As you know, my flight to Australia was delay for a whole day, which meant I lost a whole day of fun. Once the plane touched down in Sydney Amie and I rented a car and drove to Port Stephens to catch up on the time we lost. One of the best ways to get through jet lag is to fight through it. Don't go to the hotel and sleep, get out and get moving. Do stuff. That's exactly what I did. First thing on my list: sandboarding!
Birubi Beach is a was not at all what I expected. It was a little difficult finding the designated location for the Port Stephens 4WD check-in. Once we found the little road leading down towards the water we found the paved parking lot, two sandboarding companies (4WD was one of them!), and a service that gives camel rides.
We jumped into the 4WD vehicle for a bumpy ride over the dunes to the designated sandboarding location a few minutes away from the parking lot. From this spot we could still see the car lot and the beach area, but if you looked with your back towards the ocean all you'll see are sand dunes as far as the eye could see. Birubi was a lot larger than I expected and I know that there is also a "Tin City" tour there (11 kilometers of beach driving to "Tin City", a small makeshift fishing village that emerges from the dunes like a mirage" - 4WD website), but we didn't take advantage of that activity.
My TOP TIPS for sandboarding:
#1 Do NOT put your phone in your pocket. You'll be finding tiny granules of sand around the case edge for the next seven days; a weird little annoying souvenir.
#2 Don't wear socks, there's no point since they strongly suggest you take your shoes off - and who wouldn't want to feel the nice warm sand between their toes? Socks would just collect sand.
#3 Leave the purse in the trunk of the car. Or if you're worried about leaving important things in the car park, bring a backpack-type bag so you can keep your things clean and with you at all times!
4WD provided water, which was great. Although we went in August (which is winter in Australia), it was still pretty warm with the sun shining bright overhead and climbing to get to the top of those dunes takes a great deal of energy. I felt like I was on a StairMaster. Between the strong winds blowing the sand around and the steep dunes, it was a total body work out just getting to the top.
If you want to see all of the action for yourself, I've inserted a video I made about the experience. Take a look ⇊
On the way back we were going to head to the Airbnb, but Amie talked me into checking out the camel rides. Oakfield Ranch was set up near the car park, so there's no need to search them out, they're very easy to find. We actually first saw them when we can into the parking lot.
After sandboarding the camels were resting and waiting for the next riders. Fortunately for us, we were the only people around at that time and we got all of the camels to ourselves - which meant we had the pick of the litter. I'd never ridden a camel before and I was a little nervous, but it turned out to be something I was very glad I experienced.
The ride was another great way to see the sand dunes and we veered towards the beach and got to ride among the waves coming up to the shore.
At Birubi point the ride lasted about 20 minutes. Online I saw that there are other rides you can take at other locations, like the hour long sunset ride at Anna Bay. I think 20 minutes is the perfect amount of time to spend in a camel saddle.