30 July 2023

Braidwood named 'Top Small Town' in ACT regional tourism awards

| James Coleman
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town streetscape

You can’t miss the Braidwood Hotel on Wallace Street. Photo: QPRC.

It’s hardly surprising when you consider the bakery on the main road, let alone the model-car shop further down. But there’s officially plenty more to love about Braidwood.

The heritage-listed town an hour from Canberra has been recognised as an “outstanding regional destination” and named ”Top Small Town” in this year’s Canberra Region Tourism Awards.

“It’s been wonderful to have a regional town … showcase what a small town in the Canberra region has to offer,” Canberra Region Tourism Industry Council CEO Dr Naomi Dale said at the awards night at the Vibe Hotel on Wednesday (26 July).

“It’s fantastic to connect and celebrate all our achievements and acknowledge the hard work the region does to support the visitor economy.”

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From here, Braidwood will progress to the National Top Tourism Awards, to be held at Parliament House on 14 September.

The three categories for this include Top Tourism Town (population more than 5000 people), Small Tourism Town (population below 5000 but more than 1500) and Tiny Tourism Town (population below 1500 people).

The Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) has campaigned hard for Braidwood to make it into the running over the past few months, coming up with a three-day itinerary and promotional video to enter.

QPRC Mayor Kenrick Winchester said the award “recognises the extraordinary range of enriching experiences” Braidwood offered.

“It is a celebration of the outstanding efforts of the tourism operators, small businesses, arts community, primary producers and the many volunteers who contribute to our visitor economy,” he said.

three women walking through park

Braidwood boasts several nature walks among its many attractions. Photo: QPRC.

Ally Kemp from the Braidwood Visitor Information Centre said locals were overjoyed by the win.

“It’s such an amazing boost for us,” she said.

“Everybody in business and tourism suffered from COVID, but we feel especially battered and bruised in Braidwood because it came on top of drought, then devastating fires, then the shutting of the highway to the coast, then floods.”

Ally puts the award down to not only the pies from the Braidwood Bakery “we all love” but also a range of other “perfect overnighter” experiences.

“It’s only one hour from Canberra, for artisan cafes, historic buildings, galleries, national park walks, waterfalls, beautiful cycling trails, truffle hunts, farm stays. It’s just so doable. I think it could be the jewel in the crown for NSW.”

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No matter the outcome at the national awards in September, Ally says the plan now is to create a cohesive tourism plan.

“We really feel like new kids on the block because you get big towns like Orange and Bathurst in the awards, with cohesive tourism plans. This award allows us to now speak out a little bit more loudly and start to get a cohesive plan to really push Braidwood forward.”

She says locals are forever thankful for the support from Canberrans over the past few years, particularly after the bushfires in 2019/20.

“They came out in droves to support us.”

See the Visit Braidwood Itinerary here.

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