Wilsons Promontory national park is famed for its camping – and glamping – in pristine coastal bushland, for eco-friendly marine park cruises, stunning lighthouse views and squeaky beaches. But even regular visitors may not know about its captivating inland sea of sand. Put Big Drift on your bucket list, and don’t forget the boogie board.
If you’ve made it as far as Wilsons Promontory, the rugged national park hugging the state’s southernmost coast, don’t start following the crowds. Let them take the road to the Tidal River epicentre, where families congregate in a sprawling campsite, while you take a detour to the lesser-known Stockyard Campground. Here you’ll find the start of a simple bush trail threading through pasture and scrubland for two kilometres until the soil turns to sand, the gradient rises vertiginously and you emerge, legs burning, to the incredible sight of Big Drift. This captivating sea of sand is the wild card in the Prom’s deck. Constantly changing thanks to the whims of the wind, the undulating network of soft yellow dunes stretching to the horizon is Australia’s answer to the Sahara – but instead of camels, you’re likely to see bounding kangaroos, strutting emus or even a stoutbottomed wombat wandering by.
There’s every chance you’ll have this playground to yourself. Take boogie boards for high-octane dune-surfing or test the laws of gravity by running, rolling and cartwheeling down the biggest dunes you can find. Time your visit for sunrise or sunset to see the terrain bathed in an ethereal rose-gold glow. The Big Drift may be the Prom’s hidden gem but tick off its more celebrated sights while you’re here, kicking your feet along the musical sands of Squeaky Beach, diving into the rainforest of the Lilly Pilly Gully Nature Walk or submitting to the steep hour-long hike to the top of Mount Oberon to soak up a 360-degree panorama. At night, offset the nature overload with a stay in the Wilderness Retreats. There are no swags in sight – here, each tent comes with its own queen-sized bed, ensuite and deck.