Trending Aussie Destinations and the Lesser-Explored Towns to Consider Instead


Domestic travel restrictions are easing, allowing for itchy-footed travellers to finally stretch their legs and explore the beauty of the Australia backyard after months indoors.

Since the announcement of lifted restrictions on June 1, travel booking platforms have seen a significant increase in searches and reservations ⁠— and Wotif is one of them.

“As state and territories begin to ease lockdown restrictions, at Wotif, we’re seeing a growing appetite for domestic travel, specifically for intrastate drive destinations,” says Wotif managing director Daniel Finch.

Below, Wotif shares its top five trending destinations around Australia, specifically in New South Wales and Victoria. These are the destinations Sydneysiders and Melbournians are most desperate to visit, so if you too are planning a weekend trip, then might we suggest these ‘second cities‘ or alternate towns that will provide you with a stunningly similar experience, only no crowds?

Mudgee, NSW

Accommodations interest is up almost 720% for Mudgee. The country town is known for its wineries, farm-to-table fare, colonial buildings and UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wollemi National Park. Beautiful, yes, but you can bet this town is currently brimming with Sydneysiders, being only 3.5 hours’ drive from Sydney.

Swap it for: Cowra 

Four hours from Sydney, Cowra is a quaint town with its own lush vineyards, tranquil gardens, vibrant culinary scene, galleries and hot air ballooning experiences. A visit to the  former Prisoner of War Camp Site is a must, while the Cowra Japanese Garden blossoms pink every spring.

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Winter is coming…

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Batemans Bay, NSW

Interest for Batemans Bay is up over 550%, so if you’d be wise to look for another destination that presents as many opportunities for pristine beaches, fresh seafood, local produce and an abundance of watersports.

Swap it for: Tathra

Located on the Sapphire Coast, Tathra is slightly further away from Sydney than Batemans Bay. It’s a six-hour drive from Sydney (and a seven-hour drive from Melbourne), but presents perhaps even more opportunity for adventure and water sports than its much more crowded counterpart. There are national parks and beaches for kayaking, hiking, surfing, and fishing, plus vantage points for whale spotting between May and November.

Bendigo, VIC

Searches for accommodation in Bendigo is up 320%. The town is known for its opulent gardens, glorious galleries, shopping scene and rich architecture following a gold rush around the 1850s. While a visit is a good idea, it could be worth holding off to avoid the crowds for now.

Swap it for: Shepparton

Just two hours from Melbourne, Shepparton presents a great weekend away for the whole family with enviable cafe culture, great shopping, galleries, fresh produce, and a motor museum to impress car enthusiasts.

Yarra Valley, VIC

Up 210%, we can’t say we’re surprised to see the Yarra Valley on this list. It’s a blissful getaway spot with sunrise hot air ballooning, wineries, local food, stunning scenery and luxury accommodations. A visit is recommended at least once, but while the region is flooding with people, why not…

Swap it for: Red Hill

located in the Mornington Peninsula hinterland and about an hour’s drive south of Melbourne, Red Hill is a beautiful spot ripe for high-end dining, luxurious spa experiences and delightful wineries. Enjoy scenic drives through orchards, farmlands, and towering trees.

Great Ocean Road, VIC

With Hopetoun Falls, Loch Ard Gorge and of course, The 12 Apostles, the iconic drive is one to knock of every Aussie’s travel bucket list, however, is currently seeing a 220% increase in accommodation interest. So to anyone hoping for a long and eventful road trip filled with natural wonders, might we suggest something else?

Swap it for: Bellarine Peninsula

The seaside villages along the Bellarine Peninsula present ample opportunity for beach escapes with secluded surf spots and coastal scenery to boot. The food and wine scene is worth writing home about, while hundreds of hikes allow you to get back to nature in peace.

*Data based on accommodation interest on Wotif.com from 18 May 2020 through to 24 May 2020 compared to 11 May 2020 through to 17 May 2020 for travel in June 2020.

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