Top-10,000 surf beaches in Australia, expert says


Definitely popular. One of Australia's most famous beaches, Bondi Beach, on Oct. 23, 2011.


Torsten Blackwood

It's official.

Australia has the world's best beaches — well, 10,000 of them, at least.

An "international gathering of scientists, legislators, environmentalists and wave riders" at the Global Wave Conference in France this week says so, according to News.com.au.

The story is light on detail, save to say that attendees from more than 20 nations gave a "thumbs up" to Aussie beaches.

It quotes Australia's "National Surfing Reserves chairman" Brad Farmer as saying: "Australia has long been regarded as having many great beaches. Now this conference is recognizing Australia's 10,000 plus beaches as the world's best."

Now, a quick Google search on "world's best surf beaches" reveals that while not too many respected, impartial observers are willing to nominate any one country as the be all, parochialism is alive and well among the various surfing nationalities.

British paper The Guardian recently listed beaches in Scotland, Wales and somewhere called Pembrokeshire as among the world's best for surfing. Understandable parochialism.

Surfing Magazine deferred to Stephen P. Leatherman, a.k.a. "Dr. Beach" — director of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research — for the last word on America's top spots (hint: it diplomatically includes beaches in Hawaii, Florida, California and Massachusetts.)

If Down Under had all day, and could read Indonesian, Japanese, Spanish or even South African (...) we'd probably find a laundry list of places to wax up and hang 10.

Back to Brad Farmer.

Okay, he's Australian and unashamedly so, and having grown up on the beach-lined Gold Coast could be considered a little biased.

However, he's also written for the respected surfer magazine tRACKS (the "Surfer's Bible" for anyone who doesn't know) for 25 years, and coauthored a couple of books on the subject of surfing and beaches, including "Surfing Guide to Australia" with ex-champion Nat Young.

He's a longtime environmental and antinuclear activist with Greenpeace, and — according to his bio on the GlobalWave Conference website — was even imprisoned for the cause by the KGB in the Soviet Arctic in 1990.

AND he's "been honored with the ‘Power of One’ Award by Surfrider International (USA 1994) and is currently working on the concept of a World Council of Surfing Elders."

Down Under doesn't really know what that last bit means, but we're more than willing to take Farmer at his word, having spent time on a world-beating Australian beach or two.

Meanwhile, he's also lobbying for the establishment of a Ministry for Coasts in Australia to help protect beaches. Perhaps by talking them up as the world's best, he can make an argument that lawmakers should do — and spend — everything they can to ensure the title of "world's best 10,000 beaches" stays where it belongs.