It's official: Port Kembla's the best beach in NSW

The Illawarra has again cleaned up in the state's top beach awards.Port Kembla beat some of the most iconic beaches in NSW to claim the overall prize in this year's Clean Beach Challenge Awards.It will now come up against other state winners in judging for the national gong.

  • SLIDESHOW: Port Kembla Beach in picturesCompetition organisers Keep Australia Beautiful NSW paid tribute to the community's role in looking after the beach. "Port Kembla Beach is a worthy winner as it is swathed by a sense of ownership and community pride, evidenced through the numerous ongoing efforts which have been taken to protect this local asset," chief executive officer Peter McLean said."The local community, local surf lifesaving club and council have been steadily improving the beach environment over recent years, so it's great to see that Port Kembla has taken out the state title this year."The local community and council are doing some really fantastic work." Judges noted the dune work at the beach, the free saltwater pool, multilingual signs and the kiosk's use of recyclable material and practices.That the environmental health of the beach was held as part of community values - with lifeguards, scouts and nippers all playing a part in keeping it clean - was also a factor.For Port Kembla's Bart McKenzie, picking up litter at the beach is a natural part of surfing, walking and running on it. "I'm a bit biased, but I reckon it's got a good chance of (the national title)," he said. "Port Kembla's a multicultural community and people have their relatives come from overseas and they're just astounded to see the white sand."The national title will be decided early next year. Other finalists are Shady Beach in Yirrkala, Northern Territory, Southport Beach (South Australia), West Beach (Burnie, Tasmania), Balnarring Beach (Victoria). Queensland and Western Australia winners are to be announced later this month.Austinmer was the last Illawarra beach to win the state award, when it started in 2001.

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