Top 5 summer beaches away from the crowds

Lake Lascelles Hopetoun Victoria, Red Nomad Oz

Lake Lascelles Hopetoun Victoria, Red Nomad Oz

Love summer beaches in Australia, but hate the crowds? Red Nomad Oz shares her favourite secluded summer beach spots across Australia.

The simple Aussie formula ‘summer + hot = beach’ is virtually synonymous with being an Australian.

While our neighbours in the northern hemisphere dream of a white Christmas – and in some cases, actually get one – our white Christmas can be white sand and reflective white bodies bleached from the pallor of a sunless office life AND sometimes white heat!

But that doesn’t stop us going to the beach in droves. This means it’s sometimes hard to find an empty stretch of sand for your towel, and there’s only standing room in the surf.

SO what do you do if you LOVE the beach, but LOATHE the crowds?

WELL … go unplugged. Less crowded options do exist!

But where do you find them?

Right here in my handy guide – you’ll find five ways to enjoy summer beaches while keeping your elbow room, temper and personal space intact.

Ballina Sth Beach NSW, Red Nomad Oz

Ballina Sth Beach New South Wales, Red Nomad Oz

1. Not-spot beaches

Hot-spot beach destinations like Surfers and Byron Bay will always be crowded in summer. So try a ‘not-spot’ like nearby Ballina, just over 100 kilometres south of the Gold Coast in the beautiful New South Wales Northern Rivers area.

Yes, there WILL be other people around – but not nearly so many.

Skennars Beach has a bit of something for everyone. Surf, swimming, rocks, birdwatching, scenic views, and sometimes even the obligatory driftwood for beach photos!

Skennars Beach Ballina NSW, Red Nomad Oz

Skennars Beach Ballina New South Wales, Red Nomad Oz

And South Ballina Beach? It’s so long it’s difficult to see where it ends. And empty, empty, empty.

You can always drive the 37 kilometres to Byron for a people-fix – just don’t forget your prop. A surfboard, musical instrument or baby should do the trick …

2. Island beaches

Frankland Islands QLD, Red Nomad Oz

Frankland Islands Queensland, Red Nomad Oz

Is there anyone who doesn’t want to visit a tropical island? So the lazing-on-a-tropical-island-beach fantasy virtually guarantees they’ll all be crowded, right?

Well … NO! Not if you select an island with a cap on its visitor numbers!

The jewel in Australia’s tourism crown, Lord Howe Island, around 600 kilometres east of Port Macquarie on the New South Wales coast, limits tourist numbers to 400 at any given time – even during peak holiday periods! That makes finding your own stretch of almost-deserted beach is almost as easy as shooting fish in a barrel …

Lord Howe Island NSW, Red Nomad Oz

Lord Howe Island New South Wales, Red Nomad Oz

Or tiny Troubridge Island, just visible 8 kilometres off-shore from Edithburgh, on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula. Book the ex-lighthouse-keeper cottage – it sleeps up to 12 – and have the whole island to yourself.

Further north, only one tour company provides day tours to the Frankland Islands in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park via Deeral, so who’s on the boat is all there is! Take a short walk to the other side of Normanby Island from the landing area for a beach to yourself.

3. Inland beaches

Copi Hollow Menindee Lakes NSW, Red Nomad Oz

Copi Hollow Menindee Lakes New South Wales, Red Nomad Oz

Who said a beach holiday had to be on the coast? Be creative. If you’re just after sun, sand and water, try heading inland to a river or lake for a ‘beach’ break away from coastal crowds.

While the water level of many inland waterways fluctuates according to the current stage of the Aussie drought/flood cycle, a deserted river bend somewhere along the Murray River’s 2500 kilometre length, or an inland lake like Lake Lascelles in Victoria’s Hopetoun or the New South Wales Menindee Lakes system, can be a potential paradise!

For an added bonus, Murray River town Mildura claims the only inland Surf Life Saving club in the Southern Hemisphere!

If you’re a thrillseeker, join in Lake Argyle‘s 10 or 20 kilometre annual swim– but be prepared to fight off the freshwater crocs for a sandy sunbathing spot!!

4. Northern beaches

Coconut Wells Beach via Broome Western Australia

Coconut Wells Beach via Broome, Western Australia, Red Nomad Oz

Australia’s far north isn’t an obvious choice for a summer beach because the formula changes to Summer + Humid + Hot = Wet Season! But it doesn’t rain 24/7, and there can be lower priced fares or package deals available.

Just check the cyclone warnings before you go!

Alternatively, save the north for a winter break – many beaches are still less populated (read: kind of empty) even during the peak tourist season from June–September.

If Darwin’s Mindil Beach is too crowded, catch the ferry from Cullen Bay Marina to tropical paradise Mandorah. If the heat, humidity or rain is too much, head for the Mandorah Beach Hotel Bar right on the beachfront and see if you can find another way to cool down.

Mandorah via Darwin Northern Territory, Red Nomad Oz

Further west, head away from Broome’s world-famous Cable Beach, and popular Town Beach up the coast to Coconut Wells. This Kimberley hideout has all the hallmarks of paradise with endless sand, clear water, and a blue, blue sky – even during the peak tourist season.

Or take your camera to Wangetti Beach, on the north-east coast below a popular hang-gliding spot between Cairns and Port Douglas for killer holiday snaps. If there’s anyone else on the beach, it’ll be easy to edit them out!!

5. Mystery beaches

It’s a mystery why some great beaches are deserted – but who cares if it’s distance, accommodation or they’re too big to fill up easily. Just hunt them down, appreciate them – then try to keep them secret so they STAY deserted!

Some of the beaches on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula are virtually deserted all year round – even in peak holiday times! A 2–3 hour drive from Adelaide, the peninsula is a very popular holiday spot – but its farthest flung beaches remain relatively crowd-free.

On a good day, West Cape or Browns Beach in Innes National Park are unparalleled.

And … that’s where you’ll probably find me!

Of course, it’s possible to have a great seaside holiday on a crowded coastal beach. But for a great summer escape, leave the droves behind and go for the unplugged option!

And celebrate an Aussie White Christmas at the beach!

For more great Aussie travel ideas and experiences, visit Amazing Australian Adventures and let Red show you around the REAL Australia.

Thanks Red! What are your favourite summer beaches?


  • Red Nomad OZ

    Hi and thanx for letting me tell you about my favourites! I hope that doesn’t mean they’ll be too crowded now …

    • ExploreAustralia

      Thanks for sharing your beach secrets, Red! But we hope you kept a few for yourself :)

  • Melissa Chambers

    What an awesome blog….I am already in love with the Ballina beaches mentioned but love your other ideas too! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • ExploreAustralia

      Thanks for the kind words, Melissa :) If only we could visit all of Australia’s beaches. That would be a pretty fantastic job!

  • Kylie Sterling

    You need to get to Norfolk Island!! Emily Bay is beautiful!

    • Red Nomad OZ

      Would like to … but can’t quite get past Lord Howe Island!!

  • diane b

    Just beautiful but they are not secrets any longer. 1770 Beach in Queensland is a beauty too.

    • ExploreAustralia

      We agree, Diane, 1770 is a winner