15 Best Small Towns to Visit in Australia

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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Whether you love sightseeing, or prefer to relax on a beach or enjoy stunning natural beauty, every state in Australia has small towns that you will love. Here’s some favorites with locals and tourists alike to give you some inspiration for your great Australian getaway.

Lets have a look at the best small towns to visit in Australia:

1. Augusta, WA.

Blackwood River, AugustaSource: flickr
Blackwood River, Augusta

Tucked on the southwest edge on the Australian continent, the river town of Augusta sits on the estuary of the Blackwood River, surrounded by Jarrah forest.

Sleepy and quiet with a population around 1200, Augusta is a tourist favorite.

Some activities you can enjoy: driving down to Cape Leeuwin to see the last lighthouse before Antarctica, visiting the town’s highly informative museum, and taking a cruise up the river to see dolphins.

There’s also white sand beaches on the southern part of the estuary, and walking trails throughout the neighboring countryside where you can get acquainted with southwest WA’s beautiful natural scenery.

Augusta also forms the southern anchor of the famed Margaret River wine region, and several local wineries do tours and tastings.

Best time to visit: November through March, during the dry season.

2. Busselton/Dunsborough, WA

BusseltonSource: flickr

Busselton and its satellite towns are sprawled across the shores of Geographe Bay and have a relaxing, seaside resort atmosphere.

The highlight of the Busselton foreshore is the iconic Busselton jetty, which is the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere.

You can walk 2 km down to the end of the jetty and visit the Underwater Observatory, or you can take the cute little red train that traverses the length of the jetty and can take you all the way out to the sea.

Winery tours are available; ask at the Visitor Centre.

While you’re in the area, you could also visit Dunsborough: it’s a sleepy coastal town about 30 km west of Busselton, and a gorgeous place to kick up your feet or go swimming.

Best time to visit: November through March.

3. Esperance, WA.

EsperanceSource: flickr

Ten hours drive east of Perth on a sheltered bay, Esperance is a bustling beach town of about 11,000 people.

Always popular with tourists, Esperance boasts island boat tours on the Recherche Archipelago, glorious white sand beaches, soft coastline on the bay and rough, hilly coastline extending westward from the south end of town.

Go for a stroll on Tanker’s Jetty and see the sea lions playing in the water or taking it easy on the beach.

Take an evening stroll along the foreshore and relish the salty breeze.

Use Esperance as a base to visit Cape Le Grande National Park with its pristine waters and scenery, and remember to take plenty of pictures: this is one of the most beautiful parts of Australia.

Best time to visit: All year round. Esperance’s winters are less rainy than its West Coast counterparts.

4. Broome, WA.

BroomeSource: flickr

The shining little jewel of the Kimberly Coast, Broome is one of the few small towns in the world that boasts an international airport.

Why? Because tourists love Broome, and who can blame them when there’s so much to love?

Broome boasts a dry tropical climate with glorious, hot sunny winters, a brief summer monsoon and a piping hot shoulder season.

Take a camel ride down Cable Beach, walk about the town exploring its pearling history and heritage buildings, take a boat to see the famed Horizontal Falls, or explore the stunning Dampier Peninsula.

Best time to visit: May to September.

Best way to get there: Plane. Unless you feel like a thirty hour road trip from Perth.

5. Victor Harbor, South Australia.

Victor HarborSource: flickr
Victor Harbor

An hour’s drive south of Adelaide on South Australia’s stunning Fleurieu peninsula, Victor Harbor boasts breathtaking views of Encounter Bay from rocky bluffs near white sand beaches.

Laze about on the shoreline, visit the nearby towns of Port Elliot and Goolwa, explore the southern wine region, take the horse drawn tram service about town, or check out the local farmer’s market for fresh produce.

If you have time, drive/bus it to Cape Jervis and take a ferry out to Kangaroo Island.

Best time to visit: November to March, during South Australia’s dry season.

