The thin strips of sand where land meets sea have always fascinated me. The beach is where life first crawled out of the oceans, where people have hunted, feasted and played for thousands of years. Shorelines are dynamic, ever changing places… shorelines shift, cliffs collapse, tidal pools fill and empty…
Australia has no fewer than 11761 beaches along its 30000 Km of coastline. I haven’t been to all of them, but I’ve been exploring slowly particularly the east coast of Australia and it seems to me that no other country has such a varied shoreline. From the palm-shaded beaches of the tropical north, to the wild wave washed southern shores.
The southern ocean is the world’s greatest wave factory, providing year round swell that pounds the southern half of the continent.
Here is a list of my favourite beaches on the east coast:
Cape Hillsborough | Queensland
The forested slopes of the rugged Cape Hillsborough National Park are home to creeks, valleys, caves, waterfalls and a rich tropical ecosystem. Snubbing kangaroos are unfazed by us. The cape has 5 great walks: a boardwalk through the mangrove and molecule forest highliting indigenous coastal life, a beach walk to neighbouring Beachcomber Cove where a waterfall cascades though tropical rainforest onto the beach, the Yuibera Plant Trail with highlights indigenous bush foods, and – best of them all- Andrews Point track with 5 spectacular lookouts offering views of the beach through the native hoop pines.
Crescent Head | NSW
Its classic right-hand peeling break has made Crescent Head on of my favourite surfing destination, but this charming, out of the way town in northern NSW also offers safe family swimming in shallow Killick Creek. The beach is dominated by a grassy headland after which the place is named, and an ocean-front six hole golf course extends up to the higher, adjoining head. From the crest of the headland, look south to wild a rocky Pebbly Beach – the most dangerous in NSW — and north along the lines of the peeling waves.
Diggers Beach | NSW
Charming Diggers Beach on the Coffs harbour Coast is made up of 2 strips of sand. The main beach curves round in the shelter of the southern rocks and surf usually breaks across the bar, making it a popular surfing beach. Be careful where you swim, as rip currents are usually here. The northern beach, little diggers, has densely vegetated slopes rising behind and is reached by a short walk round the rocks. It gets bigger swell and can have a strong rip running out by the rocks. The beach is rarely crowded as it’s off the main road and hard to find.
Mission Beach | Queensland
Midway between Townsville and Cairns, tropical Mission Beach has everything from a natural reef experience to lively restaurants. Coastal and mountain walks gives you spectacular views of the coast and off shore islands. A shallow reef runs from Clump Point down to the mouth of Porters Creek and it is well worth explore when the tide is very low. Mission beach also offers sea kayaking, jet skiing, scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, fishing and croc spotting.
Myall Beach, Daintree | Queensland
Today the Cape Tribulation is a magnet for those waiting to experience tropical north Queensland at its best and Myall Beach is an ideal place for that. Mall Beach on the southern side of cape tribulation is where 2 World heritage areas meet: The Daintree Rainforest and the Great barrier reef. The Daintree is one of the world’s most ancient ecosystems while the beach’s coral reefs are part of the richest and most diverse reef system in the world.
Tea Tree Beach, Noosa | Queensland
Beautiful Tea Tree Beach is just one of the fine pocket beaches that dot the 3 Km coastal walk from Noosa Beach to Noosa Head, probably one of the most famous coastal walks in Australia. Tea Tree’s long easy waves are a favourite for longboard rides since the 1960s. Those bands of adventurous surfers in beat-up cars, barefoot and broke, camped here and put the beaches like Tea Tree and First Point on the front cover of magazines.
Wategos Beach, Byron Bay | NSW
Subtropical Wategos Beach nestles at the very tip of cape Byron, making it the most easterly beach in Australia. The half Km long strip of sand and rocks faces due north, with 100m high cape, topped by the historic Cape Byron Lighthouse, rising spectacularly behind. The beach is generally wide, with waves wrapping around the cape and running at an angle along the beach. It’s well worth doing the walk around eastern rocks and along neighbouring Little Wategos Beach to the tip of the Cape, the most easterly point on the Australian mainland.
Whitehaven Beach | Queensland
This island beach really lives up to its name. Pure white sands and renowned as a safe haven for match and boats, which lie at anchor off its sheltered southern shores in the lee of Haslewood Island. Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island is one of several beaches to claim the title of the whitest sands in Australia. At the northern end of the beach is the stunning Hill Inlet, where the tide shifts the turquoise water and the white sands to create a superb play of colours. The sand is pure silicon thus pure white whereas most of the surrounding beaches have a high proportion of darker carbonate sands derived from the fringing coral reef. It’s heaven
Burleigh Heads | Queensland
At Burleigh Head National Park, ancient volcanic columns meet the sea. The Kombumerri people named this prominent rocky headland ‘Jellurgal’. Today, its northern side is one of Australia’s most famous surfing point breaks. Walk to Tumgun lookout, where migrating whales may be seen.
Fingal Head | NSW
Fingal Beach is an interesting location for two reasons. First the beach is located in Fingal Bay, which forms a southeast-facing 1.5 km wide almost circular shape, with a 1 km wide rocky entrance between Point Stephens and Fingal Head. Second, high waves occasionally breach the northern Fly Roads section of the beach, at times giving the bay two entrances. The beach breaks work best during southeast swell, with swell higher than 2 m producing a southern point break.