Wotif 2021 Aussie Town of the Year Awards are revealed, with Cairns taking out the top spot

With its resort-like lagoons, warm sunny weather and gateway to the majestic Great Barrier Reef, it’s no surprise Cairns has been crowned the number one town in Australia. 

Travel website Wotif has announced the top 10 winners of the 2021 Aussie Town of the Year Awards based on their accommodation quality, affordability, traveller satisfaction and appealing activities and attractions.

While the  idyllic city in tropical Far North Queensland took out the top spot, New South Wales dominated the list with the likes of Pokolbin, Mudgee, Port Macquarie and The Entrance.

Victoria’s Apollo Bay and Lakes Entrance were named among the winning destinations, along with South Australia‘s McLaren Vale, Queensland’s Hervey Bay and Western Australia‘s Exmouth.

1. Cairns, Queensland: Cairns has been crowned the number one town in Australia of 2021

1. Cairns, Queensland: Cairns has been crowned the number one town in Australia of 2021

2. Pokolbin, New South Wales: If it's indulgence and relaxation you're after, then the rolling hills and picturesque vistas of Pokolbin is the ideal setting for some R&R

2. Pokolbin, New South Wales: If it’s indulgence and relaxation you’re after, then the rolling hills and picturesque vistas of Pokolbin is the ideal setting for some R&R

Top 10 Australian towns revealed

1. Cairns, Queensland: Spend some time exploring the Great Barrier Reef and the world’s oldest rainforest – and you’ll ask yourself why you didn’t visit this stunning part of Australia sooner

2. Pokolbin, New South Wales: If it’s indulgence and relaxation you’re after, then the rolling hills and picturesque vistas of Pokolbin and the Hunter Valley region are the ideal setting for some R&R, just a short drive from Sydney

3. Apollo Bay, Victoria: Come for the great outdoors but stay for the delicious fresh produce. Surrounded by endless beaches, walking trails and the Great Otway National Park, Apollo Bay is a top place to base yourself while exploring the Great Ocean Road

4. Mudgee, New South Wales: Country hospitality at its finest. Swirl and sip your way around Mudgee, visit a farm, a neighbouring heritage village or just sit back and admire the sense of community in this humble regional town

5. Lakes Entrance, Victoria: The water is where you want to be when visiting Lake Entrance – where the Gippsland Lakes meets the Southern Ocean. Spend your day kayaking, fishing,  swimming or go on an unforgettable camel ride along the stunning 90 Mile Beach and enjoy your evenings dining at one of the many great restaurants in and around town

6. McLaren Vale, South Australia: Cheesemaking, wine blending, a Shiraz trail, 31 kilometres of pristine coastline and over 70 cellar doors, just 40 minutes out of Adelaide 

7. Hervey Bay, Queensland: What the locals describe as the best address on earth. Visit Hervey Bay for its reliable sunshine, whale watching, incredible diving experiences and Fraser Island, just a short ferry away

8. Exmouth, Western Australia: You know Exmouth for its diving experiences on Ningaloo Reef, but there’s even more to discover about this stunning part of Australia. It’s the perfect base for an adventure getaway both in and out of the water. Head to Cape Range National Park and you’ll find breathtaking canyons and the most incredible wildflowers

9. Port Macquarie, New South Wales: The ultimate all-rounder. Home to some of NSW’s best beaches, excellent eateries, a buzzing city centre and plenty of surrounding adventure – Port Macquarie is always an excellent choice

10. The Entrance, New South Wales: A relaxing family favourite on the Central Coast, where the lake meets ocean, this town has plenty of water activities, from fishing, hiring a boat or exploring one of the many local beaches on offer

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With such a diverse mix of experiences and attractions in Australia, this year’s top destinations highlight the travel possibilities available in one’s own backyard.

Following an incredibly challenging year for the Tropical North Queensland tourism community, Cairns has been voted as the standout destination.

