It’s hard to predict when an Aurora Australis will occur, and similarly hard to get a good vantage point for some epic shots. Chris Langton captured it at Cape Woolamai, less than 2 hours out of Melbourne’s CBD.


  • Unexpected Aurora Australis sighting
  • The Pinnacles at sunset
  • Steel wool spinning

The Lowdown

I decided to do a night trip for the August new moon in the hope of getting astro night shots, so I jumped in the car for a quick trip down to Philip Island to ‘The Pinnacles’.

Arriving at the Cape Woolamai car park, I hurried to get down there before the sun set over the horizon. It was a fairly cloudy afternoon with some awesome sunrays shooting through the cloud cover. I was worried by the amount of cloud as to whether I would have any luck shooting the night sky.

After shooting the sunset at the Pinnacles, I cooked up some dinner and ate down on the rocks, waiting for the sky to darken and the Milky Way to come into view. While I waited for the cloud to clear I had my first crack at steel wool spinning, which turned out fairly cool considering I nearly had the sparks burn through my jacket.

Chris Langton Cape Woolamai Victoria Vic sunset light painting photography

Aurora Australis

Once the clouds started to clear, I set up my camera to shoot some star shots over The Pinnacles. After my second frame, I noticed some strange colour in my viewfinder, so I re-angled my camera and took another.

There it was, my first capture of Aurora Australis. I had known that there was a slight chance of an Aurora, but I knew you had to be very lucky with timing and clear skies. Naturally, I was pretty excited, and quickly rock scrambled my way down the beach to get a more southerly facing position.

I stood there in the same spot snapping off shots for the next couple of hours, mesmerised by the natural phenomenon and amazing colours of the night sky. The 2 hour drive down to Philip Island was well worth it and now I am totally hooked on shooting the Aurora Australis! Cannot wait for the next encounter.

Chris Langton Cape Woolamai Victoria Vic sunset astrophotography


  • Photography
  • Astrophotography
  • Rock scrambling
  • Picnic

How To Get There

Head to Cape Woolamai Car Park – Philip Island.


Essential Gear

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Astro skills

Read: Astrophotography in the Southern Hemisphere // A Quick-Start Guide


Rock scrambling to the beach — Beginner

Astrophotography — Intermediate


Check out these other adventures near Melbourne…

4 Day Bikepacking Trip // Great Victorian Rail Trail (VIC)

Top 5 Mountains to Climb in Victoria

Meteor Shower This Weekend // Five Spots to Get an Epic View in Victoria

5 Epic Victorian National Parks You Probably Haven’t Been To Yet