So, who do you think is the best of 2016 – Results from the 2016 TNT Golden Backpack Awards
Best Tour Activity NSW & Australia Wide – Skydive Australia
Founded in 1999 by a pair of optimistic young mates, Skydive Australia has grown from the small beachfront operation of Skydive the Beach Sydney in Wollongong NSW, using a single six-seater Cessna 206 to a company with fifteen premium drop zones Australia wide – and more planned.
Staffed by an energetic young team, passionate about delivering the perfect skydiving adventure, they spend their days jumping over amazing locations all around Australia. Their skydiving instructors are highly experienced in their field, where many compete on a national and international level. They’re backed by the best flight and ground crew ever.
Best Tour Activity (NT) – The Rock Tour
Northern Territory owned and operated since 2006. They are the only locally owned company to offer daily departures on 3 day Uluru Tours and have recently celebrated their 10 year anniversary. The Rock Tour is the first choice for budget conscious travellers & international backpackers looking for a high-quality tour & cultural experience at an affordable price. Their itinerary is specifically designed to give you a fun and genuine Aussie camping experience of the Red Centre at an affordable price. Their Tour Guides will show you how to cook in the camp fire, find witchety grubs, cook kangaroo tails in the coals and show you how the aboriginals hunted, survived and found food in the middle of the desert for centuries.
Best Tour Activity (QLD) – Drop Bear Adventures
Drop Bear Adventures is a young, innovative local company. Their founder Mark has been visiting Fraser Island all his life. When he realised that no tour company was really doing the beautiful island justice, he decided he was just the man to change that. Today Mark and his wife together with their enthusiastic team, are delighted to show visitors the island they know and love so well. Truly owner operated, Drop Bear Adventures still remains a labour of love, for Mark, Hana and for the whole team.
Drop Bear Adventures want you to love your Fraser Island getaway as much as they love providing it to you. They pride themselves on excellent customer service and the ability to deliver a great product. They have developed and perfected the ultimate Fraser Island experience by being different, personal, and friendly. Their carefully selected guides, each with their own lovable character, will definitely leave you high on life!
Best Tour Activity (SA) – Calypso Star Charters
Calypso Star Charters provides the ultimate one day adventure activity, cage diving with the Great White Sharks! Their business has been operating for over 20 years and boasts a highly successful history. They are the only Advanced Eco Certified business providing the one day charter that also holds a license to berley, giving them a greater chance of attracting the Great Whites to their vessel and keeping them in close proximity! In October 2011, they launched their new vessel, MV Calypso Star 2. The vessel is state of the art and provides all guests with the best in comfort, safety and all the creatures comfort of home, including hot showers! Don’t miss your opportunity to be mesmerised by these remarkable creatures as you see them face to face in their natural environment from the safety of your cage, in the clear waters surrounding the Neptune Islands.
Best Tour Activity (TAS) – Under Down Under
Under Down Under specialises in small group tours throughout Tasmania. With the largest range of tours in the market; they provide visitors with a hassle free, and eco-friendly way to experience the state on a budget.
The tours range from 2 ½ hours through to 9 days; and have a focus on sharing adventures through Tasmania’s wilderness with likeminded travellers. With a diverse product range, they offer everything from downhill bike adventures to extended state-wide tours; all aimed at showing their customers what makes Tasmania such a great place!
Best Tour Activity (VIC) – Wildlife Tours
Wildlife Tours Australia has been entertaining travellers since 1996 and is one of the most experienced small group tour operators in Melbourne. They operate all year round and specialise in 1, 2 & 3-day small group adventures. They cover most of Victoria’s premier sightseeing destinations, including: Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island Penguin Parade, The Grampians National Park, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Melbourne to Adelaide Tours.
If you are visiting Melbourne and looking for a quality operator to take you on your next adventure, then look no further. Wildlife Tours is the way to go.
Best Tour Activity (WA) – Adventure Tours Australia
Adventure Tours is the leading small group tour operator in Australia. They are a bunch of Aussies that have been leading travellers through this big ol’ continent over the past 24 years.
Informative and immersive, their tours are for those looking to develop a true-blue understanding of Australia’s inner-workings – and have a great time while at it. They take one comfy, air-con equipped 4WD or minibus, load it up with a knowledgeable guide, a bunch of fellow adventurers, tents, swags and some packed picnics, then head out into the wilds. The whole outfit is far more your classic Aussie road trip than it is a standard charter bus tour – just with someone looking after the driving and navigating for you.
