Wilsons Prom and the Big Drift

Written by Gary on October 18th, 2016

My previous post documented nearly everything you need to know to plan your trip to Victoria’s famous Wilsons Promontory coastal wilderness national park as well as photos of some of the main reasons tourists from all over the world head there (as well as locals in school holidays).

This post is about the lesser known and experienced massive sand dune system known as the Big Drift which is accessible from the Stockyard Camp ground at the park entrance. Unlike Uluru, there is no entry fee for day visitors to the park.

Parks Victoria who runs the park advises all who are not staying in paid accommodation (such as huts, cabins, or camp sites), that they must vacate the park before sunset – this is largely to minimise road kill of native animals which are active around dusk, but also allows the rangers an easier way of policing “illegal” overnight freebie campers.

As the Big Drift is at the park entrance, it is the only part where those not staying overnight can watch the sunset, walk back the 2km 30-40min walk to the car in the dark with your torch and then head home or to your local accommodation outside of the park such as in nearby Yanakie, Fish Creek, Yarram or Sandy Point (I would skip Walkerville as there are no local shops). Sandy Point is 25 minutes drive to the park entrance and does have a nice beach and shallow inlet as well as a general store and petrol and some Telstra mobile phone and internet access.

The closest beaches in the park such as Darby Beach and Whisky Bay, are about 20 minutes by car.

The sand dune system is so large one could easily be lost in windy weather as your foot prints are rapidly covered over so you need to take this into consideration.

One should avoid this dune system on hot, sunny summer days as it is very exposed and the sand gets very hot.

The best time to go is 2-3 hours before sunset to give you plenty of time to walk to it then explore it and capture the textures and shadows of the low sun playing out on the dunes.

At the end of the 2km trail on which you should see wallabies and perhaps a wombat, you will be confronted with a steep 10m sand dune to climb, and be warned – if a south-westerly is blowing, you may lose your cap as you reach the top and your camera equipment will cop a major sand blasting!

I took my Micro Four Thirds cameras – the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and E-M5 and all images here were taken with the Olympus mZD 12-40mm f/2.8 lens unless specified.

Big Drift

The sand streaming over the steep leeward bank with the Prom in the background

Big Drift

Awesome natural textures

Big Drift

Moon over the dunes

Big Drift

Big Drift

Moody dunes

Big Drift

River of sand

Big Drift

This gives some idea how big each dune is – there is another hiker at the rim of this dune following the duck cloud.

Big Drift

Big Drift

I did take the risk in the sand blasting winds to change my lens over to the Olympus mZD 7-14mm f/2.8 lens to capture these wonderful clouds over the Prom but it was worth it.

Don’t forget to wait until sunset:

Big Drift

Taken with the beautiful Olympus mZD 300mm f/4 lens showing South Walkerville in the distance.

and even well after sunset, there are some nice photo opportunities:

Big Drift

Big Drift

 

It is a very quiet, isolated place with few other people off season – take your time and let your imagination run wild and get creative with your imagery – remember that things will look different when you start boosting contrast so you need to pre-visualise compositions taking this into account – for example, the river of sand was not that obvious to the naked eye amongst all the other patterns.

 

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