3 week trip need help with itinerary

Aug 24th, 2009, 01:50 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 579
3 week trip need help with itinerary

Hi there, HELP! 3 week trip beginning in Sydney going up to Brisbane and possibly out to Ayers Rock. Would like to see anything to do with the nature of Australia - want to spend 4 days in Sydney and then either have a driver or take a train up to Brisbane. Can anyone tell me how to find a driver - or anything about the trains?

We are looking to travel in the last week of March and the first 2 weeks of April

How expensive is food in Australia?

Any recomendations on hotels that are central to locations and include breakfast that are quiet and safe?

Do we use our ATM cards to get Australian money - is our money worth more or less?

Any and all suggestions are appreciated.

These are some of the things we want to see Sydney Aquarium, Blue Mountain Wildlife tour, Koala Sanctuary, Steve Irwin's zoo, Kuranda Rainforest Village the scenic railway in Port Douglas, Aboriginal experience of some sort

Thank you!!!
flycatcher06 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2009, 06:59 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 911

Use the ATMs as your money is not legal tender in Australia.

If you wish to see the nature and wildlife in the wild, contact Alan Gillanders www.alanswildlifetours.com.au for your time in north Queensland and Carol Probets www.bmbirding.com.au for your time in the Blue Mountains.
Saltuarius is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 04:57 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 579
Thank you so much does anyone have any hotel ideas - preferably hotels that are quiet, safe, central and include breakfast for $200./night maximum.

Also any idea of driving services between cities?
flycatcher06 is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 03:44 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 11,984
Here's a good website for hotels. www.wotif.com.au
Although these rates are only applicable for the next 30 days, it will give you an idea of what is available.

I'm not quite sure what you're looking for in "driving services". We have taxis and limos, but not the cheap drivers and vehicles you would find in Asia, for example.
Australia being the size it is, it would be prohibitively expensive to hire a taxi or limo between cities. Brisbane is a mere 950km or so and about a 12 hour straight through drive from Sydney.
This website will help you get an idea of distances.

The most practical and economical way, given your 3 week time limit, would be to fly between the locations on your itinerary. The main airlines are Qantas www.qantas.com.au, Virgin Blue www.virgin.com.au and Qantas' budget subsidiary, Jetstar www.jetstar.com.au. You can subscribe (free) for their online specials.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 04:46 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 10

My wife and I tried to do basically the itinerary you suggested two years ago and, frankly, it just didn't work for the reason Bokhara pointed out. The distances in Australia are so much larger than American maps lead you to believe. However, Quantas' raison d'etre is to solve that problem. Here's what I'd suggest to get the best out of three weeks in Oz:

A week in Sydney: get some sleep, some drink, see the Rocks/Opera House, eat dinner at Darling Harbor (where the Aquarium is), take the ferry across Sydney Harbor to Taronga Zoo, take a boat to the cliffs at Port Jackson, etc. To get a sense of Australia's beach culture, go to Bondi Beach for lunch overlooking the breakers.

Catch a plane to Cairns for a sail and hiking in one of the world's oldest rainforests (avoid the crowds at Daintree and find a guide to Wooroonooran National Park).

Fly to Darwin and spend a few days at Kakadu National Park. When you're ready to leave, catch the Ghan Train to Alice Springs (or even all the way to Adelaide). If you have back problems (or just like to sleep at night), pay for the first class seats and get a sleeping cabin. As part of the Darwin-Alice run, the train stops for a few hours at Kimberly and will arrange (very inexpensive) trips to the stunning Kimberly Gorge.

To see the Outback monoliths, you really need to fly to the resort at Yulara (accommodations range from tent to five stars), or the more exclusive Longitude 131 with views of Uluru (Ayer's Rock). Once there, arrange a trip to Uluru that gets you there for sunrise (or seriously consider taking a trip to Kata Tjuta (Mount Olga), to avoid the thousands of tourists). Uluru is sacred and many Aboriginal Australians view hiking on the monolith as sacrilege; instead have an Anangu guide take you on the Valley of the Winds hike for spectacular views of the landscape. Another hint, if you fly out of Alice: book your return to Sydney through Adelaide; the plane will fly directly over the National Park.

If you have the budget for it, go to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide or return to Sydney via the overnight Indian-Pacific or fly back.

I hope all this helps!
nomadstravel is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 05:29 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
flycatcher, I strongly recommend investing in a guidebook e.g. Fodors/Frommers/Lonely Planet/Rough Guide), which will answer all your basic questions and many more. Which is not said to deter you from using this and other online sources to flesh out what you've learned. Currency exchange rates, e.g., can be found at www.x-rates.com.

How expensive is food in Australia? That's relative - where do you live? And are you referring to restaurants, fast foods, supermarkets...?

Your location also affects the answer to your question "is our money worth more or less?" - whose money? If US$, the exchange rate has been hovering around AU$1.00 = US$0.83 lately. That of course could change markedly by the time you travel.

Check with your bank to confirm that your ATM card is OK for Australia.

Bokhara2 has made the point about driving Sydney-Brisbane, i.e. that it's a damn long way and as this is not a third world country the cost of a driver would be prohibitive for all but the well-heeled. Have you considered flying? Or renting a car and driving yourself, perhaps? (Note - we drive on the LH side here.)
Neil_Oz is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 07:44 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,338
"-is our money worth more or less?"
In my opinion, Yes!

I also concur with Neil_Oz about investing in a guidebook for the basics. Another web site for exchange rates is www.xe.com
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 09:43 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
"-is our money worth more or less?"
In my opinion, Yes!


