Where The Sand Meets The Forest: Yeagarup Dunes

Yeagarup Dunes Pemberton
09 Oct
Yeagarup Dunes Pemberton
The beginning of the largest land locked mobile dune system

When you think about the Southern Forests in the South West of Western Australia images of sand dunes probably doesn’t come to mind. But they should. Here in the South West we have the largest land locked mobile dune system in the Southern Hemisphere:- Yeagarup Dunes.

Yeagarup Dunes is part of the D’entrecasteaux National Park and covers almost 30 square kilometres. It is thought to be slowly creeping inland at a rate of about 4 metres per year, swallowing up the Karri Forest. Just this week, encouraged by some regular guests, we took an afternoon off and drove out to Yeagarup Dunes. It has been several years since we’ve spent a day at Yeagarup and we had a new 4WD so we were really looking forward to getting out there, giving the car a work out and seeing how much the dunes had moved.

About 30km from Pemberton by Ritter Road just off the Vasse Highway you too can see where the sand meets the forest. You will need a 4WD vehicle and a compressor as you need to let some air out of your tyres. For just $13 a vehicle (National Parks Fee) you can spend all day out on the dunes, at Yeagarup Beach or even visit another National Park in the area. Alternatively you can book a tour with Pemberton Discovery Tours where it’s all taken care of for you.

We were all equipped to make our own day trip so we set off for a few hours of fun and some time away from the farm. After letting our tyres down to 15 PSI we

Yeagarup Dunes D' Entrecasteaux National Park Pemberton
Approaching the forest at Yeagarup

headed along the forested track. Unlike last time it didn’t seem to take that long to get to the dunes, so the sand is definitely moving inland. Our entrance on to the dunes was up a reasonable ascent. Unfortunately the run up to the hill had been chopped up by the amount of traffic that had been through recently, due to the school holidays. On our first attempt we were thrown about in the car along the run up and only managed to get half way up. Not quite the experience that I was hoping for.

As much as Mark is quite an experienced 4WDriver, and I trust his driving, I’m not very experienced at 4WDriving nor am I very comfortable with being the passenger having no control over the steering wheel. I decided for the second attempt that I would rather not be in the car. I walked up the hill instead. My calf muscles didn’t thank me but I felt much more comfortable standing at the top of the hill watching Mark make another attempt in the car rather than being in it. After a 3rd attempt he made it to the top, as did most of the other 4WDs wanting to get on the dunes. I also felt a little bit validated to notice I wasn’t the only one choosing to walk the hill.

At the top it is quite a magnificent sight. Sand, sand and more sand; then some forest and then the beach. It certainly is something worth seeing. We came across a few people who didn’t have the right gear or car and they had parked at the bottom of the hill and walked up. They weren’t prepared to miss out on the experience so they came on foot and I’m sure they didn’t regret their decision.

Yeagarup Dunes Southern Forests
The first hill up onto the Yeagarup Dunes

We had a lot of fun driving across the top of the sand dunes but soon we were back in the forest again. The suspension in our Triton made for a rather bumpy ride. Despite this we enjoyed the journey but we were glad to back out on the sand again. Just before Yeagarup Beach there was quite a steep descent and we weren’t quite sure if we’d manage to get back up so we decided to park up and walk the rest of the way. Once on the beach, though, the hill didn’t look so steep and we could have possibly made it up relatively easily. Oh well. We will have more confidence in ourselves, and our car, next time.

Catching a lift with our friends we headed up the beach to the mouth of the Warren River. The way it cleaves its way through the sand is quite impressive. The power of flowing water is surprisingly strong ad makes for some dramatic pictures. We weren’t the only ones out there; some were 4WDriving, some fishing, some just out for a look but all seemed to be enjoying the sun, the sand and surf:- something you don’t always expect to see in the middle of a forest!

Before long we were heading back out through the forest then back onto the sand dunes. With one more stop before the last section of forest to take a few more photos, we headed back down that original hill. It wasn’t so bad going back down so I decided to ride it out in the car this time.

Our day of adventuring was nearly over but we had really enjoyed our day out at Yeagarup Dunes. Just because we are in the Southern Forests doesn’t mean there isn’t the opportunity for some beach days and some fun in the sand dunes. Yeagarup Dunes really are a sight worth seeing. Make sure you don’t miss it when you’re visiting this amazingly diverse area.