2 weeks in Australia itinerary advice needed

Old May 31st, 2009, 08:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 77
2 weeks in Australia itinerary advice needed

Hi all,
An email from one of the discount travel sites quoting super-low fares to australia started me down the road to planning this trip. i've spent the weekend looking at fares and also at places to go and things to see, and once I get my boss to sign off on 2 weeks of vacation on Monday, I plan to book my ticket. I'm hoping to get some advice on my itinerary beforehand. The dates I'm looking at are two weeks between August 28 and September 30, exact dates pending Monday's conversation. I found an itinerary on Frommer's website that seemed to hit some of the highlights, which i realize is all I'll get from 2 weeks.

Day 1 arrive SYD from JFK in the morning, check into hotel, try to stay awake and see some of the sights.
Day 2 - Sydney
Day 3 - day trip to Katoomba / Blue Mountains
Day 4 - Fly to Cairns
Day 5 - Day trip to GBR
Day 6 - 2nd day trip to GBR
Day 7 - Day trip to Daintree
Day 8 - ??
Day 9 - Fly to Ayers Rock / Uluru
Day 10 - Uluru
Day 11 - Uluru
Day 12 - Day trip to King's Canyon?
Day 13 - Fly to SYD
Day 14 - SYD
Day 15 - Depart SYD for JKF

Airfares from the east coast had been a big deterrent for me to try to get to australia before [$2k+], so this $730 fare gives me some leeway. I like being outdoors in nature rather than cities, thus Uluru and GBR. I had hoped to find a way to fit being aroudn the whitsunday islands into this, but I couldn't get the logistics figured out. I've got a lot more reading of my guidebook to do [I'm using the Rough Guides Australia - any comments on others' experiences with the content / places to stay, etc?] but I'd appreciate any comments or suggestions. From what I've read, early to mid September in Uluru should still be springtime and while hot during the day, it should still be bearable for being outdoors, even at midday. My abbreviated must-see list is Sydney's harbor, opera house and bridge, the great barrier reef, and Uluru. I would like to observe some of Australia's varied wildlife [yes, that to me means koalas and kangaroos, i'm sorry to say], but I really hate zoos; i'd much rather go to yellowstone national park to see the black bear than to the bronx zoo. I'm hoping fodorites can put me on the right path. I'll also likely be traveling by myself and I'm trying to limit flights and how long i'm stuck at airports, etc. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm not tied to Cairns as the only location from where to get my slice of the GBR and am open to other suggestions. Thank you in advance for your help!
sjk1976 is offline  
Old May 31st, 2009, 03:42 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
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As you have so little time, is it possible to get a flight into Sydney but return from Cairns or vice versa: you have a lot of flying time in this itinerary that it would be good to minimise.

Also I'd increase the time in Cairns and cut the nights at Uluru down to two. There's a lot to see in the vicinity of Cairns, but at Uluru there is the really just the two things: the Rock and the Olgas. The resort is very isolated and just that a resort, visit Alice Springs if you want to get a sense of the broader culture of the Centre.

You can see kangaroos at Euroka Clearing at Glenbrook in the Blue Mountains, they were introduced there and there's lots of them. Koalas are harder to see in the wild, if all else fails take the ferry across the harbour to Taronga Park Zoo.
Susan7 is offline  
Old May 31st, 2009, 05:05 PM
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"I would like to observe some of Australia's varied wildlife "
Then use day eight to visit the Atherton Tablelands.

If you take Susan's advice and drop one of the Uluru days then I would suggest that you overnight on the Tablelands. Sightings of Platypus along the creek in Yungaburra have been very regular of the early morning lately but a few people trying in the evenings have missed out. By staying overnight it makes taking a nocturanl tour there less of a stress, not having to drive down the range late at night. The possums are very cute, most Australians have not seen Tree-Kangaroos and the information will add to your Australian experience.
Kangaroos can be found at the Mareeba golf course and Mareeba Rock Wallabies are habituated at Granite Gorge and will come to you for a feed. The Cathedral Fig or Lake Barrine for Musky Rat-Kangaroos. These litte critters have more primitive features than any other extant kangaroo.
A personalised tour will get you these animals and some of the rarer ones. See www.yungaburra.com for accommodation and tours. if you do your research you could do it all on your own.
Koalas are very rare in north Queensland so try to get good info on a locality near Sydney.
Saltuarius is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 11:50 AM
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Note that your day trip to Kings Canyon from Uluru will likely start before sunrise and entail about 6 hours on a bus for the round trip. The two areas are NOT in close proximity. I did it a long time ago, sleeping on the bus the whole way to the Canyon.

As I count, you have four nights at Uluru. This is too much because you can see all you need to see in less time. You can get a late afternoon trip to the Olgas and walk around there. The next day you can take a tour around Ayers Rock and do a sunset/night activity like a plane flight over the area. The next day you can take the Kings Canyon tour. After night #3, you fly to your next destination.

You may also consider going straight to Cairns from your transpacific flight from LA and doing all the Sydney adventuring at the end. This eliminates a travel day and gives you more time on the ground in Australia.
BigRuss is offline  
Old Jun 3rd, 2009, 12:11 AM
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Hi sjk,

To chip in on Saltuarius' post, there aren't many koalas near Sydney either - the only time I have ever seen one in the wild was once several years ago in South Australia. They are rare just about everywhere nowadays - better try to see one in a wildlife park if you are desperate for a sighting!

lavandula is online now  
Old Jun 3rd, 2009, 05:47 PM
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One really reliable koala viewing area is near Port Stephens (about 2-3 hours north of Sydney), it's a peninsula called Tiligerry:


The two times I've been I've seen koalas, but like Lavandula I haven't seen too many in other places. With so little time, this might be a bit too much of a detour.
Susan7 is offline  
Old Jun 5th, 2009, 02:02 PM
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I also recommend a Tableland day. We toured with Alan Gilanders during the day and took his night spotting tour. both great. If you want an unforgettable GBR experience, consider going out on Spirit of Freedom liveaboard boat for the 3 night ribbon reef trip. It is a dive boat with up to 4 dives a day, but we are snorkelers and snorkeled our brains out, too. The staff were very helpful, especially when they found out we were OK on our own, and the food was great. You get a flight back from Lizard Island to see the gorgeous water and rainforest from above. You could fly to Uluru and then fly out of Alice doing the Kings Canyon on the way. The plane goes through Alice anyway.
Happy Planning!
Sally aka SnR and SnRSeattle
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