We all love an Aussie battler success story – and they do not come much better than the simple tin shed that has become a worldwide icon. This remote dunny looks ordinary enough – but its incredible location overlooking a beach northeast of Darwin has seen it become an attraction in itself.
Perched on a cliff at the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, the bathroom gives the occupant a view of the lagoon 10m below, where crocodiles bask on the sand and reef sharks hunt for prey. Described as ‘like watching a National Geographic documentary whilst sitting on the loo’, the bathroom has become one of the principal attractions of this national park.
The Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, a remote, rocky region with magnificent white beaches, is situated in the very top of the Northern Territory. It is accessible only by sea, or by forcing an epic 640km round trip from Jabiru (only possible in the rainy season). So it is no wonder after all that effort to get there, a simple bathroom is a welcoming sight.
And now, the bathroom has gained global recognition, making a global Gong as the bathroom with the world’s greatest place in the 2017 International Toilet Tourism Awards. The judges praised it as bright, daring, easy and environmentally sound (it is waterless, odourless and converts fresh waste into organic humus).
The cliffhanger loo has capitalised on its place perfectly and has become an attraction in itself, according to the awards – thank goodness it will never need an emergency blocked plumbing service to travel up the cliff. In their inaugural year, the International Toilet Tourism Awards are the brainchild of Aussie travel investigators Carolyn Childs and Bronwyn White, the creators of MyTravelResearch.com.
With an award for best design going to the Kathleen Buzzacott Art Studio in Alice Springs, the NT was the standout destination at the awards. Built last year, the bathrooms were painted by Buzzacott’s husband, who’s a traditional owner of the property, and feature story-telling bathroom doors adorned with native dot paintings.
Other award recipients included the loos in the Southern Highlands Welcome Centre in Mittagong, where visitors are spending more than only a penny. Since the bathrooms were refurbished in 2015, with a makeover including flowers, posters, sound reel, and quirky reality stickers and free Wi-Fi, and partly as art storage solutions for locals, tourism spending in the area has increased by a whopping $10 million.
The award for quirkiest toilet encounter – and the total prize winner – moved to Toowoomba Portable Toilets’ Dunnies using a difference array – that includes artistic layouts such as beach huts, a rustic cabin and a London telephone box. The recently opened bathrooms at Arthurs Seat State Park on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria took out the title of greatest available bathroom, with amenities which cater to tourists with disabilities, young children, and culturally diverse visitors (with squat toilets).
Other winners included Hahei Holiday Resort on the Coromandel in New Zealand. Part of a glamping backpacker lodge, the toilet block includes recycled native timber, LED lights in old beer bottles and ceramic countertops from a hospital. And then there is the Wisconsin Department of Tourism in the united states, which earned a special mention for its celebration of all things bathroom including a “Great Wall of China”, a two-storey wall made from 177 toilets piled floor to ceiling at the Kohler Design Center (aka the Disney World of Pipes), which brings 150,000 tourists every year. These awards truly aren’t your average museum art and design celebration.
Meanwhile a peninsula throne was acclaimed as a “gold star” instance of accessible dunnies. An international hunt for the top bathrooms located the Arthurs Seat facility, run by Parks Victoria, to be “beautifully designed” and “thoroughly functional”. Opened earlier this year, the comforts, in the bottom station of the Arthurs Seat Eagle, include an Asian “squat” bathroom, and caters to people with disabilities and mobility limitations.
MyTravelResearch.com conducted the inaugural International Toilet Tourism awards, which brought 30 entries from all over the world. Other entrants included a Northern Hemisphere place where users can do their business overlooking a crocodile-infested waters, a US dunny with a portrait of an exposed and young Burt Reynolds currently being renovated by residential plumbing services, along with a two-storey wall of 177 bathrooms in China.
The organisers, Carolyn Childs and Bronwyn White, stated great loos could become talking points, encourage repeat visits, and reveal how much a destination respects tourists. The award said the Arthurs Seat facility was a highly impressive addition to the destination adventure – it is a golden star, best practice example.
Arthurs Seat Eagle chairlift opened in December last year and has so far attracted over 200,000 guest. Acting CEO Dean Head said that it is certainly a tourism award like no other.