Another query about Australia itinerary

Old Oct 18th, 2009, 06:01 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 14
Another query about Australia itinerary

My husband & I (mid-60's, in great shape - as of today! -) plan our first trip to Australia; 5 weeks end of Feb, March. Interest is in hiking and camping but also some time in really fabulous hotel/lodge. Also interest in textiles/weaving and some city time! Plan now is fly to Melbourne - then get to
Tasmania for a week (fly one way, ferry back?)
Melbourne & Grampians a week
Alice Springs & Darvwin a week (hiking, maybe some camping?)
Brisbane and surroundings a week
Sydney and Blue Mts a week (maybe a little more?)

Questions - it's been suggested that at that time of year we start south and move north due to heat. Should we go to both Alice Springs & Darwin? Would love to take the train from Melbourne to Alice Springs, I think.

We can afford to do some splurging on accomodations because we'll be staying w/friends in the cities. Biggest question I think is what to do in Alice Springs/Darwin - we would want an outfitter as we don't want to drive there.

Any ideas appreciated!
sweltwoman is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2009, 07:41 PM
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For textiles, there are fantastic fabrics coming from the Tiwi Islands, maybe you could do a side trip from Darwin. Batik has also been taken up both at Utopia and Ernabella.

GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane) has had some fantastic indigenous weaving exhibitions, such as this one that just closed:

One of the art centres for amazing weaving is at at Maningrida
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Old Oct 18th, 2009, 11:55 PM
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Hello - you have some tremendous plans and have allowed what is a realistic amount of time to accomplish this fabulous trip! You also have picked a great time to travel, as you will get a nice trade-off between price and weather, for all that you are planning to do.

Firstly, Susan7 has posted some great information that you should consider, especially the piece on the Tiwi Islands (which I can elaborate on further for you later in this post!).

The key to ensuring you have the best possible trip, other than including all of the areas you want to cover, is to make sure that your travel is done both time efficiently and cost efficiently, in combination with weather (as has been suggested to you). I concur that starting south and heading north makes sense, not only to avoid the heat, but to also get the warmest weather possible, especially in Tasmania. You can fly non stop into Melbourne from the US West Coast so starting south makes sense. You could then spend your first week in and around Melbourne and Victoria (to include the Grampians) so you can relax from the flight and settle a little into your new surrounds and climate! You will adore Melbourne - often considered a very European Style city, with tremendous architecture, beautiful open spaces, beaches, the Yarra River through the heart of the City, and wonderful shopping, theatre, cultural and dining precincts. If you enjoy coffee, I can promise that the best espresso you will ever taste will be enjoyed in Melbourne - be sure to stop on Lygon Street for a truly Melbourne epicurean experience. I am not sure how far afield you plan to venture while in Melbourne, but consider getting to the Great Ocean Road. To do this I would highly recommend a small, private touring company with a guide; the day will be yours and stops can be made to allow you to experience not only the Port Campbell National Park but also the Otways and seaside towns such as Apollo Bay and Lorne. The Grampians - wonderful; rich in hiking trails that are well marked, beautiful lodges and guest houses, a rich aboriginal history and wonderful wildlife in a natural setting. If you are comfortable driving you could self drive from Melbourne and include some other stops along your journey, before returning to Melbourne to connect to Tasmania. There are so many options available.

You mention flying one way to Tasmania and returning via ferry in the other direction, which is indeed an option. I would not necessarily recommend this though, for several reasons. The ferry is not a high speed crossing, it is an overnight journey, and the cost is about the same as a flight, which over the same comparative distance is only about 1hr 15 mins. You can however explore Tasmania with ease and without backtracking in your journey. Picking up a rental car on arrival and then returning at your departure airport is also another great way to go. Consider flying into Devonport for example and head in a south west direction towards Cradle Mountain - wonderful hiking and outdoor pursuits, with the renowned Cradle Mountain Lodge a wonderful accomodation and epicurean experience. From there continue through Strahan/Gordon River/Queenstown area enroute to Hobart, rich in Australia's early pioneering history and home to the Salamanca Markets (a must). Continuing north be sure to visit Port Arthur and then onto the Freycinet Peninsula. Here set in the Freycinet National Park you will find the renowned Freycinet Lodge - easy access to hikes, sea kayaking, spa treatments and great food. Continuing north up to Launceston you will pass through the Tamar Valley area; renowned for wonderful restaurants and great wineries. You can then fly back to mainland Australia from Launceston, including to Adelaide in South Australia.

The advantage of flying to Adelaide is that you can visit Tandanya - the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute. Entrance is free and they have a diverse collection, that incorporates textiles, including the area that is home to the Tiwi Islands (as mentioned previously). Adelaide is also where you commence one of the worlds famed rail journey's - The Ghan - to Alice Springs. It is not a daily service so you will need to be concious of balancing your travel with the rail schedule.

Upon arrival in Alice Springs, be sure to visit the Old Telegraph Station, the School of the Air and also the Royal Flying Doctor Service - all iconic parts of Australia's early pioneering history and must see's. You do not make mention of wanting to visit Uluru (Ayers Rock) but I just wanted to mention that if you were planning on visiting please be aware that the Uluru National Park is some 5+ hours drive from Alice Springs so you will need to make some adjustments.

