World’s Best Beaches
Western Australia has some of the best beaches in the world. That’s a big, bold AND TRUE statement!
Moreover, and just as importantly from my perspective, one can take a 4WD vehicle onto many of these beaches. And some of them are truly remote and virtually people free. And at least one of these beaches doesn’t exist anymore!
Although our adventures don’t concentrate on the coast, we do go there often enough to appreciate how lucky we are in the West to have vehicle access to magnificent beaches where we can enjoy driving on vast stretches of golden sands or, depending on where we are, bright white sands.
Some of these beaches are firm enough for long stretches of high speed travel and would present no challenge to a 2WD vehicle with tyres at road pressures (think Parry Beach, Cape Le Grand Beach). Others can be treacherous with dips, soft sand, quicksand, seaweed, gutters, rocks and host of other dangers for the unwary.
Access to many of the beaches can be a challenge while a few are just a simple drive onto the sand. Getting off Yeagaruo Beach and Warren Beach up Yeagarup Hill and Callcup Hill respectively presents quite a challenge unless precisely the right tyre pressure is selected. The difficulty of the task increases as the temperature of the sand increases during the day, and the track gets chopped up by dozens of vehicles making the attempt. In contrast, one doesn’t even need to engage 4WD to drive on to or off Cape Le Grand Beach. Just follow the Commodore.
Below is a selection of beaches we have been fortunate enough to access during our adventures. While some are very well known others are virtually unvisited.
Every time I drive on these splendid stretches of our coast I reflect on our good fortune to live in a country blessed with such magnificent beaches within reasonable distance from home. I am thankful that I have the technology that allows such ease of access and hope that they will continue to remain ‘open’.
The beach at Alexander Bay extends 9.5 km from Ben Island in the west around to Alexander Point to the east. Explorer/surveyor John Forest named these features after his brother during their epic transcontinental exploration in 1871.
This access point is off Alexander Road. We visited it during our Cape to Cape trip in 2016.
Bilbunya Beach extends from the dunes at the base of the Wylie Scarp 45 kilometres to Wattle Camp. Depending on the tide the beach can be a narrow track negotiable only high up to the dunes or it can be a 100m wide, hard flat surface suitable for a land speed record attempt (much like Daytona Beach in the 1930s where speeds of 500 kph were exceeded).
Spectacular Bilbunya Dunes are awe-inspiring ‘live’ sand dunes. Numerous individual dunes exceed 100 metres in height. The name “Bilabalanya” was used by Nullarbor pioneer J. Carlisle in 1949 but over the years it has been corrupted to Bilbunya.
Our trip to the Bilbunya Dunes in 2013 was exciting, interesting and varied. Heavy rains before we arrived presented some challenges on the tracks and through the saltpans leading in to Israelite Bay
Bremer Bay Beach
Beautiful, white, wide open beach on the south coast. Bremer Bay Beach extends seven kilometres from John Cove in the west to James Cove in the east and is part of the larger, wider Bremer Bay.
Bremer Bay was named by Surveyor General John Septimus Roe in late 1835. He travelled to the area with Governor James Stirling on the Sally Ann and noted the name of this bay as Manyport Bay but the name is crossed out and Bremer Bay inserted in its place. Roe named the bay, and the coves encompassing it, after James John Gordon Bremer, captain of the Tamar, under whom he served between 1824-1827.
Read more about this trip here.
While not a coastal beach this foreshore is at the south-east end of the Inlet. It is difficult to access at the end of a track with numerous mudholes and bogholes.
Broke Inlet was named in 1831 by Governor James Stirling after Captain Philip Vere Broke R.N. who in 1813 was in command of HMS Shannon, a frigate of 38 guns that defeated the American ship the Chesapeake in a battle near Boston.
We visited Broke Inlet during our annual Australia Day Adventure.
Twenty kilometres of beautiful white beach near the town of Broome takes its name from the telegraph cable linking Broome with Java in Indonesia in 1889. To house the transmitting equipment, Cable House was built and was later used as the Court House. The name was first used in 1962.
A day spent at this beach and a sunset camel ride along the ocean’s edge is a great day out. More about that Adventure Downunder here.
