Australia has some amazing capital cities – stunning Sydney, vibrant Melbourne, charming Hobart, tropical Darwin. But its superb regional destinations often fly under the radar.
If you need inspiration for your next trip, look no further than our list of five must-see regional destinations in each state.
Highlights include the wildlife paradise of Kangaroo Island (South Australia), the convict history of Port Arthur (Tasmania), the gold rush town of Kalgoorlie (Western Australia) and the natural marvels of Uluru and Kata Tjuta (Northern Territory).
New South Wales
Blue Mountains: This World Heritage-listed area is awash with natural treasures, including Jenolan Caves, the Three Sisters mountains and Kanangra Falls.
Broken Hill: Revel in the mining history (this is where BHP, or Broken Hill Proprietary Company, was formed), outback landscapes and surprisingly rich art scene.
Byron Bay: Beaches, bushwalking, diving, ballooning, whale watching, day spas, arts and crafts.
Kiama: One of Australia’s most beautiful small towns boasts a famous blowhole, gorgeous beaches and a wonderful coastal walk.
Lord Howe Island: This World Heritage site is renowned for its natural beauty. You could spend an idyllic week here walking, diving, fishing and bird watching.
Adelaide River: An Adelaide River ‘jumping crocodile’ cruise is a rare opportunity to see lots of vicious crocs up close in their natural habitat.
Alice Springs: This desert town is rich in Aboriginal and European history, with several stunning outback landmarks located nearby.
Kakadu National Park: Ancient Aboriginal rock art, gorgeous waterfalls, amazing landscapes – there’s a reason Kakadu is on the World Heritage list.
Litchfield National Park: One of Australia’s most extraordinary national parks.
Cairns: Dive or snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, visit the nearby rainforest village of Kuranda and discover Aboriginal culture at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.
Cooktown: Look down on this beautiful small town from the top of Grassy Hill – which Captain Cook climbed in 1770 after stopping to repair the Endeavour.
Fraser Island: The world’s largest sand island is famous for its beaches, lakes, rainforests, shipwrecks and dingoes.
Hamilton Island: This tropical paradise is the perfect place to swim, sail, dive and relax.
Noosa: Beaches, swimming, bushwalking, whales, dolphins, koalas.
Barossa Valley: Australia’s most famous wine-growing region is known for its food, wine, walking trails and charming villages.
Coober Pedy: This bizarre, otherworldly opal-mining town is so hot that many of its residents live underground.
Flinders Ranges National Park: The large network of walking trails will lead you to amazing landscapes and Aboriginal rock art.
Kangaroo Island: If you like penguins, seals, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and dramatic natural scenery, this is the place for you.
Victor Harbor: This lovely little holiday town is known for its wildlife, coastal scenery and water sports.
Cradle Mountain: Cradle Mountain, and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area in which it is located, is home to some of Australia’s most breathtaking alpine scenery.
Maria Island: Convict ruins, plentiful wildlife, stunning scenery – there are few better places in Australia to go bushwalking.
Port Arthur: Australia’s most amazing convict site, and also the site of the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre in which 35 people died.
Strahan: This charming seaside village is known for its natural beauty and convict history.
Wineglass Bay: Climb to the top of the mountain and you’ll be rewarded with one of Australia’s most iconic – and Instagramable – views.
Ballarat: Immerse yourself in the history of the Eureka Stockade, where the Southern Cross flag flew and a bloody battle was fought in 1854.
Bendigo: This charming small city has fascinating history and architecture from its days as a 19th century gold rush town.
Great Ocean Road: Australia’s most famous drive is best done over several days. Highlights include the Twelve Apostles, Bells Beach, Loch Ard Gorge and Teddy’s Lookout.
Phillip Island: Penguins, seals, whales, koalas and stunning coastline, not to mention fascinating motorsport history.
The Grampians: The Grampians National Park is heaven for bushwalkers.
Great Ocean Road
Broome: This tropical town is a fascinating blend of natural beauty, pearling history and multicultural flavour.
Esperance: Experience some of Australia’s most remarkable beaches and coastal scenery.
Exmouth: The town itself is nothing special, but the nearby Ningaloo Marine Park and Cape Range National Park are extraordinary.
Kalgoorlie: This outback city is all about the gold – the world’s largest open-cut gold mine, historic gold rush architecture and nearby gold rush ghost towns.
New Norcia: Founded in 1847 by Benedictine monks, this is Australia’s only monastic town.