Mainstreet Australia Awards are over for 2023!
On Friday 19 May 2023 over 100 passionate Mainstreet Australia members and stakeholders gathered at the Greek Centre on Lonsdale Street, a vibrant main street in Melbourne’s Greek Precinct, to celebrate the Mainstreet Australia Awards Gala.
In 2023 we had a truly national spread of entries, showing the growing movement and support for main street revitalisation. It was fabulous to see winners from Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania at the event to accept their award in person.
Congratulations to the thirty-three finalists and ten winners for 2023.
We’ll see you again in 2025!
Elizabeth Joldeski, Executive Officer
Mainstreet Australia Awards 2023 Photo Gallery
Check out the amazing images of the Mainstreet Australia Awards 2023 by Lizzy Jacobs Photography!
2023 Awards Finalists & Winners
Best Main Street place Activation, Event or Initiative – Council working with Trader Association, Traders, Community Group etc – Activity Cost under 100k
Yarra City Council’s Winning Entry:
For the Yarra Grooves initiative, the Council’s Economic Development team used the Covid Safe Outdoor Activation Funding to engage Guru Dudu to conduct 18 free silent disco walking tours over 10 Main Street Shopping Precincts in the Yarra City area between May and August 2022. Over 500 people attended from the local community, interstate and overseas!
The mobile disco walking tours were customised to reflect the features of each Main Street Precinct. Research and consultation was conducted to elicit local past and present stories about each Main Street shopping precinct and the life of the traders. The stories were then shared with attendees via story telling and song choice in a fun way that emphasised what makes each precinct unique.
Shelley Woolcock, the Economic Development Officer from City of Yarra said, “Yarra City Council is honoured to receive this award as it demonstrates the importance of Yarra residents and visitors supporting local businesses through a sense of community connection. The Yarra Grooves project emphasised the stories of immigration, sport, art and the unique attributes that make Yarra a great place to live and visit. During each tour we shared through story and song to paint a picture of the exceptional qualities of each area and celebrated the histories of the residents and traders from each retail precinct.”
Best Main Street Place Activation, Event or Initiative – Council working with Trader Association, Traders, Community Group etc – Activity cost over 100k
City of Melbourne’s Winning Entry:
The City of Melbourne’s Shopfront Activation Program was designed to give a new mix of businesses and creative enterprises an opportunity to test bricks and mortar stores as well as address the increasing number of vacant shopfronts across the municipality – which reached 31.2% by November 2021 after six debilitating lockdowns. The initiative proved to be one of the most substantial and successful concentrated shopfront activation programs across Australia in its ability to activate vacant spaces in the core retail precinct of Melbourne’s CBD, Carlton & Docklands.
“Our program was a huge effort by all involved to bring back life and vibrancy to our city after being so heavily impacted by the pandemic. With funding through the Melbourne City Recovery Fund, a partnership between City of Melbourne and the Victorian Government, the program enabled great opportunities for creatives and entrepreneurs to occupy a space in Melbourne. This Mainstreet Award is recognition of our City of Melbourne team, the three activation agencies – Ginnane & Associates, The Place Agency, Place1 and Renew Australia, our precinct associations in Carlton, Docklands and the Central Business District and all the amazing businesses that run their activations.” (City of Melbourne)
To find out more about the Program and its outcomes, head to melbourne.vic.gov.au/business/Pages/active-shopfronts.aspx
Best Main Street Place Activation, Event or Initiative – Business/Trader Association with a special levy – Activity cost under 100k
Launceston Central City’s Winning Entry:
Inspired by a bid to become a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, the NORTH festival was designed by Launceston Central City to activate their city centre and showcase the region’s hospitality venues through a series of in-venue food events.
Participating local venues were supported to create their own events and special menus under the collective banner of NORTH based on an eat, drink, experience concept – “two weeks, one city, a big appetite”. This formed an urban food festival that encouraged exploration of the city on foot and participation in food and drink-based activities, events & experiences.
“Activating and promoting central Launceston is the core of what we do, so we are thrilled to have won this award and have the NORTH festival acknowledged as the best main street place activation and event by Mainstreet Australia” (Launceston Central City’s Executive Officer, Amanda McEvoy).
The North Festival is running again this year from 15-23 October. Congratulations once again Launceston Central City!
View the following categories to see what other TWO awards Launceston Central City ended up securing at the Mainstreet Australia Awards this year.
