Five amazing Aussie towns that should be on your bucket list in 2020

It’s that time of the year when many of us start thinking about our travel plans for the coming 12 months. And while the country’s big-ticket destinations like Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Far North Queensland tend to get most of the attention, there are so many amazing regional cities and towns that shouldn’t be overlooked. Here are five fabulous options you may not have thought of, and each of them offers something really special. They are all well worth ticking off in 2020. Remember to book your stay at ChoiceHotels.com.

1. Broken Hill

Located roughly 12 hours’ drive west of Sydney (or 2.5 hours by air) Broken Hill in outback New South Wales is a destination that takes a bit of getting to, but once you’re there, you’ll wonder why you left it so long to visit. Australia’s longest continuously operating mining town has a rich heritage to explore. So much so that the entire city was added to the National Heritage list in 2015, putting it in the company of the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Ocean Road, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and many other Aussie icons. To get under the skin of the city’s historic streetscape, join the popular Broken Hill Heritage Walk Tour, which operates Monday to Friday (excluding the summer months). It’s not just history buffs that will be in their element in Broken Hill. For culture buffs the city has no less than 14 museums and galleries to enjoy, including the Pro Hart Gallery and the Bruce Langford Visitors Centre at the Royal Flying Doctor Service. The Living Desert State Park offers a fantastic view of the 12 famous hilltop sandstone sculptures that were created by a group of international artists back in 1993.

Need a place to stay?

Comfort Inn Crystal is located right in the heart of Broken Hill and offers easy access to the city’s key heritage sites and attractions. There are 42 comfortably furnished rooms on offer, and guests enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi.

Aussie travel destinations 2020
The Living Desert State Park sculptures, Broken Hill. Image courtesy of Destination NSW

2. Coober Pedy

The term ‘down under’ is one that’s often associated with Oz, but it takes on a whole new meaning in the South Australian outback opal mining town of Coober Pedy. Situated 850 kilometres north of Adelaide, a visit here takes planning, but this iconic Aussie destination attracts around 150,000 visitors a year and most of them are keen to experience the town’s famous subterranean lifestyle. Originally utilised by mining families as a way to beat the searing heat, today a major percentage of the town is situated underground in what are known as ‘dugouts’ – homes, churches, galleries and more. There are plenty of opportunities to experience life in a dugout. Faye’s Underground Home is a chintzy retro take on desert living, while Crocodile Harry’s – the former dugout of eccentric Latvian immigrant Avid von Blumenthal – is bizarre to say the least.

Need a place to stay?

The completely underground Comfort Inn Coober Pedy Experience occupies an old opal mine, and provides the quintessential dugout experience. There are 16 rooms (all with ensuites) and all of them have loads of character.

Aussie travel destinations 2020
Crocodile Harry’s Dugout, Coober Pedy. Image courtesy of South Australian Tourism Commission

3. Esperance

If you love your solitude and a crisp white sandy beach that isn’t carpeted with sun-worshipping tourists, you’ll adore the Western Australian town of Esperance. At roughly eight hours’ drive from Perth (or 1.5 hours by air), this is one of the country’s most remote regional destinations, but it’s home, arguably, to the best beaches this big old island of ours has to offer. The fine white sand literally squeaks underfoot as you stroll beside the azure waters of the Great Australian Bight. Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park is the region’s beach pin-up, but there are lots of other options – including the more isolated Thistle Cove, and the less isolated (just 10 minutes’ drive from town) Twilight Cove. You may encounter the famous local beach-loving kangaroos during your stay. Unfortunately, visitors are killing them with kindness (and in the pursuit of a selfie). Look, but don’t feed.

Need a place to stay?

Comfort Inn Bay of Isles sits right on the Esperance Esplanade (opposite Museum Park) and offers deluxe accommodation in a relaxed oceanfront setting. Walk to all local attractions with ease and cool off in the hotel’s lagoon-style pool.

Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand National Park. Image courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

4. Wangaratta

Foodies, this one’s for you. If you’ve done Melbourne and Adelaide, and famous culinary events like the Noosa Food and Wine Festival and the Margaret River Gourmet Escape and you’re yearning for a new food-lover’s frontier, you’ll find it in Wangaratta in north-eastern Victoria. The gateway to the Milawa gourmet region and the sublime King Valley wine region offers an exquisite buffet of fine food and wine experiences and it’s all just a 2.5-hour drive north of the Victorian capital. Give yourself three or four days to really enjoy it. Culinary and viticultural highlights include Brown Brothers, Sam Miranda Wines, Pizzini Wines, Christmont (which has a fabulous on-site Italian eatery) and gourmet producers like the Milawa Cheese Company. The Atrium restaurant at Quality Hotel Wangaratta Gateway pairs superb local produce with top local drops.

Need a place to stay?

Quality Hotel Wangaratta Gateway features a range of stylish and sophisticated room types, including the newly refurbished Studio Spa Apartments with plush bathrooms. We warn you now: you won’t want to leave!

Aussie travel destinations 2020
Foodies will love the Milawa Gourmet Region outside Wangaratta. Image courtesy of Visit Victoria

5. Mudgee

Situated about three hour’s drive northwest of Sydney (you head over the Blue Mountains and hang a right after Lithgow), the historic town of Mudgee is one of our 2020 picks for best short break all-rounder. Let’s tick off the reasons why. The region is another wine lover’s paradise, with around 40 cellar doors to suss out and sip at. Mudgee’s wine making pedigree stretches back to the 1850s and the region is best known for its reds (including shiraz, merlot and cabernet sauvignon varieties). Where there are wineries, there are usually nice things to eat, and that’s certainly the case here. The Zin House gets rave reviews for its Ultimate Saturday Long Lunch – which features six delectable courses with matching wines. There’s no turning over tables here, so take your time. For arty types, the region has a flourishing cultural scene. Browse the eclectic range of handmade wares at Arts and Crafts Mudgee, located in the old railway station. Relax and rejuvenate by visiting stunning natural landscapes like fern-festooned Fern Tree Gully.

Need a place to stay?

Located on the approach into town for those travelling by road from Sydney, Comfort Inn Aden Mudgee is the perfect accommodation option for your Mudgee getaway. Choose from a range of comfortable room types, all of which include complimentary Netflix. Enjoy a meal at renowned Palate restaurant during your stay and work off those gourmet indulgences with free entry to Anytime Fitness.

Aussie travel destinations 2020
Lowes Wines, Mudgee. Image courtesy of Destination NSW

Cover image courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. 

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