3-week August Australia itinerary: Need feedback

Old May 10th, 2007, 08:22 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
3-week August Australia itinerary: Need feedback

Hello all,

I've been browsing this site for several months now, gathering all of your valuable advice and tips about planning a 3-week trip to Australia in August (first time there!), and now that the itinerary is coming together a bit more solidly, I wanted to post it and gather some feedback from the community. Wanted to find out if all this is doable in the time frame we have, and if you all have any recommendations/suggestions as far as how & where we're spending our time, i.e., are we travelling around too much, do we have too much or too little time one spot, is there a must-see attraction somewhere that I've missed? Any advice/opinions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Mon, Aug. 13
Arrival in early a.m. Relax/tour Sydney, overnight in Sydney.

Tue, Aug. 14
Tour Sydney: Opera House, Harbour Bridge, take ferry to Manly, cliffside walks around beaches. Overnight in Sydney.

Wed, Aug. 15
Tour Blue. Mtns., bushwalking/sightseeing. Overnight in Blackheath or Katoomba.

Thu, Aug. 16
More bushwalking, maybe go to Scenic World (is this worth seeing?) Another option: drive to Jenolan Caves. Drive back to Sydney in the evening overnight there.

Fri, Aug. 17
Take a tour of Hunter Valley wineries (any tour companies to recommend here?). Overnight in Sydney.

Sat, Aug. 18
Fly to Uluru. Sounds of Silence dinner in evening.

Sun, Aug. 19
Tour Uluru. We'd like to do the circuit walk of the base, would we need a guided tour here to understand the sites & their significance? Overnight in Ayers Rock Resort.

Mon, Aug. 20
Kata Tjuta: Valley of the Winds walk. Possible flightseeing tour? Overnight in Ayers again.

Tue, Aug. 21
Fly to Darwin, flight arrives around 2 pm. See a bit of the city.

Wed, Aug. 22- Saturday Aug. 25
Kakadu. Here's where we're having some issues deciding what to do due to size of the park and budgetary constraints. I've heard that tours are recommended for Kakadu to better understand what you're seeing, but I'm not sure we can spend many hundreds of extra dollars to do a 3-day full time tour, so we're thinking of compromising by taking 1 or 2 full or half-day tours instead and doing other parts on our own. We were considering Lord's Arnhemland tour, as I'm intrigued by traveling into Aboriginal country where most folks don't go. If anyone has suggestions as what you need a guide for and what you can do on your own that would be helpful.

Sun, Aug. 26
Fly to Cairns, arrive around 9 am. Drive to Pt. Douglas, spend day at Four Mile Beach. Overnight in Pt. Douglas

Mon, Aug. 27
Wavelength Snorkel Tour. Overnight in Pt. Douglas

Tue, Aug. 28
Daintree Rainforest, Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation... we'd like a tour here, can anyone suggest a tour they enjoyed? Overnight in Pt. Douglas

Wed, Aug. 29
Drive to Cairns and see Kuranda village on the way. Overnight in Cairns.

Thu, Aug. 30
Another reef cruise, possibly w/Ocean Spirit. Overnight in Cairns.

Fri, Aug. 31
Maybe a sunrise balloon ride this morning, possibly spend day at Palm Cove. Overnight in Cairns.

Sat, Sept. 1
Fly to Sydney and go home.
lorem_ipsum is offline  
Old May 10th, 2007, 12:46 PM
  #2  
ALF
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,524
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Could be cold in the Blue Mtns - you should be prepared for that.

There is a free Ranger-guided walk that doesn't do a full circuit, but is quite informative. There are also local-guided walks that we thought were great. If you do want to do a full circuit, I'd suggest taking one or two of the shorter guided walks, then doing the circuit yourselves.

It is tough to get to Arnhemland without a tour, because you would need to obtain a permit to go by yourself - it took us a couple of days to get one. Even then, a high-center 4WD vehicle would be best to negotiate the river crossing(s) and bad roads. Also a guided tour would be great along one of the waterways. We liked the Yellow Water cruise on the South Alligator River - in August, water levels will be low, and wildlife concentrates along the rivers.

