Beaches better than Bondi

Hit the Pacific Highway and you’ll discover dreamy, uncrowded beaches that knock the Billabong boardies off Bondi. Just imagine: beaches that sparkle; beaches with squeaky sand; beaches where dolphins frolic close to shore; beaches where you can run with your dog. They’re just a few hours away.

Newcastle Beach
Newcastle is Australia’s only CBD ringed by beaches. And what gorgeous golden beaches they are. Stretching for several kilometres, The Bathers Way walk takes in beaches, cliffs, convict -cut swimming holes and splendid art- deco ocean pools. A cycle-way follows Newcastle’s working harbour to time -frozen neighbourhoods such as Wickham and Carrington and just a short stroll from the beach is a vibrant dining and gallery scene and frequent live music, markets and moonlight cinema. Stay in historic terraces near the beach and harbour:

Seal Rocks
A name waxed about in surfing circles, Australia’s second most easterly point is reached by a dirt road tunnelled by angophoras. On the northern side of the Seal Rocks peninsula the beaches are typically satin smooth – perfect for carefree swims or a long -board. At low tide, a scramble over rock platforms leads to a series of secluded, rainforest wrapped beaches. Surf schools run here throughout the year and it’s fun to snorkel around the rocky outcrops or swim out to the little island. Stay: Seal Rocks Lighthouse Accomodation


Cellito Beach
After walking through rainforest raucous with birdsong, the incandescent turquoise water at Cellito startles the eyes. Just one of a string of stunning powder -sand beaches framed by dramatic headlands in the Pacific Palms area, Cellito is a wilderness beach par excellence. A walk to Smiths Lake at the southern end is an escapist workout. If you fancy calm water and a headland to headland swim, head for Shelly Beach, a little further north. Stay at waterfront Ripples at Smiths Lake, it boasts mesmerizing views and has kayaks and a tinnie.

Crowdy Head
The beaches of ‘Crowdy’ have a fetching island vibe, thanks to the embrace of Crowdy Bay National Park. This picturesque fishing village is back-dropped by mountains – nudging -ocean views known to bring on swoons and the beaches –smaller waves on the north side, wild and unfurling to infinity at ‘back beach’ – are beyond blissful. Stay at Hansons on the Headland, a funky beach-house with a bewitching outlook. (ph 0408023275)

Hat Head
A tucked away subtropical haven that beach lovers typically learn of by referral, Hat Head is the sort of sleepy coastal community that’s now rare on Australia’s east coast. At the southern end of pandanus fringed Hat Head Beach is a large lagoon- perfect for paddle-boarding or relaxed swims. You’re very likely to see kangaroos on walks along the paperbark edged inlet and up on the ridge of Hat Head National Park, where the path leads to secret beaches. Stay at Panorama at Hat Head, a slick, transparent abode with riveting views:

The water at Sawtell Beach has an effervescence that renders it deliciously like dunking into champagne. Casuarina laced Sawtell is just the right length for a run, with a rockpool and a tidal island at the southern headland. Bonville Creek estuary – great for paddling or a snorkel with cormorants and rays – is also nearby. Sawtell’s charming village features eateries, galleries, live music and a historic cinema. Stay at beachfront Shellies at the Beach

Photos by Melissa Rimac

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