Gnaraloo: Into The Outback

Boardseeker

Photographer Col Leonhardt recently travelled up the west coast of Australia to the remote Gnaraloo to, for the first time, shoot this infamous spot from the air. Boardseeker joins Col as he talks through the awesome journey, explains more about Gnaraloo and shares some sentimental words from Ben Newson.

Gnaraloo - The outback adventure

All images © Col Leonhardt/WindsurfAustralia.com

Australia has one wave sailing location that stands out from all the rest, it’s a location that really needs to be seen from the air to understand how remote it is, how beautiful the landscape can be and how the wind and waves line up to provide one of the best spots on the planet.

As an aerial photographer and windsurfer I have been trying to photograph Gnaraloo for six years but the cost of getting a helicopter to such a remote location was so excessive that I thought it would never happen. Gnaraloo has never been photographed from a helicopter;that was until this year whilst working with a pilot in another part of the north west he mentioned he would be near Gnaraloo during the best time for waves (September/October).

The next issue was fuel for the helicopter, no fuel provider would deliver out to the location so we ended up purchasing our own drums and drove them out there ourselves along some very rough tracks. Then we were ready to go.

Photos:

Photos:

Photos:

Photos:

Photos:

We ended up spending three days shooting/filming on this trip with a fair few incredible sailors including Al McLeod and Ben Newson from Australia, plus several other locals.

Gnaraloo handles a large swell very well, however on this trip the expected swell didn’t arrive so we had waves from waist high up to almost mast high in a more dangerous section of reef a little further upwind. The wind starts blowing from late August to about April with the best months being September, October, March and April. December/January/February is very windy with less swell but the heat can be unbearable.

While Gnaraloo is great for wave sailing it also has a flat water bay 12km further north if you are into slalom sailing and if you are after a gentle swim there is a tropical lagoon right in front of the campsite.

Gnaraloo is private property, a working sheep station to be exact and is about 1,200 km from Perth, a nice long drive with the last 100km over quite a rough track. Accommodation is either at the campsite for $20 per night, there is no fresh water, no power, there are toilets and showers though (bore water). Further down the track is the homestead which has small basic villa’s starting from $70 per night, these have water, power and basic amenities.

Photos:

Photos:

Photos:

Photos:

Photos:

Photos:

What does Gnaraloo mean to…. Ben Newson.

“Gnaraloo to me means a long straight drive in the heat of the day without air-conditioning. Dodging wild animals that run or skip the gauntlet at night. Eating servo food and loading up on Redbull to keep you awake behind the wheel. It means bouncing along a dirt track hoping to make it to the point. It means scoring epic, barreling left hand waves with your mates and a swarm of blow ins and blow flies. It means you are guaranteed to break something and swim for your life. It means having a few cold beers after a sail and passing out under a starlit sky. It means that summer is just around the corner.”

Photos:

Photos:

Photos:

 

 

 

X

Also in Features

The Vulcan with Jem Hall

Read More