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Trip Planning Advice Welcomed

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I shall be travelling in Eastern Australia between 1st Jan 2014 departing on 16th Jan, after spending 10 days in Melbourne with friends.

This will be the first time I have ever travelled and will be travelling alone during the second part of my trip.

I'm really looking for advice on:
• how long I may wish to spend in each place
• activities that would be good
• places to look for more advice
• experience from others who have done this before
• ideas of places that others think would be worth visiting
• places to avoid
• best way to travel
• etc.

I'm sure whatever I end up doing I will have a trip of a lifetime, but I don't want to end up aimlessly wandering around not really knowing where to start or what to do, which is my main concern.

For background I am more interested in nature, hiking and scenery than history, museums, architecture and art. Having never travelled before I have zero experience of what I may like outside of general interests. I will be 30 at the time of my trip.

In terms of budget, I'm happy to stay in backpacker accommodation for parts of the trip but wouldn't mind the odd few days of something a bit nicer (but not superdooper luxury!). I suppose it would be useful to know where it would be most appropriate to spend a little more, and where budget will best.
Happy to fly between places, or bus – but prefer to see more things than spend time travelling to save say a couple of hundred pounds.

Places that I think I would definitely like to visit include:
• Sydney itself
• Blue Mountains
• Fraser Island
• Great Barrier Reef

In order to do these things it looked best to travel between Sydney and Cairns (or vice versa), with my international flight out of one of the two cities.

Thank you in advance for ideas and help!! I hope that I have given enough information but please ask if you would like more.

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