Food and Drinks

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5 unmissable features at this year’s Noosa Food & Wine Festival

By Australia / Brisbane / Gold Coast / Queensland /

The Noosa Food & Wine 2016 is on again with more than 30 fantastic events showcasing some of Australia’s best chefs in beautiful locations throughout Noosa from May 20 to 22.

With almost 50 chefs from around Australia and Noosa’s own restaurants featured in the program, along with more than 20 wineries, events will take place under the Noosa Tipi on Main Beach, in Hastings Street for a long lunch, by the Noosa River in Noosaville and in signature restaurants throughout Noosa. Guest chefs include Pete Evans, Ben O’Donoghue, Luke Mangan and Matt Golinski and more from some of Australia’s best restaurants including Nu Nu, Fish House, Gerard’s Bistro,  European, Stokehouse and Harrison’s.

So what are the highlights of an action-packed program? It’s a tough call, but here are 5 to mark down as tasty treats.

Friday 20 May, 5-7pm, $45
Noosa Main Beach sets the scene for a wonderful weekend of food, wine and lifestyle. Join acclaimed chefs Pete Evans, Peter Kuruvita, Shane Bailey, Ben Bertei and Sammy and Bella from MKR and others under the Noosa Tipi, right on the beach, for a cocktail party with light canapés and drinks.

Saturday 21 May, 12.15-2.30pm, $85
Dig in to the long lunch on Noosa’s famous Hastings Street with some of Noosa’s favourite restaurants taking part in the Noosa Street Feast. The 2-course lunch will be accompanied by wines and beer by Asahi. Choose your favourite restaurants from: aromas, Boardwalk Bistro on Hastings, Bistro C, Gaston, Locale, Miss Moneypenny’s, Noosa Beach House, Rococo or Season.

Saturday 21 May, 12.00-5.00pm, free entry
Enjoy wine tastings from 22 of Australia’s best wineries at the Wine Tasting Quarter. Purchase a token for $3 for 3 tastings or $6 token for 6 tastings or a glass.

Sunday 22 May, 11.30am-4.30pm, $15.00 entry
The Noosa River shores will come to life when Noosa Boathouse presents a celebration of Australian beef and live music from Sunshine Coast music legend Carl Wockner and powerhouse band Honey. Renowned chefs Matt Golinski, Alastair McLeod, Sunny Gilbert and Shane Bailey with Sammy and Bella from MKR will serve up their favourite sirloin dishes along with Stone & Wood craft beers and selected great Australian wines. Come and enjoy a fantastic day of food, beer and wine on the Noosa River at Lions Park in Noosaville.

Sunday 22 May, 5.00-8.30pm, $65.00
You’re invited to dine under a full moon on the beach for the finale of Noosa Food & Wine 2016 with an Asian Hawker style feast presented by Ben Bertei, Hajime Horiguchi and Hamish Ingham, with local culinary talent from Embassy XO, Spirit House and Junk. Featuring modern Asian influences, move between tasting stations full of flavour. Wines by Treasury Estate Wines and beers by Asahi.

For the full program, and to purchase event tickets see



5 great foodie events to look forward to around Sydney

By Australia / Sydney /

Sydney has a great reputation for its food and wine festivals, with many people travelling from across the country just to experience these top food events every year.

Here are five Sydney foodie festivals to look forward to.

Merivale Food and Wine Festival
Merivale Food and Wine Festival is a month-long extravaganza of food and drink events – could you ask for anything better? Throughout March, you can attend exquisite lunches, dinners, wine tastings, food markets and cooking classes. There are also chef competitions to entertain, with each event offering a quirky theme.

Thailand Grand Festival
This incredible event started off as a small, simple food fair 20 years ago. It’s since morphed into a Grand Festival, held for a couple of days every March, to give Sydney residents a taste of Thailand. You’ll get to discover all of the delicious flavours used in Thai cuisine and attend cooking demos, while admiring traditional Thai performances. You’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve travelled to Thailand for the day!

