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    News — travel

    Where to stay and what to do in Port Douglas


    In the far north of Queensland there is a long stretch of coastline where the rainforest dips its toes into the Coral Sea. My favourite part of this coast is less than an hour north of Cairns International Airport. This is Port Douglas, which lazes along Four Mile Beach, a perfect gentle bay with soft waves and miles of sand.

    In the morning, yoga class is held from 8am to 9am just beyond the sun lounges on Four Mile Beach. If there is anything more zen than downward dog on the sand as the sun rises over the ocean, then I'd like to know what that is. For breakfast I stumbled on Deep Whole Foods, an organic cafe next to Deep Yoga at the corner of Owen and Warner Streets.

    My time was short this trip, so while I managed a jet boat trip to the Low Isles to snorkel with turtles and bat fish, I didn't get a chance to hire an electric bike to ride along the palm shaded Port Douglas Rd or watch Moonlight Cinema under the stars. But that's ok since it leaves me something new to do next trip.

    I stayed at the Pullman Sea Temple, which has resort charms including swim up rooms, a spa and a breakfast that passed the buffet test (i.e. is it worth a second visit?). I like that it's a little way out of town which gives it a sense of seclusion, but the pool can get busy so next time I might take seclusion a step further and rent a house. Ultra Port Douglas and Executive Retreats were both friendly and helpful when I emailed them.

    Port Douglas favourite places to eat:

    - Salsa

    One of the most popular places in town, and deservedly so. Laid back Aussie style done well. You'll need to book if you're there during school holidays.

    26 Wharf St, Port Douglas

    Tel: 07 4099 4922

    - Zinc

    Shop 3, Portico Building

    53-61 Macrossan St, Port Douglas

    Tel: 07 409 96260

    - On the Inlet

    Kids will love overlooking the Coral Sea. Be there to see the feeding of George the Groper at 5pm.

    3 Inlet Rd, Port Douglas

    Tel: 07 409 95255


    - Ahoy Traders

    Gorgeous art and clothing at this beautiful shop

    1/39 Macrossan St, Port Douglas

    - Wicked Willies

    Pearls, semi precious and precious stones to wrap around your neck and wrists and slip on your fingers. Love.

    33 Macrossan St, Port Douglas

    Out of town:

    30 minutes south of Port Douglas, in Palm Cove, I found Raa and the Temple, which spoke to my heart with handmade individual and unusual pieces.

    7 packing mistakes you're making

    I've just got back from a design trip from Brisbane to Cambodia via Singapore and Ayers Rock so packing (and un-packing and re-packing) is something I've been thinking a great deal about.  Indulge me while I share 7 packing mistakes I've made and you might be making too:

    1. Too many toiletries

    I just weighed my 3 toilet bags. Together they came to a total of 2.5kg. That explains why I was the doofus at check-in with my bags all unpacked and contents strewn all over the floor trying to re-pack half my suitcase into my hand luggage. Fun. Not.

    Whenever you go to a hotel make sure you swipe the little toiletries to stockpile and take with you. Ask for sample sachets of moisturiser and sunscreen whenever you buy makeup. Decant large bottles of makeup remover and cleanser into small plastic bottles. Use power foundation compacts instead of heavy glass bottles of liquid compact. Take plastic packaged make up remover instead of liquid remover. Your little ounces quickly add up into big kilos and before you know it, you'll be me. Crying into my suitcase over 2.5 kg of 3 what-in-the-hell-was-I-thinking toilet bags?!

    2. Too many clothes

    Every item you pack should be able to be worn at least twice. Pack dresses that can be worn down for day or dressed up for night with heels and evening belts. (Shameless plug: buy Alexandria Main maxi coverups to tick this box!)

    Make sure every top works back with at least two bottoms and vice versa. Generally you might find it easy to think of packing in colours: pack only black or only black white and orange, or all tan and navy. Whatever it is, just make it work back together.

    3. Your suitcase is too heavy before you've even packed it

    I am lucky enough to own a gorgeous piece of monogrammed luxury carry-on luggage. It's so beautiful I sometimes take it out of the cupboard just to gaze at its beauty. The only problem with this piece of French leather magnificence is that it weighs 3.5kg. Which only leaves me 3.5kg of packing space. Which in turn means, that unless I'm travelling by train, bus, car or private jet, or planning on carrying an empty carry on bag, I'm leaving it behind. Instead, think: Longchamp nylon, high-tech Samsonite Lite-Shock, or a Crumpler holdall.

    4. Wearing shoes with buckles or difficult laces and metal jewellery

    I'm not the fashion police and I don't really care what you wear, but if you want to save yourself time and endear yourself to all the other people standing in the queue behind you at security, then think carefully about what you wear when you go to catch a plane. Plane travel is miserable enough now without having to undress and walk back through the metal detector five times while they try to figure out what it is about your accessories that have set it off. Slip on shoes. No buckles. No metal jewellery. Easy.

    5. Your carry on bag is too big

    If you are checking a suitcase, ask yourself whether you really need to also take your large wheeled cabin bag that only fits in the over-head locker. If you've ever played the 'let's all run to the plane as fast as we can so we can get into the overhead lockers before they are taken' game, you'll know what I mean. I've been on US flights where they've threatened to put my carry on luggage in the hold, not because it weighs too much, or is too big, or because they are a-holes (heavens, I'd never suggest that), but because they have run out of overhead locker space and the only options are under my seat or in the hold. Even since that delightful and stressful experience, unless I only have carry-on, I take bags that fit under the seat in front of me.

    6. Your pockets are filled with coins and keys and swiss army knives

    People, people, people. Seriously. Have you never been through a security check point before? What part of, 'all that crap is going to set off the metal detector and hold everyone up', did you miss the last 20 times you travelled? 

    Also, while I'm warming to this theme: water bottles on international flights. 100mls or less folks. It gets me every time, and I have to stand there downing the $10 bottle of water I've just bought at Singapore airport.

    7. You pack your heaviest items

    If all you have packed is your Isabel Marant suede jacket and your Balenciaga studded cut-out platforms, then you're probably golden. However, if your suitcase has other stuff stuffed into it too, then I'd be suggesting you wear your heaviest items. Because refer point 1, it's always kinda embarrassing and boring for the entire Singapore Airlines check-in queue to see the contents of your luggage while you re-pack it.

    Happy Travels!