Make the most of the warmer months by dipping into these under-the-radar summer destinations minus the crowds.
Find a treasure trove of coastal towns to explore around Australia, from Yeppoon to Tasmania, across the country and back again.
1. Yeppoon, Qld
This Capricorn Coast uncut gem is now being polished yearly since intrepid holiday hunters have discovered the glimmer at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.
Yeppoon is the gateway to Great Keppel Island and 27 other outcrops, but also offers plenty of its own attractions, from the foreshore’s free zero-depth Keppel Kraken water park, lagoon pool and kids’ play areas to whale watching, fishing, four-wheel-driving and excursions beyond to snorkel and spot dolphins and turtles. While it skews towards families, that’s not the only feather in its cap. Couples and mates will enjoy the boho stylings at Yeppoon Surfside Motel.
Yeppoon is on the cusp of Queensland’s Capricorn Coast. (Image: Tourism and Events Queensland/ Vince Vali Tutti)
Where is it? About eight hours north of Brisbane, or fly into Rockhampton Airport, which is 40 minutes from the coast.
What’s it all about? Tropical sun, family fun and island skipping.
Don’t miss: With loads of incredible produce in the surrounding region, you’ll eat well at the Yeppoon Community Market every Saturday.
Hot tip: Take a tour 40 minutes inland to slip into the underworld limestone labyrinth that is the Capricorn Caves.
2. Tropical North Queensland
Lush, wild, tropical, vibrant and tinged with a hint of Australia-specific cautions, Tropical North Queensland begins along the Cassowary Coast and winds upwards to Cape York, beaded with dazzling baubles of palm-fringed beach towns, emerald rainforests, dreamy castaway islands, and, of course, the kaleidoscopic beauty of the Great Barrier Reef.
Soak up the sun in the palm-fringed Tropical North Queensland.
From the well-seasoned, upmarket Port Douglas to the bustle of Cairns, the ancient Daintree and Cape Tribulation, out to the Atherton Tablelands and across to further-flung Torres Strait, this part of the country is ancient, extraordinary and utterly captivating.
Experience the highs of Low Isles. (Image: Tourism and Events Queensland)
Where is it? Beginning in Mission Beach, about 20 hours north of Brisbane, and travelling all the way up to Cape York.
What’s it all about? The Great Barrier Reef, which follows the coast to the tip.
Don’t miss: The Daintree Rainforest – 135 million years in the making – deserves your undivided awe.
Hot tip: Low Isles, 15 kilometres off Port Douglas, is the perfect lagoon reef for novice snorkellers to get a fin in.
No, not your typical summer destination, but Tassie can raise the mercury in the warmer months, despite its low-lying geography. As an island, you’re never too far from the sea, should it get hot. If things stay mild, though, Tassie makes for a great place to give the heat the slip.
Get lost in the remote coastlines of Tasmania. (Image: Matty Eaton)
Tassie offers plenty for summertime dalliances, from hikes at Cradle Mountain to cruises around Wineglass Bay, kayaking down the Franklin River and general pottering in historic Hobart. And you don’t have to drive far around the Apple Isle before you encounter something utterly adorable.
See wombats in the wild in Tasmania. (Image: Josh Withers)
Where is it? Tasmania lies about 250 kilometres across the Bass Strait. You can fly to our most southerly state from every capital city.
What’s it all about? Storybook hamlets and remarkably pristine beauty.
Don’t miss: A dip in the clear, southerly waters – there’s just something enlivening about them.
Hot tip: Check into Hobart’s stunning MACq 01 Hotel to pull the thread of the city’s convict past in luxe surrounds. Or, make a beeline for the beachfront of Coles Bay to bed down in Still at Freycinet, a Nordic-inspired wellness stay.
4. Great Southern, WA
While the Margaret River Region snatches the holiday headlines, the coastline and townships a little further south are equally magnetic. The Great Southern is slightly more untamed, more exposed and gobsmackingly dramatic.
Bunker down in Native Dog Cabin in Bremer Bay, WA. (Image: Kirsten Sivyer)
With enormous granite boulders scattered across the landscape, this is a playground for those who appreciate precarious positions, such as at The Gap and Natural Bridge at Albany and the Granite Skywalk at Porongurup National Park.
Oversized boulders loll in aquamarine waters at Elephant Rocks in Denmark. And you’ll find one of the country’s longest (and most wonderful) treetop walks in the Valley of the Giants near Walpole.
Find giant boulders in Greens Pool, William Bay National Park in Denmark, WA. (Image: Tourism Western Australia)
Where is it? This region at the beginning of the Great Australian Bight, south-west of Western Australia, borders the Margaret River Region.
What’s it all about? Big rocks, big trees and big vistas.
Don’t miss: The Kodja Place and Kojonup Visitor Centre to learn about the Noongar Indigenous Creation story.
Hot tip: Grab five friends and bed down in the architecturally and geographically spectacular Native Dog Cabin at Point Henry Peninsula.