Best Accommodation (NSW) – Base Sydney
Base Sydney is Sydney’s most centrally located budget accommodation venue. Base is situated in the heart of Sydney, and is just a few minutes’ walk to Centre Point Tower. They are a 2-minute walk from famous Darling Harbor, home to Sydney’s best cafes, bars and the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Exclusive to Base is The Sanctuary an innovative & luxurious girl only floor with high quality facilities, safety and home comforts. The Scary Canary Bar is a brand new party den, with great interactive entertainment and drink specials every night
They have all the facilities you need: a 24 internet cafe, full travel desk to help you for all your travel needs, a great bar, laundry, public phones, TV room with a big plasma TV, fully equipped kitchen and more.
Best Accommodation (NT) – Melaleuca On Mitchell
Melaleuca on Mitchell is an award-winning Darwin hostel that offers a leisure deck with 2 outdoor swimming pools, a waterfall hot tub and a bar. Accommodation options include standard and en-suite dormitories and a range of private rooms with and without bathrooms. Each room at Melaleuca on Mitchell Hostel is air-conditioned and includes secure lockers. Guests have access to a shared kitchen and laundry facilities.
Guests enjoy great city views across Darwin from the rooftop deck, which offers a large dining area, a 5 yards big screen TV and a chill-out area with bean bags. The poolside bar is open daily and offers a variety of game and theme nights. The tour desk can arrange tours to Litchfield National Park, Kakadu National Park and The Red Centre. Located in the middle of Mitchell Street, Melaleuca on Mitchell is surrounded by bars, clubs, cafes and restaurants.
Best Accommodation QLD & Australia Wide – BUNK Backpackers
Located in Brisbane’s famous Entertainment district – Fortitude Valley, BUNK Brisbane is the perfect hostel for those looking to party for a weekend or settle down for a while and earn some money to fund those dream trips around Australia. This award-winning backpacker hostel offers air-conditioned accommodation in the heart of Brisbane’s buzzing nightlife district. Facilities include a swimming pool, heated spa pool and lively student bar. Guests enjoy free WiFi and free breakfast of cereal, toast, tea and coffee. With their famous bar, Birdees, next door offering affordable nights out and Brisbane’s best party 7 days a week, plus a range of free hostel activities you will never be short of things to do while visiting Brisbane!
Best Accommodation (SA) – Port Lincoln YHA
Port Lincoln YHA is based in an adventure-lover’s paradise. Whether it’s shark cage diving, swimming with tuna, sea lions or maybe a surfing, this Port Lincoln hostel can deliver!, Port Lincoln, on the southern tip of the spectacular Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, is an adventure paradise.
Land lovers will find a choice of national parks to explore and there are miles of secluded beaches. Port Lincoln YHA is a newly created backpacker hostel with a mix of multishare and twin/double and family accommodation. Enjoy the bar/café and outdoor BBQ and deck. For fantastic photo opportunities, go shark-cage diving. Within easy walking distance to the centre of town, which has beaches, local pubs and shops.
Best Accommodation (TAS) – The Pickled Frog
This Tasmanian owned hostel offers cheap, clean and comfortable accommodation in the centre of Hobart, perfect for the budget traveller. Built around a historic 1834 stable and drinking establishment The Pickled Frog Backpackers is fun, warm, social and has a whole lot of character.
The hostel is owned and operated by Hobart locals that have travelled the world so you can be sure that all of your backpacking requirements will be met. They pride themselves on their amazing service and their entire crew of staff are here to help and guide you through your Tasmanian experience. They have a well-stocked bar full of lots of local beers and ciders, delicious locally roasted coffee, pool table, foosball table, library room, huge common areas, laundry facilities, well-kept kitchen and much more.
Best Accommodation (VIC) – Greenhouse Backpacker
The Greenhouse Backpacker is ideally located in historic Flinders Lane, a heritage precinct in the heart of cosmopolitan Melbourne renowned for its bohemian atmosphere, art hubs, hidden laneways, alfresco dining and famous coffee culture. Feel right at home from the moment you set foot in the hostel! Embrace the free WiFi, light up the BBQ with mates and enjoy our rooftop terrace views, start your day with a complimentary breakfast, on Tuesday evenings tuck into a Pasta or BBQ dinner and show off your culinary skills.
