Secluded, pristine and totally yours, here are the secret beaches in Sydney and NSW.

3 Garie Beach

Where is it?
It’s in a remote coastal valley in the Royal National Park, 40km south of Sydney. Best access is via the Princes Highway, south of Loftus, or via McKell Avenue at Waterfall.

Why you’ll love it:
Garie is supposedly an Aboriginal word for sleepy, and on most days, especially during the week, it lives up to its name. It’s a great spot for hiking and is terrific for a surf. Hard-core walkers and waxheads might like to book a bed at the couldn’t-be-more-basic Garie Beach YHA, a beach shack with no electricity, fridge, phone or shower, but it does have running water and a drop loo. Take your own toilet paper, torch and food. It’s not for everyone, but if you want to escape from it all for a couple of days and don’t mind roughing it, it’s great. And you can rent out the whole place if you want to go with a group.

The details:
Go to www.yha.com.au for more info – you’ll need to book ahead to get a key.

4 Maitland Bay

Where is it?
Secluded, calm and great for families, Maitland Bay beach is in Bouddi National Park, 20km south-east of Gosford. It’s a 20-minute walk from the Maitland Bay information centre on Maitland Bay Drive, downhill through eucalypt forest. Chill out on the sand and enjoy a picnic – but conserve a bit of energy because it’s a steep slog on the way back up. (If it took you 20 minutes on the way in, allow about 40 to get back out.) Alternatively, if you’re feeling fit, you can head on to Putty Beach via Gerrin Point lookout and arrive back at your car along the Bulimah Spur Track. The circuit is 6km, and will take about 2hrs 15mins to walk if you don’t stop to take in the beautiful scenery. Nearest camp grounds are also at Putty Beach.

Why you’ll love it:
The bushwalking here is half the fun. Be sure to take pause at Maitland Bay beach, however, because it truly is a sensational spot. At low tide you can see the wreck of the paddle steamer Maitland, which ran onto the rocks in 1898. Also great for snorkelling!

The details:

Find out more about the Maitland Bay Walk at www.wildwalks.com. For camping enquiries at Putty Beach, call the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s Gosford office on (02) 4320 4203.

5 Dreamtime Beach

Where is it?
Just south of Tweed Heads in northern NSW, near Fingal Head. Follow the walking track that leads through the Fingal Headland Reserve from the end of Lighthouse Parade, or walk north from the Surf Lifesaving Club at Kingscliff.

Why you’ll love it:
Twenty million years ago Mount Warning erupted, producing the current dramatic backdrop of black cliffs and unique formations such as the Giant’s Causeway out in the bay. Combined with stretches of fine white sand and lush green foliage, it’s pretty close to paradise. There are plenty of accommodation options, from Kingscliff caravan parks to luxury holiday rentals such as Dreamtime Beach House, which won the Royal Institute of Architects’ Gold Coast House of the Year award in 2005.

The details: For more information on the area, head to www.tweed.nsw.gov.au. For accommodation options, try Tweed Coast Holiday Parks at tchp.com.au. Dreamtime Beach House: dreamtimebeach.com.

6 Store Beach

Where is it?
A stone’s throw from Manly, but the only way to get there is by water. Hire a kayak at Manly Wharf – it will take you about 20 minutes to paddle to the beach. Just ask the kindly kayak keepers which way to point your nose.

Why you’ll love it:
There’s hardly ever anyone there on weekdays and it’s a breeding ground for little penguins. Bliss out in the sun before heading back. You’ll feel like you’ve done your exercise for the day, too.

The details:
Call Manly Kayak Centre on 0412 622 662 or visit manlykayakcentre.com.au.

7 Mungo Beach

Where is it?
Mungo Beach stretches for more than 20km on the ocean side of Myall Lakes National Park, near Bulahdelah. It’s about 235km north of Sydney via the Pacific Highway and The Lakes Way. To access the beach you will need a 4WD.

Why you’ll love it:
If you’re into fishing and four-wheel-driving, this is the perfect place for you. Powerful rips and deep drop-offs mean this is not a beach for swimming, but the area is full of lakes to cool off in, too.

The details:1
For a map for the 4WD route and for tips such as how to purchase a day or annual Park pass, go to www.environment.nsw.gov.au/licences-and-permits. For local information go to portstephens.org.au or head to greatlakes.org.au for some accommodation options.

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