Posts tagged: Tourism Victoria

Melbourne… Not Just Footy, Cold Beer and Meat Pies!

By Aussie Pete, October 5, 2011 2:09 am

I’ve mentioned before in my earlier posts about Melbourne that this time back home, I saw so many sides to this beautiful culturally-inspired city of which I was not even aware.

Obviously, show me the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and I can rattle off which teams have won the AFL (Australian Football League) grand final and in what year. I could sing for you any of the team songs, and I could describe the wonderful experience of eating a ‘four-and-twenty’ pie while downing an ice cold Fosters beer in the middle of a cold winter’s day.

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I could tell you what kind of bargains you could get at the Queen Victoria markets, where the best places to eat in Lygon or Brunswick Streets are, and what the best vantage point is along the river, to view the New Years’ eve fireworks.

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When I donned a bike helmet and set out on a push bike near Federation Square with four other bloggers and Murray of Real Melbourne Bike Tours, I was to learn that I did not in fact know it all! It’s not just about footy, cold beer and meat pies! Wow – that’s surprising?!

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I don’t need to say much about the architecture or the history of Melbourne dwellings. The pictures alone just leave my mouth agape. But little did I know that there are some very special places hidden within the alleyways. At one point,Murray pointed out a garden area on a low roof top. He then showed us the door that entered into that particular venue – completely unmarked and easy to miss… unless you know about it, you would never think to enter – but this place apparently rocks in the evening. Just knowing about it provided me with a sense of ‘secret knowledge’ that was very unique. As it turns out, there are dozens of such venues and locations hidden all throughout the streets and alleys.

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Click Here to View Many More Pictures Of Unique Melbourne Streets and Architecture

Like I said, I know many of the good eating places along Brunswick Street (Fitzroy), but as a ‘creature of habit’, I had never really before left my comfort zone – so how does one really suggest they know the ‘best’ places, when they’ve only entered a small percentage of the premises? I therefore stand corrected. So many cultures and so much diversity along one short strip of bitumen.

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Click Here to View More Pictures Of Our Bike Tour of Melbourne

I want to round this post up with a huge thank you to the sponsors and organizers for making sure that my weight loss program was tossed out the window… I ate like never before while in Melbourne – whether it was the slow-cooked specialties and wines at…

… ‘The Atlantic’ at the Crown Complex…

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The Atlantic
Crown Entertainment Complex
8 Whiteman Street
Southbank VIC 3006 Australia
Tel: (03) 9698 8888
Fax: (03) 9698 8899
www.theatlantic.com.au

…dinner aboard the Tramcar Restaurant…

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The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant
Tramstop #125 Normanby Road, near the corner of Clarendon Street,
South Melbourne, VIC 3206
Australia
(61) 3 9696 4000
Luncheon – 4 Course Meal 1:00 – 3:00 pm $82.50
Early Dinner – 3 Course Meal 5:45 – 7:15 pm $77.00
Late Dinner (Sun-Thu) – 5 Course Meal 8:35 – 11:30 pm $121.00
Late Dinner (Fri-Sat) – 5 Course Meal 8:35 – 11:30 pm $137.50

… the phenomenal seafood platters at Taylors Waterfront Restaurant on Phillip Island…

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Taylors Waterfront Restaurant
5 Phillip Island Tourist Road
Phillip Island VIC 3922
Tel: (03) 5956 7371
Fax: (03) 5956 6540

… or the fine Italian dining at The Merchant…

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The Merchant
495 Collins Street
Melbourne Vic. 3000.
Tel: (03) 9614 7688
Fax: (03) 9614 7211
http://merchantov.com

The food was absolutely awesome and we were treated to some of the finest cuisine and wines that I’ve ever tasted.

Click Here to View More Pictures Of The Awesome Food and Wines of Victoria

OK – *sigh* – now I’m hungry and thristy…

Real Melbourne Bike Tours
@Hire a Bike
Vault 14 at Federation Wharf, riverside level below Federation Square
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: 0417 339 203
www.rentabike.net.au/biketours/

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Amazing Architecture and so culturally diverse:

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Source: Aussie Pete

JETSTAR – A Schoolboy Turned Captain

By Aussie Pete, October 3, 2011 10:58 pm

back_to_school_text_building_hg_clr[1]My recent trip down under with the other nine winners from the 2011 OMY blog awards, was sponsored by Tourism Victoria along with the airline partner, Jetstar.