Best Main Street Place Activation, Event or Initiative – Supplier/Consultant
Reactivate Consulting’s Winning Entry:
The Campsie Street Festival, held over the weekend of 21 – 22 May 2022, successfully converted Beamish Street, Campsie’s civic and commercial heart, into a dynamic epicentre of culture, food and performing arts.
Delivered in conjunction with the CIty of Canterbury-Bankstown and with the support of the NSW Government’s Festival of Place—Open Streets initiative, the festival was designed to aid Campsie’s economic recovery as the City of Canterbury-Bankstown’s second largest centre was severely affected during 2021 lockdowns.
The festival was an overwhelming success, attracting more than 50,000 attendees—a 400% increase on forecast numbers—demonstrating Campsie’s potential as a leading day and nighttime destination.
Best Traditional/Digital marketing – Non-Council/Govt Organisations ie. Associations, Chambers, NFPs
Launceston Central City’s Winning Entry:
Launceston needed a premiere Winter event that was family-friendly and designed to encourage visitation to the city during Winter – so was born FIRE & FOG: a night of fire, food, drink and live music! The festival was planned and executed in mid-2022 by Launceston Central City in collaboration with local business Red Brick Road Cider. FIRE & FOG was to become an ongoing, annual, cool-season event that brought locals into the city during winter, encouraging them to shop, dine and stimulate the economy. Built from scratch, Launceston Central City created a recognisable and memorable event brand identity. All marketing and graphic design was completed in-house and resulted in significant recognition and event engagement, with over 1,500 tickets purchased prior to launch.
“Participating in the Mainstreet Awards has been a really positive experience for us as a team and for our city. We have been blown away by how much interest everyone has shown and the excitement has been widespread including local media featuring us on the front page and all the local radio stations picking up the story” (Launceston Central City Executive Officer, Amanda McEvoy).
Storytown’s Winning Entry:
The Storytowns Audio Guide is a unique and immersive way to explore the City of Melbourne, specifically along the Southbank area. Taking visitors on a journey through Melbourne’s rich cultural heritage, the audio guide features a variety of different sites and landmarks along the Southbank – with each stop on the tour narrated by a local artist or resident sharing their personal connection to the location, and offering insights into the city’s history, culture and traditions. Designed to transport listeners into the heart of each location, the immersive audio clips offer a truly unique perspective on the city’s sights and sounds. By delving deeper into Melbourne’s history and culture through the voices of its artists and residents, a much richer understanding of what makes this vibrant city so unique and special is only the beginning of what is to be gained from this one-of-a-kind experience. With the City of Melbourne as a project partner, Storytowns aims to create a connection between visitors and the local economy, foster a sense of belonging, and create more sustainable communities.
Here’s what Storytowns had to say as a 2023 winner: “Woohoo! Our first business award! It feels like a seal of approval from our customers and travelling listeners. Thank you Mainstreet Australia for their invaluable support and thank you to all the local shires, tourism bodies, and the wonderful residents of towns, suburbs, and cities who have wholeheartedly collaborated with us in bringing you exceptional audio guides”.
You can find out more about this amazing nation-wide project at >>> https://storytowns.com.au
Best Main Street Streetscape and Design
City of Parramatta’s Winning Entry:
Phillip Lane, a hidden gem parallel to the famed ‘Eat Street,’ holds immense potential as a thriving hub in Parramatta CBD. Following a successful trial of expanded outdoor dining, the city seeks to transform this once quiet laneway into a bustling pedestrian link as part of the Phillip Lane Activation Project.
Supported by the NSW Government‘s ‘Streets as Shared Spaces’ grant, the trial showcased the viability of businesses trading in the laneway on Friday and Saturday nights while preserving its operational functions. Now, with a vision for future development, Phillip Lane will soon be alive with activity.
Exciting enhancements are in the works, including the installation of ‘Burra burawa burring gili’ (‘eel above countless generations of starlight’) by Cundall Light—a stunning lighting artwork illuminating the laneway. Thanks to the Your High Street Grant, this captivating addition will captivate all who stroll through.
“The Phillip Lane project has been an excellent way to demonstrate how the City of Parramatta can work together with our Eat Street businesses to create a vibrant and inviting night time offering. Winning this award has given this tactical and iterative project further momentum, with Council recently approving a Plan of Management that allows for activation via outdoor dining every weekend over the summer months, with further creative art projects proposed to make Phillip Lane a new destination for our vibrant CBD” (Chris Patfield, City of Parramatta Place Manager).
