Australia Bound Feb '05; Need help

Old Mar 30th, 2004, 11:34 AM
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Australia Bound Feb '05; Need help

Okay, I've booked the air tickets. My wife and I will be arriving on Feb 7, 2005 in Sydney from the east coat of the U.S.

Should we spend a night or two in Sydney at the beginning in an attempt to "catch our wind" from the long flight? (We have 2-3 days set aside for Sydney at the end of the trip.)

Next question, we were planning on heading from Sydney to the Cairns area for 4 to 5 days, then to the Alice Springs area for 2 to 3 days. Does this sound like a fair allotment of time?

Also, as to the Cairns' leg: I'm a bit confused on where to stay. Cairns? Port Douglas? or Daintree? Cairns sounds as if it may be a bit too big and too resorty for us. But the other two might be too small. Thoughts? Also, and specific recommendations as to hotels will be welcome. Though we are not rich, we like to stay in better-than-average hotels (that's our real indulgence in life).

As to Alice Springs, I guess it will be quite hot in February. Is three days there too much? Also, hotel ideas are welcome.

I've been keeping an eye on the posts on Fodors over the last few weeks, and have gotten some great ideas. I appreciate all your help.

And if it helps with the answers, I'm a photgrapher and can't wait to get out and shoot some animals and some of the outstanding beauty Australia offers.

p s I know we are definately only seeing a slice of Australia, but time constraints are what they are.

Thanks again.
JackOneill is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2004, 12:00 PM
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Hi, JackOneill!

You've picked a great time of year for photography -- everything at its brightest! -- and, with the limited time available to you, I think you've chosen three ideal, contrasting places as your "sample". You will find Cairns very wet (as well as hot!) this time of the year -- you may be wise to look at to see just HOW wet and HOW hot.

All of the east coast of Australia is still pretty warm in early February, and unless, when you say "the east coast" of the USA, you mean Florida, then yes, I would allow myself a day or two in Sydney first, not only to get over the jetlag but to acclimatise myself -- of the three places you're heading, Sydney has the most temperate climate. The school holidays will have ended ten days earlier, and many of the hotels will have corridors of vacant rooms, so you would probably find, with your taste for above-average accommodation, that you could safely leave your reservations until January 22, and then get onto for some top hotels at bargain prices.

The heat will be oppressive at Alice Springs, but that won't be your biggest problem. As a photographer, you would do well to borrow the DVD of "Baraka" from your library and play the commentary... you will see that, of all the places in the world the cinematographers went to shoot, they found Central Australia by far the hardest, becasue they had to take drastic steps (I think hiring a huge fan placed just off camera) to keep the flies off the lenses! As far as keeping them out of your eyes -- well, buy a hat with a net.
It all sounds pretty grim, doesn't it? However, it's all part of the adventure of outback travelling, and I am certainly not trying to put you off! You will probably feel that the colours of Uluru at sunrise and sunset, captured by your high-quality film, are, on their own, worth travelling from the East Coast of the USA for. I don't think three days around Alice Springs is too much, although if you'd said three days just at Uluru I would have advised you to cut it down. You've planned your time pretty well, I think, and if you keep reading these threads for tips from the experts, you will have a great taste of this unique country. Good luck!
Alan is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2004, 12:07 PM
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When we flew to Aus from Hawaii a few years ago, we also debated the recover in Sydney vs go all the way to Cairns. We decide to go straight to the north for the following reasons:
1-Since we were already at the airport, going straight saved us two taxi trips into and out of sydney.
2- we were really tired, so sleeping on the Sydney- Cairns leg was easy, and
3- We decided we'd much rather recover from jet lag in a beach area resort than a city spot.
Once we returned to Sydney at the end of our trip, we had a longer block of time in the city (good for scheduling around closed days or weather)and we were ready for the faster pace of city life and shopping.

