Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Speed Dating at the Grand Hotel

“You what?” Deborah couldn’t believe her ears.

“I have a criminal background report from National Crime Check. Do you want to read it?’

This certainly wasn’t what Deborah had expected to hear. Her best friend, Mina, had decided Deb had been alone long enough. She’d been through a nasty break up, well over a year ago, and just hadn’t felt like returning to the dating scene. It’s not that she didn’t want someone, she just felt she couldn’t trust herself anymore. She’d been so convinced Brian was the right guy. He’d said all the right things, he’d done all the right things, he wasn’t hard to look at either. Even her friends thought this one was going to last. But Brian, she later learned, was running from his past.

And that was how she ended up here, at the Grand Hotel in Melbourne on one of their speed-dating nights. It was a great idea for busy people: The girls sat around the outside of the room, each of them with a notepad and pencil. On each page of the notepad was the name of a guy. Every two minutes the guys (each with their own notepads, pencils, and list of names) would change partners and walk to another girl, introduce themselves and get to finding out about each other.

All the guys had pretty much identical approaches: Give their name, ask her name; talk about what they do for a living, ask what she did for a living; then zero in on mutual hobbies. Most of the time Deborah was grateful for the two minute buzzer. She couldn’t wait for each ‘interview’ to be over. But the guy in front of her now had dropped a bombshell!

“You see,” he said to fill her stunned silence, “I figure speed-dating isn’t about finding someone you can like, but finding someone you can trust. You can get to like each other, or not, when you go out on a date. So the problem is, how do you reassure someone you’re trustworthy,” he paused, “in two minutes?” So I got a criminal background check done on myself by National Crime Check. Here’s the report if you want to read it.”

Deborah scanned the offered document. “This could only mean you haven’t been caught yet,” she said warily.

“It’s unlikely. The report is pretty thorough. But it’s certainly better than some guy smiling at you and saying, ‘Trust me.’”

He had a point.

“Well I don’t have a criminal background check,” Deborah said, “how do you know you can trust me?”

“Eight seven percent of legal offenders in Australia are men. As a woman there is a far greater chance of your being law abiding than there is if you were a man.” He looked at Deborah and smiled, “I’ll take that chance.”

The two minute buzzer sounded and Deborah handed back the report. Brian moved to another part of the Grand Hotel‘s function room, to another girl. She gave Brian a score of eight out of ten. He wasn’t the most handsome guy in the room, but he was the most interesting.

Extreme Surfing

big wave nazare

Tow surfing, extreme surfing and big wave surfing are various names to describe the incredibly exhilarating and outrageously risky activity of surfing the biggest, most hazardous waves in the world. The unpredictability of the ocean makes surfing a difficult and onerous sport for any average Joe surfing regular-sized waves. However, some thrill-seekers just don’t get a big enough kick of adrenaline by surfing the boring waves of anything under a tame 10-feet. Extreme surfing involves traveling the world in search of the largest, most impressive and most dangerous swell the globe has to offer. And as a surfer in Portugal proved yesterday, some punters do manage to be courageous and lucky enough to surf these gigantic waves.

Brazilian surfer, Carlos Burle, is believed to have set a new world record for surfing the biggest wave of all time in Portugal yesterday, after traversing his way expertly down 100 foot high swell. The wave appeared just off the coastal town of Praia do Norte, which is about 130km North of the country’s capital, Lisbon. Garret McNamara currently holds the official world record for riding a 78ft wave at the same spot in 2011. Guinness World Records is awaiting an application from Burle to determine if he will hold the new official title of riding the world’s biggest wave.

Burle modestly told Stab Magazine following his emergence from the massive wave, “It was a mix of good timing, fate and all that stuff together”. Although, right placing, right timing and a bit of luck would certainly be of assistance to these surfers in catching these massive waves, we still think you’ve got to have some serious guts to go out in that environment and actually catch a wave on which one singe foot wrong or one off turn could result in concussion or even death.

