Hipster Holidays: A Guide to Australia’s Coolest Places

Posted by Casey Warrener on Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Where do hipsters holiday? And, what type of tourist are they? (Hint: they’re not). To offer a grand example, Anthony Bourdain is the ultimate hipster traveller – getting off the well-worn path, eating the back-street, hawker centre, and hole-in-the-wall foods, and on the hunt for authenticity. The hipster traveller yearns for a non-manufactured sense of place, for something totally different from the norm. Sound like you? Read on.

So – what are the markers of a great hipster haunt? A melting pot of cuisines, quirky style on the streets, eclectic shopping, art everywhere (on the walls, on the ceilings, on the coffee cups…), and all kinds of boutique brews – from buzzy espressos to ice-cold craft beers. Based on this, we’ve found seven of Australia’s most achingly cool places to venture. Better get in quick, because you know how it goes… once everyone finds out, these are no longer happening.

Fitzroy, VIC

Fitzroy is one of those areas that, once a bit down trodden, has now been largely gentrified – if you’re looking for Melbourne’s answer to Portland, this is it. It’s got the vegan wares and eats, the vintage shops and über cool boutiques, the burgers, the burritos, the ramen and the bahn mi. And of course there are coffee houses and roasters on every corner – cold drip, pour over, single origin – you name it, it’s here.

Where to stay?

On a classically wide and tree-lined North Fitzroy street, and with the façade of a Victorian terrace, Aberdeen House has both the locale and style of an awesomely trendy retreat. The combination of red brick, dark timber and pops of colour in designer homewares creates a unique character about the space. If you’re a fan of Fitzroy’s handmade furniture precinct, or a disciple of the Design Files blog, you’ll appreciate the décor. Floor-to-ceiling glass captures Melbourne’s ever-changing skies, and there’s a spa bath to warm up when those southerlies are whipping outside. When you’ve rugged up in your monochrome layers ready to explore, walk to the fashionable grid of Brunswick, Gertrude, Johnston and Smith Streets.

Perth, WA

The New York Times says “I thought Williamsburg was hipster heaven; it pales beside Perth”. When one of the world’s chicest cities' most popular reads admits defeat in the realm of hipster-dom, you know it’s the real deal. And that’s not the only thing Perth has on the Big Apple – did you know that Kings Park is the world’s largest inner-city green, trumping Central Park in NYC? Yep, our western capital is plenty hipster – considering most of the population resides on the east coast, of course those trendsetters who’ve taken to living on the opposite side to everyone else are the cool ones. And their city is brimming with temples to culture, trendy bars, organic eats, farmers' markets, pop-up events and stores.

Where to stay?

Midway between Fremantle proper and South Beach you’ll find Coral Street Cottage and Silver Street Studio. Once a 19th century fisherman’s cottage, then an artist’s space and gallery, and now two hideaways with cool bohemian vibes. All heritage charm on the outside and eclectic décor on the inside, a mix of antiques and oriental designs decorate the spaces. There’s a sunny north-facing balcony, and just outside the doors of the former kiln-come-mediation-room sits a clawfoot tub with courtyard views. Grab the mountain bikes that come with the house, take a spin around town or along the coast, and then return to chill out in the open-air bath with some bubbly.

Hobart, TAS

Hobart shows up on destination hotlists repeatedly – and with good reason. With its blend of art and culture, historic architecture and waterfront scenery, top-notch eats and drinks; it’s an incredible place to get away. MONA has much to do with Tasmania’s hipster cred, and you’re going to want to spend a good chunk of time checking it all out – following the art, you’ll order cheese and beer at Moo Brew, partake in a heady wine tasting at Moorilla Estate, and then sink into a beanbag on the lawn. Back in the hub, wander the Salamanca esplanade, dine on fresh seafood, and sample the range of craft brews on offer in Battery Point's pubs.

Where to stay?

Nestled between two sandstone warehouses on the famous Castray Esplanade, this boutique beauty places you right in the midst of the highlights. Salamanca Wharf Hotel faces the water, and you can step out the backdoor and into the bustling marketplace. The surrounding strip of Georgian stunners includes some great pubs and restaurants to try in between excursions. And when you’re done soaking it all up, kickback in an Eames chair and sip wine from the locally curated mini-bar.

