Stockton Beach is a surreal place to visit. It’s a huge beach, 32km long and about 1km wide. When you’re in the middle of the dunes it feels like you’re in the desert! These mobile sand dunes are the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. We came here to take photos and go four wheel driving.

Stockton is about two hours north of Sydney near Port Stephens and Newcastle. We drove up in two cars – David with his Jeep Cherokee me in my Suzuki Swift. We met up at the carpark near the dunes, and six of us squeezed into the Jeep. We had to let out some air from the tires so that the car could safely drive on sand.

Some interesting facts: There’s a small community called ‘Tin City’ hidden at the north end of the dunes. It was built to provide for shipwrecked sailors in the late 1800s. In the 1930 Great Depression the site expanded into a small settlement. Today it’s said that a few people still live there, but it’s hard to find and they might not appreciate visitors. A few Mad Max scenes were filmed here. Also, even though the beach looks great for swimming please don’t go in! It’s well known for having many sharks – great white sharks breed here. There are two big shipwrecks on the beach – Uralla and MV Sygna. Both are visible on a clear day.

After about 15min of driving along the beach we pulled over to head into the dunes by foot. You’re not supposed to drive on the dunes because it will destabilise the landscape. As soon as we got out I noticed the beach spinifex grass. It’s a humble, hardy grass that holds together much of the beaches along Australia and New Zealand coastlines. It has a beautiful silky grey and green colour. Without it the sand would easily be lost to the ocean. That’s why you often see warning signs at beaches to keep off the dune regeneration area.

My friends all love creative photography! We found a dead banksia tree in the middle of the dunes so we got to work. Props are a must for sand dune shoots. We used some red fabric and rose petals. That’s Craig, Olym, Dion, De and David in the group photo. This is a typical kind of shoot when we get together – it’s a lot of fun!

A storm began moving in, which made for some dramatic lighting. Generally a sunny day would be ideal for sand dunes, but I was captivated by the sky and the shifting light. Check out these dune textures!

Here are some more of my photos from the trip. Click on the images to see them at full crop. Next time we’ll come back when it’s a completely sunny day so that the dunes look golden.

I’d recommend coming to Stockton for a unique sand dune experience. Whether you’re taking photos, going 4WD, camel riding or fishing, you’ll be able to appreciate the sandy expanse. If you don’t have a proper 4WD and a permit, you can do a day tour or walk from the carpark (about 30-45min). Make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen.