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Where to go in Australia and Tazmania in February and March

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There are 4 of us meeting in Sydney in early February. We have nothing specific planned at this point - would just like to see as much as possible - more a reconnaissance trip than a full fledged travel trip. We all enjoy mild hiking and nature and seeing new sites. We plan to rent a car in Sydney. It appears from the travel guides that we probably don't want to even attempt to go to Cairns and the Barrier Reef and further north that time of year. They also do not recommend attempting to go to the Central part near Alice Springs? Correct?? I was thinking perhaps we should start in Sydney and work our way down to Melbourne and then go to Tazmania in Feb.. One of our group (the still working one) has to return home after 4 weeks but the other 3 of us will then have an additional 3 weeks to explore. Does anyone have any advice and suggestions? We would love to see the Barrier Reef - is it really bad in Feb and March?? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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