Australia Trip Guidance Needed - Esp GBR

Feb 23rd, 2015, 03:25 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 42
Australia Trip Guidance Needed - Esp GBR

Hubby and I are taking a "last-chance" vacation to Australia in late March/early April with 18-yr-old daughter before we send her off to college for vet career. Obviously, animals are "biggies" for the trip! Based upon lots of reading here, we are confident that we DO NOT want to try to cram an entire continent into the 10 days on the ground our stingy employers allow, so we are focusing on splitting our time between Sydney and GBR - we are all certified divers, although DD sometimes has compression issues so we need to keep snorkeling open as an option for her.We LOVE markets, wildlife, "funky" stuff - not too keen on museums, etc (at least with DD in tow)!
Rough plans are to spend 4 days in Sydney, including a day trip to Blue Mts and Featherdale, then fly to Cairns (or Port Douglas?) for a few GBR days before spending last full day in Sydney before flight home.
Feel relatively confident on Sydney, and plan last day on GBR portion in rainforest (need 24 hr decompression stop). The GBR portion is giving me fits however and I could use some help!
Budget is such that we looked at Lizard Island for 3 nights with a day on either end in Cairns, but I just can't stomach the idea of paying $1300 a night for a room and then tacking $700 pp on for airfare to Lizard Island! Also considered live-aboard short trip, but DD "nixxed" that (yes, she can be a pill!), so now I don't know what to do!
Suggestions? Considering Green Island, Hamilton Island, etc - but concerned about the thought of "cattle-car" diving.
DellaS is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 03:50 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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I'm a snorkeler, not a diver, so I can't help with recommendations for dive companies. However, I suggest you go over to Trip Advisor, if you have not already done so, and look at the reviews for various dive companies in both Cairns and PD.

We've been to the GBR area 5 times, always staying in Port Douglas, so that would be my recommendation. It's just got a nice "vibe" about it.

Whatever you do, don't choose Green Island. It's not part of the Outer Reef and that's where the best and most abundant sea life and coral can be found.
longhorn55 is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 07:08 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I would second Port Douglas for a great spot to base yourself to see the GBR and also going to Daintree Rain Forest and Mossman Gorge.Use the company called Wavelength for your snorkel trips to the GBR.It only takes 30 on the boat and is very hands on and attentive as opposed to Quick Silver that takes hundreds!
dutyfree is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 07:14 PM
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For markets- Paddington Markets in Paddington , (on Saturday) Sydney and Port Douglas market are worth putting on your list.
northie is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 07:38 PM
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Can't help with diving either as we only snorkeled but just wanted to say that if you want to see wildlife, the Atherton Tablelands area near Cairns is excellent.
Patty is offline  
Feb 24th, 2015, 10:58 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Cairns was pretty dumpy when I visited, but that was when your daughter was in her terrible twos or so.

Honestly, the GBR is great to see and to tell people you've been, but I've had better diving adventures in the Caribbean. Plus if you get seasick you need to prepare - the dive spots at GBR are 90+ minutes offshore. To that end, be prepared. But like all diving, it's luck of the draw regarding what piscine life you'll see.
BigRuss is offline  
Feb 27th, 2015, 12:37 PM
Join Date: Feb 2015
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If you end up staying in Sydney definitely go to Bondi Beach and check out/ get drinks and apps at Bondi Iceberg's club. I went there last summer (Australian winter) and it was absolutely the highlight of my trip! You will get breathtaking views, and an image to last forever enjoy! Bondi is also a cool place to explore
MarthaMaddock is offline  
Feb 28th, 2015, 02:41 PM
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If you are really interested in the wildlife-go down on the Great Ocean Road or go to Tasmania!
dutyfree is offline  
Mar 1st, 2015, 06:21 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Have you considered Heron Island? Seems it would be more in the scope of your budget and interests. It's not open to day trippers either. It's along way from Cairns however.

Keep in mind the GBR is over 1200 miles long - hard to make generalizations about how it compares with reefs elsewhere.

I've travelled all over Australia and would say North Queensland is one of the best areas for quantity and variety of wildlife - you just need to get off the beaten path a bit. That being said, there are many other wildlife hot spots. Carnarvon Gorge in Queensland is such a place and would make a great combo with Heron Island. We did Heron/Carnarvon in 1995 - a fantastic trip!
RalphR is offline  

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