4 Breathtaking Caves and Treehouses You Can Rent in NSW by BrandsExclusive

How boring is doing the same thing every time? If you’re tired of camping, you’ve rented one too many holiday homes and hotel rooms, and you’re ready to take your vacation experience to the next damn level, have we got a treat for you.

Who knew NSW was home to such magical spaces as sprawling treehouses and stunning caves? And better yet, who knew these dreamy spaces were available for us to rent as accommodation this whole time?

Treat yourself or a loved one this winter, and rent one of these incredible natural spaces for a weekend away like no other. You’re welcome!

The Enchanted Cave, Bilpin

Image via Airbnb

Dear God, we’re wondering why humans ever evolved out of the caveman stage. This breathtaking cave is built on a natural clifftop rock platform, with a secret entrance through a tiny round doorway straight out of Hobbiton. Here you’re surrounded by nature, in quiet seclusion, with all the comforts and beautiful scenery you need. Light a fire, take a bath in the spa, or just lay in bed and gaze out the windows.

The Den Treehouse, The Pocket

Image via Airbnb

Just 20 minutes away from Byron Bay is this incredible treehouse secluded in a valley and surrounded by lush virgin rainforest. Shower out in nature with stunning views of the sprawling treetops and nature reserve below you. Enjoy nature hikes and trails, and go for a swim in the nearby waterfall. Play on the outdoor swing, hang out with the pony, baby chicks, and natural wildlife, and enjoy amazing sunrise views over the Pacific Ocean.

Treehouse, Blue Mountains

Image via Airbnb

This is a luxurious treehouse for the elite, with sprawling 360° views of stunning Blue Mountains scenery. Nestled high up amongst the treetops and surrounded by 600 acres of private wilderness, this treehouse is everything you dreamed of as a small child. Built from natural materials, with a jacuzzi spa, kitchenette, fireplace, and floor-to-ceiling windows wrapping the space, this is where to go to completely get away from everything and reconnect with nature.

White Cliffs Underground Motel, White Cliffs

Image via Airbnb

We’ve dreamed of living underground since we first learned about Coober Pedy, but this underground lodge is not so far away. In the searing heat of Outback NSW, find refuge underground, surrounded by Earth and away from ambient lighting and noise. With all the usual motel facilities – without all the digital distractions – these dugouts will have you sleeping in peace and comfort away from the external world.

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5 Aussie Actors (who aren’t Margot Robbie) Killing It in Tinseltown by BrandsExclusive

Australian actresses have long punched above their weight in Hollywood, with homegrown thespians such as Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman pretty much bona fide legends of the silver screen. But there’s a new crop of actresses that have been quietly making their mark stateside, who you might have seen on TV or at the cinema without even knowing they’re one of ours! So let’s scrub up on our pop culture knowledge and give these talented Aussie ladies some well-earned love.

Elizabeth Debicki

You most recently saw her shine (both figuratively and literally) in the role of Ayesha, leader of the golden-skinned Sovereign race in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but before she was starring in international blockbusters this overachieving Melburnian was busy being named dux of her high school and winning scholarships at the Victorian College of the Arts.

In 2013 she got her breakout role in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby playing the aloof Jordan Baker, and it’s been pretty much full steam ahead ever since. Last year she played a glamourous American socialite with a dark past in the Emmy-award winning series The Night Manager, living all of our collective dreams by pairing off with Tom Hiddleston’s suave British spy. But if we’re being honest, between two very statuesque blondes (at 190cm she’s actually 2cm taller!) the talented Debicki is making us swoon even harder than #hiddles.

Teresa Palmer

We love Teresa Palmer for her on-screen power, but we also love her for her humble personality and hardworking beginnings. Growing up in public housing, her first acting jobs were dressing up as Strawberry Shortcake and Santa’s Little Helper at the mall on weekends. And her mall career didn’t end there, she also clocked hours working at Hungry Jack’s, Supre and Cotton On. If you’re a 90s kid who grew up in Adelaide, there’s honestly a good chance you were served by this movie star at some point…

However, since being spotted by a talent agent after appearing in a student film, Palmer has been collecting credits in dozens of indie and big name productions. She most recently appeared in every-mom’s-worst-nightmare thriller flick Berlin Syndrome, giving a harrowing performance as an Australian tourist who engages in a one-night fling with a charming local before finding herself imprisoned in his apartment.

