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Nature’s fury and beauty captured in winning photos

Kamahl Cogdon, August 30, 2020 7:00PM Kids News

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Ben Blanche has been named Australian Geographic Photographer of the Year for 2020 for his shot of a bushfire in the Mt Barney National Park in Queensland. media_cameraBen Blanche has been named Australian Geographic Photographer of the Year for 2020 for his shot of a bushfire in the Mt Barney National Park in Queensland.


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A photograph taken during the Black Summer bushfires has won top prize in a prestigious* photography competition that captures the splendour* of Australian nature.

Queensland’s Ben Blanche snapped the photo of burning Mt Barney National Park, southwest of Brisbane, last November.

The image has earned him the title of Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year for 2020.

The sun had just set when the Brisbane photographer captured the awe-inspiring* movement of fire across the national park at the height of the devastating bushfire season.

A local had reached out to Blanche in November to tell him that the fire had been moving through the mountain and would make an incredible photograph.

“That fire had been burning for weeks by the time I got there,” Blanche said.

“It was a very unpredictable situation. At the time the Rural Fire Service was working out of frame to make sure the fire didn’t cross over into a private property.

“I didn’t feel in danger at any point because it wasn’t a violent fire but it was just incredible to watch.”

Blanche spent several hours photographing the slow-moving fire move across the landscape that night.

“When I was taking the photo I remember saying to the people that I was there with it actually looks like a lava stream coming down a mountain, which we don’t have in Australia, it looked like that,” he said.

“It just looked unlike anything you would get to see in Australia on a mountain.”

Blanche’s photograph was one of 1796 images entered in the competition. 

media_cameraTess Poyner’s shot of this “graceful and green” tree frog in the Daintree made her the junior winner.
media_cameraRobert Irwin was runner up in the junior category with his photo of a scrub python.

Other winners include young photographer Tess Poyner, 17, from NSW, who took out the junior prize for a snap of a “graceful and green” tree frog in the Daintree Rainforest in Queensland.

“I was lucky this petite frog caught my eye, as they’re hard to spot due to their size,” she said.

Robert Irwin, the 16-year-old son of Crocodile Hunter Steve and mum Terri, was runner-up in the junior prize for his shot of a scrub python on the Cape York Peninsula.

WA’s Alex Kydd took out the animal behaviour category for photographing a “fever of cownose rays” on Ningaloo Reef. 

media_cameraAnimal behaviour category winner by Alex Kydd captured this shot of cownose rays on Ningaloo Reef in WA.
media_cameraBotanical category winner Kevin De Vree called his shot of fungi in Lamington National Park “Enchanted Forest”.
media_cameraJasmine Vink from Queensland was the winner in the threatened species category for her shot of a Tasmanian devil.

Belgian photographer Kevin De Vree won the botanical category with his snap of an unidentified species of fungi at Lamington National Park in Queensland.

“I wondered when the ancient trees would start talking and if the fairies would appear,” he told the award’s organisers.

All of the finalists will be on display at the South Australian Museum until November 15.

They will also go on display at the Australian Museum in Sydney when it opens later in the year. 

media_cameraA carpet python has taken up residence in a shed in Ethan Mann’s shot, part of his winning entry in the portfolio category.
media_cameraThis shot of a long-nosed bandicoot on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast was also part of Ethan Mann’s winning portfolio entry.
media_cameraVictorian Matt Clancy was runner up in the animal portrait category with his photograph of a scaly-tailed possum.
media_cameraKarl Strand, from NSW, was runner up for landscape photograph with this shot of Kosciuszko National Park.


  • prestigious: highly respected
  • splendour: magnificence
  • awe-inspiring: creating a feeling of wonder


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Weird, wacky, wonderful nature photos


  1. Where was the winning photograph taken?
  2. What did photographer Ben Blanche think the fire on the mountain looked like?
  3. How many photographs were entered in the competition?
  4. What did junior winner Tess Poyner photograph?
  5. Who was the runner up in the junior category?


1. Become the photographer
Hopefully you have been inspired by some of the beautiful photographs from this year’s Australian Geographic Photographer of the Year competition. Now it is your turn to become the photographer. Spend 15 minutes outside with a camera or device, photographing some of the interesting things you can find. Experiment with taking photographs from different heights, angles and distances and consider the lighting and composition of your shots.

Then, choose your favourite photograph from your shoot. Like the photographers have done in this competition, write a short blurb (of approximately 50 words) to accompany your photograph. The blurb may contain information about what your photograph is of and/or how you captured the shot.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Visual Arts

2. Extension
If you could travel anywhere on Earth to take a nature image, where would you go and what would you photograph? Why have you chosen this?

Sketch a picture of what you would hope for the photograph to look like.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Visual Arts

Proper Noun Police
A proper noun is a noun that names a particular person, place or thing. It always has a capital letter.

How many proper nouns can you find within this article? Find them all and sort them into the category of name, place, time (date/month).

Can you find any proper nouns included in your writing? What are they? Can you sort them into their categories?

HAVE YOUR SAY: Which photograph is your favourite and why?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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