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2-3 week trip to Perth, Cairns, and possibly another East Coast City?

2-3 week trip to Perth, Cairns, and possibly another East Coast City?

Old Sep 22nd, 2013, 11:11 AM
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2-3 week trip to Perth, Cairns, and possibly another East Coast City?

My boyfriend and I are currently planning a trip to Australia over Christmas and New Years this year after he returns from his deployment to Afghanistan.

He wants to go to Perth so he can see old friends. We plan on spending a week or so there- any recommendations? We are very nature central. Already planning on doing Swan Valley and enjoying the city, hitting up the beaches, and maybe Lancelin and the Pinnacles. Anything else while we are in Perth?

After Perth i want to travel to Cairns so we can do the Great Barrier Reef. Perth and Cairns are the definite must haves of the trip.

We want to incorporate lots of hiking, being outdoors, The Outback if possible too....I don't know much about the country just yet - which side of the country would be best to include hiking in the Outback? We want to also use public transport as much as possible and haven't coordinated for hotels yet or which days we would need a rental car. We will fly from Perth to Cairns.

Is two weeks enough?

We are currently trying to see if we can do three weeks. If so, I want to add in some of the cities on the East coast. If we have to pick, should we do Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane?

Basically, I want to cram in as much as possible since this is a once in a lifetime trip. But I also want to be able to relax and explore a bit in each place. That's why I simplified a lot of it and settled on Perth and Cairns as non-negotiables. Any and all help/advice you can give is so much appreciated!!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2013, 12:34 PM
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You are wise to limit yourself to two destinations in two weeks if those destinations are on opposite sides of the country. You will essentially lose a full day just traveling between Perth and Cairns as there are no direct flights.

You might look into staying somewhere other than Cairns if you are interested in spending time on the beach. Cairns does not have a beach and the closest ones are in the northern suburbs: Palm Cove, Trinity Beach etc. Port Douglas might be a good choice for you as it has the aptly named Four Mile Beach and access to lots of boats that go to the GBR. You can arrange for bus transportation from the airport to Port Douglas and if you choose accommodations close to town (and the beach), you can walk everywhere you need to go. You could rent a car for a day or so to go to Daintree National Park and other sights outside of PD.

Personally, I would spend a 3rd week in Sydney, but your interests may make Brisbane a good choice as well. I'd research this a bit and see what each city offers which might appeal to you.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2013, 03:56 PM
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Summer is not a good time to go hiking in the outback, but you could certainly go hiking in the Daintree National Park or other areas in Far North Queensland.

You could consider going to Broome and Ningaloo Reef while on the west coast of the country.

If you only have two weeks as Longhorn advises, still to two locations.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2013, 04:31 PM
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If you do consider Ningaloo, keep in mind that's it'll be cyclone season along the NW coast of WA. It'll also most likely be hotter than the hinges of hell, and not the best time for hiking, let alone hiking in the outback. You'll find it next to impossible to get there and back in a week without non stop driving - Ningaloo is a trip that requires more time, as distances along the NW coast are massive and attractions/towns/petrol stations are few and far between.

Having said that, it's easy enough to get an outback experience here in WA without having to go too awfully far. You'll feel like you're in the Outback just driving 90 minutes east of Perth to New Norcia, which is Australia's only monastic town.

You'll also get a taste of the outback by driving up to the Pinnacles or on to Kalbarri, or even to Kalgoorlie, a mining town about eight hours from Perth.

Perth is surrounded by national parks and walking tracks, so you don't have to stray very far from the city center to fit them in. The Perth Hills is a good option for hiking too, just keep an eye out for tiger snakes and dugites when hiking in the bush. Just be aware that they are there, take care when stepping over logs or when walking near water/lakes, and you'll be fine.

Here's a list of walking options I put together not to long ago for Perth:


You want beaches? We've got some incredible beaches in WA - you can't go wrong there.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2013, 09:34 PM
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I just got back from 3 weeks in Australia and flew into Sydney then left right away for Cairns and one night there. My daughter and I got a rental car and drove to Port Douglas which is close to the Great Barrier Reef,has wonderful restaurants and shopping,good snorkel trips and dive trips along with day trips to Mossman Gorge,Daintree Rain Forest and even up to Cape Tribulation.
After Port Douglas which in my opinion is soooooo much better to base yourselves in than Cairns,we flew to Melbourne and did the Great Ocean Road for 5 days and then the actual city of Melbourne. Then back to Sydney for a week.
Personally,Cairns is very touristy,surfy/back packer vibe than Port Douglas. PD has 4 mile beach along with the GBR which is gorgeous and a fun town with more of a town feel to it.Port Douglas goes to more of the outer reefs of the GBR which are beautiful. Palm Cove is very nice but seems very small and yuppy upscale to me?
I would do Perth,Port Douglas and Sydney for your vacation.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2013, 06:47 AM
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While in Perth, go check out nearby Fremantle.

Your trip from Perth to Cairns, with a switch in either Sydney or Brisbane, is the equivalent of going from, say, San Diego, CA, to Bangor, Maine. A long journey, longer than flying from the US to Europe! Plus you lose two hours to time zones (Queensland doesn't do daylight saving while Sydney/NSW does, so you'll have to reset your watches once or even twice). So it's a full day no matter which flight you take.

Prefer Port Douglas over Cairns.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2013, 05:35 PM
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You all are fabulous! Thank you SO much for the insight ..I really appreciate it- seems everyone picks Port Douglas over Cairns- as long as I get to do the Reef, I will be happy. And I think we would like to avoid the more touristy areas anyway so thanks SO much for that tip!
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Old Sep 24th, 2013, 01:10 AM
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OKAY! So, we've finalized much more (sort of):

21Dec-5Jan (slightly flexible) for travel dates. So no three weeks like I wanted Damn our profession.

Flying into Cairns or another city on the East Coast- spending about a week on the east coast. Then flying to Perth to explore Perth and Fremantle (and whatever else we find) and spending NYE and post Christmas there. We will be staying with friends on the West Coast and possibly try couch surfing on the East Coast.

We will do rental cars only on little trips and public transport mostly - do you all think getting rental cars last minute around the holidays would be hard to do?

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Old Sep 24th, 2013, 02:19 AM
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It might be hard to do in Perth, busy travel time. Best place for reasonable car rentals here is Bayswater.
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Old Sep 25th, 2013, 05:08 AM
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If you decide to come to sydney you might like this Youth Hostel. Book early though, it's popular.

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