Taste of Sydney
Taste of Sydney is the main event on Sydney’s dining calendar. This year’s festival returns at Centennial Park between March 10 and 13. Choose from more than 60 tasting dishes created by Sydney’s best restaurants and mingle with award-winning chefs (see if you can figure out some of their secret tricks!) You can also attend masterclasses and enjoy some live entertainment in the beautiful park.

Taste of Orange Food and Wine Festival
This wonderful festival merges the country with the coast to showcase the high quality wine and produce coming out of the Orange and Cabbone regions. It’s part of the Watsons Bay Food and Wine Festival in Robertson Park, which is held in May. There’s no doubt you’ll discover unforgettable flavours of wine and food at this festival.

Bankstown Bites
With its reputation as one of Sydney’s most loved food festivals, Bankstown Bites should be marked on every foodies calendar. Its guided food tours, cooking demos and diverse food stalls attract more than 10,000 people each year. Aromas of spices fill the air and dishes come from all corners of the globe, including Africa, Asia and the Middle East.



5 great foodie events to look forward to in Melbourne

By Australia / Melbourne /

Melbourne is arguable one of the best cities in the world for foodies! With a bustling restaurant and café culture with chefs cooking up delights from all over the world, it’s not surprising at all to learn that the city hosts dozens of exciting food festivals each year.

Here are five great Melbourne foodie events to look forward to.

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
One of Melbourne’s biggest events of the year is the Food and Wine Festival, attracting thousands of people to the Australia’s culinary capital. The 2016 festival runs for 10 days in March, when people will gather at various venues to sample provincial flavours. There are also cooking masterclasses, wine tastings at some of the state’s best vineyards and free entertainment.

Night Noodle Market
The Night Noodle Market, held in November, is just getting bigger and better (and tastier!) each year! Pop up food stalls light up the banks of the Yarra River at Birrarung Marr, as thousands gather to sample noodle and dumpling dishes from all over the world. The flavours on offer are interesting and unique – make sure you get in early to avoid queues if you want to try them all!

International Street Food Festival
Between March 19-20 at the Catani Gardens on the St Kilda Foreshore is one of Australia’s most exciting international food festivals. This joyful and multicultural celebration has 45 different world cuisines to sample, meaning you’ll be able to pick up everything from pasta, to churros to stir-fry and anything else you can imagine!

The Natural and Organic Supershow
This event is all about natural, pure and healthy ingredients. It’s Australia’s only natural and organic supershow, and is held over the Labour Day long weekend each year. Sample and take home products that are full of goodness, taste and are often environmentally friendly. It’s the ultimate food event for any vegan or vegetarian.

Johnston Street Festival
Head to Fitzroy in November to witness Melbourne’s Hispanic community take over Johnston Street. The two-day festival celebrates one-thousand years of Spanish food and culture. Roads are blocked off to make way for food stalls selling jugs of sangria, sizzling pans of paella and hot churros. The festival is brought to life with Spanish dancing and entertainment all afternoon and into the night.


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Five great apps for life on the road

By Australia /

Life on the road can be stressful and difficult at times, especially if you find it difficult to plan ahead and organise what you’re doing. But this can all be fixed. Download these five great apps to turn your road trip into the easiest and most enjoyable holiday yet!

Petrol Spy Australia
Search for petrol prices across Australia’s capital cities. Other app users report petrol prices using this app, so you can compare prices at each fuel station in any postcode. It’s always nice if you return the favour and update fuel prices to help the next traveller. Doing so could also score you some freebies –  there’s a chance to win a $25 fuel voucher every second day!

WorldMate makes your holiday smoother and a lot easier to track where you’re meant to be next. Whenever you receive email confirmation for flights, hotels, restaurant bookings, hire cars, etc. simply forward the emails to The app then instantly generates your itinerary, which you can access easily at any time.

Have you ever been on holiday, planned an awesome day out and then arrived to find that you have to cancel plans because of bad weather? Well, WeatherPro will stop this from happening again. It offers weather reports for more than two million geographical locations, and even includes wind speed and humidity. This app is particularly helpful for outdoor and adventurous activities, which are weather-dependent.

Restaurant Finder
Australia, the USA, Canada, Europe and Malaysia are just some of the countries where users can access Restaurant Finder. The app uses your current location to suggest restaurants nearby. It also features extensive reviews for each restaurant. It will even alert you to nearby grocery stores if there aren’t any bars or restaurants nearby.

