Categories Unique Accommodation (Gold)
One of only five Australian properties on the Small Hotels of the World list, The Berkeley River Lodge, on the far north Kimberley coast, has even the most pampered visitors raving. It has won gold for three years, and the opening of an airstrip in May 2015 will further broaden its appeal (though there is something fabulous about flying in by private sea plane). The lodge marries luxury and isolation, with 20 private villas perched on a 65m sand dune with panoramic ocean views. There is a world-class restaurant with degustation options, plus ‘Berkeley style’ fishing via a helicopter to the most remote spots, including King George Sound, where the waterfalls cascade a staggering 80m. Spot jabiru, turtles, dugongs and saltwater crocs, and make the trip to experience the internationally recognised Bradshaw rock art.
(08) 9169 1330, berkeleyriver.com.au.
Category Deluxe Accommodation (Gold)
The self-contained accommodation is the newest in Kununurra and the only 4.5-star destination in town. The apartments (with free wi-fi, Foxtel and air-con) overlook a park and lagoon and are set in lush tropical gardens. It’s the perfect kick-off spot for a visit to any one of the region’s many wonders, including the Ord Valley Muster and Kimberley Moon Experience, Bungle Bungles, Mitchell Plateau and Falls, Gibb River Road, Ord River and Lake Argyle.
1300 729 267, freshwaterapartments.net.au.
Categories Major Tourist Attractions (Gold); Heritage Cultural Tourism (Silver); Major Festivals Events – Rottnest Channel Swim (Silver); Destination Marketing (Bronze)
There really is no place like Rotto. Born-and-bred Perthites get all misty-eyed about long, languorous (and inevitably sexy) summer days on this island 19km from the mainland, where all you really need are thongs, bathers and a bike. They won’t be at all surprised that Rottnest picked up a slew of gongs at the 2014 Perth Airport WA Tourism Awards to add to its tally. With 63 beaches and 20 bays there are now even more reasons for a Rotto fix: a seal-viewing platform is opening at Cathedral Rocks in early 2015, where visitors can spy sun-basking New Zealand fur seals, and the Wadjemup Trail, created due to increasing tourist numbers, will soon provide 50km of protected walks across this fragile but fascinating environment.
(08) 9432 9111, rottnestisland.com.
Category Specialised Tourism Services (Gold)
This innovative Margaret River company began in 1996, sparked by a diagnosis of eczema and dermatitis among the owner’s three children. After a vain search for a non-allergenic soap, she decided to make her own, thus this olive oil-based body products business was born. Aside from soaps and all-natural body products, visitors can buy gourmet foods such as vinaigrettes, pastas and dips. There’s an online store, but a visit to the wheelchair-friendly factory is a great opportunity for kids to learn how olive-oil products are made.
(08) 9755 6111, vassevirgin.com.au.
Category Tourist Attractions (Bronze)
This would have to be one of the top places for a visit with friends and family from interstate or overseas. A mere 30 minutes from Perth, Whiteman Park showcases Australia’s amazing wildlife in a beautifully maintained 150ha park, with sheep shearing demonstrations and animal petting opportunities in the mix. There are also great evening tours of the Woodland Reserve, on which critically endangered woylies can be spotted, plus lots of picnic areas, a mini water playground, an electric tram, a motor museum (the second biggest of its kind in the country) and a dog park with obstacles.
(08) 9209 6000, whitemanpark.com.au.
Category Adventure Tourism (Gold)
Offering an adrenalin rush with a picturesque backdrop, this Busselton operation deservedly earned its first gold medal. A tandem skydive begins with a 20-minute plane ride over Margaret River followed by a free-fall from 10,000, 14,000 or 15,000 feet, and a beach landing. A post-jump beer or wine at The Goose Cafe is included. The jump is also filmed with state-of-the-art cinematography. The company has teamed with a local operator to offer an adventure tourism package too, including a whale-watching tour, winery tour, and accommodation.
1300 449 669, southernskydivers.com.au.
