1 February 2023

Can Wagga still claim to have the ninth-best beach?

| Chris Roe
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Wagga Beach

Wagga Beach is now officially the nation’s best inland beach. Photo: Chris Roe.

The fact that NSW’s largest inland city once made the list of Australia’s top 10 beaches is an enormous source of pride and amusement for Wagga locals.

Visitors and new arrivals will be told within minutes of engaging a resident in conversation that, “Wagga has the ninth-best beach in the country!” and signs around the riverside precinct declare “Wagga Beach #9, Australia’s Best Beaches 2020”.

And right now it’s looking fantastic. The river level has dropped, the sun is out and hundreds have been making the most of the city’s spectacular stretch of sand.

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A German tourist enjoying the sun just after Christmas asked: “Where do they get the sand from? Do they bring it by truck?”, the science of Aussie river beaches a mystery to the uninitiated.

But as fabulous as we know our beach to be, can we still proclaim our place among the nation’s best?

According to the man in the know, Tourism Australia’s beach ambassador Brad Farmer (AM), the answer is a resounding YES!

“Having looked at other locations around Australia, Wagga Wagga remains the finest example of an inland river beach. It’s a big call, but I’m the official ambassador and I’m saying it!” he declares with a laugh.

“I’ve been all over the country and people are always saying, ‘Have a look at this beach or this lake and this river’, and I’ve looked at them, and nothing compares to the natural beauty and the amenities – both natural and built amenities – that are afforded to Wagga.”

Wagga Beach TV clip

Brad Farmer unveiling Wagga Beach as #9 on Sunrise in 2020. Photo: Channel 7.

The list of the Best Australian Beaches for 2023 was unveiled this week, narrowing it down from more than 12,000 across the country.

While Wagga does not appear on the latest list, Brad says this does not mean that we have been downgraded.

“I think there’s a misconception among journalists about what the list is,” he explains.

“It’s a top 10 of Australia’s best new beaches, they’re all fresh locations to highlight and showcase the diversity of our beaches.

“Wagga remains the best inland beach, freshwater beach, river beach, beach-not-on-the-coast, whatever you want to call it, and I think it can probably have that handle for perpetuity.”

Wagga Beach

The signs at Wagga Beach will need to be updated now that the title is held in perpetuity. Photo: Chris Roe.

Going back to his first encounter with our corner of the Murrumbidgee, Brad admits he was a sceptic.

“I was on Kochi’s morning TV program [Sunrise] and people were calling in with their best beaches and someone said Wagga Wagga, and I thought someone was doing a number on me,” he chuckles.

“But I thought, you know what, I’ll drive out there one day and I actually Googled for the first time ‘What is a beach?’ and it’s a body of water next to the sand or pebbles. It could be on the coast or it could be on a river.

“I said well, if Wagga’s gonna call it a beach and they have a lifeguard centre and the Wiradjuri people have used the beach as a gathering place for thousands of years, I’m not gonna argue with them.”

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He says Wagga’s inclusion in 2020 remains a popular talking point.

“In my travels and in media and on radio programs, the most talked-about beach on my list in the last few years has been Wagga Wagga.

“I think for people it’s said with a bit of humour, but providing Wagga keeps it up there and council and tourism operators continue to highlight that asset to visitors, I will continue to say it’s Australia’s finest inland beach.”

Brad Farmer

Brad Farmer is Australia’s ”beach expert” and has an updated title for Wagga. Photo: Supplied.

Wagga Mayor Dallas Tout is more than happy to claim the title and says the city council is looking forward to building on the precinct’s reputation.

“It’s fantastic to hear that news from Brad that it wasn’t just a flash in the pan and it’s actually in perpetuity that Wagga is recognised as the best inland beach in the country,” he says.

“We’ll continue to work with the community to build that precinct and make it even better and to turn the city round to the river and appreciate what we have going through the city.”

Brad Farmer’s official list of the top 10 beaches in Australia for 2023 is …

  1. Stokes Bay, SA, Kangaroo Island
  2. Boomerang Beach, NSW, mid-north coast
  3. Rainbow Beach, Queensland, Cooloola Coast
  4. Apollo Bay, Victoria, Great Ocean Road
  5. Adventure Bay, Tasmania, Bruny Island
  6. Hamelin Bay, WA, south-west
  7. Little Bondi Beach, NT, East Arnhem Land
  8. British Admiral Beach, Tasmania, King Island, Bass Strait
  9. Flying Fish Cove, Christmas Island
  10. Balmoral Beach, NSW, Sydney Harbour

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