While most international tourists flock to Australia’s iconic large capital cities like Sydney and Melbourne, locals know that some truly unique holidays can be had by visiting our many smaller towns. Whether they’re along the coast, in the country, or tucked away in the Outback, Australia’s small towns may be petite in size but they make up for it with a whole lot of heart.
Australia’s small towns often allow you to experience authentic Aussie culture along with some one-of-a-kind quirky attractions you won’t soon forget. They are often places where you can not only escape the crowds, but also traffic and stop lights. They are destinations where the locals often remember your name when you return to visit years later.
Escape the city lights and skyscrapers and be rewarded with old fashioned hospitality, abundant nature, and plenty of peace and fresh air in some of these most cherished small towns in Australia. And to ensure any travel problems you encounter remain as small as the towns you visit, make sure you’re covered with comprehensive domestic travel insurance.
A relaxing country escape close to the big city, Daylesford is just a 90-minute drive out of Melbourne but a world away. It’s all about rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation here, where you’ll enjoy one of Australia’s few spa towns.
Daylesford and its next door neighbour Hepburn Springs are home to natural spring mineral spas where you can enjoy every spa treatment imaginable as well as enjoy the walking trails through the Mineral Springs Reserve.
Daylesford offers no shortage of cafes, walking tracks around the lakes, and the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens where you can climb the Pioneers Memorial Lookout for a grand view over the city.
The Convent Gallery is regarded as one of the country’s most beautiful galleries where you’ll find paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and more from over 100 artists. Meanwhile, the Amazing Mill Markets allows you to browse the country’s largest mix of antiques, collectibles, and unique home décor.
And just minutes north in Shepherds Flat, you can meander through the Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm which grows beautiful lavender in their extensive gardens which are also home to a large number of animals including domesticated emus, highland cows, and geese. Nearby at Cricket Willow, you can watch how cricket bats are made.
Located on NSW’s far south coast, Narooma offers a laid-back coastal getaway with plenty of beauty and adventure. There are numerous safe and secluded beaches suitable for the whole family and a lovely shared coastal pathway you can either walk or bike to simply take in the stunning coastline.
Enjoy a wide range of fresh delicious seafood including locally grown oysters, and maybe tee-it-up at the local golf course which has been rated one of the country’s finest and most scenic public access courses.
Head out on a tour to Montague Island to observe little penguins, snorkel with fur seals, or seek out migrating southern right and humpback whales. You could also book a fishing charter in search of snapper, flathead, and leatherjacket.
Drive just a short distance out of Adelaide into the Adelaide Hills and you’d be forgiven if you thought you somehow were teleported to Europe. That’s because the town of Hahndorf lives in the hills, Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement.
There are plenty of German fachwerk buildings, cuckoo clocks, and restaurants and cafes serving up traditional German fare. A wide range of unique boutique hotels await you and countless fun shops selling goods like fudge, candles, fossils, gemstones, and leather creations.
The town is especially beautiful come autumn when the many elms and oaks that line the main street change colour. During season, you can visit the Beerenberg Farm to pick fresh strawberries and purchase delicious jams and chutneys.
Don’t miss the chance to also visit The Cedars, which is where the famous Australian artist Sir Hans Heysen lived and had his studio where he painted his iconic Australian bush masterpieces. The property and its splendid gardens now act as a museum that is open to the public.
Tasmania definitely has no shortage of fascinating and fun small towns. Deloraine is famous for hosting one of the largest annual craft fairs in the Southern Hemisphere, Sheffield has its murals, Derby has its famous mountain bike trails, Stanley has it iconic Nut, and Wilmot its quirky letterbox trail.
However, one small town that is a must visit is Richmond and you’ll find it not too far out of Hobart. This town is loaded with history including being home to Australia’s oldest still-in-use bridge, endless Georgian-style buildings, and the nation’s oldest Roman Catholic Church.
Explore the old Richmond Gaol and cemetery’s historic sandstone tombstones before browsing the many art galleries, antique stores, and specialty shops. Tasmanian devils roam the Zoodoo Zoo and you can get a glimpse of what early 19th century Tasmania life was like by paying a visit to the Old Hobart Town historical model village.
There’s even a museum solely dedicated to poo. Richmond and its many attractions represent Tasmania’s culture and personality more than any other small town on the island.
Located along Australia’s most famous scenic drive, Apollo Bay lies at the heart of the Great Ocean Road. There’s no shortage of festivals on offer including the annual Seafood Festival, Winter Wild with is line-up of music and art installations, or taking part in one of the many marathons and runs available during the annual Running Festival.
Sampling some local lobster or scallop pie is a must, which will supply you with the energy needed for the abundant outdoor activities that await you in Great Otway National Park. Seek out more wildlife in Kennett River which is known for its wild koala population or the famous Melba Gully glow worms.
You may be surprised to learn that it is in Winton, with a population under a thousand, where Qantas was founded. It’s also where Banjo Paterson wrote Waltzing Matilda which of course went on to become Australia’s “unofficial national anthem”.
Winton is also the country’s very own Jurassic Park. Known as the dinosaur capital of Australia, it is here where you can witness one of the largest collections of Aussie dinosaur fossils. There’s an Australian Dinosaur Trail to follow, prehistoric bones and footprints to see, and even a number of dig sites that are accessible by sealed roads where you can uncover your very own fossils.
A visit to the Waltzing Matilda Centre gives a nice overview of the history and attractions in town. Don’t miss Arno’s Wall which is too eccentric to describe and maybe even catch some chicken racing.
Tucked away along Western Australia’s southern coastline is Esperance. Known for its white sand beaches and vivid blue waters, this natural playground is a favourite of surfers, scuba divers, swimmers, and nature lovers.
Touring the 40-kilometre circular loop known as the Great Ocean Drive is the best way to introduce yourself to the many natural landmarks surrounding the town. There are also several nearby national parks that can be accessed via day trips including Stokes, Fitzgerald River, Cape Arid, and Peak Charles.
The most notable national park close to town is Cape Le Grand National Park where you can lounge on the beach of Lucky Bay with wild kangaroos or tackle the climb up Frenchman Peak. Dolphins are a regular sight and between June and October they are joined by migrating southern right whales.
A major highlight of visiting Esperance is the chance to book a trip to Middle Island which is home to the famous Lake Hillier which shows off its lovely bubble gum pink colour. Esperance even offers up a full-size replica of Stonehenge which has been crafted from local pink granite.