Australia trip advice

Aug 9th, 2006, 11:51 AM
  #1  
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Australia trip advice

Hello! Me & BF are planning on going to Sydney in mid March for 8 nights (17-25). We are planning on spending most if not all of our time in Sydney area. We thought about traveling to Melbourne via plane for 1 or 2 nights. Would this be worth it or will we need more time? My concern is too many days in Sydney. This is our first trip to Australia & we don't want to feel rushed by seeing too much at once. It'll be nice to relax and take it all in at a slow pace.

Now I have hotel Qs. Has anyone stayed at or know anything about the Grace Hotel? I've been looking at hotels in the downtown area for around $200 or less in US dollars. I'd like a modern, up to date hotel with a decent fitness center. Views are unimportant really, just want a really nice bed & bathroom area. Location is unimportant, walking distance to harbour or close to public transportation are both fine. Unfortunately for my dates, there isn't alot of hotels in my price range. Other hotels I see are, Mercure Sydney, Holiday Inn Darling Harbour, Establishment Hotel. Any thoughts & comments are greatly appreciated.
bluestructure is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 03:54 PM
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The Grace Hotel is OK but is more of a businessman's hotel being that it is right in the city itself and was once a Dept.store I think. If you check out www.wotif.com.au there are heaps of hotels on that site with their details that you could choose from and also get an idea of the prices. For instance there is a lovely hotel in North Sydney with lovely harbour views and 2 minutes to the train etc which has all you want and more and at a much better price than over the other side of the bridge. Also why not wait until you get to Sydney and see if you will be happy staying there or if you feel then that you want time in another city. You could pick up a cheap flight then and go somewhere else if you had run out of ideas in Sydney. Not necessarily Melbourne but perhaps Canberra, Brisbane, Gold Coast or any of the ports in between.
lizF is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 07:01 PM
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Hi Blue,

Sydney's a fabulous city and you could certainly spend 8 nights there and do some day trips outside of the city as well.

If you're into wine, you could break your time up by going to the Hunter Valley or Coonawara wine regions.

How about renting a car and go to the Central Coast, an area not far from Sydney that most tourists don't really visit. Another option would be to go to Port Stephens, just about 2.5 hours north of Sydney; lots to do there including interacting with some dolphins!

Hope this is helpful!

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Aussie Specialist

I think that would better serve you than going to Melbourne, which is another big city and not really the experience I find most clients wanting (visiting large cities).
wlzmatilida is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 08:24 PM
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Establishment is a super trendy place - if that's your thing!
margo_oz is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 04:44 AM
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You've got it right, OP - not enough time to go whizzing around.

Plenty to see in Sydney itself but don't stay the whole 8 days there.

You must get out and visit some of the surrounds. You really must!!

The Blue Mountains (fantastic scenery and great walks) are doable by train or car or tour, and would be my first pick - though don't go on a day trip - spend a night or two.

Then there's the Hunter Valley if you are into wine. Or go south to Kangaroo Valley, or hire a car and just go wander.

What interests you? Would you be happy just seeing what you find, or do you need to know what is at the end of the journey?

fuzzylogic is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 04:10 PM
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Okay, I've decided that we'll stay in NSW & explore what else it has to offer besides Sydney.

I can see spending 1 or 2 nights in the Blue Mountains. Renting a car sounds like a great idea (need international license?). I'm not really into wine but do like parks & scenic hikes. Any great national parks?? Renting a canoe/kayak would be awesome, maybe renting a cabin/lodge room 1 night.

In Sydney, I can see us doing the typical sites (opera house, bridge, zoo) & what musuems we can find. My other half expressed interest in seeing a show at the opera house. Probably spend a day at the beach (manly or bondi?). I think finding a nice running route everyday will be exciting too.

Fuzzy, we're much interesting in seeing what we find rather than having a planned itinerary.

lizF, your right about downtown hotels. I'm going to look into other areas, perhaps double bay? Any particular hotel you were thinking of in N. Sydney?
bluestructure is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 05:15 PM
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Hi bluestructure,
There's a hotel called, "Vibe" (see the wotif site, it's usually on special) at Rushcutters Bay, which might suit you. Great location and you can walk to Double Bay, or into town via Kings Cross, Wooloomooloo, the Art Gallery of NSW etc. from there.

