Monday, February 27, 2012

Stockton Beach, NSW

Land Rover Discovery 300tdi - Stockton Beach
Sand tracks, beaches, dunes and desert all have one thing in common: they make the vehicle work very hard and are a pleasure to drive.
Having recently purchased a Land Rover Discovery 300tdi automatic, I was keen to test the vehicle out in local conditions in New South Wales, Australia.  A comfortable three hours North of Sydney is the Southern Hemisphere's largest rolling sand dune beach.

Wikipedia describes Stockton Beach:
Stockton Beach, on the Tasman Sea, starts on the northern side of the break wall that protects the entrance to Newcastle harbour in Stockton, Newcastle's northern most suburb, and stretches for 32 km (20 mi) in an approximate north-easterly direction to Anna Bay in Port Stephens. In some areas it is as much as 1 km (0.6 mi) wide and has sand dunes over 30 metres (98 ft) high although at the Stockton end it is at its narrowest with no dunes. Each year the dunes move north by approximately 4 m (13 ft). The sand on Stockton Beach varies from hard to soft packed and changes daily with the changing winds and weather. The dunes are the largest continuous mobile sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere.
During my recent search for a 2nd hand overland ready four wheel drive, I stumbled upon this Land Rover whilst searching for the following:  Bullbar & Sunroof.  A great criteria for an overland vehicle ;-)
The Discovery is fitted with the 2.5l turbo diesel (300tdi), a Davis Landys turbo upgrade, BFG AT, Snorkel, rear drawer system and automatic transmission.  I have never owned an automatic 4wd before which meant I was rather apprehensive of the performance an automatic diesel Land Rover can achieve so when the first outing of 2012 was Stockton Beach, I packed the family tent, sleeping bags and the essential gear like the ARB snatch strap and shackles.



Added company for the trip were two additional families driving a V6 Mitsubishi Pajero and a V6 Toyota Prado.  Both vehicles proved to have better performance in the dunes compared to the 4cylinder 2.5l diesel.

Stockton Beach - Route
We entered the beach via Williamtown (Lavis Lane) and headed North to Anna Bay.  The route map above shows our return route from Anna Bay to Williamtown.
It was a pleasant 28Deg however the sea tide was at the high mark which meant we were driving above the high tide mark through the very soft sand.  The vehicles, with tyre pressures down to 18PSI, took strain but managed to clamber over the dunes with a little bit of an encouragement i.e. flat out in low range!




I would recommend anyone planning an overland trip to have a day of sand driving.  It's tough on the vehicle, but is thrilling for the driver.  

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