There are so many lovely small towns in Australia. If you’re planning on making a trip Down Under, know this – you’ll only be rewarded if you get off the beaten path and spend time in some our most charming small towns. Read on to find out more.
While places like Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns and Byron Bay draw the tourist crowds, small towns and villages in Australia have a lot to offer.
Whether they be in the heart of our bushland and countryside, or by the beach, they are all quite beautiful and charming in their own way.
Each place on this list comes with its own little quirks. Beautiful beaches and historic architecture. Kooky festivals or fabulous gourmet food and wine.
If you want to get off the beaten path while travelling in Oz, you should definitely consider adding them to your itinerary.
Here’s our pick of the best small towns to visit in Australia, categorised by state and territory.
Small Towns in Australia: Victoria
Apollo Bay, VIC
Population size: 1598
Traditional Owners: the Wadawuurung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara peoples
Beachside Apollo Bay lies smack bang in the middle of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.
This spectacular drive is supremely popular with locals and travellers alike. With famous surfing destination Bells Beach at one end and the magnificent Twelve Apostles close to the other end, there’s plenty of natural beauty in this part of the world.
The endless beach is the main attraction and quite rightly so. The majestic beauty of the crashing surf invigorates the soul. Plus there’s a patrolled section for safe swimming.
Great coffee can be found at Café 153 and the scallop pies at the Apollo Bay Bakery are legendary. Even if you don’t stay in Apollo Bay, make sure you stop off for lunch!
If you have a few days, there’s plenty to do.
Take a drive to the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. It’s about a 90 minute trip and these attractions get very busy. Get an early start to beat the day trip buses coming down from Melbourne.
On your way back explore the historic Cape Otway lighthouse. Closer to town are the tranquil walks and waterfalls in the Great Otway National Park, and the Otway Fly Treetop Walk allows you to get in amongst the gumtrees (Buy your ticket in advance here).
Read more about driving the Great Ocean Road here, which is littered with other small towns.
Thanks to Escape With Kids for the submission!
Population size: 1728
Traditional Owners: the Dja Dja Wurrung people
Clunes is truly Victoria’s most historic town.
Take a walk through the main street and you’ll be taken back to the 1850s.
This was a time when gold was first struck, and miners the world over embarked upon the town and surrounding regions of Ballarat and Bendigo in an attempt to strike it rich.
The town is located 140km (100 minute drive) outside Melbourne, which makes it a perfect stop when exploring the gold field region for the day.
But gold is not only what Clunes is about.
It’s the host of the annual – and biggest book – event in Victoria, Booktown Festival. This literary extravaganza draws hundreds of thousands of visitors nation-wide to the town for one weekend.
Clunes is also a film lover’s paradise, with countless Aussie films and television shows having been filmed right here – including the film which launched the career of Mel Gibson “Mad Max”, and Bushranger biopic “Ned Kelly” starring the late Heath Ledger. It continues to be a film backdrop even today.
Thanks to Enchanted Serendipity for the submission!
Population size: 2548
Traditional Owners: the Dja Dja Wurrung people
Many cities or towns that you visit leave you more tired or stressed than before. One place that isn’t like that is Daylesford.
Daylesford is in the centre of Spa County in Victoria and has a plethora of things to do to ensure a relaxing break.
Surrounded by natural springs – a great (and free) activity is to walk through the Mineral Springs reserve. Fill your bottles with fresh mineral water – direct from the source.
After this take advantage of the healing and restorative powers of the water by heading to the famous Hepburn Bathhouse, open since 1895.
Here you can bathe in warm natural springs. Then indulge in the long menu of treatments and massages designed to make you feel better.
Once you are feeling relaxed, try some of the local natural produce.
The local farmers market offers a range of high quality local products. This is a great stop before heading onto Daylesford Cider.
Enjoy one of their organic apple ciders in the beautiful gardens or in the winter, chill with live music by their open fire.
Editor’s note: Here are some tips for planning a weekend getaway to Daylesford.
Big thanks to Globe Talking for this contribution!
Population size: 5280
Traditional Owners: the Gunaikurnai people
Maffra is one of those small nondescript towns that lives just off the Princes Highway in Gippsland Australia.
This dairy town was once home to what was one a Devondale Milk factory (now owned by a Canadian multi-national).
Maffra is famous or well-known for two things.
The first is the Maffra Pie.
This delicious piece of pastry is sold all over the Gippsland region in takeaway shops.
It is the finest example of a soft but tasty pastry filled with quality mince and gravy. The Maffra Bakery have been turning these beauties out for over half a century.