To highlight the danger of extreme surfing, Burle actually saved the life of fellow Brazilian surfer, Maya Gabeira,  prior to his momentous wave. Burle reveals that seeing his friend almost drown was “the worst situation I have ever faced”. Gabeira got caught inside a giant wave and reportedly disappeared for about five minutes. Burle then saw her floating face down heading for the rocks nearby. He raced over to her, grabbed her and took her to the beach where she was immediately treated with CPR.

Although Gabeira was fine, this dramatic, near-death experience highlights the immense risk extreme surfing entails and the necessity of intense training and effective safety measures when engaging in the sport.

If you find the thrill and excitement of surfing alluring, but aren’t quite ready to face waves the likes of Praia do Norte, never fear because there are much safer and more controlled places to surf that still give you an adrenaline burst. The best way to start is to buy online Elnino Softboards in Australia then head out to your local coastline. Australia has a plethora of ideal beginners surfing spots dotted all over the country, meaning there is no better place to kickstart your hobby. And being an island with never gromending stretches of idyllic beaches, it seems almost cruel not to make the most of Australia’s incredible surf. Try to go to places with relatively small swell to begin with so that you can become accustomed to the tactics and techniques involved with the art of surfing, before moving to the more extreme surfing spots.

The ideal time to start surfing is when you’re still a youngster. With Christmas on the horizon and the weather only getting warmer for the Summer break, there has never been a better time to buy online foam Elnino surfboards in Australia and treat your little one with a perfect gift that will keep on giving for years to come. Check out all the great surfing gear from The Grom to ignite your kid’s passion for the great Australian pastime of surfing.

MS Sydney to the Gong Bike Ride

sydney to gong bike ride
The MS Sydney to the Gong Bike Ride is being held on 3rd November 2013. The event is dedicated to raising much needed funds for people with the chronic and debilitating disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The event has been running since 1980 and involves a 58km or a 90km bike ride through the scenic Royal National Park and Sea Cliff Bridge from Sydney to Wollongong.

The Gong ride is considered the best organised, most respected and spectacular one day community cycle events in Australia. The day is all about experiencing a fulfilling sense of camaraderie, enjoying stunning scenery, getting out and keeping fit and of course acknowledging the importance of continued research for MS.

Over 23,000 Australians are affected by MS, which is a lifelong disease that attacks the central nervous system. The Sydney to the Gong Bike Ride 2013 has set the goal of raising a massive $4.5 million to facilitate scientific discoveries of this largely under-researched disease. The bike ride has raised over $20 million throughout its 32 years of running and continues to exceed its previous fundraising levels each and every year. Each participant is expected to raise at least $250 for their participation in the fundraiser. Yet some teams go above and beyond this level, with the most successful team this year already having raised over $100,000.

The 90km race starts at Sydney Park in St Peters while the 58km course begins at Cooper Street Reserve in Engadine. Both distances finish at Stuart Park at the University of Wollongong. The course meanders through a plethora of parks and reserves and feature spectacular waterfalls and lookouts. There are eight rest stops along the way with water, first aid, toilets and bike mechanics. There are free snacks along the track or  you can also pre-order a lunch to keep your energy reserves up throughout the bike ride.

sydney to gong bike ride2

The MS Sydney to the Gong Bike Ride has worked closely with NSW Police and Roads and Maritime services to minimise traffic congestion and ensure a safe and enjoyable ride for all participants. Anyone from 12 years and up can enter the ride (12-16 years must be accompanied by an adult) for an entry fee starting from just $60.

If you are unable to ride but still want to contribute to this worthy cause, you could volunteer on the day or simply donate now to one of the participating teams or individuals.

Don’t let living outside of the area restrict you from taking part in this worthwhile event. Making the trip to Sydney and staying at a Sydney Hotel is a convenient way for you  to enjoy this unforgettable event while simultaneously providing you with a break and some time away. Giving yourself something to look forward to, which involves the satisfying task of helping others, is well worth a trip to NSW’s capital. Staying at the Royal North Shore Hospital Hotel following the ride, would ensure you experience a relaxing and pampering experience following the arduous charity ride. There is plenty of public transport running to and from the event, at discounted prices, making accommodation at an Urban Hotel Sydney the easiest option.

