If you are looking for something really unique and memorable to do in Port Stephens, how about a camel ride along the beach? Along with the Tomaree Head Summit Walk and swimming with dolphins, a camel ride along Birubi Beach and exploring the Stockton Sand Dunes is a must do when in Port Stephens – read on to find out more!
Port Stephens is located around 3 hours north of Sydney by car and makes the perfect weekend trip – there are so many things to do here and the scenery is extremely beautiful!
Stockton Sand Dunes (Worimi Conservation Lands)
The Stockton Sand Dunes lie in the Worimi Conservation Lands (an Aboriginal owned park) right behind Stockton Beach. Stockton Beach is a 32km long beach that stretches from the area of Stockton (by the mouth of the Hunter River at Newcastle) to Birubi Beach, Anna Bay. The sand dunes cover 4,200 hectares and are the largest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. They are an incredible sight and from the sand dunes you can look all the way out across to the Pacific Ocean.
Birubi Beach is located in Anna Bay on the northernmost part of Stockton Beach. To reach Birubu Beach head to James Paterson Street. You’ll find lots of parking here. You can then walk down to the Surf Life Saving Club and you’ll find the beach there.
PORT STEPHENS CAMEL RIDE
A camel ride along Birubi Beach is a great activity for both adults and children! Depending on when is most convenient for you, you can either do the camel ride during the day or at sunset. You will have a guide who will help you onto the camel and guide the camels across the dunes and onto the beach.
I lived in The Middle East for almost four years so have certainly had my fair share of camel rides, but it never gets old! If you have never been on a camel before it may feel strange at first! The camel will be kneeling down so you can get on. You need to hold on tight and lean back when it stands up as it stands it’s back legs up first and then it’s front legs, so if you don’t hold on you could fall off! As for the camel ride, it’s a lot bumpier than a horse ride, but just hold on and you’ll be fine!
So why are there camels in Australia?
Whilst camels in Australia seems strange, there are actually many here! Australia actually has more wild camels than any African or Middle Eastern country (there are about 300,000 here)! You’ll find them mainly in the Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland.
The camels were actually imported from Afghanistan in the 1840’s as a method of transportation through the Australia Outback. As time went on and technology improved, the need for the camels declined. Many were released out into the desert, and as the climate is suitable for them, they have survived extremely well. There is so much land in the Outback and they have been able to roam free.
Port Stephens Camel Ride Company:
The Outback Ranch Camel Rides company offers camel rides at Birubi Beach.
- 20 minute camel ride during the day – $35 ($30 for children aged 2-14).
- 60 minute sunset ride – $90 ($70 for children aged 10-14).
Note the day camel rides are only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays (apart from the NSW School Holidays when they are open 7 days a week). They are also open on Public Holidays (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day however). Weather dependent, the sunset rides depart only on Fridays and Saturdays. Click here to enquire or book.
The camel rides depart from the lower public car park at the end of James Peterson Street (click here to see the exact location).
The 20 minute day rides don’t need to be pre-booked, but the hour long sunset rides MUST be pre-booked. If you would like to do a day ride longer than 20 minutes it is also possible, as long as you pre-book this too. I would definitely recommend doing a longer ride than simply 20 minutes as it goes far too fast!
What else to do at Stockton Sand Dunes?
Beach & Dune Driving
If you have your own 4WD vehicle you can go beach and dune driving here at the Stockton Sand Dunes! Over 22km of beach and over 350 hectares of Worimi Conservation Lands are available for 4WD access, making it one of the largest coastal dune driving areas in New South Wales, and a really popular activity!
You are allowed to drive on the beach and dunes so long as you are only driving in the Recreational Vehicle Area. All vehicles must be registered and display a valid beach vehicle permit. This includes recreational vehicles such as quads & motorbikes.
You can buy a 3 day permit for $33 or an annual one for $88. Permits can be purchased at the BP Service Stations in Anna Bay and Salt Ash, as well as the Port Stephens Visitor Centre and NPWS Hunter Coast Area Office – both of which are located in Nelson Bay.
Sand Dune Safaris
If you fancy going on a 4WD dune bashing trip and don’t have your own 4WD and want to try sand boarding aswell, then Sand Dune Safaris is for you! Note this a family run business and they only open on weekends (open every day during NSW school holidays however). They are open on other days only on request. Tours are $35 per adult and $30 for children and last around 2 hours. You’ll find the Sand Dunes Safari office right by the Outback Ranch Camel Rides departure point at the lower car park on James Paterson Street. Click here to book a tour!
Quad biking is a great way to explore the Stockton Sand Dunes! A 1 hour session will cost $110 ($200 for 2 adults together on the same quad bike). Click here to book your Quad Biking experience with Sand Dune Adventures.
Camping in Worimi Conservation Lands
Camping in Worimi Conservation Lands at one of the remote campsites is a really unique experience! Click here to learn more and to book.
What else to do at Port Stephens?
Swim with dolphins
Swimming with dolphins is an absolutely dream for so many people. Just a few kilometres from Birubi Beach is Nelson Bay – the home of Dolphin Swim Australia. Dolphin Swim Australia is the only company in Australia where you can swim with dolphins in the wild! This is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, and as Port Stephens is often named the dolphin capital of Australia, you have to add this onto your bucket list! Around 165 bottlenose dolphins live here in the port so your chances of seeing the dolphins are very high.
Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters
Visit the interactive aquarium at Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters. Feed and pat the stingrays, and feed the zebra sharks and tawny sharks!
Tomaree Mountain Summit Walk
The Tomaree Summit Walk provides the best views over Port Stephens. The hike up to the top is only 1.3km so should only take you 20 minutes or so, but it is pretty steep! Read this article for all you need to know about the Tomaree Summit Walk!
The city of Newcastle is a 45 minute drive from Port Stephens. Newcastle is a really nice city to explore – plus it has the most epic ocean pool The Bogey Hole – click here to read!