Cronulla's sand dunes survived Mad Max but now face a more insidious threat | Australia news

The gigantic Cronulla sand dunes were a wilderness when the First Fleet arrived in the land that would be Australia. More than 200 years later, they are far smaller.

Related: Cronulla sand dunes: the 15,000-year-old landscape that greed destroyed in pictures

The dunes in Sydneys Sutherland shire, once the set for films such as 40,000 Horseman (1940) and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985), have been slowly trimmed down by sandmining and are increasingly hemmed in by development. They remain, however, a strange window into Australias colonial history.

The early settlers

When James Cook first encountered the dunes, he almost missed them entirely, according to the N