Horse Racing

horse racing melbourne cup

Thoroughbred horse racing is the third most attended spectator sport in Australia, only after Australian Rules Football and Rugby League. It is also an incredibly popular sport for gambling – in fact during the 2009/2010 season, a massive total of $14.3 billion was wagered on horses with bookmakers and Totalisator Agency Board (TAB).

Thoroughbred racing constitutes an inherently Australian pastime that unites the nation together in a fierce and tense competition. Each race is filled with bated breath and clenched fists as years of breeding and training is put to the test and millions of dollars stands precariously on the line. Every stride of these gallant, impressive animals, each Jockey’s pull of the reigns is observed and analysed with the utmost scrutiny. Horse racing is the architect of intense excitement, utter despair, extreme anxiousness and pure glee – few other events can induce such a huge scope of the human emotions.

Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup is by far the largest and most watched horse racing event in Australia and is even one of the most popular in the world. On the first Tuesday of November each year millions of apprehensive viewers tune in to watch which thoroughbred will stride and gallop their way to become the esteemed claimant of the world renowned Melbourne Cup.

The 153rd Melbourne Cup is taking place at Flemington Racecourse on the 5th November 2013. Be sure to celebrate the entire week of festivities in style and enjoy the range of races and events taking place throughout the week. Whether you immerse yourself in the action by heading to Melbourne and actually going to the races or simply watch and celebrate the event with work colleagues, be sure to prepare yourself for an incredibly nerve-racking race.

Horse Betting

There is a definite albeit intricate art to horse betting, one which once perfected can reap enormous benefits for the better on hand. On the other side, however, horse betting can easily cause significant financial losses if not done correctly. There is free professional horse racing betting systems and tips available to help out those who want to try out this risky but exciting activity for themselves. Regardless of whether you are an amateur looking to learn more about horse race betting or a seasoned punter who is well acquainted with the layout of the land, it is always beneficial to attain expert tips for a horse racing bet to better your chances of winning big. Practical Punting provides specialist advice for all horse betters to significantly improve your chances of feeling pure glee as opposed to utter despair out on the racetrack.

Melbourne’s Wrestleclash – Brawl in the Bierhaus

brawl in the bierhaus

When it comes to outrageous sports, wrestling is a pretty ridiculous concept as is. However, when you have the combination of six of Australia’s top pro-wrestlers, a Bavarian-inspired Oktoberfest theme, beer, dirndls, bratwürst, a no disqualifications round and a women’s round, ridiculous becomes a very tame description.

The main event of Melbourne’s Wrestleclash is a 6 man tag tournament in which the three amigos take on Team Bavaria, consisting of the ferocious Rocky Menero, Slex and Mr Juicy. The event is held in the heart of Melbourne and is the city’s premier sporting, comedy and party event. On 18th October, the unique space of 100 Pound Bend will be transformed into a Bierhaus and play host to some of the most fierce wrestling matches in the country.

The last Wrestleclash on 23rd August was a completely sold out event, which saw an enormous crowd cheering on the victorious Amigos.This tournament saw the some of the strongest and most powerful men and women in the country grappling, dick punching, suicide diving and ‘slexecuting’ their way to the top of the wrestling rink.

Mr Juicy has now recruited two savage allies, who together will be representing the German nation and taking revenge on the masked Mexican amigos with the spirit of Oktoberfest willing them on in their Wrestleclash.

If you too want to have your turn of testing your Oktoberfest spirit with a classic German tradition, why not take on Mr Juicy in the ultimate metre and litre challenge? In this battle of wills (and stomach size) a challenger from the crowd will go head to head with Juicy to determine who can eat a metre of bratwürst sausage and a litre of beer in the quickest amount of time.

