Touring the beaches of South East Australia
Australia is famous for its beaches and with very good reason. They are some of the most beautiful and least crowded of any country, anywhere in the world. You don’t have to go far off the beaten track to get a stretch of warm golden sand all to yourself.
If you’re visiting Australia, a beach visit is a must, and touring from beach to beach is a wonderful way to spend a week or two. Most travellers arrive in Sydney, where it’s easy to hire a car and travel along the coast in any direction- you’re absolutely sure of finding good spots to soak up the sun and try out the surf.
Between Sydney and Melbourne there is more than 1000km (621 miles) of coastline, much of it accessible to the public. Some of it is rocky, some sandy. Some of it is surf beach and some stays flat and calm in almost any weather. There are long stretches of pristine national park and a few patches of real wilderness with no roads, just walking tracks. Every now and again there is a small town offering caravan park, bed and breakfast, and hotel accommodation. Travelling between them is easy and stress free, and never boring.
There are lovely beaches within a stone’s throw of Sydney city centre but the first real gem is Jervis Bay. Here a typical Australian coastal town nestles into a national park and sits on the edge of some of the clearest, cleanest waters you could hope to swim in. Many of the beaches in this area are gently sloping and very flat. They’re ideal for less confident swimmers, for snorkelling, and for scuba diving.
Jervis Bay is a haven for marine life. Get into the water almost anywhere and you’ll be swimming with dozens of different fish. Warm currents bring brightly coloured tropical visitors to waters along the southern coast in summer and early autumn, and many of these make it as far as Jervis and the beaches around it. Some lucky visitors encounter dolphins too.
Another short drive and you’ll reach the town of Bateman’s Bay, one of the busiest on the south coast. This is a great place to take a boat tour or try the local restaurants but once you’ve finished in town head for Guerrilla Island.
It’s a well-kept secret and a favourite with scuba divers.
The high, rocky island is reachable by foot at low tides and offers gorgeous sea views.
Further south again, you’ll travel along the Sapphire Coast and reach the town of Merimbula. The beaches here are just as good as any others along the route and Merimbula has one very special extra attraction- whales. Southern Right, Minke, Pygmy Right, Brydes, and Humpback whales all visit this region. So does the biggest animal on Earth, the magnificent Blue Whale.
One possible next stop (there are many) is the Lake’s Entrance, where the Gippsland Lakes meet the sea. Aside from an excellent surf beach this is a good place to fish or just walk along the famous 90 Mile Beach. The golden sand is actually a little over 90 miles long. It’s the third longest stretch of unbroken sand in the world.
Before arriving at the hustle and bustle of Melbourne city, it’s worth stopping once more and visiting Phillip Island. It’s famous for the nightly penguin march- something visitors are welcome to experience as long as they’re willing to sit quietly and let the beautiful little fairy penguins go about their business- and it’s also one of the best places to see koalas.
The stops listed here are nothing more than suggestions. There are so many wonderful places to visit that it would take years to write about them all. Drive along the coast road and you’re absolutely sure to find gems of your own.
About The Author: Jess Spate grew up wandering the beaches of South East Australia but now lives in Wales, where the coast is just as beautiful but the water is a lot colder! She edits an outdoor clothing website and also works for Appalachian Outdoors, one of America’s leading camping gear stores.
Photo Credits: #1 Flickr: sarah c, #2 Flickr: pierre poulequin,
#3, #4, Jess Spate