30 days in Australia(June/July 09), what to do?

Old Apr 3rd, 2009, 12:49 AM
  #1  
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30 days in Australia(June/July 09), what to do?

I know there is a lot of these threads already, but some of it is not a good fit for our group, and we are still debating about New Zealand. I'm going with my family, which includes my mom, cousin, and two younger brothers. Besides the 14 year old, all of us are over 18.

So far it's Melbourne(5 days, maybe more, this area is covered since I have relatives in this area), Sydney(5 days), Cairns( 5 days? we all don't know how to swim, which is a concern for us, will this prevent us from snorkeling? or would it be too cold? Hm, maybe I should analyze some weather reports).

Then I have no idea what to do, since I just at glance see that a lot of Australia is outdoor sports, which my mom can't do or water sports/beaches. The beaches would be fine if not for the weather? Which I heard might be passable in some cities, but in others the water would be far too cold?

A friend suggested Alice Springs, Ayers Rock etc... but I heard pretty much that driving is a way to go to take in the area? (>.< I want to avoid driving as all of us have the worse directional sense known to mankind) Maybe 5 days for this area?

New Zealand was another recommendation, with flying into Christchurch(1 day), then queenstown? The "naked bus" (9 hours or a flight maybe)

If we want to go further to the Doubtful Sound etc, can we fly or we forced to drive? (Is NZ easy to drive?) 5 days here? Looking at recommendations, I think only the southern island is of interest to us. Another question is NZ worth it, since my cousin has to pay a visa to visit(while the rest of us don't, the visa is over $60usd)

That leaves me with 5 more days, should I just add a day to each area? Which progression would be the best to fit all these areas in? I will be starting from Melbourne. I know roughly where these places are, but flights are confusing me since some places don't offer routing I need(are muti city fares available? such as flying to sydney then flying to cairns etc. back to melbourne? or would this be expensive and be better to book a bunch of one way flights? Also, should I be booking these flights now? )

Recommendations for places to stay at any of the places(besides Melbourne) would be appreciated as well. I want our family to have a good time, yet save money while we can(since looking at some of these tours Cairns alone probably will cost a minimum of $400usd)
psychoidiot is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2009, 05:31 AM
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Well you seem to have the usual suspects in there - MLB, SYD and the Cairns area for the Reef (BTW I don't know how much research you have done, but there are other things to do as well up in FNQ - Far North Queensland, ie Cairns area). And Uluru.

First let's get one thing out of the way - you "heard" that driving yourself is the way to go. That's the problem with "hearing" things - it's just one person's opinion. It happens to be a popular opinion on this forum. People seem to think that if you don't have your own wheels you're not going to see what you came to see. People hire a car just to get to Port Douglas!! I don't get it at all!! And I particularly disagree when it comes to the Red Centre. Look, IMHO it is the way to see Tasmania; it can be lots of fun if you concentrate on a smallish area and just explore the low key stuff - ie find it for yourself; but when it comes to the Rock there are tours that ADD to the experience rather than DETRACT from it. If you are a big enough group you could maybe even get an organisation to customise one for you. Anyway to give you an idea, two all-ages, cheaper end outfits are:

www.waywardbus.com.au
www.wayoutback.com.au

There are more luxurious offerings too. Or just google Uluru tours, Kings Canyon Tours. This will highlight the other approach which is to string together a set of shorter tours (like guided walks, visits to other landforms, sunrise viewing, dinner with camels, etc, - meaning different members of the group can opt out if they want to.

So I would consider going to the Rock and I would place it in the itinerary like so - sydney, cairns, melbourne - then by road to Adelaide (this is the popular Great Ocean Road - there are tours or this is a good one to drive) .. then the Centre - you could take the train (the Ghan) although it's not cheap. It would use some of your spare days.

Me? I'd find the time to take the Ghan from Alice Springs to Darwin and go to Kakadu National Park. That's a five day extension all in.

Re Beaches. Too cold to swim in the south. Some folk say perfectly OK up in Cairns. I found it cold in early July, but then the solution is to wear a wetsuit! All the boats going to the reef have them for hire. They also have things called "noodles" which can be used by non-swimmers to stay afloat while they snorkel.

Book flights as early as possible.

Finally, you don't all have to do the same thing at all times. Just because your Mum doesn't want to bungee jump doesn't mean you can't. She can take herself shopping or to a musuem, or sit by the pool and read - whatever turns HER on! Taking this idea a little further, it may be that you could spend a few days in completely different locations. 14 year old and parents might like the Gold Coast (Dreamworld and that sort of thing), whereas the 18 year olds might find Byron Bay (only an hour further south) more appealing. Do you surf? If no, do you fancy learning? You can do so at both Gold Coast and BB.