Callcup Beach is part of the Warren Beach. It is at the base of fearsome Callcup Hill. Once you’ve conquered Callcup there’s not much you need to know about scaling sand dunes. Callcup is a beautiful white beach so typical of the coast in the D’Entrecasteaus National Park.
Cape Le Grand Beach
This 22 kilometre long beach extends north from Cape Le Grand to Wylie Head, not far from Esperance. Its hard surface is flat, wide, easy to access and very popular with locals, tourists, fishers and four wheel drivers.
Cape Le Grand was named in December 1792 by Joseph-Antoine Raymond Bruny, after an ensign named Le Grand aboard the frigate Esperance who sighted Esperance Bay enabling Bruny’s ships, Recherche and Esperance to shelter from a storm.
We drove this beach during our Cape to Cape trip.
Coral Bay is protected by the Ningaloo Reef, Australia’s only fringing reef. The coral starts right at the water’s edge.
Coral Bay is a very popular holiday spot for swimming, snorkelling and fishing. Read more about the Adventure Downunder in 2010.
Dailey River Beach
Dailey River Beach is to the east of Duke of Orleans Bay, north-east of the headland (almost an island) reserved as the Recherche Archipelago Nature Reserve.
Seaweed is treacherous. Especially dry seaweed with a thin coating of sand to disguise it.
More about this trip here.
Denmark Beach is among the most beautiful on the south coast.
Duke of Orleans Bay Beach
Duke of Orleans Bay Beach extends from the caravan park in the south three kilometres to the Recherche Archipelago Nature Reserve. It is a comfortable beach to drive on and these is a small dune ‘playground’ partway along.
John Forrest was the first to mention this name in 1870 but no derivation was given.
We camped at the caravan park during our Cape to Cape trip in 2016.
Rossiter Bay is split by Dunn Rocks. The name is derived from an early settler’s nearby farm called Dunns farm.
Dunn Beach is wide and white with interesting sections needing careful attention to stay safe. We visited this beach during our Cape to Cape trip in 2016.
Foster Beach is a magnificent, white sand beach accessed via Minarup Track, 22 kilometres south-west of Bremer Bay. It can also be accessed through a difficult-to-follow course across dunes from the Cape Knob track.
We visited Foster Beach during our 2018 Australia Day break.
Hamersley River Beach
The mouth of the Hamersley River, associated camping area and beach are on a portion of land excised from the National Park. The river does not always communicate with the Southern Ocean and at the time we visited the ‘bar’ was about 100 metres wide, forming a fantastic beach.
John Forrest named the Hamersley River during his 1871 reverse recapitulation of John Eyre’s epic crossing of the continent, most likely after his future wife’s family.
The full story of our trip is here.
A beautiful, white sand beach, Hellfire Bay is in the Cape Le Grand National Park. It is thought to have been named after what is commonly known as St Elmo’s fire – an electrical discharge that sometimes occurs above ships’ masts.
We visited Hellfire Beach during our Cape to Cape trip in 2016.
Horrocks is a popular fishing spot. The soft sand on the beach can be treacherous but the dunes behind the beach are a four wheel drivers’ paradise.
The name for the settlement was used from 1947. It was named after Joseph Horrocks, who originally came to the district as Medical Officer at the convict settlement of Lynton in 1854.
We visited Horrocks during one of our annual Australia Day trips.
Israelite Bay Beach is accessible by vehicle but it is covered in seaweed and hazardous to drive on. However, the beach to the south-west/south (around the corner of the headland) is pristine and whiter than white. The sand squeals when you walk or drive on it.
Andrew Dempster, Charles Dempster, G.M. Lanarch, George Maxwell and Billy explored the area in 1863 and Dempster applied the name Israelite Bay as this was the boundary between those who did and did not practice circumcision at the time of the naming.
We have visited Israelite Bay a few times including this one.
Lake Boonderoo has formed only twice since the colonisation of Australia. The last time was in 1995 after Cyclone Bobby caused Ponton Creek to pour millions of litres of floodwaters into what once known as merely Yandallah Claypan. The resulting lake persisted for ten years and many families of birdlife lived their entire life here. It’s now back to being Yandallah Claypan.
