Stockton Beach 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.
Be aware that numerous changes and restrictions are now in place - Stockton has changed! Please check the Worimi Conservation Lands website
for more information and details about camping restrictions.
How to Use this Trek Note
Click the "Map" tab below to see the route we've provided. Icons on the map are the POIs you'll need for navigation purposes. Be sure to check the list of Nearby Places
on each POI page.
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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 and Oimara.