Beach | Family | Adventure 12 January 2017

Surf The Largest Moving Sand Dune In The Southern Hemisphere

Mention the word ‘surf’ and you typically visualise water and waves. But in the coastal town of Port Stephens, a leisurely 2.5 hours’ drive north of Sydney, your ‘boarding’ experience might not be surfing in the traditional sense.

The Stockton Bight Sand Dunes, the largest moving dunes in the Southern Hemisphere, are a magnificent sight to behold. These towering golden sands stretch for 32km in length between Birubi Beach and Stockton in Port Stephens. 

The Stockton Bight Sand Dunes seem to go on forever, with 4,200 hectares of endless sands making up the Worimi Conservation Lands, which are jointly managed by NSW National Parks and local Aboriginal Owners.

Unsurprisingly there’s more than one way to find adventure in the dunes. Seek out thrills or explore the cultural significance of the otherworldly landscape that is the Stockton Bight Sand Dunes in Port Stephens.

Uncover the cultural significance of the dunes on a quad

Best of all, you can explore the dunes with a local Aboriginal guide and the thrilling power of quad bikes. Sand Dune Adventures is a not-for-profit tourism enterprise that explores the exclusive lands and most pristine areas of the Stockton Bight dunes. Learn about the landscape and Indigenous heritage, gain a greater understanding of the history of these protected lands, and get to know the culture of the traditional owners, the Worimi people. Made of 18 clans, the Worimi people were hunter-gatherers and you can explore noteworthy sites such as the Aboriginal middens, where people feasted on fish and shellfish. 

Get your thrills with a quad bike ride

If you’re just after pure thrills, Quad Bike King will tour you out to the dunes on a 350cc Yamaha Grizzly or 150cc quad bike so you can kick up sand and have a blast at the same time. Cruise down Stockton Beach, then up into the moon-like landscape of the dunes for an hour of thrills. If you’re keen to really go for it, choose the “sandpit” tour to use the dunes as your playground and let loose with no instructor to follow. Race your mates, drift around the sad dune circuit and practice donuts in the sand.

Quad Bike King tour into the moon-like landscape of the dunes for an hour of thrills

Sand Dune Adventures riding a Quad Bike King at Port Stephens New South Wales

Trek the dunes by camel or horseback

If you’ve ever wanted to ride a camel, this is your chance. Oakfield Ranch Camel Rides treks over the sand dunes at Birubi Beach, at the northern end of the dunes. Your camel caravan will slowly plod through the bush and beach, over the dunes and along the oceanfront. Go at sunset to witness the spectacular coastline aglow.

Or turn up the pace a little with a horseback ride along the vast open beach. Saddle up with Sahara Trails and hit the sand for a relaxing ride by the coastline. Time your ride to venture here in the morning when the dunes feel untouched by man after the sands have shifted overnight with the winds, covering any footprints or tracks.

Oakfield Ranch Camel Rides treks over the sand dunes at Birubi Beach, at the northern end of the dunes

Take your 4WD onto the sand

If you’ve got off-road wheels, then take your beast onto the sand and drive up Stockton Beach. There are more than 350 hectares of dunes to explore with your vehicle, which you can access via Lavis Lane at Williamtown, Gan Gan Road at Anna Bay, or via the Fern Bay 4WD access track. You’ll need to pay and display a valid beach permit to enter the Worimi Conservation Lands. If you don’t own a 4WD, get Sand Dune Safaris to take you around in its Toyota Land Cruisers.

Surf down the dunes on a sandboard 

Get a once-in-a-lifetime adrenalin rush by ‘surfing’ down these 30-metre high, up to 60-degree angled dunes. While each way you can choose to explore the dunes is unique, this is really an unmissable experience that’s perfect for people of all ages and abilities.

Sand Dune Safaris will take you there, lending you hand-made sand boards designed for sitting, sliding or surfing down the dunes solo or in tandem. Those that are keen surfers or snowboarders can give sand surfing a go, strapping themselves into specially designed standing boards with foot bindings. Best of all, they’ll drop you at the best sandboarding dunes for unlimited rides - just give them a call when you want a lift back to the car park.

Surfing down the dunes on a hand-made sandboard Stockton Bight Sand Dunes Port Stephens New South Wales

Where to stay in Port Stephens

Then after catching your breath and dusting yourself off, you are only a 10-minute drive back to your room at Oaks Pacific Blue Resort where you can unwind by taking a leisurely swim in the iconic lagoon pool, the largest in Australia!