Launceston been named Australia’s best town to visit for 2022.
Tasmania’s second city took the top spot in Wotif’s annual Aussie Town of The Year Awards, with several other unusual candidates rounding out the top 10.
Tamworth, Hervey Bay and Halls Gap all made the ranking, with Victoria being the “most decorated” state overall.
The ranking is based on the quality, availability and affordability of each town’s accommodation options, plus users’ reviews for each town on Wotif, and whether holidaymakers are staying longer compared to previous years.
“The beauty of looking at those sorts of things is that you don’t just get the big tried-and-tested favourites all the time,” Wotif’s travel expert Chris Milligan told The New Daily.
“You actually start to see some of those really unique or trending destinations in regional parts of Australia that people are starting to search for.”
The list eschewed some of the bigger names in domestic travel, but Mr Milligan said these are the kinds of destinations that Australians are keen to explore after two years of restricted travel.
“There’s been a lot of pent-up traffic demand and I think it’s turned Aussies’ attention to new destinations and new experiences that they can have within the country that they perhaps haven’t had before,” he said.
1. Launceston, Tasmania
This year’s best town to visit, according to Wotif, was made a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO in 2021.
Mr Milligan pointed to activities like berry picking and truffle hunts, as well as the town’s paddock-to-plate culture as reasons why Launceston has emerged as a foodie hub.
“We’ve always known Launceston is one of the best places in the world,” said Chris Griffin, CEO of Visit Northern Tasmania.
“Our promise is that you will grow here – whether that’s through close encounters with our nature and wildlife, reconnecting with loved ones while travelling, indulging in our fresh seasonal produce, or getting outside your comfort zone on an adventure, you will change for the better when you visit us.”
2. Caloundra, Qld
Caloundra, at the southernmost point of the Sunshine Coast, offers plenty of beaches as well as lakes and lagoons to paddle in.
“This honour comes on top of the Sunshine Coast recently being named the ‘most desired’ world destination in last month’s global Tourism Industry Survey,” Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel said.
“I think it’s clear Caloundra and the Sunshine Coast’s relaxed lifestyle and genuine hospitality is resonating with travellers as an ideal holiday destination.”
3. Tamworth, NSW
Tamworth is best known for its Country Music Festival, but visitors have lauded its country hospitality in recent years.
There’s also plenty to see, including national parks, art galleries and the 12-metre-high Golden Guitar.
“Tamworth offers country hospitality and friendliness with dining choices, accommodation and experiences you’d expect to see in a big city,” the town’s region manager Russell Webb said.
4. Yarra Valley, Victoria
Just outside of Melbourne, the Yarra Vally is another destination that prides itself on good local produce and drinks – in other words, it’s a destination to see and experience new things.
The historic Puffing Billy steam train also runs through the Dandenong Ranges.
“We pride ourselves on making sure we deliver great experiences and memories to the visitor across all our wine, food, cultural, nature and activity-based activities,” said Simon O’Callaghan, CEO of Yarra Ranges Tourism.
5. Adelaide Hills, SA
The Adelaide Hills is just 30 minutes outside of the South Australian capital, making it ideal for a weekend jaunt.
The chair of Adelaide Hills Tourism, Martin Radcliffe, said the region offers a collection of quaint towns that are a world away from city life.
“An abundance of village pubs, cellar doors, distilleries, restaurants, art galleries, farmers markets and stunning garden settings provide a rich offering of experiences to the visitor,” he said.
6. Bright, Victoria
Bright in Victoria is one of Australia’s best alpine experiences.
In summer visitors can hike through canyons and paddle down rivers, while in winter, some of the state’s best ski resorts are a stone’s throw away.
Alpine Shire Mayor Sarah Nicholas said: “This region is unique – you can spend your day riding iconic mountain bike trails and the evening sipping exquisite local wine at a top restaurant, before heading back to your wonderful boutique accommodation.”
7. Hervey Bay, Qld
Hervey Bay in Queensland is the perfect base from which to visit K’gari, also known as Fraser Island.
But the town itself also has a lot on offer, including humpback whale watching cruises that operate from July to November.
Back on land, there are plenty of places to hike or just sunbake to your heart’s content.
8. Halls Gap, Victoria
At the heart of the Grampians National Park, Halls Gap offers rock climbing, abseiling, mountain biking and hiking.
The Grampians is also home to more than 80 per cent of Aboriginal rock art in Victoria.
Mr Milligan said that while “the quintessential Aussie beach holiday will always have its place”, more and more people are looking inland for something new and exciting.
9. Batemans Bay, NSW
The only town in NSW to crack the top 10, Batemans Bay on the south coast is the ideal destination to sit back and unwind.
Its crystal blue waters accommodate everything from paddle boards to houseboats.
Batemans Bay is also situated near several national parks, including the Birdland Animal Park, which is home to more than 100 species of native birds.
10. Busselton, WA
Busselton Mayor Grant Henley called the town a “living and breathing embodiment of ancient geography”.
“Busselton is home to a thriving natural environment which includes the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, the last remaining Tuart forest in the world, and the turquoise waters of Geographe Bay with its pristine sheltered beaches,” he said.
“Over 35,000 whales migrate past the coastline during spring each year.”