The tourist hotspot topped the annual poll of tens of thousands of TNT Magazine readers and web surfers combined with the verdicts of a panel of secret shoppers in the 19th Golden Backpack Awards.
The award was one of almost 40 accolades handed out at a gala gathering of the great and the good of Australasia’s independent backpacker and adventure travel industry at a ceremony hosted by TV presenter Mikey Robins in Sydney on Thursday night (6 November).
Other Australian winners included The Great Barrier Reef, the voters’ choice of Best Visitor attraction.
For New Zealand, the Best Destination award went to Great Lake Taupo, with previous winner Queenstown bumped into second place and Bay of Islands claiming third Spot.
Best NZ Visitor Attraction was awarded to Franz Josef Glacier Guides, which picked up its first ever Golden Backpack Award.
The Best Tour/Activity in Australia was won by The Rock Tour for its fabulous tour of Uluru, while Best Accommodation in Australia was among a haul of three awards collected by the team at Base Sydney.
There were also two special awards, made for outstanding service to the industry, whose recipients were the first to be inducted to the Backpacker Hall of Fame.
Fred Ariel was in attendance to pick up the Lifetime Achievement Award made to himself, his business partner Denis Cole and the Raging Thunder brand, which is celebrating 30 years of being in business and still going strong.
In his acceptance speech, Fred called on the industry “to unite and work together to become as strong as it has been in the past”.
The Golden Achievement Award was presented to Tony Brown of True Blue Sailing for his campaign to fight for the reef; a passion which has seen him take on the banks, big corporations and the government.
The full list of winners can be found here: www.goldenbackpackawards.com.au