Australia may be known for its large cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, but scattered across the country are many small town gems.
And it’s here, among the small local communities where you will discover true Australian culture, with many offering a laid back atmosphere, and access to some of the country’s most stunning natural beauty.
Many small towns throughout Australia can be accessed by nearby regional airports or within a short drive from the larger capital cities where it’s easy to book affordable flights.
So get off the beaten path and avoid the overwhelming crowds of Australian tourist hotspots by visiting some of these best Australian small towns.
Australia’s Best Small Towns
Port Fairy, Victoria
Located halfway between Adelaide and Melbourne, you’ll find Victoria’s oldest port, Port Fairy.
Once home to whalers and sealers, the town now boasts delicious cafes and restaurants serving up some of Australia’s freshest seafood (it’s a place thriving with small town business ideas!)
Take a walk around Griffiths Island in search of local wildlife or drive to nearby Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, home to an extinct volcano, aboriginal heritage, and wildlife such as koalas and emus.
Check out the area’s lighthouses, stay in a 19th century cottage, and stroll along the foreshore.
Lakes Entrance, Victoria
Here you will find one of the world’s longest uninterrupted beaches in the world, Ninety Mile Beach. The beach is a haven for fishing, surfing, sunbathing, and very long walks along the sand.
Discover Australia’s Gippsland Lakes, a network of lakes, marshes, and lagoons covering over 600 square kilometres.
Go back in time with a visit to the Historic Nyerimilang Homestead or check out incredible Australian seashells and other sea life artefacts at the Griffiths’ Sea Shell Museum.
Apollo Bay, Victoria
The Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s most scenic touring routes, offering up countless treasure along the way. And located in the heart of the Great Ocean Road lies Apollo Bay.
Home to lovely restaurants, cafes, museums, and beaches, dine on fresh salmon and lobster after hiking through the Great Otway National Park. The town hosts the annual Apollo Bay Music Festival and Apollo Bay Seafood Festival.
Apollo Bay also offers the perfect base for exploring places like Melba Gully with its shimmering glow worms or Kennett River’s koala population.
Broome, Western Australia
The pearl of Australia’s west coast, Broome is a place where you can ride camels along the 22km long Cable Beach.
Pick up a lovely set of pearls at Willie Creek Pearl Farm or take in the Shinju Matsuri or “Festival of the Pearl” in late August which celebrates the area’s Asian culture. Handle a baby croc at Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park or check out Horizontal Falls.
So incredible is this small town, it even has its own international airport.
Photo credit: Binarysequence
Esperance, Western Australia
A town with beaches so relaxing, you’ll have to compete with its resident kangaroos for a patch of its pure white sand. Esperance offers one of Australia’s most picturesque natural playgrounds.
Cruise through the Recherche Archipelago in search of whales, sea eagles, and dolphins. Take a scenic flight over the world famous bubble gum pink lake known as Lake Hillier on Middle Island.
Hike up Frenchman Peak in Cape Le Grand National Park or relax your legs by driving the roughly 40km Great Ocean Drive (not to be confused with the Great Ocean Road!).
Photo credit: Kurioziteti123
Port Douglas, Queensland
Gateway to the mighty Daintree Rainforest as well as the Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas is your perfect base for natural exploration. The town is loaded with luxury beach resorts and award winning restaurants.
Grab a snorkel and dive below the surface just about anywhere to witness colourful fish or head into the dense jungles of Mossman Gorge or Kuranda Rainforest Village.
Walk along Australia’s top rated beach, Four Mile Beach or check out Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef
Mission Beach, Queensland
Made up of 4 beach villages all linked by golden beach sand, Mission Beach offers as much relaxation or adrenaline pumping action as you want.
Try your hand at kayaking, white water rafting, sky diving, and snorkelling. Discover the rainforest canopy with a walk along the Mamu Tropical Skywalk or check out the incredible creation know as Paronella Park with its Spanish looking castle, waterfalls, and lush gardens.
Admire the underwater world of the coral see via a glass bottom boat tour or stay on land and see if you can spot one of the local giant flightless cassowary birds.
Victor Harbour, South Australia
Just south of Adelaide on the Fleurieu peninsula, you’ll come across Victor Harbour.
Take the Victor Harbor Horse Drawn Tram to Granite Island, home to the adorable little penguins. The town is a hiker’s paradise, offering up parts of the 1,200km Heysen Trail, Bluff Summit walk, Hindmarsh River Walk, and Inman River Walk.
Head into the South Australian Whale Centre for tips on where to spot local whales. June to October is the best season to witness the Southern right whales.
If you have extra time, be sure to check out nearby Kangaroo Island which can be reached by ferry. The island is home to a wide array of iconic Aussie animals including koalas, echidnas, and platypus.
Dive into Tasmania’s wild and rugged west coast wilderness with a visit to Strahan.
Cruise along the Gordon River to see the famous reflections and discover hidden treasures of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Hike to Hogarth Falls or learn about the area’s convict history at Sarah Island.
Play in the massive Henty Dunes and walk along the windswept Ocean beach as it leads you to Hells Gates and Macquarie Harbour.
Travel back in time aboard the West Coast Wilderness Railway as it takes you deep into Australia’s largest temperate rainforest, home to rare Tasmanian devils and quolls.
Katherine, Northern Territory
Come to where the Outback meets the tropics. The area is home to some of Australia’s greatest natural attractions and is rich with Aboriginal Heritage.
Discover the Aboriginal rock art, hidden waterfalls, and elusive wildlife of Katherine Gorge or tackle the five day Jatbula Hiking Trail, stopping at refreshing waterholes along the way.
Learn Aboriginal art, hunting, and cooking techniques or learn what life is like on an Australian Cattle station.