Kayak compares hundreds of travel sites to find the best deals on hotels, flights and hire cars. The app also has an itinerary management feature and a flight tracker. Kayak also has a feature that allows you to look up airport information, baggage fees and airline numbers. However, perhaps the best and most cost-saving feature is the price alert feature, which alerts you when the flights to your destination suddenly drop in price.


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5 things to do near McLaren Vale, South Australia

By Australia / South Australia /

McLaren Vale and the surrounding area is easily one of the most charming regions in all of South Australia. This wine region is located approximately 35km south of Adelaide, and is home to many gorgeous wineries, beaches and towns.

Here are five things to visit near McLaren Vale.

Primo Estate (pictured)
This family owned winery is the home of JOSEPH wine and olive oil. Primo Estate produces a unique range of wines, which the owners say reflect their Italian heritage. Decades upon decades of family members have been creating these exquisite wines since Primo Grilli arrived in Australia and planted the family’s first vineyard in 1973. It’s since expanded, with visitors to McLaren Vale now being treated to ‘la dolce vita, Australian style’.

Off road 4wd tour
Journey through the magnificent Fleurieu Peninsula with Off Piste 4WD Tours. It’s a 40-minute drive, which leaves from central Adelaide and takes you to hard-to-reach and mostly unknown places along the peninsula. Tour itineraries take you on an adventure through the McLaren Vale wine region, the mouth of the Murray River and National Parks.

Shiraz Trail
The Shiraz Trail runs from McLaren Vale to Willunga, and is part of a 35km trail which begins at Marino Rocks and continues south along an old railway corridor. The 8km Shiraz Trail is flat and very scenic, treating walkers and cyclists to a landscape of wineries and vineyards. All you need to do is go to a visitor information centre to get your hands on a map and put on your walking shoes, or alternatively hire a bike.

Aldinga Beach
Aldinga Beach offers sights of fabulous cliff scenery and a long stretch of sandy coast. People travel from all over Australia to fish, surf and swim at this beautiful beach. Walk along the boardwalk to admire the landscape at sunrise or sunset. You can also go horseriding along the beach, or drive onto certain sections of the sand and relax with the family.

Port Willunga
Port Willunga is home to trendy seaside restaurants and a beautiful beach. It also contains one of South Australia’s most famous shipwrecks, Star of Greece. A fierce storm caused the ship to run aground in 1888, which led to the incident becoming known as one of the state’s worst maritime disasters. Scuba divers and snorkelers now frequent the site, and at low tide you can spot the shipwreck from the jetty.



8 great things to do in Melbourne this March

By Australia / Melbourne / Victoria /

The Visit Victoria gang tells us it’s well worth thinking about a whopping March in Melbourne for 31 days of fashion, flowers, food, fast cars and world class festivities as the city plays host to multiple major events.

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
Now in its 24th year, the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (4 – 13 March) offers a smorgasbord of culinary events. From masterclasses and workshops with the pros, to food trails for the curious and the ever-popular World’s Longest Lunch (which this year will be held on the 2016 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix track), there is an experience for novices and gastronomists alike. The festival hub, at Southbank’s Queensbridge Square, will take the shape of an Urban Dairy, where a selection of the world’s finest cheese, yoghurt and ice-cream makers will produce their signature items. This is just one of many events that will form part of River Graze, with a plethora of culinary delights, free entertainment and regional flavours along the banks of the Yarra River – all feeding into the overall theme, ‘Sense of Place’.

Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival
Australia’s largest and longest running public fashion event, the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF, 7 – 13 March) is set to rock the socks off fashionistas all over town when it returns for its 20th incarnation. The festival will showcase more than 100 established and emerging designers within the grandeur of its new location – the heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building – where, in another VAMFF first, three runway shows will be staged on one night. A true feast for the senses, the festival presents stylish, week-long entertainment including world-class runway shows, beauty workshops, industry seminars, forums and live entertainment. Upping the ante on its always-outstanding fashion offer, this year the festival presents a month-long Cultural Program of more than 70 free and ticketed activities and events (13 February – 13 March) across Melbourne, regional Victoria and online. Highlights of the program include 200 Years of Australian Fashion at the National Gallery of Victoria (5 March – 31 July 16) and Bendigo Art Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox present Marilyn Monroe 5 March – 10 July).

