Remote Islands, National Parks and Regional Towns: Here Are 20 of the Best Places to Visit in Australia in 2023
Make this the year you explore more of Australia's outstanding natural and cultural offerings.
August 09, 2023
New year, new adventures. It's time to start planning trips to hidden beaches while summer's still kicking, city breaks during quieter months of the year, and regional desert getaways when the temperature drops down south.
And we get the "I'll put off travelling around Australia till I'm older" mentality. But enough of that. There's so much greatness in our own backyard that we shouldn't keep pushing local trips further down the line of must-visit places.
So, read on to find a few Aussie destinations that should be added to your 2023 travel bucket list. Then go ahead and book a few trips before the opportunity passes.
Tassie's Bruny Island feels totally remote but it's a short ferry ride from the coast and, including driving time, is just 50-minutes from Hobart. The beauty of this proximity to the city is that, despite all the rugged wilderness, you can still find luxury accommodation, amazing food and all kinds of local produce (think fine cheese and whisky).
But consider Bruny Island a destination for when nature is calling. You'll find white wallabies at Inala Nature Reserve, windswept headlands at Cape Bruny Lighthouse and head-clearing watery views at Cloudy Bay. A trip to Bruny Island should be an essential addition to any Tasmanian vacation along the state's south-eastern coast.
If you're a serious gourmand, you can experience all the island's finest delights in style with a gourmet tasting and sightseeing day trip from Hobart which includes award-winning cheeses, premium wines and beer, freshly shucked oysters, handcrafted fudge and mead, local honey and a lunch at Pennicott's beachside restaurant with sweeping views of Adventure Bay. Book it now at Concrete Playground Trips.
BAY OF FIRES
This region is ripe for exploring and one of the most photogenic regions in Tassie. There are hiking trails through bushland full of native Australian wildlife as well as pristine white sand beaches with orange-hued granite boulders that the Bay of Fires is renowned for. Come any time of year to enjoy the area, staying for a few days at one of our favourite glamping sites in Australia or simply pass through while road tripping around Tasmania's North East region.
Hobart is booming. Increasingly, Australian travellers and international folk are taking the trip down south to Tasmania's seaside city. The city's brilliant food scene (which has totally transformed in the past ten years) draws visitors, as well as the city's singular cultural institution MONA.
This museum is home to world-class art and installations from owner/mastermind David Walsh's private collection of works that are anything but stuffy. The art is served alongside a fabulous selection of locally-focused food and wine. And then there is the Mona Foma music and arts festival.
The dates of this year's festival are Friday, February 17–Sunday, February 19, 2023 in Launceston, then the weekend of Friday, February 24–Sunday, February 26, 2023 in Hobart, and both weekends boast cracking lineups.
If you haven't secured your tickets, you can still book one of our exclusive Mona Foma travel packages which includes Posh Pit ferry pass to the museum, tickets to see Peaches return to the Mona stage on Friday, 24 February, plus two nights in a luxe hotel.
THE WYE RIVER
Victoria's Great Ocean Road is always worth travelling down — but finding places to stop for a few nights can be a much harder task. The classics of Torquay, Lorne and Apollo Bay are always great options, but we prefer the sleepier town of Wye River. The small regional town has its own beachside caravan park, an absolute stunner of a general store as well as plenty of beaches for surfing and swimming. Get away from the crowds down here.
If you're keen to explore this area in style, book our Great Ocean Road road-tripping holiday here (which includes car rental and accommodation so all you need to do is get behind the wheel and enjoy the iconic views).
No matter how popular Wilson's Prom gets, you can always find your own private cove or headland. Either stay at a nearby town and then drive to a beach or hiking trail or get even further off the beaten path by camping, taking your time to go on long treks that'll distance you from the hustle of metropolitan civilisation.
It's hard to find more stunning surrounds in Victoria, let alone Australia. You have tree-covered mountains that roll down to small coastal inlets where you can truly escape the outside world.
This regional Victorian city was booming back in the Gold Rush era and has recently had another renaissance of sorts — brilliant restaurants, bars, galleries and hotels are the new gold. These treasures, paired with its proximity to Melbourne (it's about an hour and a half drive or train ride away), help make Ballarat an even greater travel destination for 2023.
