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Advice for first trip to Australia from May 14 to 24, 2009

Advice for first trip to Australia from May 14 to 24, 2009

Old Apr 20th, 2009, 07:33 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 4
Advice for first trip to Australia from May 14 to 24, 2009

My husband and I are traveling from USA to Sydney arriving May 14, 2009. We hope to explore a bit of GBR with our daughter, who is at U of Wollongong for semester, for first 3 days. She will return to school and then we would like to visit other areas along east coast that would be practical and within reason. We were not planning on renting a car, but are open to any/all suggestions. We plan to fly to Cairns, from Sydney and then possibly Brisbaine or Melbourne. Would that be too much to do or not enough time? We love the ocean/swimming/snorkeling. We would also like to try and include as much as possible as far as the other experiences in Aus land. We enjoy hiking and would not mind visiting a winery or two as well. We plan to spend the last 2 days with our daughter, near U. of Wollongong, Kieraville area. We leave from Sydney on May 24 about noon. We do not yet have any reservations for flights, other than our round trip to Sydney from USA, or overnights. Do you have suggestions as to where to stay that would give us good access to transportation to destinations like ferries,buses,trains, etc. and/or walking distance to good restaurants/sights in different towns/cities? We are hoping to stay at moderately/reasonably priced hotels/B&B's/Inns and prefer private bathrooms. We appreciate any/all advice you can give.
newdownunder is offline  
Old Apr 20th, 2009, 12:45 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
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As I understand your post, you are going to Australia for a total of only 10 days and plan to spend 5 with your daughter, three of those in Cairns. You would have time to go to the GBR on a snorkle/dive trip and see some other sights close to Cairns, like Kuranda, but beyond that not having a car will dampen your travel. Then I'm assuming you will spend those last two days in Sydney. I would forget Brisbane and Melbourne, you just don't have time to fly the distances and not lose a whole day. Were it me, I'd split this trip in two, and only try for Cairns and Sydney - too much to do in the latter to take days away from it.
oliverandharry is offline  
Old Apr 20th, 2009, 07:39 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Agree with oliver and/or harry. Not renting a car kind of make it tough to to do the sorts of things you like to do. Given that, why not consider a few days on one of Queensland's islands? There are a number of possibilities - most are single resort islands, no roads, with snorkeling and/or hiking possibilities. My top suggestions: Heron, Fraser, Hinchinbrook, Brampton, Dunk and Lizard Island (if you can afford it!). Best hiking is on Hinchinbrook, Fraser and Brampton; best snorkeling is on Heron and Lizard.
RalphR is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2009, 10:21 AM
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Thank you for all the good information. We thought we might be trying to do "too much" with "too little" time. We are also thinking we might try to rent a car from Sydney(as our base) for a couple days and possibly do some day trips or 1 overnight in wine country? Thoughts on places to stay? Should we book a car before arriving in Sydney? We still plan to spend first weekend, 15/6 to 17/6 somewhere near/in Cairns. We are slightly overwhelmed with all the possibilities!
newdownunder is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2009, 07:12 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
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In terms of places to stay that are easy walking distance from good restaurants (good cheap eats and more upmarket), Kings Cross, Potts Point, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst/Paddington would be my recommendations.

Chelsea B & B, on the edge of the Cross, has been highly recommended here. Kings Cross is on the railway line as well as being well served by buses.
Susan7 is offline  
Old Apr 23rd, 2009, 03:27 PM
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Thank you for your replies Susan7, RalphR and oliverandharry. We are planning on trying to finalize some of our plans and make some reservations this coming weekend. We will check into the Chelsea B&B. It sounds like a great location! Hope to get back to you soon. Probably with more questions!
newdownunder is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2009, 06:06 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
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I'm a local, and have stayed at the Chelsea & thought it charming and good value. It's also within easy walking distance of my favourite car rental company - Bayswater Car Rentals. They have excellent rates and, more importantly IMHO, very low insurance excess waiver costs (something like $50 per rental from memory.

I echo the others on your itinerary - rent a car & see something of the Southern Highlands & South Coast as you'll be down there visiting your daughter. Then head to FNQ (Far North Qld) for a bit of sun & sea. It'll be far too cold (again IMHO) to swim south of Cairns in May.

Have fun - I'm in NY at the moment, enjoying Spring here & wishing I could stay longer.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2009, 07:29 PM
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Yep, really a case of looking at your flights time consumption, will allow you to do that for Australia and get your flights booked ASAP for the cheaper ones disappear as you get closer to flight date and with limited time you can't really be messing around with hoping for sales/specials.

