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1st time to Oz. Suggestions appreciated. (tripplanner001)

1st time to Oz. Suggestions appreciated. (tripplanner001)

Old Mar 9th, 2014, 12:31 PM
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1st time to Oz. Suggestions appreciated. (tripplanner001)

"Cristeen, how long are you going to be in Sydney? Depending on what interests you, I may be able to give you some suggestions. Just came back from my second trip there, and I spent just under a week in the city. Looking to go back again."

Not to hijack someone's else's post, I will start a new here. Thank you for the prompt, tripplanner001.

We are planning to extend a trip to Hawaii to Australia since we will be traveling so far.
We are starting on the US East coast. We travel to HNL 10/24-10/30/14. We will fly to AUS, probably Sydney Oct. 30th, 2014
We have never been to AUS but it has been a trip I've been wanting to take for some time. I know we will not be able to see everything. Time is limited, as always. There just never is enough time for everything.
We are not campers. We would like to stay in nicer retreat or hotel. Spa treatments are of no significance to us.
We are very interested in wildlife, hiking, little snorkeling for dh only. We will plan to fly to several parts of the country to see as much as possible. Haven't decided on car rental. I'd rather not, if we can get away without. It is not out of the question, though.
My thoughts are 3 days each:
Sydney for main tourist sights Opera House, Bridge climb, Blue Mountains
Cairns for wildlife GBR, Port Douglas, Daintree, Mossman Gorge
Melbourne for wine country/vineyard, Great Ocean Rd

We would really like to see:
A good vineyard
Opera House
Beach
Rain Forest
Great Barrier Reef snorkeling
Animals in the wild. Not a zoo
Platypus (we know it is very difficult)
Kangaroo
Kookaburra
Koala
Cassowary
Glow worms

Thank you for your suggestions. It is appreciated.
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 01:58 PM
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We are taking an escorted tour to Australia in October. There will be a free day in most of our stops.

I have found this tour of the Sydney Opera House called behind the scenes that looks enticing. And The King and I is playing while we are there. Planning to do that as well.

http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/visit/tours.aspx
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 02:07 PM
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Here's some suggestions to get the ball rolling.
For Melbourne, I'd suggest hiring a car and driving through the Yarra valley (lots of wineries and lovely scenery) to Healesville. I know you said no zoos but Healesville Sanctuary shows Australian animals (including platypus) in natural surroundings. Look for Beechworth Bakery in Healesville for yummy cakes and light lunches - forget the calories. I think the coach companies do similar tours if you want to avoid driving in a strange country.
If you are looking for a tour along the Great Ocean Road, see if there one that does it in two days - very rushed on one day. Another nice place to visit is Ballarat - built during Australia's gold rush days and full of nice old buildings and with an excellent folk museum.

For Cairns, our favourite place is Palm Cove, about twenty minutes drive north of Cairns. Lovely beach, great views, lots of good places to stay and eat. Public bus service to Cairns if you need it. From Palm Cove you can arrange tours to the reef and Port Douglas, but driving around here is fairly easy if you want to hire a car and do your own thing.
With a car, you could drive to Port Douglas and then drive further north to take the ferry across the Daintree River to Cape Tribulation - a really good day trip with beautiful scenery.
Be aware that Cairns does not have a beach - an artificial lagoon has been built on the waterfront.
Hope you have a great holiday.
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 03:02 PM
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You're welcome Cristeen. If you have nine days in Australia, I would do only two places rather than three in order to give you enough time to enjoy all the places you're visiting.

In Sydney, it's easy to get around without a car. My suggestion would be to purchase a MyMulti pass, which is good for unlimited rides on the city's buses, trains, and most importantly, ferries. Spend at least a full day hopping on and off the ferries around Sydney Harbor; go to Manly, Taronga Zoo, Milsons Point, Cremorne Point, Watsons Bay, etc. If you enjoy hiking, there are many spectacular walks / hikes around Sydney Harbor including one between Tarongo Zoo and Cremorne Point and a classic, between Spit Bridge and Manly Beach. There are several nice walks / hikes in the Blue Mountains too. The Hunter Valley, a wine producing area outside of Sydney, is also a great place to spend a couple of days if you like wines / vineyards; a car would be useful here. You could easily spend a week in the Sydney area and not run out of things to do.

