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Lancelin sand dune accidents lead Shire of Gingin to ask WA government to take over area

The sand dunes at Lancelin attract thousands of visitors each year. (ABC Open: Kylie McKay)

The Shire of Gingin, in Western Australia's Wheatbelt region, wants the state government to take over the management of Lancelin's picturesque sand dunes after a series of accidents at the popular tourist attraction.

Sitting just 130 kilometres north of Perth, the town's sprawling sand dunes are a favourite for families wanting to getaway for the weekend.

But far too often, the car trip home is swapped for a ride in an ambulance or a rescue chopper.

On Friday, a 17-year-old male was flown to Royal Perth Hospital after crashing his quad bike in the dunes.

Just two days later, another teenager crashed his motorbike and was also flown to Royal Perth Hospital with a suspected broken leg.

Shire of Gingin chief executive Aaron Cook said he was never surprised to hear of another incident at the spot, with dozens of people getting injured each year.

"These accidents happen very regularly in the Lancelin off-road vehicle area, this is not uncommon for us," Mr Cook said.

Aaron Cook has written to the state government, asking for it to take over management of the sand dunes. (Supplied: Shire of Gingin)

There have been multiple fatalities at the site in recent years, including a 26-year-old man who died in November after an off-road bike crash.

During peak periods including school holidays, Mr Cook estimated there could be as many as 1,000 visitors on any given day.

"It can be well in excess of that with daytrippers, people coming out there for four-wheel driving and also sandboarding," he said.

The council has written to the state government and asked it to take over the management of the dunes.

Mr Cook said the shire did not have the resources to supervise the two-kilometre stretch of sand, with rangers often subjected to verbal and physical abuse.

"We have three full-time rangers on board now, primarily for off-road areas, but we're so limited in what we can do. We're not the police so we can't necessarily stop antisocial behaviour," he said. 

Despite receiving the letter two weeks ago, there has so far been no meaningful response from the state government.

It said it would "continue to engage with the Shire of Gingin to resolve ongoing concerns".

Safety plea from police

Officer-in-charge of Lancelin police Sergeant Michael Paterson said many visitors were unaware how menacing the dunes could be.

"They're always changing with the conditions, and the danger for people is not knowing what's over the next ridge or the next dune," Sergeant Paterson said.

"If you're riding too fast it's very dangerous … it's a good idea for people to read the safety warnings before they arrive, and to ride out there in pairs."

Signage at the off-road vehicle area provides information to use the dunes safely. (Supplied: Shire of Gingin)

He has pleaded for travellers to consider the impacts a serious crash could have on loved ones, and on volunteer first responders.

"They're all locals from town and they're the ones going out to help you when you come unstuck – consider them before going out there and causing trouble."

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