12 nights in Australia -- How to split?

Old Apr 22nd, 2011, 03:06 PM
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12 nights in Australia -- How to split?

Due to time constraints, it looks like we'll have just 12 nights on the ground in Australia next March. The original plan was to include 4-5 in Sydney, 2 in Alice Springs, and 2 in Uluru, and 2-3 in Cairns, and return to Sydney for a final night before our international flight home. Looking at the map and the comments on Tripadvisor and here, Alice Springs and Uluru seem like a big expenditure of time and money (very remote with limited options for accommodations), so we're considering omitting them completely. If we divide the 12 nights between Sydney and the Cairns area, what is the recommended mix? (We expect to be in recovery from jet lag the first day.) We'll do day trips from both, using the two cities as our bases.
victoria_reynolds is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2011, 05:59 PM
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I think you've made a good decision not to try to do so much in only 12 days.
Having been to both Sydney and Port Douglas (not Cairns) many times, I would either divide the time evenly or spend 5 days in Sydney and 7 days in Cairns (I'm a beach person).
longhorn55 is offline  
Old Apr 23rd, 2011, 01:56 AM
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I second Longhorn55's suggestion but there is plenty to do in and around in Cairns other than beach things which are just as wonderful. Enjoy your time in both.
ivenotbeeneverywhere is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2011, 10:31 PM
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Its unfortunate that you only have 12 nights in Australia as it truly is an amazing place with so much to offer!

I would recommend about 5 days in Sydney. You could spend a full day going on the ferry across to Manly, another full day at the Zoo (best views of Sydney from here), a full day out to the Hawkesbury to visit the country life and famous Sunday markets, another full day up to the Blue Mountains and the rest of the time doing smaller activites such as a visit to Bondi, the Botanical Gardens, Centre Point Tower, Hyde Park and general exploring of Sydney.

After that you could take a 3 hour domestic flight north of Sydney to Cairns and hire a car where you could drive to Port Douglas/Palm Cove etc which are all much nicer and less touristy then Cairns and from there you can do day trips to the Barrier Reef which is amazing!

You could also take a 1 hour flight south of Sydney and visit Victoria where you could spend time exploring beautiful Melbourne before hiring a car and heading to places such as Port Phillip where you go at sunset and watch the penguins come up on the beach, Apollo Bay which is just a beautiful seaside village and also the start of the amazing Great Ocean Road drive.

Another place that is truly breath taking and some times forgotten is Tasmania. I personally travel to Tasmania quite frequently and it still takes my breath away. The houses, the food, the scenery, the people and the seafood. Hard to decide what I love more!

It really just depends on your interests as to where you go! I travel to all of these places for work quite frequently and am willing to offer more suggestions. Also I am sure there are many more forums on each specific destination.

Happy travels on wherever you choose to go!
AngieD87 is offline  
Old Apr 25th, 2011, 05:07 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions! My husband can't be away from work for too long, hence the 12 nights. But we may be able to squeeze out another 1 or 2, in which case I might add back Alice Springs/Ulruru. I've found lots and lots to do in Sydney and the Cairns area (seems like this will work better without a car --an important detail I forgot to mention--than other bases for the reef plus I'm intrigued by the rainforest,etc). If I can organize a couple of days packed with things that are in close proximity. we might be able to go back to plan A including the Red Center. Tasmania sounds fascinating & I know Melbourne is nice and quite different from Sydney, but they might be good to visit if we ever come back in summer. I know we wouldn't want to do the Red Center or the northern areas in summer! Another possibility we would consider if we had time: Darwin. Again, it would involve quite a distance. How would the climate there be in the second half of March?
victoria_reynolds is offline  
Old Apr 25th, 2011, 08:35 PM
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Angie suggests above to go to Palm Cove or Port Douglas as Cairns is touristy. This is very bad advice. They are 100% tourism, far more so than Cairns which is also industrial and the regional centre for governemnt, health and education services.Those wanting to avoid touristy areas would dislike the pretentious resort area even more than slightly shabby Cairns. So in fact it is in reverse. If you want touristy, resort with Palm trees then Port Douglas and Plam Cove are ideal but because they ARE touristy and so therefore prettier than Cairns, a port city. If wanting to get off that trail then look for smaller accommodation choices such as specialist, bed and breakfast, farm stays, rainforest lodges., Much richer experience and far more likely to experience the real Australia and see random wildlife.
Kriol is offline  
Old Apr 25th, 2011, 09:19 PM
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Couldn't agree with Kriol more, if you don't want to be in the middle of Cairns city its only a few kms out to B&B's; there are several at Edge Hill, nearby suburb, with good restaurants frequented by locals, not tourists.

For instance, The Garden Gate B&B is situated right across the road from Cairns' Flecker Botanical Gardens, with more old growth rainforest surroundings than anything in Palm Cove or Port Douglas. Easy access to reef trips out of Cairns, most of which are significantly less expensive than those out of Port Douglas.

