The Australian Tourism Awards celebrate a hard-working industry promoting all sections of this wonderful country. Getaway pays tribute to some winners, beginning with the luxury accommodation category.
Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast is filled with marble, mosaics and Italian craftsmanship rarely seen in a hotel. All rooms offer a lifestyle synonymous with the Versace name and guests enjoy views of Southport Broadwater through the lobby's floor-to-ceiling glass.
National Museum of Australia, winner in the Major Tourist Attraction category, is the country's only social history museum, devoted to celebrating all things historic and iconic. From indigenous people to Vegemite, it's all there. It opened in 2001 as a gift to the Australian people for Federation and it's free.
Harbour Jet Sydney came in for the Adventure Tourism Award. Visitors whirl around Sydney Harbour at speeds of up to 75kph with 270¢ª spins, so getting wild and wet is guaranteed. Safety briefing and wet weather gear are included.
West Coast Wilderness Railway in Tasmania came up in Significant Tourist Attractions. It takes visitors on a wonderful train journey from Strahan to Queenstown. You climb over 200 metres through pristine country along 35 kilometres of track, across wild rivers on over 40 bridges.
Ashmore Palms are winners in the Standard Accommodation and Tourist and Caravan Park Divisions. The family-owned and operated businesses are popular with everyone, particularly families. Ashmore Palms is on six hectares of landscaped gardens. The Paradise Lagoon area has a manmade rainforest walkway and a breeding collection of South American macaws. There is a tennis court, heated mushroom lagoon, barbecue and picnic areas, playground and cactus garden. There is a big range of accommodation to choose from family villas, chalets, cottages, cabanas, lodges, mansions and cabins.
Brisbane Holiday Village is on 13 hectares with Lagoon of the Sun as its centrepiece. It has fountains, water-spouting serpents and loads of activities to occupy children while parents relax. It has an Inca Trail putt-putt with 18 holes of obstacles, a tennis court, playground and every day at 3pm, a noisy and colourful lorikeet feeding session. They have a range of cottages, villa, cabins, powered, permanent and tourist sites.
Kingfisher Bay Resort and Village on Queensland's Fraser Island won an Ecotourism Award. The four-star resort has 152 rooms and 109 self-contained villas designed to blend in with the natural surroundings of the world's largest sand dune. It has minimal impact on the environment and the largest team of environmental rangers in the country.
Kooljaman at Cape Leveque, owned by two indigenous communities, won the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism Award. Tours allow you to interact with local Aboriginal culture and at the end of the day you stay in luxury safari tents or rough it under palm frond shelters on the beach.
Blue Mountains YHA won the Backpacker Accommodation Award. The heritage-listed 1930s art deco building was once a cabaret club. It has 200 beds, some rooms with ensuites and modern facilities. It is just 10 minutes from the National Park, which has abseiling, canyoning and mountain biking.
Peppermint Bay and Hobart Cruises has won the New Tourism Development Award. Guests soak in the natural beauty and wildlife unique to this area on a half-day cruise aboard a luxury catamaran. Visit Peppermint Bay, Bruny Island, D'entrecasteaux Channel, bird sanctuaries and see giant kelp forests, Atlantic salmon, rare eagles, seals, dolphins and migrating whales. An underwater camera even allows to see beneath the surface of the Derwent Estuary and you are served a delicious lunch.
All around Australia.
Palazzo Versace rooms range between $340 and $3000.
Harbour Jet Sydney rides cost $60 for adults and $40 for children.
West Coast Wilderness Railway costs $97 for adults and $54.50 for children one way in tourist class. Premium class costs $175 for adults and $120 for children one way. Bus return, guide book, lunch or afternoon tea and beverage are included.
Ashmore Palms rainforest cabins start at $140 a night, while holiday villas are $60 a night. There is a great choice in between.
Brisbane Holiday Village cabins start at $150, cottages and villas are $122 and camp sites $23. There are many other choices of accommodation and rates.
Kingfisher Bay Resort and Village rooms start at $270.
Kooljaman at Cape Leveque prices range between $105 per person twin share for safari; camping rates are $14 per night per adult.
Blue Mountains YHA costs $22-28 for adult dormitory accommodation, $18 for under-18 dormitory accommodation, $68-76 for a double room and $112 for a family room.
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.
Sea World Drive
Main Beach 4217
Ph: (07) 5509 8000
Fax: (07) 5509 8888
National Museum of Australia
Ph: (02) 6208 5000
Harbour Jet Sydney
113a Harbourside Shopping Centre
Darling Harbour 2000
Ph: 1300 88 7373
Fax: 1300 78 6858
West Coast Wilderness Railway
Driffield Street, Queenstown 7467
Ph: (03) 6471 1700
Fax: (03) 6471 2415
Ashmore Palms Holiday Village
71 Hinde Street
Ph: (07) 5539 3222
Fax: (07) 5597 1576
Brisbane Holiday Village
10 Holmead Road
Eight Mile Plains 4113
Ph: (07) 3341 6133
Fax: (07) 3341 0274
Kingfisher Bay Resort & Village
Fraser Island 4650
Ph: (07) 4120 3333 1800 072 555
Fax: (07) 4127 9333
Blue Mountains YHA
207 Katoomba Street
Ph: (02) 4782 1416
Fax: (02) 4782 6203
Peppermint Bay & Hobart Cruises
Hobart Cruise Centre
Brooke Street Pier
Ph: 1300 137 919