Bokhara is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 06:09 PM
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Bluestucture,

There are some great walks in and about Sydney. It was on these boards that I found out about the Spit Bridge to Manly Walk, and that was one of the highlights of our week in the area. It was very popular with our friends as well. I don't know how to post a link to a thread here, or I would. But perhaps one of the other kind people on this board will give you details on the walk, or a link to threads on it.

The vistor center in the Rocks area had a brochure with several classic walks listed as well.

We also really enjoyed Royal National Park and are angling to get back there again. It is not far from Sydney, and in addition to many other features, there is a Coastal Trail you can follow. In fact to do the whole thing would be two days. I believe you can even get supported two-day hikes.

Here is some info Tassietwister posted for me regarding that walk:

If you take the train to Cronulla and catch the Bundeeena ferry you can reach the northern end of the costal track. En route you can see some expensive homes and lots of boats on the quaint old fashioned ferryboat. This part of the park is most brilliant in spring with awesome displays of Australian wildflowers, including the flannel flower. In summer though it will not dissappoint except maybe on the bird front! Fantastic views. It can be a bit tricky to get to the track, be prepared. Walk through the town on the diagonal from the wharf and you should find the start but then there is two tracks. Doesn't matter too much, hard to get lost. The first one is a loop and the second one is the true coastal trail that will take you to Watamolla if you walk for 6 hours! Also nearby is another track where aboriginal carving can be seen.

You can also drive to the southern end at Stanwell Tops. Here you get an outstanding view of the southern coastline as it wraps itself around the city of Wollongong. The coastal track ends here and if you backtrack you get some good ocean views in mainly eucalypt forest, small scrub. Also in this area is a wildlife park, Simbio and the Hindu temple built in the middle of nowhere. At the wildlife park many wild birds are evident as well as friendly captive ones. Down the steep descent they have no reopened the coastal drive if you feel like a spin along the coast.

Wattamolla is a great destination in itself however I would recommend either northern or southern end for your next hike. If you can do both even better. Very different one end from the other. I love it, but then I have lived on the fringe of the park for most my life so am biased of course.

Toucan2 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 06:18 PM
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I'd certainly second a day in Royal National Park, south of Sydney. Some great coastal heath walks, and you can go through and down to the south coast (and my favourite haunt if Kiama)

Good use of a day or cuppla days, in my opinion!
margo_oz is offline  
Aug 11th, 2006, 05:29 AM
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Hello again,

There are loads of National Parks within striking distance of Sydney - Blue Mtns = best known; Royal National Park = second oldest gazetted park in the world. Sydney Harbour NP = right on your doorstep. Spit to Manly is a fabulous walk and mid March is a pretty good time to do it.

There's a website:

www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au

And it gives some great info.

As for kayaking - you can rent one from somewhere near Spit Bridge to check out Middle Harbour. I also read something recently in the SMH about a trip you can do in Botany Bay by kayak evening time.

You can also hire small boats to go fishing on the Hawkesbury - but even if you didn't want to do that - hiring a car for just one day and checking out places like Berowra Waters; or Bobbin Head; or Brooklyn; or Wiseman's Ferry would be fun.

Lots of other thoughts but I'll stop there.
fuzzylogic is offline  
Aug 11th, 2006, 07:55 AM
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No international Driving Permit needed as long as your original license is in English.
Betsy is offline  
Aug 11th, 2006, 08:11 AM
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Thanks fuzzy, that is a great website! Blue Mountains has more than I thought & might be enough for 2/3 days besides Sydney & the beaches. We can certainly do some hiking & see about renting a canoe. Any rec on lodging in that area?

I appreciate all the advice, thanks to everyone so far!
bluestructure is offline  
Aug 11th, 2006, 09:50 AM
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How long is the Spit to Manly walk? Is late September a good time for it?
judilie is offline  
Aug 11th, 2006, 10:31 AM
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I found this bit of info on the National Parks website.

