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Bird’s eye view wins top honour in Lake Mac photography prize

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No matter how tough work gets, Wayne Bishop can never complain about the view from his office.

The skydiving instructor enjoys one of Lake Macquarie’s most spectacular vistas on an almost daily basis, taking thrill-seekers for the ride of their lives in his role at Skydive Newcastle – based at Lake Macquarie Airport.

A fisheye lens snap Mr Bishop recently captured of that stunning view has helped him snag a top gong in Lake Macquarie City Council’s Explore Our Great Outdoors photography competition.

photography competition
‘Lake Mac Air Time’ wins top honours in the 2024 Explore Our Great Outdoors photography prize.

Titled Lake Mac Air Time, the unique selfie shows Mr Bishop descending towards the airport, with the turquoise lake, channel and coast sprawling below.

It took out the Our Great Outdoors category, which judge and professional photographer Matty Smith described as “a clear winner”.

“I love the vibrant colours and wonderful composition,” Smith said.

“I can almost feel the wind in my face.”

Mr Bishop, a veteran of more than 18,000 skydives in some of the most spectacular spots along Australia’s east coast, said he had enjoyed returning home to work in Lake Mac.

“After being asked to come back home to the lake to jump, I was rather surprised to see on our good days that the view of the lake and beaches can shine just as well as those places up north – if not better,” he said.

“It’s a nice reminder that my old backyard is pretty darn good.”

photography competition
Kelly Grunsell, Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser, and Wayne Bishop.

Meanwhile, amateur photographer Kelly Grunsell won the Things That Grow and Move category for a portrait of two Australian owlet-nightjars – the smallest nocturnal bird found in Australia.

“These gorgeous Australian owlet-nightjars were living in Cooranbong when I photographed them,” Ms Grunsell said.

“Over a few months we were able to find three living in this particular tree. It was quite an amazing thing to witness. I’d visit the tree daily, keeping my distance so as not to disturb them.”

“I love photographing and watching them, because they’re so small and quite fluffy. They have tiny little beaks and a distinctive call, and finding the two of them together in the tree was a dream.”

Smith said Mr Grunsell’s image captured “a rare and beautiful find”.

Lake Macquarie City mayor Kay Fraser, who presented the winners with their prizes, said this year’s Explore Our Great Outdoors program had been a huge success, with booked-out activities for all ages, and the launch of the photography competition.

“It’s great to host these events and activities to encourage people to get outdoors, embrace nature and learn more about the amazing environments and ecosystems on our doorstep,” Cr Fraser said.

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