13 Days in Australia - HELP!

Jul 19th, 2007, 03:02 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 7
13 Days in Australia - HELP!

My wife, 1 1/2 year old daughter and I are planning a thirteen day trip to Australia (from San Francisco) in September. I'm trying to plan an itinerary to see as much as possible without overdoing it.

We travel quite a bit and are typically on the go constantly. We rarely ever stay in one place for more than 3-4 days.

We have been to Sydney before and do not need to spend any time there, though I love the City and am likewise not opposed. Absolute musts are the Great Barrier Reef (Cairns, Port Douglas, Whitsundays or other???) and the Outback (Uluru, Alice Springs?). I would also really like to visit Adelaide & Kangaroo Island.

I am contemplating flying from the US to Adelaide (via Sydney), spending four days in that area, flying to the Outback for another four days, then on to the reef for five before heading back home again via Sydney. Does this sound reasonable or absolutely overwhelming? I am open to suggestions on itineraries as well as specific places to stay and eat.

Our would say that our budget is moderate. The airfare alone will cost us a small fortune - that side trip into the Outback is a killer! As much as I would like, I don't think we'll be able to pull off 5* resorts. We don't need a lot of amenities, but prefer places with personality and enough space for us to not feel crowded.

I look forward to any feedback you have. THANKS!
davidj94110 is offline  
Jul 19th, 2007, 08:46 PM
Join Date: May 2005
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Hi David,
Looks like a good plan - you can fly Syd-Adelaide-Alice Springs or Uluru -Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast)or Cairns with Qantas. http://www.qantas.com.au/content/dyn/routemaps/au/index

You'll need to check the schedules as some of the flights aren't direct.

Also see www.virginblue.com.au and

They all have specials quite frequently & if you sign up for their on-line newsletters you'll have advance notice. Virgin Blue also has a daily "happy hour" 12 Noon - 1pm AEST.

If it were me, I'd fly Adelaide-Alice Springs, hire a car or do a 2 day tour up to Uluru, as there's lots of interesting places to see enroute. I like Alice Springs too. You could probably take a tour one way & fly out of Uluru too ... not sure about one-way car rental (cost might be prohibitive even if the local operators would do a one-way for you).

I think it's very doable, particularly if you're used to being on the move with your daughter.

Could you do an open jaw ... fly direct into Adelaide (or Cairns) & out of Cairns(or Adelaide) ? That would save the time doing a "touch & go" in Sydney, as you've already been here.

Enjoy your journey & I'm sure you'll have lots of other suggestions shortly.

Bokhara is offline  
Jul 20th, 2007, 12:15 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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OK you are on a budget so why go to Alice Springs and Uluru? There is a lot of Outback in Australia which offers different things in different areas but each area is very interesting in itself. Let us know if you are set only on Uluru etc otherwise we can perhaps suggest other outback areas with just as interesting things to see and do without the price tag.
LizzyF is offline  
Jul 20th, 2007, 10:49 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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How portable is your 1 yr. old? Ours (now grown, but the granddaughter is the same way and she is 1 1/2 now) would only sit for a short time which precluded any long drives. I would go directly to Yulara (the town of Uluru). We looked into the drive from Alice Springs and it was quite long. I can't imagine a 1 yr old on the 14 hour flight!!! I would not try to go on to Adelaide from Sydney. That would be torture to your child IMO. Can you fly direct to Melbourne from SF? If you don't want Sydney, that might do it. You can sign up for "red alert" or something like that on the qantas site and they will email you when there is a sale. BTW, it is very expensive IN Uluru, also, not just getting there. Oh, Qantas has a pass that you can get three in-country flights with your international ticket. That might work for you. Good luck!!!
SnRSeattle is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 06:05 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,119
Adelaide is perhaps the most Outback-accessible major city in Australia. So, unless you're hell-bent on seeing the Red Center, why not simply focus on South Australia for a larger proportion of your trip to save time and expense? The rugged Flinders Ranges are a comfortable day's drive north of Adelaide with interesting and nice places to see en route, especially the beautiful Claire Valley wine country. Wilpena Pound in the Flinder's Ranges is accessible via sealed road (no 4WD necessary). It is great place for hikes and seeing wildlife. Take a scenic flight over the pound...awesome! There are at least a couple of accommodation options including the Wilpena Pound Resort, right on the edge of the national park. (In case you are not familiar, used geologically, a "pound" is a bowl-shaped rock formation with steep cliffs marking the outer edge. Wilpena Pound is about 7 miles wide). You'll find Wilpena much less commercialized than is Uluru.
RalphR is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 10:10 PM
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I agree with RalphR. See the outback adjacent to Adelaide and Cairns. Wilpena Pound is tops and a fair amount of wildlife if one is prepared for an early start.

