Mick Roberts and Thelma James, owners of the GunnaWannaBe cafe/gallery/learning centre at South Lismore, which is a finalist in the NSW Tourism Awards in the Indigenous tourism category.
Mick Roberts and Thelma James, owners of the GunnaWannaBe cafe/gallery/learning centre at South Lismore, which is a finalist in the NSW Tourism Awards in the Indigenous tourism category. JAY CRONAN

Cafe a NSW tourism finalist

A LISMORE business is oneof eight Northern Rivers finalists in this year's NSW Tourism Awards.

GunnaWannaBe in South Lismore is a cafe, but it is its role as a gallery and learning centre that has made it a potential winner in the Indigenous Tourism category.

Owners Thelma James and Mick Roberts are no strangers to accolades, having collected the Gold 2010 CountryLink North Coast Tourism Award for Indigenous Tourism inAugust.

The couple add some spice to the awards – literally.

Not only do they promote and show indigenous artists and craftspeople, provide cultural education to primary school children, and forge links with the wider community through displays and exhibits at the North Coast National Show and elsewhere, they are also passionate ambassadors for native Australian foods, especially herbs and spices grown in the region.

GunnaWannaBe provides a stimulating experience for the senses, as the odours from kangaroo stew or pork marinated in lemon aspen and bush honey drift out the door.

The Lismore Lantern Festival is another finalist in the awards – one of nine in the Festivals and Events section.

Byron Bay's 21st Annual Bluesfest is one of three finalists in the Major Festivals and Events category.

The music festival won Best Cultural and Arts Event at the Australian Event Awards last week.

“We are very proud of these awards and would like to tha-nk everyone who we do business with. We could not have won this without you,” Bluesfest director Peter Noble said.

Others from the region in the Tourism Awards include the Lismore and Nimbin visitor information centres, the Byron Beach Cafe, Nomads (Backpacker Accommodation), Gaia Retreat and Spa (Unique Accommodation) and Apartment Inns in Byron Bay (New Tourism Development).

Announcing the 157 finalists this week, State Minister for Tourism Jodi McKay said the awards were the State's most prestigious tourismaccolade.

There were 30 categories in the Tourism Industry Council-hosted contest, and 129 finalists from regional NSW.

The winners of the awards will be announced at a gala dinner at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney on November 19.



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