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Hunter business operators shine at NSW tourism awards


Hunter business leaders have shone at the NSW Tourism Industry Council’s prestigious NSW Tourism Awards.

More than 450 representatives gathered, in the iconic Luna Park Sydney’s Big Top, for the first time in three years to celebrate the state’s outstanding enterprises.

Lovedale’s Balloon Aloft picked up a gold medal in the Adventure Tourism category while neighbouring rival Beyond Ballooning secured bronze, as well as silver in Tour and/or Transport Operators.

Broke’s Margan Wines & Restaurant also tasted success in Excellence in Food Tourism from Food I Am (Wagga Wagga) and Country Food Trails (Orange).

Broke’s Margan Wines & Restaurant. Photo: Dom Cherry

Mid-Coast Council’s Destination Barrington Coast snared two golds, too, one for Tourism Marketing and Campaigns and the other for the Local Government Award for Tourism.

The Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary walked away with a silver medal in the Tourist Attractions section, with the Barrington Tops-based Aussie Ark collecting bronze.

Sea Horse Diamond Beach finished top three in Excellence in Accessible Tourism and Wingham’s Bent on Food was pipped by Carool’s Potager in Tourism Restaurants and Catering Services.

Business Hunter CEO Bob Hawes congratulated all winners and finalists, highlighting strong representation across the Hunter and Mid-North Coast.

“Our region is well served by businesses seeking to push the bar higher and we’re proud to see their efforts recognised in such a meaningful way,” he said.

“It’s been an incredibly challenging few years with back-to-back natural disaster events, the pandemic and energy and fuel prices all putting pressure on business operators in this sector.

“The visitor economy provides vital economic diversification for our region and will play an increasingly important role as we continue to navigate transformation associated with the evolution of our traditional energy industries.

“These awards offer an opportunity to celebrate well-earned recognition and help foster a culture of excellence that will see us remain a region of choice for domestic and international visitors alike.” 

Winners in the designated national award categories will now represent NSW at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards in Sydney on 17 March.

2022 NSW Tourism Award winners:

Major Tourist Attractions

  • Gold: Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo
  • Silver: The Australian Reptile Park, Somersby
  • Bronze: The Big Banana Fun Park, Coffs Harbour

Tourist Attractions

  • Gold: Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail, Port Macquarie
  • Silver: Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary
  • Bronze: Aussie Ark, Barrington Tops

Major Festivals and Events

  • Gold: Bluesfest Byron Bay
  • Silver: GLOW at Sydney Zoo

Festivals and Events

  • Gold: Tumbafest Inc, Tumbarumba
  • Silver: Bathurst Winter Festival
  • Bronze: The Coffs Coast Food & Wine Festival


  • Gold: Sydney by Kayak, Lavender Bay
  • Silver: Vision Walks – Eco Tours, Byron Bay
  • Bronze: Tweed Eco Cruises, Tweed Heads

Cultural Tourism

  • Gold: Local Sauce Tours, Sydney
  • Silver: Old Dubbo Gaol
  • Bronze: Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail, Port Macquarie

Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism

  • Gold: Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours, Coffs Harbour
  • Silver: Bundyi Cultural Tours, Wagga Wagga
  • Bronze: Bularri Muurlay Nyanggan Aboriginal Corporation, Coffs Harbour

Tourism Retail & Hire Services

  • Gold: Sydney Harbour Kayaks, The Spit Bridge, Mosman
  • Silver: Ask Roz Blue Mountains

Visitor Information Services

  • Gold: Mudgee Region Tourism
  • Silver: Bathurst Visitor Information Centre
  • Bronze: Eden Visitor Information Centre, Sapphire Coast

Business Event Venues

  • Gold: Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains by MGallery
  • Silver: Fullerton Hotel Sydney

Tour and/or Transport Operators

  • Gold: Tweed Eco Cruises, Tweed Heads
  • Silver: Beyond Ballooning, Lovedale
  • Bronze: Blue Mountains Stargazing

Adventure Tourism

  • Gold: Balloon Aloft, Hunter Valley, Camden Valley, Mudgee and Byron Bay
  • Silver: Sydney Harbour Kayaks, The Spit Bridge, Mosman
  • Bronze: Beyond Ballooning, Lovedale

Tourism Marketing and Campaigns

  • Gold: MidCoast Council: Destination Barrington Coast
  • Silver: Shoalhaven City Council, Tourism
  • Bronze: The Tweed Tourism Company

Tourism Restaurants and Catering Services

  • Gold: Potager, Carool
  • Silver: Bent on Food, Wingham
  • Bronze: Antica Australis, Carcoar

Tourism Wineries, Distilleries and Breweries

  • Gold: Courabyra Wines, Tumbarumba

Caravan and Holiday Parks

  • Gold: North Star Holiday Resort, Hastings Point
  • Silver: NRMA Ocean Beach Holiday Resort, Central Coast
  • Bronze: BIG4 Deniliquin Holiday Park

Hosted Accommodation

  • Gold: Blueberry Hills on Comleroy, Kurrajong
  • Silver: Belle Bois, Capertee Valley
  • Bronze: Amaroo Valley Springs, Kurrajong

Unique Accommodation

  • Gold: Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo
  • Silver: Glenayr Farm Mudgee
  • Bronze: Berger Houseboat Holidays, Tweed Heads

Self-Contained Accommodation

  • Gold: Bandalong Cottages, Mudgee
  • Silver: Peppertree Hill, Mudgee
  • Bronze: Mt Warning Estate, Dum Dum

4 – 4.5 Star Accommodation

  • Gold: The Byng Street Boutique Hotel, Orange
  • Silver: Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains by MGallery
  • Bronze: Wildlife Retreat at Taronga, Mosman

5 Star Accommodation

  • Gold: Mt Hay Retreat, Berry
  • Silver: Kalinya Estate, Bargo

New Tourism Business

  • Gold: Italian Cooking Experience with Stefano Marvello, Bowral
  • Silver: Navigate Expeditions, Sapphire Coast
  • Bronze: Evamor Valley, Mudgee

Excellence in Food Tourism

  • Gold: Margan Wines & Restaurant, Broke
  • Silver: Food I Am, Wagga Wagga
  • Bronze: Country Food Trails, Orange

Excellence in Accessible Tourism*

  • Gold/Hall of Fame: Riverside Holiday Resort Urunga
  • Silver: Cocky Guides, Sydney
  • Bronze: Sea Horse Diamond Beach

Local Government Award for Tourism*

  • Gold: MidCoast Council: Destination Barrington Coast
  • Silver: Central Coast Council – Destination Central Coast

Dean Gorddard Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual*

  • Winner: Donna Carrier

Judges’ Tourism Star Award*

Joint Winners:

  • Glenayr Farm, Mudgee
  • Love Lord Howe

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