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36 Hours in the Blue Mountains



Go west, where autumn attractions are at their peak (and valleys)

Dramatic valleys and blue-tinged vistas. Invigorating mountain air. Grand hotels and art deco cafes. It’s little wonder the Blue Mountains have been Sydney’s playground for more than 100 years, and autumn is the perfect time of year to visit. Take the train or jump in the car and escape to the mountains in a mere two hours.
9am: Art Deco Discoveries
Katoomba – the Blue Mountains’ epicentre – was first developed as a resort destination in the late 19th Century. Its main street still boasts many beautiful examples of art deco architecture, such as the Paragon café that dates back to 1916. Relive this bygone era with a stroll down Katoomba Street and pop into the overflowing antique shops. This town is a trove of vintage treasures.
1pm: Warm Your Cockles
After some dedicated foraging, restore your constitution with some hearty victuals. There’s no better stop than the Old City Bank Bar & Brasserie for a warming pub feed. If the English watering-hole vibe hasn’t fully transported you to Ol’ Blighty, a more-ish beef and Guinness pie with mushy peas and a pint of ale will.

3pm: Lurk in Leura
This popular spot has more homeware and gift stores than a one-horse town, plus there are a couple of gastronome gems that make it a worthy visit. Josophan’s Fine Chocolates boutique is a cocoa-holic’s dream. And across the tree-lined street is Leura Cellars, a haven for the true oenophile. Upstairs the store boasts one of NSW’s best ranges of craft brews, while under the floorboards you’ll discover the cellar – shelves laden with Australia’s most celebrated vintages, plus a healthy selection of such old-world superstars as Chateau Latour.
6pm: Make a Toast
Indulge in the tradition of the cocktail hour at Champagne Charlies inside The Carrington hotel. While not as lively as the joint might have been during the Roaring ’20s, they do know how to shake a mean, potent potable. Go for the Old Cuban – Havana Club rum, mint, lime, sugar, bitters and sparkling; a modern classic.

8.30pm: Bring Your Marshmallows
There’s no shortage of accommodation options in the Blue Mountains, but one that gets our vote is theMountain Heritage Hotel & Spa Retreat, with its sweeping views of Jamison Valley. Just a short stroll from Katoomba, this historic retreat was built in 1908 under the handle ‘The California’. Many rooms contain a fireplace, so bring your marshmallows and crack that bottle of red you purchased earlier.

9am: Meet the Sisters
Towering above the Jamison Valley are the Three Sisters – a striking rock formation and the Blue Mountains’ most famous landmark. En route, strap on your walking shoes, take a stroll down Katoomba Street, and pick up a coffee on your way to Echo Point, where you can view the main attraction. It’s only two kilometres south of the town.

Noon: Horsing Around
One of the best ways to explore the mountain scenery is to give your legs a rest and borrow someone else’s. In the Megalong Valley, a short drive west of Katoomba, you have a myriad of horse riding options to serve your purpose. Werriberri Trail Rides are a family affair with Kathy Tucker and her four children running the show.

6:30pm: Local Dining
In Leura, the French-infused, modern Australian menu at Silk’s Brasserie is hard to beat. A piquant Provençale fish soup with saffron, aioli & rye crostini is the pick of the entrees, whereas the generous and juicy Moroccan lamb loin with couscous, pine nuts, dates, tomato relish and gremolata reflects some real country hospitality.

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11 People Dead in Mount Everest Climb; Australian Man Found Alive



11 people died in this spring’s Mount Everest Climb

Eleven people have died in less than two weeks after poor weather cut the climbing window short, leaving mountaineers waiting in long queues to the summit, risking exhaustion and running out of oxygen.

At least four of the deaths have been blamed on overcrowding with teams sometimes waiting for hours in the “death zone” where the cold is bitter, the air dangerously thin and the terrain treacherous.

mount everest climb deadliest since 2015

An extraordinary photo of mountaineers walking up Mount Everest has a disturbing feature which can’t be seen at first glance.

Australian Man Found Alive

One man, who was attempting to climb Mount Everest without the aid of O2, was rescued after he was stranded unconscious on Mount Everest. He has been identified as Gilian Lee.

Australian Man who Survived Everest Identified as Gillian Lee

Few details have emerged since news first broke of the miraculous rescue, which involved a yak and a team of Tibetan alpine specialists who were on the mountain doing repair work.

The Australian climber who fell into unconsciousness while attempting to summit Mount Everest was coughing “continuously” and encouraged to turn back, according to his sherpa guide and a fellow climber.

Canberra public servant Gilian Lee’s fourth attempt to scale the world’s tallest mountain nearly ended in disaster as he had to be rescued high up on the northern slopes.

Tibetan climbers found Mr Lee unconscious at an altitude of 7,500 meters last Wednesday.

