A CONTROVERSIAL move to consider Wagga Beach for an exclusive Top 20 Best Australian Beaches has many questioning its status as an authentic beach.
Australian beach expert Brad Farmer, who has been reviewing the country's beaches for 35 years on behalf of Tourism Australia, checked out the city's popular swimming spot this week.
If it ticks all his boxes it will be the first inland beach to make the prestigious list.
Yet many people were quick to dismiss the idea on social media, arguing that it is not by definition a real beach.
Coastal specialist Patrick Hesp, from Flinders University, said there was a common misconception that a genuine beach can only be found on a coast.
Although rivers are not typically considered to have beaches, he said one cannot argue the fact that a beach was land consisting of loose particles alongside a large body of water.
Professor Hesp said the beaches around lakes in Canada and the United States were in many cases the same as coastal beaches, except they do not have tides.
"Even some rocky shores, which are partly covered in sand, would be a beach too," he said. "It is not much of a stretch to say a beach is any land form adjacent to a water body consisting of loose particles."
Professor Hesp said the community's perception of what a beach is should expand beyond the coast.
Mr Farmer said he wanted to redefine the meaning of a great Aussie beach.
"Wagga Beach looks to me like a genuine beach environment. It is the only beach that I am currently aware of to be a bona fide inland beach, with the sand and beach atmosphere," he told The Daily Advertiser on Monday.
"It ticks all the blocks for a premier inland beach."
Destination Riverina Murray general manager Richie Robinson said the opportunity to make the Top 20 Best Australian Beaches list could boost tourism for Wagga.
"It will help increase the awareness of Wagga Beach as a great swimming hole that locals have been really proud of for a long period of time," he said.
"Every summer it is always busy with locals, but from a visitor point of view it will definitely encourage more people to jump in their car and come for a swim in the summer months."
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Mr Robinson said the exposure Wagga Beach might receive from making the list could have great economic benefit for the city as well.
"The likely visitation impact from this type of exposure is from day trip visitors. We know they can spend up to $200 on fuel, food and other things. We might also see overnight visitors ... obviously spending more," he said.
The Top 20 Best Australian Beaches will be announced in December.