Alex O'Brien

Domestic Travel

5 incredible regional Australian cities

5 incredible regional Australian cities

The capitals tend to get all the publicity but head a little further out and you’ll find some of Australia’s most vibrant and charming regional cities just waiting for you to visit.

1. Bendigo, VIC

This former Gold Rush town northwest of Melbourne is quickly establishing itself as the state’s arts and culture hub. The Bendigo Art Gallery has an impressive collection of Australian art dating back to the 1850s and also attracts some incredible travelling exhibitions including exclusive shows focusing on Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe. Wander through the historic centre of the city to admire the heritage architecture, visit one of 80 local wineries in the region or see where it all began down the Central Deborah Mine.

2. Yamba, NSW

This sleepy yet stylish beachside town was named as the best in Australia by Australian Traveller magazine this year, and it’s easy to see why. Yamba is often described as Byron Bay 20 years ago and has the same mix of perfect weather, great beaches, bohemian lifestyle and fantastic eats that draw travellers year after year. It moves at its own (decidedly relaxed) pace and there’s not much in the way of nightlife – mainly because everyone want to be up early to catch the best waves.

3. Cairns, QLD

It’s the gateway to Far North Queensland and the jumping off point for exploring both the rainforest and the reef. The Daintree rainforest, the oldest lowland rainforest on earth at more than 135 million years old, is just north of Cairns and is great for hiking or you can take a gentle cruise along the Daintree River to spot crocodiles. The Great Barrier Reef is just offshore and perfect for a day of snorkelling or diving. Cairns itself is home to fantastic galleries, a thriving coffee scene and interesting markets.

4. Esperance, WA

Western Australia’s hidden gem is incredibly beautiful with snow-white sand drifts blending into deep aquamarine water. In fact, the beaches are so nice that you’ll even find kangaroos lounging about enjoying the sun. Esperance is around eight hours from Perth so it’s really a place to get away from it all. Visit in spring to see carpets of wildflowers, pitch your tent and camp by the beach at Lucky Bay, catch your dinner off Tanker Jetty or learn about the region’s history with an indigenous cultural tour.

5. Strahan, TAS

This former fishing village is isolated even by Tasmanian standards. Strahan sits on the edge of Macquarie Harbour and is completely surrounded by virgin rainforest. It has the best of the Apple Isle all condensed into the one spot – clean air, sparkling water, delicious seafood, unspoilt nature and a charming little town. You can explore the region on foot, from the water, on the scenic railway or on a scenic flight. Fancy shops sell local wares and trendy restaurants serve up innovative cuisine using regional produce.

Have you ever visited any of these five spectacular Australian regional cities? If so, what was the highlight of your visit?

Share your story in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Related links:

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The power and beauty of crashing waves in Australia

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