Botanical category finalist ‘Albany pitcher plant’ by Bill McClurg of Western Australia.

The 2017 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year collection is now on display at the Museum of the Great Southern.

It includes a visually striking image of a crowd of spider crabs (Leptomithrax gaimardii) and a predatory Maori octopus (Octopus maorum), which is the overall winner of the annual competition run by the South Australian Museum.

Aptly titled ‘Predatory pursuit’, Justin Gilligan from New South Wales captured the exact moment the octopus was selecting its prey at Mercury Passage between Maria Island and mainland Tasmania.

“I was out diving on a project with Professor Craig Johnson from the University of Tasmania when suddenly a large aggregation of spider crabs came out of nowhere,” Mr Gilligan said.

“Capturing this shot was a case of being in the right place at the right time. The unexpected encounter really reinforced how little we know about Australia's temperate marine environment. The octopus was behaving like an excited child in a candy store trying to work out which crab to consume – its eyes were definitely bigger than its belly.”

Mr Gilligan won $10,000 plus a trip to Antarctica.

He was also awarded first place in the Botanical and Our Impact categories for more outstanding images.

Director of the South Australian Museum Brian Oldman said Mr Gilligan’s overall winning photograph had been judged the winning entry among 2,174 photographs.

“The Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition continues to grow, with 2017 seeing a record number of entries,” Mr Oldman said.

“We’re proud to produce such an exciting exhibition with each image highlighting the role museums play in educating people about nature.”

Western Australian photographer Bill McClurg was a finalist in the Botanical category for his photo of the Albany Pitcher Plant (Cephalotus follicularis). The insectivorous perennial is found around WA’s South Coast.

“Photography enriches my experience of the natural world by slowing me down and allowing me to notice the smaller details I would otherwise miss,” Bill said.

"Being originally from Ireland, the flora of the South West is new to me and never fails to amaze and fascinate me."

The 2017 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition will be on display at the Museum of the Great Southern until 30 April 2018.

The Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition is a partnership between the South Australian Museum and Australian Geographic. Open to photographers of all ages, skill levels and nationalities, the competition asks people to submit images of fauna, flora or landscapes in Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and the New Guinea regions.


The winners of the 10 categories are:


Animal Portrait

Jennie Stock (WA) for ‘Windblown egret’


Animal Behaviour

Scott Portelli (NSW) for ‘Devouring a home’


Animal Habitat

Jason Stephens (TAS) for ‘Happy wanderer’



Justin Gilligan (NSW) for ‘Final stand’



Julie Fletcher (SA) for ‘Spirit in country’



Brian Jones (ACT) for ‘Iceberg at Paradise Harbour’


Junior (photographers under 18 years of age)

Georgia Poyner (NSW), aged 16, for ‘The Dancer’


Our Impact (depicting human impact on nature)

Justin Gillgan (NSW) for ‘Gillnet’


Threatened Species (threatened, rare, vulnerable or endangered species)

Elizabeth Howell (NSW) for ‘Coming in for a drink’


Portfolio Prize (best portfolio of size or more images)

Julie Fletcher (SA)


Media contact
Sharna Craig
Media and Publicity Officer
Western Australian Museum