Australia Itinerary Advice

Dec 13th, 2009, 05:34 AM
Original Poster
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Australia Itinerary Advice

Hi all - I'm heading to Australia 1/19-2/1 with my husband, mainly so I can attend the Australian Open. I would like feedback on my itinerary...I'm not sure if I'm trying to do too much, or if I need to try to do a lot since I may not get all the way over to Australia again (from the US) for a long time.

1/19-1/24 - Melbourne
1/24 - fly to Cairns, stay til 1/27
1/27 fly to Sydney, stay until flight home 2/1

Melbourne will be taken mostly by tennis, but we'll have one and a half days totally free. I had planned on checking out a winery or drive to the great ocean road (too far?) on that off full day, and the other half day wandering around Melbourne.

Then we fly to Cairns, and I figured 1 day on the reef, 1 day in the rainforest, and a half day to wander. Neither my husband or I are scuba folks, but I figured we *had* to see the reef while over here (and while I'm sure the reef is spectacular, we likely won't scuba but would likely find a glass bottomed boat or snorkel to check it out).

Then the rest of the time in Sydney is at our leisure. Maybe a day trip to the blue mountains.

My main question is...we tend to like staying in one place for longer and getting to know that place. I'm tempted to cut Cairns, and just spend one week each in Melbourne and Sydney. But will I regret not making the effort to go to the reef? Adding the flights to Cairns adds quite a bit of cost, but I don't mind spending it if it is worth it.

Any insight you can provide would be appreciated. Thanks!
piccolascimmia is offline  
Dec 13th, 2009, 11:41 AM
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Yes you certainly will regret it.
ivenotbeeneverywhere is offline  
Dec 13th, 2009, 12:11 PM
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We travelled from Canada to Australia 2 years ago and spent 6 weeks to see the cities you are considering, with the addition of Ayers Rock. Australia is a huge and diverse country and we loved every place we visited.

You are ambitious to try to see so much and the travel time is considerable. I would recommend the Great Ocean road bus trip where you see the rugged coastline, 12 Apostles rock formations, beautiful beaches. We don't usually take bus tours but the friendly and informative Aussie bus driver added a lot to the experience. A second tour was to the Yarra Valley vinyards, Puffing Billy railway and tour of the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary. We were able to book both tours at our hotel.

In Cairns we took 2 excellent tours-Billy Tea Safari to Cape Tribulation and Daintree Rainforest in a 4 wheel drive, and Reef Magic snorkelling on the reef. Both outstanding and booked once we got to Cairns.

We are returning to Australia in May for a trip to Sydney, Perth and an Outback Discovery tour from Broome to Darwin. I am looking into the Blue Mountain tour for a day in Sydney.

Good luck in your planning.
TravelKare is offline  
Dec 13th, 2009, 12:18 PM
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I also think you should include the GBR on your trip. It is one of the world's wonders and as you have travelled so far you don't want to miss it.
I live in Melbourne and the Aussie Open is a great time to visit the city. The weather sometimes gets pretty hot, but we all cope and the roof on Rod Laver Arena is closed on the very hot days.
Try to include a day on the GOR if you can. Perhaps hire a car and drive as far as Apollo Bay and back. If you do that make sure you stop at the Anglesea Golf Course on the way to see Kangaroos in the wild and there are always Koalas in the treetops at Kennett River (just south of Lorne) or where ever you see people looking up into the trees. Alternatively a closer trip is the Yarra Valley and the wineries. Yering Station winery is a must and you could include the Healsvlle Sanctuary for native animals in an enclosed situation.The tourist office at Federation Square has plenty of info. on all these things. I know you will love Melbourne!
DownUnder is offline  
Dec 13th, 2009, 02:31 PM
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Thanks for all the input so far...the tips on Melbourne and Cairns are very helpful! I guess I just need to resign myself to the fact that I only have 2 weeks, I don't want to miss out on the reef, and that it won't be as leisurely a vacation as I normally want to have

Any other feedback on things not to miss in those areas, I'd appreciate it!
piccolascimmia is offline  
Dec 13th, 2009, 08:27 PM
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You'll be in Cairns on Australia Day so check the local festivities and fire works etc.
marg is online now  
Dec 14th, 2009, 07:53 AM
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A good alternative to Cairns, is Airlie Beach (about 400 km south of Carins) known as a gateway to the Whitsundays Island, from Airlie Beach you can take 1 day boat tour and visit the Whiteheaven beach...or take a day out and visit with a ranger the spectacular rainforest of this area! Airlie Beach offer good variety for shopping (aboriginal art) and dining venues, and plenty of tour options to choose from. I have visited both Cairns area, went out to the reef from Airlie Beach. If you decide to go to Cairns do not miss out on Kuranda, the Daintree Forest with Mossman gorge and Mission Beach!! I have traveled around Australia for several months and since September I have been running an informative platform for passionate travelers, who like me, love to explore Australia, if you wish any further advice feel free to contact me.
Mikifanti is offline  
Dec 15th, 2009, 06:01 AM
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Marg - thanks for mentioning Australia day...I have been meaning to ask about that. From what I can tell, its similar to the US's independence day/4th of July? Is it a day where you have to beware of stores being closed, schedules being different?

Mikifanti - I'm tied to Cairns since I can book 3 free nights with hotel points there, and I'm also looking to avoid renting a car. I do have Kuranda and Daintree on my list, I'll need to look into Mossman and Mission Beach

Thanks all for the info. Now I'm about to book my flights from sydney to melbourne, melb to cairns, and then back to sydney. Seems like JetStar is the cheapest option...
piccolascimmia is offline  
Dec 15th, 2009, 10:54 AM
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Piccolascimmia, just be aware that Jetstar allows NO flexibility in check-in times. Even if you are in their queue prior to the cut-off time, you will not be allowed on the flight and will forfeit the fare if they have not checked you in.

