Australia in 12 Coastal HOT Spots!

Griffiths Island Lighthouse, Port Fairy, Victoria

Griffiths Island Lighthouse, Port Fairy, Victoria

Australia’s BEST Coastal HOT Spots!

Long Coastline, HUGE Landmass, Low Population.

That’s how it is downunder where unspoiled coastline, geographic diversity and extreme beauty all converge to create a COOL contingent of AMAZING Australian coastal HOT spots!

HOT Spots so COOL you can follow their trail right round Australia and see something different every time!! So sit back, slip on your sunnies*, sip something soothing, and get set for a stunning scenic tour of my 12 favourite OZ coastal HOT Spots!

WARNING: Discerning readers MAY feel an uncontrollable urge to contact a travel specialist after reading!! (Click each heading for more information)

1 Holiday Hot Spot: Port Fairy, Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Its almost impossible to single out a favourite spot along the 400 km (~248 mile) strip of surf beaches, shipwreck sites, staggering scenery, holiday towns, walks, National Parks, cafés and historic points of interest that comprise Victoria’s Great Ocean Road – an adventure playground starting at the South Australian border and stretching nearly to Melbourne.

But you have to start somewhere. So for a cross-section of what the Great Ocean Road has to offer, Port Fairy is a 2-bakery teaser that includes historic Griffiths Island and lighthouse, a Short-tailed Shearwater nesting spot, site of the Bonney Upwelling phenomenon, and a rich maritime heritage with magnificent coastal scenery.

Williamstown Jetty, Port Philip Bay, Melbourne

Williamstown Jetty, Port Philip Bay, Melbourne

2 Water World: Port Philip Bay,Victoria

Unaccountably, not everyone wants to visit the sewage ponds at the Western Treatment Plant while in Melbourne. In fact, aquatic activists, lighthouse lovers, beach bums, seaside sportsfolk, National Park nature lovers and coastal culturalists could all contribute to a successful argument that Melbourne exists merely as accomodation while indulging in the amazing variety of water-based activities on and around Port Philip Bay.

35 times larger than Sydney Harbour and home of Australia’s biggest cargo port, if you can’t find something to do in this area, you’re just not trying!

3 Unspoiled Scenery: South West Rocks, New South Wales

View from Smoky Cape Lighthouse, South West Rocks

View from Smoky Cape Lighthouse, South West Rocks

Horrified to hear that the fabulously archetypal fishing village of South West Rocks we’d ‘discovered’ in the 1990s was a favourite of Ray Martin, one-time Aussie TV ‘personality’, it took a temporary dive in our estimation.

But with its array of attractions like Macleay River fishing, the staggering scenery from Smoky Cape Lighthouse, a superb bakery, intriguing hinterland, Trial Bay Gaol, and nearby coastal gems Hat Head, Stuarts Point and Scotts Head, it made a speedy recovery and it’s still one of our all-time favourite NSW coastal spots.

It’s OK with us not yet spotting Ray there … and it’s probably OK with him too!

4 Coastal Walk: Broken Head, New South Wales

The amazing Northern Rivers region of NSW has (arguably) some of the best coastal scenery in OZ, including the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse on Australia’s most easterly point. But wilder and less crowded is the little hamlet of Broken Head just a short distance south of Byron Bay.

Looking south from Broken Head Coastal Reserve Walk, New South Wales

Looking south from Broken Head Coastal Reserve Walk, New South Wales

If you need more reason to visit than the magnificent stretch of rainforest-lined unspoiled beach that curves all the way round to Cape Byron, then stop dodging the scrub-turkeys in the car park and dodge the surfers and fishermen instead on the coastal walk south across the Head to the beaches and wilderness beyond. Interpretive signs explain historic and cultural points of interest, and the view goes on forever …

On a good day, it’s pretty hard to beat!

5 Turtles: Mon Repos, via Bundaberg, Queensland

Red with Turtle, Mon Repos, Bundaberg

Red with Turtle, Mon Repos, Bundaberg

There’s a lot more to do in Bundaberg than see turtles, but nearby Mon Repos Conservation Park is one of the largest turtle rookeries in OZ. At night during laying season (Nov to Jan), female turtles lay their eggs on the beach – and a few lucky people, supervised by the interpretive centre, are privileged to watch.