Of course, I wanted to take the opportunity to put forward my experience as a first time traveler with this airline, but also I need to tell you of a very strange occurrence that proves just how small this world is.

So let me do this in reverse order. On my flight back home to Singapore, I was extremely weary and foot-sore from my very late (but quite profitable) night at Crown Casino. After crawling into my comfy bed at the Citigate hotel, I only managed a couple of hours sleep before the wake-up call came in to let me know that I should be getting ready to check out and prepare for the transfer to the airport.

logo_headerold3Given my experience on the way over, I had no doubt that I would be able to kick-back and relax in relative style and comfort on the Jetstar flight. Although I don’t often sleep on planes, and usually seize the opportunity to watch back-to-back movies, the sandman was in this instance waiting for me to sit down and put my head back – I think my eyes closed and I entered slumberland within minutes… but as I sat there, I dreamed that I heard the in-flight crew announce that today we would be flying with ‘Captain Bruce Rattle’… wait a minute… why would I dream of an airline captain from Jetstar with the same distinctive name as a young kid I went to primary school with in Caloundra (Sunshine Coast of Qld) some three decades earlier?

I recalled a discussion I had some years earlier, just prior to relocating to Singapore (I had passed destinies with Andrew Rattle – younger brother of the airline captain of the same namesake), who told me back then, that Bruce was now a pilot and was also living in Singapore.

I knew this must be more than just a coincidence… my eyes were immediately open and all my senses were on full alert – could it be possible that the young lad who was one of my best mates when we were not yet even 10-years old, the same young kid who I remember could run like the wind in the 100-metre sprint, was now flying the Jetstar plane on which I was returning home?

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I asked the very friendly staff if it would be possible to get a message to Capt Rattle, to let him know that one Peter Breitkreutz was a passenger on board his flight. Of course, the cabin crew obliged and told me that I could send him a note once the flight had taken off.

Shortly thereafter I was given a pen and paper, and I scribbled down a brief introduction explaining that I think he and I were once playmates in the old schoolyard – and also that I could remember him as a very fast runner :)

The sandman then won the battle again. An hour or two later I awoke, and immediately that same young flight attendant approached me and told me that the flight captain had earlier visited my seat and upon seeing me asleep decided it would be more respectful to allow me to finish catching the Z’s. The attendant was under strict instructions that as soon as I was awake, he was to invite me to the front of the plane to speak with the captain… which I did.

logo_melbourneWow! What a small world – Bruce came out of the cockpit to chat, and immediately upon seeing him, I could remember the little boy who was my friend. Of course, we are both much older now, but we both shared the same sentiment – before we set eyes on one another, we were both unsure if there would be any recognition… But although time ages us, puts lines on our faces and distorts our appearance somewhat, the recognition was immediate. Here were two boys of 7-years of age in the bodies of 40-something adults.

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We reminisced for quite a while, spoke of each other’s families and friends and low and behold, I discovered that another of my best mates from primary school was also living in Singapore, and that Bruce and Jon are both still great friends. We exchanged phone numbers and I pointed out my wife and boys to Bruce after the flight while we were waiting at the baggage claim.

So my thanks to Jetstar – not just for such a wonderful experience on their airline, but also for connecting old friends. This was indeed a most magical moment… Jetstar could not have planned it any better!

Now let me take you through my flight experience (at the airport and onboard) – like I said, I had not before travelled with Jetstar, but as a relatively frequent flyer, I obviously had certain expectations… and let me tell you, the raised bar was met and then some!

Upon receiving my itinerary via email, some 48-hours out from the flight departure I went online to check-in – it’s important to me that I always get an aisle seat (I hate to be one of those people who need to climb over others as they lay reclined and asleep), so I always do online check-in when possible. The process for checking in, selecting a seat and printing boarding passes was extremely simple with Jetstar.

Rocking up at the airport on the evening of the departure from Singapore, the web check-in queue was virtually empty – so 5 minutes later, my suitcase was on its way to the plane and I was all set for some duty free shopping while waiting for boarding. So far, 10 out of 10 for convenience, ease of website use and check-in speed.

Wei Ding from OMY rounded all the bloggers up – he seemed to need to do that a lot while we were away – before we went through immigration. After which, we went our separate ways in small groups for shopping and eating at the Changi airport terminal.

Never-go-hungryArriving at the boarding gate on time, we were almost immediately walking up the gangway and heading for our seats. The take-off was smooth and uneventful, and the wonderful cabin crew provided a very high level of customer service and quality right from the get-go.

