A week in Oz in July/August

Dec 13th, 2004, 09:26 AM
Original Poster
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A week in Oz in July/August

We've been RTW planning for what seems an eternity (only a few months really) but have been whipsawed by changing circumstances with relatives, work obligations, blah blah, so that the timing and itinerary have moved all over the map - no pun.

So now it looks like we'd have around a week or so in Oz in late July or early August. We'll be coming from Rarotonga so won't need more beach/sun especially, which is a good thing because we're thinking Melbourne > Sydney before flying on westbound.

Can I expect good, bad, really bad or so so weather if we spend a couple of days in Melbourne or drive out the Great Ocean Road? How about the coastal route up to Sydney? We're not worried about the weather (what's the point?) but if it's an especially stormy or dreary time, we could just go to one city and stay put with indoor things rather than touring.

Any advice welcome.
Gardyloo is online now  
Dec 13th, 2004, 09:56 AM
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Hi Gardyioo
In that time of year the weather is winter time but you can get good fine days the Great Ocean Road is a must see it can be just as good in rough seas with waves crashing up on the rocks and cliffs as good sunny weather so go. The coastal road to Sydney has more to see than the Hume Highway but takes longer to drive. When in Melbourne go up the Rialto building you get a good lookout over the city up there.
chubby is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 10:32 AM
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I am from Melbourne so my bias is there. i have been to Sydney many times and apart from the spectacular harbour I think Melb has more to offer. The Great Ocean Road is a wonderful trip even during winter. You would be best served to take at least a couple of days to do this drive. My opinion is that a week is a very short time and I would encourage you to choose one city and stay there and really enjoy it. For example if you chose Melb you could have a couple of days exploring the city itself and nearby surrounds such as St Kilda. You can easily do all this using public transport so do not nec need a car for those few days. A trip out to the Dandenong ranges is a lovely day, try to get to William Rickets Sanctuary out there some very unique and beautiful art all in an outdoor setting. Also whilst in the Dandenongs a good thing to partake in is Afternoon Tea you will see lots of places offering this treat! Then of course a few days out on the Great Ocean Road. A good round trip is to head west out of Melb straight to the Road follow it all the way along staying somewhere half way or so (I have stayed at Port Cambell a couple of times doing this trip) Then when you get to Port Fairy turn inland and head towards The Grampians. Another lovely drive and some totally different country for you to look at. I have done all of these things mid winter as you say you can't be worried about the weather. Another thing you can do outside of Melbourne is to visit some of the great wineries if you like that. It will be more than easy to fill a week in Melb.

Have a great trip.

jules39 is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 10:56 AM
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Hello Gardyloo,

I agree with Jules39 that, if you have only a week in Australia, you should choose one region and do it some justice, rather than splitting that short time between two regions.

Friends who have done RTW trips have told me that, once they were on the road, they felt a strong need not to travel at a whirlwind pace. Even if it's not preferable to travel that way, one might survive an "If it's Tuesday this must be Belgium" trip if it's only 2 weeks through Europe. But, according to my experienced friends, that pace gets really old if one keeps it up for any length of time.

Okay, if you trust us on that point, the next question is whether you should visit visit Sydney or Melbourne. Or at least those are the options that have been presented to you so far.

I agree with Chubby and Jules39 that Melbourne and its environs are wonderful. I love Melbourne itself, the GOR, the Dandenong Ranges, the William Ricketts Sanctuary (it contains my favourite human-made objects in Australia), Puffing Billy, Healesville Nature Sanctuary, Warrandyte State Park, camel rides out of Mansfield. I could go on and on about this topic for as long as folks would indulge me.

All that said, I don't know if I would go so far as to recommend that someone skip Sydney and see Melbourne if it's their first visit to Australia. Sydney too has heaps to offer, not only the city itself but also the Blue Mountains to the west and the Hunter Valley and Port Stephens to the north. Quite frankly I would come down in favour of Sydney rather than Melbourne for a first visit.

Another possibility to consider is Brisbane and the Gold Coast. I've been to Brisbane (a pleasant city, albeit smaller than Sydney and Melbourne), but I have not been to the Gold Coast. Before I came to Fodors I got a bad impression of the Gold Coast, because my brother told me about the highrise hotels that put the beach into shade for part of the afternoon and that generally sound extremely "touristy" for want of a better word. However, since I've come to Fodors I've learned that the highrise hotels occupy only a miniscule section of the coast in the larger scheme of things. Apparently there are beautiful natural areas, national parks, etc., that easily can be accessed from Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

The advantage of this area is that it would be warmer than Sydney which, in turn, most likely would be warmer than Melbourne.

Some people say Sydney's and Melbourne's winter weather is not so bad. One gets some mild, sunny days between the cooler, wetter ones. Besides, both cities have indoor activities that one can pursue if the weather is poor.

