From the lofty heights of a seaplane one is privy to a different view—where nature’s colours bleed out in rich and varied hues, like roots of a tree.

Receding tides leave behind familiar shapes in the mud near the most southern point of the Gulf of Carpentaria in Qld. Photography by Tony Hewitt and Denis Glennon. Camera: EOS 5DSR  Lens: EF 50mm f/1.2L USM. Fine Art Prints and Book are available from: girtbyseaproject.com

The image above and those below result from a unique, aerial photography adventure by two Australian photographers, Tony Hewitt and Denis Glennon AO, entitled: Girt by Sea and sponsored by Canon Australia.

Denis Glennon and Tony Hewitt circumnavigated our island continent in a light aircraft, to experience and bring new meaning to those three words. It’s a photographic odyssey that taps into an ongoing curiosity with our vibrant coastline.

Tony Hewitt comments on the collaboration: “As Helen Keller famously said, ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much’. It had always been my dream to create a project on the scale of what we’re unveiling today and I am sincerely grateful to Canon Australia for their confidence in us and their support and sponsorship of the adventure.”

Fuelled by the spirit of curiosity, the gregarious duo of explorers took to the skies on an adventure to fulfil a childhood dream.

The brown waters of a swollen river create mesmerising patterns on the northern NSW coast. Photography by Tony Hewitt and Denis Glennon. Camera: EOS 5DSR  Lens: EF 50mm f/1.2L USM. Fine Art Prints and Book are available from: girtbyseaproject.com

The Dream: Since his school days singing Advance Australia Fair in assembly, Tony Hewitt was fascinated by the curious expression ‘girt by sea’. Years later, as an acclaimed photographer, ‘girt by sea’ became the metaphor for an epic Australian adventure: to circumnavigate Australia’s coastline by air in one 31-day trip, capture it in stunning detail and bring new meaning to those three words. Tony shared his dream with close friend and accomplished photographer Denis Glennon AO, and the pair made the dream a reality.

“I knew that only a privileged few had explored Australia’s breathtaking coastline to any significant degree from the air. So, I got to wondering what an adventure it would be to experience all of it in one go; to capture and reveal its magical, ever-changing beauty,” says Tony Hewitt. “Girt by Sea started as an ambitious dream and now it’s a lived experience. More than that, the collection means that we can now hold the understanding of those three words in our hands.”

The journey of discovery: starting and finishing at Jandakot Airport, Western Australia, the voyage took an anticlockwise flight path allowing both photographers to shoot simultaneously through front and rear port-side windows of the Cessna 210 light aircraft, which tracked just off the coast.

“This was never a documentary trip; it was a voyage of discovery akin to the explorers of old,” says Denis Glennon. “There’s lots of planning and preparation with a trip of this scale, but ultimately it’s instinct and curiosity that led to us taking the images in our collection. We had an expectation of what we might see courtesy of Google Earth, but what we saw when we got there blew us out of our seats every time.”

The challenges: Following extensive research of historical weather patterns, especially for the more remote southern and northern regions, we selected April as the optimal time of the year to complete an aerial circumnavigation of the coastline in one go. The decision proved a good one and we were able to adhere to the pre-planned schedule, despite challenging weather on several days.

“We had to complete the trip in 31 days so planning had to account for the journey and photography time and we had to provide the pilots with the way points ahead of each leg. We could delay take-off or get out early, but we had to stick to time,” says Tony Hewitt. “Planning can get you so far but we had to account for variables such as tides, weather and just the unexpected marvels that we would find when we faced a location for the first time.”

The Collection: “The collection expresses what Girt by Sea means to us—it’s the emotional response to what we saw at a point in time captured in beautiful, large-format images,” says Denis Glennon. “It’s the result of our daily decision to focus on what we find, not on what we expect to find—that’s the spirit of exploration!”

“I hope people share the same emotional response of ‘Wow—look at that!’ that we did when we encountered these places,” says Tony Hewitt. It doesn’t really matter where it is. What is so striking is the texture, colour, and shape of our coastline. We have in our minds a hard line dividing land from sea, but it’s actually a much more fluid transition.

Fine Art Prints and Book are available from: girtbyseaproject.com.

Explorer and media producer, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide resources and opportunities for creative exploration.