LONG WEEKEND PERFECTION – PORT DOUGLAS

A beach weekend is always a good idea. But if you combine that with the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, it moves out of good idea territory and into get your togs and book it to the airport right now territory.

Port Douglas. A truly incredible town, so stunning and so fun and the only place on earth where two World Heritage Sites actually meet.

So when the question pops up – should we long weekend in Port Douglas? The answer is an easy one (You Already Know feat. Port Douglas, bethandarcher.com).

First up, it’s super easy to get to. Carins is just a two hour flight from Brisbane (three hours from Sydney) and just like that, you’ll feel the tropical north the second you get off the plane.

The drive to Port Douglas takes about an hour and is super picturesque.   You’ll also love the fact that it’s super straightforward – just follow the main road leading from Cairns up the Coast for an hour and you’re there.

Make a quick detour to Palm Cove (about 20 minutes into the drive) for amazing brunch spots and views like this.

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QUEENSTOWN EATS

Right now our love for Queenstown knows no bounds. 

It’s natural beauty and endless list of excellent-outdoor-pursuits make it one hell of a town.

And it’s got some pretty great dining options. Here are the ones from our QT trips that we think you shouldn’t miss.

Best breakfast spot – Bespoke Kitchen 

Get your day off to a great start with brekky at Bespoke.

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Order a side of kumara with your eggs (as in the main picture)  it’s a mix of crunchy, almost caramalised sweet potato that comes with brussel sprouts and is delicious.

Their cabinet is full of great things, perfect for picking up some lunch to take up to the ski-fields. Lots of raw treats here too.

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QUEENSTOWN – SPRING SKIING GUIDE

It’s September. The Remarkables just had 65cm of fresh, glorious snow.

There’s only one thing to do. Get yourself to Queenstown  – it’s spring skiing time.

Queenstown is a place of stunning natural beauty all year round. In snow season, it feels like a little European ski village.

But instead of a long-haul flight to Europe, it’s only a hop, skip & jump across the ditch from Australia’s east coast.

Spring skiing means long sunny days, less crowds and more value for your $$$.

It’s our second year skiing in QT  – here are our tips for the best spring-skiing getaway.

Flights 

Get a direct flight if you can, it makes the trip a breeze at around 3 hours from Brisbane, Sydney & Melbourne.  

Try to get a window seat for snow-capped mountain views that will blow your mind.

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This is your view for about 15 minutes before the plane lands

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THE BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BYRON BAY

Today’s question – where to stay in Byron Bay?

For a relatively small town, Byron sure packs a punch. Visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful beaches, bars and restaurants.

And there are almost as many accom options as there are cars trying to get a park at Wategos.

So where to stay when you’re lucky enough to be in this extra-gorgeous part of the world?

Here are our 2 favourite options, both set in stunning natural surrounds. One – high end, the other fantastically budget friendly.

We’ve been staying at both of these places for years now and we always have great experiences at both.

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THE BYRON BAY LIGHTHOUSE WALK

Sometimes in life you’ve got to follow the lead of the Hemsworth brothers and get yourself to Byron Bay. 

Really, for your own wellbeing you should drop what you’re doing right now and go if that’s at all possible. In fact, I hereby volunteer to drive. Archer can DJ the trip with her typical uplifting and predominately hip-hop based playlist.

Byron has all the things we love – great beaches (and plenty of them), amazing natural surrounds for hiking and exploring, great cafes and bars and some pretty incredible places to stay.

And it’s also home to one of the most beautiful walks in Australia – the Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk.

Here’s our how-to guide for one of our all-time-favourite walks.

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THREE THINGS NOT TO MISS IN THE MISSION DISTRICT

The Mission. Great culture, amazing food, so much to see.  Really – you’re just bragging now San Francisco.  Granted, not in a Taylor Swift on Independence Day kinda way – more like a Julia Louis-Dreyfus in her natural state kind of way, because you can’t help it if you’re amazing and we get that.  And we love you.  And we love Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Here’s our top 3 things not to miss in The Mission.

1 – The Murals

The architecture of San Fran is gorgeous, period. Even in the late afternoon light it’s stunning.

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The murals in The Mission bring an additional hit of life and colour.  They make the streets sing.  It’s like Melbourne’s Hosier Lane on steroids, if Hosier Lane (admittedly, home to our beloved Movida) was jam packed with super cool, authentic Mexican eateries.

