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Sailing on Bourke’s open plains

Bourke land yacht enthusiasts: Luke Marshman, Michael Marshman and Colin Dunstone. Photo TWH

Sailing across the wide-open plains out back is not an experience many people in Bourke get to experience – unless you want to take up land yachting.

And devotees of land yachting say the thrill is equal to anything you’d experience on the water.

Local Byrock enthusiast Colin Dunstone was bitten by the land yacht bug years ago and found that it was easier to build them himself than try and source these specialised vehicles.

Colin and a small group of thrill seekers get out on the claypans around Bourke whenever conditions are right, and he is encouraging anyone who wants to add some excitement to the weekend to come and join in the fun.

“We can get up to about 65 kilometres an hour if the wind is right,” Colin said. “Top speeds for some of the competition land yachts are above 100 kilometres an hour which is pretty exciting when your bum is only a few centimetres off the ground!”

Colin is the master of innovation and despite being a very long way from where land yachts are traditionally built, has managed to have some competitive craft out on the plains.

He is now one of the few land yacht builders in the country and his designs stem from plans off the internet with modifications to suit whatever materials were available.

“The land yachts we use are all homemade and based on plans put out by Western Australian land yachters,” Colin said.

“The design is called a Lake Lefroy Mini and the construction is based on access to readily available materials, a grinder, and a welder.

“This design is one of many that fit within the international land yacht class Mini 5.6, which in a nutshell has the rules that all of the wheels must fit within a loop of rope 5.6 metres long and must have wheelbarrow style wheels.

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