Well, my answer to that is, "Yes and no." What do people mean when they say the weather is not so bad? Sure, the temperature doesn't get below freezing, well not at the coast anyway. But it can be jolly wet and windy, particularly in Melbourne.

Yes, Melbourne does have some great indoor spaces in which one can pass time (National Gallery of Victoria, Federation Square, etc.). However, Australian cities are not like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna and Rome. They don't have years' worth of museums, art galleries and churches to visit. Much of Australia's charm does indeed lie in its outdoor spaces.

So, while the weather is not a make-or-break issue, I would not entirely dismiss weather as a consideration.

Anyway, Gardyloo, I don't envy you the tough task of choosing which area to visit but, with only a week, I would encourage you to stick to one region.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 11:19 AM
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You are coming to Australia and you are going to miss one of the Natural wonders of the World and are thinking of Melbourne or the GOR - in winter to boot !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There is much more to the GBR than sun but if you think you have had enough of that why not think of something totally different like say Darwin and Kakadu and that area which has no comparison throughout the world.
I guess I will get blasted here but Melbourne is just another boring city like about 1000 other cities in the world, the weather is pathetic especially in winter and there is nothing special about it. Sydney at least is special and different and interesting BUT not so much in winter - but it is not anywhere near as bad as Melbourne in winter
There are so many things in Australia that are different, special and interesting that it would be a waste of a trip unless you picked on something like that. Far north Queensland has many, many interesting things to see and do other than the reef which is very different from where you will have been, one such thing is being a Postman for a day flying with the postal service to all the outlying cattle stations up to the tip of the country and seeing areas that most people never have and never will.
I personally think that the Northern Territory is the last "real" wild west on earth and there is nothing in comparison to it.
Don't waste your trip here........please
lizF is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 12:56 PM
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Oh Liz I entirely agree. I guess I thought Gardyloo was set on either Syd or Mel so that is what I gave my opinion on. Perhaps I should have read the question with a bit more of an open mind! As I said I am from Melb but saying that I think the Darwin Kakadu and Uluru areas would be a perfect into to Oz. I did do a trip driving from Uluru to Darwin but we took 2 weeks or a little longer to wander up there spending a few days in Kakadu, Kings Canyon, Katherine, The Rock etc. Fantastic trip. Also Far North Queensland is a definate attraction. A week can easily be spent flying into Cairns and then exploring from there up to Cape Tribulation with some time spent out on the reef. Yes if I were to recommend destinations to a visitor to Oz I would put those places way ahead of any of the cities and July Aug is the perfect time of year. I still stand by trying to focus your time when you only have a week and not trying to do too much.

Happy travels

jules39 is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 02:42 PM
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To clarify a bit - the stop in Australia is a case of capturing an opportunity rather than a purposeful visit. Our RTW itinerary requires we travel via NZ en route to Singapore, and we're not penalized if we add a further stop in Oz, provided it's a location served by either Air NZ or Singapore Air, or preferably both. SYD, MEL, ADL and BNE are all eligible. But this is not - that's not - the visit to Australia that we will make in the future. That one will allow for more time, travel, and at a time of year that works better for more extensive touring.

I do appreciate the feedback; keep it coming and thanks.

BTW, anyone been to Norfolk Island and care to comment? An easy hop and FF mile earner on NZ that we might look at in addition to (not instead of) somewhere on the mainland.
Gardyloo is online now  
Dec 13th, 2004, 03:16 PM
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Wow your head must be in a whirl Gardyloo the Gampians is a good idea but if time is limited you may not be able to do it Norfolk Island is the most lay back place to go to you will find any where every one will talk to you and will make you feel at home it is full of old history and every one is related to everyone some where there is lots of good trips to do and go on
chubby is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 04:31 PM
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It's many a year since I visited Norfolk Island, so things have probably changed a bit. I don't recall there being a wealth of activities, but it was certainly a good place to unwind. It's about 5 by 3 miles, green and peaceful. Cows have right-of-way over vehicles. You can fish. It has some ruins left over from its days as a particularly grim convict settlement, and is also notable for the fact that descendants of the HMS "Bounty" mutineers were relocated there from Pitcairn Island, one prominent local name being Christian. When I was there many of these people still spoke a unique dialect among themselves, a mix of English and Tahitian (and somebody told me, Welsh). The locals want some form of autonomy, but want to retain the support of the Australian taxpayer - representation with no taxation, perhaps. Maybe someone who's been there lately can provide a rundown on things to do there.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Dec 16th, 2004, 06:38 PM
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If you do decide to visit Melbourne and do the Great Ocean Road drive, check out whale watching at Warrnambool (at Logan's Beach, I think). You can usually see the southern right whales about that time of year.
marg is offline  
Dec 20th, 2004, 12:14 AM
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Your description of Norfolk Island is still roughly correct! Great place to de-stresss for a cuppla days.

Melbourne in July / August - aaarrrrgggghhhhhh!
margo_oz is offline  

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