The real ‘kicker’ was this – shortly after take-off (on the flight over and back), I was provided with a ‘Comfort Pack’ – a personal blanket and toiletries satchel. Then not long after, the attendant also brought me an inflight video unit. My choice of on-demand videos and TV… for a long(ish)-hall flight like this, I could not survive without a wide selection of movies to watch!

Keep-entertainedThe meals I was given were brilliant – dinner and then breakfast on the red-eye flight to Melbourne, and then breakfast and lunch on the way back to Singapore… I also opted for some snacks (and a couple of alcoholic beverages), which were priced very reasonably indeed.

In all – a great first experience with Jetstar – if their intention was to impress me enough to recommend to others… it worked!! That’s why you are reading about it right now on my blog!

JETSTAR – An airline providing convenience and comfort, professional service – all at choice prices!! And… CONNECTING OLD SCHOOLFRIENDS!!

Source: Aussie Pete Legacy Blog

Willy Wonka Down Under – I Got The Golden Ticket!

By Aussie Pete, September 27, 2011 9:40 pm

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Ahhh – to be a kid again! These days when I think about chocolates, I immediately think of the weight that I’ve worked so hard to lose by dieting. Then, if the chocolates are there in front of me – all slimming thoughts are lost. Anyway – I learned from Panny that there are many reasons in favour of why one should eat chocolate – you will find a list of the Top 10 below!!

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The day that we met with Victoria’s Willy Wonka (aka Panny of the Phillip Island ‘Amazing World of Chocolate’), I was transported in time and space – in my mind, my name changed from ‘Pete’ to ‘Charlie’ and I was searching my pockets for an elusive Golden Ticket.

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Panny is what is known as a “chocolatier“ – and he is one passionate guy when it comes to these delicacies. As you begin your journey of the factory, you need to remind yourself that absolutely everything you see is made of chocolate – whether it’s the art pieces, such as Michelangelo’s ‘David’, a mural of Dame Edna Everage covering an entire wall, almost a half a tonne of chocolate forming a railway village or just the framed pictures scattered around, such as the infamous bush-ranger, Ned Kelly and even a full map of the world. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!!!

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Panny himself, seems to have a never-ending supply of various chocolates on his person, which just keep appearing out of nowhere – and disappear just as quickly down my throat :S

The tour began with an educational room where the OMY ‘Blogga Loompas’ learned all about where chocolate comes from (cocoa beans), how the beans are prepared, what ingredients are added and the entire life cycle – the front-to-back end process from the tree to the chocolate bar.

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As we continued through the factory, past the fine art pieces, the games began – unique games of skill and chance where every success is rewarded with – yes, you guessed it – chocolate!

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This was actually quite an interesting part of the tour – you see, as someone who ‘hates to lose’ (refer my article about the Phillip Island Go-Karting experience), I was not able to walk away from any of the games without winning… it was an addiction sort of like the ‘Angry Birds’ version of sweetness. And I didn’t actually need to win – I just had to turn to Panny, and he was feeding me more of his magically appearing bites.

At one point I pivoted as something caught the corner of my eye – this was no Hollywood special effect – right there in front of me, was the world’s largest chocolate waterfall – a huge 400kgs of chocolate flowing every 3 minutes!!! WHOA!! Disappointedly, I was not allowed to reach my reclined head in and let it pour into my mouth. This was actually quite lucky, because I didn’t want to fail the test and lose the chance of one day maybe running the factory (another reference to Charlie).

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Next, we got to see Panny’s team in action – creating chocolates for what I guess would be a very large consumer market. Also in this room, besides more chocolate sculptures, there were some very unique machines. Firstly, a machine that allows you to create your own design with flowing chocolate within 4 seconds. I created my initials – then while I was waiting for my masterpiece to work its way down the drying / hardening belt, I turned away to watch Panny’s chocolatiers at work – I turned back, only to find that Eric had already eaten half of my initials… wait on – Eric – it was “PB” not “EL”!!

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Not to worry, I just turned back to Panny for his ‘appearing chocolate’ magic trick again – satisfied, I continued over to the ‘Amazing Chocolate Machine’. Valyn was already hard at work selecting flavours which I had never before imagined were possible. I think her final choice, was Cola and Wasabi. Very interesting! I was waiting for one of my fellow ‘Blogga Oompas’ to suggest that Panny might want to consider adding Durian as a flavor selection in the future :)

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To round off the adventure – and they had to drag me kicking and screaming, let me tell you – we ended up in the shop (factory direct outlet), where more than 190 different treats are available for sale. Along with a goodie bag provided by Panny, I purchased some chocolate-covered honey comb to take home to the family in Singapore. Luckily for the boys, I packed this in my check-in luggage (or else I don’t think it would have survived if it was in my carry-on – it would have been consumed somewhere high in the sky over central Australia, without a doubt).