The second thing Maffra is know for is the Gippsland Vehicle Collection, developed by three mates and one pub.
Today the Gippsland Vehicle Collection welcomes cars and visitors for all over Australia.
The Shed as its locally known changes its collections of cars regularly and hold motor show all year around.
The Gippsland Vehicle Collection has been awarded many local tourism awards and has a 4 star rating on Trip Advisor.
Maffra is also known for its beautiful tree lined main street. Stretch your legs along the main street taking in the small shops or drinking a latte at any of a number of cafe’s in town.
Submitted by Travels in Gippsland!
Population size: 1114
Traditional Owners: the Wadawuurung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara
Lorne is a vibrant little town along the well-known Great Ocean Road drive in Victoria.
It gets very busy in the peak tourist season as many Melburnians head down there on day trips.
Go out of season, the town is totally different. It still has a buzz. All the shops will usually be open all year round.
There is a really good information centre in the town and a historical display about the building of the Great Ocean Road.
The main draw-card is the stunning beach and the forest that comes all the way to the town itself.
The views from Teddys Lookout, on the edge of Lorne, are gorgeous as they look down on the winding ocean road and out to the ocean. Koalas can often be found in the manna gum trees along the walk too.
The best walk from Lorne (go after lunch at eatery Cafe Kaos) is the trek to Erskine Falls.
It starts from near the supermarket and takes about 3 hours return covering less than 8kms.
These falls are one of the prettiest waterfalls in Victoria and Lorne is such a great base for walking to them.
Read more about Lorne and the coastal drive on Explore The Great Ocean Road.
Small Towns in Australia: New South Wales
Nelson Bay, NSW
Population size: 5,396
Traditional Owners: the Worimi people
Situated less than a 3 hour drive north of bustling Sydney, you can find one of the country’s best kept secrets and one of the nicest small towns in Australia.
This small peninsula is home to some stunning beaches, and you can easily find a quite place away from the crowds.
One point of interest are the Stockton sand dunes, which run from nearby Newcastle all the way along the coast of Port Stephens.
These 32 km long dunes are the longest shifting sand dunes in the southern hemisphere, and can be explored by 4WD, or on a sand boarding tour.
If you enjoy walking, at low tide you can walk across the exposed sand of “Fingal Spit” and check out the lighthouse.
Another hike not to be missed is in nearby Tomaree Head. Take a short but steep walk to the summit, where you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the area.
If you are lucky, you may see the tell tale plumes of water from migrating Humpback Whales.
Fan of fish and marine life in general? Down in Nelson Bay you can board a Dolphin watching cruise.
The boat will take you out of the bay, and give you spectacular views of the coastline. There’s also a near 100% chance of seeing the resident dolphins.
If you are more adventurous, there are plenty of places you can rent a surfboard, stand up paddle board or kayak.
Editor’s note: Read this guide about beach safety in Australia, before heading into the water.
Submitted by Around the World With Her.
Population size: 10,923
Traditional Owners: the Mudgee and the Dabee peoples
Sydney is a sprawling metropolis, and it’s good to get out of it for a little while. This is the perfect for a relaxing weekend.
Mudgee is a lively and growing small town north west of Sydney.
A three and a half hour drive through the Blue Mountains and the Western Plains, Mudgee is surrounded by hills and home to a thriving wine industry.
Unlike the Hunter Valley, Mudgee’s wineries are family-owned, which give them a very welcoming feel.
Mudgee also has great food, with some fantastic restaurants, in town or in wineries. The town has attracted real talent in that space and some locals have really embraced a sustainable food culture.
Mudgee is a weekend destination that caters to all kinds of travellers, with a wide range of accommodation choices. Go for a cosy B&B on a hill overlooking a valley, or pick from other options around town.
You can even take a picturesque hot air balloon flight over the entire town.
If you are looking to indulge in food and wine while getting away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney, Mudgee is a great choice. You’ll get the kind of hospitality you can only find in Australia’s small towns.
Here are six reasons why you should escape away to Mudgee, just in case you need further convincing.
Thanks LesterLost, for contributing!
Population size: 206
This tiny mountain town is probably best known for its gorgeous waterfall: Ellenborough Falls.
At 200 metres it is one of the longest single drop waterfalls in the Southern Hemisphere.
Stop at one of the many lookouts of the falls during the trail down and you can view for yourself why this is one of the Manning Valleys biggest natural attractions!
It’s especially cool that when you get to the bottom, you can stand under the spray and take cool photos atop one of the vantage points.
But the falls aren’t the only reason to come to Elands.
Here, you will also find a small community of artists and hippies who have decorated the tiny town and made it feel like home.
