Nirvana Calling: Best off-the-beaten-track surf spots
Owning a 4WD gives you access to places that are simply mind-blowing. This goes double for those of us who are in a lifelong search for perfect point breaks, perfectly formed barrels and kilometre-long rollers.
Yep, if you're a surfer, all you need is your board, your fourby and a swag to find true nirvana - it's one of the best parts about living on a great big island!
Surfing and 4WDing have long gone hand in hand, even well known spots like Bells Beach and Noosa could only be reached by dirt roads a few short decades ago, and some of the best waves in the world can be found in remote locations that don't see a lot of folks paddling out.
Sure, these days you can find any number of great surf within cooee of just about any coastal city limits but they're often overcrowded. Besides, finding a new break is a big part of any surfing adventure.
So if you live to get away from the line-ups of dozens of other surfers, camp in some of the best locations on the planet, and get stoked on riding an azure blue barrel with nobody else around other than a few mates, then this is the article for you.
We've thrown together a list of a few of our favourite out-of-the-way waves that we've experienced over the years and have included the info you need to know for your next surfing trip. Oh, and if you've got a break that we need to know about, be sure to get in touch.
AGNES WATER, QLD
Agnes Water and 1770, two towns a few hundred Ks north of Brisbane, are better known for their fishing, with giant trevally being sought by anglers from all over. However it's also home to one of the best, if least known, point breaks known locally as the Springs which can deliver up to 500m rides with good barrels also on offer if the conditions are right.
It starts firing at around 5ft and we've heard of locals riding 12ft monsters during strong south-easters.
Camping is free and fires are permitted. Be wary of the rocks underneath as they're sharp, and sharks are also plentiful in the area. It's not the place for you if you're a big wave surfer, but we reckon it's definitely worth the trip!
LOCATION: The Springs, Agnes Water, QLD
GPS COORDINATES: Springs point break -24.233405, 151.937224
FACILITIES: None, but it's only a couple of Ks south of Anges Water township, so supplies aren't hard to come by
ACCESS TO THE CAMPSITES: 4WD access only
THINGS TO KNOW: Water is rocky and sharky and it is a hard-to-find spot. We asked a local who was only too happy to help us with directions. It's about a 30min walk to the water, so take drinking water and lunch with you. Point is to the right of the beach entry.
CRESCENT HEAD, NSW
Pack your longboards for this one folks. The stretch of coast running north from Port Macquarie to Crescent Head is truly world class, with no less than four right-hand point breaks that will suit everyone from elite pros to grommets, with rides of over 200m available.
The break at Crescent Head itself is a mecca for Malibu aficionados the world over, but for our money you're better off going to the less travelled, if funnier named, Delicate Nobby to the south in the Goolawah Regional Park.
Delicate Nobby is a spear shaped rock formation that forms breaks on either side of it making this place ideal for surfies looking for a fantastic place to bring the family.
There's caravan access if required and the real kicker for us is that you can bring your dog along too - with off-leash walking allowed on the beach. Paradise found!
LOCATION: Crescent Head, NSW
GPS COORDINATES: Delicate Nobby -31.256835, 152.968426
FACILITIES: Amenities block, picnic tables, wood barbecues (bring your own firewood). You can also bring your dog with you (one of the only NP camp sites where you can)
ACCESS TO THE CAMPSITES: 4WD beach access
THINGS TO KNOW: The Delicate Knobby campground that's run by the National Park does not take bookings. This place gets pretty popular during peak season so plan on getting there early. Both sides of Delicate Knobby headland can turn on some great surf, so be sure to check them both out.
Seal Rocks, NSW
This entire stretch of the mid-north coast of NSW can turn on some magic surf conditions. Lighthouse Beach and Treachery Beach at Seal Rocks are both south facing and cop the full brunt of a southern swell, resulting in some truly awesome waves. This entire region is still heavily surrounded by bushland and is surprisingly sparsely populated so there's plenty of waves for everyone. As such it's a perfect weekend camping and surfing experience. All you need to do is park the fourby on the sand, unstrap the boards and you're off!
