Brad Farmer's 101 Best Australian Beaches: Australia's top 101 beaches to visit in 2020 revealed

When you think of idyllic beaches, Wagga Wagga probably doesn't spring to mind, but the NSW inland town of 60,000 people has been named among Australia's top ten beaches.

The list is compiled by conservationist Brad Farmer, who has spent his life visiting and studying more than 4000 of the country's nearly 12,000 beaches.

In 2012, Mr Farmer co-authored 101 Best Australian Beaches with Sydney University professor Andy Short, who has himself been to almost all of Australia's beaches - most of which are inaccessible by road.

This year for the first time Mr Farmer has included river and lake beaches among his list of top 101 beaches to visit in 2020.

While he admits Wagga's inclusion might elicit "a bit of a giggle", he hopes it will broaden people's horizons.

"It opens up the interior of Australia to be recognised and included," Mr Farmer said.

"I'm not about to pick a fight with [the] people from Wagga who call it a beach. Who am I to quibble?

"It's a superb body of water and sand … if you've got a shark phobia, it's a good beach."

Mr Farmer's criteria for his 2020 list was "affordable, accessible and authentic" beaches that he hopes people will seek out and visit.


While Wagga's place in the top 10 might be controversial it shouldn't overshadow the other 100 beaches, all of which look seriously impressive.

Topping the list at number one is Cabarita Beach in northern NSW. It's a favourite spot for surfers and lies among a sleepy community north of Byron Bay.

Nearby Currumbin Beach on the Gold Coast comes in second, followed by Minnamurra (NSW), Maria Island (Tasmania) and Cape Tribulation (Queensland).

Out of the top 101 beaches to visit next year, NSW has the most (24) followed by Queensland (21) and Western Australia (20).

Mr Farmer, a Tourism Australia ambassador, says he has no commercial interest in producing his list and his only motivation is to encourage people to get off the beaten track.

He said he hopes more people go exploring and find authenticity away from the hordes of selfie-obsessed Instragrammers.

"Social media has pretty much spoiled the party for secret beaches, there's no such thing anymore," he said.

"Travelling organically - that's a positive for the country."

Reflecting on a lifetime of sand and surf Mr Farmer says pursuing his passion hasn't always been easy.

"I'm itinerant, I'm a drifter ... Any money I have made has been channelled back into this work.

"It has been, on a personal level, a real struggle."

And after decades spent comparing Australia's beaches, Mr Farmer reckons he is just about ready to hang up his towel.

"I think this will be my last ever beach review - it's a huge cash bleed," he said.

"I'd like someone else to jump into my boardshorts."

Top 20 beaches for 2020:

  1. Cabarita beach (NSW)
  2. Currumbin Beach (QLD)
  3. Minnamurra beach (NSW)
  4. Maria Island (TAS)
  5. Cape Tribulation (QLD)
  6. Brighton Beach (VIC)
  7. Betty's Beach (WA)
  8. Southport Beach (SA)
  9. Wagga Wagga (NSW)
  10. Lake McKenzie (QLD)
  11. The Basin (WA)
  12. Fingal Bay (NSW)
  13. Smith's Beach (WA)
  14. Ned's Beach (NSW)
  15. Quobba (WA)
  16. Cossies Beach (Cocos Islands)
  17. Lake Tyers (VIC)
  18. Diamond Head (NSW)
  19. Pondalowie (SA)
  20. Killiecrankie Beach (TAS)

See also: Summer is coming: Australia's best beach towns

See also: Former nude beach named Australia's best