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Australia’s Best Small Towns Under 3 hours From Major Cities

Australia is every traveller’s paradise and is on almost every bucket list. For us Aussie’s, we all know about our major cities and attractions, but what about the small towns near us? Whether you enjoy stunning natural beauty, quaint heritage-listed sites, relaxing on a beach or jam-packed sightseeing, there is a small town to satisfy your needs. So what are you waiting for? Take some time to visit these small towns all under three hours from major cities.

Sydney, NSW

Sydney, Australia’s largest and most populous city. The first stop on many Australian itineraries, and for good reason. It is one of the most visually stunning cities in the world, filled with excitement and culture.  Best known for the Sydney Opera House and waterside lifestyle, the city offers a variety of lively city life with a mixture of famous beach-fronts and endless nature just a few kilometres drive within each other.

As magnificent as Sydney is, not too far away are some hidden and not-so-hidden small town gems perfect for day trips or as an addition to your travel itinerary.

Anna Bay

Ariel shot of beach
(Anna Bay – Image by @davisonimagesanddecore – shared with permission)

Just 200km north of Sydney you will find Anna Bay. A surfing town with a famous local dolphin population viewable all year-round. This beautiful town is also the point of entry to The Stockton Bight Sand Dunes – which are the largest moving coastal dunes in the southern hemisphere and the most significant land formations on the east coast.

You will be amazed at the wide range of things to do in this small town. From four-wheel driving, sand boarding, great surf, rock pools and beach fishing, Anna Bay has so much to offer. Buy fresh produce from the farm gate stalls on the main road or simply just grab a feed and enjoy a coffee with beautiful views from Crest Cafe next to Birubi Beach.

Turn your day trip into an overnight stay. Just a few minutes drive away you will find a variety of great accommodation such as Ingenia Holidays One Mile Beach, Ingenia Holidays Soldiers Point, Thou Walla Sunset Retreat and much more.

Kangaroo Valley

Sunset cliff view with view of a valley
(Kangaroo Valley – Image by @visitkangaroovalley – shared with permission)

Heading south 153 km from Sydney you will find Kangaroo Valley. Lush countryside, rich rain forests, a variety of native flora and fauna and the peaceful river make this spot in the Shoalhaven region one of Australia’s most beautiful valleys. Fun fact, the Kangaroo Valley Hamden Bridge is Australia’s last wooden suspension bridge!

Along with all its natural beauty, Kangaroo Valley offers a great range of activities and fascinating colonial history. You can explore Kangaroo River and its spectacular waterfalls by hiring a canoe. For the slower-paced style, stock up on local produce from the Kangaroo Valley Farmers Market and enjoy a waterside picnic by Tallowa Dam.

Just a short drive away, you could head up to Yarrawa Estate for a wine tasting or sample some delicious country olives and olive oil at Kangaroo Valley Estate. A visit to Belmore Falls is also a good idea. Here you can take a scenic walk along the track, with many beautiful lookout points.

For something a bit more inbound, head into the charming country town for a freshly made (and oh so delish) famous pie from the Kangaroo Valley Pie Shop. For some sweet tooth satisfaction, visit Kangaroo Valley Fudge House and Ice Creamery. End the day at one of the tea rooms or at The Friendly Inn Hotel – the town’s heritage listed pub.

From great history to adventure to relaxing country-style living, Kangaroo Valley has something to suit everyone! Spend the night and stay at Holiday Haven Kangaroo Valley.

Melbourne, VIC

The coffee capital of the world – Melbourne is known for its cultural diversity, its many bustling laneways, world-class dining and amazing street art. No wonder it is regularly voted as one of the world’s most liveable cities and is the top of many itineraries.

With so much on offer, it’s easy to get sucked into this city, and we don’t blame you! Plan a day or weekend trip and take some time to visit one of these towns nearby and support the locals.


Sunset view over river
(Tocumwal – Image by @amas_travels shared with permission)

Tocumwal is a small historic town 269 km north of Melbourne. It is part of the Murray River region and is home to the iconic Big Murray Cod. Not surprisingly, this town is a great destination, with 23 beautiful inland river beaches to choose from with a backdrop of stunning red-gum forest trees that are abundant with wildlife.