Yael Stone

You’d never guess it listening to her character Lorna Morello’s distinctive Brooklyn-Boston accent (hailed “the most amazing accent on television by the New Republic), but Yael Stone is actually a born and bred Sydneysider. The Orange Is The New Black Star followed the well-trodden path of many local talents (Newtown Performing School of the Arts, followed by NIDA), working mostly in theatre before making the leap stateside. But no matter how thick the foreign accent, she remains a true Aussie – I mean, once you appear in All Saints, you’re pretty much locked in as one of ours forever.

Mia Wasikowska

This Canberra native has been quietly achieving ever since she was thrust into the spotlight as a fresh faced 19-year-old, cast as the eponymous character in Tim Burton’s blockbuster adaptation of Alice In Wonderland. Since then, she’s been steadily collecting credits and garnering respect for powerful performances, often portraying strong-willed women in films such as Jane Eyre, Madame Bovary and Australian expeditioner Robyn Davidson in Tracks.

Jacki Weaver

Although it would be an insult to label this veteran of Australian theatre, film and television as any sort of ‘rising star’, Jacki Weaver’s Hollywood success has only grown in recent years following her scene-stealing turn as a terrifying crime family matriarch in Animal Kingdom. Well, our loss is Tinseltown’s gain as her newfound international fame has catapulted her into a series of supporting roles in major films including Silver Linings Playbook and The Disaster Artist.

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4 Fancy Updos For Short Hair by BrandsExclusive

In the past few years, short hairstyles have well and truly come into their own – bobs, lobs and pixie cuts have entertained the mainstream, sported by everyone from our fave celebs and it-girls to our coworkers and friends. We love the low-maintenance, casual-chic vibe of shorter hairstyles (not to mention the hours you save hairdrying), but it can definitely be a challenge styling them up for formal occasions.

Never fear, we’ve combed the beauty pages for ideas and inspiration, and are ready to share four gorgeous yet easy-to-create looks. Perfect for the next time you have a wedding, graduation, or are just feeling a little fancy!

1. Half-up, half down

With a few waves of the curling wand and a bit of texture, you can make a simple half-up hairstyle look positively angelic. The possibilities are endless – weave two mini braids from the front of your face and fasten them with a cute pin at the back of the head, or fashion a loose, messy bun. Elevate this hairstyle by using a statement jewelled clip, or adorn your braids with flowers for a festival-ready look.

2. Simple and sleek low bun

It doesn’t get easier than this classic, effortlessly sophisticated look. When you’ve got short hair, it’s far easier to pull it into a bun at the nape of your neck than at the middle or top of the head. The trick to elevating this style is making sure that you’ve got it as sleek as possible, so make sure to use a smoothing cream to tame flyaways or lock it all down with hairspray.

3. Textured side braids

Side braids do double duty for fancy short hair updos. Not only do they look gorgeous, they keep particularly short pieces of hair and flyaways away from the sides of the face, eliminating the need for dozens of bobby pins (that you inevitably lose).

To ensure the braids stay in place, texturise your hair first with sea spray or dry shampoo. Then, simply braid along the sides of your head until you reach the nape of your neck. Secure the remaining hair with bobby pins, and voila – now you look like you’ve just stepped out of a fairytale.

4. Mini stacked buns

The prohibiting factor encountered by us short-haired gals when it comes to many traditional bun updos is that our hair simply isn’t long enough to pull into a single bun. So here’s a fun hack that solves this problem while providing a zany twist on this classic look – mini stacked buns! Simply separate your hair into three ponytails, one on top of the other running down the back of the head, and then wrap them into miniature buns before securing with pins. It gives a great casual, freewheeling style that’s perfect for a cocktail party or beach wedding.

