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2 weeks only in November, logistics questions and what to leave out

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Just starting to look at November 15 to 29, we have a friend 3 hours south of Sydney that we MUST visit. We may drive down to spend a night with her, or she may drive up to Sydney and meet us.

I was initially thinking Sydney 4days/Port Douglas 4 days/Uluru 4 days, but my friend says that Heron Island is really lovely and that Kakadu is fantastic, it does look very interesting.

I don't think I can put this all together without spending a bloody fortune on airfare. My plan is to fly from place to place and rent cars when we get there. Heron Island does look beautiful, $400 a night plus $400 boat ride from Gladstone is a bit steep.

I hate to leave out Uluru, but would Kakadu instead be fun? Is Sydney/Heron Island/Kakadu/Uluru feasible with 12 nights? It seems like too much. I am also asking my friend but would like some guidance here. Looking at all the flight legs is very daunting. What would be the most efficient flight arrangement? Our home is Los Angeles.

We MUST snorkel the reef at least once or twice. We aren't city fans, don't need much Sydney time.

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