In 1995 we explored Ponton Creek and Lake Boonderoo (more here). These beachlandings were spectacularly successful – so much so that the task of pushing the boat back to the water became onerous. It was nothing to get the craft 50 metres out of the lake.
Having taken an inflatable boat down to the underground pool at Cocklebiddy Cave and used the same boat on Lake Boonderoo I’m fairly confident in claiming that the number of people who have gone boating above and below the Nullarbor Plain is a very, very small number – perhaps 1.
The full story of our remarkable trip to Lake Boonderoo is here.
Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand
This iconic stretch of bright white sand is the pinup beach for Tourism WA. Coupled with resident, friendly kangaroos it becomes irresistible as a tourist destination. With good reason.
This beautiful bay got its name from Matthew Flinders in 1802 because he considered it lucky that he found a safe anchorage at a potentially hazardous time in his circumnavigation of Australia. Finding himself among the myriad islands of the Archipelago of the Recherche, and seeing no possibility of reaching clear water in which to anchor for the night, and no prospect of shelter under any of the islands, Flinders adopted the hazardous measure of steering directly before the wind toward the mainland. He anchored in this bay overnight, sheltering from the dangers of the surrounding islands.
The last time I visited Lucky Bay was during our Cape to Cape trip in 2016.
Lucky Bay north of Port Gregory
The pristine beach and surrounding dunes are paradise for four wheel drivers and consequently are very popular. Kalbarri to the north is accessible via the beach, dunes and roads without crossing private property – although the feat requires some ingenuity and confidence.
There is no information about how the bay was named. I was there on one of our Australia Day trips.
Meerup Beach is an extension of Warren Beach and takes it name from the Meerup River that enters the ocean here. In one of the photographs above the vehicles are parked on the spit formed between the river and the ocean.
The river was shown on public plans as Meerup Brook from 1877 until 1909, when changed to Meerup River. Earlier still it was shown as Bowles River.
Meerup Beach, Warren Beach and Yeagarup Dunes are very popular spots for fishing and four wheel driving. These photographs were taken during our 2016 Australia Day trip.
Murchison House Station
This unnamed beach on Murchison House Station was too exposed for comfort so we found a sheltered spot behind the dunes for the first night of our trip.
Point Charles Bay Beach
Access to the Point Charles Bay Beach is at the southern end of the bay. It extends from Point Ann to Point Charles, seven kilometres to the north-east. It is a beautiful beach on which to drive but one would have to judge the tides carefully to get around rocks a few kilometres along the beach.
The point and the bay were named by Surveyor General J.S. Roe in 1849 after Governor Charles Fitzgerald.
We were there during our Stirling and Fitzgerald River National Parks trip.
Poison Creek Beach
Poison Creek Beach is a disappointingly small stretch of sand at the end of a long drive down Poison Creek Road in Cape Arid National Park. It is in the larger Sandy Bight, separated from the Great Australian Bight by Cape Pasley. The creek doesn’t enter the ocean and the build up of seaweed on the beach makes it uninviting.
This cape was given the name ‘Cap Arride’ by D’Entrecasteaux in 1792. The name was anglicised to Cape Arid by Matthew Flinders in 1802.
Port Gregory Beach
The beach at Port Gregory extends less than two kilometres to the south east and about a kilometre to the north-west. Great for swimming and fishing. Some bottlenose dolphins came inside the barrier reef when we were there.
Lt. B.F. Helpman of the colonial schooner Champion named this port after brothers Augustus and Frank Gregory in 1849.
Quoin Head Beach
The beach at Quoin Head a short stretch of beautiful, clean, white sand facing the Southern Ocean accessible only to walkers. The last part of the vehicle track in to the beach is steep and potentially dangerous, needing all one’s attention to descend safely.
We intended to camp at this location on our Stirling Range and Fitzgerald River National Park trip but the way the park managers have configured the small camping area means that it is unsuitable for groups of more than two vehicles.
Unsurprisingly, Reef Beach received its name because of the fringing reef that extends for about seven kilometres, approximately 50 to 200 metres offshore.
We visited Reef Beach during the 2018 Australia Day break.