This may just be Australia's most up-market national park in the country. Luxury adult's only resorts and eco retreats are scattered all over the Whitsunday islands. This tropical paradise is where the rich and famous go to treat themselves to exclusive trips around the Great Barrier Reef and beyond. But you don't have to break the bank to enjoy these waters and beaches — so much of the area is considered a national park so you can go camping right up on many of the shorelines.
Whitsunday Island, Hook Island and Henning Island all have campsites for those who want to properly get in touch with nature. Just make sure you book your campsite ahead of time because numbers are capped.
If you are into a more luxurious stay, you can currently get 20% off the ultimate Whitsundays experience (think sunset sailing, scenic flights and a luxury resort stay) on this exclusive trip which you can book now.
MUNGA THIRRI NATIONAL PARK
Now off to somewhere entirely more remote. Munga Thirri is country that belongs to the Wangkangurru and Yarluyandi people, formerly known as the Simpson Desert National Park. It is the largest national park in Queensland and is also one of the toughest to explore. This is proper Australian outback territory. You'll see sand dunes stretching for kilometres (rising as high as 90 metres) and experience some of the best stargazing in your life.
But, if you're not an experienced outback traveller without a decent haul of gear it can be a challenging area for camping. So, in light of that, if you lack the more hardcore camping chops it's best to book stay somewhere like The Birdsville Hotel which will organise tours into the desert.
They'll take you on scenic flights, show you epic 4WD tracks and help you organise other local adventures. Just be aware that Munga Thirri is closed for a decent chunk of time in summer due to extreme heat — so be sure to check out the park's opening times on the Queensland national parks website.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Newcastle has undergone a huge cultural transformation in the past 15 years. Sydney's sister city hasn't always been a getaway destination, but we have been won over by its newfound charm.
It has terrific beaches, an impressive street art scene that rivals Melbourne (well, don't say this around Melburnians), microbreweries, galleries, small bars, cafes aplenty and several good boutique hotels including a flashy new QT that opened in mid-2022. It really deserves to be added to your 2023 Australia travel bucket list.
LORD HOWE ISLAND
Just 11 kilometres long and two kilometres wide, Lord Howe, is fully explorable within a few days. And thanks to visitor limits (only 400 people are permitted at any one time), it's one of Australia's best islands to visit when you want to get off the mainland.
Prepare to have these long beaches, idyllic diving sites and rugged terrain all to yourselves. It's also just a short two-hour flight east of Sydney or, if you have the means, you can access the island by your personal yacht.
You'll find some of the most stunning beaches along this part of the south coast including Bulli and Austinmer. But this isn't your average sleepy beach town. The city of Wollongong has undergone its own transformation over the past few years, becoming a hub for great food and drink and cultural activities.
After a day of swimming or hiking, either hit up the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre or the Wollongong Art Gallery before dining at some of the excellent restaurants in the area. This little city has a lot going for it.
This year, Wollongong will also host the For The Love music festival on Sunday, February 24 with headliners Charli XCX and Duke Dumont. Concrete Playground has teamed up For The Love on curated one-of-a-kind VIP packages for those wanting the ultimate experience. Book your package here — it includes two VIP festival tickets, two nights stay at Novotel Wollongong Northbeach, a Grey Goose gift pack in your hotel room and late check-out so you can sleep in after the party.
Byron Bay is a classic Australian travel destination, much loved for its bohemian beach culture and world class yoga and wellness retreats scattered about the region. Nature lovers can also go sea kayaking around some of the most breathtaking beaches or hike within the national parks.
And the foodies must experience Byron Bay's diverse grassroots drinking and dining scene that is growing impressively every year. And who knows, you might just run into one of the Hemsworth brothers while you're there.
Book a four-day wellness holiday for under $400 through Concrete Playground Trips here (including accommodation, yoga classes and two seperate sea kayaking and snorkelling tours).
If you want to take a selfie with a quokka then Rottnest Island is the only place to do it. These amusing little mounds of joy wander all over the island, ready for locals to respectfully stop for a snap.
But that's not the only reason to visit this Australian island, located just a short 90-minute ferry ride from Perth. Come to these parts for pristinely kept beaches, shallow shores that are perfect for snorkelling in and plenty of great places to stay for a range of budgets (from high-end hotels to well-appointed campsites). A trip to Rottnest Island is a must for anyone making their way to Perth for a few days.