[Orlando, I didn't want to get into the question of what meaning "worth more or less" has in this context. If €1.00 - AU$2.00 for instance, does that mean that the AU$ is "worth" only half a euro? If AU$1 = 15,000 Vietnamese dong, is the dong worth only 1/15,000th of an Aussie dollar? Depends on what they'll buy in their respective regions, doesn't it?]
Neil_Oz is offline  
Aug 28th, 2009, 05:57 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 579
Thank you Nomadstravel - this is the info i was looking for!!!

We live in NH - so i guess our food prices are cheper than living in a city.

We really did not want to have to fly but it sounds like we could just fly once and then from how it sounds we could take the train to
Ayers Rock.

The itinerary is becoming a lot clearer in my mind. We were hesitant to drive and were hoping for some kind of transport.
Do they have buses etc that run between cities?
flycatcher06 is offline  
Aug 28th, 2009, 02:37 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
flycatcher - yes, we do have buses that run between cities. Personally I would rather poke a fork in my eye than undertake another long-distance bus trip anywhere, but they're there if you want them. Google Greyhound +Australia.

This is why a guidebook is an invaluable companion; it will set out all your transport options and much, much more.

Unless some stunningly wasteful infrastructure project has occurred in the desert without my noticing, there is no rail line to Uluru, nor I suggest ever will be. (Just for the record, it's not "Ayers Rock" any more, it's known by its indigenous name of Uluru.)

Forget about getting a train from Brisbane to Uluru, if that's what you meant. There's a N-S rail line between Adelaide and Darwin, passing through Alice Springs, but Uluru is a 460 km* (5 hour) drive from Alice Springs.

To give you some further idea of distances, Adelaide-Alice Springs and Alice Springs-Darwin are EACH about 1500 km, or about 950 miles, by road or rail - 3000 km or 1900 miles all up.

As for food prices, you'll find most prices in Australian convenience stores, supermarkets, fast food outlets and restaurants apparently more expensive than in their NH counterparts. The difference is mitigated by (a) the fact that you'll be getting a break on the exchange rate, (b) tipping is not expected in Australia (our waiters etc. receive a living wage), (c) there are no state sales taxes to be added to the bill at the end as in the US (published prices will always include a 10% goods & services tax, not applicable to fresh foodstuffs).

Back to transport, Bokhara2 has told you how far it is from Sydney to Brisbane. You can double that for Brisbane north to Cairns/Port Douglas. Again, unless you have a lot of time, flying is the only realistic option.

Accommodation: check that guidebook to begin with, and also look up www.wotif.com, a last-minute (actually last-3-weeks, I think) hotel/apartment booking site, to give you some idea of what you get for your money in the places you want to go to.

* You'll have to get used to the metric system in Australia. To help get you started, to convert from kilometres to miles divide by 1.6. 80 km, e.g., is 50 mi. Celsius to fahrenheit is trickier, sorry.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Aug 28th, 2009, 04:10 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 11,984
This link will give you an idea Australia's size relative to the USA. It may also go some way to explaining why, with a population of just 20m, the vast majority of whom live on the eastern seabord (NSW,Vic, Qld), there simply is not a diverse transport infrastructure in the remoter areas.

Regrettably, due to years of government incompetence and disinterest in the rural areas, it is also true to say that there were far more railway (train) lines, better medical services and education in country areas 40 years ago than there are today. But that's a discussion for another day.


Google has an excellent "Get Directions" function which will assist you in estimating driving distances and times.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Aug 28th, 2009, 04:51 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
flycatcher, am not sure if you realise that Kuranda, Port Douglas areas you're interested in are at least 1700kms from Brisbane and nearly that far from Steven Irwin's Zoo. There is a bus service Brisbane-Cairns, the Greyhound "hop-on, hop-off" fare is $304 one way. And it takes about 18 hours of solid road travel, with a few meal stops at roadhouses. A quick check of Virgin Blue website is showing fares from AU$159 for the two hour flight - keep your eye out for Virgin Blue and Jet Star special prices as suggested by Bokhara, you could easily do a lot better than that.

By the way, the Kuranda Scenic Railway/Skyrail leaves from Cairns, not Port Douglas, which is about another hour's drive north. Pickups are available at Port Douglas, but this adds significantly to the cost.

Hope this helps a bit.
pat_woolford is offline  
Aug 29th, 2009, 04:28 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 579
Thank you so much - by the way I do have a guide book which i have been reading. We are thinking now that we will have to give up on the driver. we are thinking of 5 days in Sydney - I am looking at the Ibis Sydney King Street Wharf or the Holiday Inn - does anyone have any ideas on if one is better than the other? We will then fly to Brisbane - we really want to see Steve Irwins zoo - we might have to give up Port Douglas. Can anyone suggest the best location and a hotel in Brisbane and any additional day trips? Then we will fly to Alice Springs - can anyone suggest neat things to do in Alice Springs and then we will fly to possibly Melborne and then home. Any hotel suggestions for Alice Springs or Melborne are also greatly appreciated! Thanks for all your help
flycatcher06 is offline  
Aug 29th, 2009, 05:21 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,338
Not counting the airport location, there are three Holiday Inns in Sydney. I have stayed before at the Old Sydney Holiday Inn in the Rocks http://tinyurl.com/ox55y8 and can recommend it without reservation. It is a very short walk to Circular Quay and from it's rooftop pool area, has a magnificent view of the harbour. The restaurant has a very nice buffet breakfast as well.

Fodors has lots of information on things to see and do in Alice Springs, on this web site under "Destinations". Have a look: http://tinyurl.com/kokqrm
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Australia & the Pacific
Feb 22nd, 2013 04:01 PM
Australia & the Pacific
Oct 23rd, 2011 05:25 PM
Australia & the Pacific
Mar 9th, 2007 11:14 PM
Australia & the Pacific
Feb 1st, 2007 01:16 PM
Australia & the Pacific
Jul 9th, 2002 05:42 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 -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:02 AM.