places like this. Our sheer awe, must’ve been only a fraction of theirs.

Eventually just as we were climbing out of the cave, we heard the first voices echo through where we had just been. A gentle nudge back to reality. As we exited the cave, the only reaction I found appropriate, was to just laugh, and smile.

This is what exploring and being on the road is all about. Those random little side tracks and moments that leave you with such a light and airy feeling. The anticipation of the unknown, and the joy of having ventured through it.
Had we known what was down that road, or deep within those caves, we wouldn’t have had the same joy. The same anticipation, and you could even say, no motivation to even venture there in the first place. You could say that it’s the darkness, not the light, that really draws us forwards.

So again, onwards.

The bush around the exit road, just as windy as the drive in, was covered in snow. Of course we had to stop for a shoot and a jump around, but it was more than that. With such an excitement still fresh in our minds from the caves, the snow served as a reminder of what was still to come. A week surrounded by the white stuff.

On top of the world. We were buzzing and feeling as high as we could be! The road out of there was white with snow, and I felt as if it couldn’t get any better; but the road ahead, was where some of my fondest memories of the entire trip would lie.

Wild brumbies, and the vast, open, snow covered plains they run in. The vastness of it, seemed to amplify the immensity of time. 

It was as if we spent an eternity in that valley… an eternity I would have happily stayed in.

An eternity owned by giants.

This post is Part 2 of a three part series about a little bit of time spent away with two of the people I hold dearest. Cramped car trips, smelly snowboard boots.
Snow covered valleys, crisp mountain air.
A time, a memory; a story to be told.

Click if you missed Part 1
Click here for Part 3

Don’t forget to follow me in Instagram! Most of my photos go on there.


In a Land of Giants pt. 1


It’s not gibberish, it’s German.

(n) the feeling of being alone in the woods.

It’s one of those beautiful words that the English language would do well to borrow. It’s also what you’d expect when you visit the Bago State Forest, or more specifically, the spectacular Sugar Pine Walk.

Shy of 20 something photographers gathered to venture out to the hidden gem that is Laurel Hill. Four cars, a lot of cameras, and a small town called Tumut - far over the horizon.

To many others, this trip would’ve been seen as a great opportunity to shoot and mingle with some other incredible photographers and creatives. It was.
However for me, there was much more to this trip than just that. It was well needed time away from the drag, and the cycle of Sydney life, and a perfect opportunity to spend quality time away with my better half, Eleanor, and the third wheel (sorry) - my newly returned best mate Rhys.

As our trip began, and Sydney became a speck in the mirror, I could swear the air became clearer, easier to breathe. The sky opened up, with a furthered horizon. A cloud lifted from my head, a weight gone, from my shoulders, and my eyes opened and so importantly - focused. 

I was one of the few first timers to Laurel Hill, the home of the Sugar Pine Walk, so the only expectations I had were what i’d seen on Instagram and from other photographers that had been before.
The main inspiration for this trip was the freak snowstorm that happened a few weeks prior. Snow falling to 800m, and lots of it, meant the Sugar Pine Walk was transformed into a Narnia-esque winter dreamscape. A wonderland. However with the rising temperatures and the rainfall before we headed, the prospect of snow quickly disappeared - along with my dreams of Waldeinsamkeit. 
Camera shutters, directions being thrown around, noise, laughter, chatter. Fantastic things, though things that would crowd that feeling of isolation. Or so I thought.

Honestly, it didn’t bother me much. The business, the hustle and bustle. The creative vibes flowing were high. With such an awesome group, in an incredible place, it was bound to be an incredible time in the forest regardless. Excitement followed - and we were only just leaving the caravan park on route to the forest.

Winding forest roads, fog, the dying light.

Dirt roads, mud, a heavy camera bag.

Two steps into the trees, one look up.

No expectation, no hashtag, no finely combed photograph of a model amongst the trees could have done any justice to seeing those pines with two human eyes.

Ineffable awe, in a land of giants.

The shutter clicks, the noise, the chatter. It all slowly disappeared and blended seamlessly into the trees.

I ventured down the walk itself, to the sides amongst the pines, over stumps and under logs. So many enormous, ancient trees, with only the odd second of someone else walking amongst them.

Further, further the noises became, as the light at the top of the hill came nearer. What would be up there, at the end of the path? I envisaged being atop a ridge, looking over a vast valley of pines and fog. Endless nature, untouched and as ancient as the titans that surround me.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Death. Emptiness.

I regret not taking photos of the emptiness beyond the walk. It was depressing. A field of splinters and stumps, crudely torn apart by the muddy yellow excavators and logging machinery that lay scattered amongst the dead valley. A reminder of the destruction humans can cause. So casually uprooting the trees that would remember many a generation before our own.

A turn of the heel, and the despair was out of sight.
However, long yet till it were to be out of mind.

Fading light, and the final walk back down the path to where we came.

(n) the feeling of being alone in the woods.

