The West

4WD: Play safe in Lancelin sandpit
An experienced driver applies the correct balance of momentum and technique to negotiate a safe and successful climb on a steeper dune. Picture: GBTW

With only a weekend to play you can't beat heading north towards Lancelin. About 200km from Perth, it's a comfortable two-hour drive that is manageable for a long day trip or perfect if you're set up for overnight camping with a trailer, swag or fast-erect tent.

If planning an overnighter, there are caravan camps at each settlement along the coast, including Guilderton, Ledge Point, Lancelin and Cervantes or inland farm-stay caravan parks.

Beach camping is discouraged by regularly patrolling rangers who can impose heavy fines.

For a comfortable stay with clean, well-presented amenities, including a pool and child friendly entertainment, the Ledge Point Big 4 Caravan Park gets the thumbs up. The area offers plenty of active recreation options, with miles of sandy beaches to explore in your four-wheel-drive and to practice sand-driving skills.

Travel with at least one other 4WD as the sand is often soft and boggy. The tracks along the coast provide an alternate route when the beach is too narrow.

Put up a sand flag and be prepared to have to reverse as the restricted winding tracks offer few opportunities to pass other vehicles.

The windy conditions are a definite bonus for wind or kite surfing. As you drive down the beach expect to enjoy the soaring of a multi-hued rainbow of kites high above the ocean with some spectacular jumps, twists and somersaults rivalling the Cirque du Soleil.

The area is best known for two major attractions - the Pinnacles and the dunes. The massive ever- shifting white expanse of the sand dunes provides an excellent play pit for everything off-road.

The main entry is just past the Lancelin shops. Note that rangers patrol to try to ensure people are playing safe and they will not tolerate unregistered vehicles.

Most fine weekends will see hundreds of people at play across acres of rolling dunes, kicking up rooster tails of fine white powder behind 4WDs, quads, dirt bikes and dune buggies.

Getting air under the tyres can be a major thrill, but should only be attempted by experienced drivers who know their vehicle's limitations and have thoroughly checked the dune conditions.

Wild horseplay or carelessness can too easily lead to a vehicle rollover, so please play safe.

To burn the fidgets out of kids of all sizes, have them take a turn at sandboarding down the massive dunes. Coming down is easy - dig your hands in for emergency braking if you're feeling out of control or fly down for a burst of adrenalin. The climb back up the dune will earn you guilt-free fish and chips for dinner.

Winding down for the day, it's worth heading towards Cervantes to check out the Pinnacles. The strange rock formations in Nambung National Park spiking out of the sand like a long fossilised forest are an international attraction.

After the tourist buses head south, it's a great spot to chill out and watch the sun slide blazing into the peaceful dark waters.

The West Australian

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