5 February 2024

Wagga Beach still No. 1 in the inland as 'Best Beaches' list sticks to the coast

| Chris Roe
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man and woman going in for a beach swim

Wagga Beach remains the nation’s premier inland beach. Photo: Visit NSW.

The ”Best Australian Beaches” list is out for 2024 and once again it comprises 10 coastal beauty spots without a single river beach making the top 10.

Ever since Wagga made its surprise appearance at No. 9 in 2020, Riverina residents have kept a lazy eye on Tourism Australia’s annual list, and beach expert Brad Farmer said we were yet to be beaten.

“I was just explaining this morning on TV that beaches are much more than just coastal and I specifically mentioned Wagga Wagga as the perfect example of a terrific inland beach,” he said.

“I think it’s definitely a beach that people should consider visiting because it represents much more than the traditional coastal saltwater beach.”

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Australia boasts almost 12,000 beaches on its mainland and islands, the largest number of beaches of any country in the world.

The Best Australian Beaches list attracts international attention each year, highlighting a fresh selection of beauty spots.

“The response has again been overwhelming because annually, the survey gathers so much traction and engages audiences in conversations around beaches and what a beach is,” Brad said.


Squeaky Beach in Victoria has topped the 2024 Best Australian Beaches list. Photo: Parks Victoria.

Topping the list this year is a Victorian beach named for the sound that your toes make as they sink into the sand.

Squeaky Beach is about three hours from Melbourne, in Wilsons Promontory National Park, and is about as far south as you can go on the Australian mainland.

As Parks Victoria explains, the white-quartz and silica sand is indeed famously noisy as “the fine, rounded grains of quartz sand compress under your feet, creating a high-pitched squeak”.

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Three islands have also been highlighted, including a tiny atoll off the Cocos Keeling Islands, Pulu Blan Madar.

“It’s the only island in Australia with a Malaysian name and this extraordinary little spot is like a slice of the Maldives,” Brad said.

“It again highlights the fact that beaches are not just Brighton and Bondi and, while people go all over the world to try different types of beaches, we have the best beaches right here in Australia.”

tropical beach

Pulu Blan Madar is Australia’s only beach with a Malaysian name. Photo: Cocos Keeling Islands Visitor Centre.

At the northern end of the country, Far North Queensland’s Cow Bay also got a mention despite enduring the worst of Cyclone Jasper and the ever-present threat of crocodiles and box jellyfish.

“While it might rain a lot in the tropics and the stingers are equally as dangerous as the crocodiles, this is all part of the experience that people get when they go there,” Brad explained with a chuckle.

“Beaches are increasingly attracting culturally diverse visitors, and people from other countries don’t necessarily go swimming.

“They’re going to beaches to take selfies to enjoy the look of the beach and experience the communities and the wider environment.”

In terms of river beaches, Brad said he was ever on the lookout for somewhere to rival Wagga.

“We did include Cockle Creek in Tasmania this year, which is coastal and has a brackish lagoon, but, with freshwater beaches, there have been no real candidates yet, to be honest,” he said.

“I’ve canvassed people around the country, asking them to give me their best inland beaches, and they have put forward a number of them but none of which could meet the criteria.

“Wagga Wagga remains, in my humble expert opinion, the best example to date of a fully fledged inland waterway with a true beach environment, which the council has recognised and can use as a way to attract tourists to that area.”

The Top 10 Best Australian Beaches for 2024:
Squeaky Beach, Victoria
The Farm (Killalea), NSW
Cockle Creek, Tasmania
Madfish Bay, Western Australia
Pulu Blan Madar Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Cylinder Beach, Queensland
Lagoon Beach, Lord Howe Island
Long Beach, South Australia
Cow Bay, Queensland
Casuarina Beach, Northern Territory.

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