LOCATION: Seal Rocks, NSW
GPS COORDINATES: Treachery Beach -32.452852, 152.508917
FACILITIES: General store, water, showers and toilets all available at Treachery Camp
ACCESS TO THE CAMPSITES: 2WD access to the campground, but 4WD only onto the beach; the sand is soft.
These waters have a wide variety of fish life, including dolphins, seals and sharks, so exercise caution. Strong currents can also occur around the lighthouse headland, which is known locally as "Sawtooth".
Double Island Point, QLD
While the hordes of tourists are fighting for space at Rainbow Beach to the northeast, we reckon the much quieter Double Island Point is a better bet, and only seems to get busy between Christmas and New Years.
There are massive tidal pools which make for a nice warm swimming hole for the kids, and there are a few breaks that can develop at the point, depending on the conditions.
The western edge of the point, largely protected from the easterlies that can whip the surf right up, boasts a beautiful long, rolling right-hander that's practically begging you to bring a longboard, 350M+ rides are common, and the water is always at least knee-deep so even if you do come unstuck the chance of hurting yourself is minimal.
Unfortunately, camping is prohibited on Double Island Point, but a leisurely drive back down the beach to Cooloola solves that problem. This place is bush-surfing at its finest.
LOCATION: Double Island Point, QLD
GPS COORDINATES: Double Island Point -25.929951, 153.188839
ACCESS TO THE CAMPSITES: 4WD access only
THINGS TO KNOW: Permits and booking must be done online before you arrive. Campfires are largely prohibited unless otherwise signposted at Cooloola.
YURAYGIR NP, NSW
Yuraygir NP is just North of Coffs Harbour and is home to the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in NSW, making it the perfect destination for a weekend dash or week-long adventure.
It offers a mix of beach and reef breaks (the fishing is world-class too), although where to go will largely depend on the conditions. During a nor-easter, head for the beach breaks to the south. You won't go too far without coming across a good option or three though, this place has it all.
LOCATION: Pebbly Beach, NSW
GPS COORDINATES: Pebbly Beach Campground -29.9357933,153.2814939
FACILITIES: Long drop toilets, free firewood available at Station Creek turnoff
ACCESS TO THE CAMPSITES: 4WD only. You have to drive along the beach and cross a saltwater estuary at low tide, so leave the caravan at home. Camper trailers would be fine though, after that you're right on the water
THINGS TO KNOW: Bookings aren't available so get there early. Drinking water is not available so bring your own. Strong rips in the water so be aware if you're travelling with grommets.
Indian Head and Waddy Point are two headlands on the northern end of Fraser Island that offer solid left-hand breaks. It's a fair hike to get here, which means that you're almost guaranteed the place to yourself.
With a decent swell from the south-east, this place has the ability to go absolutely bananas. Good enough reason to chuck the board on the roof next time you're heading over to the big sand island anyway!
LOCATION: Fraser Island, QLD
GPS COORDINATES: Indian Head -25.007198, 153.358045
FACILITIES: You're on Fraser Island; there are facilities available but being self-sufficient is a good plan.
ACCESS TO THE CAMPSITES: 4WD access only
THINGS TO KNOW: There's a reason most people don't surf Fraser Island. It's big, grey, has fins and lots of teeth. Although if sharks don't bother you then there's some cracking waves to be caught!
MARGARET RIVER, WA
The mouth of the mighty Margaret River in WA is widely considered to be one of the best all-round surfing destinations on the west coast. Most people come here for the famous wineries, but the waves are equally prestigious in our opinion. There are numerous breaks on the stretch of coast from Prevelly up to Yallingup, ranging from mild to wetsuit-fillingly monstrous depending on the conditions.
If you're up for it, Prevelly is where you want to head. Six metre plus barrels over a shallow and razor sharp offshore reef mean that this one ain't for the faint of heart. Big wave riders from all over the world come here to test their mettle, the locals tell us that it's one of the only places in Australia where folks who wear helmets don't get laughed at.
The water is treacherous. It's lined with jagged coral and it's chockers with sharks, but it is undoubtedly somewhere you'll never regret coming to.
We stayed at Conto's Field campgrounds which were well appointed on the beach and about midway between Yallingup and Prevelly. Great spot for fishing too if you don't mind wetting a line.
