The destination that just took out top place in the Aussie Town of the Year Awards has been revealed — and it may come as a surprise to some.
Albury, located on the border between New South Wales and Victoria, has proved it is more than just a pit-stop destination after it claimed the top spot in online leading travel app Wotif’s annual best town awards.
It’s the first time it has won the award and “the local community are thrilled with their win”, Wotif managing director Daniel Finch tells news.com.au.
He said throughout 2022, Wotif consistently saw an increase in demand for Albury accommodation, as many Aussies looked beyond the coastline and opted for inland getaways.
“So once we crunched the numbers, it was little surprise that Albury had come out on top,” he told news.com.au.
“It’s a fantastic destination for Aussies looking to explore regional Australia.”
Sitting on the banks of the Murray River, the town offers water and land-based experiences including hiking, camping, swimming, waterskiing and fishing.
“On top of this, Albury is home to a variety of immersive cultural experiences – the 5.3km Yindayamarra Sculpture Walk is where you’ll find sculptures crafted by Aboriginal artists, or the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) is one of NSW’s most-visited art spaces outside of Sydney, exhibiting the best local, national and international art.”
According to Wotif, accommodation demand for the regional city increased by more than 25 per cent in 2022 (when compared to the year prior) with an average accommodation rate of $168 per night.
“With direct flights from most capital cities and within driving distance of both Sydney and Melbourne, Albury is an exciting, accessible destination that’s perfect for an extended weekend getaway,” Mr Finch told news.com.au.
Now in its sixth year, the Wotif Aussie Town of the Year Awards recognise trending Aussie destinations for the year ahead and is based on a Wotif data index that looks at “accommodation affordability, quality, and traveller satisfaction”.
Meanwhile, Bundaberg in Queensland and New Norfolk in Tasmania came second and third respectively.
“Ballarat in Victoria has made the top 10 for the first time this year, with interest for the destination trending by close to 45 per cent in 2022,” Mr Finch said.
“Similarly, to Albury, the city’s great affordability and accessibility were a big factor, located just a convenient two-hour drive from Melbourne with an average daily rate of just $191.”
It came fifth on the list, followed by Merimbula in NSW, Toowoomba in Queensland, Dunsborough in WA, Orange in NSW and Echuca in Victoria.
“Echuca in Victoria has also made the list following what was no doubt a challenging summer for the region, following the Murray River flooding,” Mr Finch added.
“There are so many resilient and excellent tourism operators — from wineries to hotels and restaurants to museums — who are now open for business and ready to welcome visitors.”
He said for Aussies looking to support local communities, Echuca is a very deserving destination to visit this year.
The awards come as Wotif reveals one in two Aussies are planning three-day getaways within Australia this year.
Figures show 44 per cent are making this decision for financial reasons, as the rising cost of living impedes household budgets.
“Trends show Aussie travellers are carving out their own long weekends on the calendar, opting for shorter, more frequent domestic trips.”