Experience the town and all its history by joining a sightseeing tour with Bushliner Buses. You can also visit the Tocumwal Railway Museum, the Tocumwal Historic Aerodrome Museum or be adventurous and take a scenic glider flight over the countryside – after all, Tocumwal is, in fact, a renowned destination for gliding.

Take a short drive to the Tocumwal Foreshore Markets and the support locals. Head north to visit the Tocumwal Blowhole, a blowhole situated on a granite out-corp, sacred to the local Ulupna and Bangaragn Aboriginal Tribes. The blowholes are a natural phenomenon that occurs when the Murray River is low.

If you go south, you will visit Koonoomoo, a small Victorian Rural location with a population under 300. This region is known for its delicious strawberries which you can pick, eat and enjoy in many forms at the Big Strawberry.

Turn your visit into a little vacation and stay at Time Out Holiday Park.


Forrest picture of trees from bottom looking up
(Warburton – Image by @clare2205 – shared with permission)

Nestled in an always green valley, where the Yarra River runs clear and is lined with beautiful trees, is the gorgeous town of Warburton. This small town is a great destination for all visitors – families and couples alike. Situated 79 km east from Melbourne, Warburton can be found between the heavily forested mountains of the Yarra River.

Begin your journey at the Waterwheel on Warburton’s main street – home to a visitor information centre and a number of shops. Pick up a local handmade gift, indulge in local wine and enjoy the art gallery. While you’re there, enjoy a delicious cup of java at the family-owned and operated coffee roasters – Silvia Coffee.

This little town is perfectly located for you to take full advantage of Victoria’s picturesque countryside. Head out and experience the countryside by car, bike, foot or horseback. Walk along the Yarra River Walk pathway – a 3 km long pathway along the river through the town centre and past numerous river crossings including Story Reserve’s iconic swing bridge.

Just a short drive away, be sure to check out the stunning La La Falls and Mt Donna Buang. At Mt Donna Buang check out the spectacular views from the lookout tower, have a BBQ picnic, enjoy forest walks and they even have toboggan runs. In the winter, there is the chance of enjoying an easy day of snow play!

A great visit at any time of year, visit the town of Warburton and stay at Warburton Holiday Park.

Brisbane, QLD

Brisbane, Australia’s sun-soaked capital of Queensland. With near-perfect weather all year round, life in Brisbane revolves around the outdoors. Brisbane is perfectly situated between the coastline and rugged national parks, as well as its proximity to major tourist destinations.

Sure this beautiful city is a must-see, but if you need an excuse to get out of the city, take a short trip and visit one of these small towns.


forest stream in Kondalilla National Park
(Montville – Image by @garyisblack – shared with permission)

106 km north of Brissie, you will come across the charming town of Montville. Home to English style cottages, Swiss and Bavarian chalets and an old mill water-wheel. This quaint town is located near the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and offers cool mountain air, spectacular panoramic views, and a variety of boutique shops and eateries.

Montville has a great coffee culture and is a coffee destination in its own right. Home to the award-winning Montville Coffee, which is Queensland’s first certified fair trade and organic coffee roaster. Explore the town further and enjoy the Montville art gallery or satisfy your sweet tooth with ultra delicious, handmade fudge and lollies from Fudgyboombah. Looking for a more hearty meal? Head to Montville Cafe Bar and Grill or Flame Hill Vineyard, renowned for its paddock to plate experience.

Montville is surrounded by national parks, so if you’re looking for more of an outdoor adventure, you’re in the right place. To explore as much of this beautiful area, we recommend arranging a rainforest and local town guided tour like this one.

For those who like a more private adventure, there is a choice of walking trails from the Hinterland Great Walk to an easier route at Maleny’s Mary Cairncross rainforest reserve. Baroon Pocket Dam or Lake Baroon is also a great way to spend the day. A short drive between Montville and Maleny, this picturesque lake offers a variety of recreational activities. Cool down with a dip in the waters or kayak along the lake. This hike is a nature lovers dream with native wildlife, open forest ridges, boardwalks over tree-lined streams to the stunning views from Baroon lookout.

For nature lovers, it doesn’t end there! Montville is also located close to Kondilla National Park. This natural wonderland gets its name from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘rushing water’ and we know why. Here you can enjoy cooling off at one of the rock pools or bubbling creeks, as well as enjoy its magnificent 90 meter waterfall.