6. Tanunda and the Barossa Valley, South Australia.

Tanunda and the Barossa ValleySource: flickr
Tanunda and the Barossa Valley

Settled by German and English colonists in the mid-19th century, the Barossa Valley is thick with wineries and boasts a combination of friendly small-town culture, farmer’s markets and old world charm.

This area is heaven for foodies: visit its numerous bakeries and restaurants.

Tanunda is the most convenient town from which to explore this rustic, relaxed region and taste its simpler pleasures, but to get a complete taste of the Barossa experience, consider visiting Angaston, Springton and Gawler and walking any of the popular trails.

Best time to visit: November to March.

7. Port Fairy, Victoria.

Port FairySource: flickr
Port Fairy

About midway between Adelaide and Melbourne, Port Fairy is a lovely seaside village at the mouth of the Moyne River on the southern ocean.

Whales, seals and dolphins frequent the nearby waters, making Port Fairy a popular destination for wildlife watchers.

Visit the town’s boutiques, stay in a nineteenth century cottage, surf on the beach or visit any of the town’s popular Victorian buildings on the Port Fairy Maritime and Shipwreck Heritage Walk.

You can also take a boat out to nearby Griffiths Island to see short-tailed shearwater birds in their breeding colony.

Best time to visit: Summer for sun, but winter for whale watching.

8. Lakes Entrance, Victoria.

Lakes EntranceSource: flickr
Lakes Entrance

On the east coast of Victoria between the Gippsland Lakes and the Bass Strait, Lakes Entrance is about as close to a maritime paradise as you can get.

The town itself lies on a channel where the 400 sqkm network of lakes drains into the strait and ultimately into the southern ocean.

Rent a boat and explore the lakes, walk around this picturesque town, or stroll across the footbridge to the ocean shore and try your hand at swimming or surfing.

Get a panoramic view of the town and surrounding countryside from the hills to the west, or visit the nearby Lake Tyers and take a stroll down Ninety Mile Beach; you may get tired after the first five or ten miles, but you’ll always be able to find a lonely patch of coastline to nestle down into.

Best time to visit: Summer, but Lakes Entrance is surprisingly mild in winter as well.

9. Cygnet, Tasmania.

CygnetSource: flickr

Nearly as far south as south goes, Cygnet is a cuddly little township between the D’entrecasteaux channel and the Huon river.

Nestled cozily between hills covered in fruit orchards, this picturesque haven is beloved by musicians and free spirits, and is surrounded by natural beauty on all sides.

Follow the Cygnet Art Trail, take a dip on the beach at Verona Sands, visit one of the nearby wineries or go hiking through the hills.

Spend the evening at a local cafe or sample the fantastic fresh produce.

Best time to visit: Summer – and coincidentally cherry season – is from December to March.

10. Merimbula, New South Wales

MerimbulaSource: flickr

The pride of the Sapphire Coast – a region known for its shining blue waters, clear air, mild climate, white sand beaches and lakes – Merimbula is a perfect sample of everything this area of southern NSW has to offer.

Situated between its namesake lake and a 5 km stretch of beach, the town has galleries, supermarkets, boats, surf and a wide range of accommodation options to suit any road-weary traveler.

Once you’ve rested up and sampled the local produce, walk the 3.5 km boardwalk around Top Lake and try your hand at paddle-boarding, or go out to the beach and kitesurf.

Best time to visit: Summer for sea breezes, or winter for the Sapphire Coast Orchid Show.

11. Byron Bay, New South Wales

Byron Bay LighthouseSource: flickr
Byron Bay Lighthouse

Beloved by tourists and locals alike, Byron Bay is surprisingly chilled-out for such a buzzing holiday destination.

One of the rainiest parts of the country, northeastern New South Wales is lush, green and thickly forested, with a shoreline of pristine subtropical beaches and cliffs and bluffs that demands to be photographed.

Young people go here to surf.

