Jordy Smith loves Gracetown

Australia's 5 best country surf towns

© Ryan Miller
You enjoy surfing and road trips? These are the rural regions on top down under.
By Chris BinnsPublished on
Australia, as we all know, is a huge country that contains a half-dozen-or-so big cities, tonnes (literally) of mineral wealth, some skiable mountain ranges, a heap of desert, and 35,000km of coast. As the anthem goes, we're girt by sea. Anecdotally 90% of Australians live within a half hour drive from the coast, so you'd think lineups would be bumper-to-bumper the length of Highway One, but you'd be wrong.
There's no greater country for country waves, and no shortage of epic little hamlets dotted around our nation's coast. Here are our five favourites, travelling in a clockwise direction from the north east.

1. Point Lookout

Perfection on North Stradbroke
Perfection on North Stradbroke
The little community at the tip of Queensland's North Stradbroke Island sure is a blessed one. Sure, sharks, but otherwise once you're off the ferry (a crowd killer no less) there's a main beach swell magnet and a couple of elusive gems just waiting to turn on. Throw in fishing, spectacular scenery, bath warm water and a fantastic pub, and the place is hard to top.

2. Yamba

You've always got a view in Angourie
You've always got a view in Angourie
This Northern New South Wales' gem sucks in swell from every direction and has enough beaches and breakwalls and reefs and ledges that you can find an option in any wind or swell. It's also a fun little town with a couple of great bakeries, a backpackers that's always full, and one of the best ocean side hotels in the country. Full marks.

3. Ulladulla

Dean Bowen rides tube
Dean Bowen, Country Steps, NSW
New South Wales' South Coast houses one of the greatest stretches of waves in the country. With heaving slabs to express pointbreaks and everything in between it's not hard to see how the Wrights and Fitzgibbons' of the world come from the region. A couple of hours from Sydney, Ulladulla sits in the midst of it all, with a couple of good local footy sides, the best pie shop in the nation, and more surf than you know what to do with.

4. Phillip Island

No need for a ferry to get to PI, a short bridge sees you in Victoria's happiest wave hunting haven. The beaches face in all directions, meaning you can surf 24/7 in any wind and on any swell. There is no shortage of options, from points to beachies, and where else in the world can you surf with penguins?

5. Gracetown

Surfing · 16 min
No Contest heads to Margaret River
Western Australia has a well documented position of honour in the surfing world. But did you know that in between the famed locales of Margaret River and Yallingup lies a sleepy fishing village with no mains water or mobile phone coverage, that is home to a couple of the world's best waves? Think John John Florence doing flips at Cobblestones, or Jordy Smith getting inverted at offshore-mega-barrel-turned-onshore-mega-ramp North Point and you're thinking of Gracetown.
Honourable mention: Drive the Pacific Highway from Sydney to the Gold Coast and you will pass turnoffs to numerous "Heads". Scott's Head, Crescent Head, Broom's Head, Hat Head, Broken Head etc. Take the time to explore any of them and you'll find picturesque waves and good fishing and maybe a bakery and not much else. But maybe that's all you need?