Find the perfect wave with an Australian working holiday

by Stephanie 30/11/2010 14:44:00

Australia is well known as one of the world’s premier surfing destinations – and its 37,000km of coastline means there are plenty of beach, reef and point breaks to challenge the most experienced board-rider or easy-rolling swells that beginners can paddle onto safely. Your own magic surfing experience could happen just about anywhere ... but these are some of the best places to catch a wave.


Beginning at Manly Beach and running 20km north to Palm Beach, Sydney’s northern peninsula has a succession of surf beaches that have some great waves ... and you can have a coffee on the beach afterwards!

Manly has great beach breaks and punchy barrels, as well as the offshore Queenscliff “Bommie” (bombora) that is joy for big wave riders. Nearby Freshwater Beach is loved by bodysurfers and youngsters on body-boards, and this is actually where surfboard-riding was first introduced to Australia by Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku, on 15 January 1915.

Up a bit further north, the 6km coastal corridor between Dee Why Beach and North Narrabeen is widely considered Sydney’s blue-ribbon surfing belt, with the legendary Long Reef bombora (known locally as “Butter-box”) situated smack in the middle. Mona Vale Beach, Newport Beach, Whale Beach and Avalon Beach all are great beaches, but if you can’t choose a fav you could try all four beaches in a lazy half-day.
Finally, Palm Beach marks the end of the peninsula, and despite it being less well known its 1.5km of sand and beach breaks nevertheless offers plenty of thrills and spills.


Lighthouse Beach and Treachery Beach at Seal Rocks are south-facing and get epic waves on south swells.
Just 22km up the road at Pacific Palms, Boomerang Beach and Bluey’s Beach have with their own postcard waves from the prominent headlands, and are a favourite place for dolphins to swim. This part of the NSW coast is still quite undeveloped too, so there are few high-rises, nightclubs or casinos in sight.


The coastline just north of Port Macquarie through to Crescent Head is accessed via Point Plomer Road, which goes up along the coast for 25kms. Along this route are four perfect right-hand point-breaks, tailor-made for long-board riders, grommets and beginners and capable of generating miracle rides of 200 metres.

The point break at Crescent Head itself is revered by long-boarders, and some of the sport’s best have been filmed here. Halfway between Crescent Head and Point Plomer is the brilliantly named Delicate Nobby, a wedge-shaped rock formation that starts just off the beach and spears out into the Pacific, creating beach breaks on either side.


Around 260km south of Perth, the tiny resort village of Yallingup marks the beginning of the famed Margaret River winery region, where wine enthusiasts and ‘waxheads’ (board-riders) have long converged in equal numbers. With several breaks that range from mild to monstrous depending on the swell, Yallingup is considered the best all-round surfing destination on Australia’s west coast.

Further south, Prevelly Park is the heart of serious Margaret River surfing territory, where swells up to six metres get spun into perfect barrels across the treacherous offshore reef. No place for beginners or the faint-of-heart, “Surfers Point” at Prevelly even attracts the big-name big-wave lunatics from the US and Hawaii, and it’s one of the few places in Australia where board-riders wear helmets and nobody laughs at them.


When the surfing counter-culture took hold in Australia in the late 1960s, the NSW north coast quickly became the place for surfers. “Discovered” in the early 1970s, the point break at Angourie remained relatively still local knowledge for the next two decades, but it’s world famous nowadays as home turf of Aussie surfing legend Nat Young.

Endlessly filmed and fawned over, the right-hand point-break at Lennox Head rates a mention in any discussion of Australia’s best wave.

Whether your preferred spot is Tallow Beach, Watego’s, Main Beach, the wreck at Belongil or elsewhere along the Byron Bay coast, the compelling factor here has always been the vibe. Kombi vans, dreadlocks, hippie gatherings, communal drumming and a collective feeling that there’s nothing to do tomorrow but get up and do it all again.



One of the best and most photogenic long-board breaks in the world, the point at Noosa is capable of producing a genuine 200 metre ride on its best days. In a decent swell there’s always a big crew of locals riding it but when it’s smaller it’s perfect for beginners – a long, easy-rolling cruise.

Historically and spiritually, Bells Beach is the home of Australian surfing and today is still the site of the country’s oldest and most prestigious professional surfing event; nowadays named the Rip Curl Pro, the winner still receives the traditional clanging bell trophy. Swells from the Southern Ocean slow down and steepen over the shallow reefs to produce outstanding surf that can rise to five metres or more, so when it gets big, most of us are best advised to think of surfing Bells as a spectator sport.


Snapper Rocks is a sand bottom point break considered as a world renowned surfing spot on the Gold Coast. Snapper, located at Rainbow Bay, is home to the world-famous ‘Super Bank’, regarded in surfing circles as the longest, most consistent and most hollow wave in the world.

The swell here often reaches six to eight feet, and one good, clean wave can transport you from Snapper to Kirra, a distance of almost two kilometres. Snapper Rocks hosts elite international surfing events such as the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro, Rip Curl Masters, and MP Classic. It is also a favourite surfing spot of local world champs, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson and Stephanie Gilmore, who enjoy nothing more than surfing their own ‘local’ break when they’re at home.

- Surf around Australia with an Australian working holiday!

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