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2 week trip in AU: 5 nights in Sydney and 5 nights in Cairns area?

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I have been reading through the forums trying to collect data for a 10 night trip in AU. Dates are mid Nov. based on my read I have gathered the following.

- 1 day tour of city
- trip to blue mountains (night stay recommended?)
- feather dale wildlife park
- opera house
- beach walk

- stay in port Douglas
- Great Barrier Reef
- drains rainforest

Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. Travelers are middle aged active and open to new adventures. From the U.S. and would like to see what is unique to AU and have new experiences. Open to food Recommendations as well.


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    How refreshing to see a reasonable itinerary for a trip of limited duration! (I've read too many posts where someone wants to travel to 4 or more destinations on a 10-day trip.)

    Five days in Sydney is a good amount of time to see the city and include a day trip to the Blue Mountains. I don't see a need for an overnight stay there unless your plans include lots of hiking. We've been there twice and only stayed overnight once because we were on a road trip through that part of New South Wales. We were able to do fit in all of our sightseeing during the day trip. It's easy to do a self-guided tour of the Blue Mountains by taking the train from Sydney, but you can also do guided tours which include a stop at Featherdale Wildlife Park. There's a lot more to see and do in Sydney than you have listed, so if you have not already done so, I recommend getting a guidebook from your library to see what else you might enjoy doing in Sydney.

    Port Douglas is a great destination. (I've been there 5 times, so you know I like it!) You can either rent a car from Cairns to drive to/from Port Douglas or you can arrange for a bus transfer between the two. A car isn't necessary to get around Port Douglas, depending on where you are staying, but it might be cheaper to rent the car for 5 days than to pay for the shuttle AND tours to places such as Kuranda and Daintree. I definitely recommend a snorkel trip to the Outer Reef with Wavelength, a 30-passenger, snorkel-only boat. I've been out with many boats to the GBR, but Wavelength simply does it the best. Also, Breakfast with the Birds at the Wildlife Habitat is a lot of fun!

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    Thank you longhorn55 for the feedback. In reading comments, it seems like adding another destination would be a lot more a time spent traveling to and from.

    Regarding Sydney, would Featherdale be enough to do in a day or only a half day? Any good eats you may recommend that is unique?

    For PD, whereabouts did you stay? Seems like a resort area which we don't mind but again, we are going for a place that is different. Would you recommend. Tour with Alan Wildlife Tours? I was thinking the night tour. And a sailboat to Whitsunday islands? Any other islands a must see? Recommend staying on an island?

    Thank you!

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    Hi, runandtravel,

    I was going to recommend visiting the Atherton Tablelands when reading through your itinerary, and then you mention Alan Wildlife Tours. I have read reports from people who have enjoyed their tours with him. We also took a tour to the Undara Lava Tubes which were interesting when over in Cairns about 10 years ago. Another thing we did was hire a car and just drive ourselves around the area, to Mareeba, up to the reservoir, anywhere that took our interest.
    Perhaps you could take an organised day tour to Cape Tribulation, as well.

    Enjoy your Cairns / PD stay - it's an interesting area.

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    The actual time you'd need to see Featherdale would range from 2 - 4 hours, depending on your interest in various animals, whether you go to animal shows, etc. However, it will take you between 1.5 - 2 hours to get to Featherdale from central Sydney (and another 1.5 - 2 hours to get back) via public transportation. So, a half-day visit to the park will turn into a full day excursion. The details on how to get to Featherdale via public transportation (and via driving, if you choose to do that) are on their website.

    We were always traveling to Port Douglas with our children, so we opted to stay in serviced apartments to have the amenities of a full kitchen and laundry. This option probably wouldn't appeal to you, so I suggest you check the Port Douglas accommodations reviews on Trip Advisor to find something that suits you. There are some boutique hotels in the area which you might enjoy.

    Likewise, for dining options in both Sydney and Port Douglas, I recommend checking the Restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor. Since we were traveling with children, we weren't exactly eating at "unique" places. However, one unique place you might enjoy in Port Douglas is the Combined Club (aka the Tin Shed). It serves basic pub grub food but its views cannot be beaten. Combined Clubs and RSL Clubs are iconic places in Australia and we always enjoyed eating in them.

    Finally, the Whitsundays are quite far from Port Douglas--you couldn't do a day trip via sailboat there. The only islands near Port Douglas are the Low Isles which are visited by some snorkeling boats. We took our kids there on a snorkel boat when they were first learning to snorkel, but it's not as good as a trip to the Outer Reef. Also, there are no amenities on the Low Isles--just a beach and a walking trail.

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    hi runandtravel,

    we spent 5 nights in PD and then a day and a half getting back to Cairns with Alan Gillanders, which was worth every penny.

    n PD we stayed at By THe Sea and loved it; I know that other people here did too. It's between the main bit of town and the beach, but very walkable to both, and was very comfortable. My only reservation is that if you like to swim, in November there will only be a little bit of the sea that you can swim in because of the "stingers". THey cordon off a small area with stinger nets but it's not the same as being able to swim freely in the ocean. The pool at BtS is very small so if that is important to you, it can't really be beaten for the price.

    if you want to read more about what we did in the area [or in my case, what I didn't do!] and where we ate etc, and our trip with Alan, click on my screen name for me TR.

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