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As well as all of the chocolate than you can dream of, also available in the factory direct outlet, are other delectables such as a choc-dipped bananas, rocky road, ginger and honey.

If you’ve not had your fill by the end of the tour, visitors can also grab a bite at Pannys café – which sells amazing meals, drinks and snacks – all with a chocolate theme, of course.

According to Panny’s Website:

“The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory is climate controlled for comfort, so visitors love returning to Pannys year round regardless of what the weather is doing. A massive renovation has just been completed, both inside and out, making The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory a must see on a visit Phillip island. Panny and his team invite you to spend a few hours exploring the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory”

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VIEW MORE PICTURES ON MY FACEBOOK HERE

10 Good Reasons Why You Should Eat Chocolate

1. It’s a vegetable! Chocolate is made from cocoa beans and sugar cane which are both vegetables. It must be healthy.

2. Milk Chocolate contains a dairy food so it has the calcium you need to keep bones strong and healthy.

3. It’s readily available, it’s fresh and has no preservatives.

4. You can get a whole day’s calories in one handy package.

5. No one will ever guess you are on a diet.

6. You can add to your daily fruit consumption with chocolate coated strawberries and bananas.

7. If you eat it before a meal it’ll reduce your appetite. (surely your mother taught you that one)

8. If you eat it after your meal you don’t need to eat the cheesecake and the icecream.

9. It can help as part of a balanced diet – equal amounts of fat and sugar, and one sensible reason.

10. If you love chocolate, banning it completely can make you feel deprived – allowing yourself a piece of quality chocolate now and again can make all the difference between sticking to your diet and binging uncontrollably.

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Entry to the cafe and retail shop is free of charge!

Admission Prices to Pannys Amazing World of Chocolate:

Adults $12.00
Children $8.00
Family $36.00

Family pricing is for 2 adults and 2 children
Children under four are admitted free

You should allow at least 45 minutes really enjoy your visit.

Pannys also has group discounts available, and resources for school groups are available to download from the website.

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Opening Hours

The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory is open 7 days a week from 9:00am except for Christmas Day.

Panny’s retail store closes at 5pm in Winter and 6pm during Eastern Daylight Savings (October to March).

Please note: during Summer, last entry to Pannys Amazing World of Chocolate is at 5:30pm and the cafe closes at 5:00pm

930 Phillip Island Rd
Newhaven VIC 3925

Phone: 03 5956 6600
Fax: 03 5956 7697
Email: info@phillipislandchocolatefactory.com.au

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Bloggers – Start Your Engines – The Winner Is….

By Aussie Pete, September 23, 2011 1:17 am

I’m feeling a little violated and vulnerable after my annual health screening yesterday (no more information requires sharing). :) So, to make me feel better about myself, I’d like to pass on to you, dear readers, a recent Aussie Pete ‘winning experience’.

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Having spent the best part of a decade living in Melbourne, many people scoff at the fact that until recently I had never visited Phillip Island. In fact, when I speak with any of my local Singaporean mates or colleagues about my recent return to Victoria, the first thing nearly everybody asks (even people who have never visited down under), is “Oh – did you go to that beach where you can see the Fairy Penguins?” When I respond to the positive, but then explain that it was my first time to Phillip Island, they often are astounded… I think it’s like spending your life anywhere – it’s often easy to take the most beautiful things for granted.

But enough about the penguin parade – I’ll save that until a bit later – one of the absolute highlights of not just the Phillip Island adventure, but of my entire recent trip, was inspired by my ‘need for speed’. Not that I’m very competitive by nature. Ok, ok… before you send me emails disagreeing, I’m speaking tongue in cheek – yes, just like nearly every Aussie, I am extremely competitive. Whether it’s as an arm-chair sports fan watching my favourite footy team, or if I’m participating in any individual or team competition, I hate to lose.

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to spend the day participating in the ‘Singapore Adventure Race’, as part of the SPH and OMY ‘star bloggers’ team. Two of my team mates on that fateful day, were also coincidentally in my Victoria touring group last week – Eunice and Jerome, fellow winners in their respective categories of the 2011 OMY Singapore Blog Awards.