LOCATION: Yallingup and Prevelly, WA
GPS COORDINATES: Conto's Field Campground -34.057211, 115.01976
FACILITIES: Water, barbecues, tables and toilets. Bring your own firewood.
ACCESS TO THE CAMPSITES: 4WD access
THINGS TO KNOW: It's prohibited to collect firewood from the National Park, so make sure you stock up before you arrive at the camp sites. The surf around these parts can get huge - if it's firing and you're not 100% confident, maybe go fishing instead. Be sure to grab a bottle or two of the local plonk for evening refreshments!
JOHANNA BEACH, VIC
One of the best surfing spots in Victoria, Johanna Beach may not be the hardest place to access, but the left and right breaks and big, powerful waves warranted a mention.
The surf zone is made up of distinct bar and rip formations that are capable of holding big, surfable waves before closing out, thanks to the deep channels in the rips.
LOCATION: Johanna Beach, VIC
GPS COORDINATES: Johanna campground -38.762483, 143.381106
FACILITIES: Toilets, drinking water, tables
ACCESS TO THE CAMPSITES: Easily accessed in 2WD
THINGS TO KNOW: The rips here are brutal, if you're travelling with kids make sure they know to stick to the sand bars.
NINGALOO REEF, WA
You've probably heard of Ningaloo Reef for its abundance of marine life and diving attractions, but it's a beaut surfing destination too with Gnaraloo's Tombstones and the Bombie and Surfers Beach in Exmouth all within a couple hours.
Our favourite in the area has to be Red Bluff though. It's on Quobba Station, a working station 140km north of Carnarvon. They offer a wide range of accommodation from tent sites to waterfront cabins and is a spectacular part of the world.
The 'Bluff Barrel' and the 'Camp of the Moon' are closely guarded secrets by the locals, but with some perseverance they can be found, and they're well worth the hunt.
Imagine a perfectly formed turquoise wave rolling in as a left-hander from deep water breaks over the stunning reef - it's as beautiful as it is brutal. You have to pick your way out over razor sharp coral and poisonous sea urchins to get into the deeper water that's home to bronzies and hammerheads galore. Once you've caught that first wave though, this place will have you for life. One of the best remote surf spots on the planet, no doubt about it.
LOCATION: Red Bluff, WA
GPS COORDINATES: Quobba Station -24.324574, 113.42514
FACILITIES: Everything you could need
ACCESS TO THE CAMPSITES: Rough roads, so 4WD is the best bet
THINGS TO KNOW: Also take a diving mask and snorkel, if you think this place is magic on top of the water, wait until you're under it!
Stony Rise is a 900M long section of calcarenite (limestone) bluffs and reefs that envelope three small beaches.
The Southern Ocean is wild in these parts and the surf won't disappoint. The locals who surf here regularly tell us that Queens Head, Back and Evans Cave beaches are the go-to spots.
Camping is available about 500m behind the rise, although when we were last there, it was pretty spartan, so come prepared.
If you feel like heading south, the Coffin Bay Peninsula also offers some world-class beach and reef breaks.
LOCATION: Stony Rise, SA
GPS COORDINATES: Stony Rise -37.184664, 139.749155
ACCESS TO THE CAMPSITES: 4WD access out of Robe
THINGS TO KNOW: This is a hazardous section of coast with rocks, reefs and rips. Not for beginners. Usual National Parks fees and regulations are in place
GERALDTON REGION, WA
Heading north out of the lobster-town of Geraldton you'll find a stretch of coastline that has one of the most powerful left-handers in the country.
Head north to Kalbarri and surf Jake's Point, a cracking beach that's set against the millions of years old rock formations found in the area.
These breaks are easily accessible and as a result are generally pretty popular, so work your way south along the coast, onto Coronation Beach. There are plenty of awesome breaks along here, and you can camp right on the beach.
If this place was any better they'd have free beer on tap!
LOCATION: Coronation Beach, WA
GPS COORDINATES: Coronation Beach -28.543211, 114.561796
ACCESS TO THE CAMPSITES: Mild to wild, depending on where you decide on camping
THINGS TO KNOW: The region is also the windsurfing capital of Australia, but there's no shortage of coastline to enjoy so pick your breaks accordingly if you want to be on your own.