Australia's top five secret beaches
From coast to coast and top to tip, Lee Atkinson names five great Aussie beaches that you're likely to have all to yourself.
There are 10,685 beaches in Australia, at least according to the folk that spend their days counting these sorts of things at Sydney University's Coastal Studies Unit. Even if you take the really popular beaches, like Sydney's Bondi, Melbourne's St Kilda, Perth's Cottesloe, Adelaide's Glenelg and most of the Gold Coast out of the equation, along with all those on the well-worn tourist trail, like Wineglass Bay, Byron Bay, or Cable Beach, there's got to be still at least 10,000 or so that no-one really knows about. Here are five where you almost always have the sun, sand and surf to yourself.
1. Flinders Island, Tasmania
You're pretty much guaranteed to find a deserted beach on Flinders Island, midway between Tasmania and Victoria on the eastern side of Bass Strait, even in the middle of the summer. After all, the locals have a golden rule when it comes to sharing their sandy shores: "if you find a beach with someone on it, find another one." Easy to do when there's almost 100 glorious white sand beaches and less than 800 people on the island. One local woman, D'reen, tells me she even insists on finding a beach that is footprint free for her morning walk.
Despite its location straddling the 40th parallel in the middle of one of the most storm-wracked stretches of water, it's a surprisingly balmy place, even if it does get a little windy on occasion. As the locals like to boast, it's much warmer than Melbourne in the winter.
With so many stunning beaches on the island it's virtually impossible to single one out as being better than the rest, but if I was forced to choose, it would be Sawyers Beach, around a 10-minute drive north of the main town, Whitemark. Think white sand, gin-clear water, lots of pretty boulders to clamber over or snorkel around and not another soul in sight and you've got the picture.
More information: www.visitflindersisland.com.au
2. Point Sir Isaac, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
One of the best kept beach secrets in the country is the Eyre Peninsula, the triangle of land jutting into the sea between Adelaide and the Great Australian Bight. In this beautiful and sometimes remote region you'll find beach after beach, visited only by the occasional fisherman, screeching seagulls and very few of the madding coastal crowds you find along the rest of the Australian coast.
Best spot to really get away is Point Sir Isaac in Coffin Bay National Park on the western side of the peninsula, about 40km from Port Lincoln. It's 4WD only, along a beach that is impassable during high tide (that's what keeps the day trippers and travelling hordes away) and even though it's only 55km from the ranger station it will take around three hours each way. It's more of a fishing beach than a swimming beach, but campsites are right on the edge of the sand and you're usually the only ones there.
3. Bremer Bay, Southern, Western Australia
Take a road trip along the southern coast of WA and you'll find no shortage of remote and out-of-the-way beaches, but Bremer Bay, 180km east of Albany, is a gem of a place worth seeking out.
It's not a secret to the 250 lucky people who live there, or the handful of holiday makers that head there in summer, but it's certainly been kept hidden away from the developers: Bremer Bay is definitely beach shack and caravan park rather than waterfront resort territory.
The tiny township is surrounded by snow white beaches and the astonishing teal blue water that you only seem to find in southern WA, rolling surf, great expanses of sand dunes and views that stretch on forever. Unlike many of the beaches in this part of the land, most are good for swimming, even though not all are patrolled. In winter the bays are a favourite spot for Southern Right whales to have their calves - you can often see them lolling about in the calm waters just metres from the shore - and in spring, the headlands are carpeted in wildflowers and flowering banksia.
4. Yuraygir National Park, Northern NSW
The north coast of NSW is one long beach holiday strip, and the last place you'd expect to find an empty beach. But the beauty of northern NSW is that a fair percentage of the coastline is protected by national parks, and the rather tricky to pronounce Yuraygir National Park (say you-ra-gear) between Coffs Harbour and Grafton protects the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in NSW - 60km of rocky headlands, cliff-top lookouts and deserted beaches flanked by wetlands and forests.
Don't expect to have the park to yourself - it's a popular place to camp in summer - but take a walk on one of the many beaches (if you're really keen you can tackle the 65km coastal track from Angourie to Red Rock) and it won't take long before you find yourself on your lonesome. Go any time other than January and chances are the only other living beings you'll see are kangaroos paddling at the water's edge.
5. Alexandria Bay, Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Noosa's another place where finding a deserted beach might seem like an impossible task, but if you don't mind a bit of a hike Alexandria Bay is the Sunshine Coast's secret get wet spot. It's also the local's secret get-your-gear-off spot, which may explain why the glitterati of Hastings Street don't talk about it much, although the regulars don't seem to mind if you keep your bikini on, so long as you don't mind if they don't.
It's on the eastern side of the headland in Noosa National Park, and whichever way you access it, from either the Noosa Heads/Hastings Street side or the Sunshine Beach side, there's a steep climb involved. Prettiest, but longest, way is via the 90-minute (one way) coastal walking track from Hastings Street, which follows the coastline all the way and has some great views from Hells Gates on the tip of the headland. It can be a hot walk on a warm day, but at least you don't have to carry your cossies!
Sydney Morning Herald