13 Best Places to Visit in Southern Australia

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The southern regions of Australia, including the territories of the state of South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania is a destination of variety and has many adventures to offer its explorers. Whether you seek untamed outdoors, historic heritage towns or cosmopolitan indulgences, this region has some of the best experiences to be had on a tour in Australia, and perhaps the entire world! Road-trips, overlands tours and multi-day packages through Southern Australia are a spectacular way to enjoy the unique and changing landscape of this region. While you may not be able to enjoy it all in a single trip, here is a list of the best places to visit in Southern Australia for you to consider for your next holiday.

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Adelaide in South Australia
Adelaide is home to stunning modern architecture as well as old churches and cathedrals.

Once known as the city of churches, visitors will appreciate the heritage and architecture found in this cosmopolitan city. Nowadays, Adelaide is one of the best holiday destinations in Southern Australia as it is home to a growing music scene as well as expansive museums, art collections, and top-notch festivals.

Attraction highlights

  • View the impressive collection of over 38,000 works of international art at the Art Gallery of Southern Australia.
  • Explore indigenous plants of Australia and other countries around the globe at the Adelaide Botanic Garden.
  • Attend the annual Adelaide Festival to experience the largest international gathering of art in the southern hemisphere.
  • Head to Flinders Ranges National Park, north of Adelaide to explore a 600 million years-old landscape.

Best time to visit: Late February through March for excellent festivals and events, as well as enjoyable Mediterranean-like weather.

2. The Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Great Ocean Road and Twelve Apostles
The Great Ocean Road passes the Twelve Apostles.

An epic road trip for the books, the Great Ocean Road follows 244 km of the expansive southern coastline. Surf, trek, and photograph your way through this rugged terrain, which is home to many attractions including majestic geographic formations, breathtaking overlooks, and quaint fishing villages.

Attraction highlights

  • Enjoy panoramic views from the cliffs overlooking The Twelve Apostles, London Arch, and Loch Arc Gorge.
  • Hike through rainforests, beaches, and wildlife areas at Great Otway National Park.
  • Attend the world’s oldest international surf competition at Bells Beach.

Best time to visit: January to March for warmer, drier weather great for hiking and swimming. Dawn and dusk are the best time to visit major geographical formations as you are less likely to run into crowds.

The capital of Victoria in South Australia, Melbourne is a vibrant city.
The city of Melbourne, the capital of State of Victoria.

On the coast of southeastern Australia, this capital of Victoria is an urban metropolis. A hub for art and culture, Melbourne is a mix of many traits. You’ll find many things to do that will keep you moving through this city's stunning plazas, modern bars and restaurants, great shopping, historic sites and museums.

 Attraction highlights

  • Scout out interesting knick-knacks and culinary treats at the open-air Queen Victoria Market.
  • Discover world-class wines and gorgeous scenery on a trip to the vineyards of Yarra Valley.
  • Visit Degraves Street to marvel at some of Melbourne's famous street art.
  • Tour the World War I memorial at the Shrine of Remembrance, and consider making a special trip on November 11 at 11 am to witness the lighting of the inscription as sunlight passes perfectly over the roof opening.

Best time to visit: September to November and March to May for pleasant weather, perfect for exploring by bicycle or foot.

Kangaroo Island is one of the best destinations in South Australia.
Seals basking in the shores of Kangaroo Island.

Of all places to see in Southern Australia, a visit to Kangaroo Island will reward you with some of Australia’s most iconic wilderness. Just off the coast, a trip here means unmatched nature excursions and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Attraction highlights

  • Share the beach with wild sea lions at Seal Bay Conservation Park.
  • Hike to Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch in Flinders Chase National Park.
  • Board down the sand dunes of Little Sahara.

Best time to visit: December to February for warm days on the beach. June through August for lush hikes and wildlife encounters. 

5. Barossa Valley, South Australia

Barossa Valley is known for most exquisite shiraz grapes.
Shiraz Grapes are a local specialty in this wine valley.

Known for producing some of the world’s most exquisite shiraz grapes, Barossa Valley is a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts. Stone cottages and historic churches preserve the 19th-century charm of the region which encompasses several small townships.

Attraction highlights

  • Hot air balloon ride at sunrise over the valley, ending with a feast of culinary and wine delights.
  • Cycle through the award-winning Jacob’s Creek vineyard.
  • Stroll lavender fields and treat yourself to lavender ice cream at Lyndoch Lavender Farm and Cafe.

Best time to visit: April to May to enjoy the many wineries’ end of harvest celebrations and the Barossa Vintage Festival.

6. Warrnambool, Victoria

Warrnambool the best destination in South Australia for whale watching.
Warrnambool is a popular destination to visit during the whale migration.

One of the most unique Southern Australia points of interest, Warrnambool is visited primarily during whale migration season. If you time your trip right, you’ll be able to witness Southern right whales swimming just off the shore.

Attraction highlights

  • Watch whales passing by from the platform of Logan’s Beach.
  • Walk to the boardwalk lava trail in the volcanic terrain of Tower Hill Wildlife Preserve.

Best time to visit: June to September for whale watching.

7. Shoalhaven, New South Wales

If you love the great Australian outdoors, the Shoalhaven region is for you. Fabulous national parks, together with brilliant surfing and fishing beaches, inland towns like Berry and Nowra, tiny gourmet jewels dotting the Kangaroo Valley or Jervis Bay’s superb waterways make Shoalhaven a great place to explore.

Attraction Highlights

  • Explore Berry’s lush rolling dairy country, with its beautiful gardens, vibrant arts and craft scene, antiques and local farmers’ markets.
  • Sample the Kangaroo Valley’s legendary gourmet produce at a host of fine restaurants and confectioners.
  • Fall in love with scuba diving, boating and surfing at Jervis Bay and keep an eye out for dolphins or migrating whales. Also take your time out to explore the Booderee National Park and Botanical Gardens.

