Definition of an Aussie Beach changed in Official Top 20 Beaches for 2020 / First Inland 'Beach' at Wagga Wagga

Source: Brad Farmer
Archived 12 Feb 2020 - Posted: 12 Dec 2019
Images © Destination NSW
It’s a beach, but not as you know it. For the first time, an inland ‘beach’ has been recognised among Australia’s best.

Historic Wagga Beach, miles from the saltwater coast, has come to redefine how we interpret beaches, taking out #9 position in the official Top 20 Beaches for 2020, announced today by Tourism Australia’s Beach Ambassador, Brad Farmer AM.
The veteran Australian coastal advocate and author has been reviewing beaches worldwide for over 35 years and has examined first-hand most of the accessible and inaccessible beaches of the nation’s 11,761 coastal beaches.  The list remains the only independent and authoritative benchmark of Australia’s beaches.  “From today the number of beaches just increased,” Mr Farmer said.
At the national launch from the sandy shoreline of the Murrumbidgee River, he said, “It’s time we extend the meaning of a beach given there are so many aquatic environments across Australia’s interior.  These water spaces which often rely on rain and flow are significant as they socially connect rural and remote communities in often dusty and dry, drought conditions.”
Mr Farmer acknowledged that long before European settlement, sites of ancient waters were gathering places and this continues today along coasts and across the vast interior of our country.
These recreational settings are deserving of inclusion because of the value Aussie’s place on water, well beyond being an irrigation resource.  Farmer’s recognition follows numerous examples of lake and river beaches across Canada, USA and Europe.  He added that most rivers are shark free.
While his decision to recognise a river beach and a lake also, has been called controversial, Farmer stands by his call, a decision supported by academics and ordinary beachgoers.
The winner of the coveted title of Best Australian Beach for 2020 is the laid-back surf town of Cabarita on the NSW Tweed Coast. The runner up is Currumbin Beach (Q) and in third spot is the tiny secret spot of Minnamurra, 90 minutes south of Sydney.  Lake McKenzie, a pristine perched lake on Queensland’s Fraser Island, edged in at #10.  Cossies Beach on the far-flung Cocos-Keeling Islands retained its place within the Top 20 at #16, just one spot behind WA’s iconic Quobba Station, which made headlines this year as the remote holiday choice for Hollywood stars Matt Damon and Chris Hemsworth, Tourism Australia’s Global Ambassador. 
Tourism Australia’s Managing Director Phillipa Harrison said this year's list once again demonstrated the breadth and depth of Australia's aquatic and coastal assets.
"As usual, Brad has come up with a cracking list. Beaches are part of our country’s DNA and the beach lifestyle such a fundamental part of the way we enjoy life down under. Whether it's a morning surf, nippers with the kids, a cold beer in the local RSL, a game of beach cricket or a family beach barbie, these are the things which make the Australian way of life unique and such a big part of the reason why millions of international visitors find Australia such an appealing destination to visit," she said.
This year, the annual list focused on beaches within fairly easy reach of major airports, encouraging regional dispersal for tourists who, according to surveys, indicate coastal and aquatic places are their number 1 reason to visit Australia.  Mr Farmer sought quirky and lesser known beach environments which featured estuaries, headlands and abundant nature, places to experience Australia’s flora and fauna and to engage in activities like fishing and bush walks in addition to taking a splash.
“Social media sharing is now a destination driver phenomenon, where people are travelling and exploring fresh and unwrapped experiences, either found through their fingertips or on roads less travelled,” Mr Farmer said. 
While best beaches are still assessed on traditional academic-based criteria of environment, water quality, cleanliness, visual amenity, carrying capacity, social history, facilities and a vast range of other factors, a new assessment needed to come into play in 2020.  Mr Farmer took into account international suitability, beach safety, engagement with authentic Aussie locals, and more loosely, a beach ‘one would recommend to a friend’ and sometimes just the ‘wow’ factor, “which Wagga Beach has in buckets – and spades,” he quipped.
With Australians, now more than ever, wanting to take a greater ownership role and have their say protecting the intrinsic value of their beaches, Mr Farmer said he would be drafting a ‘National Coastal Act’ based on the Californian model, which he hoped could be introduced into Federal Parliament as a Private Members Bill in 2020. 


  1. Cabarita (NSW)
  2. Currumbin (Q)
  3. Minnamurra (NSW)
  4. Maria Island (TAS)
  5. Cape Tribulation (Q)
  6. Brighton Beach (VIC)
  7. Bettys Beach (WA)
  8. South Port Beach (SA)
  9. Wagga Wagga Beach (NSW)
  10. Lake McKenzie (Q)
  11. The Basin, Rottnest Island (WA)
  12. Fingal Bay (NSW)
  13. Smiths Beach (WA)
  14. Neds Beach, Lord Howe Island (NSW)
  15. Quobba Station Red Bluff (WA)
  16. Cossies Beach (IOT)
  17. Lake Tyers Beach (VIC)
  18. Diamond Head (NSW)
  19. Pondalowie Bay (SA)
  20. Killiecrankie Beach, Flinders Island (TAS)
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