2 Feb 2022
Tourism Australia has just released its annual list of Australia’s best beaches!
Congratulations to (the ironically named) Misery Beach in Torndirrup National Park in Western Australia, which got the nod as Australia’s best!
As little known strip of sand near Albany on the southern tip of WA, Misery Beach is about five hours drive from Perth. Tourism Australia ‘beach ambassador’ and conservationist Brad Farmer (whose job we all want) said it was tough to narrow the list down from over 11,000 to 20!
According to TA we have more beaches than any other country in the world, (the real reason we’re known as the lucky country) and it was among very strong competition from the likes of Flaherty’s Beach on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula (#4), Loch Ard Gorge in Port Campbell in Victoria (#5), Horseshoe Bay on South West Rocks, NSW (#2) and The Neck at Bruny Island in Tasmania (#6), that Misery took out number one!
Although it does have a past as a former whaling station, it was the turquoise waters, dramatic granite cliffs and near translucent white sands that got it over the line. Congratulations Western Australia!
Check out the full list here...
1. Misery Beach, Albany WA
Thinking of a WA Road Trip? Aren’t we all!
Home to Australia’s last active whaling station until it was closed in 1978, Misery Beach is 15 minutes south of Albany and 5 hours southeast of Perth. Spanning just 200 metres across, Tourism Australia's Farmer described the picturesque bay as coming ‘straight from the pages of a beachscape artists’ sketchbook. Who could argue?
Visited regularly by a small number of beachcombers, swimmers and kayakers, it is also popular with pods of dolphins, seals and migratory whales, who seek its calm blue shelter.
2. Horseshoe Bay, South West Rocks, NSW
A favourite of the mid-north coast of NSW, Horseshoe Bay is surrounded by towering Norfolk Pines and is a short walk from the quiet coastal village of South-West Rocks.
Again small at only 150m across, its popularity means it is patrolled by lifeguards during peak summer season and is the focal point of a popular fishing hub frequented by locals.
Nearby there are rainforest hikes and mountains to climb as well as several more beaches to discover. The bay itself creates a natural, wind-sheltered amphitheatre which makes this a classic Australian beach from sun up to sun down. A must-do on this exceptional stretch of coast.
3. The Spit, Gold Coast, QLD
Popular with morning walkers looking to escape the hustle of the famous GC strip, The Spit is perfect for quiet reflection and as a start/finish point for inland hikes through the tranquil Broadwater area.
The nearby Seaway Promenade is an easily accessible pathway, enabling users to reach the eastern end of the Seaway Wall with its amazing views of the Gold Coast skyline.
The sea itself is rippy, but it’s relatively safe when patrolled from November through April. Snorkelling and Scuba Diving are popular for the more adventurous, and experienced surfers tend to gather at nearby South Stradbroke Island.
4. Flaherty’s Beach, Yorke Peninsula, SA
Three hours drive from Adelaide on the west coast of Yorke Peninsula, Flaherty’s Beach goes under the radar when you look at its dazzling beauty.
Described by locals as the ‘Maldives of SA’ it is reachable by 4WD and is only a short walk from a nearby car park.
Tidal sand bars mean no two days on Flaherty’s look the same, and its wide beach is loved by beachcombers and aquatic explorers from all over the world. Point Turton is the nearest seaside town with a tavern and general store for bait. A stunning spot to spend a day or three!
5. Loch Ard Gorge, Port Campbell, VIC
If you’re on the Great Ocean Road trip of your life, you’d do well not to skip this beauty.
Hemmed in by towering limestone cliffs, this tear-shaped inlet seems to appear from nowhere, yet has retained its status as a major tourism drawcard.
Wild waves are created by an often raging Southern Ocean, which is funnelled by the two headlands, and in combination with a steep drop off and cold water temps, make it less than safe for swimming. However, this jewel of Port Campbell National Park retains its allure for anyone visiting this popular region.
6. The Neck, Bruny Island, TAS
Bruny Island is an island off an island off an island, meaning the sense of remoteness and escape here is real.
Only 40 km from Hobart, a passenger ferry from Kettering will transport you to this picture of natural, wild beauty. At The Neck, climb the 238 timber steps to fully embrace this stunning view from the dune carpark to Truganini Lookout. Signage here tells you the enlightening tale of the Nueonne people who inhabited Lunnawanna (Bruny Island) prior to European settlement.