With friendly employees that are more than willing to share their knowledge of the local area, and with a dedicated Activities Coordinator assigned to ensure every backpacker has the true Melbourne experience, you will be fully immersed in the city’s vibrant culture in no time. Be sure to participate in Monday’s ‘Mega Walking Tour’ to discover the hidden treasures of this beautiful city.
Best Accommodation (WA) – Billabong Backpackers Resort
Billabong Backpackers Resort combines superior resort style facilities with the unbeatable social atmosphere of a hostel to offer you luxury backpacking on Perth’s best cafe strip. Offering an outdoor swimming pool and a beach volleyball court, Billabong Backpackers Resort is located in Perth CBD (Central Business District), just 6 minutes’ drive from Swan River. Surrounded by manicured gardens, this property offers free WiFi in common areas, free on-site parking and free breakfast daily.
All rooms are air-conditioned and offer a balcony. Each has a private bathroom, which includes a shower and toilet. Guests have access to refurbished shared kitchen facilities and a communal lounge area offering a TV with cable channels. There is an on-site library, a billiards table and an outdoor area where guests can enjoy chilling out or catching up on their tan.
Best Holiday Park – Cairns Holiday Park
Cairns Holiday Park is located in the centre of Cairns, the only place where two World Heritage listed areas meet, the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. As the closest caravan park to the Cairns city centre, the park offers excellent accommodation options for the backpacker, grey nomad and the seasoned caravaner. Cairns Holiday Park also offers guests a range of excellent facilities including swimming pool, free WiFi, kiosk, air conditioned TV room, tropical fruit and herb garden, camp kitchen and extensive tour desk.
You can stay in one of their motel style studios with air conditioning and Foxtel, or choose from one of their lodgings with shared bathroom facilities. There’s also plenty of shaded and spacious ensuite, powered and unpowered camping sites for campervans, caravans and tents.
Best Online Travel Agent & Best Large Travel Agent – Peterpans
Peterpans offers great deals on adventure travel, hostels and tour packages for Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Asia. You can choose from thousands of tours and activities including Fraser Island, Whitsundays, Great Barrier Reef, The Red Centre, skydiving, surfing, bus tours and much more!
With over 18 years experience, they have seen thousands of happy travellers return home to tell friends and family about their brilliant travel experience made possible by their awesome staff. Not only do they have one of Asia Pacific’s best online variety of adventure travel tours, activities and packages; they too have over 50 retail store locations in Australia, NZ and Thailand’s hot spots! Each retail store offers travellers WiFi, internet lounge access and super helpful staff ready to plan your next adventure. They are the Backpacker and Student travel specialists and can help you create your dream adventure package at an affordable price!
Backpacker Night – Wicked Club Crawl
With over 15 years’ experience in the party tour industry come and join Wicked Club Crawl with over 300 other party goers every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night at the hottest and most exclusive nightclubs in Surfers Paradise, on Australia’s biggest and best nightclub party tour! Pub crawl, club crawl, party tour whatever you want to call it, Wicked Club Crawl will show you and your friends the night of your life in Surfers Paradise!
Wicked Club Crawl has amazing Party Packages that are perfect for every occasion or event on the Gold Coast. See what the experienced party planners can do for your special day! Hens party, bucks night, birthday party, footy team trip, whatever the occasion, the Wicked team are experts at making sure you have one to remember!
Best Campervan – JUCY
JUCY Campervans was established in New Zealand in 2001 with just 35 cars, and has since expanded into Australia and the USA and now have approx. 3800 vehicles on the road. In Australia, JUCY has exploded in popularity, largely due to the bright, vibrant, and fun branding – a value offering for the young, or young at heart!
When you rent a JUCY camper in Australia you can choose between the JUCY Crib, the JUCY Champ, and the JUCY Condo , these are all designed and built by JUCY in their own manufacturing division in Auckland, Brisbane and Los Angeles called JUCY BY Design. and in 2016 they added the JUCY “Casa Plus” into Australia, a fleet of European built luxury motorhomes.
A JUCY roadtrip starts with any one of their great range of Cars, Campers or Motorhomes perfect for the budget-conscious, adventurous traveller!
Best Small/Independent Travel Agent – One Stop Adventures
One Stop Adventures is Australia, New Zealand and Fiji’s leading one stop online adventure travel shop which gives the traveller the opportunity to choose their own adventure from a great range of quality packages, tours, activities and transport options. They source the best local operators and care about making sure you have the best time possible while visiting these amazing destinations!