Older people go here to relax and breathe in the classic hippie culture that has flourished in this seaside haven for decades.

Check out the regional markets on Sundays for new age art and delicious produce, visit the Byron Bay lighthouse at the end of Tallow Beach and see Australia’s most easterly point, then go hiking in Arakwal National Park and immerse yourself in tropical foliage.

Byron Bay soothes the body and heals the soul.

Best time to visit: All year round.

12. Woorim, Queensland.

WoorimSource: visitmoretonbayregion

If you haven’t heard of this place, it’s because it’s better known to locals than it is to tourists.

Located on the surf side of Bribie Island, Woorim is 50 km from Brisbane and is popular both as a day trip and as a retirement destination.

Accessible by road and connected to public transport, Woorim’s chief attraction is one of the most pristine white sand beaches in southeast Queensland, a foreshore thick with beautiful subtropical foliage and lots of privacy; a little walk up the beach and you can be alone under a palm tree.

But perhaps the finest thing about Woorim is the view: watching the sun rise over Moreton Bay and looking out at Stradbroke and Moreton Island, you could almost forget that you were on the edge of a metropolitan area.

It feels like a tropical paradise.

Accommodation is available in Woorim itself, or on the more populated west side of the island.

Best time of year to visit: All year round, but the sunniest time of year is from July to October.

13. Rainbow Beach, Queensland.

Rainbow BeachSource: flickr
Rainbow Beach

North of the Sunshine Coast, past the commercial centre of Maroochydore and the beloved tourist hub of Noosa, Rainbow Beach is a cute little coastal village on a peninsula between the amusingly-named Tin Can Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

Rent a houseboat and experience life on the water for a few days.

Explore the endless beaches, swim with dolphins, take a boat up the bay, go skydiving or take a day trip out to Fraser Island.

Rainbow Beach is conveniently close to freshwater lakes and interior rainforests, and is loved by holidaymakers for its un-spoilt wilderness and natural beauty.

Best time of year to visit: All year round.

14. Mission Beach, Queensland.

Mission BeachSource: virginaustralia
Mission Beach

Mission Beach is actually four villages stretched over 14 km of golden coastline.

South Mission Beach has a stinger net to allow safe swimming during the summer wet season, Wongaling Beach has a water taxi service to nearby Dunk Island, Mission Beach Village has restaurants and galleries and Bingil Bay has some of the best panoramic scenery on offer for those willing to take a short walk to the top of Bicton Hill.

Take each village for what it is and breathe in the tropical scenery and resort town atmosphere; once you get here, you’ll never want to leave.

Best time of year to visit: July through October, although summer is popular with pluviophiles.

15. Port Douglas, Queensland.

Port DouglasSource: flickr
Port Douglas

An hour north of Cairns, Port Douglas is a popular base for exploring the internationally famous Great Barrier Reef, as well as the Daintree Rainforest.

Enjoy the seaside cuisine, relax on Four Mile Beach, take a cruise out to the reef, tour the national parks that make up most of the hinterland, take a track through the Great Dividing Range, pick up some Daintree Tea, go snorkeling with turtles in the Low Isles or walk around the marina.

This is your chance to see the world’s oldest living rainforest, so if you’re touring Australia, don’t let this one pass you by.

Best time of year to visit: July through October.

15 Best Small Towns to Visit in Australia:

  • Augusta, WA.
  • Busselton/Dunsborough, WA
  • Esperance, WA.
  • Broome, WA.
  • Victor Harbor, South Australia.
  • Tanunda and the Barossa Valley, South Australia.
  • Port Fairy, Victoria.
  • Lakes Entrance, Victoria.
  • Cygnet, Tasmania.
  • Merimbula, New South Wales
  • Byron Bay, New South Wales
  • Woorim, Queensland.
  • Rainbow Beach, Queensland.
  • Mission Beach, Queensland.
  • Port Douglas, Queensland.