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Australian first time travellers seeking advice on proposed flexible itinerary

Australian first time travellers seeking advice on proposed flexible itinerary

Old May 19th, 2006, 09:37 PM
  #1  
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Australian first time travellers seeking advice on proposed flexible itinerary

Hi! My wife & I are hoping to go to Aussie for approximately 3 to 4 weeks around March 15 to April 15 of 2008.This gives us lots of time to plan .We live close to Ottawa,Ontario Canada.I propose to buy an "Aussie Air Pass"which includes your International flight plus 3 "free" domestic flights once there.Cost will be around $2400.00 cad pp.My plan was to land in Cairns & stay there for around 6 days,then first flight would be to Brisbane...stay 5 days.Then fly to Sydney & stay 5 or 6 days.Rent a car & drive to Melbourne next and tour the Great Ocean Road stopping here & there to enjoy the scenery.Then drive back to Melbourne(total of about 6 days)and take our last flight to Alice Springs, staying for 2 days.Fly back home from here with the little koala I'd love to bring back . Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated???Also would you suggest B&B's or renting an apartment with kitchenette? How about the tours?Suggestions?? We want to see as much tourist stuff as possible...any discounts available??? This seemed like the most economical way to go but I don't know for sure.... Thankyou so much for being patient and we look forward to any & all responses I'll make sure to check back here every now & again.([email protected])
weweresad2 is offline  
Old May 20th, 2006, 12:35 AM
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As far as I remember, there are no international flights from Alice Springs, so you will need to make another internal flight from there to Sydney or Melbourne or wherever you can get a flight back to Canada. Obviously, on your current arrangements, that flight would not be 'free', so you might have to re-jig a bit.
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Old May 20th, 2006, 05:10 AM
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Hi - sounds like a great deal! Have you set your heart on Brisbane? Just asking cos you could use your 3 flights in many different ways. Have you thought about the Top Rnd (Darwin, and wonderful Kakadu/Litchfield National Parks). It would depend on what time of year you are planning to visit - but it is one of the most spectacular areas of Australia.

You could fly Cairns to Darwin; take the train from there to Alice (for the fun of it); then fly from Alice to Adelaide; drive from there to MLB on a one way rental and fly up to Sydney.

Just food for thought - planning is so much fun. Apartments with kitchenette aren't that easy to come by - but there are "apartment hotels" is some major cities.

Having said that, eating out is not expensive here unless you want gourmet all the time. Local Thai, Vietnamese, Italian cuisine is usually very reasonable.

Happy planning.
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Old May 20th, 2006, 06:34 AM
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I have been to Australia two times.
First time we did: Melbourne/great Ocean Road - Sydney - Alice Springs/Ayers Rock Mt. Olgas - Cairns -Brisbane/surfer's paradise - back to Sydney.

Second time was:

Cairns-Sydney-Perth/Coolgardie-Kalgoorie-Pinacle Desert (and around)- Sydney.

You may consider to fly in to MEL and out of SYD or viceversa so you can save one of the domestic flight voucher !!

Once in Cairns I would suggest the two or three full day cruises to the reef and snorkelling by Quicksilver catamaran, www.quicksilver-cruises.com , all departing from Port Douglas but they pick you up at your hotel in Cairns. I strongly recommend them !!

Just as suggestion I would prefer to see Darwin and Kakadu park rather than Brisbane !!

3 to 4 weeks are not enough to see everything so I would suggest to select some destinations according to your priorities and then come back another one-two-.... trips !!
Check the rainy weather conditions in each part you intend to visit between march-april !

You will love Australia !!
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Old May 20th, 2006, 11:27 AM
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amaclise
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You might want to look at staying in Noosa heads instead of Brisbane. If my memory serves me it is north of Brisbane up the coast. Awesome little town, my favorite I think of all the towns between Cairns and Sydney.
 
Old May 20th, 2006, 02:37 PM
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I've used serviced apartments (with kitchenette) many times for both business and personal travel, and seldom had a problem finding one in the area and price bracket I want. Search www.wotif.com and you'll get an idea of what's available. This site, and a couple of others whose names escape me, allows you to score discounted accommodation as long as you book no more than 4 weeks before check-in.