If you're wanting to get the most out of your next jaunt to Perth, book our five-day Perth holiday here (including your accommodation, a day trip to Rottnest Island and visit to the Pinnacles).
This remote region in Western Australia is one of Australia's most impressive natural landscapes. It's known for its abundance of local wildlife that roams the rugged mountain ranges, dramatic gorges with hidden swimming holes and the semi-arid desert planes. It's a Tourism Australia ad everywhere you go. It's also one of the best places to visit when you want to keep the summer dream alive — boasting wonderfully warm weather throughout the colder months of the year.
Fun fact: Ningaloo Reef is the only large reef in the world that you can access right off the shore. Unlike the Great Barrier Reef, you don't need to book a spot on a large boat that takes you out to the reef with a bunch of other tourists. Here, you simply park by the beach and get straight to snorkelling around vibrant coral gardens, dolphins, turtles and manta rays.
You'll find the UNESCO heritage-listed wonder 1,200 kilometres north of Perth, from where it runs north along the coast for 260 kilometres, between North West Cape and Red Bluff. Pick a point to explore on your own or hit up local guides who will show you the best parts.
South Australia is famous for its many wine regions that pump out case after case of spectacular vino. You've got McLaren Vale, the Barossa and Clare Valley, but we are all about the Adelaide Hills in 2023. First off, this is one of the easiest wine regions to reach — located just a 30-minute drive away from the centre of Adelaide.
It's also home to some of our favourite cellar doors. We suggest you start in Woodside, where you'll find stunning cellar doors from Bird in Hand, Petaluma, Barristers Block and Golding Wines. And while you're there, don't miss Lost in a Forest which serves up woodfired pizzas and natural wine from local label Ochota Barrels in a 130-year-old church.
Get the most out of your trip to this region by booking our Adelaide Hills escape here including two nights' accommodation, transport around local wineries, daily yoga classes and most of your meals.
Wilpena Pound is the holy grail of the Flinders Ranges National Park, characterised by its dramatic rocky mountains. The entire region is vast and truly remote, located about a five-hour drive from Adelaide. But don't let the distance scare you off. There's much to see and do here.
Go on 4WD treks through the bush, take scenic flights over the mountain ranges and go on guided hikes to see some of the best-preserved Aboriginal rock art while learning of the local Adnyamathanha people's rich history.
This coastal region in South Australia is foolishly overlooked by both Aussies and international travellers. It is the state's own version of Victoria's Great Ocean Road, and it might just give that famous stretch of coast a run for its money. Head to Eyre Peninsula to swim with dolphins and sea lions or simply relax on long sand beaches backed by rugged cliffs as you look out for passing whales. Dreamy stuff.
Then you can hit up any of the local townships to try Eyre Peninsula's legendary oysters and freshly caught seafood or head inland to do some winery hopping. You'll quickly discover why it's one of our favourite stretches of coast in Australia.
KAKADU NATIONAL PARK
Kakadu is an unmissable Australian travel destination, but its perceived remoteness seems to put a lot of travellers off. Don't let it. Kakadu is only a three-hour drive from Darwin and it's well and truly worth the journey. Once you're there, you have an enormous natural playground to explore and some genuinely life-changing scenery and experiences ahead of you.
We recommend hiring a 4WD with a pop-top tent or camper for the week and see where the road takes you. Organise an itinerary to hidden swimming holes and incredible rainwater waterfalls, epic mountain ranges or local wildlife sanctuaries and cultural experiences with the local Indigenous people to learn the ancient history and dreaming stories of the area.
Run away to the Northern Territory's fairly unknown Bremer Island for a super chill tropical island holiday. It's well and truly off the beaten path, so you'll be away from the crowds, surrounded only by well-preserved wilderness.
There aren't many places to stay on the island, but we are big fans of Banubanu Beach Retreat — a glamping site located right on the water. Spend your days kayaking along the coast or snorkelling in the warm waters before eating some fresh-caught seafood. It's a really laid-back place to visit, away from the crowds and influencers.
Feeling inspired to book a truly unique getaway? Head to Concrete Playground Trips to explore a range of holidays curated by our editorial team. We've teamed up with all the best providers of flights, stays and experiences to bring you a series of unforgettable trips in destinations all over the world.
Top images: Sal Salis on Ningaloo Reef
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