If you’re thinking I look a bit rough in this November 1998 photo, it’s because it’s about 3:00 am – the turtles don’t perform on demand! This is an extraordinary opportunity to see something amazing – and a must-so for your coastal repertoire!

If turtles aren’t your thing, then maybe a tasting trip to the Bundaberg Rum factory – it also makes a killer Ginger Beer and selection of fruit-flavoured soft drinks – might do the trick!

6 Lighthouse: Cooktown, Queensland

It’s quite possible that every visitor to Cooktown has a photo of the 1885 Grassy Hill Lighthouse – and the killer view along the wild and heavily-rainforested coastline. Its colonial history includes a visit of several weeks by Captain Cook (yes, THAT one) while repairing the Endeavour, and a busy port that serviced the nearby Palmer River goldfields.

Grassy Hill Lighthouse in 1998, Cooktown, Queensland

Grassy Hill Lighthouse in 1998, Cooktown, Queensland

Now a popular winter fishing destination, it’s also a jumping off point for one of the most iconic of Australian road-trips – the trek to the most northerly point in Australia, Cape York!

7 Ferry Ride: Mandorah, Darwin, Northern Territory

Australia’s most northerly major city, Darwin isn’t for the fainthearted. The town was virtually destroyed by bombings during the 2nd World War and again by Tropical Cyclone Tracey on Christmas Day, 1974. Regularly lashed by tropical storms and isolated by floods during the annual ‘Wet’ season (Nov-March), its tropical waters contain crocodiles and stingers.

Mandorah, via Darwin, Northern Territory

Mandorah, via Darwin, Northern Territory

But fair-weather tourists like me who venture this far north during the ‘Dry’ are rewarded by magnificent scenery, milder temperatures and the most laid-back lifestyle in OZ. Across the bay by ferry, holiday town Mandorah epitomises the tropics at their best.

I don’t know if I’ll ever visit Darwin during the Wet. But its a fairly sure thing I’ll be back there one day to experience it’s Aussie Winter 30ºC (86º F) temperatures again!

8 Staircase to the Moon: Broome,Western Australia

Staircase to the Moon, Broome, Western Australia

Staircase to the Moon, Broome, Western Australia

Likely the worst you’ll ever see of Broome’s famous full moon/low tide/massive mudflats combo, this photo should provide a wordless warning to anyone attempting low light photography without pre-requisites a) tripod; b) shutter release cable; and c) skill.

Sceptical of its ‘uniqueness’ – it’s just the moon rising over water and mud for goodness sake, and that happens in LOTS of places – seeing the real thing’s sharply delineated resemblance to a staircase (don’t look for this in my poor pic) changed my mind.

If moonlight and mudflats don’t do it for you, make a night of it at the markets instead!

9 Blowholes: Quobba, Western Australia

Quobba Blowholes, via Carnarvon, Western Australia

Quobba Blowholes, via Carnarvon, Western Australia

Never turn your back on an active blowhole – if you want to stay dry, that is!! By a happy coincidence, the tides were perfect for optimum blowhole performance, and some dodging and weaving around the rocks ensured we stayed dry. Not that it would have mattered – the perfection of a fine, warm and sunny winter’s day on Western Australia’s Outback Coast means we wouldn’t have stayed wet for long!

But high-pressure sea spray bursting through rockholes isn’t the only kind of blowhole on offer below the impressive Quobba lighthouse and beautiful bay – whales are also sighted along this stretch of coastline.

For a different perspective, try blowhole-spotting from the vantage point high above at the lighthouse – it’s easier than it looks as the white spray stands out perfectly against the deep, deep blue of the sea!

10 Cliffs: Kalbarri, Western Australia

With one of the most distinctive coastlines in OZ, the layered sandstone of Kalbarri’s 100 metre high cliffs can sometimes overshadow its other main attraction – the 500+ wildflower species for which the area is reknowned! But a series of cliff top walks atop sheer drops right down into the wild and whale-ridden waters of the Indian Ocean make the high concentration of shipwrecks – such as the Batavia in 1629 – unsurprising.

Kalbarri Cliffs, Western Australia

Kalbarri Cliffs, Western Australia

If you can tear yourself away from the cliffs, the impressive Murchison River, after carving its way through the sandstone from 80 km inland, enters the sea at Kalbarri in the shadow of the magnificent Red Bluff. The Kalbarri National Park – full of birds, wildlife and wildflowers – surrounds the town. And just up the road is the World Heritage area of Shark Bay.