Be sure to check out the Oxygen Farm Trail and The Rapids.
At The Rapids you can slide down a naturally smooth rockface into the shallow basin below or just sunbake on one of the warm black rocks.
Submitted by Castaway with Crystal.
Population size: 3000
‘Narooma’, which in Yuin means “clear blue water” is the only word to describe the sweeping views which greet you as you approach the coastal resort.
Narooma boasts pristine waterways, seaside relaxation and an abundance of wildlife without the crowds.
Old timber boatsheds line the estuaries, many providing fresh local seafood. Swim, drop a line, enjoy a cliff -side round of golf or simply relax in the sunshine.
Explore historic Central Tilba nearby and learn the traditional history of Mt Gulaga.
Visit Montague Island, a former lighthouse and now a nature reserve, home to a large seal colony and around 90 species of birdlife.
A charter from the town wharf will bring you out to fish, snorkel or swim with the seals.
From September to November the whales put on a spectacular display during their annual migration.
Enjoy a whale watching tour, or simply view them from the many platforms along the 10 kilometres of scenic pathway between Dalmeny and Kianga.
From the Mill Bay boardwalk or the many beaches, you are sure to catch seals or dolphins at play, stingrays or pelicans jostling for a feed. There’s even the odd emu and kangaroo.
Thanks Empty Nesters Travel Insights for the contribution!
Jervis Bay, NSW
Population size: 391
Traditional Owners: the Dhurga and Dharawal language groups
Jervis Bay, 207kms from Sydney on NSW’s stunning South Coast, ticks all the boxes for a weekend getaway or longer.
Dream of silky silver beaches, turquoise blue water, dolphins, penguins and sea dragons, and breathtaking vistas? Then Jervis Bay is the place for you.
You can enjoy a morning walk through the Jervis Bay National Park. You just may share the walking trails with a kangaroo or two.
From May to November the whale watching season is underway and there are cruises available from Huskisson.
If you enjoy scuba diving the Jervis Bay Marine Park offers up to 50 available dive sites throughout the year.
If camping is your passion and you enjoy secluded beaches and bays head to the Booderee National Park. Here, three camp sites are on offer at Green Patch, Bristol Point and Cave Beach.
The seaside villages of Vincentia, Callala Bay, Huskisson and Hyams Beach offer all types of accommodation to suit all budgets.
Over the past few years Jervis Bay and its surrounds has become well known for its culinary delights especially in the town of Huskisson.
It will be hard to leave when your holiday is over.
Courtesy of To Travel Too!
Population size: 11,349
Traditional Owners: the Darkinyung people
Terrigal is a bit bigger than other small towns in Australia – in fa t it’s one of the main towns in the Central Coast region an hour or so north of Sydney.
It’s a great place to visit because of its beach and coastal scenery, and it’s one of the best bases from which you can explore the Central Coast.
Terrigal Beach is fantastic, a long, dramatic crescent of glorious Pacific sand.
Most of the town’s restaurants are concentrated around the southern end of the beach, along with the hotel and holiday apartments. The northern end around the lovely lagoon is much quieter.
The best of Terrigal’s scenery is also at this end of town, including the small bay at the Haven and the Skillion, a dramatic headland and cliff with a beautiful park just behind.
The next suburbs down from Terrigal are North Avoca and Avoca Beach, home to one of the best beaches on the coast.
Further to the south, the Bouddi National Park is an unexplored gem, as is the Wyrrabalong National Park to the north.
Thanks to Travel With Little One for contributing!
Click here for more places to visit in New South Wales.
Small Towns in Australia: Queensland
Agnes Water & 1770, QLD
Population size: 76
This small town in Australia has indeed got to be one of the tiniest!
The Town of 1770 (officially written Seventeen Seventy) is the site of the second landing of James Cook in Australia.
Along with the nearby town of Agnes Water, it’s a great place to get back to basics among the beauty of the Australian coastline.
It’s a relatively quiet area, but with plenty to do.
You can try paddle boarding, kayaking, surfing, walking around the coast, plus boat trips around the coast and to the most southern area of the Great Barrier Reef.
It has all the majesty of the north of Queensland, but still has the surf, which dies down as you head further north.
The Town of 1770 is now a protected area and no further buildings are allowed there, so the nearby Agnes Water continues to expand and provides many of the accommodation options.
There’s everything from campgrounds to hostels, cabins, and motels.
If you’re looking for somewhere calm and relaxing along the coast of Queensland but with plenty to keep you occupied then head to 1770!
Cheers to Migrating Miss for this entry!
