Most non-Aussies conjure up a certain picture when they think of Australia – koalas and kangaroos, crocodile Dundee, spiders the size of a small toddler. However, this continent has far more to offer than wide open spaces and Outback cowboys. Here are three Australian cities that are rapidly becoming hotbeds for culture vultures, eco-friendly earth lovers, entrepreneurs and artisans. Impeccable Australia tours should include a visit to some of these gems so look out for them on the itinerary when making your selection.
Fremantle, Western Australia
Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is about as far as you can get from any other city on this continent. As such, most visitors miss out on this cities distinct charms, many of which are hiding in the port city of Fremantle. However, visitors who do make the 6-hour flight from Sydney rarely rave about anything else, naming Fremantle as their favourite city in Australia, and even the world. It’s easy to see why – the quaint colonial architecture, abundant heritage trails, and stunning sunsets over the western Australian coast make for a picture-perfect seaside town. In addition, Fremantle is a hotbed for wine bars, fine dining, and live music. This tiny town packs a bigger punch than its population would indicate – the world-famous John Butler Trio was born here, along with Bon Scott, the lead singer of AC/DC.
While most Great Barrier Reef visitors head straight for Cairns, skip the obvious tourist central in favour of the subtler yet livelier Townsville to the south. Visitors will find exactly what they need in Townsville – a veritable fleet of snorkel and SCUBA boats heading straight for the world’s largest reef. It’s also a jumping-off point to Magnetic Island, a small island off Australian’s eastern coast covered in national parks and surrounded by dreamy deep-sea fishing sites. Townsville has small versions of the big-name attractions that most cities feature – its rugby team, the North Queensland Cowboys, play in the NRL, and the marine science hotbed of James Cook University adds a strong student flavor to Townsville’s demographic. However, the real beauty of this town is something that humans cannot create, and Townsville’s access to natural beauty rivals that of any city in the world.
Byron Bay, New South Wales
For a country with 66,000 miles of coastline, seaside towns can get a bit tired. When the novelty of having the beach of your footsteps dies down, you’re still going to want culture, company, and city life to fill in all the moments not spent in the surf or the sand. For an active and lively community that doesn’t ride on the coattails of its coast, few towns rival Byron Bay in New South Wales. This quirky hippie village has a permanent population of only five thousand, but it is home to far more than its fair share of music, film, and legendary surf. It hosts festivals every year, from the Byron Bay Film Festival to the East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival. Yoga retreats are popular among the active outdoor crowd, and it’s also a hotspot for skydiving, hot air ballooning, and surf clubs. If all that adventure doesn’t call to you, walk the lighthouse trail when visiting Byron Bay, and take in the splendor with some fresh air in your lungs.