From Cairns go to Undarra and Chillago. they are destinations in their own right and plenty outback for most. On the way through stop off on the Atherton Tablelands which is a wildlife hotspot. Ask the locals for were to go or take a guide.

This will be less taxing on the budget than a flight to the red centre.
Saltuarius is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2007, 07:07 AM
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Yes, Undarra and Chillagoe are excellent suggestions. Even though they are relatively close to the coast, they are definitely "outback", on the edge of the vast Gulf Savannah country. The look is different to that of the Red Center or Flinders Ranges. There's lots of wildlife to see, not just the lava tubes and caves (which are nonetheless very impressive). Termite mounds are everywhere. If I had only enough time to visit one of them, it would be Undarra.
RalphR is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 11:10 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
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Cairns is a good place to stay in Sept. The Great Barrier Reef is nicer at that point in time. We've had tour arrangements made there from our accommodation provider when we went for Cairns.

melissa_mae is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 09:16 AM
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Thanks to all that have provided feedback thus far! You've really got me thinking about some great options.

I think the option of exploring the Outback in Southern Australia (from Adelaide) is a great idea in lieu of going to the Red Center. Not only will it be a big cost saver (I didn't realize how expense hotels were near Ayer's Rock!) but it will also be less commercial and hopefully more memorable.

For those with concerns about so much travel with a little one, she is quite accustomed to it - though that doesn't mean she won't fuss a bit. She has already flown from the US to both New Zealand and to London. She has also been on several very long car trips. I figure you've got to break them in young!

Right now I am planning the following itinerary:
8/31 Depart San Francisco
9/2 Arrive ADL (via SYD)
Six days exploring Adelaide, Kangaroo Island and surrounding area (including wine country & outback)
9/8 Fly ADL-CNS
Five days exploring CNS / GB Reef area.
9/13 Fly CNS-SYD
Two days in Sydney
9/15 Fly home SYD-SFO

I think this should provide us with adequate time to see a lot and not feel too rushed. I welcome your suggestions about places to stay & eat as well as activities in each place. I plan on getting a car in both ADL & CNS, but probably not in SYD.

In the Cairns area, I am torn between staying in Cairns proper, Port Douglas, or one of the reef islands. I think each has its pros & cons. While I think an island stay would be amazing, the logistics would be more difficult (I hate connecting flights) and would preclude us from seeing the nearby sites on the mainland. But I can be sold if anyone has a strong opinion!

It is now the end of July and our departure is just over a month away. I still haven't book my flights (though fortunately there are still some very good deals). I don't have a ton of time to research accommodations & activities so any insight or expertise anyone can provide will be most appreciated. THANKS!
davidj94110 is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 01:07 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 576
Hi, David, re staying in Cairns/PD, etc. it depends on what you want to do. Cairns is a great base for the Tableland (waterfalls, scenery, animals) and for the Reef. There are two trips that Pat W. recs from Cairns, one is a sailing cat that goes to Michaelmas Cay which might be good for your baby because it lands and there is shore snorkeling, and a semi-sub. The other one we plan to go on is to Reef Magic which goes to a pontoon but is less crowded than the Quicksilver that we went on out of Port Douglas. Port Douglas is a nice tourist town, sort of botique, with a nice park at the end of the road where we enjoyed watching the sun set, nice restaurants walkable from many hotels. We stayed in the Le Cher du Monde and plan on staying there again, nice large room with kitchenette for $135 AUD. It has a pool but no view, but is on the main street and walk to restaurants. A lot of people like to stay in Palm Cove because it is outside of Cairns but nearby. You might like the Zoo just north of Cairns. We enjoyed it a lot, even the snake house which we didn't think we would. You can hold a koala (at least you could in 2004) and get your picture taken with it. I thought Kuranda was a pleasant market place (though I don't think we explored it sufficiently) and we bought a lot of souvenirs there, and really enjoyed the train up and the sky rail down, stopping at both stops for their mini-walks and the museum, even with all our packages including a digeradoo!!
Sally in Seattle--cold (62 F)and overcast, again
SnRSeattle is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 09:13 AM
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David: You will still have to plan carefully your time in South Australia. I'd plan on at least 3 days for a trip to Wilpena, for example: a day driving there, two nights accommodation (giving you a full day in the park), and a day driving back. The distance to Wilpena from Adelaide is something like 450 km (280 miles). That leaves you just 3 days for Kangaroo Island, etc. I havent been to KI, but I would guess it's more than a just a day trip from Adelaide.

As for Cairns, I don't think an island stay seem practical for you considering your time and budget restrictions. I'd suggest a 2-3 nights in Port Douglas north of Cairns, a night out at Undarra (seeing the Atherton Tablelands en route) and maybe a night or two south of Cairns at Mission Beach, taking a day trip over to Dunk Island.
RalphR is offline  
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