In getting to Darwin you have a couple of options - you could fly or you could continue northward to the final point of the The Ghan rail - meaning you would have completed the entire Ghan journey. In Darwin you will be at an ideal base to explore some of the major National Parks in the area; Kakadu, Katherine and Litchfield. Whichever you choose and in which ever combination, please be sure to travel with a pre-planned tour and allow at least 2-3 days minimum to do 1, maximum 2 of the parks. You will get better value and also be sure to see the key sights, especially the birdlife. Darwin is also where you can visit the Tiwi Islands, and island group north of Darwin that to this day is home to aboriginal communites that have survived the encroach of mass tourism - due largely to the protections and restrictions in place. You need special permits to visit the area and see first hand the communities - accessible with a reputable tour operator and a guide. This will be a highlight for you in regards to your interests in textiles.

From Darwin you can then continue to Brisbane, which is in southern Queensland, with the Brisbane River running through the heart of the City and nestled into the hinterland. Great access from Brisbane to the Lamington National Park and Glasshouse Mountains. The Glasshouse Mountains are a 30 minute drive north and have great hiking year round. The Lamington National Park is a little over an hour south of Brisbane - renowned for it's flora and fauna, sheer size and the beautiful vista's and rainforest. If you want to stay in the National Park there is also great options available to experience renowned lodges and guesthouses.

Concluding your trip in Sydney, you will have a wealth of areas to explore and activities at your doorstep. You will love the Blue Mountains, and staying for a couple of nights so you can explore the area on some guided or even self guided hikes is a lovely option. Consider Lilianfel's in Katoomba, in the heart of the Blue Mountains. It is a historic, luxury lodge, with wonderful furnishings, ammenities, spa and famed restaurant. You will not be disappointed. You will also have a wonderful chance to see wildlife and also learn more about Australia's aboriginal history and culture.

Back in Sydney you are spoilt for choice when it comes to somewhere to stay that is a little luxurious. The sister property to Lilianfels is the Observatory, or for wonderful open air rooftop views of Sydney Harbor (including the Opera House and Harbor Bridge) consider staying at the Intercontinental, but include in your stay 'Club' level access; breakfasts, all day refreshements and evening cocktails will also then be included. Be sure to explore the historic Rocks area with a self guided walking tour, and the cliff top Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach Walk - loved by the locals and visitors to Sydney alike. Be sure to visit the Australian Museum, which has a standing exhibit on Australia's indigineous history. In Sydney you can also take a coffee, lunch or dinner cruise on the Harbor, climb the Bridge or take in a tour and a performance at one of the worlds most renowened performance venues, the Sydney Opera House.

In Australia you have a wonderful array of choices, however I have no doubt that you will love every moment of your journey. Whatever you decide, enjoy and may all of your travels be safe. [email protected]
Lisa_SeeANZ is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2009, 07:27 AM
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Thanks so much for your help! I feel as if my whole trip has been planned!
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 10:05 PM
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You are so very welcome - you will both adore Australia and if you need any help at all pulling it all together please feel free to let me know. My email address is my signoff, which is [email protected].
Lisa_SeeANZ is offline  
Old Oct 20th, 2009, 04:13 AM
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One major worry about visiting Alice Springs and Darwin in March - won't the weather be at it's worst? Very, very hot in Alice Springs and monsoon-like rain in Darwin area, with many road closings. Maybe we should avoid that whole area and put it off for another trip? Or just go to Alice and put up with the heat?
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Old Oct 20th, 2009, 05:09 AM
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I was in Alice Springs in March and it was quite cool in the mornings & evenings and warmed up during the day. Don't recall being overly hot. Of course, temperature's a subjective thing; if you're used to very cool climates, you might find it hotter than people more used to warmer temperatures. It's very difficult to predict these days, it's been cold enough for heaters on the coast in Sydney most nights this month, and we're in Summer.
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Old Oct 20th, 2009, 01:58 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
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Hello - I am inclined to agree with the previous poster; the weather can be entirely unpredictable and it has been a cooler than usual year recently. Because you are planning on covering so many areas in Australia the actual time frame you have chosen is ideal; visiting in winter will give you more favorable weather in Alice Springs and Darwin, but then consequently you will find Melbourne, the Grampians, Tasmania and Sydney to be cooler than ideal. Alice Springs is in the desert, so yes it will be hotter in the day and cooler in the evenings, but the heat is typically a drier heat, which can make a considerable difference. Alice Springs typically (in Feb/Mar) ranges from 69-95, and Darwin from 75-90. According to the Northern Territory's official Tourism Website "Our tropical summer, from December to early March, is considered by many to be the northern region's most beautiful time of year. Waterfalls flow freely, floodplains rejuvenate, flowers bloom and cracking thunderstorms light up the sky like a pyrotechnic display. Darwin, with its enviable outdoor lifestyle, slows to a relaxed pace so travellers can exchange traffic jams and sand-filled bathers for a less hectic itinerary." I would say - go for it! [email protected]
Lisa_SeeANZ is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2009, 04:28 PM
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I have done the Ghan train trip from Darwin in march and sure it's hot but it always is!!!!It's great to see the areas around Darwin in the wet.You'll get rain , humidity but it's worth it!!!
P sI would not go to Lygon Street for an Epicurian experience-definitely for the Italian scene though . The best food places are not in Lygon Street
northie is offline  
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