Best Regional Main Street or Town Centre
Launceston Central City’s Winning Entry:
Launceston has once again cemented itself as the “place to be” after also being named Australia’s Best Regional Main Street or Town Centre and receiving a judges’ choice award for its efforts and achievements in activating and marketing the city centre. “We have gained a lot of recognition and an appreciation for the projects we are delivering and it has been very humbling to see all the quality projects we were competing against. Our team have been over the moon to be recognised for what we knew were really popular and successful projects, but now have confirmation that they are producing work and activations that are leaders in their fields.” – Amanda McEvoy, Launceston Central City Executive Officer A huge congratulations to everyone involved, these awards are a testament to the hard work and dedication of their small team, as well as the enthusiasm and collaborative spirit shared by the city businesses that made their campaigns and activations possible.
Best Traditional/Digital Marketing – Council/Government
• WINNER: Mackay Regional Council – “City Heart Fridays”
• Brisbane City Council – “Local Retail and Activation Toolkit”
• Melton City Council – “Melton Town Centre Trader Video Series”
Most Sustainable Main Street or Town Centre
Mackay Regional Council’s Winning Entries:
Congratulations to Mackay Regional Council for winning TWO of this year’s Mainstreet Australia Awards!
Category 5: Best Traditional/Digital Marketing – Council/Government
With a meaningful and innovative objective in mind, the Mackay Regional Council wanted to re-introduce the community to their City Heart and its local businesses, bringing about the City Heart Fridays concept in 2020. This initiative became an overarching event and marketing approach to advertise and promote multiple, small-scale activities all occurring at the same time in the city in a new, collaborative, and inclusive way while encouraging businesses to curate their own small-scale events each Friday evening.
City Heart Fridays now boasts an impressive collection of activities each month, including late-night retail shopping, live music, cheese and wine nights, art exhibitions, walking tours, paint and sip events, food specials, stylist sessions and flower crown/florist workshops. Through the collaborative, cross-promotional effort of Council, City Heart businesses and traders, local community groups, not for profit organisations and grant funding recipients, the event has grown from strength to strength and has created a sustainable and long-term revitalisation of the Mackay City Centre. What an incredible achievement!
Main Street Champion Award
Main Street Champion Winning Entry:
For this year’s Best Main Street Champion Award, we’d like to say a huge congratulations to the President of Ashburton Shopping Centre Traders Association, Bob Stensholt! Bob is a deeply loyal, dedicated and community-loving local and advocate for his town.
It was our absolute pleasure to grant Bob this well-deserved award – a huge thank you to the committee at Ashburton Village for nominating their much-loved President: “Bob has been involved with traders associations throughout the City of Boroondara for nearly 20 years, volunteering his time and expertise to committee’s and supporting the local businesses he himself frequents. Bob is a local resident and an advocate for strip shopping centres. He sits on the committees of several community organisation and is much respected by the community, business operators, our committee and council who all benefit from his leadership and sensible proactive attitude. Our committee feel very fortunate to be in a position where Bob has been able to mentor and guide our association through the difficult times of the pandemic and out the other side.”
“This is recognition of the great work done in Ashburton and in Boroondara especially over the last few years with the COVID pandemic. It is a great honour for myself and Ashburton and all our local businesses.” (Bob Stensholt)
About the 2023 judges:
Louise Grimmer: Dr Louise Grimmer is one of Australia’s leading retail researchers, focussing on small stores, local shopping, consumer behaviour and the visitor economy. She is a Fulbright Scholar, Senior Fellow of the Institute of Place Management in the UK and Associate Head Research Performance at the University of Tasmania. Louise has worked as a national radio presenter for the ABC and has featured in hundreds of media interviews on retail marketing and consumer trends. She writes the ‘Retail Therapy’ column for The Mercury newspaper and is the top University of Tasmania author on ‘The Conversation’. Her retail and marketing research has been published internationally and she is Associate Editor of the Journal of Consumer Behaviour and the International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research. Louise’s new venture is the recently founded retail consultancy ‘Shopology’.
Steve Bentley: Steve is the Past President and Life member of Mainstreet Australia. He has an extensive experience in Events and Arts management and delivery with 20 years’ experience in City Centre, Waterfront and Activity Centre Place Management. Steve owned and operated a coastal Health Club and managed many small businesses such as gyms, pools, caravan parks, tourist attractions and livestock facilities. Steve also has two decades of experience working alongside investors, entrepreneurs, government and NGOs to enable innovative, prosperous asset development, both public and private. He has vast experience on panels evaluating applications for grants and recognition on behalf of State & Local Government as well as community organisations.