Explore the underground wonders of the Cutta Cutta Caves before relaxing in the Katherine Hot Springs and enjoying a traditional Australian barbecue beneath the stars.
Image credit: Malcolm Williams
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Still anticipating my first trip.
Hope you have the chance to make it soon :)
These all sound incredible, I call for a cross country road trip to take in everything :D!
I love your thinking :)
Is that pink lake real??!
It is indeed! Beautiful isn’t it!
We loved driving the Great Ocean Road last year for the small towns along the route – Port Fairy was beautiful, as was Lorne and Torquay. Kennett River we really loved, for the same reason as you, I’ve never seen koalas in the wild before this trip. It was magical! Small towns really do have a magic that cities just can’t offer. They’re far more intimate.
Glad to hear you had a fabulous time Rika! I agree, the Great Ocean Road is a really fantastic region with some great stops and a really nice diversity. I also like small towns vs cities for the more intimate experience :)
Definitely seems to be the way to find authentic experiences with wildlife, the city zoos don’t quite cut it for me. Australia is about the wide open spaces and the run down towns, and humans and wildlife coexisting. Thanks for the ideas, will add these places of interest for our next trip :)
Absolutely Bruce, I totally agree with you. Hope your next trip Aus is soon! :)
Australia is the DREAM! ❤❤❤
Hope you have the opportunity to visit soon :)
I would add Mildura, it’s a very pretty town on the banks of the Murray and you can take paddle steamers and houseboats up the river, it’s a very historic type of feel to the streets, and there’s great access to the bush and the outback here too. Our family spends a lot of time there.
An obvious oversight on my part – I’ve been to Mildura and totally agree. There’s also a pink lake you can take a day trip out to too. Definitely deserving of one of the best small Aus towns!
The people are always so much friendlier in small towns. You definitely get a far greater local experience.
Absolutely, people smile and have time to say hello. And they’re always willing to chat over a beer :)
Thanks Nelson! Glad you enjoyed the post :)
There are so many small towns in Australia that should be on this list – Launceston, Coober Pedy, Goolwa, Broken Hill – they’re my favorites personally. I’m sure you could spend a lifetime trying to list them all though. It’s a great country, definitely one that demands multiple trips.
It’s true, there are hundreds of small towns that we could definitely include. Great suggestions though Aren, we recently spent a couple of days in Launceston and you’re right, we loved it too. Coober Pedy was also really unique too. Will have to start writing a Part II to this post!
Planning on road tripping through Australia in 2019. We’re planning on getting a campervan and staying for 3 months, thinking there are so many cool places on the map that the tour books don’t mention that we’ll flip a coin when we come to intersections and just see where we end up. Cheers for the ideas.
Sounds like it’s going to be an incredible trip Mirzadeh! And a very adventurous one to just drive without a plan, I like it! Stay in touch, I would love to hear updates on where you end up :)
You might like to check out Tweed Heads on the QLD/NSW border some time. It’s at the Southern end of the Gold Coast, but doesn’t have the Hustle and Bustle of our next door neighbour. Plenty of free parking, 5 minutes from Gold Coast Airport, it is HEAVEN in the winter
Thanks for the tip Brian! That’s the place where on daylight savings one side of the street is an hour ahead of the other side right? :D
After reading your advice on Cornwall’s beaches I found this article. You’ve come up with a great list. (I’m Australian!). But you confused me with Lakes Entrance, NSW? I realise it’s Victoria. Visited both Lakes Entrance, Vic and THE Entrance NSW as a child and agree that Lakes Entrance has the edge. Love your work. ? Thanks
Hi Christine! Yes, my apologies, Lakes Entrance is in Victoria, not NSW. We would road trip down from Canberra a lot, and for some reason I’ve mindlessly placed it in NSW without catching the error.
I have corrected the heading, thanks for the heads up!
Lakes Entrance is in Victoria not NSW.
Thanks for catching that Grant, I’ve corrected it. Appreciate it! I think we’ve done so many road trips down from Canberra that it’s been stuck in my mind as NSW and I’ve not thought to double check it!
I want to visit Australia so bad! Broome and Esperance sound and look beautiful!
I hope you have the chance to visit soon! Broome and Esperance are really great destinations for sure, I can highly recommend both :)
So hard to choose one – Morpeth in the NSW Hunter Valley, Berrima in the Southern Highlands
Love Berrima! Haven’t been to Morpeth that I recall (though that could well have been from drinking too much wine at the time ??)
Hard to say but I think Yamba, I love the coast and it’s still got that small community feel and deserted stretches of sand.
True! I love Yamba too!
Some favourites of ours in there!
Awesome Keri! Small towns are the best aren’t they!
Apart from Tasmania we will probably hit the rest on our upcoming trip. Small towns are great.
Sounds like a fab trip! Have a great time :)
Small towns are my favorites.
They’re the best!
Such amazing list.Australia is dream and I love visiting small towns.
Thanks Mayuri, glad you enjoyed the post! I hope you have the chance to discover Australian small towns yourself soon :)
Surfers Paradise, Byron Bay just to name a few! Guess I just love your whole country or what I’ve seen of it.
Both great places you could definitely go back to time and time again!
I visited victor harbour and granite island whilst visiting friends in Aus. It was brilliant x
LOVE Victor Harbor!! We’re hoping to go back in a month or so, such a fab place :)
Does Hobart count as small?
Compared to the rest of Australia’s cities, sure!
Thanks Megan, been 16 years since I was in Australia so time for a return visit!
Definitely time for a return visit :D
Pretty cool, I can’t wait to get to Australia.
Hope you have the chance to visit soon :)
This article really shows how amazing the geography of Australia truly is, thanks
You’re welcome John, glad you enjoyed the post! Yes, Australia is so incredibly diverse, and small towns could be anything from laid back coastal villages, to outback towns surrounded by desert :)