One Stop Adventures have over 10 years experience travelling Australia, New Zealand and Fiji and specialise in developing custom packages to suit each individual travellers needs.
Best Destination – The Whitsundays
The Whitsundays are made up of 74 Island Wonders, on the beautiful tropical coast of Queensland, Australia. Right in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, a visit to the Whitsundays is a feast for the senses. From charming coastal towns, beautiful islands, protected rainforest, stunning beaches including the world famous Whitehaven Beach, the natural attractions of the Whitsundays offers a diverse range of experiences. The Whitsundays offers some of the world’s best sailing, where you can charter a boat and cruise the waters of the Whitsunday passage surrounded by uninhabited islands and breath-taking sunsets. If adrenaline is more your thing, you can skim across the water with one of the high-speed tours or take a scenic flight and soar across Heart Reef and Hill Inlet.
Swim, snorkel and scuba dive with thousands of brightly coloured fish and a variety of corals in the Great Barrier Reef and witness diverse marine life including humpback whales, dolphins, turtles and dugongs. Spend the day on the white silica sands of world-famous Whitehaven Beach or explore the breath-taking beauty of Hill Inlet, a stunning cove where the tide shifts the sand and water to create a swirling fusion of turquoise colours. Soak up the tropical, laid-back lifestyle, laze on one of the many uncrowded beaches, relax with a sunset cocktail and indulge in fresh local seafood at one of the many al-fresco restaurants. You’ll find every kind of beauty, adventure and luxury here.
Best Transport – Greyhound Australia
Greyhound Australia is Australia’s only national coach service. They provide comfortable, hassle-free, and affordable coach services to people of all ages and to all corners of Australia. They travel across Australia everyday ensuring that their passengers can get to their destinations, both on the beaten track and off it, and truly experience the beauty of Australia. They have over 110 year’s experience and are one of the oldest coach companies in the world. Greyhound Australia has a national fleet operating 365 days a year. They carry 5 million passengers over 38 million kilometres a year with a safety record second to none.
Their bus services allow you to take in the best Australia has to offer, and have a wide variety of ticketing options which allow you to travel at your own pace, hopping on and off as many times as your ticket allows. Or, you can simply choose your origin and destination and design your own trip along the way. Greyhound Australia coaches are built with everything a modern traveller desires – USB chargers on every seat, free WiFi connectivity and reclining leather seats. Every bus in their fleet is fitted with large, panoramic windows and oversized seats so that you can sit back, relax and let them drive while you enjoy the view.
Best Visitor Attraction – The Great Barrier Reef
One of Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts, the Great Barrier Reef is blessed with the breathtaking beauty of the world’s largest coral reef. The reef contains an abundance of marine life and comprises of over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands with some of the world’s most beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches. Because of its natural beauty, the Great Barrier Reef has become one of the world’s most sought after tourist destinations. A visitor to the Great Barrier Reef can enjoy many experiences including snorkelling, scuba diving, aircraft or helicopter tours, bare boats (self-sail), glass-bottomed boat viewing, semi-submersibles and educational trips, cruise ship tours, whale watching and swimming with dolphins.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and pulling away from it, and viewing it from a greater distance, you can understand why. It is larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space. Because of its natural beauty, both below and above the water’s surface, the reef has become one of the world’s most sought after tourist destinations.
Best Technology/Recruitment/Service Company – Visitoz
Visitoz has been providing trained and motivated young people for employers in rural and outback Australia since 1991. They are an Australian family owned business, based in SE Queensland, near Goomeri, inland from Gympie. They provide trained and motivated workers for all types of rural and agricultural work all over Australia. They can help your recruitment, whether casual, short, medium or long term. They have a simple process and can save you money and time.
Their workers are holders of Working Holiday and 416 Special Programme Internship visas. They come from many different countries: principally UK, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Holland and Sweden. They are ready to work for you for anything from a few weeks to 12 months. They provide an introduction to Australian Farm work course which allows them to prepare the workers for work in Australia. In particular, they build up their awareness of what you will require, especially in terms of attitude and work ethic. They verify existing skills and check experience. The training is delivered by a young enthusiastic team who have lived and worked in the rural Australia for most of their lives. They understand your requirements, and are dedicated to providing you a valuable service.
Industry Legend – David Cox, Gold Coast Tourism