Category Ecotourism (Gold)
Out of Sight Tours runs in the West Cape Howe National Park, the state’s most southern point and certainly one of its most picturesque. Since 2009, it has picked up a raft of awards along with blue-chip ecotourism accreditation, and each team member knows his or her stuff, holding either a Masters or a PhD. Tours include a guided walk around the Cape Howe cliffs to a lookout where
visitors can peer over the 80m drop. Not for nervous Nellies!
(08) 9848 2814, outofsighttours.com.au.
Categories Sir David Brand Medal – Jeff Hayley (Winner), Tour and/or Transport Operators (Silver)
Triple J Tours, located in Kununurra, was founded in 1988 by director Jeff Hayley and continues to offer an incomparable river cruise experience. There are awesome options to choose from, including the longest one-day river cruise in the country, navigating the entire 55km to the Ord River Dam. Spot freshwater crocs (Lake Kununurra has the highest density of the reptiles in Australia), or take a coach tour of the beautiful Durack country – named after the famous Kimberley pioneer family – with a stop at the Durack Homestead Museum at Lake Argyle.
(08) 9168 2682, triplejtours.com.au.
Categories Major Tourist Attractions (Silver), Heritage and Cultural Tourism (Bronze)
If you’re only going to visit one WA heritage attraction this year, Fremantle Prison should be it. Built in the 1850s by convicts, it was the first WA property included on the World Heritage List. The Tunnels Tour is a spooky adventure by foot and boat, through a labyrinth 20m below, or take the Children’s Escape Tour, perfect for the holidays (the kids learn about the escapees and get to plan an escape of their own).
(08) 9336 9200, fremantleprison.com.au.
Category New Tourism Development (Gold)
Is there a better way to take in the sights of a new town – or your own home city – than on a Segway? Nope. Segways are fast becoming one of the most popular forms of sightseeing around (age and fitness is no barrier). Take a tour of Rottnest and explore the Bickley Battery gun emplacements and Jubilee lookout (plus you’ll go off-road). In Perth, these fun tours make good use of the bike paths that skirt the Swan, and can be enjoyed by the whole family (including grandparents and kids over 12). You’ll cover much more ground than you would on foot, without raising a sweat.
1300 808 180, segwaytourswa.com.au.
Categories Sir David Brand Award for Tourism (Winner); Meetings and
Business Tourism (Gold); Luxury Accommodation (Gold); Tourism Restaurants and Catering Services – Sunset Bar & Grill (Gold)
It’s no wonder this accommodation took the top gong at the awards: it’s known as one of the best dining and spa experiences in the country. Set on 10.5 ha of lush gardens, on Broome’s iconic coast, it caters to everyone from families and corporates to honeymooners. There are plenty of kids’ activities, along with babysitting, including a waterpark, a pool for families, and one just for adults. Dine at one of five on-site restaurants – a cocktail at the oceanview Sunset Bar & Grill doesn’t come sweeter. All 177 studio rooms are set to be refurbished and new southeast Asian-influenced alfresco restaurant, the Rojak, opens in April. The sell-out Wellness Retreat will get four more luxury packages in 2015.
(08) 9192 0400, cablebeachclub.com.
Category Tourist Attractions (Silver)
Cygnet Bay is WA’s only commercial pearl producer open to the public. It’s a perfect side trip from Broome, just 200km north on the Kimberley Coast. ‘Glamping’ will be available from April 2015, along with a new, elevated dining area and pool. Tour the farm and showroom, try the pearl meat degustation dinners (August-September), or take a Kimberley Sea Safari.
(08) 9192 5402, cygnetbaypearls.com.au.
Category Tourism Wineries, Distilleries & Breweries (Bronze)
Elmar’s has come a long way since the modest Beaufort Street deli that drew fans from across Perth. The award-winning Swan Valley destination is home to the southern hemisphere’s largest glass micro-brewery (watch the action from a viewing platform in the bar). Its beer garden is often used for concerts, events and festivals.
(08) 9296 6354, elmars.com.au.
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