But who needs other attractions when all roads lead to the stupendous cliffs?!

11 Whales: Head of Bight, South Australia

Whale and Calf at Head of Bight, South Australia

Whale and Calf at Head of Bight, South Australia

Its pretty hard to just drop in to Head of Bight – at the very top of the Great Australian Bight stretching across much of southern Australia’s coastline, it’s at least a couple of days drive along the Eyre Highway from the closest major town in any direction.

But if you DO find yourself in the area from June to October, you’ll find a southern right whale nursery under the unbroken 200 km line of the fabulous Bunda cliffs that mark where the world’s largest karst limestone formation meets the Great Southern Ocean.

But the whales are the main attraction – easily seen from the viewing platform below the cliffs, they’ll make that long drive across the middle of nowhere worthwhile!

12 Scenic Public Toilets: Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

The long coastline around the Yorke Peninsula, a narrow neck of land a couple of hours from Adelaide, virtually guarantees one of the highest concentrations of coastal Scenic Public Toilets in Australia! And I’ve photographed nearly all of them …

AND turned them into a FAAAAABULOUS book:  Aussie Loos with Views!

I wonder how many others can make that claim??

Scenic Public Toilet at West Cape Beach, Innes National Park, South Australia

Scenic Public Toilet at West Cape Beach, Innes National Park, South Australia

Who knew you could tour 12 of Australia’s HOTTEST Coastal Spots without focussing on the beaches?? But wait – there’s a thought for another post!! Just watch this space …

Like it? Share or Follow HERE! ==>
Follow by Email


  • Wow, who would ever think there was such diversity in our countryside in Australia? We caravan at Broken Head nearly every Christmas and it is one of my favourite hot spots. From our recent trip Kalbarri and Quobba were both stand outs. Did you travel further north to Red Bluff (near Quobba)? That was magical as well. I gave you a mention in my blog yesterday. You have inspired me!

    • Thank you Kathy! You’re WAY too kind!! Broken Head is a killer hot spot – there are just too many to count, yes?! We’ve got a whole lot more detail to explore along the WA coastline … RED Bluff sounds right up my alley!!!

  • All hot spots indeed Red.. naturally Quobba and Kalbarri are the hottest 🙂

  • It’s a dangerous thing, this blog of yours, Red. And, the “warning” at the top should be well heeded by those like me.
    Blustery blow holes, delightful lighthouses, wonderful denizens of the deep and the bright, beautiful blue-greens have me yearning to get back into a camper and just drive.
    And, If I looked half as good as you at 3am, patting that gorgeous turtle, well, I wouldn’t mind a bit! Wouldn’t mind having lovely golden tan skin like yours either 🙂

    Thanks for the coastal tour that makes my heart pine. One day.
    Your blog is a handy travel reference – there’s none better!

    • Hahaha … I have no sympathy! Just DO IT!!! Tragically, I was nearly 16 years younger in that turtle shot … Happy New Year – hope to see you on the road somewhere!!

  • G’day Red, this was a fabulous hot spot post! Love those lighthouses! I have a real thing for them.
    Happy travels and happy new year to you and Pilchard.

    • Hahaha, one day I’ll make all your fantasies come true and do a whole post on lighthouses!!! Happy New Year to you too! I hope this means your internet problems are sorted 🙂

  • Between your photos and some I’ve seen on Flickr and the scenes I saw in that movie a few years ago called “The Boys Are Back” I’d have to say that Australia has the most beautiful beaches and coastal areas in the world. You are so right, this post has me pricing airline tickets.

  • We live in a lovely country. Love your scenery photos. Turtles are many. Stairway to the moon, didn’t bother going to see that but good to see your photo of it. Whales are wonderful to see and they do come quite close down there.

    • There’s so much variety … but I guess there would be in a country as big as Europe or the US!! But the more we see, the more we find to see … Happy New Year!!

  • Wow, I really like to go there some day.., but it is so far away.
    Great post and pictures!
    My best wishes to you for this new year!

    • Whenever you want to see it, just visit my blog! There are a LOT of places left to show you!! Happy New Year to you too!!

  • Lol–that Grassy Hill didn’t look so grassy to me! Maybe it is just my old eyes and this tiny phone. But wow! You got to see the turtles. One of the things on my bucket list!