The ABC understands Mr Lee, who is recovering in Kathmandu’s Grande hospital, was attempting to reach the summit without oxygen tanks.

He is now in intensive care and barely able to talk.

“He loved to climb mountains and he wanted to summit Everest,” said Tashi Sherpa, part-owner of the expedition company Mr Lee paid to climb the peak.

“He had a big dream to do this but the thing is he did not want to use oxygen.”

The day before he was rescued, Mr Lee posted on Twitter that he’d had a “rough night” at Camp One, a waypoint on the path to the top of the mountain located at an elevation of about 6000 meters, due to a persistent chest infection.

Mr Lee was rescued by Yak

Mr Lee’s rescuers used a yak to drag him to the safety of base camp, where people embark on the trip to the summit. The Canberra man was reportedly taken to a hospital in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, where his condition has improved according to China Daily.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has refused to provide any other details about his dramatic survival story, citing privacy reasons.


“Every day of delay is a nightmare,” Mr Lee wrote.

And he spoke about the particular challenges of trying to prepare for an Everest ascent without using oxygen cylinders. Mr Lee said that without being able to climb higher than Camp One, he was unsure about acclimatising to the low oxygen levels further up the mountain.

“The science for acclimatisation for non-O2 [oxygen cylinder climbing] is not as well known. Does one really need to hit high high? Last year a higher point worked OK. It’s all out of my hands…horrible feeling,” Mr Lee concluded.

Climbing without oxygen appeared important for Mr Lee. When a friend queried his decision on Facebook, Mr Lee said that if he were climbing with oxygen “I might as well chop 50% of the mountain height off.”

gillian lee rescued by yak

Gillian Lee had summitted mountains before without O2

He said he had summitted another extremely high peak, Manaslu, which is the eighth highest mountain in the world and also in Nepal, without oxygen tanks.

A day earlier, Mr Lee had been more optimistic, writing that his “support and sherpa team are looking strong and committed.”

In a post on his blog, he described climbing Everest as “unfinished business” because of a failed attempt that he blamed on “being horrendously let down by the expedition company”, which he called an inexperienced, Indian-run company.

“I have put a lot of pressure onto myself. I am running out of $$ to keep chasing this dream,” Mr Lee wrote. “I will never take supplemental O2, as it is just not me. It is like asking Alex Hannold to use a rope in his monumental solo climb up El Capitan. Defeats the purpose of being there in the first place in my opinion. This will be the last throw of the dice.”

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10 surprising things you can get home delivered in Australia



Forget ordering in your weekly ramen, falafel salad, gourmet burger or even ice cream – there’s even more to online food delivery then meets the eye.  Didn’t know you could get cake mix delivered to your door, or cheese and crackers, or even a protein smoothie? You do now.

Having analysed its 7500 restaurants across Australia, online food delivery platform Menulog has curated 10 things you never knew you could get home delivered.  App at the ready.

  1. Bull frog legs

Bullfrog legs

You don’t have to be French, or in a fancy restaurant to experience frog legs. Try them a myriad of different ways – with chilli and ginger sauce, in soup, stir fried, or sizzling at Mama’s Oriental in Northbridge, Perth.  Just think of them as more nutritious chicken wings.

  1. Green tea crepe cake and green tea chocolate truffles


Forget drinking green tea, this year it’s all about green tea as an ingredient in food. We can’t get enough of green tea desserts and this crepe cake is where the party’s at. Try it for yourself at Yummy Puff Café in in Melbourne’s South Yarra. Or if you fancy green tea chocolate try Meiji’s in Collingwood’s famous Meltykiss Green Tea chocolates truffles.  They will literally melt in your mouth, and you’ll have to get them now, as they’re only available during the winter months!

  1. Cake mix

Whether your intentions are worthy or it’s a mild case of procrasti-baking, you can have a cake mix delivered to you.  Whip up lemon cake or a chocolate cake with mix from Grocery Butler located in both Sydney and Melbourne.

  1. Cheese and crackers

Cheese-lovers? Have the cheese board but no cheese? There’s brie, cheddar and crackers, even the quince paste and dips practically on standby.  And of course the obligatory accompanying wine too. Northmead’s Fine Food in Sydney will have all this delivered to your door.

  1. Deep fried Mars Bar

Deep Fried Mars Bar

Invented in Scotland, a deep-fried Mars bar is an ordinary Mars bar normally fried in a type of batter commonly used for deep-frying fish and sausages. The Red Emperor Seafood in Brisbane will deliver this guilty treat to your front door, as well as Princess @ Elsternwick in Melbourne, and Harry & The Boys in Carramar, Perth.

