has long been the playground of dune buggies, motorcross bikes and now 4WDs. Seeing the dunes of Stockton Beach
for the first time is a real delight - you know it doesn't get much better than this.
The dunes are enormous, very steep and quite thrilling! Many are so steep that you have no hope of climbing up but have to carefully navigate across and down then up the more gentler ones.
Weekends can be very hectic, especially with clubs conducting Sand Driving courses. These clubs bring large numbers of students and they traverse the dunes in convoy, stopping to snatch one another out of a soft spot
or to wait for the convoy to catch up. There is a great camp site with water, shady trees and protection but if its a club weekend you probably wont get a spot
Interactive Route Map
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Stockton Beach From:
This trek supports moving map, to take a virtual tour click on the Play button.
And of course if you enjoy driving on the sand dunes at Stockton Beach
, then you will need your Recreational Vehicle Area Permit for such activities. These are available at a number of outlets in and around Newcastle, including the Birubi Beach Service Station, Gan Gan Road, Anna Bay and the Birubi Beach Caravan Park in James Patterson Street, Anna Bay. They are also available at Out of Town 4WD at Barnsley.
Beach Vehicle Permits
$30.00 ($15 NSW pensioner concession)
Entitles 12 months’ vehicle access to Stockton Beach
in the Worimi Conservation Lands
Entitles three days’ vehicle access to Stockton Beach
in the Worimi Conservation Lands — perfect for a weekend visit!
Recreational Vehicle Area Permits
RVA Annual Permit
Entitles 12 months’ vehicle access to the Recreational Vehicle Area of the Worimi Conservation Lands
RVA Three-Day Permit
Entitles three days’ vehicle access to the Recreational Vehicle Area of the Worimi Conservation Lands - perfect for a weekend visit!
N.B.: The Recreational Vehicle Area at Stockton
, together with some other nearby areas has recently been handed over by the Port Stephens Shire Council to the National Parks and Wildlife Service. They in turn are to hand some of the area back to the aborigines. So in the not too distant future there may be some changes occurring in relation to the current access processes at Stockton
Things to See & Do
Popular 4WDing on huge soft sand dunes, secluded camping, excellent beach runs, shipwreck, fishing, nature watching
A day or annual permit allows four-wheel-drive vehicles onto the beach for most of its length to enjoy the wonders of this inspiring sandy landscape. To find out where you can obtain a permit go to the Permits Page.
It is essential to carry a snatch strap and shovel for this trip. Also, because there are air compressors at both ends of the beach, you can actually get away without taking your own, however only rely on that as a backup. You should never embark onto a beach drive without your own air compressor. For more info see our Recovery Gear Topic.
It is easy to overheat an engine labouring along in soft sand and even easier to become dehydrated in the hot wind during summer so take plenty of fresh water plus food. It is certainly safer and more fun to go with a minimum of two vehicles and use a UHF Radio
Rubbish is a continuing problem on Stockton Beach
- you are required to take it all out so be prepared with plenty of garbage bags. You might even consider doing a bit of a cleanup yourself if you see stray rubbish around. Please read our Travelling Etiquette article. Once on the beach itself, there are no real treks to follow. That said however, there are a few good things to spot
so please ensure you read all the warnings, tips and suggestions here first.
Sand Driving at Stockton Tips
- In the carpark it is best to deflate your tyres for sand driving - start by deflating to at least 20psi and depending on your vehicle and how you're going, consider letting out a bit more air if you have troubles.
- Provided you don't turn too sharply with soft tyres you shouldn't have any problems going as low as 12psi.
- Ensure you have a good heavy duty air compressor to inflate your tyres back in the carpark at the end of the day (no compressor provided). The other option is to inflate your tyres at the service station in Anna Bay.
- Always drive straight down the dunes, driving at an angle may cause your vehicle to roll over
- Never use your brakes descending a sand dune, in fact it is best to use the accelerator a little
- Never stop your vehicle half-way down a dune or side-on at the top of a dune - soft sand may fall away from under the weight of your vehicle causing you to roll over
- Only one vehicle per dune at a time
- Never come up behind a vehicle climbing a dune
- If you get stuck going up a dune, reverse, don't roll and try again
- Never turn on the face of a dune
- HAVE FUN!!!
