has beaches all the way round its massive coastline,
though the most famous are on the east coast - possibly because
most of the tourists are there. As usual we have limited ourselves
to some of the more outstanding or popular locations.
page starts on the south coast with Melbourne, then heads west to
Adelaide, Perth and Broome.
In Western Australia they don't even know how to make that vital piece of sailing-boat equipment, the gin and tonic. O'Rourke, P.J. Holidays in Hell (Picador).
Melbourne (south coast) Best November - February:
One of Australia's more conservative cities, Melbourne is more about
urban life than beaches, but 20 minutes by tram still gets you to
small but perfectly formed ***St Kilda.
Unusually surf free, the pretty beach is protected by a large bay
and backed by gardens and a promenade lined with some outstanding
yet reasonably priced restaurants. And not too far way is monstrous
90 mile beach if that's too small...
Glenelg beach, Adelaide, Southern Australia
Adelaide (south coast) Best September-November, February-May (December-February very hot):
Glenelg: a 20 minute tram ride from Adelaide brings you easily
to Glenelg's sandy strip, with plenty of pleasant cafés and
activities. In season, however, it tends to become loud, overcrowded
and untidy - unlike Australia's best beaches which specialise in
space and tranquility - well, so long as you consider pounding surf
to be tranquil.
For a little stylish yet animated solitude the best option is to
take a tour, fly or hire some wheels - 4WD not necessary and drive
through countryside to Cape Jervis (1.5 hrs/180kms) and onto a car ferry
bound for park packed, 96 mile long ***Kangaroo
This large island - with no public transport - has a small human
population that is way outnumbered by animals; kangaroos, wallabies,
koalas, penguins, seals, sea lions, dolphins and even the elusive
platypus all reside here, enjoying the expansive national parks,
wonderful stretches of white sand and thrashing blue water. The
best beaches are Stokes Bay, Antechamber Bay
and Pennington Bay. Surfing is good and swimming is fine
but the water is not nearly as warm as that of other coasts. Accommodation
and camping sites are abundant.
(SW coast) Best Sept-Nov, March-May:
Nearer to Bali than Sydney, Perth and its environs have a lot to
offer. Outside the skyscrapers and 19th century façades tourists
will find a land of sand. Inland sand for camel safaris, sand scattered
with bizarre pinnacles and coastal sand for 'sandgropers' - residents
of Western Australia.
The city has nineteen beaches, mostly wide and white, with an occasional
cove for interest. An easy bus ride takes you, for example, to calm
protected Peppermint Grove or Crawley Beach
on the Swan River, while surfers and gourmets will head for Scarborough,
and nudists for Swanbourne.
Eight mile Rottnest Island, 30 minutes
by ferry from Perth's Fremantle suburb, is a popular holiday destination,
not only due to the rampaging wallabies (quokkas) but also the many
great beaches for swimming (e.g. Longreach Bay and Geordie Bay),
fishing (e.g. Narrow Neck and Salmon Bay), surfing (e.g. Strickland
Bay), and snorkelling (e.g. Parker Point). Lovely breezy cliffs
at West End have excellent whale and dolphin views.
Monkey Mia, dolphin visiting time, Shark Bay, Western Australia. Picture by Nachoman.
Bay (central west coast) Best May-Oct:
Twelve hours north of Perth Monkey Mia
is where dolphins come to play with humans. Bottlenose dolphins
swim freely right up to the beach, but human animals are tightly
controlled, need to buy a pass and can enter the water only at specified
times. Some love the experience, others find it too strictly supervised
to be enjoyable.
west coast) Best May-October:
This is a typical, thongs and tank-top Oz town, as relaxed as they come and gateway to Ningaloo
Reef, a barrier reef Marine Park that successfully competes with the Great one on the east side of the country for style and content, if not in length.
Ningaloo Reef is a pristine 156 miles (250
km) long, much of it only 100m off shore. The truly exceptional
experience available here is the chance to dive with 12 metre whale
sharks, the largest fish in the world, along with dugongs, manta
rays and other lesser sharks.
Turquoise Bay is a nearby, uncrowded, whiter-than-white beach lined with minimalist dunes that is a great snorkelling point for the reef, with guaranteed big-time marine lifeforms flitting by.
coast) Best April-Oct:
On the edge of the massive, almost-desert of The Kimberley, Broome has two main attractions; camel safaris and Cable
Beach. The clear blue Indian Ocean washes onto 22 kilometres
of superb white sand, and the sunsets are spectacular. There are
plenty of marine activities and accommodation on offer, and nightlife
Australia Pictures | Australia best destinations guide