Manly Scenic Walkway
9.5 km, 4 hours, medium difficulty

Going past areas of bushland and exclusive waterfront houses, this walk is the best way to get a complete 'harbour experience'! It hugs the harbour shoreline, taking in beaches, Aboriginal sites, community parks, forests, scrublands and even pockets of subtropical rainforest. Make sure you're prepared for all types of weather - take protective clothing and plenty of water with you.

You can start at various points, but to do the full walk you'll need to start at The Spit (which can be accessed by a range of buses from Sydney (Wynyard)), and finish at Manly - or vice versa. From Spit Bridge, follow the shoreline around Fisher Bay (where you can see an Aboriginal midden) and Sandy Bay, before skirting Clontarf Beach. From Clontarf Point, you leave the large beaches behind, following the rocky shoreline and then entering a stand of Sydney red gums. You can take a detour to the right, visiting historic Grotto Point Lighthouse, before continuing along to Crater Cove lookout (opposite Tania Park). Admire the sweeping views of the harbour from here, then carry on over Dobroyd Head, which is in Sydney Harbour National Park. The track passes Reef Beach and Forty Baskets Beach before returning to residential areas, in the suburbs around Manly. From Manly, you can either catch the bus back to Spit Bridge (if you left your car there), or go home via the Manly ferry or jet cat to Circular Quay. For more information on the walk, contact the park information centre.


I also found a map with various Manly walks here:

http://www.manlyweb.com.au/informati...ks/walkway.asp
bluestructure is offline  
Aug 11th, 2006, 10:43 AM
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Thank very much, bluestructure.
judilie is offline  
Aug 11th, 2006, 02:21 PM
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The hotel I was talking about is the North Sydney Harbourview Hotel and the information on costs etc, taken from wotif.com.au is on the following:
http://www.wotif.com/Hotel.jsp?hotel...1&viewType=all
It is a better location than Double Bay as it is a lot closer to where you would want to spend most of your time and very much more public transport accessable too.
I have not read all the other helpful ideas people have written so I hope I am not repeating myself here but one lovely thing to do is to spend the day on the postal boat going up the Hawkesbury river. It is a beautiful river and surrounding area and on a lovely day that is about as good as it gets in terms of relaxing scenic travel in my view and something I will be doing again when I am next in Sydney IF I ever get the extra days that I would like for some tourist behaviour.
lizF is offline  
Aug 12th, 2006, 08:07 PM
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I found a great site called kayak.com which was featured in Travel Leisure magazine. I was able to find some great rates on hotels much lower than other sites, some decent hotels in CBD under $160 a night. I've been looking at 4 and hopefully if someone has stayed here and can rec it or not. I went on trip advisor and all have positive reviews. The hotels are Marriott Sydney, Rydges Jamison, Swissotel Syd, & Mercure Syd hotels. I believe I will book one of these for the first 4 nights in Sydney, followed by 2 nights in the blue mountains, then another 2 nights near one of the beaches. Still searching & reading, any more advice and comments, esp on those hotels would be appreciated!
bluestructure is offline  
Aug 13th, 2006, 05:42 PM
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for some walks around sydney you might like to look at http://www.sydneyferries.info/docs/harbour_walks.pdf

also
http://www.harbourtrust.gov.au/topics/happtracks.html

and
http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/A...lkingTours.asp

and
http://www.walksydneystreets.net/


there are several nps as well - lane cove and mt kuringai (bobbin head very nice). to get an idea, you could look at the trailwalker website, which goes through several of these. obviously you may not want to do the 100km, but you may get some ideas.
http://www.oxfam.org.au/trailwalker/sydney/
as for running, if you are looking for good places to run, you might like to also look or post on the www.coolrunning.com.au website which is the fodors equivalent for runners - it's great.
lancefan is offline  
Aug 13th, 2006, 09:30 PM
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The Grace is a lovely hotel - very clean and modern with an art-deco exterior - and a fitness centre. And it is right in the heart of the city - close to everything. I have stayed there and found it to be a very comfortable hotel.

to Melodie: the Coonawarra is in another state - SA.
sunsurfsand is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 03:10 AM
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Judilie,
Late september should be a great time for that walk. We have the occasional heatwave then, but generally it's not too hot, and wildflowers should be in bloom.
Suelynne is offline  

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