Brisbanites and visitors alike must add this small town to the itinerary. Turn your day trip into an overnight getaway and stay at Ingenia Holidays Rivershore. A family-friendly holiday park great for a family getaway or for a relaxing luxury stay to a casual camp out. Oh and let’s not forget their exquisite glamping options.


cliff picture of Queen Marry Falls waterfall
(Queen Mary Falls – Image by @murraydarlingjourneys– shared with permission)

Head approximately 180 km south-west of Brisbane to find the rural town of Killarney. A thriving farming town surrounded by lush green hills, secluded valleys and waterfalls. This is the perfect town to visit if you would like to get more in touch with nature and admire dramatic waterfalls and stunning postcard-worthy views.

In town, visit the Killarney Heritage Centre where you will be able to learn more about their history through photos and small artefacts. Visit the Willow Gallery, where you can admire the artwork of artists who live in the area, and happy to provide local knowledge to visitors. While in town, grab a hearty meal from the family-owned Killarney Country Diner where you can expect some good old fashioned country hospitality or pop into Killarney’s Top Shop.

The appeal of Killarney lies in the natural features around the town. It is a town surrounded by waterfalls and close by to the Condamine River. Experience the Falls Drive, starting in Killarney. On this scenic route, you will get to see the spectacular attractions in the area which include Queen Mary Falls, Dagg’s Falls, Brown’s Falls, the Treviot Falls and Upper Brown’s Falls.

Most of the waterfalls are within Queen Mary Falls National Park, just 10 km from Killarney town. This is the perfect place to explore nature by foot, with the possibility of wildlife sightings such as echidnas, gliders, quolls and more.

Pack an esky full of local produce and enjoy a picnic at the extensive picnic areas or visit the Falls Cafe. If you’re yearning for spectacular views and delicious cuisine made from local produce, visit Spring Creek Mountain Cafe.

Perfect for a relaxing time away in nature, the town of Killarney is worth the drive from Brisbane. During your stay, we recommend staying at Killarney View Cabins and Caravan Park.

Adelaide, SA

Donned “The City of Churches”. Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and boasts far more than just religious buildings. Enjoying Adelaide is an easy feat, with the famous central market, countless edgy bars and restaurants, all surrounded by the gorgeous ring of parklands.

But we can’t let this major city take all the limelight as there are so many small towns within a 3 hour drive, that offer wholesome and adventurous experiences.


Picture of the Berri Ngurunderi Dreaming story mural
(Berri Bridge Mural – Image by @eliza_baker– shared with permission)

Along the great Murray River and 3 hours drive north-east, is the gorgeous town of Berri. Its name was given by the traditional owners meaning ‘bend in the river’. Berri is rich in bushland and known for its fruit, wine and scenery.

In town, wander up the old water tower and enjoy views over Berri and the Murray River. Underneath the Berri Bridge, you can see local Indigenous knowledge of the land depicted through a large mural. The mural is based on Ngurunderi Dreaming story, telling the origins of the Murray River.  

Berri also has an abundance of established vineyards, boasting some of Australia’s largest wine production facilities. A trip to Berri is not complete without visiting for a glass of wine and a bite at Berri Estate Winery; famous for producing well-known brands such as Notting Hill and Banrock Station.

Wineries aren’t Berri’s only popular culinary locations. The region is home to many produce farms, with taste-testing at your fingertips. We recommend you simply drive along the Old Sturt Highway between Berri and Glossop and enjoy a wide variety of seasonal fruit and vegetables from one of the many stalls dotted along the highway.

Stay a night or two and enjoy Berri in style at Discovery Parks – Lake Bonney.


sunset view of grassland and trees
(Tanunda – Image by @follow_the_sun_aus– shared with permission)

Just over an hour north of Adelaide, nestled in the fruitful landscape of the Barossa Valley is Tanunda. ‘Tanunda’ in local Aboriginal means ‘many birds on a creek’ or ‘watering hole’. The irony of the latter is that no matter where you look in Tanunda you never far from a vineyard.

