Category Archives: Coast

Australia’s Largest Sand Dune System

Descriptions on a number of websites about sand dune systems in Australia often include various unreferenced qualifiers such as “largest landlocked dunes”, ‘largest mobile dunes” or even “largest moving coastal sand mass” often combined with “in the southern hemisphere”. It is difficult to determine the accuracy of these claims and equally difficult not to reject the thought that the claim is made  to ‘hype’ the writer’s story.

Fraser Island is Australia’s largest dune system and, indeed, the largest sand island in the world.

The sand dunes at Eyre, historically referred to as Eyres Sand Patch/Sandpatch (1877) are Australia’s largest single sand dune system. The Eyre Bird Observatory (formerly the Eyre Telegraph Station) is located in this dune system.

These dunes stretch 105 kilometres in length and encompass an area of approximately 1000 km2. The average height of the dunes is 10 metres.

The oft mentioned Bilbunya Dunes are the largest mobile, coastal sand dunes in Australia. Note the qualifiers!!

They are also home to Australia’s largest star dune system. A star dune is one that is subject to wind from three or four directions forcing the sand upwards rather transversely.

 

REFERENCES

Queensland National Parks – Kgari

World Heritage Places – K’gari (Fraser Island)

Geonoma, Landgate.

Short, Andrew D., Beaches of the Western Australian Coast : Eucla to Roebuck Bay. A guide to their nature, characteristics, surf and safety, Sydney University Press, Sydney, 2006.

Australian Extremes – Sand Dunes

Driving on the Beach

Here are some tips for when you are on one of Western Australia’s 2051 mainland beaches along its 12,889 kilometre coastline:

Have permission/check signage to ensure you are allowed to drive on the beach.
Check tides.
Is your vehicle insured when driving on a beach or sand dunes?
Road rules apply. Stay left when approaching traffic.
Don’t block tracks when deflating or reinflating tyres.

Fit a bright coloured flag on a tall pole at the front of your vehicle.
Have the right equipment for you and your vehicle.
Protect from glare. Wear sunglasses – preferably Polaroids.
Ensure that your rego plate is secured top and bottom, particularly if going through water.
Don’t follow too close to the vehicle in front.

Turn off any traction or stability controls.
Lower tyre pressure to increase footprint.
Be aware that you will use more fuel.

Be aware of the beach conditions.
Don’t drive on vegetation.
Watch your water temp gauge/EGT gauge/transmission temp gauge.

Drive up the beach to turn around.
Park facing the water – so you can observe any changes in conditions.

Don’t turn sharply. Tyres with reduced pressure could roll off the rim.

Don’t brake. Roll to a stop.
Don’t spin your wheels.
Take off slowly.
Maintain momentum.
As a general rule use low range.  High range if the surface is firm.
If bogged try going backwards and forwards.
Keep revs high. This applies for most circumstance but it is pointless to spin your wheels if bogged.

Keep your thumbs pointing out from the steering wheel.
Use correct recovery techniques and safety precautions.
Secure your gear afterwards/check you have it all (sometimes MaxxTrax get buried, shackles get dropped into soft sand).

Straight up or straight down a dune – never at an angle.
Never turn on a dune/slope.
Pause/brake/slow down at the top of dunes.

Wash your vehicle underneath after you are off the beach.

 

© Kim Epton 2017-2024
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