I thought about that word again…

The Sugar Pine Walk is a small protected area amongst a large logging area. Perhaps it’s not the us, but rather the ancient pines of that area, that feel most alone in the woods.

New friends, laughter and fun times, a few good flicks.

An epic trip in all - yet only the beginning of ours.

The next morning, whilst the rest of the group headed back to the forest, Rhys, Eleanor and myself ventured on, through the back roads, and onto the Snowy Mountains. That my friends, is where we were truly in a land of giants.

This post is Part 1 of a three part series about a little bit of time spent away with two of the people I hold dearest. Cramped car trips, smelly snowboard boots.
Snow covered valleys, crisp mountain air.
A time, a memory; a story to be told.

Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3

To check out the other works from the trip to Laurel Hill, search #Intothemud16 on instagram, or check out these profiles!


I had the pleasure recently of meeting two of the brightest and most love inspiring souls imaginable at work. The kind of people you don’t just “happen” to meet. An experience in itself I could rant on about for hours, however one of them posed a question to me that’s stuck with me since… The kind of question that spurs you to rethink just what you’re doing with your life.. Where your focus, your energy lies.

“If you could only have one word on your grave, what would it be?”

I’d like to say that those words hit with ballistic impact. As heavy as a blacksmith’s hammer strikes his battered anvil. 

Truth is, I was working, and at the same time half tripping down a step and in turn giving my cardiovascular system a surprise high intensity interval session… However the more I thought, and continue to think about that question, the heavier it grows on me. Not so much the blacksmith’s hammer, but the bellows, that gently fuel that crackling, raging furnace.

One word… One word…

In the end I cheated and picked 4 words, the title of this blog. Slow down, Look up… Fitting for the feel of my workmanship and philosophy to my work, but on my gravestone? Hardly so.

One of the first words that swung through my head was ‘humble’.

Humility is a virtue we should all strive for. Shoot down ego and pride when they rear their ghastly foul heads and overcome them with immense love and compassion.

How noble! How ironic.


Sorry Snape. Romantic sure… In life we often like to think of things as absolute, infinite. Our lives and moments enduring always… But as an epitaph? Ehhh… The irony! Seems like a cute idea at first, until you picture someone reading it, and the “Ha!” escaping their mouth.

‘Always’ is probably in the same category as Forever or Alive. Comforting sentiments perhaps, but after a while a sore reminder of the finite, fleeting nature of our fragile existence. Perhaps a word along those lines, yet with slightly less depressing connotations would be…


Rather than denouncing the fact that all things come to end - revile in it. Accept and embrace it. No longer bound to the grievances and pain this world is clouded by, instead freed from them. The thought of freedom makes me picture the thoughts and words of Marcus Aurelius. Looking up at the stars, and seeing yourself running with them. Forever free from the unbearable lightness of being. (Good book by the way!)

Wait a minute though… What made that person’s life so painful and unbearable that their final desire was to be free from it all?

Bah. Back to square one we go.

How about ‘Loved’?

Common sure, but for good reason! Love is EVERYTHING. The Universe is better by it. Giving love, feeling love, the only thing that ever had and ever will matter, is love! Now we’re getting somewhere!

But the tense bugs me. Love-d. Hmm. It shouldn’t bug me but it does. It’s finite, it ends. It screams “once upon a time”.

Loved, but soon forgotten. Dark, depressing and pessimistic thoughts I know… 

Hmm. Too much weight, but I’ll keep it on the short list.

Speaking of weight, how about ‘light’? Light… Not just in weight, but actual life giving Light itself. Images of sunlight comes to mind… Autumn leaves in the gentle breeze. A feather, floating though the air. Death always seems so dark and heavy, so why not leave a mark that instills uplifting brightness in whoever reads it? Rays of enlightening joy. (Haaaaa!)

Connotations of freedom come to mind, minus the irony that comes with the word ‘free’.

What I like most about this word is that it tells people that “Yes, death is dark. It’s sad and depressing. But it’s okay. I’m gone, and that’s okay”. It’s different to the other words because rather than being a reflection on the life that was, it’s a big shove forward. It spurs people to move and not become stagnant, stuck in the cycle of grief.

In fact I think I like that as the purpose of my epitaph… Not a word to commemorate or somehow describe me. You can’t fit someone’s entire life and their impact on this world in a single word. You never will be able to! Rather I’d want a word that continues to work. A word that keeps making ripples.


Ah. That’s better. Doesn’t that feel nice?

A word that doesn’t exactly focus on me, nor my passing, but rather even IN my passing continuing to effect those that come by me. Telling them to simply just smile! Shit happens, and that’s okay. Things will fade. Possessions will fade. People will fade. Lives will fade. Even memories will fade.

So I’d like to have a word that fights that. A word that triumphs over the dismal melancholy that clouds around death, and instead arms people with the simplest and oldest way of fighting sadness.

A smile.

Go, smile.

In the beautiful words of Terry Pratchett,

“No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in this world die away…”

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