Travelling the wide-open roads of Australia and not knowing which cute town might be your next stop has all the all the romance of a Dorothea Mackellar poem (you know the one). Until you get to the cute town and realise the bakery shut at two, the pub doesn’t do food, the local Chinese has been closed for three years and the motel, which frankly has a bit of a sinister vibe to it, is fully booked.
Sometimes you just need the reassurance that you can have your small-town getaway and not have to compromise on a few creature comforts, like natural wine, sourdough bread, ethical linen, gourmet restaurants and award-winning coffee. Sometimes you just want it bougie. Too much to ask? Based on these 10 towns, apparently not.
Positioned on Waterfall Way not far from Never Never Creek on The Promised Land, the Mid North Coast town of Bellingen is as dreamy as these names imply. The vibe is a combination of boho, pastural, hippie, and, more recently, very bougie. Spend your days bushwalking through rainforests and washing off at crystal-clear swimming holes. Good food is abundant in Bello. Hearthfire Bakery is a must, as is Za’atar Café for Middle Eastern street food. Sip saké while overlooking a paddock of cows at the magical Japanese restaurant Qudo, and book ahead for delicious Mediterranean at Bruno’s. HYDE is your one-stop shop for coffee and retail therapy (they have excellent taste in apparel and homewares).
A laidback fishing village on the north coast of NSW that we are not going to call the new Byron Bay (the locals don’t like it), but that we will call its less hectic and cooler sister. You’ll struggle to choose between staying at the chic boutique hotel The Surf or the equally stylish Airbnb The Black Ace. Spoilt for choice again with local beaches – there are 11 of them! Get stuck into the local seafood, have lunch at the tiny al fresco Beachwood Café known for its Turkish inspired food, and do botanical cocktails at Dusk Till Dawn. For something fancier, Paradiso is a crowd favourite, and it’s obligatory to have a beer at the iconic ocean front Pacific Hotel. On the subject of bougie towns, Maclean, a place that proudly claims to be Australia’s Scottish Town, is a 20-minute drive away and getting bougier by the day.
If we were rating Australia’s bougiest towns, the sun-kissed and subtropical destination of Noosa would be right up there at number one. Hastings Street was traditionally where all the food and retail action was, but more recently Noosa Junction has become home to new and exciting food and retail businesses (hello Matteau flagship store).
The National Park and surrounding beaches, some of the country’s most stunning natural settings, will keep you busy during the day. Wind down in the evening with a beach front dinner at Sails, or head on the Noosa Ferry to Ricky’s by the river. If it’s not already clear, Noosa is a tourist’s paradise so you will have no trouble with accommodation. Come 2026, Brisbane’s coveted Calile Hotel will have a second site in Noosa and we’ve already cleared our calendars. Barely scratching the surface here but it wouldn’t be a bougie trip to Noosa without takeaway sourdough pizzas from El Capitano best consumed at First Point, gelato at Massimo’s Gelateria, and a trip to the Farmer’s Market.
If farm-to-table is your preferred strand of bougie travel, then you will absolutely eat up the charming town of Daylesford. Located in Victoria’s “spa country” (do we even need to go on?!) at the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, this goldrush town was established during the 1800s by Swiss and Italian migrants, and has a distinctly Euro feel to it. Some of the best spots to enjoy the local produce are Beppe, The Lake House, Cliffy’s Emporium, Wombat Hill House, Istra Smallgoods, and The Farmers Arms Hotel. As for sampling the local mineral springs, both Hepburn Bath House and The Spa at Lake House deliver very luxurious experiences. Conveniently, both spas also offer accommodation, but being the bougie traveller that you are, you will also want to check out Dairy Flat Farm and Lodge – a boutique hotel and 38-acre farm.
