Australia’s secret coastlines

Lesser-known but no less beautiful stretches of coast

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You've probably heard of Bondi Beach, Byron Bay and the Gold Coast and, while these are all must-visit areas, there's a whole host of glittering stretches of coastlines across Australia that are just waiting to be explored. You just have to know where to look...

Bay of Fires, Tasmania

Rocks at Bay of Fires in Tasmania with beautiful seaside

It's a glorious, beach-lined drive north from Coles Bay into St Helens, where side roads venture onto the colourful Bay of Fires – recently named by Lonely Planet as the world's hottest travel destination. If this glorious slice of coast hadn't been named for the Aboriginal fires that once burned along it, it could easily have been named for the vibrancy of the orange lichen that smothers the boulder headlands. In between are the whitest of beaches and bluest of seas, so pick a beach, any beach, and step into a postcard. Pause in Binalong Bay for lunch or dinner at Moresco Restaurant, where the flavours are Mediterranean but the ingredients are as local as the view.

Wilson's Promontory, Victoria

Wilson's Promontory
Framed by granite headlands and sweeping beaches, the national wilderness park of Wilson's Promontory sticks out like a hitchhiker's thumb from the southernmost tip of mainland Australia. Known as 'The Prom' by locals, this 50,000-hectare wonderland offers a spectacular back-to-nature sojourn with mountains to climb, eucalyptus forests to admire, fern gullies to hike, pristine beaches to explore and lots of Aussie animals to see in the wild. But the crowning beauty here is a beach so named because its talcum white sand squeaks underfoot as you walk. Squeaky Beach is a natural playground, fringed by the cerulean waters of the protected marine park, and red-orange lichen-covered boulders that cry out for photographs – or dare you to climb them.

Cape York Peninsula, Queensland

Australian Flatback Sea Turtle hatchlings, Natator depressus, (c-r), crawling down nesting beach to ocean, Crab Island, off Cape

For an off-the-beaten-track experience in Queensland, jump in a 4WD and head to the peninsula of Cape York, at the very tip of Australia. You'll be greeted by ancient aboriginal cultural sites, stunning scenery (think rainforest and reef rubbing shoulders), and incredible fishing opportunities. It's also a wildlife enthusiast's dream, being a haven for a number of unique species that are not found in the rest of Australia, like the Golden Shouldered Parrot. You might also spot wallabies, kangaroos, pademelons, possums and gliders. Cape York is also an important nesting area for marine turtles, like Horksbills.

Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Pennington Bay on Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Kangaroos and koalas in a rustic agricultural backdrop, striking seaside rock formations crafted by centuries of wind and waves, and the luxurious lifestyle of one of the world's top four hotels - Kangaroo Island, a short ferry ride off the coast of South Australia, is a must. Secluded beaches, surfing breaks, wonderful local produce, a kaleidoscope of oceanic colours, bushland and the odd lavish lodge thrown in, all reinforce why it's regularly seen as an untouched sanctuary. For a really beautiful spot, head to Stokes Bay, a beach famous for its pure sands, tranquil rock pool and a coastal hamlet that attracts families because of its delightful, shady picnic and campground facilities.

Lord Howe Island, New South Wales

Arial view of Lord Howe Island
David Attenborough once described Lord Howe Island, two hours' flight from Sydney, as "so extraordinary it's almost unbelievable". And when you land on the single airstrip comprising the airport, it won't take you long to see why. This 12km-long stretch in the Pacific is a favourite of both Australian and international tourists, but visitor numbers are restricted to 400 guests a time – so it's never crowded. There are plenty of places to relax on this pristine patch of paradise , but the island's World Heritage listing means you shouldn't miss the chance to explore. As there are few cars on the island, most people get around by bike, jumping off to wander the palm forests and secluded beaches.

Arnhem Land, Northern Territory

Palm tree at the beach of Northern territory, Australia
The Arnhem Land coast features dozens of remote, tropical tidal rivers, coupled with boundless white coastline. This Aboriginal reserve requires permit entry, helping ensure Arnhem Land is one of the most exclusive fishing locales nationwide, offering reef or deep sea fishing tours, as well as island retreat packages. It is a highly protected area, and is governed by the Aboriginal elders of each of the small coastal communities. As such, its culture, rugged coastline, and untouched beauty offers a real off-the-beaten path experience. Enjoy a true cultural coast adventure, learning about Aboriginal practices in oceanside communities, like traditional weaving, language, dance, fireside storytelling, mud-crabbing, spearfishing and Yidaki (didjeridu) carving and playing.

Eyre Peninsula, South Australia

Streaky Bay. Back Beach. South Australia.

Away from the city lights of Adelaide lies the Eyre Peninsula, a typical piece of outback Australia with a night sky that sparkles like diamonds and an ocean that heaves with a wealth of fresh seafood. Here, infinite agricultural plains are flecked with charming country towns including Ceduna, the host "city" of seafood celebration Oysterfest, and Streaky Bay, one of the best places in Australia to eat shellfish. You can also get up close and personal with the underwater animal experiences. There's great white shark cage diving from Port Lincoln and swimming with sea lions at Baird Bay or Seal Cove. Or why not meet the Giant Australian Cuttlefish - up to a metre long - in Whyalla, on the northeast of the peninsula? Head west to Fowler's Bay to spot majestic Southern Right Whales from May to October.

New South Wales' South Coast

Sunset over the Sea cliff bridge along Australian Pacific ocean coast with lights of passing cars
Go south for a jaw-dropping coastal jaunt along Grand Pacific Drive, before enjoying the unspoilt beaches and small towns of the South Coast. The NSW South Coast is home to some of the country's best seafood – ask a local, they'll tell you the fish practically jump onto your hook in these parts – fabulous artisan cheeses and some seriously good places to wine and dine, with water views to match. It takes around five spectacular hours to drive its length, from Wollongong (an hour south of Sydney) down to the southern tip at Eden, which offers superb viewing of the humpback whales that pass Twofold Bay every spring.