'Coastal fishing gem' named Australia's best town

A sleepy seaside hamlet in northern NSW has been named Best Town in Australia by a panel of tourism and travel experts.

Yamba, a township of 5600 people whose sole industry is fishing and best known as the town closest to Angourie, one of Australia's most famous surf breaks, beat some of Australia's tourism "hot spots" to top the list of the best 100 towns.

According to the survey conducted by Australian Traveller magazine, Port Douglas, Broome, Byron Bay, Port Fairy and Margaret River were among the towns pipped by Yamba.

Australian Traveller editor Greg Barton said Yamba's selection as top town, along with the second choice of Esperance, in southern Western Australia, was surprising.

He said they had qualified as outsiders but that both could be described as "coastal fishing gems".

"Yamba ... may be upset at being named the Best Town in Australia. Their idyllic secret is out and they may have to share," Mr Barton said.

"The final list was surprising for me but on reflection it makes sense.

"These towns have stunning scenery, a unique story and the mystique of the understated and undiscovered - until now.

"They just don't come with the crowds and circus that surround some of the more popular towns."

Mr Barton said to choose the 100 best towns, the panellists were presented with a short list of 300 towns.

They were asked: "On a scale of one to 10, how likely are you to recommend a friend add one hour to their trip just to visit this town?"

The answers were then tabulated to compile the top 100.

"We think we have it pretty spot on," Mr Barton said.

"I'm sure we'll be inundated with alternatives and howls of injustice. Let the people decide."

The top 10 towns, in order, are Yamba, NSW; Esperance, WA; Port Douglas, Queensland; Broome, WA; Port Fairy, Victoria; Beechworth, Victoria; Byron Bay, NSW; Apollo Bay, Victoria; Strahan, Tasmania, and Margaret River, WA.

In a state-by state breakdown of the listings, NSW had 29 towns in the top 100, Victoria 16, Queensland 16, South Australia 13, WA 13 and Tasmania seven.