Matilda The Musical
Matilda The Musical (previews commence 13 March) is the award-winning musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, inspired by the children’s book Matilda written by Roald Dahl. With original songs by Tim Minchin, it will be performed at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre. Witty dialogue, catchy songs, quirky characters and a spectacular stage design ensure Matilda The Musical will be enjoyed by the whole family.

Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show
The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (16 – 20 March) is the biggest annual flower and garden show in the Southern Hemisphere and is set to return with an explosion of colour for its 20th year. Australia’s top floral and landscape designers unite to create stunning floral displays in the world-heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens and share their new and innovative garden ideas. An extensive array of garden and floral retail products will be available, including rare and unusual plants, alongside a selection of food and entertainment.

2016 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix
The Albert Park Lake circuit will celebrate 21 years of high-octane thrills in Melbourne when it plays host to the 2016 Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix (17 – 20 March). The fastest cars, hottest celebrities and latest technology from around the globe make Melbourne home for four days of breathtaking action, on and off the track. As well as watching the world’s best drivers zoom around the circuit, the crowd can enjoy live music, stunt performances, street art and a dedicated kids’ corner. Entry to General Admission areas is free for kids aged 12 and under, making for a good-value family day out. With St Kilda and the city both just minutes away, motorsports fans can keep the festivities going at any number of bars, eateries and live music venues.

Jurassic World Prehistoric dinosaurs will be brought to life at Melbourne Museum for the world premiere of Jurassic World: The Exhibition (19 March – 9 October). Based on Universal Pictures’ blockbuster film, this immersive exhibition offers encounters with realistic, life-sized animatronic dinosaurs inspired by the film and created in close collaboration with renowned palaeontologist Jack Horner. The exhibition is infused with interactive educational elements, drawn from the real-world science of dinosaur DNA including ‘The Hammond Creation Lab’. Visitors can come face-to-face with a life-like Pachyrhinosaurus, be amazed by a towering Brachiosaurus and take a close-up look at the most vicious dinosaur of them all, the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival (23 March – 17 April) celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2016 with a rip-roaring and diverse line up of international and Australian comedy, cabaret, street performances, theatre and visual arts. With a hilarious line-up of world class acts, visitors are invited to see for themselves why Melbourne has become one of the world’s three biggest comedy festivals (with Edinburgh and Montreal). Artists set to tickle collective funny bones around the city include David O’Doherty, Arj Barker, Celia Pacquola, Hannah Gadsby, Judith Lucy, Tommy Little, Tripod, Ali McGregor, Charlie Pickering and Fiona O’Loughlin. To celebrate 30 years, the Melbourne Comedy Festival in conjunction with Arts Centre Melbourne, is presenting a major exhibition showcasing the life of the festival, from the 1987 launch with Peter Cook and Sir Les Patterson through to Deadly Funny – the only dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander comedy program.

Rip Curl Pro Australia’s surfing capital, Torquay (located at the start of the Great Ocean Road), will again welcome the world’s best surfers to its famous breaks at Bells Beach when the 55th Rip Curl Pro (25 March – 5 April) hits town. Surf’s up for the World Surf League’s top ranked surfers who carve up the waves and compete for the prized Bell – one of the most sought after trophies in surfing. Along with the action in the water, there will be plenty happening on land for fans, visitors and surfers alike, between the famous Bells contest site, the local pubs and legendary parties around town.

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5 ways to eat like a king in Auckland

By Auckland / New Zealand /

Heading to Auckland, New Zealand but want to know where to find some of the best places to eat?

Here are five eateries in Auckland where you can eat like a king.

Kazuya (pictured)
Kazuya is one-of-a-kind, offering European cuisine with Japanese influence. Chefs use low temperature to roast meat over several hours, while fish is prepared using traditional Japanese methods. The restaurant is famous for its evening degustation menus. Here, you can pick up a main for $35, or add on another $10 to bring it up to three courses.