Other things you can do yourself, such as visiting rock art areas.

ALF is offline  
Old May 10th, 2007, 01:49 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the reply ALF... we'll definitely be sure to pack some warmer clothese for the Blue Mtns.

The local guided walks that you mention at Uluru... were those something you just pick up at the base of the rock on the day you went or did you have to book it in advance?

If we do Arnhemland we'll definitely do a tour there, it sounds like it would be a lot more convenient and we'll probably learn a lot more. The Yellow Water cruise sounds like a highlight... what time of day did you go and did you see a lot of wildlife? Was it mostly birds and crocs or other types as well?
lorem_ipsum is offline  
Old May 10th, 2007, 07:07 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 4,039
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It sounds like you have a good itinerary which is very do-able. You'll see a lot, but won't be rushing around too much.
I have pretty much the same comments as ALF. We have done the circuit walk around Uluru twice on our own. There are a few explanatory signs around, but you would probably get a lot of good info from one of the ranger-led partial hikes. We came upon one while we were doing our circuit and what we heard was very informative. But, it is definitely good to get away from the crowd by doing the circuit and experience the rock on your own.
You won't have much time for Darwin, but I would recommend an hour at the Northern Territory Museum, at least to see the Aboriginal art as they have an excellent collection. In the evening you could catch a movie at the Deckchair Cinema outdoor theatre. A good place to eat is Tim's Surf and Turf, but you need to go early or make reservations. It's located on a side street near the General Post Office. (You can find out how to get there at your hotel.)
If you want to go to Arnhemland, I definitely recommend going with a tour. We tried to get a permit to go on our own, but the staff at the appropriate office was rude and wanted us to jump through so many hoops that we just decided to forget it. We did the Yellow Water cruise at sunset (the last tour of the day) and it was great. I would recommend either the sunrise or the sunset cruise as the wildlife will probably be more active as it is cooler then. It's pretty much just birds and crocs.
We did a hike at the Ubirr Rock on our own and it was good. I don't think you'd need a tour for that.
I think you might have a big much planned for your Rainforest Day (August 28th). We have done Mossman Gorge (the circuit hike) and a couple hikes in Daintree National Park on one day, but we did not have time to drive all the way up to Cape Tribulation. A nice stop in the afternoon in Daintree is the ice cream factory which serves flavors like passion fruit and wattleseed. (Don't expect to find chocolate and vanilla; they do exotic flavors.) I know there are a lot of companies that do tours of Daintree and Mossman Gorge, but they are too pricey for our family of 4, so we have done it on our own a couple of times. I'm sure we've missed out on some good info, but it's easy to do on your own and we had a lot of fun being able to go where we wanted and do what we wanted.
longhorn55 is offline  
Old May 10th, 2007, 08:27 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 576
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi, we did almost this same exact tour in 2004. click on my name and scroll down through all my posts to the August 2004 time frame if you want to read the trip reports. It is very doable in the time you have. We stayed at Jenolan Caves Lodge (which I highly recommend) instead of the Hunter Valley (I had read that it wasnt' very scenic in winter and I am not much of a wine drinker, although DH is). Scenic World is great, the walk through the tree ferns etc. is interesting and educational. There are hikes that we didn't go on that people have liked. We took the ranger-led tour at Uluru as well as one of the Aborigine led ones. Both excellent. We had a car there and drove around the rock (I was having foot issues and couldn't walk that far at the time) and saw two sunsets and a sunrise over Uluru and a sunset at Kata Tjuta. Unforgettable. We stayed in Jabiru in Kakadu and took some of the ranger-led tours of the rock art, and also the ranger talks at night at the place we stayed (it was a campground but we had a "cabin"--actually a portable type building, comfortable but not fancy.) We stayed in Cairns and Port Douglas both, also. Were going on the Wavelength but the seas were high (as they tend to be in winter) so went on Quicksilver instead. We wished we had taken a tour of the Daintree because when we drove to Cape Trib on our own, we didn't really know what we were seeing. We loved the night tour with Dan Irby (although it was his partner,not he who took us). It was a great time, so great that we're going back again this October. But when we got home from the one in 2004, we were so happy with it that we wanted to go back and do it all over again! Happy planning. You can email me if you have any other questions about our trip, or if you can't find my trip reports.
Sally in Seattle
SnRSeattle is offline  
Old May 10th, 2007, 10:31 PM
  #6  
ALF
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,524
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I agree that you should take the Yellow Water Billabong cruise either at sunrise or sunset. We did it at sunrise, and it was a wildlife cornucopia! Several huge 'Salties' (crocs), as well as waterfowl. Because the trip was so early, we stayed at the nearby Cooinda Lodge, which was very nice. Also near there is the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre, and good rock art exposures at Nourlangie Rock.

