Australia Trip

Old Jun 8th, 2004, 04:34 PM
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Australia Trip

My husband and I are planning a trip to Australia in January and would like some feedback on our itenerary. Any tour operators you would recommend or feedback on hotels? We will also be bringing our infant son along so any recommendations for baby sitting services in Sydney and GBR area would be greatly appreciated.

Jan. 7-9 Gold Coast - Marriott Surfers Paradise - spend a couple of days at the beach relaxing and adjusting to the time change - maybe visit Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary one day - is there anything else we should absolutely do here?

Jan. 10-12 Melbourne, Park Hyatt
1 and 1/2 days city sights, 1/2 day penguin parade 1 day Great Ocean Road
We are planning on using the tram to get around during the day for sight seeing and heard about the tram dinner. If we do the free tour during the day, is it worth doing the dinner at night, or is it the same route?

Jan. 13-16 - Outback, Sails of the Desert
2 days Ayers Rock/Olgas
1 day King Canyon
Sound of Silence Dinner
Should we book tours here, or do it ourselves?

Jan. 17-21 - GBR - still deciding on hotel, the old Port Douglas or Palm Cove decision. We are leaning towards Port Douglas as we want to spend 1 day in the Daintree and are thinking about Wavelength for snorkeling. Also considering a day at Hartley's Croc park. Last day would be at Kuranda (sky rail one way, train the other...any preference on which one to take first) and we are considering doing it ourselves and then staying that last night in Cairns as our flight leaves early in the am - any recommendations for hotels in the PD area - how about the Outrigger's - it looks like there are three different ones in PD is any one better than the other? Also any advice on Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. With the croc park and Currumbin Wildlife Park, am I just doubling up on stuff or are they all different experiences?

Jan. 21-27 Sydney, Intercontinental
Need some more help on this leg of the trip. We know for sure we want to spend one day in the Blue Mtns., one day in Hunter Valley and do the bridge climb. That still leaves us four days to tour Sydney. What's the best way to combine things so we see everything.

I know this is a lot of info, but thanks in advance for any help/advice.
clz221 is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2004, 06:53 PM
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Don't know if you understand the logistics of travelling with a baby. If your baby is 6 weeks old or 3 months old now, he stays wherever you put him, so he's very portable. Give him another 7 months, and he'll be crawling, if not walking. That's a different ball game.

You'll have to mash food for him or buy pureed food for him. What's more, he'll generate tons and tons of laundry.

I think you're moving too fast amongst destination. Also, you're going to Ayers Rock, Far North Queensland and Gold Coast in THE hottest, most humid month. Do a search for Paul_S (who lives in Alice Springs), and read his comments about the flies.

I myself recommended that a previous poster visit Cairns early in December. I did it for a specific reason. She was going to Melbourne on a business trip, and had a bit of time to spend afterwards. She said she wanted to see something uniquely Australian. Something about her post gave me the impression she might not be getting back to Australia again soon. So I suspended my usual judgement, and suggested she see the GBR. Other posters rightly shot down that idea, and recommended she go to Tasmania.

So, that's my advice to you. Visit Sydney and whatever outlying areas you can reach on day trips (probably Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley). Then fly to Tasmania, rent a car, and drive around to your heart's content. Tasmania will have heaps of stuff to hold your interest. The weather will be much nicer in Tasmania than it will be in the tropical and subtropical latitudes. With a rental car you'll have the flexibility to stop and go when it's convenient.

If you insist on your original itinerary, I'll mention that we went to the penguin parade at Phillip Island between Christmas and New Year, and we got back to Melbourne well after midnight. The reason was that sunset was so late at that time of year, and the penguins came ashore when the sun went down and dusk set in.

Although I haven't been to it myself, there's another penguin colony that's much closer to Melbourne and that's accessible by boat.

No, the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant does not follow the route of the free City Circle Tram. The City Circle Tram skirts the perimeter of the downtown area.

As I recall, there are two (and perhaps even three) Colonial Tramcar Restaurant routes. I think one of them travels around the inner neighbourhoods of Melbourne, while one (or perhaps two) ventures into suburbs that are are bit further out. That said, none of them follows the exact route of the City Circle Tram.

The atmosphere is not what I would call kid-friendly. The decor is quite plush (red velvet seats, white tablecloths, silver cutlery, etc.). I can't remember any kids being on the tramcar restaurant when we went on it, and I can't visualize them having high chairs.

I have seen some less than complimentary remarks about the tramcar restaurant here at Fodors. Some folks found it boring. I personally enjoyed it.

Although I enjoyed the tramcar restaurant, I would say Lygon Street, with its many ethnic restaurants, was fun (and family-friendly).

