This NSW suburb has just been named the best town in Australia

And it’s only a stone’s throw from Sydney

Caitlyn Todoroski
Kiama lighthouse and headland
Photograph: Phil Winterton

A little jewel on NSW’s South Coast has been crowned the best small town in all of Australia. The Australian analysed a whopping 752 small towns across all corners of the country for liveability, using data from the 2021 census (based on factors around wellness, professional skills, diversity and prosperity). Kiama came out victorious, beating out the other top towns of Tamborine Mountain (Qld), Mount Barker (SA), Dunsborough (Vic) and Legana (Tas).

It’s got a fair bit going for it – for starters, it’s got not one or two, but five beaches. From break points to Nippers home turfs, you can see why many families have migrated down south. It was also judged highly for its great sense of community, its family-friendliness, its slow pace of life, its high employment rate and its safety. 

Kiama’s not just liveable – it’s great for a quick getaway from Sydney. We’d go so far as to call it one of the very best day trips from Sydney. It’s also one of the best carless trips away from Sydney, since you can hop on a train at Central, enjoy the views, and you’ll reach the heart of Kiama in just over two hours – pretty much the same time it takes to drive. The South Coast train line vistas are unreal; the tracks are sandwiched between the escarpment and the coast, meaning you get great things to look at on both sides. 

Hop off the train at the old-timey station and you’re in the centre of town. Boutiques and small businesses line the main strip that winds all the way down to the famous blowhole. It’s easy to idle a whole day away here, strolling in and out of the shops, and eating takeaway fish and chips in the park by the harbour. Salty air, vibrant green and blue scenes and beachfront markets are exactly what the doctor prescribed. 

Our top recommendation: get your sneakers on and jump on the Kiama to Gerringong coastal track. Not only will the 20km walk spit you out at all the beautiful beaches, but you’ll start to get a chance to suss out the enchanting cottages and other abodes nestled high on the cliffs and low by the shores (in case you want to relocate one day). 

If you want more than a day trip, check out these boutique hotels, or live like a local for the weekend with a stay at one of these beaut Airbnbs.

Have we convinced you to venture down south? In preparation for your ultimate day trip, check out our guide to a Kiama getaway.

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