August travel questions

Jun 26th, 2004, 08:18 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 29
August travel questions

We are planning two weeks stay from August 3-15, followed by a week in Brisbane for a conference. We definitely want to include 3 days in Sydney and some time around Cairns. We have considered the following and would like feedback and suggestions:
1. South Island New Zealand with a Milford Sound cruise. Any ideas what this would be like in early August and a good tour to take if we are based in Christchurch?
2. We are considering the Sydney to Melbourne train for a chance to see a bit of interior Australia. Any reports on this journey? We would fly from there to Cairns, to do some snorkeling, rainforest sightseeing, and possibly tablelands trip.
3. We ould like to see magnetic termite mounds and have read that they can be seen in Lakefield NP outside Cairns. Any suggestions about a trip there either by rental car or tour would be appreciated.
aren is offline  
Jun 26th, 2004, 02:39 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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aren, the SYD-MEL train trip wouldn't be a very satisfactory way of seeing the countryside. I'd recommend driving, except that you'd need two days to make it worthwhile, and you already have a pretty rushed schedule if you're going to visit NZ, Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns in two weeks. This is not to suggest that Melbourne is not worth a visit, just a question of practicability.

Still ... if you allow 4 days, say, in NZ (which is selling the country short but I guess feasible), 3 days SYD, 2 days MEL, 3 days CNS, remembering to write off a couple of days for flights you could do it.

Maybe a better idea all round would be to skip the MEL trip and tack two or three days on to BNE, using the time to explore areas like the Gold Coast hinterland and maybe down to Byron Bay - if you search on this forum I'm sure there's at least one recent thread on these areas.

If you decide to drive SYD-MEL anyway let us know and I and I'm sure others will be happy to suggest some nice routes.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jun 27th, 2004, 06:02 AM
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Hi, aren!
I have to agree with everything Neil said about the train from Sydney to Melbourne. What you will see on this trip really isn't very interesting, and the train itself, sad to say, has (for an interstate express) seen better days. It's not fast and it's not very comfortable. I applaud your idea, however, of seeing a bit of inland Australia, but maybe a better way would be to fly out to Broken Hill and spend a night in a real edge-of-the-desert town. I don't think you'll be over-impressed with what you see in Australia's interior -- for my mind (maybe because I lived in it for a year) it's a lot of flat, dry sameness which you can absorb in forty-five minutes, after which time you're wondering what to do with the rest of your day. However, it's certainly an experience for someone who has never been there.
Alan is offline  
Jun 27th, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Might I suggest using aircraft only to travel to the locations you have suggested. The period of time you have allocated yourself is really not sufficient to see these places properly. Like the others, forget the train trip between Sydney & Melbourne. I would only give Sydney 3 days, and forget Melbourne altogether, and perhaps concentrate the remaining days on Cairns/Barrier Reef and Sth.Island of New Zealand. To see where & when the airlines fly to various locations, check out or - these sites should be able to give you an idea if you can fit various locations into your tight schedule. Both Qantas & Virgin Blue fly over to NZ. Qantas now has a cheaper airline offshoot called Jetstar, and I guess their website would be
If you get a "spare" day in the weeks conference, you may find, a day trip to Tangalooma Resort on Moreton Island (just off Brisbane)a pleasant breakaway from the city. Or alternatively, a quick trip up to the Sunshine Coast (1 hrs drive from Brisbane), a bit touristy, but some nice beaches and restaurants, especially, Noosa Heads.
tropo is offline  
Jun 29th, 2004, 09:14 AM
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Thanks to all who have written. I appreciate your responses and have read several other threads on this site, and am now proposing the following. I would appreciate feedback. Thanks again.
Flight arrives Melbourne around noon: spend 1 1/2 days there, then 2 days driving Great Ocean Road. Flight to Sydney for 3 days, then to Port Douglas for 2 days to take tour to western Cape York peninsula for a look at the termite mounds and outback, and a day through Daintree, then 3 days in Cairns for train/skyrail to Kuranda and 2 days on the reef. Then to Brisbane for a week's convention.
Particular questions I have are:
1. botanical gardens sound wonderful, but do I need to see all three: Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. Is there a significant differnce amongst them?
2. Ditto re. forests. Would the area around Melbourne, the BLue Mountains, and Daintree all be vastly different? How many skyrail/boardwalk trips would be advised?
3. Aquariums. Is Sydney worth doing if we are going to GBR from Cairns?
4. Markets. I've read many threads that recommend various markets. I am not much of a shopper; are they still worth trying to visit?
Any other tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
aren is offline  
Jun 29th, 2004, 10:08 AM
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>>>>>>botanical gardens sound wonderful, but do I need to see all three: Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. Is there a significant differnce amongst them?<<<<<<

