austalia vacation july-august 2005

Nov 5th, 2004, 10:42 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 55
austalia vacation july-august 2005

We are a family a 4. Children girl 18 and boy 13 going to Australia for the first next summer. We plan on spending 4 nights in Sydney, a week in Cairns maybe a couple of nights in Ayers rock or Melbourne. Any suggestions on using a tour package or doing it all myself. We know that it will be wintertime in Melbourne which means it would be cooler than we would like. Should we go there. Maybe we should do a stopover in Fiji or Tahiti or even visit New Zealand. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
endlessvacation is offline  
Nov 5th, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Hi, endlessvacation,
I am assuming you are talking about September 2005, and that you are from USA / Canada. I can't remember what the temperature is in Melbourne in September although I have been there in that month some years ago. A lovely city at any time of the year. Cairns and Ayers Rock would be around 25 degrees Celsius plus by then possibly up to 30.
A stopover in New Zealand is probably not a good idea as you would have no time to do NZ justice, although it depends on how long you have in mind for your break. If you have time to spend a couple of weeks in NZ as well as the time planned for in Australia then yes, use it as a 'stopover', but bear in mind NZ's temperatures are generally cooler than Australia.
Also, what are you interested in doing? seeing? and what sort of accommodation are you looking for?
dotty is offline  
Nov 5th, 2004, 09:27 PM
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Some thoughts - if you go to Ayers Rock allow enough time to get to Kings Canyon and do the canyon rim walk. Also have some time in Alice Springs - the children will enjoy the Desert Park plus some great scenery in the west and east MacDonnell Ranges.
September in Melbourne will definitely be cold and probably wet.
You haven't mentioned how much time you will have. If you have limited time, you should concentrate on Sydney, Cairns and Ayers Rock.
If you are watching your holiday budget, there are good caravan parks in Cairns, Alice Springs, Yulara (Ayers Rock) and around Sydney where you can get a self-contained cabin at reasonable prices. This would allow you to cook as eating out can take a chunk of your travelling money. If you are interested in the cabin idea, let me know and I will give you some recommendations.
Only do a stopover in NZ if you have time to spare - you really need at least three weeks to do justice to such a lovely country.
Hope you have a great holiday.
marg is offline  
Nov 5th, 2004, 10:36 PM
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Hello Endlessvacation,

It would help to know exactly how much time you'll have for this vacation. Your post implies you'll have a couple of weeks.

If that is so, and even if you have as long as three weeks, you should avoid combining Australia and New Zealand. See one country or the other.

My elderly parents have stopped off in Hawaii en route from North America to Australia, and they have always appreciated that arrangement. If you have only 2 weeks, however, and if everyone in your travel party has an average amount of stamina for middle aged and young people, I think it's better to bite the bullet and fly all the way through.

Sydney's average daily high in July is around 60 deg F.

Cairn's average daily high in July is 78 deg F.

Although I have never been to Ayers Rock, I understand the winter daytime highs are around 70 deg F, while the night time lows can drop a bit below freezing.

I strongly recommend against doing a package tour. Australia is a really easy country to travel on your own (same language and all that -- well, sort of ). The ease of organising your travel is all the greater if you consult a forum like Fodors where such a wealth of information is available.

The idea of being regimented (having to have my suitcase ready at my room door at a specified time, having to eat breakfast at a specified time, and so on) just does not appeal to me.

Besides that, previous posters have listed their tours' hotels and field trips here at Fodors. I cannot remember a single organised tour that used a company that I would have liked to take me out to the Great Barrier Reef, for example.

Two couples who posted here a while ago ended up abandoning the GBR trips that their organised tour would have given them, and they ended up booking (and paying extra for) much better GBR trips that they learend about here at Fodors.

And that's another point. While I do not recommend an organised tour to cover your entire vacation, I most certainly do recommend day tours for specific components of your vacation. Which of these day tours is worthwhile is something you quickly will find out at Fodors.