For More Inspiration, Shop Brands Exclusive Now

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7 Key Pieces to Invest in this Sale Period by BrandsExclusive

Who doesn’t love the end of the financial year, except maybe your tax agent. You (hopefully) get a little bit of your tax back and there’s sales on everywhere! But before you go overboard on a spending spree, take the discount frenzy as an opportunity to invest in some key, good quality pieces that you actually need.

To help you on your shopping mission, we’ve put together the top 7 items you should be investing in while they’re on special this saving season.

  1. A Warm Coat

Let’s be honest, coats are expensive – a but a good quality coat is one thing seriously worth the extra cash. To keep warm and trendy for seasons to come, go for a classic cut that fits well across the shoulders in either a wool or leather. Not to mention, your backside will be thanking us come that dreaded August cold snap.

  1. A Good Pair of Boots

Are your boots made for walking? If the answer isn’t “Hell yes!” it’s time for an upgrade. Take a look at your current shoe-drobe situation and make a call. If you’re in desperate need of some knee-high’s, now is the time to invest! Otherwise, go for a short, leather ankle boot that will stand the test of time.

  1. A Cashmere Sweater

Every quality winter wardrobe needs a good dose of cashmere luxury.  Not only will a cosy sweater keep you warm, if properly cared for – it can last for seasons!

Check out this blog if you want to learn more about this famous fabric.

  1. Flat Out Staples

Almost as key as some quality boots, are a sturdy pair of flats. A black pair of loafers, brogues or mules styles in leather, will serve you for years to come. Paired with your favourite pair of jeans, look for ones that will become your fail-safe weekend wardrobe.

  1. Bag a Bargain

Don’t forget about your hardware – invest in a classic, medium-sized handbag that will go with just about everything! While it may be tempting to splash out on an ultra-trendy, neon pink printed designer bag that’s about a million per cent off, we advise getting your classics sorted first. A good quality leather bag is something that can last a life time if well cared for.

  1. A Fabulous Bra

Every woman needs a good support system, but we all know a good bra can set you back. Take advantage of all the end of financial year sales, and treat yourself to a set of designer lingerie. Start by knowing your measurements, each brand can run slightly different, then aim for a quality brand in a supportive style.

  1. Some Luxurious Sheets

Who doesn’t love that feeling of slipping into a freshly made bed? It’s one of life’s little luxuries, but a good quality sheet set can cost upwards of $200. Take advantage of sale time by spoiling your bed to a high thread count, it’s something you can enjoy for years to come!

Bonus: Something just for you

While it’s important to shop smarter not harder this sale time, don’t forget about you! Treat yourself to a special something – they say shopping is cheaper than therapy…

Ready to start saving? Shop all our clearance sales here.

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5 Reasons To Get Out & Experience Sydney This Winter by BrandsExclusive

Oh, Sydney. So much to do all year, until that dark period between mid-June and mid-August. It’s too cold. Heading into the city, the streets are empty, an embarrassing admission of the fact that Sydneysiders simply can’t hack having a good time in the cold. We’d much rather stay in next to our Netflix and heaters than deal with the – what, 10°c – cold temperatures.

But, guys, this isn’t right. It’s actually not that cold here. And those of us who do have the courage to head out get to enjoy a whole heap of stuff that the rest of us would have never heard of. There’s tonnes of cool events for those brave enough to stand the cold. Actual fun events that are worth putting on a coat and gloves for.

We know you’re not going to take our word for it, so we’ll show you ourselves: here are 5 things that worth freezing your butt for this winter.

1. Marrickville’s New Art Deco Cinema

Firstly, it’s a new opening. Getting out of the house this winter to check out Marrickville’s new independent cinema means you’re ahead of the crowds. On top of the trends. There’s no better way to show off your street cred, and we’d rather be cool than cosy at home.

The cinema, named Addison Road Picture house, will open at the Gumbramorra Hall in Marrickville with a 300 seat capacity. Taking its inspiration from art deco cinemas of the 50s and 60s, the indie cinema has a vision to screen films and have band performances afterwards. Hmmm, doesn’t sound like a bad excuse to get out of home, hey?