No, you don't need to see any of them. I think it's better to see nature's very own botanical garden (the bush). Nonetheless, the three cities' botanical gardens are very beautiful and very restful places in which to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban streets. Since all of them are close to the downtown cores of their respective cities, you may find them delightful places in which to restore your energy between other sight seeing activities.

>>>>>>Ditto re. forests. Would the area around Melbourne, the BLue Mountains, and Daintree all be vastly different?<<<<<<

Yes, they are vastly different, for the same reason that the native vegetation around San Francisco is vastly different from the native vegetation around the Panama Canal.

Close to Melbourne there are temperate rainforests, and close to Cairns there are tropical rainforests. Both are beautiful, but very different from each other.

The Blue Mountains have small patches of rainforest, but mostly are covered by Eucalyptus (Gum) forests interspersed with Wattle (Acacia) and Banksia trees and bushes.

>>>>>>How many skyrail/boardwalk trips would be advised?<<<<<<

I recommend the Skyrail to or from Kuranda. (One also can do the trip by train. It's kind of fun to go in one direction by Skyrail and the other by train.)

It's worth walking on one of the boardwalks that have been installed in a section of the Daintree Forest.

There are a number of places along the Great Ocean Road from which one can access the temperate rainforest. One pleasant spot is Erskine Falls, in the forest just behind the seaside town of Lorne. It's nice to walk down the steps to the bottom of the falls and then walk along the banks of the Erskine River for a while.

>>>>>>Aquariums. Is Sydney worth doing if we are going to GBR from Cairns?<<<<<<

In my opinion, it's not worth seeing an aquarium if you're going to the GBR.

>>>>>>Markets. I've read many threads that recommend various markets. I am not much of a shopper; are they still worth trying to visit?<<<<<<

I'm not much of a shopper either. Nonetheless, if you're going to be in Melbourne, the Queen Victoria Market (closed Mondays and Wednesdays) is an interesting place to visit.

The remaining markets are cute to see if you in any case are going to be in a place for other reasons. A market that would fall into this category is the one in Kuranda.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 29th, 2004, 02:23 PM
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Hi, aren!

Judy (as always) has just about covered everything. I have to say that an aquarium is an aquarium is an aquarium, and with so many other things to do in Sydney, I don't think I'd be too fussed about setting aside precious hours for this attraction.

The Botanical Gardens, however, is a different story. The one in Sydney is no more spectacular, in itself, than the ones in the other cities, but it has that great location on the harbour foreshores, which gives it that little something extra. In addition, the entrance to the Botanical Gardens is right at the steps of the Opera House, which is a stop you will definitely make anyhow, and you can walk through that entrance and hed straight through some of the nicest areas of the Gardens to get back to the shopping areas of Sydney. This route will take you right up to Government House, the Conservatorium of Music, the Art Gallery, and historic Macqaurie Street. All places you will certainly be visiting, so the Gardens becomes something of a bonus.
Forests? Well, I can't think of anything to add to Judy's post here; Australia is such a vast continent that the differences between, say, the Blue Mountains and Daintree are like the differences between, say, Montana and the swamps of Florida.
Alan is offline  
Jun 29th, 2004, 03:47 PM
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aren, it's a pity you won't have time to visit Canberra, whose National Botanical Gardens are truly unique, being devoted exclusively to Australian native plants. They're situated on the slopes of Black Mountain, and the botanists and landscape designers have done a brilliant job in creating micro-climates that support a wide range of plants, from rainforest to semidesert species, and the site is full of wildlife to boot. Nowhere else in Australia can you gain such a concentrated appreciation of the diversity of Australian flora.
Neil_Oz is offline  
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