shark 250

Australia’s most dangerous beaches for shark attacks

Beware when swimming at Byron, Ballina, Bondi and Bells.

Research shows there have been 42 unprovoked fatal shark attacks in Australia since 1990, and although most recorded attacks have occurred in New South Wales, the majority of fatalities transpired in Western Australia.

finder.com.au analysed data released by the Shark Research Institute's Global Shark Attack File, determining hotspot coastal locations around the country where 295 unprovoked shark attacks have occurred between 1990 and 2016.

In Australia, there have been an average of 11.3 shark attacks a year since 1990.

122 attacks took place off the coast of NSW, more than double the 60 attacks recorded in Queensland.

While Western Australia experienced a similar number of attacks (59) as the sunshine state, there were almost three times more fatalities than NSW.

StateAttacksFatal
New South Wales1226
Queensland607
Western Australia5917
South Australia3110
Victoria160
Tasmania52
Northern Territory20
Total29542

17 people have been killed by sharks off the Western Australian coast, 10 in South Australia, 7 in Queensland, 6 in NSW and 2 in Tasmania.

This means Western Australia accounts for 40% of the country's total shark-related fatalities.

Breaking it down by beaches, NSW's Byron Bay has recorded the greatest number of attacks (12) and fatalities (2) since 1990.

A little further south, Ballina incurred six attacks and one fatality, while divers and swimmers in Sydney Harbour have suffered five attacks, four attacks have taken place in Newcastle and rounding out the top five was Perth's Cottesloe Beach, which has seen four attacks and two fatalities in the last 26 years.

Top 13 Australian locations for unprovoked shark attacks since 1990

RankLocationStateAttacksFatalities
1Byron BayNSW122
2BallinaNSW61
3Sydney HarbourNSW50
4NewcastleNSW40
5Cottesloe BeachWA42
6Bondi BeachNSW30
7Seal RocksNSW30
8Bells BeachVIC30
9Fingal BayNSW30
10Shelly Beach (Central Coast)NSW31
11Lennox HeadNSW30
12Mona ValeNSW30
13Middleton BeachSA30

Following the most recent shark attack on NSW's north coast, state Premier Mike Baird announced plans for a six month trial of shark nets in the area, despite nationwide protests and debates regarding controversial netting programs in Western Australia just a few years ago.

According to the International Museum of Wildlife, the odds of being killed by a shark are 1 in 3.75 million. You're far likely to die as a result of a public transport accident (1 in 16,831) or lightning strike (1 in 71,601).

Planning to surf or swim on your travels? Find travel insurance that covers both you and your board, shark deterrents that actually work and vehicle excess insurance to get you to and from the coast.

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Peter Terlato

Peter has been a journalist for seven years. He's written extensively about travel, business and politics. He has lived in Amsterdam, London, Bali and Vancouver and has been lucky enough to visit more than 50 countries.

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