Melbourne is also a great place to spend several days. There's plenty to do in the city and numerous opportunities for day or overnight trips. As Marg mentioned, the Yarra Valley vineyards are nearby. The Great Ocean Road is spectacular. And a day trip to Phillip Island is highly recommended if you likely little penguins. And we saw plenty of kangaroos and koalas in the wild along the way to both Phillip Island and the Great Ocean Road.

I haven't been to northern Queensland but others here can give you advice.

For some more ideas, you can find a report of my trip to Australia in December over in the Asia forum titled "From Singapore to NZ..." or you can click on my name.

If I can help with any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Hope this is helpful.
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 03:06 PM
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And here's a link to my report: http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...s-cultures.cfm
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 03:42 PM
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Thank you all! This is a great start.
rncheryl : Thank you for the tour suggestion. It sounds like a good one. I would love to see a production of some kind at the Opera House. The King & I would be fun. I saw it in Washington, DC when I was in High School when Yul Brenner was still playing the King.

marg : Thank you for your many suggestions. I think will we try several of them. One of the hotels/retreats we are looking into is in Palm Cove. I'm glad you mentioned the area. It looks like a reasonable middle ground from the airport to several areas we would like to see.
We are not completely opposed to getting a car. I think it would not be needed in Sydney but sounds like a good choice for the outlying areas.
I will also look into Healesville Sanctuary. Thank you. And anything with "bakery" in the name sounds good to me!

tripplanner001: Thank you! We are not firm on the 9 days. I just don't want to be gone too long since we are starting in Hawaii for a week. We would like to see as much as possible. That said, we will have to limit what all we can squeeze in at each stop. I like your multi-pass suggestion for Sydney. Sounds like a good idea. Sounds like the Great Ocean Road will be a must. We can see a lot of different things on our list just in that area. I will check out your trip report next.

Thank you all so much!
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 05:56 PM
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You're welcome, Cristeen. If you're like me, you'll fall in love with the country and want to come back again and again. I'm already musing a third visit.
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 07:00 PM
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The Atherton Tableland region near Cairns is your best best for wildlife. Due to our limited time (we also had only 3 days and like you wanted to squeeze in the reef), we hired a guide http://www.wildwatch.com.au/Home but you can also rent a car and go on your own. We were able to see tree kangaroos, several species of wallabies, kangaroos and possums as well as platypus in an afternoon/evening. We didn't have time to go to the Daintree/Mossman Gorge. I understand that would be better for birds and reptiles. Here are my pics from our short stay in Cairns share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=0AZNnDlk5YtmbF8g

That was from our first whirlwind trip to Australia where we wanted to get a little taste of everything. We went to Cairns, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Tasmania and Sydney in 16 days. We only rented cars on Kangaroo Island and Tasmania. We absolutely fell in love with Tasmania (and have returned there since) with Queensland our second favorite.

Can you possibly reduce the number of days in Hawaii and add more time to Australia?
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 07:16 PM
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Patty, Thank you! The Atherton Tablelands seems easiest. Tasmania would be great, but I don't think we will have time for it. Is that another flight or is it a ferry trip?
Thank you for sharing your pictures. They are beautiful! I love all of the wildlife.
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 07:35 PM
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You can fly to Tasmania from Sydney or Melbourne. There's also a ferry but I wouldn't recommend it if you're time is limited.
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 01:54 AM
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Re transportation options in Sydney; If you get a MyMulti pass, you can use it to take the train to the Blue Mountains. Once there, there is a hop on hop off bus to take you to the major sites which is probably the best bet if you only have one day. You don't really need a guided tour.
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 09:18 AM
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Cristeen, we are doing the same itinerary as you but in a three week time frame. It will be the beginning of winter (June) when we go so I added a few days to PD as it will be warm up there. GOR sounds fabulous and upon all my research I always knew I would make that part of our trip. We are Floridians so a break from the summer heat will be nice. It's going to be fabulous!
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 05:31 PM
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Avidcook, June would be a perfect time to visit Uluru / Kata Tjuta if you're interested in the outdoors and enjoy walking / hiking. If you're fit, then a hike through the Valley of the Winds is an unforgettable experience.
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 08:29 PM
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eliztravels2 - Thanks! That sounds like a good idea. tripplanner also suggests the multi-pass. I think we will do that. I hope we are able to make it to Blue Mountains.

