Australia Itinerary Help-June 18th-July 4th

May 29th, 2004, 08:23 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 25
Australia Itinerary Help-June 18th-July 4th

Hi everyone,

I've been wading through the messages on this forum, and am just overwhelmed. Since I'm leaving in just a few weeks, I need some help in deciding where to spend our time.

My husband and I (in our mid 30's) are going to Sydney for a conference (well my husband is working, not me LOL). The conference runs from June 20-23rd, so we're thinking of being in Sydeny from the 18th to the 26th, so he has a chance to do some site seeing in Sydney as well.

Now, what to do from the 27th to July 4th?

We want to see the GBR for some snorkelling (we don't scuba, although my husband may try it) - because of the time of year, I'm thinking it's better to go further north since it's winter there, correct? Is it better to stay on the mainland, and take day trips out to the reef, or stay on one of the islands? Although Lizard Island is beautiful, I almost fell over when I saw the price. I was also looking at a 3-4 day reef cruise with Captain Cook or Coral Sea, but that also seems quite pricey (maybe I just don't have a clue what things cost). My travel agent has suggested Hamilton Island, but I'm wondering if we'd be better going to Port Douglas or Cairns?

We fly out of Sydney on July 4th.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, and thank you so much in advance!

zoecat5 is offline  
May 29th, 2004, 08:45 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,630

You can fly out to Lizard Island w/ Greg from Daintree Air for the day.

The place to stay in Cairns is Lilybank B&B run by Pat Woolford and her husband Mike. Pat is extremely knowledgable about booking all sorts of activities in the area.

We just came back from a month down under. Smashing.

PS. Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge at dusk for the thrill of a lifetime.
AndrewDavid is offline  
May 30th, 2004, 06:20 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,116
Hi Karen: Hamilton is not a great place for snorkeling as it is not a reef would have to take a day trip out to the reef from there just as you would from the mainland. Hamilton probably the most commercialized of the Queensland Islands.

Heron Island is the main alternative island to Lizard for staying right on the reef. The resort is less expensive than Lizard, but is still very nice. I've been to Heron on several occassions during the winter months and can attest to the fact that, despite its more southerly location, the weather is typically great at that time of year. (Of the total of 28 days I've spent on the island, I'd guess 7-9 of them were cloudy or rainy.) Water may be slightly cool for extended snorkels, but you can rent shortie wet suits that will keep you warm and protect you from the coral. From shore you can snorkel in the lagoon - you should see turtles, rays, shovel-nosed rays, fish, starfish, etc. Although you can swim to the reef edge (where the best coral and fish are), it's easier and safer to get there on the boats run twice daily by the staff just for snorkelers. It's a 5-10 min ride. If the tide and current are right, they will let you drift snorkel for a mile or so over the coral - awesome! We saw manta rays twice during a drift snorkel on our last visit in 2001.

Winter months on Heron are also a good time for seeing humpack whales that migrate close to shore through the channel bewteen Heron and the nearby Wistari Reef. On one occassion, our snorkel boat had come so close to a whale the driver signaled for all of us to come back on board. Just after we did, the whale dove right underneath our boat...several of us were lucky enough to get pictures of the giant whale fin.
RalphR is offline  
May 30th, 2004, 02:56 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 52
I would suggest that the 4-day Captain Cook cruise could possibly be a good option for you as it includes Lizard Island, offers diving/snorkelling/glass-bottom boating at coral cays and also calls in to Cooktown, which is a true Aussie experience in itself. Cooktown is probably the closest you'll get to an unspoilt, almost "outback-type" town without travelling a long way inland.

Although we've only done their 3-day cruise, which visits other places, we absolutely loved it and when opportunity permits will definitely do the 4-day one as well. Comfortable cabins, friendly ships company, good food and a chance to get to know fellow passengers from all round the world, including many Australians too. The only extra you have to pay for is drinks from the bar. (We booked last minute and got a 50% reduction - but that was at a quiet time of year and in June/July I'd say they will be much busier - but you could always check with them).

It would fit into your schedule pretty well too as the 4-day cruise leaves Cairns every Monday (28th June)and returns on the Friday (2nd July) which would then give you a couple of days to get back to Sydney.

Hope this helps!

Daff is offline  
May 30th, 2004, 04:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 25
thanks for the great advice. After staying up into the wee hours last night reading posts on this forum, I think I've decided that Port Douglas is the place for us. Hibiscus Gardens has received some rave reviews, and I've sent them an e-mail to check availability. Also, I'm looking into 3 nights at Silky Oaks. Any comments on those choices?

zoecat5 is offline  

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