Company: Sand Dune Adventures
Location: North Coast, New South Wales
Andrew Smith is the boss of a thrilling venture that combines high- adrenaline quad-biking with ancient Indigenous coastal culture. The CEO of Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council, which operates Sand Dune Adventures at Port Stephens on the NSW North Coast, was a long-time Australian Taxation Office employee when the opportunity arose in 2006 to do something completely different.
“I didn’t know anything about quad bikes or Aboriginal tourism or tourism in general,” he says. He did know a lot about governance and accountability, though – expertise that helped as he pondered how to turn the Southern Hemisphere’s largest moving sand dunes into a viable business that supported his community as a not- for-profit social enterprise. “We were asset-rich but cash-poor,” he says.
When Smith started developing the business, he had only eight quad bikes and “stood by the side of the road waving signs at passing cars hoping they would come”. Tourism Australia backed the venture, naming it an Indigenous Tourism Champion. Business mentorship, along with great word of mouth, also helped turned Sand Dune Adventures into a thriving enterprise within just a few years.
Profits are poured back into the local Indigenous community, funding employment, housing, education, health and elders’ programs. “It’s about the growth and empowerment of our community,” Smith says.
Quad-bike riders journey up to 20 kilometres over the awe-inspiring dunes – some of which are more than 30 metres high.
Credit: Tourism Australia Discover Aboriginal Experiences