Australian Geographic NPOTY 2019: the winning photos

The winners of the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year 2019 (NPOTY) have just been announced. A photo competition organized by the South Australian Museum in collaboration with the Australian Geographic magazine. The main theme of the competition is the fauna, flora, and landscapes of the ANZANG bioregion, an area that includes Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, and New Guinea.

Among the many images in competition, the overall winner was Mat Beetson, a photographer with more than 20 years of experience, who managed to capture with his drone DJI Phantom 4 the surreal image of a common whale beached in Albany (Western Australia), surrounded by sharks.

Mat Beetson NPOTY 2019 winner
“Fin Whale’s Demise” (Cheynes Beach, Albany, Western Australia) by Mat Beetson (Overall winner)

The choice of the three judges, Justin Gilligan, Glenn McKimmin and Tui de Roy, was justified with these words:

Despite seeing millions of nature photographs over the decades, we have never seen anything that remotely resembles this image. Unique and exciting, it reveals incredible beauty in death. Rather than being an inanimate scene, the image is given life by the circling shark, which in turn reminds us of the ecological function of the dead whale, providing food and energy to the living organisms around it. The image surprises by revealing such a shocking scene in a beautiful setting, and speaks volumes of the new dimension the latest technology has opened up for photographers.

In addition to Mat Beetson’s, the winning photos of the other 10 categories in the competition have also been nominated and can be seen in full on the contest page.

Charles Davis NPOTY 2019 winner
“Life in the Esky” (Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales) – Charles Davis (Portfolio prize winner)
Scott Portelli NPOTY 2019 winner
“The Heat Run” (Tonga, South Pacific) – Scott Portelli (Animal behavior winner)
Floyd Mallon NPOTY 2019 winner
“In the dark” (Fingal Bay, New South Wales) – Floyd Mallon (Junior winner)
Melissa Williams NPOTY 2019 winner
“The watering hole” (Cawndilla Creek, Menindee, New South Wales) – Melissa Williams-Brown (Our impact winner)
Neil Pritchard NPOTY 2019 winner
“Barron falls” (Kuranda, Queensland) – Neil Pritchard (Landscape winner)


The Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition is produced by the South Australian Museum. The institution takes care of a large collection of treasures of national and international importance, accumulated over more than 150 years, which include fossils from the first known life on Earth to pieces of Martian meteorites. These resources are used daily in scientific and cultural research.

The museum hosts a public exhibition with all the finalist photos from August 16 to November 10, 2019. The same exhibition will be presented at Powerhouse (MASS) in collaboration with the Australian Museum from August 16 to October 20, 2019.

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