THE people of Port Fairy have always known it, but now it’s official — the seaside town is the world’s best small town to call home.
Port Fairy is celebrating today after scooping the prestigious international LivCom award for the most liveable town with a population under 20,000.
The United Nations-endorsed award was placed firmly in the hands of Moyne Shire mayor Jim Doukas, chief executive David Madden and community representative Margaret Watt at a special ceremony in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday.
All three made the case for Port Fairy in front of judges in the city of Al Ain, spruiking the picturesque port, beaches and iconic bluestone cottages.
The town, formerly called Belfast, took out the liveability prize against second-placed Abbeyleix and third-placed Moynalty Village, both located in Ireland.
Each was judged for strategic planning, environmental practices, healthy lifestyle and heritage.
Port Fairy was also the only Australian contender for the awards.
Moyne Shire mayor Jim Doukas said the award was a chance to put the town on the world map.
“This has been a great opportunity to sell Port Fairy and our region to the world,” Cr Doukas said.
“Being a winner will be an asset when it comes to applying for national or international funding and attracting more visitors or skilled sea changers and tree-changers.”
Port Fairy Tourism Association president Liz Foreman said the town would now be set apart from others.
“It’s really the jewel in the crown of the Great Ocean Road,” Ms Foreman said.
“I think it’s amazing, it’s just great.”
Ms Foreman, who is also the owner of the Merrijig Inn commended Moyne Shire for spearheading efforts for the award.
“We need to build a greater marketing emphasis and an international award is really something to hang your hat on.”
“I come across people every day who can’t believe the beauty of Port Fairy.”
Moyne Shire deputy mayor and Port Fairy accountant James Purcell said he was “delighted” to read a brief text message from Mr Madden from the UAE, informing him of the win.
“I think it will give Port Fairy the recognition it truly deserves,” Cr Purcell said yesterday.
“Council has probably been working on this for the past eight months but it’s been a community effort, the traders association, the tourist association and the folk festival committee have been involved in the whole process.”