You’ve probably heard of the iconic Sugar Pine Forest, but unless you live out in the middle of NSW you mightn’t have been there yet. Now there’s another reason to go! The blooming of the Cootamundra Canola Fields. Time to tick off this hyper-aesthetic weekend double!


Highlights

  • Visit and photograph the stunning Sugar Pine forest
  • Catch the Canola Fields in full bloom
  • See a part of the country that not many city-dwellers experience

Cootamundra's Canola Fields & The Sugar Pine Forest (NSW), Alfonso Calero, Riverina, NSW, canola flowers, tree

First Stop: The Sugar Pine Forest

I got a call from a photographer friend Johnny James to go on a road trip five hours from Sydney. Our goal was to shoot the famous Sugar Pine forest.

The drive to Laurel Hill where the Sugar Pine forest is located is a similar distance from Melbourne, which makes it a perfect halfway point between the two cities. Staying close by in the sleepy village of Batlow gives you easy access to the forest which is only 15 minutes away.

Cootamundra's Canola Fields & The Sugar Pine Forest (NSW), Alfonso Calero, Riverina, NSW, sugar pine trees, forest, sunset

First planted in 1929, the sugar pines are the straightest and tallest pine in the world. Looking up it can be quite disconcerting to see them swaying in the wind ready to snap and fall at least 15 metres. Sugar pine is the largest, in height and diameter, of all pine species. The wood of sugar pine is valued for its workability, dimensional stability, and satiny sheen after milling.

Wounded trees of this species secrete a sugary exudate which gives rise to the common name. Sugar pine’s large cones yield large edible seeds and the trees can grow to 60 metres tall with a trunk diameter of 1.5 metres.

Cootamundra's Canola Fields & The Sugar Pine Forest (NSW), Alfonso Calero, Riverina, NSW, sugar pine trees, forest

Read more: A Land Of Giants // The Sugar Pine Walk

The Canola Fields Of Cootamundra

The Canola Fields are located on Old Gundagai Road, and Rosehill and Jugiong roads near Cootamundra. From germination to seed production, the life-cycle of a canola plant takes about 3 ½ months, depending on temperature, moisture, sunlight and soil fertility. Make sure you visit in late winter/spring to see them at their best.

Cootamundra's Canola Fields & The Sugar Pine Forest (NSW), Alfonso Calero, Riverina, NSW, canola flowers

Note: We can’t guarantee the flowers will be blooming, do your research before you go!

Flying overhead you’re likely to see planes spraying the fields. Crop dusting refers to dropping actual dust on crops, so the pilots generally prefer the term “aerial application” or “ag application.” Regardless, these guys are really well trained and watching them in action from a distance is quite a spectacle. However I suggest you stand back as the chemicals they drop are quite toxic and should not be breathed in!

Safety note: Please don’t enter the Canola Fields. You risk trampling the fields, ingesting pesticide or encountering angry farmers!

Cootamundra's Canola Fields & The Sugar Pine Forest (NSW), Alfonso Calero, Riverina, NSW, canola flowers, dead tree

Cootamundra's Canola Fields & The Sugar Pine Forest (NSW), Alfonso Calero, Riverina, NSW, windmillEssential Gear

We did this trip for photography, here’s what we brought:

  • Canon 5D Mark III
  • Carl Zeiss 18mm
  • Canon 50mm f1.2L lens.
  • Sirui T024X carbon-fibre tripod
  • Nisi Filters (10 stop, PL & 3 stop reverse soft grad)
  • MacBook Pro & Lacie Fuel Drive.
  • Wacom Bamboo tablet also works a charm for editing with Lightroom, Photoshop and Nik.
  • Head torch
  • Small reflectors
  • If there are no planes flying low you might get away with flying a drone like we did with a DJI Mavic Pro. Best to check flight path before you fly.

How To Get There

The Sugar Pines walk is about half a kilometre down Kopsens Rd, off Batlow Rd, Laurel Hill. It’s roughly halfway between Sydney and Melbourne.

The drive north to Cootamundra for the Canola Fields is roughly an hour and a half via Gundagai, which is also worth a stop. Head to Old Gundagai Road and explore from there!

Activities

  • Photography
  • Hiking
  • Astrophotography

Skill Level

Beginner

 

This article was originally published on Alfonso’s photography website where he posts tips and runs tour workshops around Australia and internationally.

 


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