As for Uluru, the ranger-led walk we went on was called the, "Mala Walk", which leaves from the Mala Walk Carpark. The times that the walks leave are posted at the Carpark, and you just show up. We also took an Anangu-guided walk along the southeast side of The Rock, that was called the, "Mutijulu Walk". You can purchase tickets for the Anangu-guided walks at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre.

I'm also thinking about a fine walk that we took in the Blue Mtns, at Katoomba. We walked from Echo Point, down the celebrated Giant's Staircase, and the crossed the valley to the Scenic Railway, which propelled us back to the top the easy way.
ALF is offline  
Old May 11th, 2007, 01:18 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I am an a Auatralian and ex- new south welshman. When in Sydney, see if you can get an apartment rather than a hotel. There is a great one I've stayed at, but I forget the name (it was an old warehouse on a small wharf going out into the harbour. Dont get a guide at Uluru, all there really is is some dreamtime (aboriginal term used to describe "before time began") artwork on the rock also, isnt that resort next to the "A dingo ate my baby" site? It's nothing to worry about. It just rings a bell
homertime is offline  
Old May 11th, 2007, 03:40 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 677
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi there,

Can I just say that you don't really need a car to do what you want to do in the Cairns area. Except for the visit to Kuranda that is. But then imho Kuranda is a totally hyped destination. And it's sold as much for the packaged journey there and back as for the place itself. That journey is the train/skytrain combo which is nice enough but takes up a day much better spent elsewhere.

Add that extra day to Sydney cos I think you may be pushed to do all you want to do on Aug 14. Where were you thinking of doing those cliffwalks? Or add it to Kakadu.

As for Kakadu - I really do think it is a far better experience with a guide - to add meaning to the aboriginal sites; to get you to the iconic landscape destinations like Twin Falls and Jim Jim; and to show and tell about the flora and fauna.

I have never been to Arnhemland - found the cost more than I wanted to spend on previous visits - so am interested to hear that you may have found a one day trip that you think is affordable.

Happy travels.

chimani is offline  
Old May 11th, 2007, 07:29 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts

Wow!!! First let me just say that you are all incredibly helpful and thanks for taking the time to post these comments.

longhorn, I'm relieved by the fact that you don't think the itinerary is too rushed. We have cut down a lot from our original schedule but still weren't sure if it was too much, so thanks. I think we will try to take the Mala walk with the ranger at Uluru and do the circuit on our own. You've given me something to think about with the Daintree portion of the trip... we don't want to try to cram too much into one day. But any place that serves great ice cream is a must-stop on my list!

SnR, did you go to the Jenolan Caves as well as stay at the lodge there? If so would you say they are worth the extra drive time from the Blue. Mtns? I'll definitely take a look at your trip reports later today. (I'm at work now and should actually be, well, you know... working... Curious to know what kind of things you saw on the night tour in Cape Trib?

ALF, are the Anangu guided tours at Uluru expensive? We'll definitely do the Mala walk as it's free, but it might be nice to do the Anangu if it fits in our budget. The walk you took in Blue Mtns sounds lovely, can you remember the name of the trail?

homertime thanks for the recommendation about getting an apt. in Sydney. We'll look into it and see if it's a more affordable option.

chimani, do you really feel Kuranda is not worth doing? We figured it might be something mellow and relaxing to do for a day... although an extra day in Kakadu is tempting...