We used Palm Cove as our base us north, but would choose Port Douglas if going again. The town had a lot of restaraunts, shops, and night life, where PC was really only a collection on little resorts on the beach. Nice, but too quiet for our family.
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Old Mar 30th, 2004, 01:07 PM
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JackOneill - from a photographer's viewpoint February is a wonderful month in Far North Queensland. Tropical monsoonal rains bring the rainforest "alive", rivers are flowing at full strength and the Barron Falls are magnificent after the first decent wet season in several years.
pat_woolford is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2004, 05:55 PM
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Dear Jack,

On your question about catching your wind in Sydney, it's a good one, but I guess it depends on your past experiences in travel. Since you're coming from the East Coast and have your air, I'm assuming that you're doing the "straight shot" into Sydney. I have some clients who come from the East Coast, then stay in LAX or Honolulu before continuing on.

One thing that you might want to consider (if you like wine) is to arrive in Sydney and "decompress" out in the wine country for a few days before heading to Cairns.

As to where to stay there, again, it's a matter of personal taste...Cairns isn't the big city (compared to Sydney, let's say) you might think, but it's not small either. It is toursity, but so is Port Douglas (don't know where you're from, but think small town Jersey shore atmosphere). Palm Cove is very quiet, relaxed and tropical, and Daintree's your eco-sort of experience.

Not sure what you plan on doing in the Alice, so can't comment on whether or not 3 days is too much. As you're a photographer and mentioned animals I think of that area more on photographing scenery, but perhaps you're mixing it up?


Certified Aussie Specialist
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Old Mar 30th, 2004, 06:26 PM
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We just returned from 7 weeks in OZ and dearly loved it. Coming from the East Coast I would stop over in Honolulu for a couple of days before going on to Sydney. Sydney is such a great city, you may want to catch your breath there and go to the Blue Mountains for a day or two. Cairns is very HOT and HUMID in Feb. I've never been so hot. Even the pools and ocean were too warm for me. We stayed in Palm Cove and loved it. Stayed at the Sebel House and Spa. A wonderful place on the beach. Palm Cove is quiet, but there are several restaurants and the one at the Sebel House is rated one of the best. Enjoy your trip!!
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Old Mar 31st, 2004, 04:21 AM
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I very much appreciate all of your in-depth answers. This is really helping me put the last few pieces of the puzzle together.

To answer one thing which came up, we're flying from Atlanta, GA to Seoul to Sydney. It was the only way I could use frequent flyer miles. (At least, we're flying business class.)
But I'm afraid this will make a long trip even longer. So I'm seriously considering staying in Sydney the first night or two just to "catch up." Then again, as lcuy said, it might be better - since we'll be so ragged out and at the airport anyway - just to fly up to Cairns right away.

As to heat and humidity, I've been in the rain forest of Central America a handful of times and can tolerate that.

One thing I have noticed since I've been reviewing past posts on Australia (and this could just be me) is that it seems as though some people seem to think spending a lot of time in the Outback is a waste. Any comments?

I am so looking forward to this trip.

Thanks everyone.
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Old Mar 31st, 2004, 04:46 AM
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Hi JackOneill,

You wouldn't be a Stargate fan by any chance would you?

You could not pick a worse time to visit us here in Alice Springs, the daytime temps will be in excess of 110 degrees F and the flies out bush will test your nerves for sure. I personally think that 3 days is too long here in Alice you really only need 1 day to do the western Macdonnell ranges the town itself is of no special significance, except for the abundance of digustingly filthy individuals who have absolutely no regard for personal hygene. Personally from a photographers point of view I would skip the Alice and fly to Ayres Rock and spend 2 days there taking in Kings Canyon. I think I would do the opposite route ie Sydney, Ayres Rock, and then Cairns.

As for hotels in Alice well what level of comfort do you require, 5 star or budget? If it is the top end of the scale then I recommend the Crowne Plaza, middle of the road would be the Mecure Diplomat.


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Old Mar 31st, 2004, 01:10 PM
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Re jet lag

sydney and seoul are on the same/similar time zone.

Get good sleep on the trans pacific leg and you can adapt to the new time zone on the seoul-sydney leg.

Consequently you may not need the catch up day or two in sydney that is often recommended here.

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