The Country Link North Coast Tourism Awards is an annual ceremony, now in its 23rd year, that celebrates and acknowledges tourism businesses with high achievement and demonstrative success; and what brings tourism better than music festivals?

Two of Australia’s music festival were recognised at this year’s ceremony, held in Port Macquarie last Saturday, including one of New South Wales’ most esteemed music events and one of its newer, emerging – but nonetheless celebrated – festivals

Bluesfest won the ‘Best Major Event’ category for the second year running, holding up to the strict inspection-based program and winning the public recognition as showcasing NSW’s tourism strength. Held annually every Easter at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm just outside Byron Bay, Bluesfest is now heading into its 24th year of musical service.

Though the Country Link North Coast Tourism Awards celebrate a multitude of industries, covering the spectrum from attractions to transport operators and accomodation; it was Bluesfest that took out the top gong.

It’s more good news for the blues and roots music event, whose director, Peter Noble has been on the up and up since winning a long, embittered battle with local Byron Bay councils over the festival site for Bluesfest.

“Every time you win an Award it is special and rewarding beyond words!” Noble says. “We are full of pride to be bringing this Award home to Byron Bay once again and to be representing the North Coast in the NSW State Tourism Awards in November.”

Speaking of winning the Gold NSW Tourism Award last year, Noble said he was “honoured to be doing it all again and having the possibility to win another Gold in the State Awards.”

The Bluesfest director also highlighted the importance of tourism within the state, and Bluesfes’s ability to bring that much-needed quantity. “Tourism is worth 20 billion to our state, provides 160,000 jobs, with 50% of those jobs being in rural NSW,” said Noble, who has fought hard for the stature and importance of his festival in retaining its foothold at its Byron Shire location.

A report on the 2011 edition of Bluesfest by a report from Laurence Consulting demonstrated that the event created spending of $83.5 million dollars and created the full time equivalent of 428 employment positions.

Along with scooping the Major Festival award, Noble also announced the launch of a new festival called the Boomerang Indigenous Arts Festival, headed by renowned arts director Rhoda Roberts.

The Awards ceremony also handed the top award in the Festivals and Events category to Port Macquarie’s own Festival of the Sun, held in the beautiful location, with a favourable BYO policy and a smaller scale capacity of 3,000; FOTS has an intimate, single stage (and awesome acronym) making it one of the must-attend events to emerge in recent years.

FOTS also recently announced its 2012 lineup, featuring a strong lineup of Australian talent – including the NZ-via-Melbourne neo-soul stylings of Kimbra –  that’ll be lighting up the stage at Port Macquarie’s Sundowner Breakwall Tourist Park location this December 14th & 15th.

It’s a great boon for both music events, celebrating both their ability to bring economy and stability to the state and its tourism, but also in representing the spectrum of Australian festivals – from the established and well-oiled veteran that is Bluesfest, to the young, boutique appeal of Festival of the Sun.

Tickets for Bluesfest 2013 are now on sale at or calling the Bluesfest office on 02 6685 8310.

Tickets for Festival of the Sun 2012 are on sale September 5 (oh lookie, that’s tomorrow) from

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine