And yet another Oz itinerary

Old May 23rd, 2005, 10:49 PM
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And yet another Oz itinerary

After juggling dates and working around flight availability, we're zeroing in on a final itinerary for August in Oz. The start and end dates are fixed, arrive in Sydney on 31 July, leave from Sydney on 17 August. (The dates are set by prior and onward travel requirements.)

Here's the outline for comments and tweaks

Sunday 31st July - arrive at 5:30 pm from Honolulu (4 hrs time change - not that terrible). Overnight near the airport, probably Holiday Inn. Comments?

Monday 1st August - Sunday 8th - by car to Melbourne via coast, then touring here and there. I'm assuming that one or two nights en route to Melbourne will be sufficient; then a couple of days/nights in the city, one or two day trips (Philip Island), and out the Great Ocean Road at least to the 12 Apostles, but on to Port Fairy? In August is Port Fairy doable in one day each way, or does the Great Ocean Road need two nights? But in general, this is a bit of play-it-by-ear, paying attention to weather etc. Would I be right in assuming we can find accommodation as we go (midweek) or should we focus on booking ahead? (Our tastes are not especially extravagant - hot water, clean loo, neighbors that don't play the bagpipes all night, the usual.)

Monday 8th August - Friday 12th - N. Queensland/Cairns/GBR/Rainforest. The flight from MEL arrives at CNS at 1pm; I'm thinking we'd stay north - maybe Palm Cove or Port Douglas, maybe one of the resort places on the coast north of Cairns. Can anybody comment on Kewarra Beach Resort? Anyway, we're working on this part of the trip. The main purpose is to warm up after Victoria, get a bit of nature, water, rainforest (will probably ride the aerial gondolas and train unless it's hopelessly hokey), but am wondering if more ambitious meanderings are advisable - Cape Tribulation? We thought about a Whitsunday Island resort or similar, but prices seem very high and we will have come from Hawaii, so I'm wondering if we ought to go for more one-of-a-kind experiences in N. Queensland rather than a beach resort, lovely though they might be. Outback drives? Advice please.

Saturday 13th August - Sunday 14th - Ayers Rock. Even if it's just a day (actually around 26 hours) we want to see Uluru/Kata Tjuta. Lodging is very expensive so just one night; hope the weather is cooperative.

Sunday 14th August (afternoon) - Wednesday 17th - Sydney. I know this isn't much time for the big city, but I strongly suspect that we'll be back before long, whereas I can't say that for Queensland or Victoria. Since the next stop will be Botswana, we'll want to use the time for serious city things - restaurants, cultural things if available, pubs.

Wednesday 17th August - fly out (AM) to Johannesburg.

One or two questions - If we give Canberra a pass, can we do SYD-MEL via the coast with just one overnight, or would that mean two tough days? (Tough to me means over 6-7 hours' driving) Or perhaps the second "road" night could be somewhere in the Melbourne outskirts, or on the coast 100 or 200 km from the city? If it could be done comfortably with one night, then we'd spend the first full day in Sydney and hit the road on the 2nd rather than the 1st. But we want to see plenty of countryside and are prepared to give up city time for it.

Thanks for all input.
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Old May 24th, 2005, 12:35 AM
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Re the Sydney to Melbourne bit - I'd suggest stopping the first night at Bateman's Bay (298km south of Sydney) or Narooma (345 km south). From there head through Merimbula and overnight at Lakes Entrance or Bairnsdale. This will get you into Melbourne about lunch time. South of Narooma have a break at Tilba Tilba (little old village, great cheese factory). The road roughly follows the coast south until you leave Lakes Entrance then gets fairly boring.
For the Great Ocean Road bit, can you allow three days. This means you can drive as far as Port Fairy for the first night (fairly long day because you will be stopping and taking photos all the way). Port Fairy is an little old fishing port and really interesting. From there head north about 50 kms to Mt Eccles to watch for koalas and emus. Then drive north-east to Halls Gap in the Grampians National Park. This is always a good place to see wildlife - ask at the visitors' centre or at your motel for the best places. Leave there in the morning and start heading back to Melbourne stopping on the way at Ballarat - gold rush city with nice buildings and a great folk museum (Sovereign Hill) if you have time.
Around Cairns, I'd suggest staying at Palm Cove - really nice little village with a nice beach and lots of accommodation choices. There is a bus service into Cairns - about 30 minutes. A good trip from there would be to Cooktown - go on an organised tour because the Bloomfield track needs an experienced driver. Cooktown has been cut off from the hussle and bussle of Cairns and the surrounding area but the bitumen will reach there soon and it will become yet another busy FNQ town. The Atherton Tablelands (inland from Cairns) is worth driving around - pretty country and lots to see. About 60 km south of Cairns is The Boulders (turn off the highway at Babinda) and Josephine Falls. Further south again is Paronella Park which is well worth visiting.
Hope some of these suggestions are of help.
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Old May 24th, 2005, 05:05 AM
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Garydloo - Botswana, tell me, did Alexander MacCall-Smith's (sp?) books have any influence there? I just love his Botswana stories with traditionally built ladies, about 2 minutes ago on our ABC's "Foreign Correspondents" there was a story.

You asked about Kewarra Beach Resort, its fine, but be aware that Kewarra Beach is really a residential Cairns suburb with no other tourist infrastructure. A little further north is Palm Cove, also a Cairns suburb, much more in the way of resorts/apartments/restaurants etc. Port Douglas is north again, lots of tourist development and very pleasant. If you're looking for something a little different, there's some wonderful accommodation choices with opportunities to see wildlife, etc in Daintree and Atherton Tablelands - www.bnbnq.com.au
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Old May 24th, 2005, 05:44 AM
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I went along the GOR and I am sorry to say that I was not all that impressed. There are many more beautiful areas in Tasmania which are not touted as being as good but are far superior.
(Yes I know that I still have to do a trip report and will )
I am thinking that in July/August the GOR will not be fun and it will be freezing! I would be heading for places that you won't find in Hawaii and Botswana. You don't have too much time and you are spending it in what will be the worst time of year and giving it a lot of your time. I would be going to the Cairns/PD area and then the Northern Territory myself at that time of year and also because te N.T is one the great last wildernesses in the world.
JMHO
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Old May 24th, 2005, 06:50 AM
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Thanks for the quick feedback. Food for thought.

We enjoy wintry seafront holidays and are not put off by the idea of cool or wet weather, but I'm thinking that replacing the initial SYD-MEL-GOR itinerary with the opposite at the end of the visit might make sense. I also wonder if daylight in August might be a limiting factor on how much one can see - I know it's not that far south (remember, former Alaskans here) but probably we won't have long sunsets, or is that incorrect?

The revised routing would mean, basically, flying from Sydney to Ayers Rock, then Cairns, then Melbourne, from which we'd drive to Sydney. That way if the weather or conditions in the south were not to our liking we could leave earlier for Sydney, and either take more time on the coast, or head inland via the Blue Mts., or maybe even arrive a day or two sooner for more city time before we go.

I appreciate the comments on Queensland. It seems like such a bounty of choices that analysis paralysis is a threat. But it's clear that north of Cairns is preferable, also some of the inland areas. I'll keep looking and throw back some questions.

Does this revised route seem more sensible?

Pat - my wife has read them all, I'm just starting. We'll be at the opposite end of the country from Gabarone (up in the Chobe/Victoria Falls area) but how can one not want to gobble all those books up? It will be an interesting 48 hours - downtown Sydney to airport to airport to a watering hole with something like 150 elepbants doing elephant things. Sound of brain cells fizzing.
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Old May 24th, 2005, 10:19 AM
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Boy,too many questions to answer, but you might like to read my long report of a recent 8 week trip to Oz including GOR, Cairns, Sydney, Melbourne, Uluru, Grampians etc. on my web site (www.atiyah.plus.com). and yes you should do the Kuranda cable car - one of the highlights of Queensland for us.
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Old May 27th, 2005, 06:18 PM
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Gardyloo,
If you bypass Canberra, you won't be able to have a beer w/ Neil Cammack. We chose to slight the capitol and we regret it.
AndrewDavid
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Old May 27th, 2005, 06:41 PM
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I just opened Joe Atiyah, trip report 2 posts up. I recommend it good job Joe

A/D
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Old May 28th, 2005, 04:07 AM
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I read Joe's report and am a bit perplexed he didn't go for a burger with the lot. What other way is there?
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Old May 28th, 2005, 05:55 AM
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A/d, Canberra has a lot to recommend it, but having a beer with yours truly isn't one of them. That's what several females of my acquaintance have cruelly told me, anyway.

Tassietwister, I agree that "the lot" is the only burger to have, but as excellent as joeatiyah's report was, he did err in respect of the tradional Australian burger, which does NOT include cheese. Cheese is heretical. The correct ingredients are a large toasted bun (about twice the size of those pathetic, soft, tasteless things they serve at a certain chain that shall remain nameless); a suitably sized meat pattie; fried onion; tomato, iceberg lettuce and beetroot; a fried egg and bacon, all finished off with a glop or two of tomato or barbecue sauce (ketchup). If you're peckish, chips make a suitable side dish, but they should be much larger and more robust than the spindly fries sold by the aforementioned chain. Yer true chips gourmet has them with salt and vinegar.