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THE CABLE CARS OF SAN FRANCISCO

There’s something very gorgeous about a cable car ride in San Fran.

Yes it’s touristy. But it’s also super fun.  

The cars are classic and pretty. Full of historic charm. And they go surprisingly fast.

A ride on one will get you a good look at some of the beautiful, colourful San Fran architecture. And you’ll finish up right near the bay (and dangerously close, in fact, to an In-N-Out Burger).

Here’s the start of the line at the Market Street Turntable –

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If you’re in town visiting and staying near Fisherman’s Wharf, the cable cars are a great way to get back to your accommodation from a shopping trip at the Union Square, Market Street and Powell Street shops.

What’s not to love?

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PICTURES FROM ALCATRAZ

A visit to San Fran wouldn’t be complete without a day trip out to this little former prison island in the middle of the Bay.

It’s a fascinating place. Inside the prison quarters are dark and cramped. Outside the natural beauty is stunning.

It’s home to some truly great stories, including the famous escape from Alcatraz tale

It’s also a place where a lot of beauty can be found.

Let’s take a look around.

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Here’s the view as you approach the island. The prison block is on top of the hill.

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SAILING – SAN FRANCISCO STYLE

There are those subjects they just have to teach you in school.   English, geography, maths (they tried and I admit, when it comes to odds and working out potential Melbourne Cup winnings, Beth and I are both totally proficient), the art of playing it cool after your tennis team loses in the district final every year of high school – these are all important lessons.   What I really want to talk about though, is what they aren’t teaching in schools, but perhaps, what we should be teaching ourselves.

Fish tail braids is a need to know. Every bad hair day (and I’m talking even half-Greek girl hair, bad hair day) will be saved by a fish tail braid, which will leave you feeling cool and breezy and bohemian.

When in doubt, always chose red.  People say trust in the little black dress, but those people are wrong.  I should not have to tell you this.  I’m talking a red silk shirt for that job interview you have coming up, I’m talking red racerback togs in summer, I’m talking a slinky 90’s style strappy red dress for your ex-boyfriend’s wedding.  If 8 is the number of power and abundance, then red is it’s colour equivalent.  It’s the only life lesson Tiger actually got right.

You need to be able to drive a manual car.  You do.  This is not a funny suggestion, it’s a real suggestion. You also need to be comfortable driving said manual car in foreign countries on the other side of the road OR ELSE HOW YOU GONNA CALI ROAD TRIP!?

Which brings me to another mode of transport we all need to master, more ancient and definitely more beautiful.   Sailing.   Because when it comes to life goals, there aren’t many higher on both my list and Beth’s list, then learning to be really good sailors.

So when in San Francisco, what better way to explore the beautiful San Francisco Bay, then on a sailboat? Well, I guess you could top that, by getting down to Pier 39 and onto America’s Cup yacht USA 76? Sounds like a plan, because even stunning cities like San Francisco really do look their best when viewed from super fast racing yachts.

Oh. My. God.

Oh. My. God. That. View.  And how about the incredible San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in the background! If you’re driving into San Fran from Monterey then this is the lovely bridge that will take you into town.

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5 REASONS TO VISIT THE FERRY BUILDING MARKETPLACE – SAN FRANCISCO

When in San Fran, there are many reasons why you should get yourself down to the Ferry Marketplace. 

Here are our top 5:

1 – The building & history 

You know how we love a good building? Well, this is an excellent one. And it comes with good story.

Located on the Embarcadero at the end of Market Street, it opened in 1898 as a transport and commuter hub for those coming into the city.

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Its beautiful clock tower was modelled on the bell tower at the Seville Cathedral in Spain

At its peak, about 50,000 people a day used the building when commuting by ferry to the city.

In the 30s, the opening of the Bay Bridge and the famous Golden Gate Bridge meant ferry usage dwindled and the space was largely converted into office space.

In the 50s a freeway was built right in front of the building, sadly making it much less visible. In 1989, an earthquake damaged that freeway and it was removed in 1991.

Happily, extensive renovations completed in 2003 have seen the building’s historical details restored.  The first floor is now a beautiful marketplace, showcasing the bay area’s best produce.

Ground floor of the Marketplace, today

Ground floor of the Marketplace, today

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