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'I saw myself buried in the sand': German backpacker tells of Salt Creek beach attack

A German backpacker imagined herself dead and "buried in the sand" after she was struck in the head with a hammer at a remote South Australian beach, a court has heard.

But the young woman did not die - she fought back and escaped her alleged attacker on the rugged sand dunes at Salt Creek.

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German backpacker describes Salt Creek attack

During a the trial of a 60-year-old man, a German national describes how she faced death as she was attacked at Salt Creek, south of Adelaide. Vision Ten News

She has given gripping evidence in the trial of a 60-year-old man accused of attacking her and another backpacker at the beach in February 2016.

The travellers met the man through an online advertisement in which they sought a lift from Adelaide to Melbourne and he drove them to the remote spot to camp.

The German woman said she was napping in the 4WD when she was awoken by a scream and went to investigate.

"It was not a normal scream. It was very terrified," she told the SA Supreme Court on Thursday.

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She found her friend, from Brazil, naked on the sand with her arms tied behind her back and the man standing over her.

"I screamed, 'Get away from her! Leave her alone!'" the German woman recalled.

He did let her friend go, she said, then turned and came in her direction.

She ran back to the car to get her phone but when her back was turned, she was struck in the head with a hammer, the jury heard.

"It was like I was on a boat suddenly," she recalled, fighting back tears. "I was like, OK, that's it. That's the end. I saw myself already buried in the sand.

"I was thinking of my parents, that they would never see me again."

She was allegedly hit with the hammer four times in the attack but she fought back, grabbing the tool from the man and hitting him.

She fled towards her Brazilian friend, untied her, and they agreed to run in opposite directions.

But the German woman, now covered in blood, saw the attacker coming at her across the sand in his 4WD.

"He bumped into my back with the bull bar. I pretty much flew away in the sand," she said.

This happened several times and once the 4WD drove right over her, the wheels passing on either side of her, the court heard.

She knew she couldn't outrun him but she "had to do something", so she changed tack.

"He was driving towards me with speed and I jumped on the bonnet, and I held on to an antenna," she said. "And I climbed up to the roof."

He tried to hit her again with the hammer but she kicked at his face, the jury heard, and a stalemate occurred.

Blood still streaming from her head, she convinced him to throw his weapons away into the shrubs covering the dunes.

"I was pretending like he didn't do anything bad to me," she said. "I was kind of motivating him like, 'We will get out of here. You will bring me back'."

She got back into the car and when she saw other cars approaching - and after a conversation about guilt - she left.

"I said, 'Do you feel guilty?' and he said, 'Yes'.

"I opened the door and I said, 'I'm going now.' I thought he would try something but he didn't."

Both women escaped and the man was later arrested in his car on the dunes but the hammer and knife he allegedly used were never recovered.

He has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, kidnapping, endangering life, indecent assault and other offences over the incident.

The trial continues.

AAP