Although both were more than aware of my competitive spirit and my thirst for adrenalin (from our Go-Karting escapades in the Adventure Race – I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve been banned for life at the track in Singapore), Jerome still had no qualms attending Phillip Island along with myself, Eric and Valyn. I suspect that Eunice wised up early that any activities involving a race track, a kart that can hit speeds of up to 65km/h and my historical recklessness in a crash helmet, it would be safest to attend one of the other activities on that day.

The world famous Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit is 4.445km in length and is home to the annual MotoGP. The Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix is one of the premier sporting events on the Aussie Calendar. Riders such as Rossi, Stoner, Pedrosa and Lorenzo are among those who have vied for one of the most sought-after podiums on the world circuit.

So bring in Aussie Pete and the Singapore bloggers!! A brief statistical analysis, Aussie Pete style – Although the MotoGP bikes travel at much greater speeds (up to 320km/h), my mathematics tells me that on an exact replica track of 720 metres (16.2% of the actual GP circuit), to travel at over 20% of the professional motorbike racers’ speeds – pushing myself as fast as the karts will allow, I’m racing up there with the best of them! (double confirmed?) In fact – and remember this is a replica track – the track record for the fastest lap in the MotoGP (when it was broken in 2008 by Casey Stoner) was 1′28.665. My best time to complete a lap was just 0’52.760 – a good 35 seconds faster!!

OK, I know – so maybe I’m having delusions of grandeur and there should be no such statistical correlation between track length and speed – but please indulge me a little bit?

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What I do know, is that there was never any shortage of inspiration. Upon arrival at the Go-Kart track, we were met with a tribute to the Aussie legend that is the late and great ‘King of the Mountain’, Brocky (Peter Brock). My adrenalin levels jumped from 0 to 100 in just a fraction of a second.

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After signing ourselves in, we were directed to the track proper, where we were put into a room to watch a safety video and understand the rules of ‘engagement’. Although I was a little wary given we learned of the various flags to watch out for – I specifically noted the red and black ones… warning for infringements and automatic pit for inappropriate behaviour / driving – I was still closely watching my competitors. There was a winner’s look in Eric’s eyes that I was a little nervous about.

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Donning first our hairnets and all looking a little like staff at Bakerz-In, we were fitted with our helmets, before being shown to our pre-assigned vehicles. Already the competitiveness was coming out – I was crossing my fingers that I would be in the lead kart, which would provide less hassle than having to try to overtake the rest of the field on the first straight. I was not to be disappointed – I was placed at the top of the grid in go kart – ‘lucky for some’ – number (legs) 11.

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BLOGGERS – START YOUR ENGINES!!

And off we go… out of the pits and hitting the straight immediately with my foot flat to the floor, it took no time to reach the maximum speed that the kart would travel (65km/h) and although I did take the advice of the knowledgeable circuit staff and took the first lap a little easier, so as to understand the respective bends and the effect of the damp track on the tyres, the second lap saw me having a level of excitement akin to that of a ‘pig in mud’.

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My first task was to draw in the field. Starting at the front of the grid, it was imperative that if I was to get the liberating feeling of overtaking one of the other bloggers, I would need to reel them in as quickly as humanly possible and actually lap them.

It didn’t take long! Although the whole idea of the race is not who starts and finishes first – the winner is actually the driver with the fastest lap time clocked in the 10-minutes of racing – I couldn’t help myself. First, it was Valyn… taking advantage of her spin-out on the hair pin bend, I swiftly passed by her on about the 2nd or 3rd lap.

Then it was Eric and Jerome in my sights. Perhaps around a lap later, I found myself pulling alongside Eric just before the hair pin, and then accelerated past Jerome on the mini straight at the back of the track – now a full lap ahead of all the other drivers.

Was this good enough?? Bet your bottom dollar it wasn’t!!

How many times could I lap the others? – this was the ‘raised bar’ challenge which I set for myself. In the end, I completed 9 laps in the 10-minutes, with a fastest lap time of 0’52.760. The next fastest lap time was set by Jerome at 1’00.860, who completed 7 laps of the circuit. Third place went to Valyn who, although she completed on lap less than Eric – 6 laps and 7 laps respectively – edged into the bronze standing with a fastest lap time of 1’01.347 and Eric at 1’01.848.