Also a natural habitat for fairy penguins, you can witness their nightly journey back to their burrows, and enjoy a number of nearby coastal features that make Bruny a pure Tasmanian delight.
7. Blue Pearl Bay, Whitsundays, QLD
Feel the Mediterranean and Caribbean vibes at this exquisite Whitsundays hideaway.
Privately owned but publicly accessible, Blue Pearl Bay is part of an 8.5 km stretch of Hayman Island’s stunning coast that is the northernmost of the Whitsundays cluster of 74.
Home to pristine coral and marine life, this aquatic park is world-class, with day tours and overnight boats visiting the area for snorkelling and scuba missions. Visibility is generally excellent and there is a bush walk on the south bay that will take you to enchanting cliff views of the whole marina.
8. Depot Beach, South Coast, NSW
Sydney-siders love this beach because it's less crowded than its northern beaches counterparts.
Quietly immersed in the very best of nature, Depot Beach is some 270 kms south of Sydney, enroute to Batemans Bay.
Situated within Murramarang National Park, this national treasure includes a quaint coastal village, rainforest walks and pristine stretch of beach that is ideal for swimming, fishing, snorkelling and exploring.
Whether you love the wilderness or waves, Depot Beach is one of many beaches to choose from along this stretch of coast, but one that you shouldn’t miss on your next trip south.
9. Murrays Beach, Jervis Bay Territory, ACT/NSW
Considered one of Australia’s most beautiful natural bays, this expansive stretch of white sand offers safe haven for swimmers, kayakers and paddlers.
Officially maintained by the Australian Capital Territory, at one stage in the 1960s, Canberra earmarked the area for a major industrial development including a steel works and our first nuclear power plant!
Luckily, that didn’t happen and its immense natural beauty has been maintained. Originally used by the traditional land owners, the Booderee National Park is still under the management of the First Nations people. This means there is a small daily fee to enter but this is a fraction of what the view is worth at the end of the 300 metre walk to arrive at Murrays. Also protected by Bowen Island, there are sea caves, a boat ramp and mellow bush walks to discover.
10. Dundee Beach, Darwin, NT
As the name suggests, Dundee Beach is home to crocs, so be careful if you decide to take a dip here!
Still ideal for a day trip by 4WD, the beach is only an hour's drive south-west of Darwin, and a fine example of how underrated the NT coastline is.
Boasting exceptional fishing, crabbing and birdwatching, a public boat ramp, organised fishing charters and regular beachfront markets make this a popular spot for locals and tourists.
Aside from the odd saltwater croc, the area is home to a diverse range of wildlife that take advantage of the nearby monsoon forests, mangroves, wetlands and estuaries. A truly Australian destination!
11. Dudley Beach, Newcastle, NSW
Only 15 minutes from central Newcastle lies the hidden gem, Dudley Beach.
Nestled between its better-known neighbours of Merewether and Redhead Beaches, you’ll feel at one with nature when you've got your toes in the sand here. Fishing, picnics and surfing are activities enjoyed on Dudley Beach, and walking trails through some of the last protected coastal rainforest in the area make for that remote escape feel.
It's worth an escape to Newcastle to admire the colours this beach has to offer. Golden sand for miles, turquoise water and lush green rainforest. There are no lifeguards patrolling, so look out for your pals and little ones when swimming.
12. Thompsons Beach, Cobram, Rural, VIC
The ‘Australian Best Beaches’ list has only ever included two inland beaches, and Thompson’s Beach is one of them!
This beach graces the banks of the mighty Murray River, and is one of around 100 freshwater ‘beaches' along its course.
Gather the family here to enjoy activities galore including fishing, boating, beach volleyball, beach cricket or a picnic. For the confident swimmers among us (drumroll please) freestyle approximately 50 metres across the river and find yourself in NSW!
If relaxing on the sand is more your thing, listen out for over 90 species of native birds and keep your eyes peeled for our cuddliest native animal, the koala. They love it here too!
13. Coogee Beach, Perth, WA
Fifteen minutes south of the ultra-hip cafe strip of Fremantle, Coogee Beach is a summer staple of West Australian beach lovers.