Sadly, the mum-and-dad Greek sandwich/hot food shops that brought the Aussie burger to this state of perfection are slowly but surely dying out. To be replaced by ... yes, you've guessed it.
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Old May 28th, 2005, 08:04 AM
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BEETROOT?!
Oh Lord, now you've got me reconsidering the whole thing. Let me see - LAX-NRT-HKG-PEK-HKG-JNB... Hmm...
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Old May 28th, 2005, 04:05 PM
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Tell you what, Gardyloo - just ask the shop to hold the beetroot. That will be a lot easier than getting McDonalds to hold the pickle, I can promise you that (a lot of Australians have tried that with no success). I think a widespread campaign to force McD's to say "chips" instead of "fries" also failed dismally.

And just try getting a decent burger in Beijing.
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Old May 28th, 2005, 08:24 PM
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Neil, I believe they do have meat pies there, though.

Actually I'm saddened to discover that McDonalds happens to be a prime locus of wireless internet hot spots in Oz. What's with that? Not enough Starbucks to go around?
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Old May 28th, 2005, 11:38 PM
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Starbucks seems to be making inroads, but the market was already pretty competitive here - you'd be hard put to find any suburb or even small town where you couldn't get an espresso. Also, in some quarters Starbucks did carry something of a McDonalds-like "multinational octopus" aura. Mind you, that hasn't stopped McD's making a buck here - far from it.
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Old May 29th, 2005, 03:33 AM
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Gardyloo - the nearest Starbucks to Cairns is on the Sunshine Coast, some 1700kms south. It'll come though, I'm sure. Coffee is grown here on Tableland, and there's no shortage in many a cafe in Cairns, Palm Cove, and Port Douglas. I'm paying $16 a kilo for excellent Tableland coffee which is very popular with Americans and Canadians.

Joe, I also read your report and it was great. sorry you had such bad weather around Cairns, April was awful as far as wind ruining reef trips, it was blowing some 20-30knots for the whole month. However, the rainfall wasn't particularly high, your shot of Barron Falls with a mere trickle shows this - after a good wet its a magnificent sight. I wish June-August were the only dry months. There are many other months of the year, even in"wet" tropics where we are on water restrictions, and the washing machine water is carted by bucket to keep the garden just slightly alive. However this is nothing compared to drought in other parts of country, and there's another post covering this.

Heavy rain will not upset a reef trip, strong wind can. The reef itself is pretty protected, but getting out there in a hefty wind can make it miserable. The best months are from October-January and this year even February had great reef conditions.
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Old Jun 5th, 2005, 01:27 AM
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Sorry - probably best to use Sun Palm Transport all the way. when we did it it was with Coral but it looks like Sun Pal has taken over the route
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Old Jun 5th, 2005, 03:53 AM
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I had a great hamburger today. The whole entire sandwich fell apart while eating it and dribbles of juices ran down my arm. I raced to the sink just as the pineapple threatened a greasy exit onto the floor. The bacon peeked out and THE BEETROOT was yummo.

Ahhh heaven.

The old greek take-away is sure disappearing but still many about. These days I just love the yoghurt they have with fruit salad, I am in heaven again !

As much as I love Thai etc etc I really do enjoy some good old Aussie classics now and then like a meat pie or a pineapple fritter. Just now and then mind you lol (but I may have a burger with the lot agian real soon, was totally good)
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Old Jun 5th, 2005, 06:13 AM
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Yes, tassietwister, it's hard to beat Greek yoghurt, but not particularly slimming. Had a great hamburger today too, now and then we need one, beetroot juice and and egg yolk colourfully running down the arm. It would have been nice to finish off with a lamo or even a vanilla slice, but possibly a little too calorific. another antipodean treat which I'd nearly forgotten about, brought to mind today by an American living in NZ - Melting Moments - preferably made by church or CWA ladies groups found in stalls all over rural Oz and NZ - bliss!
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Old Jun 5th, 2005, 03:22 PM
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Sryy, Neil, but what Australians put on hamburgers is NOT NOT NOT ketchup or anything close. I think you even call it tomato sauce. Doesn't have the sodium load or the nice, artificial flavorings. The beet WAS a surprise, but tasty after a fashion, but we NEVER got an egg---have to come back, I guess (and hoping to, in Oct. 2006!)
Sally in Seattle
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Old Jun 6th, 2005, 01:34 AM
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OK Sally, I stand corrected - I'll make a point of trying the real thing when next in the States, although our stuff is artificial enough for me, thanks - BBQ sauce is the way to go. BTW, you pay more for the fried egg and bacon. I can live without the beetroot.
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