You need to factor in your arriving the 14th [some jetlag, and so try and hold of sleeping until mid flight so you wake up in time for an Australian morning arrival and spend day out and about, The Harbour area, with Rocks, Opera House and Botanical Gardens and then perhaps a ferry across to Manly or Watsons Bay, maybe a lunch at Doyles there [Pub at end of complex best value] and then for a South Head walk.
But do not go and have a nap or the jetlag will linger more, just plan on having tea and then an early night for a good sleep if catching a flight next morning for Cairns.

I'd look for somewhere closer to CBD just for train in from airport, getting out and about and then train back or use a shuttle service, tickets at airport for about $12 and then have one booked for departure too, being another well rated accommodation opt.

If you're flying to Cairns on 15th and planning on return flight 17th [daughter back to Uni on Monday I imagine] that's only going to leave the one day, 16th for a trip out to GBR [hopefully you'll have the best of days], and you'll have the choice of going on the largest vessel, Quicksilver out to their pontoon on outer reef or also many smaller boat options that go to closer in reefs/atolls, but Sydney to Cairns is roughly a three hour flight and then getting out of and from airport to accommodation, you'll be looking at another hour so half a day gone.
Great half days outing/walk can be had heading up via lowland rainforest boardwalk to Botanical Gardens, a short Gwonwanaland forest interpretation walk adjacent and then adjacent again is starting point for a Mt. White walk.

Have a look at or for accommodation and plenty there with a number of hotels close to the city centre which has Reef Boat piers close by but there'll be pick-up services from hotels.

Your options would seem to be either stay in Cairns area for a few more days when the daughter flys back if you want to do some rainforest/Cape Tribulation tours etc., or if wanting to see more of the south and fly back at same time as your daughter,

there'll be Melbourne to Cairns flights if you want to allocate a couple of days/evenings down there, plenty to be seen about the town and Melbourne would have you in closest proximity to wine country, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula or Mt. Macedon all within or close to an hours drive and plenty of tours on offer. is a great site for outdoor offerings of Melbourne and The Dandenong Ranges for some walking can be accessed by suburban train from Melbourne which btw has a free City Circle Tram, great way for getting about highlights of the city.

Alternately, in confining yourself to Sydney, there's a heap to be done about town there and National Parks close to north, south and a little further west - The Blue Mountains.
You can do all that without a car and I would only bother to hire one depending on what you intend to do with the daughter and heading down the coast a bit further you'll find some great smaller villages like Berry and Milton, Mogo being a bit further on just past a larger town of Batemans Bay, plenty of accommodation about there too and is one that may interest, possibly some kangaroos visiting.
Bushranger is offline  
Old Apr 25th, 2009, 03:47 AM
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Bushranger, there are many day trips out of Cairns which go to outer reef, the Quicksilver trip you've mentioned is not one of them as its out of Port Douglas.

Newdownunder, the Flecker Botanical Gardens mentioned above are near the Mt Whitfield (not, as Bushranger states, Mt White), Red and Blue Arrow walks a few kms north of Cairns city and there's a B&B right next to the gardens, its called Garden Gate and Galvins is a lovely Queenslander B&B a few streets away - see Edge Hill is one of Cairns' premier suburbs with many beautifully restored Queenslander homes in rainforest setting, only minutes from town and airport, good local eateries, and tours pick up there. The finest piece of tropical street-scaping in the north would have to be the newly landscaped Collins Avenue entrance to Edge Hill, so if you stay there don't forget your camera.
pat_woolford is offline  
Old Apr 25th, 2009, 10:21 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
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Pat, as you would know no doubt there are coach transfers between Cairns/PD - , one of the nicer coastal drives in Australia so get a RH seat on way up and a LH one on way back if the Quicksilver is what you would choose.

Is ther a larger vessel than Quicksilver WavePiercer doing daytrips to the outer reef? and given a small window of opportunity, I'd assune the WP would be better if an sea on or alternately possibly consider something closer in - think I said something like that!

Mt Whitfield [good]- got the Whit right and main point once again for you is the walk to the Botanical Gardens, the Gardens etc., and the old WW2 fuel oil tanks just along the road a bit, one converted into some sort of a dance auditorium, or practice venue last I was there.
Bushranger is offline  
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