Rossiter Bay Beach
Rossiter Bay stretches 28 kilometres from Cheyne Point to Mississippi Point. It’s a great beach for four wheel driving. Wide, open and white.
The bay was named by Edward John Eyre in June 1841 after Captain Rossiter of the French Whaler Mississippi who gave Eyre assistance at this place.
It was shown as Rossiter Harbour by C.D. Price during telegraph line surveys in 1876/77. Price incorrectly applied the name Rossiter Bay to a small cove within Esperance Bay. This confusion was increased when Eyre’s Rossiter Bay was shown as Mississippi Bay after hydrographic surveys by Commander J.W. Combe RN in 1900-1901. Because of this confusion Combe’s Mississippi Bay and Price’s Rossiter Bay were changed to Rossiter Bay and Wylie Bay respectively at the suggestion of Surveyor General T. S. Parry in January 1947.
We accessed this beach off Saddleback Road and travelled about 18 kilometres west along the sand to an exit track that leads to neighbouring Lucky Bay. More about this trip.
In Shark Bay is one of only two beaches in the world made entirely of shells – Shell Beach. This amazing 110 kilometre of L’Haridon Bight is made up of billions of tiny coquina bivalve shells.
In 2017 it was named by National Geographic as one of the world’s top 21 beaches.
Saint Mary River Beach
Saint Mary River Beach is in Point Charles Bay. It is a beautiful white sand beach that extends back from the ocean into the river itself for 100 metres.
This small river was named as ‘St Mary’s River’ by geologist Reverend C.G. Nicolay in 1875 after (probably) Saint Mary Magdalene, a reputed follower of Jesus Christ.
The name was amended to Saint Mary River, date unknown.
Tooregullup Beach extends south from Gordon Inlet – the access point to the beach – eight kilometres Whalebone Point. It is in the larger Doubtful Islands Bay, fifteen kilometres east of Bremer Bay.
The name for the beach is derived from a nearby swamp that was named by surveyor B.W. Ridley in 1896.
This wonderful beach extends from Black Head in the south-east to Yeagarup Beach in the north-west. Many people come onto the beach by descending Yeagarup Hill with the intention of exiting it via Callcup Hill. This entails crossing the Warren River which, depending on the time of the year, may or may not be feasible.
Whether one descends Yeagarup Hill and climbs Callcup Hill or tackles the trip in reverse it is always a challenge and lots of fun. The key is tyre pressure.
Two things you can count on at Warren Beach. It will be windy and the sea will be rough. I have never seen the Southern Ocean flat calm.
The river after which the beach was named was noted by Lieutenant William Preston in April 1831 during an expedition along the south coast but was not named by him. It is presumed to have been named by Governor James Stirling soon after receiving Preston’s report.
Stirling named after the river after Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren RN (1753-1822) who was Commander-in-Chief of the North America Station during the period Stirling was captain of HMS Brazen. Stirling engaged in naval activity off the North American coast in 1813 during the war with America.
Wattle Camp Beach
Wattle Camp Beach is invariably covered with seaweed. Alexander Forrest recorded this name for a camp set up by John Forrest’s exploration party on 30 May 1870.
Beautiful Wharton Beach is immediately to the south of the Duke of Orleans Bay caravan park.
The beach is wide and firm, perfect for four wheel driving and. at just over a kilometre in length, it has plenty of space.
The beach is named after nearby Wharton Island which was named during a hydrographic survey in 1900 after Admiral Sir William J.L. Wharton, Hydrographer of the Royal Navy 1887.
The combination of Yeagarup Dunes, Yeagarup Hill and Yeagarup Beach is a four wheel driver’s dream. Beautiful, challenging and interesting.
The drive from the air down point at the end of Ritter Road, through the forest to the face of the dunes is just the start of the adventure. Once on top of these 100 square kilometres of dunes it is another world, an experience one can get only at Yeagarup. A 2.5 kilometre drive over bright white dunes leads into a bush track. Four kilometres along this track is Yeagarup Hill. Great to descend but a challenge coming back up. At the bottom of this long hill is magnificent, windswept Yeagarup Beach. Always interesting, always a fantastic drive.
© Kim Epton 2016-2019
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