An unnamed stretch of white sand on a remote island has been named Australia’s best beach.
Brad Farmer is a beach enthusiast who has spent his life exploring, writing about and preserving beaches in Australia. He’s even Tourism Australia’s beach ambassador. And if the title Professor of Beachology sounds made up, well, that’s because it is – but only the name. Andy Short OAM is a professor of coastal geomorphology and the foremost expert on beaches in the world. Life is literally a beach for these guys. That’s why when they tell you which of the 11,761 beaches in Australia is the best, you’d better listen.
Farmer says that in 32 years he's never encountered turquoises and aquas quite like those of Cossies Beach. Image supplied.
To write their book 101 Best Beaches, Farmer and Short spent five months touring every last one of the beaches in this sea-loving country. A 300-metre stretch of white sand off (way off) the coast of Western Australia was deemed number one. If you’re wondering how we can be fairly confident you haven’t been there, it’s because it’s a five-hour flight from Perth on an archipelago stranded between Australia and Sri Lanka called the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
The beach is a 300-metre stretch of the uninhabited Direction Island. Image supplied.
With the blessing of locals, Farmer has unofficially named it Cossies Beach in honour of Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, who was similarly awestruck in 2014 when he visited Direction Island, on which the beach is located. There are 27 islands in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, but only two of them are inhabited. Direction Island is a short ferry ride from West Island, the main inhabited island of the archipelago.
There’s nothing much but gorgeous powdery white sand and ocean in colours that Farmer had never before seen. “My eyes have never encountered anywhere the shades of aqua and turquoise,” he tells Qantas Travel Insider. “The sand is softer and whiter than Esperance or Hyams Beach.”
Visitors can camp for free at Cossies Beach and incredibly, there's wifi. Image supplied.
For Farmer, finding Australia’s best beach has been a labour of love that began when he wrote his first surf guide in 1984. Clapping eyes on Cossies Beach for the first time was an emotional experience for Farmer, because he knew the quest was over. “After 32 years of searching I can hang up my notebook and board shorts,” he says. “It’s a beach bombshell.”
Right now, visitors to Direction Island are likely to have the paradise to themselves to pitch a tent and stay for free (and incredibly, there’s wi-fi), something Farmer hopes doesn’t change dramatically following the publication of 101 Best Beaches. He’s a leader in beach conservation and founded Ocean Care Day and the Surfrider Foundation and sees the future of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in sustainable tourism.
See also: The 25 Best Beaches Around the World
Farmer and Short previously published 101 Best Beaches in 2012. The difference with the new edition is the 20 new entries at the top of the list. “In 2012 we resisted making rankings – it’s very difficult to rank beaches. They’re like wines. Andy takes a dry and I take a wet approach,” he jokes. “We’re connoisseurs of beaches but they all have unique qualities that make them special.”
Also different this time around is the number-one beach itself, which is a new entrant to the list. “What was unique was that we’re able to include Christmas and Cocos. They’ve been out of bounds politically and socially,” says Farmer.
Dolly Beach is has 11 amazing beaches, including the "Robinson Crusoe" Dolly Beach which came in at number seven. Image supplied.
Dolly Beach on Christmas Island is a “Robinson Crusoe beach” says Farmer. “People think Christmas Island is just a detention centre, but it’s Australia’s largest rainforest island. It’s got 11 beaches with rocky pools, whale sharks galore and incredible diving. It’s an absolute gem. It should be an international eco destination.”
The new book includes the best beaches ranked from 20 to one. The remaining 81 beaches are unranked and include such favourites as Cottesloe and Bondi.
In the number-two position is Nudey Beach on Fitzroy Island. Image supplied.
As for Cossies, Farmer says it’s heaven for the “coastal aquatic purist”. “Turtles, rays, reefs – you tick all the boxes and then have to add more boxes,” he says, describing the beach as the Bahamas, the Seychelles and Fiji rolled into one.
“It’s nothing like anything else in Australia. This country is one of the few places in the world you can still go exploring and find new things.”
The Top 20 Beaches in Australia
#1 Cossies Beach, Cocos (Keeling) Islands INDIAN OCEAN
#2 Nudey Beach, Fitzroy Island, FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND
#3 Moonee Beach, Coffs Coast, NEW SOUTH WALES
#4 Turquoise Bay, Coral Coast, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
#5 Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, QUEENSLAND
#6 Maslin Beach, Adelaide, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
#7 Dolly Beach, Christmas Island, INDIAN OCEAN
#8 Shelly Beach, Nambucca Coast, NEW SOUTH WALES
#9 Boat Harbour Beach, North West Coast, TASMANIA
#10 Apollo Bay, Great Ocean Road, VICTORIA
#11 Horseshoe Bay Beach, Capricorn Coast, QUEENSLAND
#12 Garie Beach, Royal National Park, Sydney, NEW SOUTH WALES
#13 Merewether Beach, Newcastle, NEW SOUTH WALES
#14 Long Beach, Great Keppel Island, Capricorn Coast, QUEENSLAND
#15 Hawks Nest Beach, Myall Coast, NEW SOUTH WALES
#16 Camp Cove, Sydney, NEW SOUTH WALES
#17 Broken Head Beach, Byron Coast, NEW SOUTH WALES
#18 Narrawallee Beach, Shoalhaven Coast, NEW SOUTH WALES
#19 Dynamite Bay, Coral Coast, WESTERN AUSTRALIA