For the third part of our Adventure Newcastle series, we decided to keep our feet on solid ground and sent our contributor, Brittany off to the breathtaking Stockton sand dunes for a beachside camel ride with Oakfield Ranch…
I am a total animal-lover at heart, so any day I get the chance to hang out with an out-of-the-ordinary creature is an awesome day by my standards – and camels are just about as unusual as you can get in Newcastle!
Oakfield Ranch has been operating for over 20 years, run by Rod Sansom and his family. They not only offer camel rides to the public, but also have a range of animals on their ranch they care for, train, and hire out for all kinds of occasions as well as media events, TV and film work.
Located about an hour’s drive from Newcastle CBD, Oakfield Ranch’s camel rides are not situated on the actual ranch per se, but are based at the Birubi Beach lower carpark where a number of fun sand dune activities embark from.
The herd is made up of Arabian camels (i.e. camels with one hump, not two, for those of you playing at home), which have all been caught from the wild in Australia and domesticated.
Now, before the chants of “Let them run free!” rise up from the catacombs, Australia is actually home to a massive feral camel population as an aftermath of the land’s early exploration. Sadly, since the camels overpopulate and become pests to our environment, culling exercises have been carried out in recent years.
The camels at Oakfield Ranch have all been removed from this situation, and are given the opportunity to live out their days happily and harm-free in the Stockton dunes.
You can tell Oakfield’s camels are extremely well looked-after and genuinely loved by their owners. Upon chatting with our camel handler, Brian, he told us about each of the camels’ distinct personalities, their placid nature, and their friendly interaction with people.
The Oakfield camels are quite docile and calm creatures. As long as you approach them gently and treat them with respect, you can get right up close for a unique photo op, or give them a bit of a head scratch – 100% spit-free, guaranteed!
Our camel’s name is Sid, who is apparently one of their fastest camels and an excellent racer. But of course, no record-breaking speeds were reached today – the camel ride is a slow and steady one, making it completely suitable for young and old.
Although it’s pretty smooth sailing on these ‘ships of the desert’, every rider is supplied with a wonderfully fashionable helmet – as all helmets generally are – just to play it safe. It can get a bit rocky when the camels sit down and stand back up, so make sure you hold on!
We took a short ride across the sands and down to the water’s edge, with Brian, our camel handler, walking in front to lead the camels and make sure the more playful personalities of the camel clan don’t get up to too much mischief. Check it out in the video below!
When traversing the sands on the back of a camel, surrounded by wind-rippled dunes on a dazzling blue-sky day, you almost forget you’re in Newcastle and not the Sahara… Except for the sounds of the waves breaking on the crystal blue shoreline just over the hill, of course.
Oakfield Ranch’s camel rides range from a 20 minute jaunt across the dunes, or an hour long sunset ride across the water’s edge where you can really soak up the beauty of this awe-inspiring natural wonder we have on our doorstep.
They say sunset is when the dunes really come alive, creating long shadows and reflecting amazing colours in the dusk light – Definitely something I’d love to go back and experience for myself one day!
This is a great little adventure for anyone who wants to get an up-close-and-personal experience with these majestic animals, or to ride one of the world’s oldest, and more unusual, modes of transport.
Oakfield Ranch operates camel rides every Saturday and Sunday, and during school holidays – Check out http://www.oakfieldranch.com.au/ for more details on how to book your camel adventure!
Duration: Camel rides range from 20 minutes up to 1 hour
Adventure Level: Slow and Steady
Adventure Scale: 7 out of 10 unflappable camel grins (seriously, the camels look like they’re constantly smiling politely – it melts my icy heart!)
Stay tuned for the next Adventure Newcastle feature, our new series where we test-run some of the best activities and experiences on offer in Newcastle and the Hunter.