Thanks all for the Kakadu suggestions, this part of the trip especially has been challenging to figure out what to do/where to go.... Has anyone explored the southern end of Kakadu at all? I was reading about Gunlom Falls and Maguk Falls which both look beautiful, and as I think we might have to forgo the trek to Jim Jim and Twin Falls, I'd like to see a bit of cascading waters somewhere. Anyone know if these areas are worth the trek?

Thanks again everyone!
lorem_ipsum is offline  
Old May 11th, 2007, 10:37 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 576
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi, we really liked the caves at Jenolan, but it depends on how many caves you have been in and how keen you are. The guide we had wasn't too cheesy, and we enjoyed them (we did one the day we got there and one the next morning.) We also went out to Kanangra Walls for a hike, beautiful. Bring dollars and change because there is only a kiosk to enter the park. The night tour on the Daintree didn't have a lot of creatures (Guide said there aren't that many birds etc. there in winter) but the stars!!! the serenity of the river at sunset!!! the flocks and flocks of egrets flying by to roost in a couple of trees on the banks!!!! And did I mention the stars!!!!! I can't access my bookmarks or else I would give you the URLs for the night tour, but you can google Dan Irby. I second the reccy for staying near the Yellow River cruise place to do the sunrise tour--we didn't and because rental car agreements include the stipulation that you can't drive at dawn or dusk, we couldn't go. We went on the 9:00 am tour and it was still great. RE the Uluru tours, we also went on the Mala walk, it was interesting, and we went on the Aborigine-led (actually he spoke in his native language and a ranger translated. It was quite effective and interesting) one Lira walk, I think. The weather there was fine, cool in the ams and warm and sunny in the day (we went in July). Good that you have more than one day there because one sunset was nice but the other one was spectacular (and the sunrise was just OK, but exciting just to be there, and I am NOT a morning person!) RE Darwin, we were only there an afternoon and evening (our flight out left at 6 am--not making that from Kakadu!) (see previous info on not driving before sunset, and not being a morning person!!) We didn't see much, but did have a nice Aussie dinner on the pier where they have all kinds of restaurants and all kinds of people all enjoying themselves outdoors as the sun set. It was great. You could even order camel there at a take-out place. We stuck with the barramundi--the best fish and chips there ever.
Happy planning!
Sally in Seattle
SnRSeattle is offline  
Old May 11th, 2007, 11:27 PM
  #11  
ALF
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,524
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
When we went on the Mutijulu Walk, it was just the 4 of us in our family, and I believe we paid a total of AU$50.

The Katoomba hike I mentioned leaves from Echo Point and goes down the Giant Stairway to the base of the cliffs. From there, we took the Dardanelles Pass to Federal Pass (Trail W4). Federal Pass leads to the Scenic Railway, which takes you back to the top. You can walk back to Echo Point along the cliff edge, or take a bus. Another fun thing to do is board the Skyway cablecar tram, which will take you more than halfway back to Echo Point.

Here are some maps:
http://www.explorerbus.com.au/things...sbushwalks.htm
ALF is offline  
Old May 12th, 2007, 06:48 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,123
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A couple of comments on the itinerary, which looks pretty good I think.

Your first day in Sydney looks a little busy perhaps, depending on how much time you spend in each place. For example, are you planning to do the Bridgeclimb or take a tour of the Opera House itself? Also, I wouldn't miss the lovely walk from the Opera House through the Botanic Gardens to Mrs Maquarie's Chair, a vantage point offering the spectacular view of the Opera House backed by the Harbour Bridge.

Given limited time, I'd pass on the Hunter Valley and use that day to extend your stay in Kakadu. We spent 5 nights in or just outside Kakadu in Aug 2000, travelling in a rented RV. Our top experiences in Kakadu were a one day 4WD tour out to Jim Jim and Twin Falls (awesome!) and the hike up to Ubirr Rock at sunset (unforgettable). You have to keep in mind that Kakadu is a very large park so getting to the southern end of the park (e.g, to see Gunlom Falls) will take quite a lot of time out of your short stay.

