Nature Art Lab

NatureArt Lab offers participants the opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people and immerse themselves in art inspired by nature. Select a series of courses to suit your interests, and consider developing your foundation skills through a better understanding of colour theory, drawing skills or use of water-based mediums such as watercolour or gouache. Our team of experienced tutors will support your creative learning journey with expert instruction and guidance in a fully equipped art-science space.

Abrolhos Islands, WA - 27-29 November 2019 - Deposit of $600 due by 30 August, balance of $1224.00 due by 31 October 2019.




Be inspired by nature ... on a remote island archipelago 60km off Geraldton on the west coast of Western Australia. Accompanied by expert terrestrial and marine ecologist Nic Dunlop and local author Moira McKinnon as well as international wildlife photographer/scientist Damien Esquerre and West Australian indigenous Tracey Heimberger bird photography specialist. This unique three-day trip provides nature lovers a rare opportunity to experience one of the most important seabird and marine ecosystems off the Western Australian coastline.  

The Abrolhos Islands are located in pristine waters, featuring a rich biodiversity of bird and marine life. They are among Australia's most important sites for breeding seabirds with over two million birds from 35 species breeding on the islands, islets and rocky atolls. Our visit coincides with the peak breeding season for seabirds on this island. Abundant schools of pelagic baitfish provide food for colonies of shearwaters, terns and noddies. There are also many protected flora and fauna species and notable endemic species found only on these islands. See up to 19 species of land and shore birds (including the Abrolhos Islands Painted Button Quail), and 26 terrestrial reptile species. Reptile fauna comprise 11 skink species including the Houtman Abrolhos spiny-tailed skink, seven species of geckos, four species of legless lizard,  the Abrolhos dwarf bearded dragon, snakes and marine green turtles. The islands are home to the Tammar Wallaby and are the northern-most habitat for the Australian sea lion. Over 140 species of native flora have been identified, some with very high conservation values.  

The islands also have a fascinating history, named after Dutch Commander Frederik de Houtman, who discovered the islands in 1619. Learn about the shipwrecks, including the famous Batavia and Zeewijk wrecks, the stories of tragedy and atrocity and see Australia's first building constructed by Europeans.

This three-day nature adventure departs from Geraldton with a flight to Rat Island arriving mid-morning on Day One, with ecology talks, photography workshops and walks on the first two days. Participants will have the opportunity to assist with bird banding and lizard trapping activities or join night walks in search of nocturnal wildlife. Enjoy early morning walks and bird watching and free time for snorkelling. The third day will include a flight with a stopover on East Wallabi Island to snorkel in Turtle Bay - and for those interested, a chance to do underwater photography. The return flight to Geraldton will fly via Long Island, Beacon Island and the Batavia shipwreck with spectacular aerial scenic views. 

During the program there will be discussions on bird ethics, camera basics, light and composition, capturing photographs of birds in flight, and discussions on conservation and nature. Note that conditions are likely to be windy and temperatures cooler in the evenings at this time of the year.

Accommodation is in basic twin-share rooms at the island's research centre, with access to a shared bathroom, kitchen and meeting hall.  

A maximum of 7 places are available for this trip; with a luggage limitation of 15kg for flights. 

A deposit of $600.00 including GST is due by 30 August 2019. The balance of $1,224.00 is payable by 31 October 2019. Terms and conditions available separately.

Dates: 27 - 29 November 2019

- Wednesday 27 November - Flight departs from Geraldton to Rat Island (accommodation on Rat Island for two nights (27, 28 November)

- Friday 29 November 2019 - Flight departs from Rat Island to Geraldton (via East Wallabi Island, Long Island, Beacon Island and the Batavia Shipwreck)

(Note: departure times may vary depending on weather conditions)

What's included: 

- Airfares from Geraldton to Rat Island, and return

- All meals are included throughout the program from Wednesday mid-morning through to Friday evening (3 dinners, 3 lunches, 2 breakfasts, plus morning and afternoon tea refreshments)

- 2 nights basic accommodation at Rat Island with twin share rooms (no single supplements are available)

- guided walks and environmental talks each day with experienced West Australian ecologist Nic Dunlop

- Workshops and personalised mentoring with internationally experienced wildlife photographer and scientist Damien Esquerre and West Australian indigenous birdlife photographer Tracey Heimberger 

- Snorkeling equipment

- BBQ and debrief on the evening of 29 November and review of photographs at an historic local farmhouse near Geraldton.  

What's not included: 

- Airfares and travel to Geraldton; airfares and travel from Geraldton (own travel arrangements)

- Accommodation in Geraldton on Tuesday 26 November and possibly Friday 29 November 2019 (own arrangements); there are flights available to Perth that evening.

About the Guides:   

Dr Nic Dunlop is a terrestrial and marine ecologist with special interests in seabird population dynamics, seabirds as indicators of marine ecosystems and island, bat, climate change and landscape ecology. He maintains two multi-decadel projects tracking the population dynamics of tropical terns and has conducted shorter investigations on a variety of other seabirds including other terns, Wedge-tailed & Fleshy-footed Shearwaters, Red-tailed Tropicbirds (Christmas Island) and Little Penguins. He is the eastern sector coordinator for the Indian Ocean Seabird Group. As the Environmental Policy and Science Coordinator with the Conservation Council of WA he runs the ‘Citizen Science for Ecological Monitoring Program’. This includes coordinating monitoring and research projects at the Charles Darwin (terrestrial) Climate Change Observatory and the Lancelin Island (marine) Climate Change Observatory.

Ms Tracey Heimberger is an indigenous wildlife photographer from Balladong country in the South-East and currently lives in Karratha, Western Australia. Formerly a teacher and health policy officer, Tracey is now studying ecology and ornithology and has published a book with photographic images and stories of wildlife in the Pilbara region. Ms Heimberger is from Balladong country in the South East, and credits much of her success to the strong women she has surrounded herself with in the Pilbara.

Dr Damien Esquerré is a biologist, researcher and PhD student specializing in snake and lizard evolution. He is also a nature photographer with over 10 years of experience, having travelled to some of the wildest places in South and Central America, Australia and Asia exclusively to photograph wildlife and nature. His photos have appeared on several books, expos, magazines, scientific journal covers, newspapers and websites. Damien teaches 'The Theory, Art and Practice of Nature Photography' course with NatureArt Lab in Canberra.

Dr Moira McKinnon is a keen wildlife observer and environmentalist based in Geraldton, Western Australia. She is a generalist medical practitioner and a medical health adviser in the fields of emerging infectious disease. She is also an award-winning and published essayist and creative writer.

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