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Dune warriors

October 13, 2014 - Port Stephens

This is most definitely not my normal Saturday morning! Astride a racy-looking 400cc four-wheeled beast painted Ferrari red I’m perched on the lip of a sand mountain about to commit myself to plunging over the edge. Give it just a touch of throttle, I’m told.

Speeding down this awesome slope is the last thing on my mind. Faith is more appropriate.

I thumb the accelerator gently and down I go, heart in mouth until safely reaching the bottom and accelerating up the next gentle slope. You may scoff, but I feel quite proud at overcoming my initial apprehensions, that is until guide John says, “that’s a baby dune, much bigger ahead.”

Spending two hours on dune buggies gunning around the Southern Hemisphere’s largest moving coastal sand dunes is a sure fire way of electrifying a weekend. The weather is perfect, about 27C, all wide-open skies. Sunscreen and shades are essential. I’m surrounded by an eye-searing expanse of brightly shining desert spilling onto a blue ribbon of coastline. In the far south is the hazy smudge of Newcastle, east lies cobalt ocean while north it’s all endless rolling sands.

During this thrilling ride up, along and over these dunes, our group of eight closely follow guide John Schultz, a traditional owner of Worimi Country where Sand Dune Adventures operates its not-for-profit tourism adventure. After an hour we stop for a break on top of a dune with views as far as we can see. John explains a bit of the local history and points out ancient Aboriginal middens among the patches of green vegetation that somehow, remarkably, flourish amid this sea of sand.

“There’s a fresh water running beneath us,” he explains. “In some places you don’t need to dig much deeper a buggy wheel to find it.”

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