Workshops and Tours with AIPP* Accredited Professional Photographer Mark Rayner

Ten Day “Bird and Nature Photography Tour and Workshop”

When: 28th September to 7th October 2017

Where: Hunter Valley Region, NSW

September 28th to October 2nd (Apollo Charlestown)

October 2nd to October 7th (Tuscany Estate Hunter Valley Wine District)

Booking information at the bottom of this page.

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Join experienced adventuring professional travel photographer and bird photography expert Mark Rayner and Australian bird expert Dick Jenkin on a bird and nature photography adventure not to be missed.

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Itinerary and Program of Events

Day One

Late afternoon meet and greet Apollo Charlestown. During this time we will look at participants skill levels, equipment and workshop expectations. We'll go through some basic photography technique revisions and then meet for our first group dinner.

Day Two

Today we'll head to Blackbutt Reserve before visiting the Hunter Wetland Centre where we will have lunch in the aptly named “Spoonbill Café”.

The birds here are amazing and used to people, making photographing them that much easier. We will get together for the official welcome where Mark and Dick will outline the week ahead. We will discuss and assess everybody’s skill levels and expectations for the week, fine tune camera settings and be ready to shoot!

The wetlands area is awesome; no way can we do it justice on day one, but like Arnie Schwarzenegger, WE’LL BE BACK.

To complete our first day out, we will head to Nobbys Beach for some amazing scenery, sunset, and a few birds thrown in for good measure, after which we will return to the Apollo for dinner.

Day Three

Today we will bounce out of bed full of enthusiasm for a 6.30 A.M. breakfast and then off to Swansea , a short drive away, to board our boat for the morning.

The skipper assures us that the salmon are running in October and the birds are plentiful. There will be opportunities to photograph several species of sea birds up close, including Shearwaters and Albatross.

We will moor off Moon Island, a big seabird nesting site close to shore, and add to the challenges of photography whilst rocking on a boat, gently we hope!

Fishing is a possibility and the crew will cook up anything caught for lunch on the boat.

On the way back to the Motel we will stop at some spots on Lake Macquarie where Pelicans, Black Swans and other fresh water birds abound.

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Day Four

A later start this morning and we are back to visit the Hunter Wetlands Centre with a full morning to explore the 45 hectare site which abounds with many bush birds , water birds and even a rainforest section.

There is a resident population of Magpie Geese plus they have a Freckled Duck breeding program and birds can be viewed and photographed in an enclosure. If water levels are right, many different species of crakes and rails inhabit the fringes of the ponds.

We will have a packed lunch at the centre and coffee, drinks etc. are available at the Spoonbill Café.

After lunch we will travel to Stockton Sand Spit, an incredible area under the Stockton Bridge across the Hunter River.

This is a high tide roost for migratory waders, some have come from as far away as the Arctic Circle, and others like the beautifully coloured Red-necked Avocets are more local as are many species of terns, Pied Oystercatchers and Red-capped Plovers which all call the SSS home.

The adjacent mangroves also support some bush birds such as Mangrove Gerygone, Brown Honeyeater and Double-barred Finches are often present.

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Day Five

Check out today and we aim to leave here around 8 A.M. and transfer across to Tuscany Estate in the Hunter Valley wine region. On the way we will visit Old Brush at Brunkerville, a 40 acre rainforest retreat with many walking trails and “tame” wild birds offering photographic opportunities not normally available for some of these secretive rain forest species.

We will have a picnic lunch here before heading over to Tuscany. There are two restaurants here and we will have the pleasure of dining between the 2, one formal and one more casual. The food here is well worth the visit alone.

Mark will weave his magic with a Post-Processing session this afternoon as we settle into our tranquil surrounds.

Day Six

After all the excitement of the last 4 days, today is your day off to explore your new surrounds, which includes several hectares of bush and vines around the accommodation, with plenty of bird and landscape photography opportunities.

Andrew Thomas Wine tasting and Binnorie Dairy with a range of cheeses are part of the “Tuscany” complex and a brewery is just across the road.

