Let’s face it, camping isn’t for everyone. Many travellers enjoy the sights and experiences of cities around the world rather than roughing it.
Fortunately, there are many locations around Australia where you can discover cities rich in cultural, natural and physical attractions. For the purpose of this guide, Sydney and Melbourne have not been included. You know they are awesome and you should definitely visit those places if you have never been before.
Outside of the big two cities in Australia, here are the best cities in the country that are growing by the day and should be on every travel bucket list.
Darwin, Northern Territory
This might be the most difficult Australian capital city to get to, but the travel is worth the experiences you will discover. There is no other place in Australia quite like Darwin. Located at the Top End of the country in the Northern Territory, it is a hotbed of music, art, Indigenous experiences, culture, dining and some of the most sensational national parks in the world.
The weather is warm all year round (extremely hot during the summer) but you are flanked by beaches, creeks, lagoons and wetlands that make Darwin a tropical oasis. This is a place you can learn a lot about Australian culture including the early explorers who dared venture this far north, the Indigenous traditional owners of the land, the experiences of World War II and the loss and sorry that arrived on Christmas Eve when Cyclone Tracy levelled the city to the ground.
You can swim with the crocodiles, enjoy the best seafood in Australia overlooking the ocean, fish for the biggest barramundi you will ever lay eyes on or simply enjoy relaxing, shopping and lazing on the beach or by the pool.
Some people might be raising their eyebrows at the fact that the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast in southeast Queensland are not mentioned on this list. That is because Brisbane is the perfect hub to experience it all.
Brisbane was recently voted the 10th most liveable city in the world ahead of destinations like Sydney because of the sheer quantity of things to do and the simple quality of life on offer.
The River City is the gateway to both the Gold Coast and its beaches and theme parks and the hinterland, Glasshouse Mountains, coastline and surf of the Sunshine Coast.
Brisbane is also home to the South Bank arts and entertainment precinct, the world’s largest koala sanctuary and the beachside communities of Redcliffe and Wynnum.
You are also in easy range of Stradbroke Island and a range of other attractions, making it the perfect place to base yourself for the ultimate southeast Queensland holiday experience.
Newcastle, New South Wales
The entire northern coast of New South Wales is spectacular and there are beaches to explore in quality destinations like Terrigal, Ballina and Byron Bay. Just up the road from Sydney lies the steel city of Newcastle where you will be spoiled for experiences on your Australian holiday.
You can head out on the water for adventure tours of the coastline, enjoy the gorgeous vineyards of the Hunter Valley (travelling there by helicopter is a must for your bucket list) and explore numerous beachside attractions including Merewether Baths, the lighthouse at Nobbys Head and the war monuments of Fort Scratchley.
It is the perfect regional experience and because of its location in close proximity to Sydney, it is easily accessible for tourists from all destinations.
Adelaide, South Australia
With its bohemian, arty vibe, Adelaide always has an exciting calendar of cultural events in addition to great museums and a thriving local food scene. Adelaide is the perfect base for exploring the area’s vineyards since it is situated between the coastline and the wine-growing Mount Lofty Ranges.
Wine is a famous product of the Adelaide region, so visit the vineyards in Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and McLaren Vale, as well as the National Wine Centre, where you can learn about and taste local products.
There is a superb collection of national and local art at the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) and the annual Fringe Festival brings the entire city to life with creative and entertaining performances.
There are many nature experiences available in and around Adelaide, including Cleland Wildlife Park with its native animals such as koalas and wallabies, and Kangaroo Island, which can be reached by ferry or car in around two and a half hours.
The far north region of Queensland is where the Great Barrier Reef meets the Daintree Rainforest, so you can get two World Heritage-listed attractions for the price of one.
You can take a day trip to the reef for fishing and snorkelling experiences, take the scenic Sky Rail up into the Atherton Tablelands and the rich rainforests, waterfalls and local markets, stroll the white sands of Mission Beach with the rainforest as your backdrop or enjoy all of the sights, sounds and cuisine of Port Douglas.