Today, travel site Wotif.com has announced the winners of this year’s Uniquely Aussie Awards – the annual guide to Australia’s best local secrets, as nominated by Aussies.
Celebrating quintessential Aussie travel experiences across six categories, the awards highlight the unique joys synonymous with local travel – hot chips on the beach, regional bakeries serving up nostalgic baked goods, country pubs full of colourful characters, and stunning hotel pools in iconic Aussie settings. In addition, this year’s awards also set out to profile the many local legends, businesses and attractions that make communities tick and represent what travelling in Australia is all about.
Now in their fourth year, the awards aim to encourage Aussies to explore their own backyard and support their favourite businesses – more relevant than ever following the continued challenges faced by the tourism and hospitality industries over the past 18 months.
For the nearly four in 10 Aussies (38%)* who feel that they have only touched the surface when it comes to Australian travel, the promise of eased travel restrictions this summer means that, whether you’re looking to taste test the country’s best hot chips, or relax in a cabana beside a hotel pool, it’s a great time to get out and explore the underrated gems that Australia does best.
Raking in thousands of nominations from all over the country, it’s clear the little things in life often stir the greatest debate. Whether you prefer chicken salt or gravy on your chips, call it a snot block over a vanilla slice, or demand a savoury rather than sweet jaffle, this year’s awards continue to uncover some of Australia’s best kept local secrets.
Wotif 2021 Uniquely Aussie Award National Winners
Best Hot Chips: Chicken Chef, Blair Athol, SA
6th place went to Sotos Fish Shop, Semaphore, SA
7th place went to Chicken Cave, Fulham Gardens, SA
Said to have mastered the crispy on the outside, soft on the inside requirement of any good hot chip, Chicken Chef’s “mouthwatering” hot chips and famous salt are beloved by locals. The secret to their winning recipe? No short cuts. Hand-made with the freshest potatoes and double cooked for that signature crunch.
Best Jaffle: Miss Jaffles, Cronulla, NSW
10th place went to Waffles and Jaffles, Coonalpyn, SA
With 15 different jaffles on the menu, there’s one for every occasion, like the Miss Pizzeria or the decadent dessert jaffle Miss Biscoff – think caramilk, biscoff, strawberries and ice cream with the crimped toasted bread we all know and love.
Best Vanilla Slice: Bridgewater Bakehouse, Bridgewater & Bendigo, VIC
Third place went to Banana Boogie Bakery, Belair, SA
Melt in your mouth goodness can be found at Bridgewater Bakehouse, with their famous vanilla slice offering the perfect ratio of silky-smooth custard and crisp (never soggy) pastry, topped with a “can’t help yourself” layer of icing.
Best Country Pub: Beechwood Hotel, Beechwood, NSW
It’s all about the people you meet when visiting a country pub, and Beechwood Hotel is said to be at the heart of its community. With friendly service, great food and a true-blue history (if you feel like ditching the car, there’s a spot out front for your horse), this humble pub offers some of Australia’s best country hospitality.
Best Hotel Pool: JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa, Gold Coast, QLD
The “magical lagoon” at this Gold Coast resort is anything but your average hotel swimming pool. Whether it’s snorkeling with tropical fish, gliding down the waterslide or cocktails in your cabana, everyone’s a winner here.
Best National Park: Kakadu National Park, Jabiru, NT
Australia’s largest national park is also the best according to Aussies, thanks to its historical and cultural significance, beautiful scenery and incredible wildlife.A “truly spectacular experience” that every Aussie needs to do.
Wotif Managing Director, Daniel Finch said: “Country charm, cheesy jaffles and creamy vanilla slices – no one does them quite like Australia, and the thousands of nominations we received this year shows Aussies are a passionate bunch. There’s so much to love and discover about Australia, and with a really exciting summer period ahead, we hope to inspire and encourage Aussies to plan their next adventure and support local businesses.”
While everyone thinks their favourite haunt is the best, there are a few things it seems all Aussies can agree on:
- Move over vegemite: vanilla slices are the unofficial delicacy of Australia, and perhaps most contentious, generating the largest number of nominations.
- If the vanilla slice doesn’t “melt in your mouth” from the first bite, you’re not doing it right. The “creaminess of the custard” and the “flakiness of the pastry” needs to be spot on. Size really does matter, with Aussies wanting a slice that’s “big enough to share” (not that you’d want to).
- The humble Aussie jaffle has sure come a long way. These days, it’s all about variety, with “cool flavour combos” and “fancy fillings” the deciding factor between amateur and gold-tier status.
- When it comes to country pubs, “country characters” and “solid vibes” are mandatory. Good, cold beer on tap and a schnitty certainly don’t hurt either, along with flat screens to show the footy.
- The best hot chips have got to have that crunch factor while remaining fluffy on the inside, of course. As for size? While thin chips were slightly more popular, what Aussies are really after is the goldilocks of chips, “Not too thin, but not too fat”.
- As for national parks, this is where Aussies really showed their pride, appreciative of the country’s incredible natural spaces, sometimes scary wildlife, and rich cultural history.
Finch continues: “With an increased appetite for domestic exploration, and to satisfy Australia’s ongoing (friendly) state rivalries, this year Wotif is again revealing each state’s finalists. For those wanting to take their time exploring or unable to travel interstate right now, we’re excited to recognise the top contenders from around Australia, proving that no matter where you are in Australia, there’s a local gem worthy of the support.”
As Aussies gear up for an epic summer, the awards are a reminder that often the best holiday memories are made by taking your time and enjoying the underrated travel experiences. Over four in 10 (42%) Aussies agree that doing so, allows you to get a better feel for the area, discover new things and connect with locals, while 40% of Aussies also say the laid-back, friendly nature of Australia makes travelling domestically a refreshing experience*.