Best time to visit: December through February for idyllic days on the water, surfing, fishing or hiking. September to November for whale and dolphin watching.

8. Naracoorte, South Australia

Naracoorte is one of the only UNESCO heritage sites in South Australia.
The limestone caves in Naracoorte Caves National Park.
You can discover fossils, geology or bats inside the caves.
The Naracoorte Caves are great for some adventure and exploring.

Naracoorte is home to Southern Australia’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, Naracoorte Caves Region. This is one of the best places to visit in Southern Australia for caving, wildlife encounters, and tours to nearby wetlands.

Attraction highlights

  • Witness breeding bats and learn about fossils found while caving in Naracoorte Caves National Park.
  • Watch for any of the 150 spices of birds in Bool Lagoon Game Reserve.

Best time to visit: November to March for pleasant weather favorable to outdoor adventures.

9. Grampians National Park, Victoria

Grampains is where the rugged mountain ranges meet the western plains.
The Reeds Lookout gives the best view of the Victoria Valley.

One of the most popular and scenic holiday places in Southern Australia is Grampians National Park. Here, the rugged mountain ranges meet the western plains, creating a dramatic landscape and natural playground for any outdoor adventurer’s enjoyment.

Attraction highlights

  • Hike the Pinnacles for incredible panoramic views of the Grampians.
  • Learn about Aboriginal culture and history at the Aboriginal Culture Centre.
  • Trek to MacKenzie Falls, one of Victoria’s most spectacular and highest waterfalls.

Best time to visit: October to December as the weather is mild, wildflowers are in full bloom, and fewer crowds are encountered.

10. The Sapphire Coast, New South Wales

One of the best places in  Southern Australia happens to be Sapphire Coast.
Sapphire Coast consists of sublime beaches and shores with fabulous surfing conditions.

Centered on the picturesque Bega Valley, this is the most southerly region in New South Wales. Here visitors will discover Australian cheesemaking at its finest — beautiful beaches, fabulous surfing conditions, sublime boating and fishing on lazy lakes and waterways, and whale watching.

Attraction Highlights

  • Soak up the sun on one of the idyllic beaches at Merimbula or go surfing off Main Surf, Bar and Middle beaches.
  • Hire a houseboat or go for a paddle on the beautiful coastal waterways of Merimbula, Top and Back Lakes.
  • Go bushwalking, horse riding, fishing or play a round of golf in Bega, the heart of the Sapphire Coast.
  • Take a day trip to Montague Island and enjoy the little penguins and seal colony or go on a whale watching cruise.

Best time to visit: December through February for languid days on the beach, surfing, fishing or hiking. September to November for whale watching.

11. Mount Gambier, South Australia

Mount Gambier is one of Southern Australia’s most populous cities.
The Blue Lake at Mount Gambier.

Mount Gambier is one of Southern Australia’s most populous cities, located on the slopes of a dormant volcano. Crater lakes and interesting volcanic terrain pave the way for outdoor adventures in a city that balances charm and a modern lifestyle.

Attraction highlights

  • Get an up-close look and learn about at the geology and Aboriginal history of the color-changing waters of Blue Lake.
  • Peer down into the sunken gardens of the impressive limestone cave at Umpherston Sinkhole.

Best time to visit: November to February to witness the bluest waters at Blue Lake. Views are best at dawn.

12. Launceston, Tasmania

Launceston is a great place to visit in Southern Australia.
The peaceful Tamar river makes for a great "off the beaten path" destination.

On the north coast of Tasmania, Launceston is a delightful city blessed with elegant architecture, classic parks, a thriving gourmet scene and a chic coffee culture. Launceston is also the jumping off point for the celebrated Tamar Valley wine trail home to luscious cold climate wines and hours of tasting.

Attraction Highlights

  • Take in the collections of Australian colonial art, decorative arts and design, Tasmanian history and natural science at the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery.
  • Go for a paddle and explore nature’s handiwork on the beautiful Tamar River.
  • Taste some of the best New World wines on the Tamar Valley wine trail.
  • See Mother Nature at her best by exploring the nearby beautiful beaches of the Bay of Fires, Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay.

Best time to visit: May through August for hiking and wildlife encounters. December to February for languid days on the beach and winery tours.

Southern Australia also consists of the capital Australia.
The Parliament House at Canberra.

Canberra is Australia’s capital city and home to its parliament. The spacious city is a triumph of modern city planning designed around the striking central Anzac parade walk and tranquil Lake Burley Griffin. Modernist architecture, excellent national museums and art galleries complement Canberra’s fine restaurants and café culture.

Attraction highlights

  • View the impressive collection of Australian and international artworks at the National Gallery of Australia.
  • Attend the legendary annual Floriade, a festival of flowering bulbs which sees Canberra swathed in riotous colour from mid-September to mid-October.
  • Visit Australia’s striking new Parliament House, the seat of Australia’s Government, and the heritage displays in the Old Parliament House.
  • Explore Canberra’s outstanding wineries before heading to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve or Namadgi National Park for a classic Australian wildlife encounter with kangaroos, koalas, platypus, wombats or wallabies.

Best time to visit: September through November for Floriade and delightful spring weather. December to February for outdoor activities and sunny weather. 

Your next holiday is sure to be a journey of a lifetime if you include any of these best places to visit in South Australia on your itinerary. If you can’t choose just one, a tour through this iconic Australian region might be the perfect way to enjoy the best sites and activities for an unforgettable vacation.

Published by Sofie, updated on July 7, 2023

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