Also, when it comes to the Skyrail and train to and from Kuranda, be aware that the Skyrail and train departure / arrival points at the bottom of the escarpment are a few miles from each other. However, there is a shuttle service that one can use to retrieve one's car from the relevant parking lot.

I don't know which mode of transport is better for going up and which is better for going down. We took the Skyrail up and the train down, and we were very satisfied with that combination.

Hope this helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2004, 08:34 PM
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There is a lovely low key ( 2 flashlights) fairy penguin parade from Bicheno, Tasmania. Recommend you stay at the Old Tram Road B&B

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Old Jun 9th, 2004, 02:13 AM
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As Judy mentioned, Jan. would not be the ideal time to go to Uluru/Ayers Rock or GBR. I can't even imagine how stifling hot it will be in the centre, and I think that is the height of the rainy season in FNQ. That aside, I don't recommend the centre as a place to bring an infant (I have a 21 mo. old & a 1 mo. old so I can relate). My recommendation would be to travel a bit less, and spend more time in your remaining destinations - or add Tasmania as Judy also suggested. I also liked the tramcar dinner experience (would go for dinner during summer) but don't recommend it for kids. I also 2nd her idea of skipping the penguin parade on Philip Island. I'll probably be crucified for this comment, but I found it to be a very long trip for 1/2 hour of somewhat interesting viewing - offset by some rude tourists who insisted on pushing to the front to take their flash photos...but don't get me started. OK, enough of the negativity. I'm sure your hotels could recommend baby sitting services or even arrange them for you. Use you extra 1/2 day in Melb. to see more of the city sights. Enjoy your trip. It's a good idea to travel while your baby is small. Now that my son is nearly 2, I'm starting to wonder if we'll ever travel again!
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Old Jun 9th, 2004, 07:00 AM
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Thanks to everyone who has replied so far. The information has been very helpful. I'm trying to push Tasmania on my husband but he really wants to experience the outback and the reef. I know travelling with an infant will be somewhat restrictive, but we figure it will only get worse as he gets older and we have more. I think we will do the tramcar dinner based on your advice and will book a babysitter for that night. I'm sure the Park Hyatt can help us arrange. It sounds like Phillips Island may not be the best idea. Judy mentioned some penguins closer to Melbourne. Does anybody know where that might be?
clz221 is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2004, 09:23 AM
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A Google search brings up Penguin Water Cruises, a 2 hour cruise that apparently departs Southbank at sunset:

According to this website

sunset on January 10, 2005 will be at 8.45 p.m. So that means you'd get back to Southbank about 10.45 p.m., but at least Southbank would be a short cab ride away if you were staying at the Park Hyatt. So you would get back to your hotel not much past 11.00 p.m.

I don't know if there are any cruises that visit penguins during the day. Certainly my Google search doesn't seem to have brought any to light. I suppose there wouldn't be any point in a day time cruise, because the penguin lifestyle depends on feeding out at sea during the day and coming ashore to nest at night. The prime opportunity to see them (based on what I witnessed at Phillip Island) is as they make their way ashore.

I've never been to Melbourne Zoo, but it's quite close to the city centre, and I've heard it has a good collection of Australian native animals. A Google search confirms that Melbourne Zoo has Little Penguins or Fairy Penguins, which is the species that one sees at Phillip Island.

Perhaps a visit to the zoo would be a way of seeing them during the day.

Just a thought.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2004, 12:40 PM
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26 January is Australia Day, and you'll be in Sydney then. This is the best place for OzDay!

There are heaps of activities all around the place, and especially on the harbour. You won't really need to make plans for this day.
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Old Jun 9th, 2004, 11:35 PM
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There is a boat trip leaving from Southgate in Melbourne which will take you to a penguin colony in Port Phillip Bay. I understand it includes a BBQ dinner. It certainly would save you a lot of time. The website is
I gather visiting Ayers Rock is a must for your husband and I'm sure by now you will be aware that it will be hot with lots of flies. If you go walking, go very early in the morning and make sure you take lots of water, sunscreen and your hats.
Re Kuranda, the tour groups tend to go up on the railway and return on Skyrail so if you do it in reverse, it should be less crowded.
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Old Oct 13th, 2004, 09:39 PM
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I think the penguins only come out at sunset, so you have to board the boat on time -- the time window is very narrow.

At the Gold Coast, check out Sea World. Um, you know, the Gold Coast is not the most attractive place to go in Qld because of all the skyscrapers that cast huge shadows over the beach, plus the streets look pretty ugly. Make sure you either hang around the resort or go right out of town on a tour.