My preference would be for
They're offering $169 / $179 for your dates right now.

Australia Day is a national holiday, and probably similar to the US with some shops closing and public transport running on weekend schedules.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Dec 15th, 2009, 10:56 AM
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Just clarifying - $169/$179 each way.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Dec 20th, 2009, 10:27 AM
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I would like to ask That TravelKare what your 6 week itinerary was like. We are planning a 6 week trip to Australia either Oct '10 or Apr '11. We don't do treking and beaches are great but we live in NC and can go to the beach anytime.
jgh1944 is offline  
Dec 20th, 2009, 12:26 PM
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jgh1944: The "beaches" that have been above a very different from the beaches of NC or most of the other beaches in Australia for that matter. They have each been mentioned for a particular reason and not for swimming. In case you wonder why I mention that it is because I have been to many of the beaches along the coast of the Carolina's and I would hate to think that you would miss out on Australia's beautiful areas just because you think they are like most other beaches. Google Whitehaven and Whitsundays for instance.
ivenotbeeneverywhere is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2009, 11:38 PM
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I live in Melbourne and love going north to Queensland but no, no, no, not in will be like going to Miami in July.The great Barrier Reef is wonderful and if you are committed to go there make sure you do a trip to the "outer" reef. With the short time you have after the Australian Open I would recommend more time in Victoria --Yarra Valley Wineries, surf beaches at Torquay which is at the start of the GOR.It is our prime holiday period and accommodation will be scarce.Sydney would then be another destination and there are good day trips from there.The problem you will have both in Melbourne and Sydney is getting accommodation in holiday areas out of those centers, therefore you will probably have to stay in the city and do day trips.I do hope you have a wonderful time in our great country, pity you can't see more of it.
jamesexton_1 is offline  
Dec 24th, 2009, 01:36 PM
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Cairns will likely be more humid than Melbourne but it will also be of a more temperate temperature at that time of year. Melbourne will be both much hotter and much colder than Cairns in January.

Doubters please visit before saying stuff like as it is nearer the equator it will be hotter or other such bunk!
Saltuarius is offline  
Dec 28th, 2009, 02:48 PM
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Saltuarius is absolutely right. I've often gone to the GBR in January, the weather on Heron Island is very pleasant, much less humid than Sydney at that time of year.

Just a thought Piccola, could you cut out Sydney and devote more time to Cairns and surrounding areas? With your limited time I think visiting one Australian city is sufficient, and there are a lot of areas to explore around Cairns: Daintree etc.
Susan7 is offline  
Dec 28th, 2009, 04:11 PM
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I wouldn't be saying "no" to summer in Queensland, had lunch yesterday at Trinity Beach, just north of Cairns. Picture perfect day, blue skies, sparkling sea, just a gentle north easterly coming off the water. Usually the best time of year for reef conditions with little wind, calm seas and high underwater visibility.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jan 5th, 2010, 02:16 PM
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Hi from an Australian. You will love the tennis. Just been watching Andy Murray in the Hopman Cup. He looks good. Temperature between Melbourne and Cairns is very different. Melbourne can get hotter. Last year at the tennis it went over 36 on several days. It can even go over 40. Cairns may not go far over 34-35 but is very humid. I love Cairns but have not been in summer because you cannot swim in the ocean unless there is a stingers net. The islands are okay and I would suggest going to the outer reef. From either Airlie or Cairns. It can rain in either place. I have been in Melbourne in summer where it can go from 40 down to 20 in a matter of hours. In Melbourne make use of the free tram around the city. Also get a day pass on it. Well worth it. The Ocean road is fantastic. Restaurants on Lygon St in Melbourne.. offered all sorts of special deals.
RebeccaHWA is offline  
Jan 7th, 2010, 07:27 PM
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jgh1944, You asked about my 6 week itinerary in Australia. It was in March/April, a great part of a 3 month trip. Australia is large and I did a lot of research to decide on my destinations. We started in Sydney with a trip to the Hunter Valley wine region. Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We flew to Melbourne for 5 days and then to Ayers Rock for 3 days. I had wondered about the Uluru part as it was expensive, but loved the aboriginal experience. Our longest time was in Cairns for 10 days. We stayed in Yorkey's Knob and had day trips into Daintree, snorkelling, deep sea fishing and enjoying the area. We flew to Hamilton Island and had a 3 day snorkelling cruise in the Whitsundays followed by a few days in Airlie Beach. We were lucky to have perfect weather and swam with stinger suits. We then rented a car and took a week travelling back up to Cairns. Finally, we flew to Sydney. We loved it so much that I am busy planning our return to Western Australia this spring.
TravelKare is offline  
Jan 7th, 2010, 08:11 PM
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Hi from Western Australia. The greatest place on earth. My husband and I walked along the beach today with weather over 25 at that stage and thought where else is heaven. We ahve great beaches, cafes, tourist attractions etc. Post if you want any ideas. For perfect snorkelling etc Coral BAy. 1300 kms north of Perth but you can just snorkele off the beach. Huge snapper are in the bay. A long way but perfect.
RebeccaHWA is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 07:01 PM
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Thanks for the offer of ideas for Western Australia Rebecca. We have booked a tour for an Outback Adventure from Broome to Darwin. We are spending 9 days in Perth, Margaret River and Pemberton. What kind of weather can we expect in the beginning of June? I'm not expecting beach weather but hope for wine tours, visits to the caves and time exploring the karri forests.
TravelKare is offline  

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