#889. Un-destination Bombo, Australia.

By Sean O Brien | Travel Photography

Aug 10

Quick intro by Pascal: Please welcome Sean, who is sending this contribution to the blog and to the list of un-destinations we are curating. The Monument-Valley-by-the-sea quality of the photographs blew my socks off instantly, so I asked Sean to provide a little more info about the location, which he kindly did below. Read on.


About the Bombo area

The former Bombo Headland Quarry area is a physical environment that is man made. It came about from previous blue metal quarrying activities during the 1880’s and 1900’s. One gets the impression the area easily looks like an imagined lunar landscape. The eastern perimeter, that faces the Pacific Ocean, has a high scalable wall made up of a row of basalt columns. This wall separates and protects the inner lower flat central area from wave action, incoming from the Pacific Ocean. There are several inner rock pools, laying between the base of the perimeter wall and the large central flat area. Standing up on the headland, one can look down into the area formerly quarried for its blue metal rock. Looking north, in the distance, one will see Cathedral Rocks, Minnamurra Headland and Jones’ Beach. Turn south and one will immediately see Bombo surf beach, laying between the quarry site and the township of Kiama and it’s famous Blowhole. Kiama has a popular tourist strip mall of cafés, restaurants, and art galleries. Kiama is a name derived from the Aboriginal word “kiarama” meaning “Place where the sea makes a noise”.


How easy/hard it is to get to?

The Bombo Headland Quarry area is located within the Illawarra. It is approximately 120 km – a little over a one hour drive – south of Sydney, via the Princess Highway. Travelling south, exit using the Kiama Downs turn-off, then going via Cliff Drive you’ll drive under a railway bridge to enter a dedicated car park. One can only walk into the Bombo Headland Quarry area, from the car park. You can appreciate I’ve described an area where it’s best to get to by car. If no car is available, an electric train service is available from Sydney. The trip takesa little over 2 hours to Kiama, and from there it’s a car trip to the Bombo Quarry area.


What to do in the area?

The main activities in the Bombo Headland Quarry area are sight seeing, photography, and savouring the power of the Pacific Ocean and its interaction with the man made environment. It’s a beautiful, open, and powerful space, that offers a unique photographic experience, based on amultiple range of moods – all subject to circumstances dictating the day, at the time of the visit.There is also a public convenience and a drinking water resource at the car park, nothing else. The Bombo Quarry Headland area and Bombo surfing beach, are both off-leash dog friendly.


How / when I went there?

A couple of weekends ago, saw a visit by a cousin and wife. We met at a local coffee shop. Having finished our coffees and whilst waiting for the bill, there was a momentary pause – a suggestion we take a scenic drive was offered. Bombo was identified and quickly agreed upon as a destination to visit and experience what it had to offer. We set off, and upon arrival there was collective gasp in awe of the beauty and energy of the quarry site and its headland.Then came a realisation – no camera. Problem solved, between the three of us, we had two smart phones – one had a cracked screen, and one hada nearly flat battery.A press-on attitude allowed usto capture several images.


Finally, without a car, the spontaneity of the outing and the accompanying images would not have materialised, as I believe this place can also be appreciated as an undestination.


The following two links are provided as an informative on Bombo:
A) Bombo. See:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombo,_New_South_Wales

B) At Bombo, there’s the Bombo Headland Quarry Geological Site. Seehttps://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=5045194

The following is a direct copy and paste from the above B) reference:
“… Bombo Headland Quarry: Bombo Headland, an attractive coastal feature in its own right, also retains an added characteristic that increases the area’s scenic qualities. Set deep within its contours is the Bombo Quarry. A legacy of Kiama’s century-old blue metal or basalt quarrying, this ‘moonscape’ contains geological features of international importance (Dillon, 1991). 

In the early 1880s over 80 men toiled to break up the natural blocks of stone. These were then carted by horse to the harbour at Kiama and the nearby Bombo jetty. The rockfill remains of this latter structure can be seen lying in the northern cove of Bombo headland. The area around the cove is known as the Boneyard. The majority of the quarry workers were housed in a nearby ‘tent city’. At the time it was reported that ‘the place now the favourite resort of Sunday afternoon pleasure excursionists is beginning to assume a very business-like aspect’ and ‘the verdant beauty of the fields and slopes of Bombo promises soon to be covered with dust and its quiet caverns and shady nooks to ring with the sound of the hammer and explosions of dynamite’ (ibid, 1991)…”


​Never miss a post

​Like what you are reading? Subscribe below and receive all posts in your inbox as they are published. Join the conversation with thousands of other creative photographers.