I suggest you stay away from Melbourne in the southern hemisphere winter. Yes, it's a lovely city, as Dotty said, but some of its winter days are cool, wet and windy. The average high in July is 55 deg F, but that's the AVERAGE. The reality toggles back and forth several degrees on either side of the average, and you could run into a high of 45 deg F. Besides, if you have only 2 weeks for your vacation, you really don't have time to visit Melbourne anyway.

Here is another discussion thread in which I provided Far North Queensland and Sydney information to another poster.

If you combine my FNQ and Sydney info with Marg's Outback info, you might have the skeleton of a 2 week itinerary.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Nov 6th, 2004, 05:07 AM
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Thanks for your quick responses. We are definitely having second thoughts about a tour package. We started getting info. from Qantas vacations, although very helpful, they picked what days we were doing what and with obviously a variety of hotel and apartment choices they picked our accomdations as well. It looks like we will have 2 weeks maybe a couple extra days to account for traveling. We currently have a week booked in Carins at an apartment hotel The Lake Carins Resort which seemed pretty nice. My husband wants to rent a car and see the area. We have heard about a GBR tour through quicksilver. Is this a good tour or is something better. I'm willing to spend more to get get something much better. We currently are going to Sydney for roughly 4 nights. We have the Sydney Marriott Harbour booked for 2 rooms right now. We need 2 rooms children don't want to sleep together, can't blame them. Any other suggestions. I heard about the Sydney Quay West Apartments. Ayers Rock we really don't have encough infor about and know where to stay. Any suggestions. Thanks Karen
endlessvacation is offline  
Nov 6th, 2004, 05:51 AM
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Hi Danielle,

I will restrict my advice to the Ayres Rock/Alice Springs region as that is my specialty, there are other forum regulars that can advise about far north Queensland, Sydney and Melbourne.

You are planning on being here in the prime time to visit the Australian outback areas, the daytime temps will be in the high teens to low twenties Celcius and more importantly there will be no flies to make your lives miserable.

I would also echo the other posters and say that you would be better off doing all the booking yourself rather than taking an all inclusive tour.

If time is tight then I would suggest doing Ayres Rock, the Olgas and Kings Canyon only and forget Alice Springs. I say this because generally speaking everything you can see here in Alice you can experience in the other places I have mentioned. If you have the time then sure incorporate Alice into your trip but be warned that Alice Springs is not the town that is portrayed in the movies, I am afraid that that Alice ceased to exist a long time ago. Today Alice is just like every other town with its K-Marts and KFC/Macas etc. It is also a town rife with anit-social behaviour. When the government sees fit to do something about this problem and I see the results, that is when I will once again recommend Alice as a destination for tourists. You may come to Alice and have no problems but I cannot recommend a place when I have doubts about peoples safety and yes I live in Alice Springs.

I am going to suggest that at Ayres Rock you consider The Sails In The Desert Hotel. This was once the Sheraton Hotel and even though it has been around for a long time now it does have some nice things going for it. However I would suggest that you do not eat at the Hotel restaurant as it is just too expensive for what is on offer. There are plenty of alternative eating venues to spend your money at.

Kings Canyon is a beaut place to take in the natural scenery of central Australia and you can stay at the resort there. I have been going to Kings Canyon since the early 70's and used to stay at Wallara Ranch which was a fantastic place in its day. Alas Wallara no longer exists but the Kings Canyon resort will more than impress as will the Canyon itself.

Hope this helps, if you need more specific info then please ask away.



Paul_S is offline  
Nov 6th, 2004, 08:24 AM
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Hello Karen,

>>>>>>We currently have a week booked in Carins at an apartment hotel The Lake Carins Resort which seemed pretty nice.<<<<<<

Given what you want to see in 2 weeks (FNQ, Sydney and Uluru / Ayers Rock), I think a week is just a little too much in FNQ. Six nights probably would be better and, if necessary, you could get away with five nights.

Keep in mind that it takes about 3/4 of a day to go door to door from a FNQ hotel to a Sydney hotel. So you have to take into consideration your flying days amongst Sydney, Uluru / Ayers Rock and FNQ.

Also, I would suggest you do some research on the smaller town of Port Douglas before deciding if Cairns or PD would be the more suitable base for your family.

