The COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on international travel has given us precious time to explore the hidden gems strewn throughout Australia that we had once perhaps overlooked.
Looking at the Australian locale in new ways gives us the chance to explore, appreciate, and develop a deeper understanding and love for our own patch of the earth. There is much to discover in the communities, history and industries of small towns that give Australia its character, and by delving a little deeper, you might begin to wonder why these treasures have been overlooked.
Better yet, these locations might make you feel like you are holidaying worlds away when you are often only a two-hour drive from the closest city!
Here are some of our favourite Australian treasured towns.
Pokolbin, New South Wales
Nestled in the heart of the famous Hunter Valley within Wonnarua country, Pokolbin is a two-hour drive from Sydney, 50 minutes from Newcastle airport and has train and bus options. Pokolbin is a great base from which to explore the wider wine region but is also in itself a wonderful opportunity to explore, taste, rest and relax. Pokolbin is home to award-winning cellar doors and elegant restaurants of its own and the rolling hills of the Valley provide a sense of peace and tranquility that truly connects you to the Australian landscape.
Melrose, South Australia
This historic hub in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges is arguably one of the most beautiful small towns in the country. Located within Nukunu country, Melrose is built at the base of Mount Remarkable and has retained its old-world charm through the interesting historic buildings that have outlasted modern urbanisation.
The oldest town in the Flinders Ranges, Melrose draws in visitors with its stunning local flora, popular bush walking and exceptional mountain bike trails.
An ideal escape for travelers who like a little bit of adventure, Melrose is about three hours’ drive from the city centre of Adelaide, making it the perfect location for those seeking a fulfilling weekend away.
Esperance, Western Australia
With long stretches of pure, white sand beaches, the Esperance coastline is renowned for its beauty and opportunities for the whole family to unwind. Easy 4WD access, beginner surfing and family friendly swimming make this location truly remarkable, and the crystal-clear water is impossible to resist.
Esperance is a haven for lovers of all things sea, sand and sun. With post card perfect beaches, national parks and neighbouring islands sheltering sea lions and fur seals, this is the ideal destination to really connect with the stunning natural beauty of Australia’s coastline.
Once you’ve acquainted yourself with the sparkling blue waters and sunbathing kangaroos, head to the famed Pink Lake, which is coloured a vibrant shade of pink due to its high salt concentration. Hidden on Australia’s southern coast, Esperance is about a day’s drive away from Perth, but the journey is undeniably worth it.
A true hidden gem, many a traveller has missed out on experiencing the charms of Loch during their ventures to Victoria’s Gippsland region.
Step foot into the picturesque thriving village, with a beautiful main street that add to the town’s appeal.
The town as we know it today was established in 1876, and was formerly a bustling hub on the South Gippsland Highway. The bypass built in 2008 spurred a revival of the tree-lined, charming main street. Set in the picturesque Strzelecki Ranges this vibrant town teems with artists, foodies and beverage producers offering many local delights. Dreamy cafes, providores, wineries and distilleries are set amongst delightful antique stores and galleries with plenty to discover for the potterer, history buff and collector. Loch is also known for the discovery of Australia’s first dinosaur bone!
About an hour and a half from Melbourne’s CBD, Loch is a popular day trip or weekend getaway.
Hervey Bay, QLD
This pristine coastal destination has for time immemorial offered an enviable insight into Australia’s marine life, with Hervey Bay being a go-to destination for coral reef diving and snorkelling.
The rich and diverse marine life provides a truly stunning diving experience, invigorating your mind and soul as you explore the myriad of creatures nestled on Australian shores.
We must touch on Hervey Bay’s reputation as the world’s premier whale watching destination, too – paired with the stunning sunshine, this Queensland locale becomes a must-visit location for an escape that leaves you at one with nature.
Tennant Creek, NT
Sprawling, boundless red earth landscapes and mineral-laden rocky outcrops contrast beautifully against brilliant blue skies in this outback Northern Territory country that has been an inspiration to humans for thousands of years.
Positioned between Darwin and Alice Springs, Tennant Creek (and the Barkly Region) is
home to nine Indigenous groups including the Warumungu, Walpiri, Kaiditch and Alyawarr people. The engaging Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Cultural Centre offers great insights into its rich cultural and art-making Indigenous history.
In addition, with its gold mining history, enormous cattle stations, historic stock routes, vast array of outdoor activities and positioning on the Sturt Highway, Tennant Creek has much to offer the visitor exploring central Australia.
An idyllic small town known as Tasmania’s ‘winter wonderland’, this picturesque harbour-side village belies its colourful and often dark convict past to be a worthy holiday destination.
Strahan sits at the gateway to the renowned Franklin-Gordon Wild River National Park, while the wild ocean beach and massive sand dunes offer an adventurous seaside element. Strahan is teeming with stories of past convicts and pioneers waiting to be unearthed by the interested traveller.
Strahan is situated on Tasmania’s west coast, a three-and-a-half-hour drive away from Launceston in the north east. Furthermore, this picturesque location is your starting point for several boat or air trips of Tasmania’s islands, including daily departures to the historic Sarah Island.
Forget exotic overseas escapes and around the world trips – some of the most fascinating holiday destinations are found on our own shores. Explore our list of some of Australia’s small towns that can offer so much holiday zest!