Airlie Beach, QLD
Population size: 1208
Airlie Beach is a little gem of a place that traditionally doesn’t see as many tourists as some of the other coastal Queensland towns, such as Cairns.
It’s is the gateway to the southern Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands and provides easy access to Australia’s most photographed beach, Whitehaven Beach.
The town has a laid back vibe to it, making it popular with backpackers.
The main street is where it’s all at and the esplanade holds a weekly market on a Sunday consisting of things that are all locally produced.
This area does experience visits from saltwater crocodiles and has a bit of a problem with box jellyfish at certain times of the year.
Don’t let this deter you, particularly as they have a beautiful lagoon on the waterfront, enabling you to swim all year round.
Or float on air in Airlie with a tandem skydive!
Learn more about touring the Whitsundays here.
Submitted by Our 3 Kids V the World.
Small Towns in Australia: South Australia
Coober Pedy, SA
Population size: 1762
Of all the small towns in Australia, Coober Pedy in Outback South Australia has got to be one of the most interesting town to visit in the country.
Located 850kms north of Adelaide, Coober Pedy is best known for being the opal mining capital of the world and for its residents that live in dugouts underground.
There are no trees, little water and lots of red dirt hills strewn around the town area, making it feel a little like being on Mars.
The one thing you have to do while visiting Coober Pedy is stay in an underground hotel. The rock walls provide natural air conditioning against the oppressive desert heat and sleeping underground is a surreal experience.
Check out the prices for the local Comfort Inn, to experience it for yourself.
You can also tour underground homes, including one with a swimming pool and underground churches and restaurants.
Of course while in Coober Pedy you do need to go on a mine tour to understand how opal is mined before picking out a souvenir to take home.
Here are some other ideas of what to do in Coober Pedy in one day.
Submitted by 5 Lost Together.
Small Towns in Australia: Western Australia
Margaret River, WA
Population size: 4415
Traditional Owners: the Wadandi people
Tucked away in Australia’s beautiful southwest, Margaret River is synonymous with award-winning wine, world-class surf breaks and stunning scenery.
While it’s the surrounding region which draws the crowds to the Margaret River area, the town itself has plenty to offer visitors too.
Margaret River is still a country town at heart. There are plenty of hip and classy additions to this bustling rural township.
The main drag along Bussel Highway is a growing hub of trendy cafes, boutiques, wine bars and galleries.
For a classy night out, look no further than Must Wine Bar which offers sensational regional produce and wine.
For traditional pub grub and a lively ambience, Settlers Tavern has been entertaining the crowds for decades and is still the best place in the southwest for live music.
Another must visit, is the Margaret River bakery where the queues packed with gnarly surfer dudes and hipsters are well worth the wait, not least because of the kitschy interior and plush purple velvet seats.
There’s the 100 plus wineries to explore, amazing breweries, legendary beaches and gigantic Karri forests.
Book onto a wine tour here, to see what all the fuss is about.
Here are some other options for Margaret River which don’t involve wine.
Thanks to West Australian Explorer for contributing!
Population size: 868
Northampton is a small town in Australia that’s located around five hours north of Perth.
The most interesting aspect of the town is the presence of painted fibre-glass sheep everywhere. This is the result of a local festival known as “Ewe-Turn”.
First held in 2018, there was a competition where locals, artists, businesses and community groups could enter a painted sheep.
It’s hoped the placement of sheep around the town will boost tourism numbers.
Northampton is close to a few notable landmarks in Western Australia, such as the pink coloured Hutt Lagoon and the Principality of Hutt River, Australia’s first micronation.
Rottnest Island, WA
Population size: 334 (plus numerous quokkas)
Beach towel, swimming suit, hat, sunscreen – check!
If you’re looking for a beautiful and relaxing place by the ocean, then schedule a weekend getaway or a day trip to Rottnest Island.
Located off the coast of Perth, the transient town of Rottnest Island is accessible by a 1-1.5 hour one-way ferry ride (Book your ticket here).
Once you’ve arrived on the island, you can relax on one or more of the 60 beaches, swim, or snorkel in the crystal blue waters.
You can also rent a bicycle to cycle around the island or take a hop-and-off bus tour to visit picturesque sites.
And we can’t forget about the international celebrities who call the island home – the quokkas!
The quokkas are adorable marsupials that are inquisitive and will walk up to everyone.
You’ll find the quokkas in designated areas on the island, and around the Settlement Shops.
If you’re in the Settlement Shops, stay alert for peacocks strutting around or visit several cafes for a break.
Rottnest island is definitely one of the top things to do in Perth.
Submitted by Life Of Doing.
