With a mainland coastline of over 35,000kms we take our beaches very seriously in this country and we are spoilt for choice.
Beaches hold a special place for coastal Australians and sometimes it’s hard to be away from the water for too long. It just calls you back, like a siren. As a kid growing up you could smell the sea from our house and in the heat of summer we would pedal furiously down the dusty road to ‘our’ beach. Which was barely a few metres of yellow sand fringed with samphire, draped in drifts of seagrass and inhabited by an awful lot of tiny crabs. Worse still was the name, Cemetery Beach but we loved it, it was our beach.
Here are a few of my favourites and not necessarily the beaches that I think are the best but the beaches that have a special meaning, because how could you say which is the best. Here goes:
Cape Le Grand, WA. We spent three heavenly days there and the beach was picture perfect in all its moods from dawn till dusk. Some people prefer Lucky Bay around the corner. Not for us we thought we’d found heaven. We sent friends there the next year, but they left after a snake crawled out from under their van. Bloody city slickers.
80 Mile Beach, Kimberley, WA. A very comfortable caravan park (anything in the outback with lawn is deemed comfortable in my book) and a walk over the dune reveals a beach that stretches forever. As the tide retreats it becomes almost impossible to distinguish the sand from the sea as everything just shimmers. Folks come here for the delicious Threadfin Salmon others for the myriad of shells deposited by the tides of the Indian Ocean and yet others for the fresh baked bread from the kiosk. Bread? Well it is a treat when you’re nearly 300kms from the nearest town.
Whitehaven, Whitsundays, Qld. I’m not quite sure why I’ve listed this one. We sailed in on a yacht and found that lying on the beach was almost painful as the silica sand is so bright and glary. There’s nowhere else quite like it and despite the fact that you can only get there by water, it gets very busy. You know I reckon it should be lower on my list and please don’t ask me to return.
Johanna Beach, Shipwreck Coast, Vic. An absolutely stunning windswept ocean beach, surf crashing, sea spray swirling dramatically. Best appreciated in the depths of winter, this is a beach.
Perlubie Beach, Eyre Peninsula, SA. When we discovered this place last year the families camped on the sand looked like cats that had stolen the cream. Their only complaint was having to move their chairs as the tide came in and their bums got wet. Life can be hard.
Apollo Bay, Shipwreck Coast, Vic. This beach has to be the complete opposite of Johanna Beach. Cows grazing on high rolling hills form a backdrop to this gentle curve of sand that sweeps in a half circle. Behind the low dune yet a world away, a row of shops and cafes await the hungry swimmers.
90 Mile Beach, Gippsland, Vic. I’ve often wondered about the true length of this beach. It seems to go on forever and protects the country’s largest inland lake system, the Gippsland Lakes, from the ocean. At night, feeling alone in the world you can sit on the sand and watch the glow of oil rigs far over the horizon in Bass Strait.
4 Mile Beach, Port Douglas, Qld. Level, flat and firm enough to ride a bike on, fringed by coconut palms and painstakingly decorated at every low tide by tiny sand bubbler crabs. Your quintessential tropical beach.
Shelly Beach, Nambucca Heads, NSW. The story goes that it has been judged by the experts as one of the best. Why? Because it is a north facing beach that just soaks up the winter sun and more importantly it is the recipient of a warm current that flows down the coast. Anyone for a swim in winter? Yes please!
Norman Bay & Squeaky Beach, Wilson’s Promontory, Vic. Anyone who has visited The Prom will have been captivated by this National Park. Mt Oberon towers above Norman Bay and wombats, kangaroos and deer roam the campgrounds and surrounding bush. Giant granite boulders strewn about hint to the fact that this is part of what once was a land bridge to Tasmania. Squeaky Beach? The sand truly does squeak under foot and adults love it as much as the kids.
Seal Rocks, NSW. We stumbled upon this one a few years ago quite by accident. On a squally day we all gasped at the simple beauty of it. It was as though the beach was speaking to us, or perhaps it was the thunder.
Ningaloo, WA. World Heritage listed the Ningaloo coast in the Cape Range National Park near Exmouth does not get the publicity that it deserves. In places the Ningaloo coral reef, the largest fringing reef in Australia, is swimming distance from the shore. To walk these pristine beaches, watch the ocean breaking on the reef and have the rugged Cape Range at your back is to feel at one with nature. As one of my posts from 2016 best describes: I am so captivated by the rock formations at Osprey beach and Camp Ground on the Ningaloo coast that each day I scramble head down across the rocks taking photos of fossilised coral and watching my every foothold carefully for fear of being shredded on the coral outcrops. Suddenly a French voice says “Elloo”. I raise my head and all that I can see is a perfectly tanned bare breast. “Top spot” I mumble and stumble off to leave her sunbaking in peace. I’m still wondering how she managed to balance her chair on those rocks.
Cable Beach, Kimberley, WA. Broome of course is one of those must visit places that still exudes an ambience created by a colourful multicultural population with an even more colourful history. Aside from the camels and the four wheel drives on the beach. It is a place that reminds you just how close it really is to Asia. Anyone for a short sail?
Scarborough, Perth, WA. When others are talking about the virtues of Bondi in Sydney the folks of Perth are laughing quietly to themselves. City beaches don’t get much better than this. Whether you’re filling your undies with sand body surfing or filling your lungs with clean air on brisk early morning walk by the Norfolk Pines this is a truly stunning beach.
Boat Harbour, Tas. Only the curious will be rewarded by Boat Harbour. The beach is invisible to anyone travelling by on the highway and this one is a true surprise as a lot of Tasmania’s Bass Strait beaches are quite rocky. This north facing beach has a pleasing arc of white sand and an eclectic mix of holiday homes on the hillside.We once dropped in to show friends on a warm November day. The sight of the beach was enough to want an ice cream but the kiosk owner was reluctant to sell them as it wasn’t yet summer! Be warned Tasmanians are particularly pedantic about their seasons.