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

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

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

While the idyllic city in tropical Far North Queensland took first place, New South Wales dominated the list with players such as 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 Australia's number one city by 2021

1. Cairns, Queensland: Cairns has been crowned Australia’s number one city by 2021

2. Pokolbin, New South Wales: If pampering and relaxation is what you are looking for, Pokolbin's rolling hills and picturesque vistas are the ideal setting for some rest and relaxation.

2. Pokolbin, New South Wales: If pampering and relaxation is what you are looking for, Pokolbin's rolling hills and picturesque vistas are the ideal setting for some rest and relaxation.

2. Pokolbin, New South Wales: If pampering and relaxation is what you are looking for, Pokolbin’s rolling hills and picturesque vistas are the ideal setting for some rest and relaxation.

Top 10 Australian Cities Revealed

1. Cairns, Queensland: Spend some time exploring the Great Barrier Reef and the world’s oldest rainforest – and you’ll wonder why you haven’t visited this beautiful part of Australia before

2. Pokolbin, New South Wales: If pampering and relaxation is what you’re looking for, the rolling hills and scenic vistas of Pokolbin and the Hunter Valley region are the ideal setting for some rest and relaxation, just a short drive from Sydney

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

4. Mudgee, New South Wales: Country hospitality at its best. Swirl and sip your way through Mudgee, visit a farm, a neighboring heritage village, or sit back and admire the sense of community in this unassuming regional town

5. Lakes Entrance, Victoria: The water is where you want to be when you visit Lake Entrance – where the Gippsland Lakes meet the Southern Ocean. Spend your day kayaking, fishing, swimming or taking an unforgettable camel ride along the beautiful 90 Mile Beach and in the evening enjoy dinner at one of the many great restaurants in and around town

6. McLaren Vale, South Australia: Cheese making, wine blending, a Shiraz trail, 19 miles of pristine coastline and over 70 cellar doors, just 40 minutes from Adelaide

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

8. Exmouth, Western Australia: You know Exmouth for its diving experiences on Ningaloo Reef, but there is more to discover about this beautiful part of Australia. It is the perfect base for an adventurous outing, both in and out of the water. Head to Cape Range National Park and you will 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 dining options, a vibrant city center and many surrounding adventures – Port Macquarie is always an excellent choice

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

With such a diverse mix of experiences and attractions in Australia, this year’s top destinations emphasize travel options in your own backyard.

After an incredibly challenging year for the Tropical North Queensland tourism community, Cairns has been named the striking 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,” said Daniel Finch, Wotif director.

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

4. Mudgee, New South Wales: It is known as one of Australia's best wine towns

4. Mudgee, New South Wales: It is known as one of Australia's best wine towns

4. Mudgee, New South Wales: It is known as one of Australia’s best wine towns

5. Lakes Entrance, Victoria: Spend the day kayaking, fishing, swimming or taking an unforgettable 60-minute camel ride along beautiful 90 Mile Beach

5. Lakes Entrance, Victoria: Spend the day kayaking, fishing, swimming or taking an unforgettable 60-minute camel ride along beautiful 90 Mile Beach

5. Lakes Entrance, Victoria: Spend the day kayaking, fishing, swimming or taking an unforgettable 60-minute camel ride along beautiful 90 Mile Beach

6. McLaren Vale, South Australia: The town is known for its cheese factory, wine blending, Shiraz trail and over 70 cellar doors

6. McLaren Vale, South Australia: The city is known for its cheese factory, wine blending, Shiraz route and over 70 cellar doors

6. McLaren Vale, South Australia: The town is known for its cheese factory, wine blending, Shiraz trail and over 70 cellar doors

To think that this humble city, which is doing so much for Australian tourism on an international scale, was losing more than $ 50 million a week during the peak of COVID-19 is incomprehensible.

“With an average overnight rate of $ 155 in 2020, it is time Aussies considered visiting this incredible part of Australia that is visited by people from all over the world.”

Mark Olsen, CEO of Tourism Tropical North Queensland, said the city was excited about Cairns’ first prize.

“Here in the tropical north of the state, we have been fortunate to have very few cases of COVID-19, which allows us to move more freely,” he said.

However, the economic impact of closed borders has decimated our economy, which depends on tourism. Australians are desperate for a vacation 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 ride away

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

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

8. Exmouth, Western Australia: Go to Ningaloo Lighthouse Holiday Park and you will have breathtaking views

8. Exmouth, Western Australia: Go to Ningaloo Lighthouse Holiday Park and you will have breathtaking views

8. Exmouth, Western Australia: Go to Ningaloo Lighthouse Holiday Park and you will have breathtaking views

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

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

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

10. The Entrance, New South Wales: A relaxing family favorite on the Central Coast where lake and ocean meet, this town has plenty of water activities, from fishing, renting a boat or exploring one of the many local beaches that are offered

10. The Entrance, New South Wales: A relaxing family favorite on the Central Coast, where lake and ocean meet, this town has plenty of water activities, from fishing, renting a boat or exploring one of the many local beaches that are offered

10. The Entrance, New South Wales: A relaxing family favorite on the Central Coast where lake and ocean meet, this town has plenty of water activities, from fishing, renting a boat or exploring one of the many local beaches that are offered

With so many places to visit, the next decision in Australia is one that any Australian can make.

“While the past 12 months have not been ideal, this time has given Aussies a chance to re-appreciate how they live, work and play – a change of perspective that many now appreciate,” Finch said.

While a getaway abroad will always have its purpose and appeal, many Aussies don’t realize the unique opportunity they have before them – to take advantage of this massive playground called Australia, all to themselves.

Whether in Tropical North Queensland or along The Great Ocean Road, as the summer season begins to wane for many regions, now is the time for Aussie travelers to make a conscious decision to vacation here this year.

With the total loss to Australian tourism from COVID-19 now in excess of $ 59 billion, there is a huge job ahead to get the industry back on its feet.