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18 & 19 year old traveling for two weeks after 7 months in Brisbane

18 & 19 year old traveling for two weeks after 7 months in Brisbane

Dec 6th, 2014, 10:39 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2012
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18 & 19 year old traveling for two weeks after 7 months in Brisbane

I am writing on behalf of my 17 year old daughter and her 19 year old friend. They are currently enrolled in a school program in Brisbane area. They are graduating from their program on April 18 and would like to spend two weeks traveling around Australia.

They have said they would like to spend a week in the Cairns "area" (flying from Brisbane to Cairns) and then staying in that area for a week - then going to from there. Her friend flies out from Sydney May 3 and my daughter will be flying back to Brisbane to get her flight home to LAX. They have just started to formulate their plans.

They would like to snorkel, hike, see anything "beautiful" and enjoy. They are both young but well traveled. My daughter is from California and her friend is from Norway.

My daughter asked if I would ask my "travel" friends (what she calls Fodors!).... best place for them to stay in the Cairns area. They are working on a limited budget of course. We are open to renting them a house/apartment in that area and are looking at our timeshare as well (there are a number of options all over Australia.) I have never been and have no experience with planning anything in that region.

I will be mailing her a good guide book or two to go over in the next months but want to assist them a good base of a plan...

I realize this is all very vague but they are very open at this point, just want to take advantage of the fact that they are already there and don't really know when they will ever have a chance to head back...
Momddtravel2 is offline  
Dec 6th, 2014, 11:19 AM
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First things first: She will be able to get any number of travel guides here cheaper than you can buy & send them.

I like DK Eyewitness, which also has an App she can download. Lonely Planet is good too.

Accommodation: Cairns is awash with accommodation & as the Mecca for youngsters on gap years & Australian east coast travel, there is a good range of hostels.

Many people like Port Douglas, about 45 mins north, but most of the younger set seem to prefer Cairns, or one of the beach areas if they have a car.

For ideas properties, locations & prices,
check www.wotif.com.au; bookings.com; Airbnb;

If you have a timeshare in the area, that could be a good option ( can't beat "free")!

There's myriad things to do & see in the Cairns area. Just a few in my list would include:

A liveaboard 1 or 2 nights scuba/ snorkeling on the reef. If they can't scuba, they can do a 5 day course with PADI if they wish. Some of the operators may do a one day "Resort" course that would let them have a limited, guided dive. Of course, there are also day trips out to the Reef.

Wildlife : Alan Gillanders does great trips to the Atherton Tablelands, seeing some spectacular landscapes & spotting wildlife. Not super cheap but very good value.

They can also go white water rafting, skydiving, zip lining, kayaking - any number of active & interesting things.

Tell your Daughter to have a look at the Cairns & FNQ (Far North Queensland) website & the destination tag here. They will meet lots of other young travellers out & about, even if they don't stay at one of the hostels.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Dec 6th, 2014, 11:54 AM
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Bokhara! Thank you - thank you!!

One of the timeshares that we might be able to get is:

Australis Cairns Beach Resort hopefully that might work for them...
Momddtravel2 is offline  
Dec 6th, 2014, 01:02 PM
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As I mentioned on other thread, you need to be sure they will be allowed to check on to time share or any rental without you as they are only 17 and 19. Hostels are the way to go IMHO.
DebitNM is offline  
Dec 6th, 2014, 10:05 PM
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I agree about hostels - they are a great way for the girls to meet up with other young tourists, from around the world & locals.

As the girls are too young to rent vehicles ( unless someone up there rents to teenagers), it can be a good way to meet up with others, form a group & pool funds to rent a car to explore the area.

If they've been here 7 months, no doubt they've done that already. There's a lot to explore around Brisbane where a car is useful, if not essential.

I mentioned the time share because Momdd has one - and this pair may like a bit more solitude - I don't know them,
so just throwing it in for consideration.

I was trying to think of the proper name for the Kuranda sky cable through the treetops, which is very good. And the train can be interesting. Someone else will know.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Dec 7th, 2014, 07:06 AM
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Thanks Deb & bokhara!

I mentioend the timeshare because of $$$ we have the week and would like to gift them with it and while a hostel is inexpensive free is even better! We will gift them a couple of nights in a nicer hotel as they have lived very basic for the last 7 months and we would love to treat them and have a plethora of Marriott points.
Momddtravel2 is offline  
Dec 7th, 2014, 12:08 PM
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When we lived in Australia we went to the GBR area of Australia a lot and we've visited another couple of times since we came back to the States.

I agree that Cairns is a bit livelier and has more hostel/backpacker options than Port Douglas, but they might want to look at staying in PD anyway. (That's where we always stay.) One advantage to PD is that is has a great beach, Four Mile Beach, and Cairns only has beaches in the northern suburbs such as Palm Cove. However, in April, you cannot swim off the beach as it is stinger (deadly jellyfish) season unless you are swimming within the jellyfish netted area and, for additional safety, wearing a stinger suit. Cairns has a Esplanade Lagoon where you can swim even during stinger season.