You have loads of questions and you'll find good answers elsewhere in previous posts. But I would also strongly advise you to get hold of a good guide book or two and get better acquainted with the country you've decided to visit and its possibilities.

Happy planning.

Cheers.
afterall is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2009, 06:12 AM
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Are you coming from the States? If so, take a look at the Aussie Airpass. It includes airfare from LAX (or SFO) to either Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane. Then, you can choose 3 internal flights. Also, since you don't have to enter and leave from the same place, you can use the Airpass to visit 4 different cities.
I also recommend you get a good guidebook and map and see what Australia offers in addition to the beaches (which are fabulous and shouldn't be missed).
We have been to Port Douglas (north of Cairns) a number of times in July and we did not find it too cold for swimming. We did use wetsuits when we were snorkeling because we were in the water for long periods of time, but we didn't need them just for swimming off the beach. There are so many things to do in this area besides snorkeling and swimming that your family would enjoy--rainforest tours, animals at the Rainforest Habitat, a train/Skyrail trip to Kuranda, Sunday markets in Port Douglas, etc. However, I do recommend some type of snorkeling trip as the boats carry various types of flotation devices for those that don't swim or can't swim well. You might enjoy a trip to the Low Isles off of Port Douglas because you can snorkel off a beach there. Those that want to snorkel can do so and those that don't can just enjoy the beach. Also, many of the boats that go there offer glass bottom boat tours so you can see the sealife that way.
It can be chilly in the southern part of Australia that time of year, so if you want to stay warm, you might want to stay north. We have been to Darwin and the Top End of the Northern Territory a number of times and enjoyed it very much.
I also highly recommend several days in Canberra. You could do this by rail or bus from Sydney, but I suggest you rent a car and drive since a car comes in very handy in Canberra. (It's an easy 3-hour drive from Sydney). Canberra has great museums and the teens would probably enjoy the Australian Institute of Sport and Questacon, the hands-on science museum (mine did). There's also lots of wildlife near Canberra, so take a drive out to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve or Namadgi National Park. If you go to Namadgi, do the easy 3-mile RT Yankee Hat Hike and you will be rewarded with up-close viewing of hundreds of kangaroos from the trail. (They will watch you as much as you watch them!) Also, there is a rock at the turn-around point with Aboriginal drawings. We've done this hike many, many times and never get tired of it.
Finally, it will be school holidays in Australia in June and July, so it's important to start booking flights, accomodations, etc. as soon as possible.
P.S. Remember that NZ is further south than Australia and it will be much colder there in June/July in case that is a factor for you.
longhorn55 is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2009, 08:30 AM
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I've known of people truly organising themselves for lightning trips around half to two thirds of Australia in two thirds to a whole month, mixing flying with travelling in the two thirds case/two thirds case and just driving in the whole/half case.

Sounds like you'd be better getting all your options together and doing some group therapy, as you say there being plenty of threads with info on them.
Bushranger is offline  
Old May 7th, 2009, 11:35 PM
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So I ended up going on a tour agency tour of New Zealand for 6 days, starting on 7/12

I'm having trouble figuring out whether I should do Gold Coast or Tasmania(but we really don't want to drive).

6/19-6/23 Melbourne
6/23-6/28 Cairns
6/28-7/3 Sydney

I was planning on getting the Virgin Blue pass because the flights end up slightly cheaper, but I need a third part. I could just make it a one stop, i.e stopping in Sydney then waiting 2 hours for the flight to melbourne.

So my choices were fly back to Melbourne from Cairns and attend a 10 day bus tour of Canberra, Sydney, Gold Coast and Brisbane. Or we could go to Tasmania, but yeah my mom absolutely refuses to drive.

Fly to Sydney and plan own itinerary, then fly back to melbourne (but then I have 10 days left before I go to New Zealand on 7/12)

Fly to Sydney, stay there a few days, go to the Gold Coast, the fly back to Melbourne.

Or lastly, just book normal tickets with the prices shown on webject(about 60 aud more)

Unfortunately Alice Springs got thrown out the window because my mom vetoed it.
psychoidiot is offline  
Old May 10th, 2009, 05:25 PM
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Who taught you to drive if your Mum refuses to drive with you?
Saltuarius is offline  
Old May 10th, 2009, 10:32 PM
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My cousin =D But I realized I just killed my entire itinerary because apparently Cairns was bought out by someone's airpass till forever... I don't know how I'm going to get to Cairns now.
psychoidiot is offline  
Old May 11th, 2009, 12:55 AM
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Getting to Cairns is easy, but you may not be able to use your Aussie Pass.

Just watch for the daily "happy hour" on www.virginblue.com.au (Noon - 1pm Australian Eastern Standard Time) for specials.
Bokhara2 is offline  
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