Members Trips

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Camping on Stockton Beach

camping is now not permitted

Worimi Conservation Lands Board of Management draft plan

 

One of the joys of living in the Newcastle region is camping on our own local Stockton Beach. For those members who are thinking of camping there & have never ventured onto this 32 km wilderness stretch, here is a little local knowledge to help you plan a safe trip.

GETTING THERE

Birubi Point at Anna Bay is the easiest & safest entry point to tow a camper trailer onto the beach. You have two choices here. The first is from the 4wd parking area under the surf club on the end of James Paterson Drive & the other is from the old sandpit, which is sign posted `4wd beach access'. Both are off Gan Gan Road, Anna Bay, although the latter can be a little soft in dry weather.

Don't forget the first kilometre of beach is people only, so you will need to travel behind the foredune until you reach the corduroy ramp which will bring you out onto the beach proper. This northern end of the beach is usually much flatter & a little firmer than the middle & southern end which can be very chopped up with heavy usage & a trap for the unwary, even more so with a camper in tow.

The soft steep dunes off Mac's Track at the end of Lavis Lane from Williamtown are not recommended to tow a camper over & out to the beach front. The sand can be very powdery & even bottomless in times of dry windy weather, but a downpour can change the conditions into a hard track overnight. Not much fun bogged with a camper trailer out there.

ON THE BEACH

In normal times, low tide often means the beach is hard & a trouble free drive down the beach from the northern end at Birubi Point can be made until the beach between high & low tide becomes too steep. Please note to exercise caution when driving below the high tide mark as soft spots can form in the wet sand, particularly when the tide is dropping. These are not visible to the naked eye. A speed limit of 40kmph applies at all times.

Please be aware that people have the right of way at all times on the beach & a restriction of 20kmph within 100m of pedestrians or vehicles applies. The first one kilometre from Birubi Point is people only along the beach front.

The sand on the top end of Stockton Beach is generally well packed making it easy driving. If you have never driven on the sand before I would consider entering the beach from the northern end in the company of an experienced sand driver, rather than via the steep dune system from Lavis Lane.

On a king high tide or after severe storms, it is sometimes necessary to stick to the track located behind the foredune. After strong winds it can be hard to follow & will be soft on the lee side of most dunes. Please also be aware that during these times it will be quite dangerous driving behind the foredune as all traffic will be forced onto the mainly single lane track & not all have your safety in mind.

Be careful around the lagoons which form after wet weather. Quicksand forms which can quickly bog a vehicle without warning. Best to keep back away from the edge of these. Quicksand can also form at the base of the large dunes at the back of the beach in wetter times. If driving alone take care as the quicksand can be covered by a thin layer of dry wind blown sand. You will be axle deep without warning.  

Whatever the conditions local knowledge is the best advice & can be sourced from the METRO service station on the round-a-bout at Lavis Lane, Williamtown or from the MOBIL in Gan Gan Rd, Anna Bay. Both stations also provide air outlets to pump your tyres back up to highway pressures if you do not have your own pump, so there's no excuse in not letting your tyres down for safe beach work.

BEACH PERMIT

A Worimi Conservation Lands beach vehicle permit is necessary to drive on Stockton Beach & replaces the previous Port Stephens Council
Stockton Beach vehicle permit. The permits can be obtained from the above service stations which are close to both legal entry points. Don't forget to ask for a copy of the Beach Vehicle Policy/Code of Conduct pamphlet when you obtain your permit. They are obliged to hand one to you.

For further information on the Stockton Beach permit & where to buy it from can be found in the national park leaflet. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/parks/wclBeachDriving.pdf

BEACH VEHICLE DRIVING Code of Conduct
 

* Drive according to conditions - speed limit of 40kmph applies & 20kmph within 100m of pedestrians or vehicles.
* Give way to pedestrians at all times.
* Avoid reckless driving - for your safety and the safety of others.
* Avoid launching off dune slopes.
* Be prepared for dunes to conceal other vehicles - consider fitting your vehicle with a flag.
* Do not drive over vegetation - help keep dunes intact by following previous tracks.
* Do not drive over shell accumulations - you may damage cultural sites.

 

LET YA TYRES DOWN

Letting your tyres down will aid with flotation on the sand. 16 lb is a good start for both camper & vehicle. Without erratic driving it is quite safe to lower the pressures down to 12lb which I normally use. Even two pound will make a huge difference to floatation.

It is rarely necessary to use your brakes on the beach to stop. I disengage the hydraulic over-rider brakes on the camper. This stops the trailer digging in when your foot is lifted from the accelerator.

CAMPING

Camping is now not permitted on Stockton Beach. Camping closures were put in place following storms in June 2012 which were the largest to hit the beach since 1974. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/nationalparks/parkCamping.aspx?id=N1111 

The 4200-hectare Worimi Conservation Lands are made up of three reserves: Worimi National Park, Worimi State Conservation Area and Worimi Regional Park and are co-managed by the registered Aboriginal owners and the Department of Environment and Conservation NSW (DEC) under the direction of a Board of Management.