The French Café
The French Café was born out of a partnership between Simon Wright and his wife, Creghan. Their menu is “driven by the seasons” while passion for providing an outstanding meal is what drives the chefs to produce the finest food. This gorgeous café on Symonds St, Aucland consistently wins awards and ranks among the best restaurants, according to international and domestic food experts.

Vinnies by Geoff Scott
Geoff Scott uses a unique combination of French cooking techniques along with indigenous and classic Kiwi flavours to create ‘Haute Kiwi’ cuisine for diners. Native timbers, raw steel, spot lit tables and ever-changing local artwork decorate the restaurant. Its delicious menu changes regularly, but one of the drawcards for locals and visitors alike is the restaurant’s extensive selection of whiskeys available at the back bar.

Jervois Steakhouse
For one of the best steaks in New Zealand, meat-lovers should head to Jervois Steakhouse in Ponsonby. Staff have described it as “the steakhouse to end all arguments”. This premium steak restaurant uses fresh local cuts, with the menu specifying the meat’s breed and feed.

Described as “Auckland’s finest country restaurant” with great food and sweeping views of the Bombay Hills countryside, Bracu is located just 40 minutes from central Auckland. Set on the Simunovich Olive Estate, chefs grow food in the estate’s gardens and serve up scrumptious Mediterranean style food on the restaurant’s beautiful veranda.



6 reasons to holiday in Lake Macquarie this year

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

Home to undiscovered gems, the largest coastal salt-water lake in the country and 30km of pristine coastline, Lake Macquarie is one of Australia’s east coast’s hidden treasures. Just 90 minutes from Sydney, it has something for everyone, whether you’re an outdoors type, history buff, or simply seeking relaxation. The Visit Lake Mac team have given us six key themes to put Lake Macquarie at the top of your domestic holiday list.

With nature reserves galore there’s no better way to explore Lake Macquarie than to don the hiking boots and hit the walking trails, with tracks taking in views of the beach and the bush, through to lush rainforest and waterfalls. Top choices include: Boarding House Dam in the Watagan Mountains – A cool rainforest bushwalk leads to a pretty waterfall along an easy pathway, featuring a 110 metre long moss covered rock wall (650m return) Or, for something more difficult, check out the Gap Creek Falls trail, with the spectacular Gap Creek Falls (1.5km return). Wallarah Peninsular Track – stretching from the Lake to the ocean this scenic track takes in bushland as well as the cool Palm Gully rainforest, with a number of side trips leading to local hideaways such as Spoon Rocks Spit and Pinny’s Headland (8km one way). Ken and Audrey Owens Walk – A gorgeous four kilometre network of pathways, boardwalks, wetland bridges and whale observation platforms that wind through sand dunes and restored bushland, with views over Redhead beach and Webb Park. (4km return).

With 30km of unspoilt coastline and a central lake twice the size of Sydney Harbour, Lake Macquarie is a hotbed of water-based action (cruise, jet-ski, wakeboard, fish, sail) for all ages. Highlights include: Kayaking at Swinging Bridge Dora Creek – a terrific secret kayaking destination, the trail heads upstream taking in eagle’s nests, lizards, waterbirds and of course, the picturesque swinging bridge.  Lake Mac Kayak & Bike Hire can deliver kayaks directly to your accommodation, or start point. Boating – whether by boat, jet-ski, yacht, catamaran or kayak, there are so many sandy inlets and coves to discover. Bring your own, or hire a BBQ or speed boat Jet Buzz at Cams Wharf. Jet boating with Jet Buzz – If its thrills and spills you are seeking head directly to Jet Buzz, get the heart racing with a Lake Thrill ride, or head out beyond the channel on the Ocean Extreme.

Lake Macquarie’s coastline is as diverse as it is delightful, boasting sandy beaches alongside secluded coves, each with their own iconic features:
Caves Beach – a firm favourite for locals and tourists, with tidal sea caves and rock pools, as well as some top notch surf breaks. Redhead Beach – renowned for its red rocky headland, iconic shark tower and timber boardwalk this pretty beach features its very own café – located moments from the sand. Blacksmiths Beach – the calm conditions at Blacksmiths make it a popular spot for both families and ocean swimmers – be sure to watch out for sandcastles!

