With the Australian dollar continuing to perform poorly against a lot of international currencies, now is the perfect time for Australians to check out our own lucky country. We spoke to the various state tourism boards to get the inside scoop on what are the hot spots for next year.

TLauncestonAS | Launceston

Located in the north of Tasmania, Launceston, gateway to the Tamar Valley, is a city bursting with collector’s shops, restaurants and cool cafe’s. Drive the 170 kilometres that make up the Tamar Valley Wine Route or get your local produce direct from the grower at a farm gate market. Amber tickets provide the ultimate beer lovers tasting experience at the local brewery. Descend into Cataract Gorge, pass wallabies grazing on the lawns and traverse the gorge on a chairlift then head to the Design Centre of Tasmania to browse artists works. Finish your visit with a meal in a restaurant housed in a 1830’s riverside mill.

WfreemantlweA | Freemantle

Recently ranked seventh by Lonely Planet in their Top 10 Cities to visit in 2016, Fremantle is an eclectic and multicultural city located a short drive away from Perth in Western Australia. Established in 1829 as a port for the Swan River colony, Fremantle has a fascinating history. It’s also home to world class beaches, heritage architecture and a flourishing food scene. There are cafes and bars and boutique breweries, alongside some of the best preserved 19th century port streetscapes in the world. Check out the Fremantle markets, visit Fishing Boat Harbour for some fresh seafood to suit a range of budgets, and enjoy some live music and a pint in one of the local bars.

QbundabergLD | Bundaberg

Bundaberg and its surrounding area, called the Southern Great Barrier Reef, is a great spot to visit. Compared to the Tropical North, this is a reef within reach. From many of the tropical islands around here (like Lady Elliot and Heron Island), you can step off the shore and begin to snorkel on a true coral cay. The fauna that can be seen off the reefs here is remarkable, including loggerhead turtles, with which you are virtually guaranteed to swim between November and March. Bundaberg has a great low key vibe, kind of like holidaying back in the 80s, and very friendly. And of course no visit would be complete without dropping into the Bundaberg Barrel, home of Bundaberg Brewed Drinks.

NnewcastleSW | Newcastle

Newcastle, only two hours north of Sydney is coming into its own once again. The once industrial city has been reborn and is now home to a plethora of trendy cafes, restaurants, pubs and small bars run by a variety of passionate locals. From healthconscious breakfast menus to ocean-front dining and speakeasy small bars, there’s something to appease all appetites. Check out Restaurant Mason for your fine dining, one of two hatted restaurants in Newcastle, with British and French flavours. Check out Darby Street also with its galleries and secondhand shops among small, individual cafes and restaurants.

NlitchfieldT | Licthfield

Litchfield National Park is a lush landscape with woodlands, spectacular waterfalls, plunge pools and tall termite mounds. It’s only a two hour drive from Darwin making it easy to day trip, though there is plenty to keep you occupied for longer. The main attractions of Litchfield are Buley Rockhole, with its series of natural spas and whirlpools, and the dramatic Florence, Tolmer and Wangi falls which are all easily accessible from the main sealed road. Swim in the plunge pool at Wangi Falls or check out the tombstone-like field of giant termite mounds, many of which are more than 2m tall. Venture off the beaten track and 4WD to the weathered sandstone domes of the Lost City or the historic Blythe Homestead Ruins.

eyre peninsulaSA | Eyre Peninsula

With 2,300km of coastline, it’s hardly surprising that Eyre Peninsula is emerging as a unique culinary destination with world class seafood. The waters around the peninsula are teeming with sea life including giant cuttlefish, lightning speed tuna, playful sea lions, bottlenose dolphins and Southern Right Whales with opportunities to experience these animals in the ocean first hand. Along the coast there are perfect spots for surfing, fishing, sailing, and thriving regional cities like Port Lincoln and Whyalla. Don’t miss the farmer’s and fisherman’s markets held across the region during the year, and be sure to check out Port Lincoln’s hotly contested tuna tossing competitions as part of its annual Tunarama Festival in late January.

bendigoVIC | Bendigo

Put on the map by the gold rush 150 years ago, Bendigo is now a vibrant contemporary city. Located 90 minutes from Melbourne, Bendigo boasts wide streets lined by opulent heritage buildings, as well as great food, wine and shopping experiences. Explore a gold mine, or the local farmers market. There is always something happening in Bendigo, from car rallies, food and wine events, to the fascinatingly oriental Bendigo Easter Festival. From March to July next year, Bendigo Art Gallery will play host to a Marilyn Monroe exhibition featuring authentic artefacts, clothing and costumes from her films. Never before seen in Australia, it’s a great reason to check out everything Bendigo has to offer.

namadgiACT | Namadgi

Namadgi National Park, at the northern end of the Australian Alps, is only 45 minutes drive from Canberra, yet this wilderness feels a world away. Namadgi landscapes range from the highest peak of Mount Bimberi to grassy front hollow valleys, alpine meadows and snow gum woodlands. Venture through granite ridge tops with tors, boulders and spectacular outcrops. There are plent
y of cliffs great for rock climbers. Walk, hike, bike or horse ride through the national park. For day visitors, take the walks to Square Rock, Booroomba Rocks, Gibraltar Falls or Yankee Hat rock art site in Gudgenby Valley. Experienced hikers can explore the 650km Australian Alps Walking Track whose northernmost section winds through Namadgi.


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