It’s safe to say, we’ve no shortage of gorgeous cities in Australia. Perth with its white sand beaches, Sydney with its spectacular harbour, Adelaide with its pretty coast, our cup runneth over.
However, for every lovely city, we have a dozen beautiful small towns dotted all over the country. These little hamlets offer a mix of nature, outdoor sports, and just enough civilisation to ensure you sleep in a comfy bed and can rely on brunch in the morning.
For a chance to see Australia at its best, and get to grips with its many different sides, book a stay in a country town. We list our favourites.
As states and territories have enacted their own travel restrictions, be sure to check local government guidelines before booking your next trip to these small towns.
The most beautiful small towns in Australia
- Alice Springs, NT
- Port Douglas, QLD
- Byron Bay, NSW
- Broome, WA
- Strahan, TAS
- Esperance, WA
- Airlie Beach, QLD
- Kalgoorlie, WA
- Yamba, NSW
- Port Fairy, VIC
The best Outback small towns in Australia
Alice Springs, NT
Alice Springs isn’t exactly a hidden gem. If you are alive, and in Australia, then you’ve heard of this legendary Outback town. Nestled in the spiritual lands of the Anangu people, Alice Springs is right next door to one of Australia’s most iconic sites, the monolithic Uluru.
Right at the edges of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, you can explore the rock formations, red rock gorges, and see the sun rise and fall over Uluru itself.
For a window into Australia’s colonial past you need look no further than Kalgoorlie, a quintessential country town set in Western Australia. Decorated with 19th century buildings boasting wraparound verandas, you’d be forgiven for thinking you just stepped into a Western film when you stay here.
Kalgoorlie was a gold mining town, and still mines the shiny stuff to this day. Spend a weekend in this historic town, where you can throw back a brew, visit the museums and mines, and maybe even sift for a little gold yourself…
Broome, nestled against the Indian Ocean in the northern stretches of Western Australia lays claim to some truly magnificent beaches, excellent dive sites, and fascinating museums. It may seem like a far-off outpost, but this spot has been home to the Yawuru for centuries before becoming the pearling trading post in the 1800s. With a red landscape backing its beautiful beaches, this small town is where ocean meets Outback.
Ride on camels at sunset on Cable Beach, wander the Courthouse Markets, duck into the Broome Historical Museum, and dive in the gorgeous Rowley Shoals Marine Park. You’ll also want to drop by the Liyan-ngan Nyirrwa Cultural Wellbeing Centre to learn more about Yawuru culture.
The best seaside small towns in Australia
Port Douglas, QLD
On the northern coast of Queensland, Cairns is typically the destination hotspot for tourists thanks to its access to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. But less than a two hour drive away, just north of Cairns, is the lovely Port Douglas.
Here, the town shelters upmarket boutiques, hip restaurants and chic bars, which are all a stone’s throw away from the golden stretch of Four Mile Beach. With its swaying palms and proximity to wild rainforest and the technicolour corals of the reef, this picturesque town is utterly charming, and a good deal quieter than Cairns.
Byron Bay, NSW
You probably had an inkling that Byron Bay would be on this list as soon as you saw the title, and with good reason. Byron has all the credentials Aussies love: beaches, surf, good coffee and brunch. The town is a melange of hippy and luxury vibes. You’re just as likely to sit down at a swish restaurant in Bryon as you are to spend the day in a chill beach bar hangout. However, it’s beyond the town’s paved areas you’ll find this small town’s biggest attractions.
There is stellar access to watersports (kayaking, snorkelling, diving and surfing), extreme sports (skydiving and hang gliding), and more than enough leisure activities (hot air ballooning, hiking, distillery tours) to entertain even the most boredom prone traveller.
Tasmania is rich in pretty towns with great views, but Strahan pips the rest to the post for a spot on our list. Settled on the lip of Macquarie Harbour, this intimate and preserved slice of Tasmania feels otherworldly, not least because it sits right next to the UNESCO listed Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.
Pristine rivers and rainforest will greet you on this side of the state and give you a privileged insight into what the Tasmanian landscape was like before the colonial settlers descended on it. Learn about the local Aboriginal heritage and the history of the colonial convict settlements–like Sarah Island–while you’re here. Before you leave, duck your head into one of the delicious seafood restaurants.
Search for ‘beautiful small towns in Australia’ and Esperance hits every list. There’s a reason for that, thanks to its phenomenal coastline. White sand shores are lapped by iridescent aquamarine waters that promise some of the best diving and snorkelling you’ll ever experience.
Meanwhile, on land, there are five national parks nearby, one of which is the Cape Le Grand National Park. This protected reserve is known for its sweeping heathlands, rugged coast, and curious kangaroos. And if beautiful scenery wasn’t enough to convince you, maybe some surreal scenery will: this town is also home to Lake Hillier, known as Pink Lake, because, well, the waters are a deep fuchsia colour. It’s a lake you’ll have to see to believe.
Airlie Beach, QLD
Tropical paradise is closer than you’d think. The glorious Whitsunday Islands are just off the coast of the laidback Airlie Beach resort town. There’s great nightlife here considering the little community, but it’s what Airlie offers during the day that made it a cert on our beautiful small towns in Australia list.
Scuba diving, snorkelling, sailing, jet skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and pretty much any other watersport you can think of is operated from the coast of Airlie Beach. As are day trips into the UNESCO protected and so-stunning-you’ll-think-they’re-fake Whitsunday Islands.
Think beaches, and your mind flits to the golden stretches of Queensland or the white sandy shores of Western Australia, but New South Wales is no slouch when it comes to coastal beauties.
Yamba has long been a favourite with surfers thanks to its reliable waves. Even if you’re not keen on the sport, the perfect climate, farmer’s markets and family friendly atmo will do the rest. Best of all, this is a top spot for whale and dolphin watching, especially during the May-October migration period.
Port Fairy, VIC
Down in Victoria, along the Great Ocean Road, is Port Fairy, a port once run by Irish immigrant whalers. The town is peppered with buildings that speak to its maritime past, and a working harbour where yachts and boats still bob.
This is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Australia, but it’s also one of the more romantic. Head down to the waterfront and dine in one of the celebrated restaurants that cluster there for a soft lit evening, and sunset skies over the sea.
People also ask
The 2016 Census recorded that there were over 1700 small towns in Australia.
According to the Safe Cities Index 2019, Sydney is the safest city in Australia and the 5th safest city in the world.
The availability of beaches makes just about every coastal small town in Western Australia a great fit for sandcastle building families. If you’re looking for a town that ticks the boxes of activities, accommodations, restaurants, and more, check out Broome, WA for your next family holiday.
Being one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, there’s plenty of space to spread out in Australia. Drive in any direction along any major road and you’re sure to find a small town worth spending time in.
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