In a region that's famous for its picturesque surrounds and the quality of its produce - particularly its wine - Pokolbin is the crown jewel.
In 2021 it has not only been recognised as a treasure in the Hunter region, but as a tourist destination that stands among the most attractive in Australia.
On the announcement of the winners of the Wotif.com 2021 Aussie Town of the Year Awards, Pokolbin was recognised as the second best in the nation - and the top NSW offering.
The awards recognised Pokolbin for its range of opportunities to provide a restful atmosphere: "If it's indulgence and relaxation that you're after, then the rolling hills and picturesque vistas of Pokolbin and the Hunter Valley region are the ideal setting for some R&R, just a short drive from Sydney," Wotif stated.
The recognition did not come as a surprise to Cessnock City Mayor, Cr Bob Pynsent, who said it was no surprise Pokolbin was the top destination in the state.
"We are home to so many amazing tourism operators who provide a first class experience, surrounded by our natural beauty," he said.
Easily accessible and home to some of Australia's most prestigious wineries, Pokolbin has developed a reputation for excellence, not only for its vineyards, but its restaurants, cafes and event venues. Its national and international reputation has grown on the back of stunning images from winery tours and spectacular wedding shots among the vines.
In 2021, the annual Wotif.com Aussie Town of the Year Awards set out not only to recognise excellence, but the way in which communities had adapted and provided flexibility when faced by the constantly changing restrictions and conditions placed upon them due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Winners were recognised based on accommodation quality, affordability and traveller satisfaction as well as their flexibility and how they met the changing needs of travellers.
While tourism providers had been hard hit in 2020, and many had some way to go to recoup the losses they have sustained, Wotif managing director Daniel Finch said the signs of recovery were encouraging across Australia.
"Each region is at a different stage of recovery, but some operators are starting to see signs of relief with the Aussie sense of support extremely high," he said at the announcement of the 2021 winners.
"What's clear is that the industry is focused on ensuring travellers feel welcome and safe."
The overall winner at the awards was Cairns, Queensland, which was recognised for being a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
Wotif states the awards aim to encourage Australians to get on the road and discover what is available in their own backyard.
"After the last twelve months, this year's awards are more important than ever," Mr Finch said. "It's time to recognise and celebrate the people and communities behind some of Australia's finest tourism destinations - who continue to work tirelessly and adapt to new and ongoing restrictions."