February 28, 2024

It’s not the famous sands of Bondi, the surf mecca of Bells, or the pristine white stretches along the Great Barrier Reef – but Squeaky beach in Victoria has been named the best in Australia.

Named for the under-foot sound of its quartz sand, the Wilson’s Promontory beach is close to the most southerly point of mainland Australia.

It becomes the first Victorian beach to top Tourism Australia’s annual list, which celebrates the country’s diversity and some of its lesser-known coastal spots, with The Farm – also known as Killalea beach – in Shellharbour, New South Wales, taking second place. Tasmania’s Cockle Creek, Australia’s southernmost beach, was third.

Coastal veteran and former beach ambassador, Brad Farmer, had the “tough, sometimes controversial job” of selecting the final 10 from all 11,761 Australian beaches.

Adjunct fellow in tourism and management at the University of Technology of Sydney, David Beirman, said he did not envy the judge, given Australia’s plethora of beaches.

“It’s pretty hard to pick a winner. Whether it’s the longest beach or the best beach or the softest beach or the cleanest beach, we’re embarrassed for choice in that area,” he said.

“I’ve been to Squeaky beach – albeit many years ago – and it did squeak. It’s a fantastic beach. I guess one could argue whether it’s Australia’s best beach.

“As a tourism body, you try and encourage dispersion. This fits the bill, it’s in relatively easy reach from Melbourne and yet it’s very pristine. There are places outside St Kilda beach or Bondi or Manly that are terrific.”

The Farm, in NSW, has been named the second best Australian beach Photograph: Tourism Australia

He said that accessibility, cleanliness, wildlife, safety and beauty were only some of a range of factors that Farmer would have considered in his selection process.

Farmer said the Tourism Australia list was a “chance to uncover some of those destinations that might not be well known but are home to some of Australia’s, and in my opinion the world’s, best beaches”.

Madfish Bay in Western Australia was fourth on the list and in fifth place was Cocos Islands’ Pulu Blan Madar island, a crescent of palm-fringed sand surrounded by a 467,054km-square marine sanctuary and part of Australia’s most remote territory.

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“The year’s list includes at least one beach from each state, the Northern Territory and even an Australian external territory, which is well off the coast of Australia, but the search for best beaches extends far and wide and one island on the far-flung archipelago caught my eye,” Farmer said.

Cockle Creek in Tasmania was ranked Australia’s third best beach Photograph: Tourism Australia

The federal tourism minister, Don Farrell, said “Australia’s beaches are the best in the world,” while Tourism Australia managing director, Phillipa Harrison, said that the “majority” of visitors to Australia spend time in the aquatic environment while travelling.

Farmer said Australian beaches were “much more than just a place to lay a towel and get wet”.

“Our coasts have the potential to become this nation’s greatest sustainable resource for generations to come”.

Stokes Bay on Kangaroo Island in South Australia took last year’s top spot, while Misery Beach in Western Australia was the 2022 winner.

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