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Beachgoing in Australia

With more than 85% of Australians living less than one hour from the coastline, the beach has always held a special place in Australia’s national identity. The country boasts some of the finest beaches on the planet, and they're places where Australians and tourists alike come to relax, sunbath, and swim.

The coastline stretches for almost 37,000 km (22,940 miles) and encompasses more than 11,000 beaches. While many of these beaches are deserted, others closer to the major cities and towns are often treated as extensions of the typical Australian family’s house or backyard.

Aussie Beach Culture

Going to the beach is a way of life for most Australians, as routine as grilling on the barbie or enjoying a cold beer with mates. It’s an integral part of the Aussie lifestyle and a place where people spend their weekends and annual holiday celebrations such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Australia Day.

Australians look after their beaches, which are generally clean and pollution-free, and almost always of a high quality. Some people go to the beach for the sun and the surf; others choose to fish, sail, snorkel, or scuba dive. Whatever the reason, the beach unites Australians from all walks of life on a regular basis.

The Top Beaches

With so many top-notch beaches across the country, Australians are spoiled for choice. In Sydney, Bondi Beach is arguably Australia’s most iconic strand, only minutes' driving distance from the city. It attracts more than 40,000 people on Christmas Day alone. Bells Beach in Victoria is well known for its annual surfing festival; it lures in world-famous surfers and international travelers alike.

The border between northern New South Wales and southern Queensland is where beaches at Byron Bay, Burleigh Head, and the Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise come together. Farther afield, the Whitsunday Islands consist of dazzling white sands and warm azure waters. These islands are home to many of Australia’s ultimate beach retreats. In Western Australia, Perth’s Cottesloe Beach is the region’s most popular strand to visit.

Beach Safety in Australia

Although Australia has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, it's necessary to take certain precautions when visiting. At any given beach, you might find large waves, rip currents, and shifting sandbars in the water, along with harsh UV rays on land.

It’s common practice to never stray from an unpatrolled beach in Australia unless you’re an experienced swimmer. Thousands of trained volunteer surf lifesavers don their red swimsuits and red-and-yellow swim caps every summer to keep the most popular swimming and surfing beaches around Australia safe.

Pay close attention to the flags raised on beaches, and only swim in areas patrolled by lifeguards. If you get caught in a rip, the standard advice is never to swim against it, as you rapidly become exhausted. Instead, try to relax and float parallel to the shore. Always bring plenty of suntan lotion and water to the beach, and protect your eyes with good-quality sunglasses.

Updated: 2014-04-21

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