Discover the offbeat best places to visit in Australia in 2021 as recommended by our favourite travel writers.
We are well into 2021 and looking on the brighter side when it comes to travelling on home turf. Granted, it can sometimes be tricky to book far in advance when it comes to the yo-yo of border closures thanks to 2020’s greatest party crasher COVID-19. It may have stripped us of our freedoms to travel further afield, however, it has also provided us with a great opportunity, the ultimate silver lining to uncover places that we may not have considered or maybe not have even heard of before in our backyard. After all, Australia is one massive country (and continent) and there is so much to explore.
To help with the holiday inspiration for 2021, we asked our favourite travel writers to list their best places to visit in Australia this year.
Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that border closures will soon become a thing of the past!
Jervis Bay, NSW
“Known to have some of the bluest water and whitest sand in all of Australia, Jervis Bay tucked down on the south coast of New South Wales attracts visitors because of the beaches, but keeps them there thanks to the huge amount of attractions and activities to do for people of all ages. For the nature lovers, Jervis Bay is close to several magnificent national parks, and offers wildlife experiences like dolphin cruises and whale watching (with the opportunity to actually swim with humpbacks – one of the few places in Australia you can do this). Jervis Bay also boasts fascinating Aboriginal history, unique small businesses and excellent restaurants, making it one of the top places to visit in the country for 2021.”
“The Sapphire Coast had its shine dimmed by the 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfires, and the pandemic only rubbed salt in the wound for local businesses who rely on Australian visitors to keep them going. Yes, it’s true the bush is still recovering, but many things that make this region special have endured: laidback beach huts pumping out toasties beside glittering hidden beaches; historical buildings reinvigorated as lively bars; spectacular coastal walking trails along windy bluffs. A week spent here is ideal to both recharge your batteries and help support the local community.”
Purnululu National Park, WA
“To us, Purnululu National Park (the Bungle Bungles) is the heart of the Kimberley. It has this powerful way of simply just taking you.
As you drive into the park, nothing quite prepares you for that first glimpse of the incredible tiger-striped domes. You can’t help but fall silent as you try your best to take it all in, to comprehend the landscape in front of your eyes.
My husband James and I first visited the park in 2018 on our camping honeymoon and have been back every year since. Purnululu really does have an abundance of sights to see, walks to do, and of course, photos to take, but we personally think the real magic comes from just sitting, taking time, and letting yourself feel the heart of the Kimberley.
Stay up late and experience the Milky Way rising above you, pack a picnic and admire the setting sun at Piccaninny Creek Lookout, walk through Echidna Chasm at midday and watch the sun transform the chasm walls – do it all.
Feel the love, feel the connection, feel the inspiration. Feel the heart of the Kimberley.”
Porongurup Range, WA
“Porongurup Range is a gem nestled in the Great Southern region of WA on the road between Perth and Albany. Billion-year-old granite rocks make up these hills in Australia’s oldest mountain range that is layered with Karri forest and bush rambling tracks to discover. Take the travelled path to Castle Rock with its 360-degree views from the spectacular Skywalk or go off-piste via Devil’s Slide to Marmabup Rock for the highest and most remote vista vantage point at 670m above the sea. The region boasts incredible award-winning wine with Riesling and Shiraz standouts and its cellar doors offering tastings from grapes grown in the shadows of Porongurup’s peaks. Pub grub and wood-fired pizza at Karri on Bar is a worthy dining option after a day of exhilarating outdoor adventure.”
“I *know* people rave about the Hunter as NSW’s premier wine region, but I’ll bet that’s because said people are yet to visit Mudgee. Mudgee boasts the oldest continued history of wine production in NSW and is among one of the oldest wine regions in the country. There are so many awesome cellar doors offering top drops and delicious food to match. Moothi Estate is the place for cab sav and a cheeky charcuterie board with a view. For pizza and a proper Sunday sesh it’s hard to go past Burnbrae (and their Moscato takes like liquid Turkish delight. Yep.).Once you’ve stocked up on snacks and libations, backtrack to the Bubbletent at Capertree – just you and the valley views. Cheers to that.”
“Forget Byron Bay. The Tweed is the place to go on the NSW Far North Coast. It’s got everything its Insta-famous southern neighbour has to offer, but with fewer crowds, fewer hang-ups, and fewer influencers.
Town-wise, Cabarita and Kingscliff both have that chilled holiday vibe-like places you once visited as a kid, while the hinterland is full of hidden gems to discover. My favourites include Husk Distillery, best known for their colour-changing Ink Gin; the M-Arts Precinct in Murwillumbah, which is a bit of an artistic commune with multiple artists under one warehouse roof. For a tipple, head to the fantastic Red Earth Brewery in Cudgen and try the Amber Ale.
You’ll find lush and ancient Gondwana remnant rainforest, with walking trails through the Wollumbin and Border Ranges National Parks of the best spots to reconnect with nature. The local beaches from Kingscliff to Casuarina and Fingal Head are all worth a look too, with the latter even having its own version of North Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway.
Tip: The Tweed is quite spread out, so you’ll need a car to really experience it.”
Fleurieu Peninsula, SA
“The rolling hills and winding cliff-lined coastal stretch of South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula makes for dramatic driving and stunning views. Stop for secluded swimming, camping and sunset opportunities at isolated beaches before venturing on to explore the charm of historic towns such as Victor Harbour, Normanville, and Goolwa – the gateway to Storm Boy’s beloved Coorong. On the way back to Adelaide, indulge at nearby food and wine region, McLaren Vale – dropping into d’Arenberg Cube, Wirra Wirra and Down the Rabbit Hole – whose cellar door and restaurant is a double-decker bus!
Just 45 minutes from the capital, the Fleurieu Peninsula is your perfect South Australian city getaway.”
Port Macquarie, NSW
“Port Macquarie has been underrated for far too long, although that’s not a surprise. I’ve been heading up to Port – I have family there – ever since I was a child, but a recent weekend there made me feel like I’ve never really seen the town at all. The potential is slowly being realised, with artists galleries (and art classes) just about everywhere, cute little waterside cafes popping up offering the potential for dolphin/whale spotting over a breakfast bap, and a very well-curated art museum with Glasshouse.
Plus, there’s the now world-famous Koala Hospital, where you can have lunch from a cute coffee cart on the lawn before visiting and learning about rescued koalas and the extensive recovery efforts being made. Then, you’ve got the glassy waters of Dunbogan nearby, and a new forward-thinking luxury eco-retreat named Mansfield Estate that’s nothing short of incredible (and incredibly peaceful).”
Chris Singh – IG:@chrisdsingh
Feature image: @Cjmaddock
See more: Australia