5. Bellarine Peninsula, Vic
Poking into Port Phillip Bay on one side and overlooking the ocean on the other, this appendage off Geelong offers ample spots to take in the fresh sea air.
The briny bivalves are found in the cool depths of Port Phillip Bay.
From Portarlington and Queenscliff to Drysdale and Barwon Heads, the area has long enticed sweltering Melburnians with incredible produce and reviving ocean-infused air.
Visit Portarlington, known as the Mussel Capital of Victoria. (Image: Matty Eaton)
Where is it? Just 20 minutes outside of Geelong and a one-and-a-half-hour drive around Port Phillip from Melbourne (or skip across the water by ferry).
What’s it all about? Beaches, wineries and seaside villages.
Don’t miss: Book into the elegant Lon Spa for some Zen time.
Hot tip: Join a mussel farm tour with Portarlington Mussel Tours if you love briny bivalves.
6. Gippsland, Vic
This vast area stretches from the east Gippsland Lakes to central Gippsland and the southerly Wilsons Promontory, encompassing everything from coastal loveliness to maritime hamlets and alpine regions.
Explore the Croajingolong National Park-enclosed town of Mallacoota; the Snowy River town of Orbost; remote Dargo in the foothills of the Dargo High Plains; and beloved Phillip Island – all within this one diverse wedge of Australia.
Mooch around the township of Mallacoota in Victoria. (Image: Gavin Hansford/Destination Gippsland)
Where is it? Gippsland occupies Victoria’s eastern corner and is about two hours from the state’s capital.
What’s it all about? From beach to mountain, you’ll encounter history, heritage and the best country pubs.
Don’t miss: The Great Southern Rail Trail is for those who like to bike.
Hot tip: Take in the beauty of the Alpine High Country with a drive along the Great Alpine Road.
7. Darwin and the Top End, NT
Typically, Darwin and the Top End are flooded with visitors during winter, when its balmy climate lures shivering southerners. In summer though, it’s moodily monsoonal, wet and wonderfully compelling. So don’t let a little rain deter your wandering spirit, because downpours and humidity lend this tropical landscape an ethereal beauty.
Street art as social commentary in Darwin. (Image: Tourism NT)
The iridescence is dialled up on vegetation, cascades thunder into life and birds teem. Take a scenic flight over Kakadu National Park and Litchfield National Park to be awed by such spectacles. Sunsets and storms glimpsed from Darwinian haunts will also fill your visual compendium. As will plenty of bushwalks, art trails, wildlife encounters and luxe accommodation options.
Take a joy ride over Twin Falls in NT’s Kakadu.
Where is it? The Northern Territory capital sits at the pinnacle of the state gazing towards the Timor Sea. It’s an easy flight from most cities.
What’s it all about? The drama of the tropical wet season makes for a summer you’ll never forget.
Don’t miss: While some roads will be closed in national parks, Wangi and Florence Falls in Litchfield National Park are open year-round.
Hot tip: It might be wet season, but it’s not always raining. When it’s hot, head to Darwin’s waterfront precinct.
8. South Australia
Emus strutting on powdery white sands, shimmering shallows of impossible clarity, lounging sea lions and remote beauty. Residents of South Australia have long known their state boasts some of the country’s most arresting coastlines.
Meet the locals at KI’s Seal Bay Conservation Park. (Image: Tourism Alliance)
But now the rest of the country is cluing in. With three peninsulas extending into the ocean – Fleurieu, Eyre and Yorke – there are kilometres upon kilometres of white-sand beaches to unravel.
Flock to Gull Bay in SA’s Fleurieu Peninsula. (Image: Mason Kirby & Sarah Parker)
Where is it? The Fleurieu Peninsula region is 90 minutes from Adelaide; Yorke is two and a half hours; and Eyre is more than six hours away by car.
What’s it all about? Peninsulas, peninsulas and more peninsulas!
Don’t miss: Get your pulse quickening on a shark cage dive.
Hot tip: Kangaroo Island is a must-visit destination at least once in a lifetime.
9. Macleay Valley Coast, NSW
While many residents of NSW may be familiar with South West Rocks, the region is largely lesser known compared to other north coast holiday spots. That’s exactly why the Macleay Valley Coast is so appealing. There’s a mellowness here that facilitates complete disengagement from everyday life.
NSW’s Crescent Head is imbued with summer holiday vibes. (Image: Woody Gooch)
Grassy Head, Crescent Head, Hat Head, Trial Bay and Korogoro Creek are all bush-bound, pristine and dotted with campgrounds for off-grid escapes.
Settle in Stylish Sea Sea, Crescent Head.
Where is it? Just four-and-a-half hours from Sydney, this is an easy summer break when time is short.
What’s it all about? Surf beaches and barefoot boho vibes.
Don’t miss: Climb to the top of Mt Yarrahapinni for views of the whole Macleay Valley and coast.
Hot tip: Crescent Head’s new Sea Sea Hotel is a hip reboot of a tired seaside resort.