TWO entries from the Mornington Peninsula are finalists in the search by the Victoria Tourism Industry Council to find the state’s top tourist towns.
Online voting ends 27 May, although voters wanting to physically visit the entries will have trouble finding one of the peninsula’s “towns”.
There is no mistaking Dromana, which is easily found between Safety Beach and McCrae, but the other entry, Fingal, is not so obvious.
There is no town named Fingal on the peninsula and a search of the internet will show a Fingal village in Tasmania and Fingal Head (commonly known as Fingal) in NSW.
Tourism operators within the 18.3 square kilometres designated Fingal on the Mornington Peninsula are hoping their locality will be chosen as Victoria’s best small tourist town.
Details on VTIC website describe Fingal as being “a small coastal town … in the heart” of the peninsula.
Fingal is claimed to punch “well above its weight, being home to a plethora of tourism attractions”, including national parks, beaches, horse riding, two golf courses, hot springs, a brewery, winery and accommodation.
“Many of the businesses within the township have also won awards at both the Victorian and Australian tourism awards,” the website states.
A map of the peninsula shows Fingal’s boundaries cutting through paddocks, across and following roads and running along the beach at Gunnamatta. It includes the St Andrews Beach Golf Course, but not the residential area.
There is no town of Fingal or any other town within the “rural locality’s” boundaries. Fingal lies west of Boneo Road, between Rye in the north and Cape Schanck in the south. It shares a postcode with Rosebud, although that town is well outside its boundaries.
Mornington Peninsula Shire issued a news release on 13 May quoting the mayor Cr Despi O’Connor as urging “our community” to vote for Dromana in the top tourism town category and for Fingal as the top small town.
“The small town [of Fingal] is proudly sitting alongside 15 other finalists in the top small tourism towns category,” the news release states.
The VTIC’s industry programs manager Michelle Valva confirmed regions could “enter as a town” in the top tourism town awards.
“The criteria are set at the national level and it is about a tourism area,” she said. “Fingal is in the small town category because of its population [569 according to the 2016 Census] and it is a tourism region or locality.”
When asked about the VTIC’s website describing Fingal as a “small coastal town”, Ms Valva said the wording was contained in the submission received for the award.
Sharon Richardson, president of the Southern Peninsula Beachside Tourism Association who runs a bed and breakfast business and submitted the entry for the small tourist towns award, is enthusiastic about Fingal’s chances.
“They [the VTIC] accepted our submission [made through Sorrento Beach Visitor Information Centre] and now we are nominated finalists,” she said. “We need the public vote to win at state level.”
Without mentioning the lack of an actual town, Ms Richardson names the many reasons for tourists to visit the Fingal area, including its golf courses, hot springs and beaches.
As Ms Richardson’s submission states, Fingal “punches well above its weight when it comes to award winning activities and accommodation”.
“These tourism businesses collectively employ over 500 people and work closely together cross promoting and selling each other’s product to ensure visitors enjoy all that Fingal and the peninsula has to offer.”
Voting is open until the 27 May at vtic.com.au/toptourismtown/