Australia Feb-Mar 2011

Dec 18th, 2010, 08:29 PM
  #1  
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Australia Feb-Mar 2011

ReddTyde is offline  
Dec 18th, 2010, 08:39 PM
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Sorry about the above--accidentally hit enter w/o typing anything.

Anyway, I'm going to Australia Feb. 20 (arrive in the morning, Brisbane) thru March 8 (leave midday from Sydney). I would appreciate any advice on where to go, how long to stay, etc. I would like to go from Brisbane to Cairns to Sydney. I would like to snorkel the reef, but am wondering what the jellyfish situation is like.
I enjoy jungle, beaches, hiking, nature.
I'm thinking 5 days Brisbane/Gold/Sunshine coast areas, 4 days Cairns/reef, 7 days Sydney.
Any advice on trip planning, itinerary, weather, etc. would be appreciated!!
Thanks, in advance.
ReddTyde is offline  
Dec 18th, 2010, 09:42 PM
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Personally, I'd add more days to your Cairns leg, there's a lot to see in that part of the world: Daintree, the reef etc. If your primary interest is nature and rainforest, perhaps reverse the allocation of time: 7 days in Cairns and 4 days in Sydney.

What guidebook are you looking at presently? Lonely Planet is probably the best one for Australia.
Susan7 is offline  
Dec 19th, 2010, 07:55 AM
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Thanks for your response, Susan7. I just got Fodor's Australia 20th Edition and Frommer's Australia 2011.
My first instinct was to spend the extra day in Cairns (five total days), but my concern is that it will be raining all the time. Do the jellies make it prohibitive to go snokeling in late Feb?
Seems like there is a lot to do in an around Brisbane as well. I have never been to Australia. My partner has been 6 times, but never to Brisbane or the Gold Coast.
ReddTyde is offline  
Dec 19th, 2010, 12:58 PM
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tt7
 
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Not planning on coming to Melbourne? You'll miss one of the world's great cities.

Brisbane: Brisbane is nice (I used to live there) but I wouldn't spend more than a couple of days - not much for the tourist to see. Go to the Lone Pine Sanctuary, take a ride on the City Cat (ferry), drive up to the Mt. Coot-Tha lookout, have a few nice meals.

Gold Coast/Sunshine Coast: Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast is an overbuilt concrete jungle, full of high-rise apartment towers. The rest of the GC is nicer but it depends what you want to do? I would pick the Sunshine Coast over the GC - Noosa is far, far nicer. Stay at the Sheraton or somewhere else on Hastings Street (budget permitting).

Cairns - whatever you do, don't stay in Cairns. If your idea of a great place is pubs, clubs, McDonalds and overpriced-tourist-restaurants-with-not-very-good-food, then's Cairns is the place for you. If not, stay in Palm Cove or Port Douglas - much, much nicer. Palm Cove is about 20 minutes up the coast, Port Douglas about an hour. All the hotels and resorts will arrange transport for you from/to the airport. Most of the reef tours depart from Cairns but they'll pick you up/return you to wherever you're staying in Palm Cove (or PD).

Sydney: Much more to see and do but you can probably see most of the highlights in say 4 days. See the Opera House, climb the Bridge, take the ferry to Manly, visit Toronga Zoo (take the ferry from Circular Quay). The Red and Blue Explorer buses (hop on/off), although not particularly cheap, are a great way to see a lot of Sydney - sit back and let someone else do the driving. If you take the Blue bus, get off at Bondi.

Melbourne: Sydney has the glitz and the glamour - Melbourne has everything else. It's the food/restaurant/shopping/sporting/cultural capital of Australia. Wander the lanes and alleyways, see how many hidden bars and restaurants you can manage to find, take a day or two and drive down the Great Ocean Road, go see the penguins at Philip Island, spend a day at the wineries in the Yarra Valley.

Depending on how much "beach time" you want, you can get that in Palm Cove, so I would probably skip the Gold Coast/Sunshine Coast (and Cairns has no beaches). I would do a couple of days in Brisbane, maybe 4 days in Palm Cove (one day to the reef, one day on the train/Skyrail to Kuranda, a day or two on the beach or just touring), 3 or 4 days in Melbourne (more if you want to get to the Great Ocean Road) and the rest in Sydney. If you like hiking and nature and want to go the Gold Coast, go the Gold Coast hinterland and stay a couple of days at O'Reilly's or Binna Burra.
tt7 is offline  
Dec 19th, 2010, 03:05 PM
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This link might be helpful to get a sense of the range and timing of the stingers in Queensland. I've been to Heron Island which is in the lower part of the reef (off Gladstone) in January and stingers don't seem to affect that part.

http://www.qldbeaches.com/stingers.html
Susan7 is offline  
Dec 19th, 2010, 04:57 PM
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Normally I would say go with Susan7's advice but it may well be very wet in the Cairns area. It is shaping up to be a big wet. If exploring the Cairns hinterland do not forget the Atherton Tablelands as that is where the endemic wildlife is, it's cooler and there are a number of good hikes. Tablelands Adventure Guides, www.tablelandadventureguides.com.au will get you out into nature.
AlanJG is offline  
Dec 19th, 2010, 06:04 PM
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I think its shaping up to be a big wet in southern Queensland too, Alan, if recent heavy storms are an indication.