‘Not only is it the gateway to one of Australia’s most treasured natural beauties – the Great Barrier Reef, but the city itself offers the ideal laid-back tropical lifestyle,’ Wotif managing director Daniel Finch said. 

3. Apollo Bay, Victoria: Surrounded by endless beaches, walking trails and the Great Otway National Park, Apollo Bay is a top place to base yourself while exploring the Great Ocean Road

3. Apollo Bay, Victoria: Surrounded by endless beaches, walking trails and the Great Otway National Park, Apollo Bay is a top place to base yourself while exploring the Great Ocean Road

4. Mudgee, New South Wales: It's known as one of the country's finest wine towns in Australia

4. Mudgee, New South Wales: It’s known as one of the country’s finest wine towns in Australia

5. Lakes Entrance, Victoria: Spend your day kayaking, fishing, swimming or go on an unforgettable 60 minute camel ride along the stunning 90 Mile Beach

5. Lakes Entrance, Victoria: Spend your day kayaking, fishing, swimming or go on an unforgettable 60 minute camel ride along the stunning 90 Mile Beach

6. McLaren Vale, South Australia: The town is known for its cheesemaking, wine blending, a Shiraz trail, and more than 70 cellar doors

6. McLaren Vale, South Australia: The town is known for its cheesemaking, wine blending, a Shiraz trail, and more than 70 cellar doors

‘To think that this humble city, which does so much for Australian tourism on an international scale suffered a loss of more than $50 million a week during the height of COVID-19 is incomprehensible. 

‘With an average nightly accommodation rate of $155 in 2020, it’s time Aussies consider visiting this incredible part of Australia that people from all over the world come to see.’

Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive officer Mark Olsen said the the city was excited to have Cairns tale out first prize.

‘Here in the state’s tropical north we have been fortunate to have very few cases of COVID-19 allowing us to move about more freely,’ he said. 

‘However, the economic impact of closed borders has decimated our economy which relies on tourism. Australians are desperate for a holiday and Cairns is the ideal destination.’

7. Hervey Bay, Queensland: Visit Hervey Bay for its reliable sunshine, whale watching, incredible diving experiences and Fraser Island, just a short ferry away

7. Hervey Bay, Queensland: Visit Hervey Bay for its reliable sunshine, whale watching, incredible diving experiences and Fraser Island, just a short ferry away

8. Exmouth, Western Australia: Head to the Ningaloo Lighthouse Holiday Park and you'll find breathtaking views

8. Exmouth, Western Australia: Head to the Ningaloo Lighthouse Holiday Park and you’ll find breathtaking views 

9. Port Macquarie, New South Wales: Home to some of the best beaches, excellent eateries and plenty of surrounding adventure - Port Macquarie is always an excellent choice

9. Port Macquarie, New South Wales: Home to some of the best beaches, excellent eateries and plenty of surrounding adventure – Port Macquarie is always an excellent choice

10. The Entrance, New South Wales: A relaxing family favourite on the Central Coast, where the lake meets ocean, this town has plenty of water activities, from fishing, hiring a boat or exploring one of the many local beaches on offer

10. The Entrance, New South Wales: A relaxing family favourite on the Central Coast, where the lake meets ocean, this town has plenty of water activities, from fishing, hiring a boat or exploring one of the many local beaches on offer

With so many places to visit, where to travel next in Australia is one decision every Australian can look forward to making.

‘While the last 12 months have been less than ideal, this time has given Aussies the chance to re-valuate how they live, work and play – a change of perspective that many now appreciate,’ Mr Finch said. 

‘While an overseas getaway will always have its purpose and appeal, many Aussies do not realise the unique opportunity they have in front of them – to take advantage of having this enormous playground called Australia, all to themselves.

‘Be it in Tropical North Queensland or along The Great Ocean Road, as the summer season for many regions begins to subside, now is the time Aussie travellers need to make a conscious decision to holiday here this year.

‘With the overall loss to Australian tourism due to COVID-19 now totalling over $59 billion, there is a huge job ahead to get the industry back on its feet.’

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