The year is off to a good start for Travis Collins.
The popular country musician, who hails from Macquarie Fields, picked up Male Artist of the Year at the Golden Guitar Awards held in Tamworth at the weekend.
Collins was nominated for six gongs at the star-studded affair, and said it was pretty great to win the best male artist.
"It was certainly a nice way to finish off a pretty disrupted last year, and kickstart a hopeful new one," he told the Advertiser.
"It was a nice way to turn the page.
"Having six nominations, there was a lot of hype but I honestly didn't feel like I'd be getting up on that stage - there was so much quality stuff released last year by so many talented artists.
"Of all the awards I could have won, this was a really good one."
Collins said he never prepared speeches for awards ceremonies but after this difficult year there was so many people he wanted to thank.
"I ended up wussing out and wrote down some notes on my phone just in case I was lucky enough to get called up, because I didn't want to forget anything," Collins said.
"I was really lucky that one time and it was a real thrill for me."
Collins said it was fantastic to be able to see all his friends in the industry after so long without being on the road.
"I can't even find the right words for that," he said.
"It was so important. Ordinarily, you cross paths with these guys at different festivals or on the road, in studios - seeing each other all the time you become a big part of each others support network.
"Like any profession, it's a big part of your mental health.
"Going eight or nine months without seeing any of your work peers, not seeing them at the airport or backstage, it was nice to feel everyone's presence again, even if just for one night.
"Everyone has managed to get through the roughest year we'll see in our lifetimes so there was this overwhelming sense of overcoming and an energy of survival - and of course we got to see some incredible music."
Collins said while he hadn't written any new material in a while, he was slowly working through some of the ideas he'd jotted down in the height of the pandemic.
"I've not got to make sense of the hundreds of post-it notes I wrote phrases on," he said.
"I wrote down a lot of ideas and feelings, different ideas for songs. Now it's time to bunker down and question what they all mean."
Collins said a heartfelt thanks to all his fans and friends in Macarthur, and said their ongoing support meant the world to him.
"Shout out to everyone back home, you've all supported me along the way, from busking on Queen Street to now," he said.
"I know the people down there are really proud of these awards, and you're all a big part of it."