4WD, Australia, Camping, Road Trips

A weekend in the dunes: Wilbinga, Western Australia

March 3, 2016

Wilbinga ... the perfect sunset

Want to find your own personal stretch of pristine Western Australian beach for the weekend? Then Wilbinga is the place to go.  Last weekend we truly took it off the beaten track to a secluded beach only accessible via 4WD tracks.  Having purchased another Mitsubishi Delica (AKA Big D) a few weeks ago we have been dying to take it out for a camping trip and even more so, offroad.  Wilbinga sand dunes really put her through her paces.

Day 1

Saturday, around noon, we hit the road north to the nearest beach camping spot to Perth, Wilbinga, which is amazingly only an hour away from the city!  Yup you only have to drive an hour to paradise.

The location

Wilbinga is located north of Yanchep, between Two Rocks and Guilderton.  The track has two entry points, one at Two Rocks which is closed and the other, half way between Two Rocks and Guilderton.  There are no signs or gates so you need to keep a look out for the sand track located opposite Military Road.

There is uncertainty as to whether the tracks are ‘officially’ still open or not so entering the reserve is at your own risk and you could potentially land a $100 on the spot fine by rangers if you are found camping.  If they find you.  But as long as you do not light any fires and take all your rubbish home you should be fine.

The entrance track gives you a little taster for what is to come as you pull in to a big sandy pit.  Then it’s just 12km of straight, corrugated dirt track through the bush to reach the sand bowl.

The dunes

The solid track suddenly ends and you are faced with a fork in the road with 3 possible routes via sheer sand hills.  We let down our tyres to 15 PSI and teamed up with two other vehicles for backup should we get stuck.  The other two ‘contenders’ were a Nissan Navara and a VW Amarok.  We were feeling suddenly self-conscious in our 1997 van.  So the Navara went first, stopping twice on route and managing to counter leaver and pull themselves to the top.  Next up was the Amarok.  This one struggled.  He got stuck half way up the hill and was really struggling to pull out.  He hopped out let some more air out of the tyres and after 10 minutes he managed to pull away.

Watching the modern off-roaders take the dune first

Watching the modern off-roaders take the dune first

Our turn … fingers crossed.  We too made it half way up before getting in a sticky spot, Shaun put it in diff lock, put the peddle to the floor and belted it all the way to the top to everyone’s absolute shock!  This machine is built for this stuff!

Once at the top of the hill there is of course only one way down.  Down the sheer face of a sand dune.  I had to shut my eyes; I thought we would topple straight over.  But no, the Delica was in full control and continued to excel the entire day.  There are miles of sand tracks out here, up and down the sand dunes, among the bush and finally all the way to the ocean.

After a few hours of fun we found somewhere to camp.  As this is a nature reserve there are no designated camping spots or facilities so it is down to you to fend for yourselves and be completely self sufficient.

We found a gorgeous stretch of secluded beach, dropped everything and basked in the absolute bliss of the freedom.  We had the whole beach to ourselves (aside from the odd diesel engine belting past the beach).

We set up camp.  By which I mean we opened a beer, got our chairs out and relaxed!  Our 8 seater Delica is perfect for camping as the seats lay flat to form a bed.  We chucked our self-inflating mattress on top and the bed was made.

The rest of the evening was spent cooking up some steak sarnies, chatting over a few beers and watching the incredible sunset over the ocean.

Day 2

We woke up to the soft sound of crashing waves.  There is nothing like waking up and jumping straight into the sand.

Now that we were deep in the dunes, our second day of exploring was a little more intense.  We took a few wrong turns on our way out and ended up driving towards the closed track which meant the bush was over grown and our poor Delica got scratched to death.  The trouble is that there is nowhere to turn around.  Once you are on a track you either have to persevere forward or reverse all the way back, both tactics we had to take on.  My anxiety was through the roof and I did not find this type of 4WDing enjoyable due to the impending fear of toppling over or destroying our van!  However, once we were back on the carved routes it was fun.  It is definitely one of those things that you find uncomfortable at the time but appreciate later.

The gear

We are by no means experts but here is our list of essentials and optional extras for a 4WD adventure in Wilbinga:

Essentials:

  • Tyre pressure gauge
  • Air compressor
  • Shovel
  • Max tracks
  • Plenty of fuel
  • Compass
  • Water
  • Toilet paper
  • Rubbish bags
  • Cooking equipment
  • Food
  • Sun scream

Optional extras:

  • 2 meter flag so that oncoming vehicles can see you coming over a hill
  • Winch
  • Recovery strap

Please be aware that the dunes are constantly changing so what might have been a perfectly safe track one week could be dramatically different the next.

What other 4WD tracks would you recommend in Western Australia?

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