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Yeagarup Dunes Pemberton

Yeagarup Dunes Walk

D'Entrecasteaux National Park

DirectionsFrom the centre of Pemberton head south along Vasse Highway until you reach the turnoff where Vasse Highway heads right at the tourist information boards. Keep driving for 9.5km until you reach the turnoff for Old Vasse Road, turn left and then an immediate right onto Ritter Road. Follow this all the way to the Leaning Marri Campsite, parking at the Yeagarup Lake sign to start the walk.

The Hike - I sound like a broken record when I say this all the time but Yeagarup Dunes is a place I've been meaning to visit for a while now but never got around to it. I did have this planned on a previous South West road trip back in 2018 but a broken catalytic converter on my Audi reduced my highway speeds to a crawl and I had to cut down my planned Pemberton itinerary. The idea was to do the hike during the day and then come back at night to do it again and shoot the Milky Way from the top of the dunes. 

Fast forward to 2022 and I was in Pemberton as part of another whirlwind road trip that would see me get through six trails today, with Yeagarup Dunes being the first one of the morning. After enjoying breakfast at my BnB in town, I drove out on a chilly morning to the Leaning Marri Campsite where the walk trail starts from. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about the massive fire that ripped through both Hawke & D'Entrecasteaux National Parks earlier in the year and was a bit sad to see the devastation that extended all the way to the campsite. It wasn't ideal but as I'll explain later, it did produce something good out of the destruction. Parking up at the Yeagarup Lake sign, I was keen to explore the area and check out the lake that for obvious reasons, wasn't affected by the fire. There is a maze of trails leading around this day use area but with the undergrowth burnt, it was easy to see the way to the edge of the lake. After spotting a few wildflowers and orchids including Red Beaks, a Pink Fairy Orchid and a few Cowslip Orchids, I arrived at the visitor shelter that provides a little information about the wider D'Entrecasteaux National Park area. 

Wandering down to the edge of the lake, there is a curved walkway leading out over the water with a refreshing lack of handrails everywhere, apart from at the end. The perfect place to perch yourself and watch out for the birds that call this lake home, I sat down at the end of the boardwalk and enjoyed the serenity of the morning air. The lake has formed thanks to natural process where leaf litter and debris has settled over the sand dunes over time and effectively stopped the water draining through. Unfortunately I was not joined by any bird friends but the views looking across the water to the dune system were a good substitute. Eager to head out there and experience what is the largest inland dune system in the southern hemisphere, I got to my feet and walked along the management track that follows the edge of the lake, eventually reaching the start of the shared 4x4 track leading to the dunes. Care must be taken from this point as there is a good chance you will come across a vehicle on your walk, especially on weekends.

From the lake you head up the hill on a sandy trail with knee to chest level banking on either side that make spotting wildflowers a bit easy as they are much higher in your eyeline. Deciding that I would walk on the lefthand side of the trail on the way up to the dunes and then back down on the other side, this would ensure maximum coverage for wildflower spotting. Given it was near the peak of the season, I was excited to see what I could find, especially after the great success of the previous day on the Meelup Trail and at Ambergate Reserve. It didn't take long before a bevy of different species appeared before my eyes with plenty of Purple Enamel Orchids, Granny Bonnets and Flowering Drosera popping up from the sandy soil. Along with the wildflowers, there were some nice views looking down towards Yeagarup Lake but I think these will diminish over time as the forest recovers from the fires. 

Most of my photos were of the views looking towards the lake and straight ahead as the burnt forest to the north wasn't looking great and it was made worse by the poor lighting you get when facing north. Focusing on the positives, I continued searching for different orchids and wildflowers and was rewarded with Silky Blue Orchids and lots of Morning Iris. About halfway through the journey to the dunes, I was passed by my first 4x4 and given how noisy most of them are, I heard it well before it came chugging up the hill. Moving off to the side we both gave each other a little wave and I was back to being alone with the wildflowers. Winding up the hill, it was an exciting moment when I rounded a corner and saw my first glimpses of the encroaching dunes. It's an odd juxtaposition of the Marri/Jarrah forest being consumed by this wall of white sand, given that there is typically a buffer of coastal heath between the forests and the beaches bordering the Southern and Indian Oceans.