For a scenic way to explore the region, jump on a bike and enjoy the plethora of pathways catering for all ages, abilities and timeframes – and with plenty of hire options available there’s no need to bring your own. Both Lake Mac Kayak & Bike Hire and Boomerang Bike Hire can deliver bikes directly to your location. Warners Bay Foreshore – Enjoy a ride along the water’s edge, taking in panoramic lake views and enjoy the elevated over-water Redbluff Boardwalk. With a Boomerang Bike Hire station located along the foreshore riders can simply meander, or enjoy a longer ride. Fernleigh Track (Belmont to Adamstown) – follow a historic rail corridor through bushlands, wetlands and suburbia – one of the best-known, and most varied, pathways in the area (15km). Wangi Wangi – check out the yachts, sailboats, birdlife and keep an eye out for turtles as you make a leisurely trip around Wangi Bay (1.4km).

An abundance of land dedicated to open space and conservation makes Lake Macquarie perfect for picnickers, with plenty of spots featuring a variety of facilities and vistas.
Morisset Picnic Area – get back to nature, and spend lunch with one of Australia’s most iconic animals – here, dozens of roos are just waiting for visitors to come and give them a gentle pat.  The park boasts a large grassy area, a barbeque area as well as lovely views across the lake. Speers Point Park – enjoy a barbeque or picnic on the shore of the Lake, and let the kids run wild on the state of the art variety playground – featuring a flying fox, water play and a bike circuit with two intersecting tracks. Pelican Foreshore Reserve – loved amongst locals, this picnic spot features expanses of shady grass, sheltered tables, barbeques and a play area. Take in the relaxing atmosphere, or throw in a line off the small fishing jetty.

Historical Hotspots
This vast area is home to some unique Australian history, with something to suit almost any culture seeker. highlights include:
Dobell House – a unique opportunity to visit the home and studio of one of Australia’s most prominent artists –  Sir William Dobell. Volunteers run tours from 1pm – 4pm on Weekends and Public Holidays. Catherine Hill Bay – this historical coal mining town remains relatively unchanged since its former working days, featuring uniform rows of miners’ cottages and historic rail jetty stretching over the beach and out to sea. Free Heritage Walking Trail guides are available at the Lake Macquarie Visitors Centre. Rathmines –used as an important Catalina Sea Plane base during World War II, Rathmines is jam packed with history. Take a walk around Rathmines Park, or join a free tour with Friends of Rathmines (1.5 – 3.5 hour tours, dates and times vary. Contact 02 4975 1973 or

To book your 2016 trip to Lake Macquarie, go to Visit Lake Mac or call 1800 802 044.


Five unmissable chocolate factories in Melbourne and surrounds

By Australia / Melbourne / Victoria /

THEY say woman rated chocolate higher than sex in a recent survey (Women’s Health Mag) giving a whole new meaning to the saying “I’ll have what she’s having”.  The humble cocoa bean clearly isn’t just a pretty face!

So where best to experience this love affair with the converted cocoa bean? A chocolate factory, of course, and there are plenty around Melbourne that must be on your hit-list. Try these.

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery

35 Old Healesville Road, Yarra Glen

Head out Old Healesville Road in the Yarra Valley and you’ll stumble across this gem at which free tastings are in abundance. Best of all it’s only an hour from Melbourne’s CBD and set amidst one of the state’s premier wine regions. The bonus? Ice creamery as well! Skilled European chocolatiers craft more than 200 varieties of chocolates, there’s a cool cafe inside and the kids can run off all that extra energy on the games area and expansive lawn.

Pink Lady Chocolates

13 Hume Street, Huntingdale

Since 1938 this icon of the chocolate world has been hand blending “exceptional ingredients” to perfect their “superfine chocolates”. Pink Lady chocolates are renowned for going hand in hand with a night out at the theatre way back in the day and their reputation for premium products still stands strong today. From handmade cream truffles to twist selections to their famous tablets and hearts, a drive to Huntingdale is well worth it to snap up some bargains.

Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

930 Phillip Island Road, Newhaven

It’s a cruisy 90-minute drive from the Melbourne CBD, but one well worth it. Phillip Island Chocolate Factory is one like no other: beautiful milk chocolates blended to perfection, a great little tour – Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate for about $15 and loads of fun games and interactive features including a gorgeous chocolate fountain and chocolate making line where you can whip up a chocky treat in your own special way. There is more chocolate than you can imagine including other treats such as a choc dipped bananas, ginger, honey and amazing rocky road. Pannys café sells the most amazing meals, drinks and snacks, all with a chocolate theme.

The Chocolate Garden

55 Hallam Road, Hampton Park

Head east for the hills and you’ll stumble upon beautiful Dandenong Chocolate Factory now known as The Chocolate Garden. The family owned business has been servicing Melbourne clients with scrumptious chocolate treats for the past 30 years. They have a large range of personalised gifts including chocolate bouquets, hampers, and wedding, baby, birthday and occasion bonbonnieres.


11 Strathalbyn Street, Kew East

A shop rather than a choc factory, pronounced sho-KO-la-tl, this is the Aztec word for chocolate and for more than 10 years Christos Partsiogloui and family have served up Belgium-style chocolate truffles filled with beautiful combinations including balsamic strawberry at their chocolate cafes. Bon Bons, blocks, bars and even healthy options are all the rage here and keep locals and visitors coming back for more.


Twitter #scottpodmore

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Seven great eateries in Christchurch

By Christchurch / New Zealand /

Christchurch is the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island. It’s home to beautiful gardens, historic buildings, incredible scenery – and also diverse cafes and restaurants.

Grab one of DriveNow’s great Christchurch car rental deals, and explore these seven great eateries.

Christchurch Tramway Restaurant
Jump on board a luxurious colonial-style dining tram and dine in style. The Christchurch Tramway Restaurant boasts the finest cuisine and beverages New Zealand has to offer. You’ll enjoy a superb meal in comfort, while admiring the city’s historic buildings and scenic surroundings.

Pedro’s House of Lamb
Lamb lovers’ mouths start to water the second they step foot in Pedro’s House of Lamb. The Spanish restaurant slowly cooks a tender whole lamb shoulder over five hours, keeping the meat moist and ready to melt in your mouth. The lamb is seasoned with garlic and rosemary and served with scalloped potatoes. Foodies regularly say it’s one of the best roasts in all of Christchurch.

The Old Vicarage
The stunning 1898 villa houses the Vicarage Bar and Restaurant, which features beautiful rooms for dining and an alfresco garden courtyard. Pork belly with sea salt crackling is among diners’ favourite dishes. You can also pick up a boutique beer or some divine wine at the stylish bar.

King of Snake
This high-end Asian restaurant offers three courses, served with amazing local wines. King of Snake is the brainchild of Tony Astles, who is commonly referred to as ‘the godfather of fine dining’. If that’s not enough to impress you, then perhaps the restaurant’s dark interior and great bar will convince you to give this place a go.

Cook ‘n’ with Gas
Modern New Zealand cuisine is served in an 1860s villa, This multi-award winning bistro is one of Christchurch’s most talked about food venues. To compliment your meal, which is made from local produce, you can choose from a list of more than 200 national beers and wines.

Pegasus Bay Winery
This family-owned winery sits within the Waipara Valley, where ripe, high quality grapes full of flavour are produced. Pegasus Bay Winery uses home-grown, seasonal ingredients to offer a superb food experience, with chefs creating the menu around its fine wine list.

The Lotus Heart Vegetarian Restaurant
Clean and healthy living is at the heart of this vegetarian restaurant. The Lotus menu is served inside a unique temple-like exterior. You’ll be treated to south Indian dishes, including lentil and rice dosa crepe filled with potato masala. With many delicious flavours on offer, you’ll also have access to smoothies made from healthy and superfood ingredients.



Five exciting adventures in Queenstown

By New Zealand / Queenstown /

Beautiful Queenstown, which is famous for its adrenaline based activities, is one of New Zealand’s must-see destinations. Grab a DriveNow hire car from Queenstown Airport, and use your set of wheels to explore some of the amazing things Queenstown has to offer, including bungy jumping and memorable hiking trails.