The Barossa region is arguably Australia’s best wine region, with a rich history in Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro varieties. From the top of the street to the bottom, Tanunda’s immediate area has a handful of great wineries to explore. Dependant on your time, our local favourites are Chateau Tanunda, Rockford Wines, Peter Lehmann Wines, and Langmeil Winery. For the easiest way to explore the region, book a local Barossa Valley tour.

Tanunda’s town rewards those at a slow pace as well. Enjoy the beautiful leafy streets by foot or bike on the Heritage Trail, well signed throughout the town. This quaint town has a myriad of established cafes, restaurants, bakeries and cellar doors. We recommend trying out the quirky Sweet As Barossa Diner or the contemporary restaurant, bar and distillery – Musque Food & Wine.  

Given the proximity to wineries, treat yourself and stay for a weekend or longer in the Tanunda area. We recommend Discovery Parks – Barossa Valley.

Perth, WA

The largest landmass of our great states, Western Australia is home to many awe-inspiring landscapes, activities… and quokkas! The capital city, Perth, sits near the coastline and is known for its sunny weather and access to serene beaches, parklands and quirky urban areas.

However, just a few hours away, there is an abundance of small towns with stories to tell and a desire for travellers to experience them! So, what are you waiting for?


Coastal picture with wales in the ocean
(Geographe Bay – Image by @my_vision_photography– shared with permission)

Just over 250 kilometres south of Perth will take you to the tranquil waters of Geographe Bay, leading to a quaint town, Dunsborough. A beautiful 3 hour drive from Perth, this small town has a long history of inhabitance and was originally called Quedjinup, meaning ‘Place of Women’. This ‘Place of Women’ is home to multiple sights of Aboriginal importance, along with adventurous endeavours.

As with all Western Australian coastal towns, visiting the nearby beaches is a must. We recommend exploring the turquoise brilliance of Meelup Beach. If you’re lucky enough to be travelling at the time of a full moon, this beach is the spot to be!

These nearby waters are a well-known location for viewing the migration of whales from September to December. Experience these magnificent creatures up close with Naturaliste Charters.

You can also admire the coastline from a different perspective by following the stunning Cape Naturaliste walking trails up to the lighthouse. Just a quick drive away, Yallingup welcomes visitors to Ngilgi Cave. You can explore the caves by casual boardwalks or hit up your sense of adventure and travel 45 metres below the Earth’s surface to truly experience its labyrinth beauty.

There’s no need to escape Dunsborough for good cuisine or produce. Great restaurants such as Yarri Restaurant and Bar, and wholefoods café and store, Wild and Woods have got you covered. However, you can keep it simple with some fish and chips along the beach from many of the local shops.

Enjoy Dunsborough for more than a day trip by staying at Amblin Holiday Park.

Jurien Bay

underwater sea lion
(Jurien Bay sea lion – Image by @littledanadoes shared with permission)

If north is more your style, you can’t miss the small coastal town of Jurien Bay. Do you know what we love about Jurien Bay? Not only is it a beautiful 2.5 hour drive from Perth, but it also has picturesque reefs with extensive marine life, and is nearby one of Australia’s most unique landscapes.

Facing the Indian Ocean, the turquoise shallow lagoon of Jurien Bay is all thanks to a significant limestone reef. You can easily explore the area at Jurien Bay Marine Park. A haven for fishers, snorkelers and divers, Jurien Bay is home to one of the rarest sea lion population, dolphins, rock lobsters, octopus and extensive fish. If you can’t get enough of the water, visit Sandy Cape and North Head as well!

Apart from close encounters with sea lions, we think the most unique part of this area is the Pinnacles within Nambung National Park. 20 minutes drive from Jurien Bay, the Pinnacles are limestone pillars obscurely displayed within this desert landscape. We recommend visiting in the early morning or dusk for the best light.

Take the stress away by booking an all-day adventure of sand dunes, a wildlife sanctuary visit, lunch at an exquisite Swan Valley winery and visiting the magnificent Pinnacles.

A trip to the Jurien Bay wouldn’t be complete without feasting on fresh lobster. Some local favourites are – Lobster Shack and Jurien Seafoods.

Enjoy an extended stay at Jurien Bay and stay at RAC Cervantes Holiday Park,

If you made it all the way here and are wondering where Northern Territory and Tasmania small towns are – watch this space!

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