You could of course just sleep, read a book, and swim in the pool. Process your photos, or take a winery tour. The day is yours to do whatever you wish

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Day Seven

An 8 A.M. start again and we head back to Maitland to visit Walka Water Works. This is another fantastic resource for birds, both water and bush.

A 3km walk around the lake takes in bushland as well. It is one of the few places in our region reliable for Great-crested Grebe, and Musk Duck and sometimes Blue-billed Duck are present.

Water birds can be numerous here at times, including coots and cormorants.

We will have a picnic lunch here before heading out for an afternoon of some of Dick’s secret locations around the area.

Day Eight

Another 8 A.M. departure today and we will travel down the motorway to the Central Coast near Gosford , visiting the Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park in the morning and the Australian Reptile Park ( has many excellent birds as well ) in the afternoon.

Both locations, whilst not far apart, are quite different, the morning location has a short walk through some dry bushland that takes in some aboriginal sites with engravings of animals and birds in the rocks and some hand prints. Emu’s and Kangaroos wander around freely and half hourly ranger talks will bring various animals, birds or reptiles out for easier photography.

The Reptile Park will blow your minds away. Think close up photo opportunities of not only lizards and snakes, but many birds and animals as well, both free and in walk through aviaries.

You may get to glimpse the enigmatic Tim Faulkner, a personal mate of Dick’s, who runs the whole show. Tim has his own TV show “The Wild Life of Tim Faulkner” and we can assure you he has some behind the scenes surprises in store for us!

Day Nine

Today we will head off again for some quite localised natural bush birding and photography opportunities.

A casual day to finish in some more of Dick’s secret locations, depending on the season and where the birds are.

We will have our picnic lunch for the last time in a nice location and finish early so we can enjoy our final dinner together at Tuscany Estate.

Day Ten

Check out and transfers to Newcastle where we say our goodbyes until the next time.

Itinerary subject to change or rearrangement due to weather conditions or at the whim of the birds.

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About Dick Jenkin:

Dick is passionate about birds and has spent his entire life pursuing countless species all over the globe. More recently, having observed all but three Australian birds, he has decided to revisit his secret places with camera in hand.
Dick is now a full time photographer pursuing this new goal.

Together with his wife Lynn, also a passionate photographer, he is setting about making bird photography more accessible to everyone.

Dick returns to UNI in 2016 to further advance his knowledge by gaining a Post Graduate Diploma in Ornithology.

In short, if there is a bird in the bush, Dick knows what it is and how to find it. His knowledge will be invaluable as we bring you this brand new bird and nature photography workshop in the Hunter Valley region of NSW.

Photographic Prerequisites:

This amazing photography tour workshop is designed to suit the beginner or serious enthusiast.

A digital SLR or mirrorless interchangeable lens camera camera is recommended. Best lenses to bring include a longer zoom or prime. Lenses such as Canon 100-400, Nikon 80-400, Tamron or Sigma 150-600 are ideal as are 400, 500 and 600 primes. 1.4x and 2x teleconverters are also very useful.

A sturdy monopod or tripod is recommended, preferably fitted with a gimbal head. For the reptile and other animal sessions a shorter zoom or macro lens would be ideal.

A standard zoom (24-70) would also be advisable as some landscape opportunities will present. An external flash could be useful in certain circumstances.

Some of the topics that will be covered:

• Bird Photography techniques
• Wildlife
• Composition
• Lighting
• Exposure and metering techniques
• Streamlining your digital workflow and image post-processing techniques

This amazing tour will fill up quickly, so please contact Mark to secure your place and register your interest.

Cost for the 10 day tour : Twin Share $ 4582.00 per person

Single $ 4912.00 per person

$600.00 per person deposit required to secure your position.

Balance payable 60 days before workshop

Inclusions :

  • 9 nights accommodation - Check in Apollo Charleston Thursday 28 September 2017 - Check out Tuscany Estate Saturday 7 October 2017
  • All Dinners
  • All Lunches
  • All Breakfasts
  • All Ground transport (Newcastle to Newcastle)
  • Charter boat fee
  • Reptile and Wildlife park fees
  • Wetlands fees
  • Guiding and tuition


  • Alcohol
  • Items of a personal nature

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is recommended and remains your responsibility.