Cairns city does not have a beach, but its totally untrue to say Cairns does not have beaches, Palm Cove, is just one of them. What Cairns city does have is a huge stinger free saltwater swimming lagoon which provides safe swimming every day of year. Port Douglas is still aspiring to built something similar, so far it can't afford to.

You'll also find far less "overpriced tourist restaurants" in Cairns and some of its suburbs, than Palm Cove and Port Douglas, which is exactly where you will find them. I have friends who live in both Palm Cove and PD who come to Cairns to dine, there's a far better choice of ethnic restaurants in Cairns, and cheaper. A few good ones which come to mind are Hanuman (Hilton Hotel), Bayleaf (Balinese) near hospital, Marinades in Spence St (Indian), Feta's in Grafton St, C'est Bon in Lake St, none of these are situated on the tourist Esplanade strip.

Yes, there'll be a risk of marine stingers on COASTAL beaches and nearby islands, the Great Barrier Reef is some distance from the coast and rarely affected - all reef trips provide stinger suits which will protect from sunburn, a far likelier danger. Even patrolled beaches with stinger nets are often closed at this time of year if marine stingers are present, and often crocodiles.

However, February isn't a great time to be at the beach in FNQ, there's some lovely rainforested areas around Cairns, which are much more pleasant. Just 4km from Cairns city is Edge Hill, with Flecker Botanical Gardens, good local restaurants (no tourists), hiking trails, and lovely Queenslander B&B's, check out www.bnbnq.com.au
pat_woolford is offline  
Dec 20th, 2010, 11:57 PM
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I think 5 days sufficient for Brisbane and you can have 1 day for Sunshine coast areas and 6 days sufficient for Sydney.
JackDarcy is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2010, 04:05 AM
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Byron Bay is really a place where you can go and feel relax. It is the best holiday destination.
aikenjones is offline  
Dec 26th, 2010, 04:25 PM
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Thanks to all who replied. I decided on 4 full days Brisbane as a base, 5 days in either PD or Cairns (still having trouble decideing which one), and 7 days in Sydney.
I woul definitely like to see rainforest and reef at least 1 day when we are up North.
I'm hoping to bring dry weather with me...it's worked before. But, we're having record railfall this winter in California.
Happy Holidays!
ReddTyde is offline  
Dec 26th, 2010, 09:58 PM
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tt7
 
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I can only repeat what I said earlier - stay in Palm Cove or Port Douglas. There is no reason to stay in Cairns.
tt7 is offline  
Dec 27th, 2010, 04:58 PM
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Having stayed in Cairns twice, each time for a week, I would firmly recommend staying in Cairns. We experienced no over-pricing, great non-McDonald's restaurants and cafes, a great atmosphere, friendly people, lots to do in the evening as well as during the day. The Tablelands are an awesome area to visit, as are several spots around Cairns, too. Depends on what you want in a holiday I guess. Port Douglas has never appealed to me (and we've been there too) as it appears to have no atmosphere, and we felt it rather expensive (we look at middle to top range accommodation so are prepared to pay for what we want, just to give you an idea of where I am coming from).
Cairns has an amazing boardwalk too, but I don't think PD does.
It seemed to us too, that most tours originate in Cairns, as do at least a couple of the reef trips. Is this correct, Pat or Alan?
dottyp is offline  
Dec 27th, 2010, 09:10 PM
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Hi Dotty

Yes, the majority of reef trips leave from Cairns city - mostly at far better prices than those from Port Douglas. From Palm Cove, if without a car, you'd need to pay for transfers for reef trips either out of Cairns or Port Douglas, if in Cairns city you just walk to the wharf.

There's a huge range of day trips out of Cairns, whitewater rafting, hot air ballooning, sky diving, all rainforest areas, some north, some south as well as Atherton Tablelands with no transfer fees from/to accommodation in Cairns or its northern beaches.

Its not surprising there are two McDonalds in Cairns city, after all, its a regional city with lots of local kids, and a far more valid comparison with Cairns city would be Townsville. There's also a massive fresh fruit market in Cairns city, Rusty's, where every type of seasonal tropical fruit is available at good prices

AS I indicated in my above post, there are alternative accommodation options in area, from Cape Tribulation in north down to Mission Beach in south and west to Ravenshoe, so no-one's confined to just a choice out of Cairns city, Palm Cove (just one of Cairns' beach suburbs) or Port Douglas.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2011, 09:11 PM
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Just wanted to say thank you to all of those who posted responses. Any additional opinions would be helpful and appreciated.
Happy New Year!
ReddTyde is offline  

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