    • Hahaha, well spotted … but I’m sure it’s different in the WET season which I haven’t experienced! And not only did I SEE turtles, but I TOUCHED one!! AWESOME!!!

  • You really make me homesick!
    I bought a postcard of the Staircase to the Moon, btw 😉

    • Sorry 🙁 I bet your postcard is WAY better than my mediocre photo of Staircase to the Moon!! Happy New Year!

  • Red, thanks for sharing your coastal compilation – I am happy to be able to confirm that I have also done several of these, but unfortunately my WA experience is limited! I will get there one day…

    • My WA experience was limited until 2012 – now I can’t wait to get back there!! Happy New Year – maybe we’ll meet up on the road somewhere!!

  • WOW ~ what a great looking blog. Thank you for dropping by to say Hi.

  • You know, this is a WONDERFUL post! And now that my partner and I have retired I’ll be paying closer attention to your excellent blog! Happy new year xo

    • Stick around … I’ve got LOTS more to show you!! And maybe we’ll see you on the road somewhere!! Happy New Year – well it WILL be if you’ve retired, right?!?!

  • If I could I’d book a flight right now and I live in Florida, where the weather isn’t all that bad this time of year; can only image how much the people “up North” here in the US who read this while experiencing blizzards and snowed-in conditions wish they could.

    We love coastal areas, but aren’t ‘lie-out-on-the-beach’ type of people, so the coastal scenes you feature here would be right up our alley. Love those blowholes! Couple of areas like that on the Oregon coast, but not where you can walk so easily.

    Beautiful and definitely tempting post!!

    • I SO don’t understand what it’s like to experience a blizzard or be snowed in … but somehow, I don’t think I’m going to offer to swap places!! Be tempted, my friend … and Happy New Year!!

  • I would go to #3 without a doubt! And all the others, as well! Awesome.

  • What a country. Those photos are just breathtaking.

  • oh it looks like a wonderful place to visit, you have shared some beautiful images. the landscapes are just breathtaking and the light house so unusual!!

  • lucky aren’t we? I haven’t seen a lot of eastern-sider coastal spots – but I can tell you WA has some of the best beaches in Australia. I had to take a second look at your scenic toilet at West Cape Beach. Have you been into the one at Sceale Bay in SA? – the one with the window looking out at the beach? I must say I thought of you Red when I took a pic from inside looking out!

    • I just like making people jealous!! And it looks like I’m succeeding … I’m yet to enjoy the delights of Sceale Bay … send me your pic, I’d LOVE to see it!!! The east and west coasts are quite different – but each spectacular in their own way! Happy New Year!!!

  • I have got to visit Australia. It’s stunning.

  • You must have the only job I know of that makes getting out of bed in the morning worthwhile Red.

    • That can’t be right, surely!! Although, now I come to think of it … maybe I do!! Welcome back and Happy New Year!!

  • Very interesting post again…..your pictures are beautiful.

    Warm greetings from Holland, Joop

    • Happy New Year, my friend! But I think I can give you even WARMER greetings from Australia – it’s midsummer down here!

  • I’m always spell-bound by the scenes you’ve seen Red!

  • The photos are beautiful!

  • What amazing places – love that blowhole!

  • Discerning readers MAY feel an uncontrollable urge to contact a travel agent after reading!!

    It is much too late for me. Of course the only issue stopping me is money. If that is ever solved the issue will be me having to leave.

  • Discerning readers MAY feel an uncontrollable urge to contact a travel agent after reading!! (Click each heading for more information)

    It is much too late for me. The only issue is, of course, money. If that ever clears up I can honestly say leaving such a beautiful country might be impossible.

  • So many places in Australia are gorgeous! Your photos are wonderful.

    • I guess I can’t take credit for Australia’s beauty … I just hold the camera up and shoot!!! Stay tuned – there’s WAY more I have to show you!! Happy New Year!

  • Now you’ve brought me to a place like home – this post made me feel like I was right here on the bay with the lighthouses, the rocky beaches, the white sand, the water n waves, whales n dune grass. Thank you Red for this lovely post.

    • Happy New Year, my friend! I’m surprised by some of the similarities between our two very different countries! Weird, huh?! We’ll have to do a house swap one day!!

  • Seriously, Red, those are some stunning pics, girl!
    Gotta love scenic public loos lol.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *