8 Aussie Towns to Visit That Offer More Than a Pub and Pie Shop

small towns in Australia

While no Australian small towns are alike, all share a spirit of eccentricity that makes them so appealing. The best small towns in Australia are the ones where you can drink a schooner of a local draught alongside cattle drivers surrounded by gold-rush-era antiques.

They’re places where shop windows brim with handcrafted oddities, ancient tractors rust beside trendy vegan cafes, and the mayor might well be a sheepdog named Bruce. In these quirky havens, the unexpected is the norm: a bakery that doubles as a blacksmith, a museum housed in a converted dunny, or a bookshop stocked with dusty tomes and a resident cat who judges your literary choices.

In 2024, we’re looking to ditch the tourist traps and venture off the beaten track. Australia’s small towns wait with open arms, brimming with stories, surprises and enough character to charm the socks off a magpie.

Let’s dig into some of the best.

Mapleton, Queensland

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Image: Mapleton Public House

Nestled in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, Mapleton is a foodie haven, underpinned by the acclaimed Mapleton Public House, a 112-year-old restored pub now showcasing innovative, locally sourced cuisine. While in town, explore the local waterfalls, join a farm tour, or get lost browsing the strip of quaint shops.

Queenstown, Tasmania

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Image: Our Tasmania

This tiny town on Tasmania’s West Coast has blossomed into a vibrant hub for artists, adventurers, and foodies. Explore historic buildings, wander through bustling markets, or tackle challenging mountain bike trails. Take a steam train ride into the wilderness and enjoy fresh seafood by the waterfront. Surrounded by mountains, it feels very much like its Kiwi namesake.

Daylesford, Victoria

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Image: Visit Victoria

Nestled into the foothills of the Macedon Ranges, Daylesford is famous for its dormant volcanic foundations, natural mineral springs, and historic architecture. Submerge yourself in a spa, sample charming cafes, and dive into boutique shops in this heritage town. It’s a perfect jump-off point to explore nearby wineries, meander through the Wobat Hill botanic gardens, or hike through scenic Mount Alexander National Park.

Braidwood, New South Wales

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Image: Visit NSW

Described as one of the prettiest towns in the state, Braidwood sits high atop the southern tablelands and is renowned for its prized truffles. Halfway between Canberra and the sea, it’s the perfect stop-off for escaping the city buzz. This historic gold-mining town has plenty of colonial buildings to wander through, artisan cafes to sample, and nearby cellar doors to drop in for a drop. Braidwood Theatre plays host to regular farmers markets and nearby Tarago River National Park is worth a trip too.

Strathalbyn, South Australia

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Image: Strathalbyn Tourism Association

Strathalbyn is considered the unofficial antique capital of South Australia and, as such, is packed with quirky charm. This historic town offers scenic river walks, vintage delights, and a thriving arts scene. Take a leisurely paddle on the Agnes River, browse antique shops and museums, or visit the Vineyard Road Cellar Door for a local treat.

York, Western Australia

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Image: Visit York

WA’s oldest inland town, York exudes charm with its convict-built streetscape, restored pubs, and quirky shops. Roughly an hour and a half east of Perth, the town boasts stunning colonial architecture and heritage institutions like the Old Gaol & Courthouse or the Residency Museum. It’s a great place for  antique treasure hunting, grabbing a pint in a historic pub, or seeing some vintage car delights at the York Motor Museum.

Wollombi, New South Wales

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Image: Visit Wollombi

Located roughly halfway between Sydney and the Hunter Valley, if you take the inland road, Wollombi is an oasis in a vast natural paradise. The historic village offers insight into the region’s convict past with sandstone buildings, a charming pub, and local artisan shops – even the road into town was built by convicts. While you’re here, take a hike through nearby Yengo National Park, enjoy picnic lunches with valley views, or explore the Wollombi Wine Trail.

Trentham, Victoria

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Image: Visit Hepburnshire

Nestled in the Macedon Ranges, Trentham oozes period charm with its historic buildings, antique shops, and quaint cafes. Beyond its historic charm, Trentham has also become a haven for artists and foodies. Explore the local winery scene, cycle through lush countryside, or browse through the town’s artisan studios. Be sure to check out the renowned Redbeard Bakery and plan your trip during the annual Trentham Spudfest.

Related: This Sleepy Town Outside Melbourne Is Like Stepping into a Fairytale of Redwood Forests

Related: 7 Eerie Abandoned Towns In NSW That Will Have You Calling for the Ghostbusters

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