2. Painting & Drinking Wine

That’s right, at the same time. Head to Surry Hills this winter and soothe your soul with a bit of art and vino. Cork & Chroma ‘paint and sip’ studio in Surry Hills is your cosy winter go-to when you need to do something different in order to be able to drag yourself out of bed.

Gather your mates, get a bottle of wine, and head to Cork & Chroma for some guided painting lessons. Every night there’s a new lesson or a new painting to learn. Learn the basics, or just ignore the teacher and do your own thing, and come back home with a fancy bit of art to hang on your wall. You won’t even notice that it’s cold when you’re so busy with your new life as an artist.

3. The West’s New Bouldering Gym

From the inner west to the west, there are plenty of reasons to get your arse moving this winter. And what better way to keep yourself warm and work off that extra winter chub than by hitting a bouldering gym?
Deep into a rock climbing craze, the new 9 Degrees Parramatta bouldering gym expands on the popular Alexandria-based gym. Westies need not dread a trip all the way to Alexandria to get their bouldering fix, a quick and easy workout is closer than ever! Do you see your excuses to stay home this winter slowly wavering?

4. Woof-Fest Dog Fashion Parade

You’ve probably read everything so far and thought, “hmmm yeah maybe”, but now you’ve seen dog fashion parade and you’re attentive. Dogs. Now that’s worth getting out of bed for. Head to Bungarribee Park in Blacktown on the 25th of June to witness the biggest event for dogs, ever.

There’s dog skills demos, advice, kids’ activities, over 50 dog-themed stalls, and even a doggie fashion parade! You and your pup can have your faces painted, kids can have a go on the jumping castle, and your winter blues can be cured by simply being in the presence of so many cute dogs.

5. Blak Markets at Barangaroo

What better way to enjoy a day in the winter sun than by attending the Blak Markets at Barangaroo Reserve? With more than 30 stalls featuring everything from cooking demonstrations to live music and dancing, the Blak Markets on July 2nd will bring together a range of art and crafts from remote Indigenous Centres across WA, NT, and SA.

It’s a unique opportunity to browse or buy pieces directly from Indigenous artists, while also enjoying a series of workshops and demonstrations, from painting to weaving. This is an important event for all Aussies, and a great excuse to get out of bed on a Saturday.

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5 Weird Ingredients in Your Beauty Products by BrandsExclusive

A quick glance on the ingredients list of any beauty and skincare product reveals a plethora of complex, scientific-sounding names and chemicals, and chances are most of us have no idea what they actually are. Chalk it up to clever marketing, because if things like crystalised guanine, ambergris and carmine were listed by their everyday name, you might think twice about picking that perfume or lipstick off the shelf. Below we reveal some of the most unexpected (and downright weird) ingredients that you might be applying to your skin, hair and nails everyday. But we’ve got to warn you, sometimes ignorance really is (beautiful) bliss.

Whale vomit

Have you ever looked at the long list of fragrance notes on a perfume, spotted something obscure sounding like “ambergris” and just assumed it was an exotic flower or wood you hadn’t heard of? Well it might pay to do a quick Google search next time because ambergris is actually whale vomit. Highly prized nowadays (a 2.7kg lump found a few years ago sold for over $200,000!), it’s used by artisan perfumers as a fixative, which makes the scent last much longer, and is also described by one perfume historian as adding “depth, richness opulence, smoothness and ambiguity” to a scent. Rightio then.

Dynamite

This one’s a little less off-putting but it might still blow your mind (so, so sorry) to know that dynamite is used in many of your everyday products! One of the two main components of the explosive is diatomaceous earth – a soft, siliceous rock that easily crumbles to a fine white powder due to its hollow and porous properties. Those same properties make it gently abrasive and moisture absorbent, lending to its use in exfoliators, toothpastes, powders and deodorants.

