Aussie Town of the Year awards recognise best of Australia

And the best town in Australia goes to...

Travel website Wotif has announced the 10 winners of the 2021 Aussie Town of the Year Awards, recognising some of our local heroes.

Cairns in Queensland took out the number one top town ranking, followed by Pokolbin in New South Wales.

The other 2021 winners are Hervey Bay in Queensland; Mudgee, Port Macquarie and The Entrance in NSW; McLaren Vale in South Australia, Exmouth in Western Australia; and Apollo Bay and Lakes Entrance in Victoria.

Wotif managing director Daniel Finch said: "While the last 12 months have been less than ideal, this time has given Aussies the chance to re-evaluate how they live, work and play - a change of perspective that many now appreciate.

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

Dinner with Basil, Sybil & Manuel

Back for its ninth season, Faulty Towers the Dining Experience is an immersive, highly improvised show to enjoy over a three-course dinner. Basil, Sybil and Manuel of hit sitcom Fawlty Towers will take you on a two-hour comedic journey where you can expect chaos, comedy and a brilliant night out.

On your three-course menu: pumpkin soup, chicken supreme and brown-sugar meringue - all with a side of laughs. Tickets are currently on sale.

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Lights are back on at Dark Mofo

Tasmania's winter festival is back on the calendar this year with the full program to be announced in April. The Museum of Old and New Art (or Mona) in Hobart has been running the festival since 2013, although it was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.

Highlight events include the Winter Feast banquet and the nude swim in the River Derwent on the solstice.

Dark Mofo 2021 will run over a shorter period (16-22 June), with a smaller line-up of acts. But creative director Leigh Carmichael says it will be "more intense and much, much darker".

"Like everyone else, we've been soul-searching for almost a year, trying to understand our place in a changed world," stated Ms Carmichael.

"Last year we lost our sense of purpose overnight, and it appears that experience is having a resounding impact on this year's festival program ... expect a typically grim and gloomy affair in June."

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Indigenous tours join collective

Four new tour operators have joined Discover Aboriginal Experiences collective of Indigenous-guided tourism offerings as selected by the nation's global tourism marketing agency, Tourism Australia.

On Western Australia's Dampier Peninsula, Bardi man Terry Hunter runs Borrgoron Coast to Creek Tours where he shares his people's ancient wisdom on a walking tour of traditional lands. Also based in the Kimberley, Kingfisher Tours hosts luxurious adventures by air, land and sea led by passionate custodian guides.

In New South Wales, Wiradjuri man Mark Saddler leads tourists deep into the Wagga Wagga region with Bundyi Cultural Tours. While on the Coffs Coast, Wajaana Yaam Adventure Tours' stand-up paddleboarding adventures explore idyllic local waterways, with bush-tucker tastings along the way.

New Melbourne Peppers

Construction has started on a new Peppers hotel in Melbourne. The 80-room hotel is on the historic 19th-century showpiece of Bridge Road, Richmond, in the city's inner east. A rooftop bar will overlook Melbourne's stunning skyline, encompassing the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Royal Botanic Gardens.

The hotel is due to open in 2022 and will be the third Peppers hotel in the Victorian capital, joining Peppers Docklands and Shadow Play by Peppers at Southbank.

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Crown Spa opens in Sydney

Nestled on the sixth floor of the newly built Crown Towers Sydney, Crown Spa offers a number of novel spa treatments. Its Spa Wave sleep program involves power napping on a state-of-the-art sound therapy table. And Crown is the first spa in Australia to offer "psammotherapy", an ancient therapy using warm sand on a mineral quartz treatment bed.

Crown Spa Sydney has two relaxation rooms, two vitality rooms, infra-red saunas and steam rooms. The spa also has a dedicated yoga and meditation area. The spa team use luxe skincare products from La Prairie and Subtle Energies. Guests can also book cabanas, from $250 for the day.


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