After sleeping on the back seat of my car with my body twisted into a tense reenactment of what sleeping should look like, I was feeling a little brain-dusty.
But the little buzzing phone alarm “woke” me up and I climbed out of my steel bed and into the chilly half light of the morning at Stockton Beach.
I met with a small group of friends and other adventure seekers and we hopped onto a 4wd bus to take us deeper into the dunes. The bus lurched across the sand and the tall glass windows made me feel as though I was in a small plane, not a bus. I could see light and warmth peeking out from behind the ocean and I was starting to feel a little more alive, a little more human, a little bit less like I wanted to eat glass over being up this early.
We arrived at the tin shack settlement of Tin City, and we clambered over dew glazed dunes to set up our tripods for “The Shot”.
I waited there on the Worimi Conservation Lands (it was still only 4.30am, who even am I?) for the sun to come up.
The whole landscape felt like an orchestrated opening act – the beads of condensation, the chill in the air, the pause in the atmosphere… The sun rose, burning hot and it turned the sand from black pools into ever changing lady-curves of pink, orange and white.
Now the sun was up we could more clearly explore our surroundings.
The vastness was broken by scatterings of Middens amongst the rust; a duality that felt as though it represented a continuity of movement and culture interrupted by some corrugated iron and a guy named Phil.
Tin City is an eclectic swallow, sitting at the crossroads of abode and abandon.
The whole place feels quite surreal.
It consists not of tin, but iron and is more like a squat than a city. With no power, no water and no sewage (yeah, think about THAT while your walking around those dunes! HA! ) Its an off the grid gateway to getaway for a very select few individuals.
The rusted, half buried shacks. The piles of ancient middens. The complete solitude. It all feels very post-apocalyptic. I feel like I should be spreading some black tar across my cheeks and adapting my tripod into a muscat that fires midden-shell bullets as well as shoots photos.
More interesting than the shacks, I personally found the huge piles of sun-bleached shells and bones to be very intriguing.
Maybe because they were unexpected – I knew I’d see a sand dune and a tin shed but what were these curious piles of rubble? We all had a go of speculating but Dr Google confirmed they were Middens. Some over 1200 years old. An incredibly precious anthropological reserve of local aboriginal history – a literal melting pot of food debris, bones, equipment and processing equipment.
The Worimi Conservation Lands website advises that burial sites are located on the dunes and possibly may occur in association with some of the midden sites.
I sat and looked at these ancient mounds, still not knowing what they were and felt the hairs on my arms stand up – while the burning sun stung my skin beneath. They are clearly special and the Traditional owners are trying hard to protect them. Heartbreaking to see multiple car tracks going through many of the Middens .
The whole trip was refreshing, educational and fun – the 4wd tour bus took us for a quick sandboard on the way back to base which was so easy and freewheelin’ that I must take the family back there soon to spend a few hours scooting down the dunes.
If you’d like to go, or book a tour, then you just have to goto 4WD Tours R Us .
To Watch a quick, informative video on the site and the rich ancestral history take a look at this video on connecting to culture.