Chris Hemsworth's ultimate summer holiday in Australia is getting off the grid to some of our best beaches.
By Allie Metz
An Australian road trip is the quintessential way to see some of the country’s most breathtaking landscapes. Jump in a car and follow the coastline to experience chilled-out beach towns, incredible food and wine as well as competition-worthy surf breaks perfect for practicing your new favourite sport. From Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast to Margaret River in Western Australia, Chris Hemsworth shares his ultimate coastal holiday spots. These finds will take you off the beaten path and into some of Australia’s most treasured natural playgrounds. Whether you are keen to swim, surf, fish or just watch the sun go down, these beach destinations are worth adding to your itinerary.
"I'd take a 4x4, fill it with food, fishing rods, diving gear, a tent and surfboards and take off exploring. I prefer to not have a huge plan and just take it as it comes. The surf breaks [in Australia] are some of the best in the world, from Tallow in Byron and Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast to Bells Beach in Victoria near where I grew up, over to Margaret River in Western Australia."
Tallow Beach, just 3.2 kilometres (1.9 miles) from the heart of Byron Bay, is nestled between Cape Byron State Conservation Area and Broken Head Nature Reserve. In the right conditions, it offers a great surf break and is great for swimming. You can cast a fishing line straight from the beach, or simply throw down a towel and soak up the sun. If you head to the beach in the afternoon during spring (September – November) or winter (June – August), you're likely to see a whale or two as they migrate between the Great Barrier Reef and Antarctica. Make sure to head for the hills and discover the area’s stunning hinterland region. With rolling green hills, picturesque villages and some incredible farm to plate dining experiences, it’s a great escape from the beach vibe of Byron. There are a number of campgrounds and caravan parks along this piece of prime coastline, including Broken Head Holiday Park, Byron Holiday Park and Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park. If you’re more into experiencing the luxurious side of Byron Bay, stay a few nights at The Byron at Byron and enjoy direct access to Tallow Beach.
The home of the Quicksilver Pro Surfing tour, Snapper Rocks is considered one of the Gold Coast's most popular surf beaches. It's part of the coast's southern beaches – all very popular as an alternative to busy Surfers Paradise. From the northern corner of Coolangatta Beach, the headland around Greenmont, Snapper Rocks and into the southern corner of Rainbow Bay and Duranbah, this stretch of coast offers surfers a clean wave with arguably the best barrels on the Gold Coast. Snapper Rocks is the starting point for the Super Bank, a man-made surf break, allowing surfers to catch a wave all the way through to Coolangatta. Before you jump in to catch a wave, fine tune your surfing skills or have your very first lesson at the Gold Coast Learn to Surf Centre in Rainbow Bay – adjacent to Snapper Rocks.
If surfing isn't your thing, there are plenty of other activities to do on the southern beaches, and the Gold Coast is a great destination for families. Visit Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and get photos of yourself holding a koala or feeding the friendly kangaroos. You can also get active and test your physical ability on the TreeTop Challenge High Ropes Adventure Parks, which includes over 100 exhilarating challenges.
The nearest caravan park and campground is at Kirra Beach, with many additional options available in Tweed Heads. If you’re not into camping, there are a number of beautiful hotels in the area to choose from. Be sure to book a table for lunch or dinner at Taverna in Kingscliff, about 15 kilometres (9 miles) south of Tweed Heads. The Greek-inspired menu features fresh produce sourced from the region while the ocean-front view puts the best of the Gold Coast on display for you. You’ll find it hard to tear yourself away.
Whether you're in the water or on the sand, Bells Beach (located near Torquay), along the Great Ocean Road, is an impressive spot. Set to the dramatic backdrop of a sheer cliff-face, the beach is very popular among surfers who ride waves around the area from Southside to Steps Reef. The waves are best during autumn (March – May) and winter (June – August), and if you're there around Easter, Bells Beach hosts the international professional surfing community for the Rip Curl Pro event.
Made famous by the film Point Break, the trip to Bells Beach is a bucket list tick in and of itself. Take the scenic drive along the Great Ocean Road past Jan Juc – turn left into Bells Boulevard and follow the signs, and the view from the bluff is incredible. You don't even need to set foot on the beach to appreciate why it's so well-loved.
Stay at Jan Juc Caravan Park for easy access to Bells Beach, or enjoy a few nights in the charming town of Lorne. Be sure to set aside one night to dine at Brae, one of Australia’s top restaurants. Located in Birregurra (a cute town worth exploring), it will take you about 30 minutes to drive there. You’ll be treated to chef Dan Hunter’s imaginative multi-course menu that is grounded in locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients. Many are grown organically on the property or sourced from nearby farms. Treat yourself to something truly special and stay at one of the six luxury guest suites on site. Booking well ahead is essential.
The Margaret River region is the perfect all-encompassing destination. With an abundance of beaches, all surrounded by Margaret River's famous vineyards, there is something for everyone. The north – Busselton and Dunsborough – offer amazing secluded beaches like Meelup and Eagle Bay, which are perfect for swimming. Choose from secluded sheltered coves to long shallow beaches with fine white sand.
The west coast is well known for its surf, but also offers great designated swimming beaches. Yallingup, Rabbit Hill and Yallingup Main Break are the perfect spots for avid surfers.
Sleep just a short stroll from the beach at Prevelly Caravan Park, or right in the middle of the action at Margaret River Tourist Park. Or, for a truly unique getaway experience, stay at Mile End Glamping and sleep in luxury under the starry night sky.
After exploring the beaches Margaret River has to offer, spend a day touring the region’s other area of expertise: wine. Take a wine tour and be chauffeured through the vineyards, tasting the best wine Western Australia has to offer.