  • Philberphoto says:

    Sean, I should hate you. I want to hate you. I must hate you. I must, must, must…. hate you! You have gone over to the Dark Side. Not only that, but, from that Dark Side you bring back pics that are so…enticing, spectacular, desirable….. You really make Bombo a brilliant un-destination. If I didn’t hate you so much, I’d say: congrats, and welcome!! Come back from the Dark Side you must!

    • Sean says:

      Phil: ha ha, what a quirky welcome you’ve given, but I do thank you. You know light and dark, and its other descriptors, are sides of the one coin – one can’t co-exist without the other. Having said that, if I wasn’t so eager to get to Bombo, I would have taken and used taken an actual camera. However, the above images are proof-positive that the dark side proved no barrier on the day, and in stunning form, the circumstances, light and site combined to shine on through.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    One of the joys of old age is that you can leave the hard stuff to the younger generation. You don’t have to be the photographer, in order to be able to admire the photos. So I can sit here, tapping away at my MAC, as everyone in this group hurls collection after collection of magical, mystical, wonderful photographs in my face.
    Thanks for sharing, Sean. Take no notice of Philippe’s “hate” word – he doesn’t mean it – he’s just jealous, that’s all. 🙂 So I am, but I’m happy to roll with the punches. Maybe you can arrange a trip to Peru for me, and come back armed with 14,000 incredible photos pf Machu Picchu. Bugger all those tourists – you just have to pick your vantage point – most of them collapse under the strain of the climbing and high altitude oxygen deprivation, anyway, and you can’t see their bodies lying on the ground behind all those walls.
    I can’t remember exactly where it is, but somewhere on that southern New South Wales coast, circa 1520, a huge wave (“tsunami”?) rolled in from the Pacific** Ocean, and hit a cliff – depositing seashells on top of the cliff – which was/is a thousand feet (c. 330 metres) high.
    **[it’s not really “pacific” – that’s just it’s name – very tongue-in-cheek name for it – actually it’s a very savage ocean, because of its vast size]

    • Sean says:

      Pete: Thank you for your compliment – it is most appreciated. Yes, it didn’t take too much to twig that Phillipe’s post was a quirky but thinly disguised dose of jealousy. Having been to Machu Picchu in 2008 I have some inkling of what you’re on about. I didn’t take 14,000 images – #888, perhaps – but I did take many images, though. Uncertain as to your esoteric – to me – circa 1520 ‘tsunami’ event – is it based research or a director’s licence? 🙂

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        I really can’t remember where I read about that wave – it was years ago, now. I’ve no idea what NSW’s southern coast looks like, beyond Pt Kembla, and when I read it I thought it seemed rather far fetched. Australia’s shaped mostly like a pancake dropped on the Earth, in terms of thickness – if there ever were high mountains, they’re long gone and what’s left is mostly undulating country – not mountains. There are of course coastal cliffs, but I’ve no idea what height they are.
        The report I read was framed as a scientific one – but it was before I became aware of Snope! – and that’s about all the “cred” I can give the story.
        That said – nothing much surprises me about Australia. When I was young, we were supposed to believe it was all OK for the Brits to pinch this country from the indigenous population, because they’d only lived here for a handful of years. But now, apparently, it’s been established by the anthropologists that the aborigines have been inhabiting this continent for something like 20,000 years longer than human beings have populated western Europe – which in my mind presents a fundamentally different picture.

        • Sean says:

          Pete: thanks for the feedback. Understood. Yep, Australia is unique both in terms of its land and people – first nation and otherwise. We, as a nation, are still finding, clarifying and understanding aspects of our land and our people – a positive, for our future.

  • Welcome to DearSusan, Sean! Not only have you shared a wonderful “un-location” but you’ve treated us to your stunning quarry images. These images could have easily served as background visuals in several futuristic movies such as Interstellar or Prometheus! There’s a definite otherworldly quality to them which is enhanced by the choice of black and white presentation. Looking forward to seeing more of your work.

  • Sean, welcome to DS. Bombo is a place I visited on few occasions and yet to get a good shot. I believe we have a mutual friend in Ken Meredeth. We will have to get together for a shoot. Dallas

    • Sean says:

      Dallas: Thank you for your welcome. Bombo, I feel, is not easily photographed. I think I was there at the right time, given the device I used to craft the above images. Yes, we do have a mutual friend in Ken, and a meet-up would be a worthwhile thing to do.

  • Alan says:

    OK… jealous just a bit. Smartphone camera you say? C’mon! Really? I’m tempted to ditch everything and travel light. Lovely photos and a lovely place. Incredibly fantastic, actually.

    • Sean says:

      Thank you Alan. Yes, really, a smartphone camera was used to craft these images. I have nothing to gain by making things up, and posting them as fact, period.

  • >