Introduction to Australia Beaches
Best time to go
East Coast (Sydney) - Central East (Brisbane/Gold Coast): November-April
for swimming and surfing, though the water isn't exactly warm even
then, and sunshine is not guarenteed either, especially in the Sydney
Bluebottles (Portugese men of-war) choose this season to visit,
particularly if there's an onshore breeze. Warnings will be posted,
but locals generally disregard the chance of a close encounter with
a few painful nematocysts. Part of the Australian deal, battling
nature tooth and claw, but rent a wetsuit if you want to surf with
North East Coast (Cairns & Great Barrier Reef islands): all
year is hot (above 26C) but Jan-March gets some rain and cloud while
December-January is crowded and super heated, so April-November is best
for swimming. Scuba divers like September-December.
South West (Perth) Best September-November, March-May.
North West (Exmouth, Ningaloo Reef, Broome, Kimberley) Best May-October.
600 British visitors are rescued from Australian waters every year due to rips, over-size waves, wayward surfboards and incapability caused by booze. Last year two died.
Popular beaches are well provided with lifeguards, safety flags
(usually to keep swimmers away from rips/fierce currents), warning
signs and stinger or shark nets where necessary. They are there
to protect you so pay attention and stay between the (red and yellow) flags. If there are no flags, don't swim. Don't swim at night. Don't drink and drown.
popular tourist towns of Brisbane, Airlie
Beach (Whitsundays jumping-off point) and Cairns all have large, free, attractive and critter-free salt-water lagoons to swim in rather than beaches.
Some of the best spots on Australia Beaches are occupied by clubs.
These offer great value food and drinks as well as superb views
and are usable by foreign visitors, so take proof of foreign residence (more than a passport, papers with your name and address are needed)
and you will be hosted by the best place in the area.
There is no point lying around in the sun at midday in Oz. This
will not only earn you a place in the melanoma sweepstakes, give
you wrinkles and sagging skin at an early age and add an
unpleasant red highlight to your tan, but it will probably burn
the tan off altogether.
You will brown up more smoothly and lastingly by sunbathing before
11am and after 3pm. And you may live longer too.
Australia is blessed with too many amazing beaches to list (including about 100 in the Sydney area alone), offering some
of the world's best surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving, and of course
just posing around on soft sand chugging a cool one. In the right
season the sun is hot, the sea is cool and the beer is cold. Heaven.
The country is also cursed with a staggering collection of deadly
creatures, on land and at sea. Not very common, these critters are
well-known to locals and treated fairly casually, but visitors used
to less hazardous waters should be aware.
Don't touch anything you don't recognise as safe!
Consider sand shoes for paddling around beaches and a light Lycra
stinger suit or wetsuit for snorkelling or scuba diving if you have
a weak heart and are in the stinger zone north of Rockhampton (north
of Brisbane and Fraser Island). Any good tour out to the Barrier
Reef or the Whitsunday Islands in season will include stinger suits
for swimmers/divers in the package.
Swim inside stinger nets when in the zone.
Jellyfish: in the Oct-May jelly season, wear a Lycra 'stinger suit' or wetsuit
and keep your eyes peeled to avoid this deadly Mr Blobby. Usually
found in deeper water off Australia Beaches so a problem mostly
for snorkellers and divers.
They appear to spawn around the Barrier Reef and like warm, no-surf
waters so north of Rockhampton are danger zones.
Jellyfish: the tiny terror (peanut sized) that prefers deep water but can be
swept through (anti) stinger nets by currents.
octopus: small, cute and occasionally fatal, even when it's washed up on
the beach or frolicking in a rock pool. You wouldn't be so dumb
as to play with the little chap, but the kids would.
water crocodiles: far more dangerous than sharks, 'salties' hang out where rivers
meet the sea, so however hot and sticky you are be extremely cautious
about swimming in rivers or in/around estuary beaches, especially
if no one else is there or there are warning signs. Freshwater crocs
in Australia are not a problem, and since they are eaten by salties
too, if they are around then salties probably aren't.
often host a snail with a noxious defensive needle that has killed
weak and unwary shell collectors.
invisible tucked under sand, their poisonous spines are very potent
and may mean a hospital trip. Hot water will disperse the toxins.
Sand shoes or reef sandals will usually prevent penetration.
in the danger stakes due to bad PR, attacks are usually a case of
mistaken identity, when a shark - confused by waves - thinks a surfer
is a seal or a swimmer is a skinny and slow tuna fish. You have
more chance of being killed by a falling coconut.
be intimidated in spite of all the above, Aussies aren't! If you
keep your eyes open and take reasonable precautions you'll have
a great time.
- east coast Beaches
- Barrier Reef islands
Australia Pictures Australia best destinations guide
Top of Page