Beach bum's bible - it's a shore thing if you're looking for the best spots

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ANDREW SHORT studies the ''morphodynamics of representative systems in variable wave and tide environments''. Which means he spends a lot of time at the beach.

Over 15 years the University of Sydney professor visited each of Australia's 11,761 beaches in the name of finding the best and worst of our shores.

He travelled by plane, car and on foot to pristine sands, petrified mangrove forests and cobbled and muddy shores. He landed by boat on northern Australia's many inaccessible beaches where he often encountered fresh crocodile tracks.

''Most Australians are lucky to see a tiny bit of our coast,'' he said. ''Most of our beaches are unnamed; the majority are inaccessible by vehicle. You can have large sections of the coast all to yourself, if you want it.''

With the new book he hopes to inspire Australians to do just that. This week, with his co-author Brad Farmer, a surfing writer and coastal activist, he launched 101 Best Australian Beaches.

Mr Short initially visited beaches for a study, completed in 2004 and partly funded by Surf Life Saving Australia, to compile a database of Australia's beaches ranked by danger and accessibility. Now he has compiled a beach bum's bible.

''It's to get people to realise we have such a fantastic coast and give them a selection of the best,'' he said. The book is funded by Tourism Australia.

Mr Short and Mr Farmer whittled down nearly 12,000 contenders to a shortlist, which they visited last year.

In addition to the overall top 101, each selected their 10 personal favourites.

''I sat down and thought, 'What beaches would I like to visit today?'

''We wanted a range of beaches to cater to all tastes from highly developed to very remote and very pristine.''

The selection was based on many factors, such as the views, its historical value and amenities, and it ranges from Ocean Beach on the west coast of Tasmania to Australia's northernmost beach: Frangipani Beach on Cape York.

Mr Short moved five years ago from Sydney to the south coast of NSW, where he surfs regularly.

''I didn't put my beach in,'' he said.

''I don't want it getting any more popular''.

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