If you end up choosing PD over Cairns, location within PD may or may not be important. If you do not have a car and are relying on tours to pick you up from your accommodation, you absolutely need to be close to the centre of town -- on or near Macrossan Street. If you have a car, you can stay in the more outlying part of PD. There are many apartment complexes in PD that would be suitable for a family like yours.

>>>>>>My husband wants to rent a car and see the area.<<<<<<

This may make sense, especially as the cost of the car will be shared amongst 4 of you. Keep in mind, though, that GBR tours, rainforest tours and other tours collect their passengers from accommodations in Cairns, Palm Cove and Port Douglas.

>>>>>>We have heard about a GBR tour through quicksilver. Is this a good tour or is something better.<<<<<<

My husband and I used Quicksilver, and were very satisfied with it. But that was before I discovered Fodors. Since I've come here I've learned about Wavelength and Ocean Spirit. Suggest you do word searches here at Fodors and read about them before deciding.

Another activity that is way more meaningful if one goes on a guided tour is a visit to the tropical rainforest between the Daintree River and Cape Tribulation. Having the rainforest and mangrove ecosystems explained to one makes them much more fascinating.

My husband and I used Trek North, with which we were very happy. Trek North's 4 x 4 vehicles take about 12 passengers. There are other tour companies that take 4 or 6 passengers, that are more expensive than Trek North, and that also are popular here at Fodors. They include David Armbrust, Pete Baxendell, and Tony's Tropical Tours.

I expect the guide : passenger ratio makes the smaller tours even better than Trek North's relatively larger tour. I would say choose the tour you can afford. We were happy with our Trek North guide's knowledge, attention to passengers, etc. We did not feel in the least bit short changed.

Fellow Fodorite, Pat Woolford, who lives in Cairns, also recommends Jonathon Munro who takes small groups to the Atherton Tableland for nocturnal wildlife spotting. This would be an additional activity to consider.

You say you have 4 nights booked in Sydney. I would say that, considering the overall amount of time you have to spend in Australia and the other destinations you want to visit, that probably is about right.

I recommend against renting a car for your time in downtown Sydney. Traffic is busy, and public transportation is good.

You might want to do a word search for SYDNEY APARTMENT, as there are several previous threads on that topic.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Nov 6th, 2004, 03:04 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Hello Karen - Cairns Lakes Resort is quite new and very nice - lovely tropical landscaped grounds and large pool, excellent restaurant. Its only a spit from the Flecker Botanical Gardens which are considered the best tropical gardens in the country and near rainforest walks - Red and Blue Arrow walks up nearby Mt Whitfield. There's also a couple of very good restaurants in nearby Edge Hill, Cairns' premier non-beach suburb. Its very handy to airport and a short bus ride into Cairns city. Of course, all tours pick up at door.

Whilst I have nothing but praise for Trek North, an established locally owned company with expert driver/guides,they do take a maximum of 13 people on their Cape Tribulation trip. Cost is AUD$139pp which includes trip on Daintree River and a very good lunch in a tropical orchard. - tour CT1. So, if you prefer a more personalised trip, Pete Baxendell's Heritage and Interpretive trip to Cape Trib Safari ( )may suit you better - AUD$540 flat rate per vehicle, whether is for 1 person or 6. So for 4 people its slightly less than Trek North. About the same price as Pete Baxendell's is Jonathan Munro of Wild Watch (based in Cairns) - also tailors trip to suit you - his speciality is wildlife - 16 years experience and takes wildlife excursions all over Australia.

Whilst it is possible to self-drive from Cairns or PD to Cape Tribulation, you'll find it a lot more interesting with a knowledgable guide. For Atherton Tablelands (Cairns Highlands)or Wet Tropics rainforest areas south of Cairns its easy to self-drive.
pat_woolford is offline  
Nov 6th, 2004, 05:17 PM
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I might trim a night or two off your stay in Cairns and tack that time onto your stay in Sydney. I spent four full days in Sydney and could have used a few more. Also, Cairns is fun, but it's not on the beach. Palm Cove is nearby, and it's beautiful. But otherwise, it sounds like a great trip.

And like another poster, I really liked Sails in the Desert.
andrews98682 is offline  

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