Top 10 Aussie Holiday Destinations For 2016

2 February 2016
Read Time: 3.5 mins

Australians love to travel, and with a backyard as big as ours the options for domestic exploration are almost limitless.

From our picture-postcard coastline and offshore island havens, to world-famous sights in the Red Centre and unexpected towns with memorable experiences, domestic bliss is rarely hard to find.

We've crunched the numbers and found what destinations in 2015 made Aussies forget about their passports and holiday on home soil instead.

Here are the top 10 local destinations Australians love travelling to at the moment.

1. Fremantle

Fremantle Jail Fremantle Jail is one of the port city's popular attractions (Image: Getty)

Topping the list of trending destinations in Australia, Fremantle’s popularity has risen an impressive 126 percent in 2015.

With dining, markets and beaches, the port city’s natural charms are evident. However, it's the rise of the cruise industry that tourism insiders identify as the major driver behind the jump, with Fremantle now Western Australia's premier cruise hub.

Locals can jump aboard a great-value cruise to Bali, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong, while Aussies around the country can still come out ahead with a cheap Asia cruise holiday from Fremantle despite the added cost of a flight to Perth.

2. Hayman Island

Hayman Island The colours of Hayman Island are almost as spectacular as isle's the way of life (Image: Getty)

Beach breaks don’t come much better than Hayman Island. The popular holiday isle has enjoyed a bumper 18 months with an increase in bookings of 46 percent in 2015.

Helping to lure lovers of luxury is the deluxe One and Only Hayman Island, reopened in mid-2014 after a multi-million dollar transformation to the 5-star resort.

This in-the-moment destination has attracted big names over the past 12 months, including Elton John and Leonardo DiCaprio, helping solidify its status as the place to be seen.

3. Ballina

Shelly Beach Ballina Shelly Beach in Ballina provides quality breaks for surfers (Image: Getty)

Ballina is just down the road from perennial favourite Byron Bay, and this under-the-radar hot spot made big gains in 2015, recording an 18.7-percent booking increase in 2015 compared to the prior year.

Ballina offers a relaxed atmosphere reminiscent of the quintessential Aussie beach breaks of years past, which may explain its resurgence with travellers craving a taste of the nostalgic simple life.

The town is also a gateway to Northern New South Wales' coastline, which encompasses Byron, Bangalow, Newrybar and Lennox Head.

4. Devonport

Devonport A morning mist breaks over Devonport (Image: Getty)

Tasmania has been the Australian state to watch in the last few years with much of the spotlight on the culinary and cultural offerings in Hobart.

As the port city on the Apple Isle, Devonport has enjoyed a bumper 2015 with bookings increasing by 18.2 percent and a record number of passengers on the Spirit of Tasmania (up 15 percent).

There's plenty to explore in town, plus easy access to Tassie’s best sights including Cradle Mountain.

Industry experts point to the town’s maritime history and cycling opportunities along the Tasmanian Trail from Devonport as reasons for the sudden popularity.

5. Uluru

Uluru Once you've seen Uluru in person the sight is branded into your memory (Image: Anna Howard)

Flight Centre has seen a 12-percent year-on-year increase in bookings to Uluru. The Red Centre is set to be even more popular with tourists this year, welcoming unique touring options including scenic flights over Uluru and Mt Conner, and a bush tucker trail with an overnight option in neighbouring Kings Canyon.

As the spiritual centre of the country and a worldwide bucket-list destination, it appears more Australians are opening up to the prospect of exploring the best the Outback has to offer.

More inspiration for your next Aussie holiday

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6. Bundaberg

Mon Repos turtles See baby turtles in Bundaberg

With a nine-percent popularity rise in 2015, more Aussies are taking advantage of Bundaberg’s laid-back appeal and seamless access to the country’s largest concentration of nesting marine turtles.

From November to March, visitors can witness tiny turtle hatchlings make their way towards the sea from their sandy nests.

This spectacular sight has gained momentum in recent years and the experience is luring wildlife lovers from around the continent.

7. Wagga Wagga

Wagga Wagga turtles Life is good on the water in Wagga Wagga (Image: Getty)

The Australian city that’s so great they named it twice is full of secrets that seven percent more travellers are looking to discover.

The iconic country town is on the agenda for Australians again this year. Wagga Wagga is great for families, featuring an abundance of nature activities including beautiful trails, gardens and parks. There are also some excellent day trip options and cultural events adding to its appeal.

8. Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie fishing Cast a line out while holidaying in Port Macquarie (Image: Getty)

The coastal community of Port Macquarie is a winner with Aussie travellers, recording a 4.5-percent booking increase in 2015.

Alongside stunning beaches, a laid-back vibe, beautiful marina, fishing and coastal walks, Port Macquarie is an animal lover’s paradise.

The town is home to the world’s first koala hospital that cares for stranded koalas, plus a host of cute critters including quolls and wombats.

9. Melbourne

Melbourne Melbourne has a different style to anywhere else in Australia

The culture capital of the country, which has recently opened a George Costanza-themed bar, is a hit with Australian travellers.

Already a top destination, booking stats rose by two percent in 2015 with the growth looking set to continue.

It appears our love of a quality latte, hipster culture and great shopping keeps us coming back to Melbourne again and again.

10. Albury

Albury war memorial The war memorial in Albury (Image: Getty)

A surprise entry on the list of places popular with Australians is the border town of Albury, which offers a back-to-basics holiday for families and couples.

Much of Albury's two-percent increase in 2015 is due to the trend of city slickers seeking authentic Australian experiences by turning their attentions to coastal and regional areas for short getaways.

Families love Albury for the classic outdoor holiday it promotes, with kids able to get a taste of regional life and pursue water activities like boating and fishing on Lake Hume.

Data provided by comparing bookings made with Flight Centre in 2014 with 2015.

Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals.

Laura Carlin

Give me big cities and culture over nature and wide open spaces any day, with the exception of a white sandy beach of course. Consider me a traveller with champagne tastes on a beer budget; I'd love my time overseas to be more glamorous than it often is. When in a new city you'll find me exploring the back streets to discover hidden gems by day and chatting with the locals with a drink in hand by night.