With the last Wrestleclash filling out quickly, the next instalment of this entertaining sporting event on 18th October is set to do the same. So be sure to book your ticket for the most exciting celebration of Oktoberfest in the country, today. At just $20 per person and cheaper prices for group bookings, you simply can’t go wrong.

If you’re living outside of Melbourne and want to make the worthwhile trip to Victoria’s capital city for this thrilling Wrestleclash event, check out Swanston Street CBD Melbourne hotel accommodation for a conveniently located room that will allow you to make the most of the intoxicating atmosphere of the Brawl in the Bierhaus. 

Circus Arts in Australia

la soiree

One of the most outrageous sports that has been dramatically increasing in popularity over the last few years, and which is more based on performing than competing, is circus arts. Although the foothold of the circus industry is maintained quite heavily by the internationally renowned production company, Cirque Du Soleil, there are an ever increasing amount of productions giving cirque a run for its money. There are an infinite number of performances and acts available for your entertainment and circus artists are constantly thinking up new and innovative ways to impress and show off their incredible skill.

Circus Productions Currently Touring Australia

There are often a variety of circus shows touring or featuring in Australia at any one time, and right now is no exception. Some of the most renowned companies are congregating in Brisbane this month as part of the very cultural and theatrical Brisbane Festival.

Opus is easily one of the most highly anticipated circus shows of the season. The physically daring, Brisbane-based company, Circa has collaborated with the majestic tunes of France’s renowned Debussy Quartet to create an enthralling display of beauty, grace and physicality that director Yaron Lifschitz believes will make you feel “an emotion that you hopefully didn’t even know you could feel until you saw that work”. Circa has been delighting sold out audiences in over 24 countries, only now just heading home after performing in Berlin and at the Edinburgh Film Festival. The 14 acrobats are thrilled to be returning home for the Australian premiere of Opus, and with one of the largest casts in Circa history this show will prove to be one of the boldest and most ambitious works yet.

La Soiree is another captivating circus performance featuring at the Brisbane Festival. La Soiree is a rather raunchy love-child of daring circus tricks and decadent cabaret that was conceived on a bed of comedy and delivered in the opulent interior of the Spiegeltent. Another must-see circus performances at the Brisbane festival is Urban, the upbeat narrative of the street told by hip-opera circus artists from Colombia and the UK. For an action-packed family favourite featuring the spectacular circus tricks we know and love, Topsy Turvy shouldn’t be missed. Featuring all your favourite acrobatics, aerials, handbalancing, tightwire, hula hoops, magic tricks and big top mischief, this show couldn’t be a disappointment even if it tried.

Solo Circus Artists

As well as the major shows touring the countries, there are also a whole suite of circus performers across Australia that make a living through showing off their incredible agility, strength, flexibility, humour and enchanting on-stage presence.

If you’re a circus or acrobatics performer trying to get gigs in your city, you need to ensure that you find yourself an agent who can find and recommend you for performances and you also need to ensure that you have high-quality video footage that shows off your performance skills. It is a great idea to utilise a professional video productions and video editing company to ensure you have the optimum footage that does your act the most justice in allowing potential clients to get a true sense of your abilities.

Alternatively, if you’re organising an event, you should consider looking for a circus performer to add a bit of extra spice and pizzazz to your function. There are also a range of corporate events management services in Sydney that can help you out with the organisational logistics. Scope Productions is an esteemed video production and event management company that can take all the stress away from you regardless of whether you’re a performer or an events organiser.

AFL Finals Series 2013

AFL 2009 Rd 12 - Carlton v St Kilda

With only six teams left in the AFL finals series, this iconic Aussie sport is heating up to be a truly sizzling finish to what has proven to be one of the most controversial and fierce seasons in the sport’s history. With stakes this high, these Aussie Rules games are producing some of the most incredible skill and talent we’ve witnessed all year. While some players are choking under the immense pressure, others are shining through and proving their worth of representing one of the six best teams of this season.

