Last night, on the national stage, Tasmania humbly accepted gold across five categories at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards. Not only that, Tasmania collected seven silver, two bronze and The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel was inducted into the Hall of Fame. What's more, Tassie picked up the most awards out of every state. Such is Tasmania's allure that Roy Morgan Research has just delivered hard evidence. Hobart now outranks Perth and Brisbane as a capital city holiday destination Australians want to visit. Come Monday, Tasmania is quietly hoping that the film Lion will bring home an Oscar.
Tourism Tasmania's CEO John Fitzgerald said "Tasmania has had another fantastic year for tourism and our popularity shows no signs of letting up as a record number of Australian and overseas visitors discover the people, the produce, the places, the stories and the experiences that make Tasmania such an exciting travel destination”
“I am really excited that we could back up our last two award-winning years with another outstanding performance at this year's Australian Tourism Awards. It reconfirms the quality of Tasmania's tourism and hospitality businesses and the amazing holiday experiences they provide for our visitors - the kind of experiences that our visitors keep returning for and talk about with their friends and family members long afterwards,” he said.
Here's a look at why Tasmania tops the list of great Australian tourism experiences. But don't take our word for it, you be the judge.
1. PREMIER WALKINGThere's a new frontier in walking. When Lonely Planet rated Tassie among the world's top regions in 2015, they named the Three Capes Track a must-do experience. It was boldly coined as Australia's premier coastal bushwalking experience even before the first steps were taken. Last night it lived up to expectations, winning New Tourism Business on the national stage. The four-day Tasman Peninsula walk features dolerite chasms, architecturally-designed lodging, Eucalypt forests and towering sea cliffs. If you're going to take a walk and share a few snaps, make it along the world's edge.
Our walking winners didn't stop there. The Tasmanian Walking Company took a familiar trek to the podium, collecting Gold for Ecotourism. With over 25 years of experience beneath their boots, not only is the trekking here top-notch, it can be served with affable guides, wine and plush pillows. Walking in some of Tasmania's most iconic locations, they add more than a touch of class to the experience with the Cradle Mountain Huts Walk, Bay of Fires Lodge Walk (and spa) and more recently the Wineglass Bay Sail Walk.
As for our walking backyard, it's not bad either. Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service – Freycinet National Park took bronze for Major Tourist Attractions. Take a few steps in the state's equally oldest national park (which celebrated its centenary last year) and there'll be no surprises why – accessible coastal wilderness, the rugged pink granite Hazards range, secluded bays and the likes of world-renowned Wineglass Bay.
2. REST YOUR HEADMix the words luxury and Tasmania together and you'll probably get Saffire Freycinet. Saffire breathes luxury and class. It's been named the world's best boutique hotel. It's no stranger to first place. The East Coast resort can now add a new accolade – Gold for Luxury Accommodation. Saffire appears to have the indulgence recipe just right.
Tasmania's accommodation offerings are as varied as our local characters. The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel also won Gold for Business Event Venue, entering into the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame. But one award wasn't enough, the corporate traveller fave also collecting silver in the Deluxe Accommodationcategory.
Have we mentioned diverse places to overnight? You can also stay perched out on Australia's deepest freshwater lake at Pumphouse Point. That sure is a one-off. Curling up amidst World Heritage wilderness, sipping Tasmanian single malt, or paddling around with the resident platypus are experiences that have put Pumphouse Point high on the bucket list. No wonder the industrial-style lodging won Silver in Unique Accommodation.
Avalon Coastal Retreat with its Huon pine bath, floor-to-ceiling views of Great Oyster Bay and intelligent design to effortlessly blend with its clifftop surrounds continues to strengthen its national profile, winning Silver in the Self Contained Accommodation category. Those who stay at Avalon get a touch more than your average conveniences – think designer furniture, Wursthaus gourmet larder and your very own private beach.
It seems the sheep, crops and country charm of Curringa Farm Accommodationendure as a crowd-pleaser, taking Bronze for Hosted Accommodation. Who doesn't enjoy an overnight stay served up with a dash of sheep shearing and a good old Aussie barbie? The stars here are amazing.
3. FOOD & DRINKLet's admit it. It's all about the food! Tasmania is a foodie's delight, a craft-ale enthusiast's heaven and a cheese lover's mecca. As with every Tasmanian journey, you'll get to meet the driving force behind the local food and drink scene – the chefs, distillers and fermenters. They draw inspiration from a pantry of clean waterways, fresh air and seasonal produce, creating delicious gourmet fare to be nibbled with decadent wine, beer, cider and whisky. So there's no raised brows that Tasmania picked up an award here. In 1950 Josef Chromy fled from his war-torn Czech home at 19 years old. In his 70s, when most might be retired, he established Josef Chromy Wines. Last night, the business won Silver for Tourism Restaurants and Catering Services. From farm to fork, or vine to bottle, there's often little space between the restaurant plate and the source.
4. GREAT OUTDOORSWhere would we be without Tasmania itself? We are blessed with a natural playground where mountain peaks and ocean are in close proximity, where a short walk can feel a world away from our major cities. Niche tourism experiences are plenty. If you've not heard of RiverFly 1864, it's time to pack your rod. The outfit just won Gold for Specialised Tourism Services and offers three-day guided fly fishing trips up at the Western Lakes in private eco-friendly huts.
Bruny Island Cruises won silver (Tourist Attractions), the exhilarating coastal wilderness experience featuring ancient sea cliffs among the southern hemisphere's tallest, sea caves and the odd whale encounter. All with salt in your hair!
Par Avion Wilderness Tours also venture to places inaccessible on foot, taking silver for Major Tour and Transport Operators. It's rare a pilot charmingly conveys knowledge through the head sets, revs the engine of a boat and serves up lunch in a rustic cabin. All part of the day job. Versatile characters and far flung wilderness reaches are what Par Avion do best.
In the realm of Destination Marketing, there are harder places to sell. The Great Eastern Drive follows a coastline of 176 kilometres of spectacular beauty; dramatic coastlines, world-famous beaches and unique natural attractions. Some say it rivals the best coastal drives on the planet. The Great Eastern Drive has been awarded silver for sharing the good word – putting this region firmly on the map. Just go. And then, according to the marketing, the key is to 'just stop.' Take your coastal time.
With experiences and stories that can only be penned in Tasmania, it's a good time to come and write your own. For more information on Tasmania, visit www.discovertasmania.com.au.
GOLDNew Tourism Business: Three Capes Track
Luxury Accommodation: Saffire Freycinet
Ecotourism: Tasmanian Walking Company
Specialised Tourism Services: RiverFly 1864
Business Events Venue: The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel – Australian Tourism Hall of Fame
SILVERTourist Attractions: Bruny Island Cruises
Major Tour and Transport Operators: Par Avion Wilderness Tours
Unique Accommodation: Pumphouse Point
Self Contained Accommodation: Avalon Coastal Retreat
Tourism Restaurants and Catering Services: Josef Chromy Wines
Deluxe Accommodation: The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel
Destination Marketing: Great Eastern Drive
BRONZEMajor Tourist Attractions: Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service - Freycinet National Park
Hosted Accommodation: Curringa Farm Accommodation