Difficulty – Easy – Medium.
Gear Required – Worimi Conservation Lands beach permit, four-wheel drive vehicle, tyre pressure gauge, standard 8t 4wd snatch/recovery strap. Rated vehicle recovery points highly recommended.
Track Inclusions/ Features (Descriptive) – Sand dunes, soft sand patches, rutted beachfront.
Points of Interest – Lavis Lane, Beachfront, Dunes, Tin City, Anna Bay.
Things to Do – Dune driving, beach fishing, recreational vehicle use, sandboarding, picnic/day use, swimming, fitness, quad hire, Tin City tour camel/horse riding and photography.
Need to Know – Tyre pressure on all wheels of your four-wheel drive MUST be let down. This will allow you to drive on the sand with ease. Preventing damage and recovery of your vehicle. (15 PSI is often a good place to start)
Track / Trip Length – 32 Kms of vast beachfront between Stockton and Anna Bay with approximately 350 Hectares of dune access.
How to Get There – Just 15 mins North from NRMA Stockton Beach Holiday Park to Lavis Lane, Williamtown
Best Time to Go – Anytime of year, warmer months are most popular for beach use.
What makes Stockton Beach such an attraction?
Stockton Sand Dunes is arguably the best and most accessible beach on Australia’s East coast. Situated in the Worimi Conservation Lands and offers 32kms of expansive, uninterrupted beachfront, running north from Stockton, all the way up to Anna Bay in Port Stephens with 350 Hectares of recreational vehicle access amongst the dunes. This vast sandscape provides hours of fun and activities all year round. The great news is – it’s four-wheel drive accessible to the average adventurer, just a 15 minutes drive north of NRMA Stockton Beach Holiday Park to Lavis Lane, Williamtown. With some simple knowledge and preparation, you too can head out and get a glimpse of what this region has to offer!
Things you must try at Stockton Beach
The 4wding is world-class and we will cover that in-depth in a moment, but there is so much more on offer I would love to tell you about!
Being such a picturesque area, it’s easy to see why Stockton Beach has become a hotspot for outdoor activities, including but not limited to: fishing, swimming, surfing, horse riding, photography, DIY sandboarding, sandcastle building, pipi collection along the beachfront, recreational quad and motorbike riding. There are also some paid activities in the area consisting of guided quad bike tours, guided 4wd tours, camel riding and sandboarding.
Amongst the 32kms of beachfront, you will find many avid fishing anglers trying their luck all year round, with mullet, whiting, salmon, bream, flathead, tailor, mulloway, and even the odd snapper on the menu.
DIY sandboarding can be achieved down some of the steepest dunes. Using bodyboards or some sheets of masonite with rope handles and some candle wax applied to the bottom, these can be knocked up in preparation to your visit. Most hardware stores will have all you need to create this type of fun and excitement for the whole family.
Where do I get on and off Stockton Beach?
Firstly, you will need to acquire a Beach Access Permit, which is available from several locations, including the Metro Service Station on Lavis Lane in Williamtown (just across from McDonald’s). From here, it is just a short 2km drive down Lavis Lane to the Stockton Beach entrance and parking area.
There is a second entrance/ exit point for the beach further north, located off Gan Gan Road, Anna Bay. Some people like to get off here for a quick coffee or meal at the Birubi Beach Kiosk before heading back down along the beachfront for some more fun and adventure.
I haven’t driven on sand before. Is it difficult?
Whether it’s your very first time or you’re an experienced sand driver, the concept remains the same; there are a few key points I will give to ensure you have the best time on the beach without any drama!
One of the easiest, but MOST common mistakes made at the beach is you MUST let your tyres down to a lower pressure. Often, we do this once we have left the tarmac and at the beach entrance. Tyre pressures can vary from vehicle to vehicle because of weight. Still, the concept remains the same. 15 PSI is a safe recommendation and will work with 90% of vehicles. Heavier vehicles may require slightly higher pressure, and lighter vehicles may require a lower pressure to gain the same effect. By letting your tyre pressure down, it lets the sidewalls of your tyres bellow out, making your contact patch wider, but less noticeably it becomes considerably longer too which is a recipe for success for driving on soft sand. It makes it easier for your vehicle’s drivetrain and results in a smoother ride for everyone in the vehicle.
Secondly, understanding the basics of your 4wd vehicle. Before mounting your first bit of sand ensure you’re engaged in 4wd, all vehicle owners manuals will explain this in-depth, but for most traditional setups it may involve two manual locking hubs at the front and a second gear lever to engage your transfer case. On modern setups, it may be as simple as turning an electronic dial. Full-time 4wd vehicles like my own Prado will have an electronic centre diff lock which must be engaged to truly be in 4wd. For soft sand, like Stockton Beach, I recommend low range if your vehicle is equipped with it. With those 2 key preparations out of the way, you are ready to hit the beach!
Driving smoothly and consistently is the best approach, where possible stopping or parking your vehicle, pointing slightly downhill will give you the easiest take-off. Many vehicles have been known to be lost each year down onto the beachfront. To avoid this situation altogether, it’s as easy as parking above the high tide line or only ever parking where you are certain you can get going again. What to do if your vehicle does go down, you ask? Well, when you have your own snatch strap or recovery gear, most 4wders passing by will lend you a hand. There are also specialised towing companies that can be called upon if the matter gets urgent.
Once you get the hang of beach driving, It’s an absolute thrill!
It’s hard to imagine anywhere else that gives you this amount of freedom in your own vehicle. Your families own self-guided tour of this iconic location on Australia’s East Coast.
Enjoy adventurous sightseeing as you cruise along the beachfront taking in the fresh sea breeze, the crashing waves and the wildlife or tackle the vast desolate dunes in the recreational area. Another popular attraction is Tin City, located approximately halfway up the beachfront between the two entrances of Lavis lane and Gan Gan, which now only compromises of 11 individual tin shacks, set deep into the ever-changing sandscape. There are no roads in, no water or power supplies and no town sewerage. With these challenges in mind, these shacks are still proudly inhabited and held tightly within the Worimi community, only to be handed down to their respected generations. There is a park up area just off the beachfront, only meters from the closest hut which allows for a gentle stroll while viewing the decorated and restored shacks in all their glory. Photographers flock to capture the marvel here during the golden hours each day! In fact it’s so unique, several scenes of the 1979 movie “Mad Max” was filmed here! While the locals are said to be friendly and up for a chat, please be considerate and keep a respectful distance.
As your visit comes to an end, pumping your tyres back up is easy. Self-sufficient 4wders will use their own 12V compressor to pump their tyres back up. If you don’t have a compressor, the Lavis Lane Metro Service Station has two automatic tyre inflation facilities and a carwash for public use.
After a beach trip it’s advised to give your vehicle a quick fresh-water rinse top and bottom, to ensure it will last the test of time and avoid any unwanted corrosion.
If you haven’t yet had the chance, I highly suggest you take the time to check it out for yourselves. Stockton Beach – Where a great day is guaranteed!
Set up base close by
NRMA Stockton Beach Holiday Park is the perfect place to base yourself for the ultimate Stockton Beach 4WD getaway, offering direct 4WD access not far from the park at Fern Bay. There’s plenty of features and facilities on offer, including a camp kitchen, BBQ areas, amentias and more.
Set up your swag for an authentic 4WD holiday on a caravan or camping sites. Or enjoy the creature comforts of holiday villa just a short stroll from the beach.