With a shock victory for the Blues over the Tigers at the elimination finals on the weekend, Carlton will be heading up to Sydney on Saturday night to pit their skills against the Sydney Swans in the semi-finals. The winner of this match will then head over to WA to play Fremantle and determine one of the two teams who will be going head to head in the 2013 AFL Grand Final at the MCG.

The MCG will be hosting the first semi-final this Friday when Port Adelaide and Geelong battle it out to determine who will be versing Hawthorn in the first quarter final the following week, also at the MCG. Then of course the champion team of this match will play for their chance of claiming the title of 2013 AFL Premiers by kicking, marking, hand passing and scoring their way to become ultimately victorious on the 28th September.

If you’re looking to witness the incredible display of strength, skill and agility at any of the electrifying upcoming AFL finals games, head to the official AFL Finals website to get your hands on some before they run out. And if you’re travelling from afar, the best place to stay in Melbourne for either the semi, quarter or grand final game for a convenient, comfortable and close accommodation would easily be Hotel Urban Melbourne, located in St Kilda. What better way to top of the AFL finals series by celebrating the thrilling Grand Final Day in the heart of the action, whilst living in value-for-money style.

Rope Climbing

rope climbing sky

Can you imagine heaving your entire body weight up a hanging, vertical rope that is at least 4 times your body length, with only your arms? Well countless Olympic athletes and rope climbing competitors have more than simply imagined this. They have trained and competed in this arduous activity and climbed up an 8m rope in just a few seconds. Rope climbing was an official Olympic Sport between 1896 and 1932 and it has received a resurgence in popularity in recent years, particularly in Europe.

In 1896, competitors first had to climb ropes 25ft (7.62m) high and 38mm wide, and were able to kick their legs in rhythm in order to increase their speed. However, in the successive games in Europe, the rope was 8m tall and contestants were measured on both their time and style – thus having to hold their legs straight out in an L position. At the top of the climb stood a circular tambourine with lampblack (soot) on its surface. When the rope climber hit this, the several timers below would stop their watches and an accurate time was calculated.

After 1932, when rope climbing was disbanded as an Olympic event, the sport dropped in popularity and scope. In 1993, however, the sport was revived in the Czech republic with the onset of many local and national competitions. Today rope climbing is also highly popular in France and is a feature of the World Police and Fire Games. Rope climbing has also consistently remained a common strength exercise for gymnasts and circus artists to build their upper body strength.

The absolutely breathtaking (probably more for these athletes than us in reality) results of the rope climbing world records demonstrates the brute strength and intense training required for this amazing and incomprehensible sport. Aleš Novák from Czech Republic is the incredible athlete who holds the world record for rope climbing up three various distances. Novák managed to ascend the huge vertical distance of 20m in just 25.85 seconds and in 2010 he proved he could climb up 14m in a mere 14.03 seconds. His fast twitch muscles are demonstrated by his 4.87 second climb up a rope of 8m. Today, rope climbing includes an electronic timing device so you know these phenomenal times are as accurate as they are unbelievable.

Rope climbing has been somewhat resurrected of late, meaning that there are many opportunities for anyone aspiring to do a bit of climbing, from between complete amateurs looking to tone their arms to hardcore climbers wanting to take on Aleš Novák. Rope climbing is a common feature of the highly popular craze, CrossFit, meaning that finding a place to have your go of heaving your body up a hanging rope should probably be easier than the act of actually climbing. So have a look around to see if there are any rope climbing classes or competitions near you.

Cardboard Boat Racing


From a ripe young age, youngsters learn that cardboard and water don’t mix. Whether you be trying to float in the TV box across your backyard pool or you accidentally spill water all over your cereal box or you leave your school project in your pocket before putting it in the wash – everyone knows that water renders cardboard a soggy, irretrievable mess. Yet apparently the founder of cardboard boat racing didn’t keep this age-old law in mind when founding this ridiculous sport. Surprisingly enough, however, corrugated cardboard can actually be quite an effective material to use as a flotation device. Students from universities all over the world as well as keen cardboard boat racers have discovered many a method to keep the cardboard boats afloat throughout four heats of the 200 yard (182.88m) course.

