The perfect beach: soft, powder-white sand under your feet, turquoise blue sea stretching endlessly to the horizon and not another soul in sight.
It's the holy grail of travel, but unspoilt, secret beaches still exist, and, as Kim Wildman reveals, you don't have to trek to the ends of the earth to find one.
Summer in Australia is synonymous with the beach. Yet while iconic beaches like Sydney's Bondi Beach are so popular that you have to negotiate a tangle of tanned limbs to get from the sea to your towel, with some 30,000 kilometres of coastline there are dozens of beaches dotted around Australia where you'll find space, privacy, clear, blue sea and relatively untracked sand.
Just an hour's drive from Launceston, Bakers Beach stretches along the edge of Bass Strait, and gently curves its way to Badger Head. So white is the sand it looks as though someone with a serious laundry fetish washes it every hour or so. Under a warm and blue sky, those fond of aimless wanderings on deserted tropical islands will triumph here. Billionaires would pay plenty for this prime beach-side real estate. However, the only homes of any description belong to the wildlife.
Boulder Bay, Moreton Island, Queensland
This secluded bay and sheltered swimming cove is tucked away on the tip of Moreton Island, an island wilderness with sparkling clear waters. Access is on foot only along a winding, shaded track from the Cape Moreton Lighthouse. Your very own private sandy beach leads to a sea that is always blue, set against a backdrop of spectacular boulder formations. You'll also find lush grassy plateaus, perfect for lying about reading a good book or a spot of bird, dolphin and whale watching.
Nestled off the coast of the Gove peninsula in northeast Arnhem Land, relaxation is the order of the day on the unspoilt beaches of Bremer Island. The beach shack and tented island retreat allows you to connect with nature as the gentle lapping of the waves lull you to sleep. You'll have this island space to yourself unless of course, it is turtle nesting season. Then you may get the unique opportunity to share the sand with a new nest of baby turtles.
Bynoe Harbour is a great fishing spot 100 kilometres south-west of Darwin
. This natural boat ramp is accessible through thick scrub and a windy four-wheel drive track. Set up your bush camp high on the cliff overlooking the Timor Sea and settle in for a stunning sunset. In the morning, boil your billy and set off for a day of reef and estuary fishing or settle in to a quiet walk exploring the rock-lined sandy beaches along the harbour.
In the south-west of Tasmania is a national park nine times the size of Singapore
. Cox Bight is part of the park and is defined by a beach whose sands are never going to be tarnished by anything so twee as an early morning tractor sweep to remove litter. The only way you can get here is to walk for days, sail, or charter a light plane. The long wide beach doubles as an airstrip. At the end of the day if you need a drink, Tas Air can fly you from your private beach to a winery in the Derwent Valley near Hobart
A paradise of white sands and crystal blue-green water, surrounded by the Booderee National Park, Murray's Beach is arguably one of New South Wales' best beaches. Nestled behind Bowen Island which is a local habitat for the little penguin, you'll find a boat ramp and jetty nearby, for those that want to spend their day on the water. To reach this isolated spot, follow Jervis Bay Road until the end, and walk the 300m bush track from the boat-ramp car park.
Springs Beach, just south of the seaside town of Agnes Water in Central Queensland, is one of Australia
's best-kept holiday secrets. The striking beach fronts the deep blue waters of the Coral Sea and is surrounded by National Park. As one of the most northern surf beaches in Queensland, it's a must for beach lovers and board riders alike seeking secluded, picturesque spots for safe swimming and unbelievable surf breaks.
To the east of the rocky cove is an unusual walk through a headland of boulders that brings you to a fine, white sandy beach surrounded by cliffs. A large rock-enclosed pool provides protection from the surf, making this a safe swimming spot for all the family. The nearby Rockpool Cafe is perfectly positioned as a halfway point for sightseers taking a drive along the north coast bays and valleys. It is open from October to May and provides delightful alfresco dining.
Secluded and pristine, Turquoise Bay is found in the Ningaloo Marine Park about 60 kilometres out of Exmouth. Aptly named with clear water and impossibly white sand, Turquoise Bay gives easy access to the stunning Ningaloo Reef, just metres from shore. Wade into the water at one end of the beach and let the gentle current drift you over the reef for an amazing snorkelling experience.
Few people know about Waterfall Beach. Here, the ocean is sparkling blue with a fringe of soft white sand. Beautifully sheltered, it's excellent for swimming. The area is located 30 kilometres east of Albany and getting here is half the fun: take the Lower Kalgan Road and turn off to Two Peoples Bay. From there, the road becomes a bush track leading to Little Beach. Squeeze through the gap in the rocks and you've discovered your own slice of paradise.
Yuraygir National Park is a water wonderland with isolated beaches, quiet lake systems and striking scenery, located near Yamba on the NSW north coast. Surfing is popular, and Yuraygir's headlands and beaches feature some of the best spots on the north coast. There is a 10 kilometre walking track through Yuraygir, which is regarded as one of the most magnificent coastal walks in Australia
. Yuraygir is also fantastic for fishing. Tailor, bream, mullaway, whiting and flathead are caught in season off the beaches, as well as a variety of rock fish.
Okay, spill it which is your favourite secret beach? We won't tell ...