Photographing Sea Lake and Lake Tyrell… The big question is how did the first ones even know about Sea Lake? After all, north-west Victoria is known for grain farming, not tourism. And Sea Lake, some four hours north-west of Melbourne and five hours east of Adelaide, is quite a way off the beaten track.
But come they did – in search of Lake Tyrell and images to post on social media. And much to the surprise of the locals, most of those early visitors were Chinese.
With the images they took posted on WeChat – the huge and incredibly popular Chinese equivalent of Facebook and Instagram.
And so began an unlikely transformation from an almost ghost town, where even the only pub had closed. Into a thriving social media and international tourist hotspot! With the impact on Sea Lake being nothing short of miraculous!
Not only has the pub reopened for business, it has been completely and very nicely refurbished after being bought by a group of locals.
Photographing Sea Lake – Why They Come…
Lake Tyrrell takes its name from the Boorong Aboriginal peoples word for sky and space – tyrille. The Boorong people are acknowledged for possibly being the world’s first astronomers, with deep interest in the night sky and its constellations.
Tyrell is Victoria’s largest salt lake and is quite unique because of how it was formed some 120,000 years ago. When changes in the course of the Murray River left the huge and ancient Lake Bungunnia high and dry. The remnants of which became Lake Tyrrell.
Bone dry during the hot summer months. In autumn increases in ground water, together with inflows from the Tyrrell Creek system mean that, come winter, the lake is covered with a few inches of very salty wate.
That shallow water, on a still day, make the lake surface a flat and calm mirror-like reflection of the sky.
Making for those perfect social media posts… But how it became known about in China remains an unresolved mystery!
Photographing Sea Lake – Sunrise and Sunset
For me, Lake Tyrrell is at its most photogenic at sunrise, sunset and on a dark but clear night. My short trip to Sea Lake on the Beast gave me just two nights there, before heading up into outback NSW. So I decided to concentrate on the sunrises and sunsets. But the potential of the lake and stars on a clear night will take me back for sure!
The first sunset was a bust though… But hope springs eternal and the next morning saw me heading out to the lake just after 05.00. And I was rewarded with a series of really nice images as the sun came up. This is my favourite one:
Sunset on the second day started off like it had the previous day – dissapointing… And then it all started to happen!
I had found a large tree branch that looked like it would make a nice forground subject. So, when the sky started to come alive I was able to capture some really nice images. This one is my favorite from that series:
Best Sunrise and Sunset Photo Locations
Given its large size, you are probably wondering where to start at Lake Tyrrell. So was I and given my limited time there I contacted Julie Pringle at Sea Lake Tyrrel Tours to explain what I was hoping to do while in town. Julie arranged to meet me once I got to Sea Lake and then took me out to the Lake and showed me the best spots for sunrise and sunset. She also arranged a pair of wellies for me – an absolutely essential accessory!
The sunset spot was at the main viewing area which is well signposted off the A79 Calder Highway. Basically quite easy to get to, but the sunrise spot is a bit more involved and I doubt that I would have found it without Julie’s help.
It’s towards the end of Saltworks Road, which is a right turn further up the Calder Highway.
Photographing Sea Lake – The Grain Silos
Sea Lake is also on the Silo Art Trail, the impressive collection of 11 sites across 200km in western Victoria. The trail is Australia’s largest outdoor gallery and consists of grain-belt infrastructure used as concrete canvasses for artists to tell stories of the locations.
The grain silos at Sea Lake were painted by Queensland street artists Drapl and The Zookeeper. Their mural depicts a young girl on a swing with Lake Tyrrell as the backdrop and is really well done!
Photographing Sea Lake – In Summary…
Sea Lake is a long way from Sydney, but the images I saw of the lake really intrigued me. So I decided to include it on my trip and was glad I did as it is really quite unique in many ways!
You are deep in the Victorian countryside and pass through some big open spaces on the way. It’s a great journey and a very special destination.