The earliest recorded cardboard boat devices were developed in 1962 by seniors in the design department at Southern Illinois University. Davis Partt gave the his students the challenging task of developing a form of water-borne transportation made out of the corrugated cardboard and other materials that could travel 100ft and which would ensure the keep the user’s clothes dry. The best design was determined by having the lowest score when adding up the amount of time taken to cover the 100ft, the cost of the materials and the weight of the construction relative to the user’s weight. Below is the effective craft that was developed.

The first actual regatta of competing cardboard boats is believed to be in 1987 in Herber Springs, Arkansas, where the World Championship Cardboard Boat Races continues to be held. Together Peggy Reeder, the vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce and Pat Zellmar, owner of the local newspaper, developed an idea for an event on the Greers Ferry Lake that would attract tourists. The competition is also very popular in universities such as Cambridge University and UCLA, and many are conducted to raise money for charities such as Wings of Hope.

Now in it’s 27th year, the annual cardboard boat races in Herber Springs are bigger and more popular than ever, drawing in competitors from all over the United States and even the world. The event has been covered on ESPN, the Discovery Channel, Fox Sports Network and German TV. The cardboard boat races was also awarded with the highly prestigious Henry Award for community development through tourism in 2001. The event generates all year round excitement amongst the local community, as members and businesses set their sights high on creating the optimum cardboard boat.

The 27th World Championship Cardboard Boat Races were just held at the end of July on Sandy Beach in Heber Springs. The fun and popular day features not only the Fleet award for the best boat that can travel the farthest but they also have the Titanic Award, given to the team with the most dramatic sinking. So whether you’re an engineering genius, are just looking for a fun excuse to visit Arkansas, or want to disprove your childhood conceptions of cardboard and water, why not give cardboard boat racing a go?

Now is the perfect time to start planning for the competition next year so apply or checkout the boat building information to set your boat building afloat now.

Bull Riding

bull riding

Although many may think that outrageous sports constitute only ridiculous, far-off and unimaginable sports that most people have never heard of, in reality awareness or popularity of a particular sport by no means reduces its outrageousness. One such example of a completely ridiculous yet well-known past-time is bull riding.

Just think about it. Men jumping straddling a wild, angry beast and attempting to hold on with a single piece of rope while the bull bucks, twists, rears, kicks and does almost everything in its power to knock the rider off. After sitting atop the bull and holding on for dear life for at least eight seconds, the rider bucks off  or dismounts the animal (although that sounds a little too elegant).  They then must hope that the bullfighter or rodeo clown can successfully distract the bull, to prevent it from stomping himself to death. Sound a tad outrageous? Yeah we thought so.


The activity of taming the bull has roots as far back as Minoan culture, yet bull riding has history in Mexican culture in traditional contests of equestrian and ranching, now known as charreada. In the 16th century a bull riding practice called jaripeo developed. Originally considered a form of bull fighting, this practice involved attempting to ride the bull to death. This then evolved into riding the bull until it stopped bucking, and eventually the forms become tamer until bull riding was born. The sport branched out to American states such as Texas and California as well as Canada. The founding of a bull riding association, today known as Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), in 1936 was a turning point for the sport, bringing it into mainstream  culture. Today, bull riding is popular in Mexico, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia.

Becoming A Bull Rider

If you’re looking to join in on the fun of the wacky yet exciting sport of bull riding, it’s actually not as hard as you think. You must be at least 18 years of age to sign up and purchase a Professional Bull Rider membership in Australia. This will allow you to enter touring pro and sanctioned events. After you earn over $2,380.73 (and maintain it) you will then upgrade from permit to cardholder status, which enables you to take part in Cup Series and eventually even the Built Ford Tough Series. There is also a variety of schools that you can visit to improve your skills and assist you in working your way towards higher tournaments.