More information can be found on the Worimi National Park page of the NSW National Parks website.

THE WIND

Because Stockton Beach is an open beachfront & is at the mercy of the elements. Of these, wind is the worst & cannot be avoided. A strong southerly can hit the beach at gale force strength & it is hard to guess how long it will last. At times the front may blow over in an hour or it could last up to a day or more. A westerly is little better, but can blow for days, with little or no protection at all. The summer afternoon nor'easter can at times be very strong, whipping up white caps which make it most uncomfortable. To move out of the wind, particularly in summer can be very hot. Sand blows everywhere & we have at times packed up & headed for home.

If you happen to get blown off the beach there is the Birubi Beach Caravan Park located in James Patterson Drive, Anna Bay, the One Mile Beach Holiday Park, Gan Gan Rd, Anna Bay or at the southern end of the beach you will find the Stockton Beach Tourist Park, Pitt St, Stockton.

KEEPING IT ALL TOGETHER

These conditions of course put undue strain on the canvas of the camper trailer. I noticed with the constant movement of the canvas the tent poles would work their way down into the sand. Tightening of the ropes solved the problem of flapping canvas for a short time, but eventually the poles would work down again & the canvas would flap once more.

I finally solved the problem by making up 300 mm square plates for the poles to rest on from 6mm thick rubber, with a washer to locate the pole. Ply would also do the trick.

While I was at it I made extra long sand pegs from 25x25x3mm steel angle approx. 600mm long. Now camp sits where we made it.

FISHING

If you are into fishing Stockton Beach is one place you are more than likely to get yourself a good feed. Spring is one of the slowest times as most years sees the beach plagued with cold currents. But as the water warms up before Christmas & into the full swing of summer there are plenty of whiting, flathead, chopper tailer & jew about if you are keen to put the hours in.

Autumn sees the mullet run followed by good sized bream & tailor, while winter has some of the best tailor & salmon fishing on the coast.

WHAT  TO SEE

The Shacks or Silver City are a collection of huts built by fisherman over the years. You can find them some 10 km down from the top of the beach.

At around nine km down the beach you may see the ribs of the Uralla if the tide is low & if there is a bit of sand missing. She ran aground in 1932.

At numerous places behind the foredune you will notice the remains of Newcastle's WW2 defences in the form of tank traps, star pickets & barbed wire entanglements. There is also the remains of a crashed Sabre jet which emerges from time to time.

At times the wind will reveal Second World War air to ground bombs as the top end of the beach was a practice bombing range. It was also not uncommon for planes to jettison their unused bombs on their landing run coming back into Williamtown RAAF Base at that time.

We found one such bomb heading back to a favourite spot just south of Lavis Lane late one evening after a fishing trip. Here you can sit high in the dune which is pushing into the bush & hear the many bird calls echoing against the dune wall. We notified the police who in turn notified the RAAF bomb squad. We took them out & showed them our find. They then got out some plastic explosive & blew it up. They gave me the steel detonator cap from the front of it. We now have that proudly displayed at home.

You will notice piles of white shells between the large hind dunes & the fore dunes. These are aboriginal middens or garbage heaps made from the deposit of marine shells such as pipis off the beach & whelks from nearly Tilligerry Creek after the animal inside had been eaten over thousands of years.

In wetter times rainwater will drain from the higher dunes at he back of the beach forming freshwater lagoons in several locations. Although fresh on top these are usually salt underneath as freshwater sits on the less denser saltwater.

Roughly seven km from the southern end of the beach or six km south from Lavis Lane you will find the stern section of the MV SYGNA stranded 26th May 1974. http://www.robcaz.net/mv_sygna.htm

Most importantly LEAVE NO TRACE http://www.lnt.org.au/

LINKS

CO-MANAGEMENT AGREMENT http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/comanagement/StocktonBightCo-managementAgreement.htm 
WORIMI CONSERVATION LAND BEACH DRIVING http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/parks/wclBeachDriving.pdf 
STOCKTON BEACH MAP http://users.hunterlink.net.au/%7emadms/stockton.pdf 
A TRIP DOWN THE BEACH WITH GRAHAM SANSOM http://members.ozemail.com.au/~horizonsafaris7/ 
MEREWETHER BEACH LIVE CONDITIONS http://www.stickybeek.com.au/webcams/merewether.aspx 
FISHING REPORTS http://www.fishingmonthly.com.au/pages/home.html 
DUNES OF STOCKTON BEACH http://www.portstephens.org.au/NaturalBeauty/i10.shtml 
SAND DRIVING TECHNIQUES http://www.pps.net.au/4wdencounter/4wdtech/sand_driving.html 

 

 

aboriginal middens ww2 defences camping wreck of uralla wreck of sygna

info by Rob & Carol

 

updated december 13