Norfolk Creek, Bribie Island

The eastern or ocean side of Bribie Island is a continuous long stretch of open sandy beach, extending over 30km from Skirmish Point north to Caloundra. The southern section near Woorim is popular with walkers, but most visitors to the central and northern sections get there by four-wheel-drive. The beach is punctuated by a series of small, tannin-stained lagoons and creeks that intermittently open to the sea via narrow entrance channels.

In my quest to find new landscape photo opportunities, I decided to explore a couple of the creeks closest to Woorim – I’m not a four-wheel-driver so resorted to my favourite mode of transport – leg power (or “Shanks’ Pony” as my dear mother liked to call it).

A brisk half hour walk north from the car park at Woorim will bring you to Freshwater Creek, which I visited earlier in the year, and another 20-25 minutes on from there is Norfolk Creek – my target for this particular photo shoot. With a sunrise time of just after 6am, I set off from the car park at 4:30 to a star-filled sky. Walking along an empty beach in the dark gives you the feeling of floating, and with no clearly visible reference points, you can trick yourself into thinking you’re not going anywhere – quite a weird feeling! With my torch switched off, I could just make out the white foam of waves pushing up the beach, and the occasional ghost crab scuttling out of my way at high speed.


I arrived at Norfolk Creek at around 5:20 and began looking for likely photo points by torchlight. With a few ideas in mind, I set up my tripod on the edge of the creek channel and waited for the light to come up a little. I’m not a very sharing person when it comes to sunrise photography in a beautiful location, especially when I’ve put in some effort to get there. Solitude at sunrise is a magical experience. So I wasn’t particularly thrilled when a four-wheel-drive with lights blazing roared along the beach and up to the edge of the creek channel in front of me. I was even less thrilled when it drove down into the channel to cross the creek and immediately became bogged in the soft sand.

There wasn’t anything much I could do to help, and I wasn’t about to miss out on sunrise up to my armpits in water, futilely trying to dig a car out of undiggably soft sand. The couple in the car began making phone calls and looking out for other 4wds coming along the beach that might be able to pull them out. I gave up on that particular photo option and wandered off to look for others that didn’t include a big fat Toyota as foreground interest.


Despite that annoyance, I found a great looking old paperbark tree hanging over the creek and set about framing it and its reflection in the tea-coloured water. A reasonably long shutterspeed smoothed out the few ripples in the water, and the patterns in the sand provided an interesting foreground. These are my two favourite images from the morning – can’t quite decide which one I like best, so they come as a matching pair.

After coming up with a few other okay images of the creek, and with the sun now risen, I headed back out to the beach just as the owners of the vehicle managed to extract it after unloading everything onto the sand and shoving some debris under the tyres. They continued on up the beach and I set off back towards Woorim.

The blue, blue sky, interesting cloud patterns and low angle of the sunlight combined to create gorgeous vistas up and down the beach. I couldn’t help but stop at regular intervals and try and capture some of this expansive beauty. Consequently, it took me twice as long to walk back as it had to walk up the beach before sunrise – the only thing that kept me moving was the thought of a big hearty breakfast waiting at home!

The lagoons and creeks along the eastern shore of Bribie Island are well worth a visit with your camera, but if you choose to walk there, you’ll likely be sharing the beach with vehicles. This detracts from the experience a little for me, but that’s just the way it is. The other option is to get yourself a beach driving permit and explore it by car – just don’t come and ask me for help if you get bogged.

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Thursday, 09 February 2023

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