  1. Rocky road pizza

That’s right. Read that line again. Marshmallow, coconut, cranberries and almond on a hazelnut chocolate base WITH ICE CREAM. Say no more, just add to cart. Try Porta Via or Firechief in Melbourne for your fix, or OMG Pizza and Pasta Bar in Merrylands, Sydney.

  1. Acai bowl


Want an antioxidant-rich, superfood-filled breakfast but don’t want to drop your coin on all those ingredients at the health food store? You don’t have to. Just order the complete dish instead. Try Fresh Stop in Sydney’s Mascot for their Acai Brazilian bowl blended with banana and topped with toasted muesli and fruit salad, or Traffik Food in Windsor, for Melbourne’s classic acai bowl.

  1. Protein smoothie


In the middle of a workout and realise you don’t have any protein left at home for your post-workout smoothie? Look no further than The Grazery’s banana protein smoothie blended with dates, almond butter, cocoa powder, almond milk, maple syrup and raw vegan protein powder in Melbourne, which will be delivered to you within 30 mins of your workout.  Lil Manhattan in Neutral Bay, Sydney, also delivers protein shakes straight to you, or the gym.

  1. Dracula’s Blood

So it’s actually a healthy juice … but just for a second, you thought it was something else. It’s a unique blend of beetroot, celery, carrot and ginger – not as scary as it sounds right?  Try Relish Foods in Sydney’s Leichardt for your juice fix.

  1. Chiko Roll

Australia’s most iconic street food, the Chiko Roll is a favourite at festivals and shows. Now, the fun doesn’t have to stop when you’re at home. Try Warradale Brick Oven Pizza and Snack Bar in Adelaide for your Chiko hit, or Tezas Gourmet Cafe at Wetherill Park, Sydney.


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A Backpackers Guide to the Best Free Things to do in Melbourne



Victoria’s capital is well known for its culture, quirks, festivals, food and fantastic coffee. It’s also been named as the world’s most livable city an impressive four years in a row.

Melbourne City

All this makes Melbourne the perfect place to park up your campervan or rental car and head out to explore this amazing city. If you are a first time visitor travelling through Melbourne on a budget, then don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be stuck for things to do.

Here is the essential backpacker guide to the best free things to do in Melbourne:

1. Free gigs galore

If there is one thing that Melbournians love (apart from coffee, great food and sport), it’s live music.

Melbourne is the live music capital of Australia and as a result, there are a number of places across the city to catch live gigs.

Cherry Bar on Flinders Lane, in the heart of the city is a renowned rock bar and offers free gigs during the week. Or if you are out by the beach try the Esplanade Hotel (or The Espy), an iconic Melbourne venue in St. Kilda’s.

Check out the Beat website for the most up-to-date free gigs across the city.

2. Free events by The City of Melbourne

Melbourne's annual Moomba Festival

Melbourne’s annual Moomba Festival

Melbourne is home to some great festivals and events, many of which are free.

With events scheduled every month of the year, you can rest assured that there will be something happening in the city when you arrive.

From art and music to markets and films, there is something for everyone. Check out what’s coming up on the City of Melbourne website for more information on free events and festivals in the city.

3. Take a free ride on the City Circle Tram

A stay in Melbourne isn’t complete without a trip on the iconic city circle tram.

Look out for the burgundy and gold colored tram that circles the CBD and allows you to hop on to travel around the city in style. This tram is free, and with audio commentary identifying key landmarks, it’s ideal for getting to know the city when you first arrive.

4. Get out on the open road

If you are interested in heading out of the city, then the world famous Great Ocean Road is a must-see for all travellers.

Admittedly, this isn’t totally free as you will need pay for petrol, but if you have rented a car or hired a campervan from Melbourne then the Twelve Apostles is a sight not to be missed.

These iconic golden cliffs and crumbling pillars on Victoria’s coastline make for an excellent place to catch the sunrise or sunset – all of which of course won’t cost you a dollar.

5. Get lost in the lanes

Melbourne is famous for it’s winding alleyways, hidden galleries and secret shops. One of the best ways to explore these lanes is to, well, explore and just get lost.

Head to the Visitor Information centre in Federation square and pick up a free map.

6. Walk and Explore

Rain, hail or shine, “I’m Free Walking Tours in Melbourne” allows you to explore the city with a knowledgeable local – sharing the history, stories and secrets of the city. The tour passes by Federation Square, the Yarra River, Chinatown and more.

This three-hour tour is free and runs twice a day, so check out the website for the meeting point and look for guides wearing green t-shirts!

7. Visit the Queen Vic (Market)

The Queen Victoria Market is an iconic building in Melbourne, standing for over 130 years and is regularly listed as one of the cities top attractions.

It’s a great place to spend a couple of hours strolling around, experience local produce and soaking up the atmosphere.

How about you? Share your best free things to do in Melbourne, or tell us what you’re most excited about visiting.

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