The big attraction for this part of Australia, of course, is the Great Barrier Reef and I'm sure your daughter and her friend will want to snorkel there. If they are staying in PD, I HIGHLY recommend they go out with Wavelength. I've been out with this company 5 times and compared to the other companies I've been out with, they are simply the best at what they do--small, snorkel-only tours of the Outer Reef. If they are staying in Cairns, it is probably not worth their time and added expense of traveling to PD just to snorkel with Wavelength. There are good snorkel companies in Cairns too. What I would NOT recommend is any tour that goes to Green Island. Green Island is not part of the Outer Reef (where the most abundant sea life and coral is found) and, according to many reports, the coral at Green Island is in poor condition. Also, they might not want to go out with Reef Magic (from Cairns) or Quicksilver (from PD) as those are huge boats (100's of passengers) which go to a fixed pontoon. They should probably look for a company that will take them to 2 - 3 different locations to snorkel.

I would definitely recommend a trip to Daintree National Park and they will have to do this as part of an organized tour since they are too young to rent a car. They might also enjoy the Skyrail to Kuranda, but I would recommend they take the Skyrail both ways rather than doing a train/Skyrail combo. The train (2 hours) can be rather dull, especially if you aren't lucky enough to get a seat by the window (voice of experience.)
longhorn55 is offline  
Dec 8th, 2014, 05:04 AM
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This is wonderful Longhorn - thank you so much! I sent it to my daughter and she is so thankful! She said that the Skyrail is on her list and looks "amazing"!!!
Momddtravel2 is offline  
Dec 8th, 2014, 06:18 PM
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She is now set to fly out of Sydney on May 3 - so she and her classmate will have 2 weeks to explore Australia. I am so excited for her. What a wonderful experience.
Momddtravel2 is offline  
Dec 8th, 2014, 09:01 PM
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What's your daughter doing for Christmas, Mom?
Bokhara2 is offline  
Dec 16th, 2014, 09:17 PM
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Waw, such a nice place is this to get guided in entire Australia
K_P14 is offline  
Dec 17th, 2014, 05:37 AM
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Bok - they are going to Byron bay for a week after Christmas. For Christmas itself I think they will stay on the base where they are - and then they are all talking about going "some place" in the sunshine or gold coast - I am not sure that is exactly right this is all shared via text messaging the wifi is bad where she is and we have only sykped a few times since she arrived in the beginning of Oct. She shared amazing photos of fireworks for last night in Brisbane
Momddtravel2 is offline  
Jan 18th, 2015, 05:12 AM
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bumping this up... they are set for the first part of their trip. They will stay in Port Douglas for 4 nights and then in Cairns for 3 nights. They fly from cairns to Sydney and have 7 nights to plan out from there. My daughter is getting ready to leave on her outreach portion of her trip to a country from Australia for 7 weeks and is fairly slammed with prep work and spotty wifi in Brisbane and asked if I would come back and ask about those 7 nights. They want to finish up IN Sydney for around 3 nights or so... but would like to have suggestions on the first 4 nights -

they are interested in the blue mountains - is that a place they would be able to fill up the four nights with hiking, exploring etc? (My daughter is really into photography) The issue is they are only 18 & 19 at time of travel...not sure they can rent a car?? Is a car necessary? seems like it might be?
Momddtravel2 is offline  
Jan 18th, 2015, 03:34 PM
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I think they could make s good trip to the Blue Mountains, Jenolan Caves & possibly out to Orange with 4 nights.

They won't be able to rent a car, but train & bus transport is good.

Tell your daughter to google each of the 3 above - heaps of info.

I'd suggest 2 nights in the Blue Mountains, (Katoomba or Leura), 1 at Jenolan Caves and 1 in Orange.

The reason I'm suggesting Orange is that it's only a couple of hours from the Blue mountains and would give them a look at the Central West, which is different from anything they will have seen here. It's an area with a rich history of gold mining ( and has a big gold mining operation - Cadia - there now), grazing, farming & wine growing.

Orange is a prosperous, fast growing country city, with lots to see & do.

There are plenty of interesting walks around the Blue Mountains. One that might appeal to them is with an Aboriginal man, is a whole day trip & they would see something of Aboriginal culture.

Now, this is really important.

Before they go on ANY WALKS in the Blue Mountains, they MUST.

1. Borrow an EPIRB from the Information Centre, Police or National Park Ranger stations.

2. Tell the people where they borrow the EPIRB where they are going & what time they expect to be back.

3. When they get back, ring or call into that station & tell them they are back.

Mom, this is not negotiable. I don't care how experienced they are, how they're "just going up the track a bit ..." Yadda Yadda

Their mobile phones will very likely not work on the walks. People who know the mountains well can easily get lost/ twist their ankles etc.

Our rescue people spend far too long looking for & rescuing idiots who, had they just had the brains to do the above, would have been found in no time at all.

Harsh? Yes. I mean it to be.

I also mean for your daughter & her friend to have a fabulous time exploring his unique area.

And I'm sure they will.
It's a good contrast to the other places they will have been and with 4 nights, they have the time to explore & enjoy it.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Jan 18th, 2015, 03:39 PM
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I've deliberately not made an explanation of what an EPIRB is so you can look it up & see how easy they are to use. They are free to borrow.

I did a trip report or two about the Central West that may be of interest. Have a look under my name or "Bokhara"
Bokhara2 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2015, 02:43 PM
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My BIL and his wife and son live in Orange, we did the trip with him in his car from Sydney through the Blue Mountains to his home, and then took the bus back to somewhere in the Blue Mountains and then caught the train back to Sydney.

The previous time we visited Sydney we just took the train to the Blue Mountains. BIL met us there and showed us around. The train was a good mode of transport.
nelsonian is offline  
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