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Based on these numbers, the competition was actually quite ‘hot’ between the three Singaporean ‘Lims’…. Hmmm – no folks, they are not related. All three finished with a fastest lap time within 1 second of each other.

Still shaking with adrenalin and pumped up and ready for more speed, I asked our tour guide and driver, Tony, to throw me the car keys so that I could drive the rest of the way around Phillip Island – I have never heard five people (Wei Ding from OMY included) all shout ‘NO!!’ in unison so loudly. What the!!?? – Don’t trust my driving abilities?? – Or was it, perhaps, the champagne celebrations on the podium later that had everyone so worried about letting me behind the wheel of a real car?

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In all – a brilliant time, which I cannot recommend enough! I cannot wait to go back – absolutely the best go karting experience I’ve had in my entire life!!

More Pictures of our Bloggers Grand Prix Here!

According to the Phillip Island GP website:

“Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit Go Kart Track is over 720mt long and in some places over 8m wide and is based on a scale replica of the 4.445km world famous Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. The smooth curves and super fast straight of this unique go kart track are strung along some of the most breathtaking coastline on the Island with rolling hills, rugged cliffs, and ocean to horizon.

This is your chance to get the feeling that so many past and present champions have had the privilege of. Feel the speed of turn 1, check out the ocean views around southern loop, good passing opportunity into a tight turn 4, sweeping corner around Siberia and the sudden drop off from Lukey Heights into MG corner and back onto the main straight. This scale replica go kart track is the only one like it in Australia and will give you and your friends a go kart experience like no other.”

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Read more here!

Sessions are in 10 min blocks. To enquire about a session simply call the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit Visitor Centre on: (03) 5952 9400.

Public Hire Price Schedule -[Swiss Hutless Karts]:

1x 10 min: $29
2 x 10 min: $53
3 x 10 min: $68

Multiple session prices refer to a single kart (ie. if an individual was to have 1, 2 or 3 sessions)

Age limits and height restrictions apply

Single Karts – minimum 12 years of age and 153cm

Tandem Karts – Child passenger minimum 5 years of age and accompanied

Source: Aussie Pete

Coming Home – Colours of Melbourne (The Arrival)

By Aussie Pete, September 14, 2011 12:19 am

Colours of Melbourne – Part 1

MY HEART was in my throat. I could literally feel the blood coursing through my veins. The air was filled with an atmosphere of both excitement and trepidation that were in direct competition with one another.

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As Jetstar flight number JQ8 from Singapore touched down on the tarmac of the Melbourne International Airport, it was a cool yet beautiful sunny spring day in this, the capital of Australia’s ‘garden state’.

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As we made our way down the concourse of Terminal 2, along with the other nine winners of the 2011 OMY blog awards, I was abuzz with the expectation of the next few days’ coming adventures, spanning the south-eastern parts of the state of Victoria.

Upon stepping out of the terminal and into the fresh breeze, I couldn’t help but notice that there was not a cloud in the sky. Although the weather forecast had indicated overcast and even wet weather, I personally took this as a positive sign of things to come.

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And I was not to be disappointed!

I was actually unsure how I would react or feel returning to the city which I once called home for more than a decade of my (relatively) short existence. However, as the shuttle bus navigated its way along the streets of the CBD to the Citigate Hotel in Flinders Street, it quickly became apparent that although some things seemed slightly different, the majesty of Melbourne had essentially not changed in the past five years since my last visit to what I consider to be one of the most (if not the most) beautiful cities on the face of this earth.

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As I pointed out some familiar landmarks to my fellow travelers, and we discussed such things as the obvious ‘Victorian’ influences on architectural design and the unique inner-city transport that is the ‘tram’, I was once again grateful for the sunny weather, which enabled me to wear my sunglasses to reduce the glare… the shades also covered my emotions, and if anyone else happened to notice the tears welling in my eyes, I would have needed to explain that there must have been some errant pieces of dust collecting in my tear ducts… that would have been my story anyway, and I would’ve stuck to it.

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It is my intention to break the visit down to a series of articles, because the few days which we spent indulging ourselves in the food, the heart-stopping scenery, some breathtaking activities, the lights and sounds and the unique atmosphere of this Mecca of arts and culture, can definitely not be captured and described in one sitting or reading. Furthermore, I managed to take more than 2,000 photographs along the way, so after I filter through to select the ‘best of the best’ I will post just a handful here and will create links to the online photo albums for some of the best snapshots I have ever taken (even if I do say so myself).