Have a look at www.bnbnq.com.au for B&B's, farmstays, rainforest lodges etc from Mission Beach in the south to Cape Tribulation in the north, including Atherton Tableland to the west.
pat_woolford is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2011, 12:24 AM
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I note that you talk about not wanting to come in Summer. You have to remember that Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere (I assume you are from the Northern Hemisphere?). I think March 1 marks Autumn but in North Queensland there are only 2 seasons, wet and dry. Here is some information you might want to consider:

Cairns / Palm Cove / Pt Douglas - Driving north of Cairns for about 20 minutes you come to a turnoff, which takes you to Palm Cove (5 minutes). This means it is a "resort" lovely beach etc, but close to Cairns itself, and attractions in the vicinity. Continuing on for about another 30 mins (2 lane, sometimes wind-y hwy) you get to Pt Douglas, which is beautiful, quiet and more up market. However, it is also a tad isolated. It is really the "end of the line". Although from there you can do tours to the Daintree (day trip with "Billy Tea Tours" is recommended) and to the Reef for Scuba/Snorkling (you want the "outer reef". The Daintree is where the Rainforest meets the Reef as in right to the waters edge. You will also see lots of crocs in their natural habitat (yes really). WARNING: Late march is technically still the end of the wet season, so you could get some bad weather. Check out this website which gives the rainfall over the past few years http://www.perfectoarts.com.au/weather.html

This year we have had continual wet weather since Cyclone Yasi (Feb 2nd). However, it tends to rain for a while, then the sun comes out. All tours etc are accessible from Cairns. It depends what you are interested in. You can also spend days in the Daintree in "Eco Retreats" in the rainforest.

Please don't let me scare you off Cairns - it is a beautiful place, and would probably be very exotic for you, the rainforest is beautiful. The only other places you would see these landscapes would be Sth America or Africa I would think. I would just have a backup plan, thats all.

Re Ularu etc, bear in mind it would be VERY hot, at any time of the year. Check out this website http://www.apex.net.au/~mhumphry/aust.html

I would also recommend you go to VIrginBlue website and subscribe to their emails, as they have regular sales 3-6 months forward, so you could get cheap flights between your destinations. http://www.virginblue.com.au/

Darwin - I would rule this out as it is definately at end of the Wet season. There will be plenty of water around, but you wont see much wildlife - you see the wildlife as the water recedes and all the wildlife is forced into the small pockets of water available, I fell for that a few years ago. Very disappointing. I went at Easter, and the wet had just finished and most of the attractions hadn't re-started yet.

Sydney - beautiful harbour - absolutely breathtaking. Ditto for the Blue Mountains.

Short flights from Sydney will take you to Adelaide / Melbourne / Hobart which are all very different from each other. It depends what your interests are, where you are from (if you are european, Melbourne will feel like home). Adelaide is beautiful, sparcely populated and renowned wine area (a few days in the Barossa Valley is well worth it).

Tell me what your interests are and I can help recommend some places you might find interesting. e.g are you a beach person? Do you just want to relax, or do you want to be out doing, seeing, and experiencing what the area has to offer?

from Australia
len1962 is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2011, 02:54 AM
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I have spent holidays in Cairns region about 20 times and out of that I have spent only one holiday in Port Douglas. Its OK but its very touristy and very noisy down the main street because of all the tourist things there. There are limited tours from Port Douglas compared with Cairns, the tours are generally more costly from PD and of course if you want to go to Atherton on the Atherton Tablelands it is further away - it is however closer to the Daintree however but I prefer Cairns to PD because of the variety of excursions you can do from there more easily, the shopping and the restaurants etc plus REAL people live there.
Cairns and the surrounds are back in business fully after all the rains and cyclone and I am sure that you will enjoy everything that area has to offer, it is a magnificent area of Australia and I love it to bits.
ivenotbeeneverywhere is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2011, 09:28 AM
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Thanks again for the helpful comments. As tourists ourselves, I expect we'll have to put up with some "touristy" atmosphere. The possibility of noise and tackiness in some of the resorts not withstanding, there is no where else on earth (as was pointed out) where we can see such wonders as the Great Barrier Reef AND a rainforest AND the aboriginal cultural center on consecutive days! I think we will stay in Cairns proper because of the accessibility issue (as we won't have a car). it sounds like we'll be closer to the reef boats, especially if we stay on/near the Esplanade. We definitely would like to see the rainforest, and I have noted the excursions using the rail and cable car, etc. One concern relates to the amount of rain to expect. I had been advised that March is pleasant weather-wise, but perhaps this was referring to other parts of Australia. Just prior to reading the comments here, I was studying one of the weather sites, and I saw a huge amount of rain is typical for Cairns in March (450+MM?)...and then a very dramatic drop in rainfall in April (170MM?). Since our plan would put us there the final week in March, should we expect less chance of rain compared to earlier in March? Should I allow an extra day in case of a rainout?
victoria_reynolds is offline  
Old Apr 28th, 2011, 08:14 PM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 117
Skip Uluru! It's just a big rock, like small rocks but bigger; and it's in a remote, unpleasant location.
madgicsh is offline  
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