Bungy jumping
No visit to the Adventure Capital of the World is complete without a bungy jump! Queenstown is home to the world’s first commercially operated Bungy Jumping site , which was launched in 1988. There’s nothing like the exhilarating experience of jumping off the historic Kawarau Bridge, which will have your adrenaline pumping the entire time.

Gibbston Valley Wineries
Drive through the Gibbston Valley, which has become known as the ‘Valley of the Vines’. It’s one of the country’s most scenic wine growing areas, with vineyards locked between the rocky Kawarau River gorge and rugged mountain ranges. The hot dry summers and cool winters help create superb wines, with most of the region producing exquisite pinot noir.

Walking tracks
Queenstown is a hiker’s paradise. There are several short but scenic walks, which begin in the heart of town. But if you’re willing to drive a short distance to reach the iconic Mount Aspiring and Fiordland national parks, you’ll be amazed at the walking trails that await. There’s the amazing Greenstone Trail, which offers vast landscape views of valleys and mountains. Take the trek yourself, or organise to join a guided tour.

Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand’s third largest lake, and is surrounded by rugged, snow-capped mountains. Take a cruise along the lake in a vintage steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, to admire the panoramic views. Visit nearby villages, such as Kingston and Glenorchy. But if you’re after something more intimate, why not hire a boat and go fishing? Better yet, simply go for a swim and relax afterwards on the shore.

Bob’s Peak
Enjoy amazing views as a gondola carries you 450 metres above Queenstown to the top of Bob’s Peak. On the other hand, you could take the one hour hike through pine forests along the Tiki Trail to reach the top. It doesn’t matter how you get to Bob’s Peak, only the fact that you make it there, because spectacular views of the Remarkables mountain range, Coronet Peak and the pristine waters of Lake Wakatipu await, and they’re priceless.



Tantalising Tasmania – 5 delectable food experiences in the Apple Isle

By Australia / Tasmania /

Tasmania has amazing food experiences to satisfy every visitor, whether it’s dairy and meat you’re after, or the freshest produce and seafood. The ‘Apple Isle’ is a delectable food bowl waiting to be explored.

Here are five of Tasmania’s best food experiences, which will tantalise your taste buds. 

The Honey Farm, Chudleigh

Nestled under the Great Western Tiers mountain range, The Honey Farm takes you into the world of the honeybee. You’d be surprised by how many different types exist. There’s more than 50 different honeys to taste, including single origin honeys, such as Tasmanian Leatherwood, or gourmet honeys such as Honey Chocolate Paste. You’ll also get to see the honeybees busy at work through a glass beehive!

King Island Dairy

Specialty cheese and dairy lovers unite! King Island Dairy, which was founded in the early 1900s, produces award winning soft white, blue vein and cheddar cheese. You could spend an entire day sampling the delicious cheeses created on this rugged, isolated and scenic island, surrounded by raging seas.

Home Hill Winery Restaurant, Huon Valley (pictured)

This restaurant is renowned for breathtaking views over Mount Wellington and the surrounding sweeping hills. However, its locally grown ingredients is what hooks diners in. Home Hill Winery Restaurant features a modern Australian menu, which offers scrumptious meals that come straight from the surrounding paddocks or fresh out of the nearby waterways.

Richmond Tasting House

Described as one of Southern Tasmania’s “jewels”, the Richmond Tasting House is located in the heartland of Tasmania’s winery district. In this area, which was once a convict station that linked Hobart with Port Arthur, is a famous Tasmanian whisky bar! It stocks every whisky on the market, with tours and samplings available to visitors daily.

Tasmanian Seafood Seduction, Bruny Island

Cruises depart daily, and allow you to enjoy a range of fresh local Tasmanian seafood, while enjoying the stunning scenery of world-famous Bruny Island. Your guide will catch Wild Abalone, delicious Southern Rock Lobster, Oysters and Salmon straight from the water, to serve you a fresh, mouth-watering lunch. All while enjoying luxury leather seats with a small crowd and surrounded by clear, blue waters.