As for Uluru and Kata Tjuta, getting an early start is a good idea, especially for the Valley of the Winds walk (which, by the way, is really, really good). Starting early we had the place to ourselves mostly, then meeting up with several large tour bus groups on the way out.
RalphR is offline  
Old May 13th, 2007, 08:46 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sally, re: Jenolan Caves, I'd like to see them but my companions are lukewarm on the idea, so we'll probably wind up skipping it... they do look pretty in the photos though... also thought this might be a good backup if it winds up raining the day we planned to do some hiking. The night tour of Daintree sounds very interesting, will check into that further. About the driving in Kakadu, and not being allowed to drive at dawn/dusk... I've heard that sunset at Ubirr is something spectacular, but since Ubirr is 40 km from accommodations at Jabiru, how does one avoid driving at dusk and still see it?

ALF that guided walk at Uluru certainly sounds reasonable enough, that's a definite possibility for us. Thanks for the hike info as well.

Thanks for your comments RalphR... we'll actually have 2 full days in Sydney so we may try to do a few things the first day, but it'll have to be something pretty mellow while we're waiting for the jet lag to wear off! We're skipping the bridge climb but definitely including a tour of the Opera House. As for skipping Hunter Valley, I really wanted to include one wine tasting day in our trip... seems like a shame to go there and not sample some of the offerings! (we orginally had a Melbourne leg in our trip and were going to do Yarra Valley so this was our compromise) But good food for thought... BTW, were the falls dried up when you saw them? I've seen a few books/websites that say the falls in Kakadu become a trickle in the Dry season, so I wasn't sure they were worth the special trip. Also, I see you went in August as well and was wondering how many daylight hours we can expect in Kakadu at that time?
lorem_ipsum is offline  
Old May 13th, 2007, 09:33 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2,018
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Keeping the Jenolan Caves as a wet weather stand-by sounds like a good compromise. I like the caves, and the tacky mock-tudor hotel--Caves House.

The only thing is that I find the drive to the caves a bit nerve-wracking; towards the end it's a narrow road hugging the side of the mountain and very winding. Great views for the passengers, though.

For the base walk at Uluru, you can also buy a pamphlet in the cultural centre that explains the signficance of each section of the rock.

Although I think the Anangu-guided walk is a better option. Yulara (the name of the whole resort) is a bit of a cultural bubble and this may be your only direct contact with them.

Susan7 is offline  
Old May 14th, 2007, 06:14 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,123
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"lorem": The volume of water going over the falls in Kakadu will vary from year to year. In Aug 2000, Jim Jim was slightly more than a trickle but Twin Falls was flowing nicely. We went with a small tour group...paddled our way on canoes most of the way up to Twin Falls. Getting there early in the AM, we had the place to ourselves and went for swim in the beautiful plunge pool under the falls. It was a wonderful experience...my kids still talk about it. By the way, fom my understanding, your only option to see these waterfalls up close is during the dry season when they become more accessible. Even in Aug, our tour's 4WD had to do some fairly deep stream crossings.

As for August daylight hours in Kakadu, being well up into the tropics, these will not be too much less than 12 hours. (Daylight hours do not vary that much from 12 hours close to the equator)
RalphR is offline  
Old May 16th, 2007, 03:31 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Url for Dan Irby is www.mangroveadventures.com.au

Dan is now doing all of his tours himself but because he no longer operates every day it is best to book with him well in advance ([email protected]).
Kingfisher is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
DasFX
Australia & the Pacific
7
Mar 10th, 2010 03:13 PM
Honeybear
Australia & the Pacific
7
Sep 29th, 2007 05:35 AM
111op
Australia & the Pacific
15
Dec 28th, 2006 06:39 PM
pb_and_j
Australia & the Pacific
10
Dec 16th, 2005 11:35 AM
silkismom
Australia & the Pacific
8
Aug 27th, 2005 05:16 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:41 AM.