8 days to explore great barrier reef

Old Jul 30th, 2010, 09:57 AM
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8 days to explore great barrier reef

My Wife are i are planning a trip to australia next June. We have alloted 8 days to explore the great barrier reef and queensland. We are mid range travelers ( approx $175Au ) per night for lodging. I have done alot of interest and pretty much have an idea of where to go, but i wanted to get everyone's open opinions and see how they compare my research. Our main goals for this part of the trip are beachs, snorkeling, and wildlife/nature. the other parts of our preliminary trip are sydney, uluru, and Melbourne. All opinions are welcome and appreciated!
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Old Jul 30th, 2010, 11:05 AM
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What a fabulous trip you are planning! I was in Queensland (and Sydney) in Fall 2009 to visit family so it wasn't really a touring vacation. However, one thing I thought I'd mention is that the towns in Queensland are much further apart than they seem on a map. Many of the towns are so tiny they consist of a post office and a meat shop and that's it. ( I traveled from Northern California where we are used to seeing extended suburbs and lots of services). So it will be important to plan gasoline stops in larger towns and also to carry some food with you.

Through my cousins I discovered that often the best deals in beach towns are actually holiday apartments, kind of like condos. Some of these have great locations right on the beach and have pools, tennis courts and, of course, big fully-stocked kitchens in the apartment so you can prepare meals.
I thought food was a bit expensive in Australia. The rellies thought $16 AU was an inexpensive lunch, but here, that is not a cheap lunch.

I especially enjoyed the Whitsunday Islands (went there as a kid also) and snorkeling. The wildlife is everywhere in Queensland. Loved the brilliant birdsongs each morning and wonderful colors of the birds. A trip to Eungella was worthwhile to see the platypus in the wild. Although it was a 2 hr drive from the coast, I enjoyed seeing the sugar cane farmlands and rural areas along the way. Eungella is a national park and there are some very nice hiking/walking trails there. And to me, beach-walking in the non-touristy areas was the best.
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Old Jul 30th, 2010, 11:07 AM
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Forgot to mention Cape Hillsborough. Herds of wild kangaroos and wallabies lounging about on the beach!
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Old Jul 30th, 2010, 11:30 PM
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Hi, 8 days isn't long to do "everything" in Queensland, so I would recommend that you choose Cairns as your base since June is their winter and the farther north you are, the warmer it is. We visited Cairns area in 2004 in July and it was pleasant weather. We were told that the Whitsundays would be too cold at that time of year. We also visited in 2007 in October. How dedicated snorkelers are you? If very dedicated, I would recommend a 3 day liveaboard the Spirit of Freedom. It's a diveboat, but they take snorkelers on the Cod Hole and Ribbon Reef trip. The snorkeling was FANTASTIC!! If you want to only spend one day, then contact Greg at www.daintreeair.com and fly to Lizard Island for the snorkeling. The boat goes in the Lizard Island vicinity so the snorkeling is equally good plus you get a view of the coast and water from the plane that will be a highlight. (you also get a flight with the SoF trip). Wildlife viewing--contact Alan Gillander as a guide, day and night tours that are really great. (http://www.alanswildlifetours.com.au/) He will tailor your day trip to your interests. By the way, if you click on my name, you should get my trip reports somewhere. In 2004 my online name was SnRSeattle. Highlights of our times in Far North Queensland include Dan Irby's evening trip on the Daintree, the gondola trip to Kiranda, the tour of Aboriginal rock art by Guurrbi tours out of Cooktown, tour with Gary of Chillagoe Cabins and staying at their place (really recommend this! http://www.chillagoe.com/) and meeting the wonderful Australians. We stayed at Lilybank B&B in Cairns and at Le Cher du Monde in Port Douglas (PD is closer to the Daintree area and is a nice boutique town vs. the city of Cairns.) Both of those places are below your daily budget, but still great to stay in--and then you'll have the money for either the SoF or Daintree Air!! Happy Planning!
Sally in Seattle
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Old Jul 31st, 2010, 04:51 AM
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To economise on accommodation I'd consider the occasional caravan (trailer) park, which often have the best beachside locations in town and offer pleasant cabins for rent with cooking facilities.
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Old Jul 31st, 2010, 07:50 PM
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I would support Sally in her suggestion of Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands for your reef and wildlife interests. Easy to get to and from by air from those southern ports and has direct flights to Uluru.
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Old Aug 4th, 2010, 01:30 AM
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A great place to stay in Cairns is http://www.lilybank.com.au/ an old style Queensland house run by Pat Woolford who is regular on this board and a mine of information about Queensland.
In Port Douglas another great B&B good for Mossman Gorge is
For snorkelling you could do worse than Mission Beach which is one of the places where the GBR is closest to the shore. An unusual place to stay is http://www.sanctuaryretreat.com.au/ which is right in the rainforest and accommodation ranges from lusx rooms to the open sided huts in the forest.

Alternatively, rent a campervan for at least part of the time which will provide a great deal of flexibility.
Some photos of these palces on our blog entries 31 onwards:
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