Day Trip: The Big Drift, VIC
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The beauty of travel is you always discover something you haven't seen before. Wilson's Promontory, a 50,000 hectare National Park at the southern point of Australia's coast, has just about everything you could imagine location wise. Plenty of forest, rainforest, mountains, beaches, wildlife, and well-marked scenic tracks to get you around. For someone who's visited many a time over the past decade, I thought I knew it pretty well.... and then I heard of the Big Drift.
Easy to miss and mostly unknown to public knowledge, to get there, perform a u-turn at the Prom entrance and take a sharp left into Stockyard campsite, or ask staff at the entrance. Once you've parked your car (and taken advantage of the bathrooms), there's a moderate 3km walk through natural forest that separates you and the dunes. The walk mostly consists of flat grassland, one slightly steep hill (about 2 minutes worth), and a last, vertical walk up the sand to get to the top of the dunes. It's not as hard as it sounds, I promise.
Once you're there, you'll feel alien. It's surreal standing in a vast space with nothing but sand in your immediate view, and natural forest and mountains on the edge. The inland sand dunes could be mistaken for the Sahara with one eyes shut if there weren't mountains in the distance and a natural forest surround the edge of the sand dune (although this is just an assumption, from someone who's never been to the Sahara).
We saw a total of 7 other people there within the few hours stayed, so the other-worldly vibes were high. There is no surrounding beach, unlike the other attraction spots at the Prom, and with no city lights in sight, it's the perfect place to settle down and star-gaze. Granted that the sky is clear, which it was for us until the clouds creeped in with the Moon at the last minute.
Milky Way photos next time, I promise.
A few tips:
- Bring your own cruelty free snacks - shifty-looking cafes, greasy fish and chip shops and a very small handful of grocery stores are all you have to choose from on your drive through the small towns. Although, I hear Prom Coast Ice-Cream has a great selection of coconut-based, vegan options.
- Bring a torch, if you're planning on staying a while or for the milky way - you'll need it for the walk back, although it's not difficult to find your way.
- Mark where you came from. While we stayed around the main entrance, if you're going further into the sand dunes and exploring closer to the mountains, you'll need to mark your way or at least keep track of where you came from. There are white poles located near each other to help you out.
- Bring warm clothes, especially if going in Winter. The sand is cold and the wind is too. Also, while you don't need hiking shoes, wear comfortable sneakers as the walk there is around 30 minutes long.
- And lastly, while you can spend quite some time here wandering around, for those wanting a little more to do during their trip, the Australian tourism website has curated a fantastic walking-track itinerary here.
Now, where to next?
Photos: Cee Jay Chong & myself