Each of the articles will be posted at my Aussie Pete blog, my OMY star blog, and most importantly at our ‘shared’ blog, ‘The Colours of Melbourne’, where each of the travelling bloggers also will be sharing their experiences and personal insights and highlights from this amazing adventure, with sincere thanks to Tourism Victoria who organized our itineraries.

As an aside it is important to mention that, as expected, along with Jerome and Lawrence who I have had the pleasure of travelling with before, I have made some new wonderful friendships with my fellow award-winning bloggers from Singapore and Malaysia… an absolute great bunch of people, all unique and gifted in their own way – from experience, I can tell you that these kind of bonds are not easily broken and I am positive that we will all remain close friends for a long time, with common stories and memories to lean back on.

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Finally – if, dear reader, you enjoy my series of articles covering our Melbourne escapades, there are some wonderful prizes up for grabs for both you and me… simply click on this link and vote for me on the ‘Colours of Melbourne’ website. Voting opens on 15th September and closes on the 5th October. Voters stand to share in Jetstar travel vouchers among other cool prizes.

Click here to view more pictures of ‘The Arrival’

I’m sure I won’t forget to thank our fabulous hosts throughout the upcoming Colours of Melbourne series of articles, but here they are anyway – the very bubbly and knowledgable, Jenny, and the one and only Tony – a gentleman through and through (although he has some dubious tastes in regards to local Melbourne football teams):

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Source: Aussie Pete Legacy Blog

WTH! – I Won At The SG Blog Awards Again!

By Aussie Pete, July 25, 2011 1:43 am

On 23rd July, 2011, the winners of the 2011 OMY Singapore Blog Awards were announced at a star-studded function held at Shanghai Dolly at Clarke Quay in Singapore.

Aussie Pete

As I point out in my interview in the bi-lingual vodcast below, it was both quite humbling and exciting at the same time to have won the top prize in my category for a second year running.

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Up against the most influential and respected bloggers in Singapore as well as across Asia, I was very surprised to be one of the only people to ever have won in back-to-back years in this prestigious competition that has been running for the past four years… it truly is the ‘Academy Awards’ of Asian Social Media.

Shanghai Dolly

Leading up to the event on Saturday, I was not feeling very confident given the high quality of competition this year. Having said that, the winners were determined via public voting (30%), as well as scores given by a panel of 13 professional judges.

According to AsiaOne news website, “Over a period of three months, more than 1000 blogs registered for the Awards and over 70,000 votes were cast to vote for the finalists”.

The judges this year, were Mr Kelvin Tong, movie director; Ms Kuo Jian Hong, Co-Artistic Director of The Theatre Practice; Mr Keith Png, fashion designer; Radio 100.3 deejays, Ah Ken and Anna Lim; Ms. Violet Lim, Founding Director of Lunch Actually and Eteract.com; Mr U-Zyn Chua, CEO of Ping.sg; Mr Samuel Ng, CEO of Marine Parade Family Service Centre; Ms Xiao Han, Director and Lyricist of Funkie Monkies Productions; singers Ms. Tan Diya and Ms. Carrie Yeo; Mr Walter Lim, Director of Strategic Planning, Policy and Marketing Communications ,National Art Gallery; Mr Danny Yeo, theatre practitioner and Mr Low Sze Ping, award-winning photography blogger.

I’m not usually big on acceptance speeches and I know that I might start getting timed-out with music like at the Academy awards, but it would be completely remiss of me not to briefly thank some very special people – so, please allow me to digress for a moment…

Award Acceptance

Firstly, to Alvin, Janet and the team at OMY (way too many of you to name individually, but you know who you are) – you have out-done yourselves in an event that keeps getting bigger and better every year. The environment that OMY has created for bloggers to network, through these awards as well as numerous opportunities for aspiring writers and bloggers to participate in events and competitions is extremely unique. It is no wonder that OMY is the leader of the social networking scene in Asia.

Secondly, to all my readers, subscribers and those who voted for me… both locally and internationally – a large portion of the outcome of the Blog Awards is determined via online voting and I’m sure I could not have won without your support! In fact, it was not discussed much at the ceremony, but when I was with the organizers after the event, I was amazed to discover that I had also walked away with an extra award for achieving a place as one of the five finalists most voted by the public across all of the categories (I’m not sure where I placed – 1st or 5th – it would be interesting to try and find out though).

