We’re so lucky in Newcastle to be surrounded by natural beauty and right on our doorstep, you’ll find one of the most spectacular natural beach environments, the Stockton Bight Sand Dunes in the Worimi Conservation Lands.
This 32km stretch of beach, from Stockton to Anna Bay is the largest moving mass of coastal sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. If you’ve not yet explored it, it’s worth adding to your bucket list for 2020 as it’s an experience that you and your family will remember forever. There are many great ways to explore the dunes, but if you or a friend own a 4WD, then it’s easy to turn your trip into a fun-filled day out for the family.
The beach is accessible from the Southern end at Lavis Lane, Williamtown or from the Northern end at Gan Gan Road, Anna Bay. The dunes are Aboriginal-owned Worimi Conservation Lands and jointly managed by National Parks so you’ll need a permit to drive on them. Permits are available from the Metro Service Station at the Lavis Lane entrance or the BP Service Station at the Gan Gan Road entrance and cost $33 for a 3-day pass or $88 for an annual pass. Revenue from your pass is used towards the ongoing management of the lands. The Metro and BP service stations are also the places to fuel up, buy your water and snacks and have a final toilet break before setting off.
If you’re not a confident four-wheel driver or have not driven on sand before, it’s a good idea to take along or tag along with an experienced friend. Recovery gear, a snatch-strap at the least, is a must as the sand can get really soft along the beachfront, the only place vehicles are allowed to be driven. Tyre pressures will need to be adjusted to suit the soft sand conditions and therefore a tyre gauge is essential. Tyre deflators are optional but helpful.
The dunes are home to many hidden treasures. On a recent day trip there my kids enjoyed spotting and learning about ‘Tin City’, a series of 11 off-grid beach shacks located in the dunes, ancient Aboriginal middens and a variety of seabirds.
Don’t forget sunscreen, hats and an umbrella as there is very little shade once you are on the dunes. Beach fishing rods and tackle, sand toys and kites are other optional items to pack. Remember to be responsible, take a bag for your rubbish and take all rubbish with you when you leave.
Pack swimmers, as the cool and clear water, will tempt you in, but stay in the shallows and practice extreme caution if you are not a confident swimmer as only one small section of the beach at the Northern end is patrolled and the sweeps and banks along the beach can be deceiving and dangerous.
Finding a quiet spot along the beachfront for a picnic lunch is one of the best ways to enjoy this amazing natural environment. You’ll want to stay all day and take in the amazing scenery, sounds and smells.
If lunch in a nice cafe is more your thing, Crest on Birubi Beach at Anna Bay has the most amazing view North along the beach and is open for breakfast and lunch daily from 8am. If you don’t own a 4WD, there are many other fun ways to enjoy Stockton Dunes including 4WD tours, sandboarding tours, quad biking, horse riding and camel riding. For more information visit the Visit Port Stephens website.
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Meg is a stay-at-home mum whose interests include gardening, reading, writing poetry and not staying at home. A born and bred Novocastrian, Meg enjoys camping and travelling with her family and weekend road trips to discover new and interesting places. Meg has two energetic kids and is passionate about kids having the opportunity to be outdoors as often as possible.