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3 weeks in Australia December/January

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Hello everyone,
My amazing mom (who is probably reading this in all her research for the trip - hi mom!) has given me the gift of a trip of a lifetime and I chose to go to Australia. We have 3 weeks, leaving San Francisco on the evening of December 16th (Friday) and coming back January 6th (also Friday). Having absolutely no clue as to what is going on in that part of the world, we went to some friends from Australia for advice. Now that we have some basic ideas and suggestions, it seems like we are going to focus on the Queensland area with a little time in Sydney and *possibly* a few days in New Zealand on the way home. We would like to spend New Year's eve in Sydney, since that seems like it would be one of the most amazing places to be.

Basic info about us: Me, mid 20's, mom early 60's. We both like nature, coastal areas. I am more into the physically active activities (mom to an extent as well... we would both snorkel, whereas only I would scuba) but love relaxing. We love history and small towns and "off the main path" type of things. Of course, all the big touristy things are there for a reason (they are fun!) so we like those too. I am a wine person, she is not, so a day winery trip in the Hunter Valley is something that peaked my interest. We could even split up for a few days to do some different things. I am a vegetarian (no seafood either), she isn't into red meat, but loves seafood. I am pretty into food (one could call me a "foodie), particularly interested in local and sustainable farming (we have a tentative plan to stay at an exotic fruit farm, which sounds amazing).

We are thinking of flying into Cairns and doing the Daintree rainforest/Cape tribulation area then doing a road trip down to somewhere in the Noosa area, flying to Sydney from there then up to New Zealand on the way out.

I heard that some of the islands off the Great Barrier Reef do a camping/snorkeling/scuba package. I would love that for a night, mom would prefer to read a book on a glass bottomed boat and soak up the sunshine with a little snorkeling thrown in. Something for both of us maybe?

Budget - we need to keep it relatively low cost, but a few "wow" events (maybe even a resort for a night or two) would be fine. We don't mind low cost hotels, hostels (if they have a private room for the two of us), it's really just a place to sleep.

Here's the basic shell of an itenerary with lots of empty spots. We would love any and all suggestions to fill up those holes (or change around what we have) and make it special!

12/16/11 - Leave SFO at 10:37 pm
12/17/11 – Travel
12/18/11 – Arrive Cairns at 12:45 pm
Stay in: Some Cairns hotel for 1 night
12/19/11 – Drive to Daintree Rainforest
Stay in: Cape Trib Exotic Fruit Farm 1 or 2 nights for $180 per night
12/20/11 – Stay in Cape Trib Fruit Farm http://www.capetrib.com.au/index.htm
12/21/11 – Drive South to Youngaburra
Stay at Kookaburra Lodge for $90 per night
12/22/11
12/23/11
12/24/11
12/25/11
12/26/11
12/27/11 – Great Barrier Reef Tour (Snorkeling and Scuba)
12/28/11
12/29/11 – Fly to Sydney
Check into a hotel and see the city
12/30/11 – Hunter Valley Vineyards (Steph)
Rent a car for the day
12/31/11 – New Year’s Eve in Sydney
1/1/12 – Sydney sight seeing
1/2/12 – Fly from Sydney to New Zealand
1/3/12
1/4/12
1/5/12
1/6/12 – Fly Home out of New Zealand

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