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Australia's YouTube stars

Some of YouTube's most prominent self-made stars were in attendance as the site launched its Australian portal, which offers content tailored for a local audience.

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Ella Morton
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Some of YouTube's most prominent self-made stars were in attendance today as the site launched its Australian portal, which offers content tailored for a local audience.

YouTube Australia is the thirteenth region-tailored YouTube site, joining the likes of the United Kingdom, Brazil, France, Italy, Spain and Japan.

Juan Mann -- known for his Free Hugs Campaign video, which has logged over 19 million views -- scans the queue for people wanting to fall into his famous embrace. Almost a year since the debut of Free Hugs on YouTube, Juan Mann has a new project. Last week he posted a clip in which he invited people to visit him at his home for a chat. In defiance of the cardinal rule of Internet safety, Juan's residential address appeared as text in the video. He told us he's had half a dozen visitors so far, and has recorded videos with all of them. Clips will appear on YouTube as soon as he can find time for editing.

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CNET.com.au experiences the well-honed hug of Juan Mann. Asked how many people he has embraced during his campaign, Juan estimated half a million.

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The most popular clip on YouTube is the evolution of dance, which has logged over 60 million views. The routine -- re-enacted here by a slightly less famous but just as energetic man -- takes in styles from the Twist to the Robot via a plethora of pop culture references.

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A performer channelled YouTuber lonelygirl15 and her endearing golly-I'm-a-nerd vlogging antics. Lonelygirl15 had everyone guessing whether she was real until her video blogs were revealed to be scripted episodes performed by New Zealand actress Jessica Rose. Despite the unmasking, the narrative of 16-year-old "Bree" continued to twist and turn, incorporating crushes, cults and her video-captured demise.

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A standout among the angsty teen vloggers, 80-year-old Peter Oakley -- known on YouTube as geriatric1927 -- has a video series called "Telling it all", in which he recounts experiences he had during and after World War II. While Peter himself didn't make the trip down under from his native England, an actor brought his words to life.

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Prominent Australian YouTube members were on hand to officially launch youtube.com.au. Juan Mann was joined by three others best known as communitychannel, Blunty3000 and Hughsnews. Each is a video blogger, and all have established a name for themselves in the YouTube universe. YouTube international manager Sakina Arsiwala is in the striped shirt.

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The local YouTube stars (from left, Juan Mann, Hughsnews, Blunty3000 and communitychannel) participated in a panel discussion on the new site. Blunty3000 said the local portal offers "an easy way to find Australians who are doing the same thing you're doing".

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108-year-old YouTuber Olive Riley recorded a welcome video for the site, in which she expressed her excitement at "having a Tube here in Australia".

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