Andrew Wear: Andrew is City Economist and Director of Economic Development and International at the City of Melbourne. He is currently supporting council’s economic response to the impacts of COVID-19 and the city’s 10 year economic development strategy. Until 2020, he was Director of Innovation at the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, where he played a key role supporting the growth of Melbourne’s life sciences sector. A Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (Victoria) and a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, he is also a director of Ardoch Ltd (a children’s education charity) and the BioMelbourne Network (an industry association for the healthtech sector). Andrew is also an author who is passionate about searching the world for policy solutions that work. In 2020, his first book, Solved! How other countries have cracked the world’s biggest problems and we can too was published around the world. His latest book is Recovery. How we can create a better, brighter future after a crisis.
Jack Amies: Jack is the Founder of award-winning marketing and placemaking firm The Place Agency, which delivers retail marketing, communications, economic development programs and placemaking initiatives for commercial precincts across the country. Beyond leading the TPA team, Jack also provides strategic advice to Government organisations, delivering large-scale development projects and major infrastructure works.
Angela Simons: Angela leads the Renew Australia team to work with Mainstreets, Councils, and Property Representatives to activate vacant space and bring life back to otherwise underutilized spaces. Through stakeholder engagement, facilitation, and planning, Angela and the Renew team demonstrate the future use of ‘meanwhile’ spaces providing opportunities for creative enterprises to capacity build and experiment in a visible location.
Stu Speirs: Stu Speirs is the founder and director of event evaluation and strategy firm Silver Lining Strategy. Specialising in place-based events that showcase local culture, Stu works with communities to uncover their points of difference and leverage them to drive investment.
Barbara Cullen: Barbara is a Director for the Industry Sector Engagement in the Victorian Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions with responsibilities including delivery of premium industry events to support the state’s manufacturing sectors. She has contributed to public policy through the Victorian Government’s Equal Workplaces Advisory Council and as a member of the Australian Business Register Board. Barbara holds a Master of Business Administration from RMIT University and qualifications in Marketing and Fine Art. She is an alumnus of the Cranlana programme and a member of the Institute of Public Administration Australia.
Awards Winners & Finalists 2021:
Main Street Public Space and Streetscape Design Award
WINNER: Brimbank City Council (Hampshire Road Civic Green project)
Maroondah City Council (Ringwood East Place Activation Project)
City of Port Phillip (Live, Love Local – Temporary Play Spaces and multi-use platforms)
Digital and/or Traditional Marketing Award for Promotion of a Program Initiative, Activity or Event
WINNER: Banyule City Council (Rediscover Local Campaign)
Wellington Shire Council (The Middle of Everywhere)
Footscray Traders Association (#LoveFootscray)
Outstanding Management Committee / Business Association / Trader Group Award
WINNER: Ashburton Shopping Centre Traders Association
West Vic Business
Outstanding Contribution to a Main Street – Mainstreet Champion
WINNER: Marty Thomas (nominated by South Gippsland Shire Council)
Program Initiative, Activity or Event Award: With a budget under $50,000 (no special rate)
JOINT WINNER: Kensington Business Association (March Madness!)
JOINT WINNER: West Vic Business (The Business Reimagined Series)
Eastern Dandenong Ranges Assoc. Inc (Get your Fill in the Hills!)
Program Initiative, Activity or Event Award: With a budget over $50,000 (no special rate)
WINNER: Clunes Neighbourhood House (Boom Clunes)
Mirboo Country Development Inc (Reinvigorate Ridgeway)
Glen Waverley Traders Association (supported by the City of Monash) (Lighting up Kingsway Precinct)
Program Initiative, Activity or Event Award: With a budget under $100k (with a special rate)
WINNER: St Albans Business Association Group Inc (St Albans Digital Lunar Festival 2021)
Kew Junction Business Association (Kew Progressive Dinner)
Mildura City Heart (The UP Program)
Council Program Initiative, Activity or Event Award: With a budget under $100,000
WINNER: Brisbane City Council (BNE Local and Liveable)
City of Stonnington (Prahran Square)
City of Port Phillip (Dessert First)
Council Program Initiative, Activity or Event Award: With a budget over $100,000
WINNER: Wyndham City Council (MADE on Watton)
City of Stonnington (Outdoor Dining Program)
City of Greater Geelong (Little Malop Central)
Best Regional Main Street
WINNER: Business Mount Alexander
West Vic Business
Best COVID-19 Response Initiative in a Main Street
WINNER: Western Melbourne Tourism Inc (Westside Crawls)
Camberwell Centre Association (We’ve Still got it All)
City People Pty. Ltd. (Wanna Dance?)