Avidcook- what fun! I will have to look for your trip report when you return. We are also Floridians. Now. We moved here almost a year ago. Our priority is GBR but we will definitely add some other stops. Still working it out.

Have a great trip. It will be here before you know it!
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Old Mar 14th, 2014, 04:07 PM
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In't Hawaii pretty much like Florida?

Spend your time in Oz. Use the time you had planned for Hawaii to do the Barrier Reef/Cairns area properly.
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Old Mar 14th, 2014, 07:59 PM
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<In't Hawaii pretty much like Florida?>

Ah, no. But I agree that it makes more sense for the OP to spend all of her time in OZ and do Hawaii another time, although this appears to be an add-on to a Hawaii trip.

cristeen - Hawaii and Australia aren't close, about a 10.5 hour flight, plus a 21 hour time difference. Add to that your ~nine hour flight from Florida to Hawaii, plus domestic flights within Australia, and you'll be spending a significant amount of your 16 day vacation on planes.

I travel from Australia to the US once or twice a year, and I personally find the travel and the jetlag exhausting to the point that I refuse to go for less than three weeks, although it's usually closer to five weeks. I totally get that you may not have that kind of time and that you may not struggle with jetlag as much as I do, but I just wanted to point out how much traveling is involved and how much it can limit what you can see and do once you get to where you're going.
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Old Mar 17th, 2014, 07:26 PM
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Thank you all. I do appreciate your suggestions and concern. We are seasoned travelers. I think we will be fine.
Hawaii is already scheduled. There is not an option nor a desire to alter that plan.
Yes, Oz is an add on. Truthfully, dh hasn't been as interested in Oz as I. I was able to convince him that this would be a good time to go since we are already in Hawaii. No matter what, we would need to book travel from the East coast to the west coast for us to get to Oz, be it this trip or another.
That said, we are spending a week in Hawaii. It is not at all like Florida.
How many days we will stay in Oz is still in question. For me, it is an extensive trip to plan. Neither of us has been before. Like any other trip, I must make a list of priorities. I'm sure we could spend months there and still not see everything. I've spent my entire life in the US and still haven't seen all that is offered here.
I've just posted here for some suggestions to help me make that priority list. Someone, kindly, offered some suggestions on another thread. I did not wish to hijack. So here we are.
Thank you for you help and suggestions. As most any traveler knows, it is appreciated when we can get advice and maybe even make a few friends along the way.
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Old Mar 17th, 2014, 09:07 PM
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Hi Cristeen

I've used that "we're nearly there, may as well continue" tactic to get my DH to places where he might not be so keen as me. It's always worked out well, even he will admit that

Happy to help you with any specifics when you formulate the plan. I'm Australian, have been (sometimes several times) to all your current considerations, so ask away.

Cheers
Caroline
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Old Mar 18th, 2014, 07:35 AM
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Caroline,
Thanks! I do appreciate your help. I have dreamed of visiting Oz for years. I know dh will love it. He is an ex military brat. His family lived in Taiwan a few times when he was a child. He is not looking forward to the long flight. That's another good reason to add on to another vacation. It gives a little bit of a break between flights. He was fine with our 17 hour South Africa flight a couple of years ago. I'm sure he will manage just fine with this one.
Our biggest priority right now it GBR. He may snorkel. I will just look at the water and beaches. I will go with him on the boat, but I don't get in the water. We both love the wildlife. I think we should see Daintree and Mossmans Gorge while we are in Queensland. I am thinking Palm Cove would be a good area to stay for a few days since it is not far from the Cairns airport and on the way towards several of the places we would like to visit. Do you have any areas you would suggest staying?
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Old Mar 18th, 2014, 11:30 AM
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Port Douglas is a lovely small town, interesting shops and cafés, with a nice beach to lie on. I haven't stayed at Palm Cove.

One option to consider might be Green or Fitzroy Island. Both are short boat trips from Cairns, DH can snorkel, you can chill in the cafe.
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