Featuring a 300-metre eco shark barrier, this west coast gem attracts a regular cast of swimmers and sand grommets all year round. Pontoons, grassy parklands, an iconic jetty and public BBQs have made this a mecca for all ages. There’s even a wreck just 25 metres off-shore, the Omeo, now home to its very own aquatic ecosystem explored by divers and snorkelers.
Just off the sand, a vibrant cafe, restaurant and pub scene is yours for the taking!
14. Mots Beach, Marlo, VIC
This is where the legendary Snowy River meets the Great Southern Ocean, and offers one of the most secluded and scenic beach escapes in the country.
Popular with fishermen and women, silver beam are never in short supply from the bountiful nearby estuary. Swimming here is popular but nearby Cape Conran is considered safer due to fluctuating tides.
The historic Marlo Hotel overlooks the stunning coastal vista and is a great spot to enjoy a cold beverage! Don't underestimate this spot.
15. Alexandria Bay, Noosa, QLD
We had to choose our pics wisely on this one, because Alexandria Bay 150km north of Brisbane is rated as one of the best ‘clothing optional’ beaches in the world!
Accessible via a series of interesting walking trails through Noosa National Park, it sits between the famous point breaks of Noosa Heads to the north and Sunshine Beach to the south. Although its ‘nude’ status is somewhat unofficial, it's widely accepted by locals, and attracts an international crowd who enjoy the freedom of this beautiful bay.
Be careful of strong rips and yes, don’t be offended when you get a little more ‘scenery’ than you might have bargained for!
16. Emu Bay, Kangaroo Island, SA
Blessed with pristine wilderness at every turn, this is among the pick of Kangaroo Island’s untouched beach paradises.
Located on the island's north coast, Emu Bay is accessible by 4WD and is only 13km from the island’s main town of Kingscote. Loved for its towering dunes and four kilometre sweep of outstanding white sand, the jetty is over 100 years old and a popular local gathering spot.
Allow at least a few days to explore KI when you arrive, and be sure to slow down and absorb the rare beauty of stunning spots like this.
17. Lake Wabby, K’Gari (Fraser Is), QLD
As a UN World Heritage site and the world’s biggest sand island, there’s a lot to love about K’gari - which means paradise in the First Nations Butchulla language.
Lake Wabby is one of over 40 freshwater lakes that support the lush rainforest of the island, and it’s emerald green waters hover at a comfortable 24 degrees year-round, making it a popular swimming hole in competition with its more famous cousin, Lake McKenzie.
Reachable by ferry from the mainland, this whole island has been a magnet for campers, birdwatchers and 4WD enthusiasts for decades. Look out for the Australian dingo, which has made a habitat amongst the rainforest here.
18. Congwong Beach, Sydney, NSW
Less than 15-minutes by car from Sydney airport, check this out if you’ve got a few hours waiting for a connecting flight!
Known to be more family-friendly, cleaner and less crowded than nearby alternatives, it is accessible via a 100-metre pathway from Cann Park in La Perouse. Ideal for lounging about or watching the kids play, there are also bush tracks to explore, including one which leads east to Little Congwong Beach, the unofficial ‘clothing optional’ version of this.
Views from Bare Island Fort are spectacular, and you’ll understand why ‘Mission Impossible’ was filmed here. There are dozens of sacred Aboriginal sites to learn about inside Kamay Botany Bay National Park, where the beach is located.
19. Jellybean Pool, Blue Mountains, NSW
Aptly named, this jellybean-shaped waterhole sits in the Blue Mountains National Park, delivering a best of both worlds experience.
Avoid the crowds by venturing here off-peak, or risk being packed in like a jellybean in the summer heat.
To access this freshwater oasis, trek down a steep 200m path from the carpark ($8 entry fee) to the wide sandy beach. Slip, slop, slap and splash between 8:30am-6/7pm depending on daylight savings. An Aussie gem inside a beautiful national park.
20. Ethel Beach, Christmas Island, IOT
You’ll find this beach on the remote Indian Ocean Christmas Island, which is closer to Indonesia than Australia!
With crystal clear water ideal for snorkelling and spotting marine-life, you'll soon be snapping those ‘from where you’d rather be’ social shots.
The rich nearby jungle and coral reef appear untouched, while red crabs sprawl across the beach during migration, reminding you that you’re well and truly in the depths of nature! A unique island adventure.