What The Hell Trio

To the sponsors – WOW!!! Just like the awards ceremony, the prizes just keep getting more huge! The entire process is indebted to your full and ongoing support – as with any achievement recognition, although attaining a place as a winner is enough for many, the prizes and support offered by the sponsors ensure incentive enough for all of the most influential bloggers to participate.

The main sponsors for Singapore Blog Awards 2011 were HTC, Deal.com.sg, Asus, Asia Pacific Breweries’ Get Your Sexy Back, Domino’s Pizza, Tourism Victoria, Jetstar, Adonis and United International Pictures. Other sponsors included Fabrix, 1-Rochester Group, Get Singapore and Night Safari. Publicity partners are Stomp, ST701, Ping.sg, MyBloggerCon and Youth.sg. Venue partners were Shanghai Dolly and Tiger Beer.

Finally… my family! My wife, Sammi, always supports me in all of my endeavours – for this (among other reasons) I love her deeply. Not only is she the one who nominated me this year, she was my number one campaign coordinator… working with my readers and subscribers to rally for votes… communicating through the wide network that is Kaixin (China’s version of Facebook), her efforts were tireless. This is not unique to the Blog Awards either – Sammi is so very tolerant. The hours I put in to my career and ‘day job’, along with the huge hours required by my Grassroots volunteer work and my obsession for everything online (I never have less than a half dozen ’side projects’ going on at any one time) – these things always ensure that I do not sleep on any given week-night before around 4am. Then I get to ’sleep in’ most Saturday mornings to catch up and recover.

Aussie Pete and Sammi

For the Awards event itself, thanks to the GOH, Major-General (NS) Chan Chun Sing, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports and Minister of State, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, for his extremely kind words of his opening speech, in acknowledgement of the work that I do to promote Singapore through my writing locally and abroad as a great place to work, study, live and play. Also for his encouragement for being an active Grassroots leader in my community.

Guest of Honour and Aussie Pete

I would like to finish up with a quick special mention of three other blogger finalists in my category. WTH (What The Hell) can be very broadly interpreted, and each of you has a unique and powerful way of writing – and each of you are truly WTH authors in your own right! I really did think one of you would win the main prize this year.

My other three favourite WTH Bloggers – and good friends!

There really is no need for a title…. / Goh Yong Wei

Yong Wei is a full-time student of ITE, loves eating, never had a girlfriend, hoping to find a rich tai tai

Yong Wei

挑灯夜谈 / Lonely Teacher 寂寞老师

鬼,无处不在;鬼故事,无奇不有。一个有声音的部落格,让嘉宾们和你分享扑朔迷离的亲身经验,让你惊心动魄。你,见鬼了吗?

Willy Wah

Yummy Chrispytine / Chrispytine

Curiosity like a kitten, Google is my best friend on lonely Friday nights. Writing on all things random, when your jaw drops when reading, i have achieved.

Christine

Anyway – Congratulations to all the winners on Saturday – it was well deserved!… and watch this space – there is much more WTH action coming your way on this as well as my OMY Star Blog!!

The Winners

In case you missed it, I have been ‘competing’ with one of my sons this week for the media spotlight. A video I embedded here on this blog of him singing about his love for the National Flag had sparked the attention of journalists from the national Lianhe Wanbao chinese newspaper. This led to an article where they have labelled him as the “4-year old Mixed Kid Internet Superstar” (loosely translated). As you can see from the pictures below, he received more space in the same newspaper (in the same week that I won the blog awards) than I did.

Article about Jaime:

Lianhe Wanbao Jaime Zheng

Article about Me:

Lianhe Wanbao Aussie Pete

A few other press releases and coverage of the Awards (and my back-to-back wins):

http://news.omy.sg/News/Local%2BNews/Story/OMYStory201107232347-262117.html

http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Science%2B%2526%2BTech/Story/A1Story20110723-290655.html

http://www.herworld.com/women-now/people/winners-singapore-blog-awards-2011-revealed

http://blog.omy.sg/sgblogawards/archives/1594

Oh – I forgot to mention that the theme of the awards was ‘History Gets Social’ – and prior to the event, I had agreed to take part in a phot shoot where I was representing Sir Stamford Raffles… when we arrived at Shanghai Dolly, we found a (almost) life size standee of me playing the part… although he was much shorter than me and appeared to be wearing a tonne of make-up, he seems very interested in my wife, don’t you think?

Aussie Pete and Sir Stamford Raffles

Click here for mor photographs of the event

Source: Aussie Pete Legacy Blog

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