Population size: 1062
Tucked away in the South West corner of Western Australia is the beach town of Yallingup.
The town boasts idyllic beaches with white sands and crystal clear waters, perfect for a cooling swim.
For those sporty waterbabies the strong winds of WA and remote location can also mean you’ll have the oceans to yourself if you fancy a spot of windsurfing.
Although it’s a small town in a very large country, there’s plenty to do in Yallingup. The cooler southern climate mean that there are wonderful wineries stretching all across the region. Yallingup is no exception!
Indulge in a tour of the wineries to see what tipple tickles your fancy and even take a souvenir bottle away with you.
Yallingup’s location in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park also means you’re not far from either of the capes, larger nearby towns.
The many caves throughout the park are a popular attraction to see some of nature’s most fascinating creations.
The crown jewel of Yallingup is without a doubt, Canal Rocks. The crashing waves and red stones feel otherworldly, and clambering around them makes for quite an adventure.
With gorgeous landscapes and the freedom of space what more could you need? It’s an ideal place to escape to if you fancy checking out some of the small towns in Australia.
Thanks to Suzy Stories for this contribution!
Small Towns in Australia: Northern Territory
Population size: 887
Traditional Owners: the Anangu people
Yulara is a small town in Southern Region of the Northern Territory of Australia, which according to the 2016 census, has a permanent population of less than 900 people.
It is also a popular tourist destination, as it is where most Uluru tours start from and it’s where all the area’s campsites and hotels are located.
The town is structured around one main roundabout, with a central square around which all the shops and restaurants are located.
From Yulara the entry to the Uluru & Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park is a short 20-minute drive away.
In town you will find a lot of tours that can take you to experience magical things such as the sunrise over Uluru, an evening at the Field of Light, or hiking in Kata Tjuṯa.
While the town itself might be a bit quiet, there are plenty of beautiful things to see and do around it.
Why not take a tour around the base of Uluru, then enjoy a probably stunning sunset.
Here are some more options for your time in Yulara.
Thanks to Greta Travels for contributing!
Small Towns in Australia: Tasmania
Lower Crackpot, TAS
Population size: Unknown
Hidden deep within Tasmania’s Promised Land (yep, it’s a real name for a real place) is one of the more interesting small towns in Australia – Lower Crackpot.
Getting there is a perilous journey indeed… as Lower Crackpot is the reward for successfully navigating through the maze of Tasmazia (the largest in the Southern Hemisphere), reaching the centre.
Here you’ll find a scale model town, built to 1/5th scale. Many of the buildings pay homage to Aussie history and culture.
It’s a fantastic place to explore with kids, or on your lonesome!
Is Lower Crackpot legit? Well, the residents may be teeny tiny, but the town does have its own postcode and you can send postcards to friends and loved ones bearing this stamp.
Read more: Tasmazia and the Town of Lower Crackpot
Population size: 880
Located just 30 minutes away from the state’s capital of Hobart, Richmond is a gorgeous little town in Tasmania.
As far as small towns in Australia go, it’s one of the loveliest (and more historic!).
With a population of less than 1000, this town has an old-world charm due in part to a lot of original colonial buildings from Tasmania’s convict past.
It’s the perfect destination for a day-trip from Hobart because even though it’s small, there is still a lot of things to do and see!
Nestled in the Coal River Valley are numerous award-winning vineyards and restaurants around the town, as well as lots of lovely cafés within the sandstone buildings of the town centre.
The old fashioned lolly-shop is a favourite among tourists and locals with huge glass jars of lollies on display on the walls, as well as tempting ice-creams on offer.
You can walk over the oldest still-used bridge in Australia and watch the ducks, explore a massive maze or marvel at the tiny model of colonial Hobart at “Old Hobart Town”.
You can also visit the Richmond Gaol if you want to learn more about the town’s convict history. Or pop into a charming village market on the local green every Saturday.
There are art galleries and antique shops galore, and you can even dress up in old-fashioned clothing for a colonial photoshoot!
Richmond is truly a lovely little town and well worth a visit. Here’s a full list of awesome things to do in Richmond.
Cheers to Tassie Devil Abroad for this contribution!
Check out these other small towns in Tasmania that are worth visiting.
Have you visited any of these small towns in Australia? Would you like to? Let me know in the comments and please share this to inspire more Australian travel fun times. You can follow Birdgehls on Facebook and Pinterest for more travel inspiration for Australia and elsewhere.
Note: we’ve included the names of the Aboriginal peoples of these small towns in Australia where possible. We invite you to learn more about Australia’s Indigenous history and pay respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands you visit.