Fuel Supplies & Usage
|Williamtown, Anna Bay
||Diesel||4cyl 7 litres *
||ULP||4cyl 9 litres
||LPG||4cyl 11 litres|
|6cyl 8 litres||6cyl 11 litres *||6cyl 9 litres|
|8cyl 8 litres||8cyl 9 litres|
Services & Supplies
The following locations have various services and supplies: Williamtown
, Anna Bay
Camp Sites & Accommodation
Be aware when setting up camp that the wind can blow up very strong near the beach and the mossies can be fierce near the trees so take plenty of repellent. Rangers do check for permits and fire bans are enforced even on the beach.. If you read the rules you will find that camping is tolerated, not permitted. Rangers will only toss out idiots but get very upset about glass and rubbish.
The suburb of Stockton
which is at the southern end of the beach has 3 service stations, a supermarket, 3 butchers 2 chemists, a 4 star caravan park, backpackers accommodation, 2 pubs and a motel.
South along the shoreline you will find a shipwreck (MV Sygna) that provides good fishing off its artificial reef but treacherous swimming, north you'll find interesting ruins and further north you can swing inland through marshy swamps to the Anna Bay community - a great spot
to pick up a fish 'n' chip lunch.
Note - there is a set of tank traps
that are often exposed at waypoint 14330 which is roughly 12.5km south of the Anna Bay beach access point. If not exposed, then they are buried under the sand, but who knows how deeply. Check the coordinates.
Also be extremely careful when driving over the dunes. It's hard to see one dune from another and some of the wind swept faces are very steep. Check your Sand Driving Skills. Also check our specific driving tips for Stockton Beach
A journey down this thirty-two-kilometre beach is an adventure full of beauty and discovery. At the water's edge, oyster catchers, gulls and terns wait to see what the pounding surf reveals. Up on the dry sand dotterels and sandpipers groom the flotsam. Back in the dunes an ibis winkles a sand crab from a burrow, while overhead ravens scan their territory for a tasty scavenge. A fisherman reads the beach's rips, gutters and sandbanks for an informed decision on where to cast. Here and there are patches of bream, whiting, tailor
and jewfish. Professional fishermen haul their catch to the beach, having surrounded travelling schools of mullet
with their nets. Underfoot, pipis live in such abundance that a hand thrust into the wet sand will have one of these shellfish at the tip of each finger.
The wind-blown sand dunes of Stockton Beach
comprise the largest continuous mobile sand mass in New South Wales
. The yellow grains have been washed in from the sea and blown ashore to form dunes up to thirty metres high. Most of the sand was deposited about six thousand years ago. Despite the stabilising effects of plants such as spinifex, pigface and bitou bush, the wind-driven dunes move about four metres a year. The lee side of a dune is steep and loosely packed, making a perfect surface for sliding down on a sheet of cardboard or something more elaborate.
About one kilometre back from the beach, the moving dunes run abruptly into the forested dunes. At the interface, trees of all sizes are slowly covered by moving sand until they disappear completely. Perhaps ten years later, when the dune has moved on, they are uncovered to stand as stark sentinels, witness to the irresistible inevitability of sand on the march.
The dunes are a friendly place. Most plants that grow there have an edible part. Fresh water can be collected from a hole dug anywhere in low ground between the dunes. Tracks of animals and crabs lead to their underground homes and the sea is full of life. Every hundred metres, piles of bleached white shells indicate the site of an Aboriginal shell midden. These are the remains of meals eaten by the people of the Woromi Tribe and contain the bones of mammals, birds and lizards as well as the shells of molluscs and crustaceans.
As the sand moves about, it exposes sections of barbed-wire entanglements left over from World War II. The wire had been hung from several rows of star pickets along the length of the beach. Running across the beach into the farmland for several kilometres was a line of heavy concrete pyramids designed to slow down tank movements. Many of these tank traps
are still where they were placed all those years ago. Some of the blocks have been moved to line the beach car park at Birubi Point.
Storms bring in all sorts of flotsam, both man-made and natural. Whole trees can be washed down flooded rivers to bob about on the high seas for a while and end up firmly embedded on the beach. Whales, dugong, fish and birds leave their earthly remains on the beach just above the high tide mark. Heavy seas or careless navigation account
for shipwrecks such as those of the Sygna, Uralla