A stone’s throw from Byron Bay but with an identity completely unto itself, Bangalow is a heritage listed precinct that gets bonus bougie points because you’ll probably spot a celebrity there. Until recently, Bangalow only had a handful of restaurants on offer. Enter some movers and shakers and there are now two new charismatic and well-loved restaurants in the mix: Ciao Mate! (pizza and natural wines with the cutest Italian inspired decor) and You Beauty (nostalgic Australiana vibes). For your morning brew and breaky, you will want to head to Woods which puts you in very close proximity to some of the town’s best retail spaces: Island Luxe; Our Corner Store; and Bisque Traders. Venture a little further into the hinterland and visit the revamped Eltham Hotel – a 130-year-old landmark hotel with five gloriously styled rooms and one of Australia’s best pub bistros downstairs. Stay for a parmy and the night!
We couldn’t create a list of bougie destinations and not include a town in Tassie. The whole island offers outstanding eating, drinking, cultural and outdoor experiences, but we think you bougie lot will be most enamoured by the West Coast, specifically the picturesque, harbour-side village of Strahan. Have a drink at View 42°, which boasts the highest vantage point in town and then head to the fine-dining seafood restaurant Risby Cove for dinner by the harbour. You can take a cruise down the Gordon River and see the ancient Tasmanian rainforests, or climb the island’s largest sand dunes. And if that feels a little off-brand for bougie, stay put in your architecturally designed, luxury accommodation with floor-to-ceiling glass windows cantilevered out towards the cliff-edge (see Wheelhouse Apartments).
McLaren Vale (SA)
This small-town is so bougie that it refers to itself as a boutique village and also doubles as a wine region. Situated 45-minutes out of Adelaide, McLaren Vale is surrounded by over 100 vineyards and wineries, which we think is the correct amount for any small town. Once you’ve procured enough shiraz from the aforementioned cellar doors, get cosy at your choice of luxury accommodation (we rather like The Vineyard). Next you’ll need to decide whether you eat at The Salopian Inn – an award-winning regional diner housed in a revamped 1851 homestead – or at one of the country’s best pizzeria’s Pizzateca. Like any good bougie town, there’s art to be seen and markets to be visited in between all the eating and drinking.
Perennially bougie, this seaside town on the Great Ocean Road has always offered the best eating in the area. (Anglesea is our all-time favourite GOR town, closer to Melbourne and with great surf beaches, but the dining’s not so bougie.) Recent new Lorne arrivals include Little Picket, at the bowls club, by chef Jo Barrett, who honed her sustainability credentials by living at Joost Bakker’s zero-waste eco house in Melbourne in 2021, living off only what the house produced. Other relaxed eating spots include The Lorne Hotel and The Riverside Cafe. We love Gelato Gelato ice cream, also available in Anglesea and at the excellent Aireys Pub in summer (a nice pit-stop on the way down) and burgers at The Bottle Of Milk are highly recommended. You can walk off all this eating on trails in the hinterland (there are lots of Instagrammable waterfalls) or bouncing on the beachfront trampolines.
If your definition of a bougie town is one that features a lot of sandstone, has a sophisticated and award-winning French restaurant, a cellar door complete with adjoining bookshop, and a condiments shop with some kind of adorable name like The Little Hand Stirred Jam Shop, then look no further than Berrima in the Southern Highlands. The best part about this tiny bougie town is that it is surrounded by several other tiny bougie towns that you access via long winding roads lined with rose gardens and Georgian mansions. It makes for a very romantic and very bougie time indeed.
Not only does Orange deliver on all the bougie essentials – brilliant boutique shopping (hello, Jumbled), farmers markets and great coffee (try Groundstone) – but it also comes with the additional benefit of being completely surrounded by wineries.
In fact, Orange is home to more than 60 vineyards, many of which produce well-known cold-climate varieties like Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir. The well-known winery Philip Shaw has a cellar door that’s just seven minutes’ drive from the centre of town, while Ross Hill Wines offers cooking classes and Heifer Station Wines delivers a family-friendly experience with a small herd of farm animals.