Judges impressed by initiatives to attract visitors to regional areas.
Initiatives aimed at attracting visitors to Kalgoorlie-Boulder has seen the area take out top spot in tourism awards announced last night.
The Goldfields hub was announced the winner of the GWN7 Top Tourism Town Award (population over 5000) at the WA Tourism Conference held at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Carnarvon received the GWN7 Top Tourism Award for a town with a population of fewer than 5000 people.
More than 250 people attended the event, where Kalgoorlie-Boulder also received awards for tourism and business planning and for heritage, cultural and environmental visitor experiences.
Judges said they were impressed with Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s “strong focus on tourism planning and development together with initiatives to attract visitors”.
They said strong support from local government and collaboration among tourism operators had enabled tourism to grow in the regional centre.
Judges said Carnarvon showed a high level of “industry, community and local government collaboration, and strategic use of social media to attract visitors”.
Christmas Island won the marketing and media and the destination video categories.
Other category winners were Carnarvon for its community engagement and Coolgardie in the judge’s visit section.
Organisers said the awards program — now in its 29th year — was a major highlight of WA’s tourism calendar, with prizes “eagerly coveted by towns and cities” across the State.
“Visitor centres enter the awards on behalf of their destination, and entrants are required to submit a written submission and a short video highlighting the key attractions and experiences on offer in their destination. Finalists are chosen from the written submission, followed by a site visit by two judges,” they said.
TOP TIPS FOR THIS YEAR’S TOP TOWNS
1. Kalgoorlie-Boulder owes its origins to the gold rush of the 1890s, and to get an insight into this history visit Hannans North Tourist Mine, where you can walk through original buildings from mine sites along the Golden Mile, see how prospectors lived in the early days of the Goldfields, have a go at panning for gold and even climb aboard a huge haul truck. See the modern face of the industry on a tour of the Super Pit, one of Australia’s biggest open-cut gold mines.
2. It might seem an unlikely place to tee off, but Kalgoorlie Golf Course is known for its desert views and the contrast between its greens and the red earth (it’s also set to get its own Hilton DoubleTree hotel by the end of next year). For something quirkier, the Nullarbor Links lays claim to being the world’s longest golf course; its 18 holes beginning in Kalgoorlie and stretching 1365km to Ceduna in South Australia, with a hole at each participating town or roadhouse along the way.
3. There’s plenty to explore on a road trip through the Goldfields. Among them are the “living ghost town” of Gwalia (where you can stay in the former home of one-time mine manager Herbert Hoover, who later became a US President), the tiny town of Kookynie (known for its quintessential outback pub, the Grand Hotel, and Willie the resident horse), and Antony Gormley’s remarkable Inside Australia sculptures at Lake Ballard.
1. For many West Australians, Carnarvon is synonymous with bananas, but the Gascoyne region is a food bowl that produces a wide range of other fruits and vegetables, from avocados to watermelon and zucchini, along with seafood. This local produce is showcased at the annual Gascoyne Food Festival and at Carnarvon’s weekly Growers Market, which runs every Saturday morning between May and October and is accompanied by the Courtyard Craft Market.
2. Learn about Carnarvon’s role in NASA’s Apollo program — which landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon — at the Space and Technology Museum. The museum incorporates the distinctive OTC dish, beside which stood the Casshorn antenna known as the “Sugar Scoop” that, in 1969, relayed Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon to TV audiences in Perth via Moree earth station in rural NSW — the first live telecast into WA.
3. Heading out of town, there are renowned surfing and fishing spots along the coast, along with plenty of opportunities to find some peace and quiet, whether at rugged Red Bluff, the beach at Point Quobba (and the nearby Blowholes) or the region’s station stays. Turning inland, there are the outback landscapes of the Kennedy Range and Mt Augustus, and the Outback Pathways self-drive trails.
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