OUTBACK Queensland tourism operators have been recognised at the Outback Queensland Tourism Awards, which were held on Saturday, November 15, in Charleville.
After the two-day Outback Queensland Tourism symposium, the Murweh Shire Council hosted the night of nights for the operators, with guests and VIPs embracing the boots, hats and an outback bash theme.
Master of ceremonies Dean Miller from Queensland Weekender kicked off the evening with a welcome from the Mayor of Murweh Shire Council, Cr Denis Cook, followed by a humbling speech by the Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games, Jann Stuckey.
Ms Stuckey spoke very fondly of the west, noting that the Outback Queensland Tourism Awards were the only regional awards that she had attended each year.
Many operators throughout the region have taken out the top gong, with many progressing on to compete at the upcoming state awards in Brisbane.
Outback Queensland Tourism Association chairwoman Karen Hanna-Miller congratulated the finalists and winners and commended them on the fantastic job they were doing in providing top tourism experiences for visitors.
"Outback Queensland is home to many exciting and unique tourism attractions and experiences and it is great to see so many of them being acknowledged at our awards," Ms Hanna-Miller said.
"A highlight for me was presenting the Vince Evert Award to an individual who has made exceptional contribution to the industry in outback Queensland.
"This year it was awarded to fellow board member Jane Morgan of Charleville, who has put her heart and soul into the development of the tourism industry in Charleville and outback Queensland.
"She is a very special lady."
To top off the night Ms Stuckey announced that outback Queensland received the largest pool of funding for any region in round 27 of the Regional Events Development Program.
The Big Red Bash, Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo, Vision Splendid Film Festival at Winton, Blackall Heartland Festival, Cloncurry Stockman's Challenge & Campdraft and Curry Merry Muster Festival will join an already existing list of outback Queensland state- funded events.
Major Tourist Attraction: Qantas Founders Museum, Longreach
Tourism Attractions: Outback Aussie Tours, Longreach
Heritage & Cultural Tourism: Waltzing Matilda Centre, Winton
Visitor Information & Services: Winton Visitor Information Centre
Visitor Information & Services (Encouragement Award): Windorah Visitor Information Centre
Tour and/or Transport Operators: Adels Grove, Gulf
Tourism Marketing: Overlanders Way
Tourism Restaurants & Catering Services: McGinnis Restaurant (Qantas Founder Museum), Longreach
Accommodation: Ibis Styles Hotel, Mt Isa
Accommodation (Highly Commended): Barcaldine Country Motor Inn
Hosted Accommodation: Adels Grove, Gulf
Best Outback Queensland Pub: Western Star, Windorah
Local Government Award for Tourism: McKinlay Shire Council
Young Achiever’s Award: Erin Kinchela, Flinders Discovery Centre
Vince Evert Award: Jane Morgan, Charleville
Festivals & Events: Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo
Major Festivals & Events: Birdsville Races
Hall of Fame: Kinnon & Co, Longreach