Snail Mucus

So…how far are you willing to suppress your gag reflex in the name of beauty? Unlike some of the others on this list, snail mucus isn’t a hidden ingredient – in Asia, where it’s uber popular, it’s advertised front and centre as a premium feature in anti-ageing products. It’s derived from the substance snails produce to repair abrasions on their soft bodies when moving across rough surfaces. As gross as it sounds, snail enzyme is packed with protein, hyaluronic acid and elastin that do wonders for the skin – replenishing moisture, encouraging cell regeneration and fading pigmentation.

Fish scales

We all love a bit of glimmer and shimmer, but have you ever noticed that the pearlescent shine in everything from lipsticks to nail polish and even shampoo looks strikingly similar to those of fish scales? Well that’s no coinky-dink my friend, because crystalised guanine, the substance used to create that gorgeous iridescent effect is extracted from the scales of our sea-borne friends! On the upside, now you can feel more like a mermaid every time you shower…

Crushed Beetles

Certainly something for lippie-loving vegans to be aware of is that many red lipsticks get their vibrant colour from crushed beetles. Listed as “carmine” on ingredient lists, it’s another name for the extract made by boiling, drying and crushing cochineal beetles. The result is a bright red pigment that’s also commonly used as food colouring in say, yoghurt or lollies. The more you (wish you didn’t) know, hey.

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Snuggle Up: Our Guide To What’s New on Netflix by BrandsExclusive

We’re well into the frosty depths of winter now, and you know what that means – it’s time to snuggle up on the couch, hot chocolate in hand, for a nice long Netflix sesh. One of the best things about having a Netflix subscription is that their catalogue is continually being updated with new additions, whether it’s recent or classic movies and TV shows, original programs or comedy specials. You could honestly spend days scrolling through their endless archives looking for something to watch, so save yourself precious viewing time with our recommendations for the best new additions to check out!

For a family night in: Finding Dory (2016)

When it takes 13 years for a sequel to arrive, you’re going to be expecting big things, especially when it’s the follow-up to a bona-fide children’s classic like Finding Nemo. Good news then that Finding Dory doesn’t disappoint. Following the adventures of our favourite blue-finned friend (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) as she searches for her long-lost parents, it’s got everything to delight the kids – thrills and spills, humour and a heartwarming story.

For food-lovers: Chef (2014)

Feelgood comedy-drama Chef stars Hollywood wunderkind Jon Favreau (who also wrote, produced and directed) as Carl Casper, a creatively-stifled, grumpy head chef of an acclaimed restaurant, who, stuck between a domineering owner who demands he sticks to the classics and a food blogger who tears him down in a review, dramatically quits his job to run a dinky food truck. As Casper drives across America, viewers get to watch him sling juicy Cuban sandwiches, feast on the country’s most delicious dishes and conduct the World’s-Most-Wholesome-And-Supportive-Friendship-With-An-Ex, played by none other than the ever radiant Sofia Vergara. From piping hot beignets to luscious pasta aglio e olio and oozing grilled cheeses, we definitely do not recommend watching this adventurous romp of a film while hungry.

For those who’ve had a long day: Louis C.K’s 2017 Stand Up Special

There’s a reason Louis C.K.’s won six Emmys and is regarded as one of the most honest and raw comedians of his generation. Despite his success, he hasn’t lost his beleaguered everyman credibility with the masses. He continues to approach big issues and daily foibles alike with fearless incisiveness and unmatched comedic skill in this stand-up special. Sometimes gloomy, sometimes uplifting, and always hilarious, it’s perfect for unwinding after a long day.

For those tired of cheesy romcoms: Love (Season 2)

Over the past few years the formulaic, all-too-easy romantic comedy has fallen out of favour with increasingly sceptical audiences (chalk it up to the Tinder age), who crave much more realistic depictions of dating. As such, Judd Apatow’s Netflix series Love arrives like a breath of fresh air. Following the travails of insecure, too-nice screenwriter Gus (Paul Rust) and self-destructive radio producer Mickey (Gillian Jacobs), it’s a “down-to-earth” look at modern romance. The two central characters are funny, flawed, and sometimes downright annoying. Sometimes you root for their burgeoning relationship, and sometimes you question whether they even belong together – just like in real life.

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