Albury or the Gong for holidays? No contest

There is nothing wrong with stopping in Albury to use the toilet if you are desperate.

But it surely doesn't deserve a tourism destination ranking above Wollongong.

In the extraordinarily biased opinion of this scribe, Wollongong has suffered a mighty injustice at the hands of Wotif.com, which this week ranked Albury sixth and Wollongong seventh in a tally of most popular holiday destination cities in NSW.

MORE: Albury pips Wollongong

This demands a recount!

Wollongong has a world class coastline, many decent restaurants and bars, good theatre and a growing events calendar, summertime outdoor movies, the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere, beachside skydiving, delightful little northern suburbs' boutiques, a jaw-dropping escarpment and Jamberoo Action Park in short driving distance.

It hasn't the heaving pulse of Sydney, but if the two cities were people they would probably be friends. Sydney might call Wollongong up every now and then and ask her to catch up for a drink or something, to talk about their common fabulousness.

Albury would not be invited to drinks. It would be having another quiet night at home, probably spent almost entirely online looking at the Wotif rankings over and over. Sad sack.

The border city has some nice older buildings no doubt, but its muddy brown waterways will never compare to the glassy aquamarine majesty off the coast of Wollongong.

I saw Albury only once, from the window of a train that thankfully kept going to Melbourne, but have consulted that ever reliable bastion of truth and insight, Trip Advisor, for evidence.

According to reviewers, Albury's top five attractions are the Albury Botanic Garden (Wollongong's would manure all over it), Monument Hill War Memorial (remarked upon mainly for its view of Albury), Lake Hume (brown, motionless water - why do it to yourself?), Albury Racing Club (actually that might make a good day out . . . ) and a zoo, called Oz.e Wildlife, which is now closed. The zoo had a single penguin, a few koalas, an emu, a dingo - "but lots of kangaroos" - before it closed. Also many "empty cages".

The prosecution rests.

OUR TOP 5

1. Our beaches

2. Jamberoo Action Park

3. Dapto Dogs

4. Skydive the Beach

5. Caveau

The Albury Border Mail presents its case

We at the Albury Border Mail are more than happy to take up the challenge from the Illawarra Mercury, where journalists are suitably cheesed off at their city losing its spot to Albury among the top tourism destinations in NSW.

Albury is named the sixth most popular city in NSW, according to Wotif.com’s 2012 top destination list this week.

The results have upset a Wollongong tourism boss, who labelled Albury as “being in the middle of nowhere” after the border city polled  higher.

Albury council tourism team leader Sue Harper objected to the comment.

“Yes, we are inland and don’t have the seaside as an attraction, but we do extremely well, just look at where we placed,” Ms Harper said.

“We have some great attractions and our domestic overnight visitation numbers have increased, as well as our international visitation numbers.”

Perhaps the Wollongong locals should note that despite its “world class coastline”, the Wotif.com results come just days after Albury-Wodonga was ranked the nation’s fourth-most family friendly place.

Poor old Wollongong placed a paltry 21st in the same poll.

So much for Albury not being invited to drinks; we’re having our very own party down here...and with a better class of guests.

Albury’s ranking is no surprise to Albury Mayor Alice Glachan, although she is far more diplomatic about it.

“Clearly Wollongong has many natural assets, however Albury also has a great deal of natural and heritage assets,” she said.

“This result coupled with being ranked the fourth most family friendly city, we are delighted to achieve these results.”

Even Wollongong tourism boss Mark Sleigh yesterday reneged on his earlier criticism of Albury when an Illawarra Mercury reader pointed out the coastal city’s coalmines, dirty industry and overcrowded roads.

“The point I was making, which was lost in the isolated comment, was the tourism proposition of Albury is completely different to that of Wollongong.”

As for the Dapto Dogs ranking among Wollongong’s top five attractions, Albury farewelled the dishlickers long ago for  its annual award-winning Gold Cup meeting in March. So there!

THEIR TOP 5

1. The Murray River

2. Hume Dam and/or Lake Hume

3. Wonga Wetlands

4. Bonegilla Migrant Centre

5. Albury Library Museum

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