It'd be so much nicer if you could stay on the Sunshine Coast (one hour north of Brisbane by plane). There are direct flights from Sunshine Coast Airport to Melbourne, too. Noosa is pretty damn expensive, though. But there are other lovely places all within 30 mins drive from the airport which are cheaper. I once stayed at the Novotel Twin Waters resort which was very relaxing. I've just been to Caloundra, which has nice hotels in an area called Golden Beach. Plus it's also a suburban area if you need supplies for the baby.

Melbourne is fab and the Park Hyatt is great (I stayed there some time ago). The shopping is excellent. Also, for atmosphere, go down to St Kilda beach on a weekend, check out the markets, eat some heavenly pastries at the Hungarian-owned cafes on Ackland Street. Ahh. . .lovely. The coffee, food and wine is great in Melbourne.

I spent a week in Port Douglas in September and have been to Palm Cove fairly recently. If you have an early flight from Cairns you'll need to stay in Cairns because the 1-hour bus ride from PD doesn't leave early. The good thing about Palm Cove is that it's only 25 mins drive from Cairns and it's peaceful and village-like. Port Douglas is also nice. Hmmm. . . hard to decide. Please note that,there are snorkelling tours that leave from Palm Cove wharf too -- I hear there's a fabulous day tour to Lizard Island which includes wonderful snorkelling. Lizard has an umbelievably expensive resort there, and I'm told it is stunning there. If you would like to have a quality stay in North Queensland, stay at the Outrigger Beach Club in Palm Cove. It is fabulous: stylish rooms has great facilities.

Happy Travelling. When I read these posts I feel very lucky to live in Australia and I feel very proud to hear that people enjoy their time here!

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Old Dec 9th, 2004, 04:56 PM
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Greetings from Phillip Island! Its always difficult to fit so much to see into so little time!

On the Melbourne Itinerary, a pity you are not staying overnight in Phillip Island when there is so much to see in addition to the Penguins. Come face to face with Koala's in their natural habitat, sit on the beach on the ultimate penguin tour and have the penguins walk right by you in the sand, and walk some of the rugged natural coatlines, or simply sit or swim on some of the pristine sandy swimming and surf beaches....

An easy 1.5 hour drive from Melbourne, Phillip Island is a nature island that has so much to offer! A 1/2 day (rushed) bus tour touches so little of the islands offerings....
IanB is offline  
Old Dec 10th, 2004, 11:14 AM
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I do NOT agree with Isd re: the Gold Coast. The Sunshine Coast is, in comparison, a low-cost, down market destination with absolutely nothing like the Hotels in G.C has i.e the Marriot which has its own snorkling pool with tropical fish etc and is a very lovely hotel with an Asian flair to it. There are something like 100 top restaurants on the G.C ( and another 400 others) and you would be hard up to find 1 good one on the S. C. The "strip" that Isd refers to has been re-landscaped and changed and is very nice BUT no-one actually is forced to go there when there are so many other areas on the Gold Coast that are beautiful and accessible. You do NOT have the attractions on the S. C that are available on the G.C and sure there are highrises on the G.C. but that is only indicative of the fact that it is Australia's premier holiday destination.
I wish when people give information to tourists that they keep their own reasons for being where they are to themselves unless of course they are giving accurate and informative tourist advise. I have lived in BOTH areas and I live now in the hinterland of the Gold Coast ( hills behind it ) which has everything to offer in eco tourism as well as a sophisticated lifestyle BUT at least here you get a choice! There is a far more accessible, vast, diverse hinterland as well on the Gold Coast and I am sure that you will enjoy yourself there at the Marriott - check out George's Paragon Restaurant at either Surfer's Paradise or Sanctuary Cove ( prefer the latter) for a 1/2 price lunch which will be fabulous - mainly Greek/Australian sea-food but with other things for the non sea-food lover.
For a fun time too check out if there are markets at Broadbeach near the Oasis Centre in an evening where you can have a picnic right on the beach and wander around the area. You will also find that if you need baby sitting there will be plenty to choose from and most probably within the Hotel itself but you will also be able to rent strollers from most of the shopping centres if you want to take littlie with you.
Phone Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary to check on availability of strollers etc. That will be a lovely day out for yourselves and infant as he will get to pat most of the animals - you will too.
Take a Banana Boat taxi perhaps to SeaWorld which is a lovely day out and has swimming pools etc. Enjoy!
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Old Dec 10th, 2004, 11:20 AM
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I would agree with the others that the Centre is NOT the place to be in summer.
Think Death Valley - think Phoenix without much airconditioning in mid-summer - include flies and you will get the drift!
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