Maleny, QLD

The Sunshine Coast hinterland holds a mix of art galleries and quirky boutiques, artisan sweets and quaint cafes, and mountains and farmlands overlooking the sea. Nestled amid parklands and peaks, escaping to this cool, rainforest filled landscape is a favourite with those-in-the-know. Forget the expected beachside hangs – Maleny has clean eating cafes, organic grocers, and independent everything. This is definite fringer territory, and the hipster in you will dig its unique, offbeat vibe.

Where to stay?

Lost in Leela sounds a bit mystic sci-fi, doesn’t it? And that’s only the beginning of the curiosity. Two ‘twelve-sided spheres’ sit level with the surrounding treetops – one sphere is for socialising, with a sunken conversation pit and lounge made for kicking back with bottles of wine; the other is for resting, with four bedrooms each accessing a wraparound deck. The house’s design both complements and captures the stunning setting, windows drawing in gorgeous scenery on every side. This is a truly unique back-to-nature retreat, and one you won’t forget soon.

Byron Bay, NSW

Byron Bay is basically hipsterville when festival season swings round. Not just home to Splendour in the Grass in July, but a range of other small alternative festivals, including the not so small but incredibly vibrant and authentic blues and roots music gathering; Bluesfest. Byron is filled to the brim with local artisans, small creative businesses, and stylish abodes galore. The surfy, clean-living, beach-bum vibe is strong in this stretch of New South Wales coastline. So plan your next group, couples or solo getaway to Byron Bay, to soak up the chill vibes any hipster would be happy to explore in.

Where to stay?

Kamala in the Byron Hinterland is secluded, set in five acres of stunning natural wilderness. Accommodating up to eight-guests, it's even spacious enough for a full-scale hipster holiday (translation: bring your mates). We don't think they'd need much convincing with a view this stunning. The renovated building interior is even more impressive, with vaulted panelled ceilings and unique and thoughtfully placed furnishings. It will feel like you've escaped to your own luxurious hideaway, although surprisingly it's only a 10-minute drive into the heart of Byron Bay!

Aireys Inlet, VIC

Aireys Inlet is one of the Great Ocean Road’s better-kept secrets, and as host to literary and music events throughout the year, something of an artistic bohemia. Back from the beaches and the Great Otway National Park, you’ll find a town with a real sense of community spirit. Jump on your fixie and spin around the streets to see what it’s all about – take a yoga class in the park, check out the arts and crafts, chat with friendly locals at the pub, and brunch at cafes that wouldn't be out of place in Melbourne.

Where to stay?

Ocean Inlet reflects the quirky-cool nature of its laid back coastal surrounds. Offering up a ‘Life Aquatic’ themed apartment (we doubt there’s a hipster who doesn’t love Wes Anderson), complete with an under-the-sea wall mural and aquarium porthole, this is a fun choice for you and your mates. For something more romantic, choose the multi-level Shorehouse with its huge corner spa, sunny breakfast spot on the balcony, and amazing views across the waterway to Aireys Inlet’s iconic lighthouse.

Moffat Beach, QLD

Surf culture and hipster culture have intersected to become near indistinguishable. Gone are the days of skate brands and boardies – coastal hubs are full of op-shop finds, seventies vibe moustaches, and bohemian dreamers living by the changing tides and lounging in their vans between swells. Moffat Beach is one place you’ll find hoards of such hipster-surfer slashies. And the area is responding to the scene – with good coffee, gourmet fish shops, contemporary galleries (featuring the likes of Reg Mombassa of Mambo designs), and eclectic boutiques. This is a Sunshine Coast spot known mostly to locals, but lucky for you, we’re bringing you in on this hidden headland and its cool cove beach.

Where to stay?

Located along the Moffat Beach headland, The Queen’s hilltop position means incredible views out to the long break and access to the water’s edge by simply strolling down to the sand. This beach house is all about the breezy living areas. The entertaining terrace – sheltered and cooled by the surrounding coastal vegetation – is made for socialising. And when you’re ready to retreat there are sunny nooks and bedroom balconies to read or nap. Stop into the area’s Pocket Espresso Bar for a killer iced coffee to kick-start days at the beach.