In Melbourne in particular you should find quite a few independent properties (though not necessarily listed on wotif.com) in near-city locations like South Yarra and East Melbourne. Not all are as spiffy as the more modern properties run by chains such as Oakford and Medina but are usually good value.

A B&B can enhance your stay but is not often the most economical alternative. I'm often startled by the prices quoted for weekend-getaway B&Bs outside Sydney in such areas as the Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands.

They're often found in towns containing shops selling overpriced hand-knitted sweaters, jams & flavoured mustards and assorted tizzy things, and "antique" (read "junk") shops. Mostly, neither kind of establishment seems to have any visible means of support, as you can stand in one for hours without seeing a sale made. Maybe their real role is to supply wobbly old bits of furniture, frilly cushion covers, pot-pourri bags and the like to the nearby B&Bs? Or are they some sort of sophisticated tax minimisation scheme for Sydney-based QCs with country properties?
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Old May 20th, 2006, 08:10 PM
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What brought that on? Never mind, I feel better now.
For American readers, QC stands for Queen's Counsel, a superior breed of barrister (attorney).
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Old May 20th, 2006, 09:20 PM
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Hi! Lucky you to be able to go for 4 weeks! And lucky you found this forum before you made your plans. Do a lot of searches in the archives and you will find many, many gems. Cut and paste your favorites to a Word doc and make a 3-ring notebook with sections for each area you want to go to. The people here are great. That being said, I am not an expert, but we researched our trip to Oz a lot in 2004 and then again for this year (but had to put it off to 2007). The weather and your planned activities will help you determine whether to go from North to South with a side trip to the middle, or vice versa. March is fall, so I would imagine that going from south to north would be best to get the best weather (north being the warmest area.) The Aussies on this board could advise on this better. Secondly, look at your map before deciding anything. The country is huge and 3 weeks + (which we had) was only enough to scratch the surface. We went to Sydney, Uluru/Ayers Rock, Kakadu (outside of Darwin) and Cairns/Port Douglas. Did lots of touristy stuff as well as lots of scenery, hiking, snorkeling, etc. Do you want city life or country? If the latter, seeing both Sydney and Melbourne would be too much. Do you love the beach or want to see the animals of the outback? If the first, two beachy areas like you have planned are good, if the latter, go for Uluru and Kings Canyon and Kakadu area and skip Brisbane (it's compared to Miami, BTW). The truth is you can't do it all, so try to minimize your travel days (travel to any of the places you planned takes the whole day) and crystallize your experiences so that you don't feel that you are constantly traveling. By the way, a B&B in the Cairns area is not expensive and great--Beaches at Holloway Beach or the one run by Pat W. from this forum Lilybanks are two great choices. Here are books we liked: the AAA book is good for finding highlights of each area; the Lonely Planet individual area books are great with lots of ideas (the big one is good for overview); the National Geographic Australia one has great pictures of some out of the way places you might decide you HAVE to go to--which might just make your trip special (we saw a picture of Jenolan Caves and loved the whole area and were glad we went beyond the edges of the Blue Mountains to see some beautiful caves and outback areas.) Happy travels!
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Old May 20th, 2006, 10:00 PM
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Just on a point of detail, it's the Gold Coast area (specifically Surfers Paradise) about an hour SE of Brisbane that some compare to Miami - but I wouldn't take that comparison too far, and it has great hinterland areas.

Brisbane is the state capital, a very pleasant subtropical city of I think about 1.25 million people on the Brisbane River - modern but laid-back, nothing wrong with it at all, but unfortunately it tends to get overshadowed by the "big ticket" tourism areas, especially when an overseas visitor has only 2-3 weeks to spend in Australia.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 03:00 PM
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Sometimes, just sometimes I agree with what Neil has to say but other times I down right dispair at his lack of knowledge of subjects that he knows nothing about.
Neil, if you just bothered to see what is offered in some B&Bs you would understand why the charge is what it is in some instances. If a hotel can charge $600 per night because it has Egyptian cotton sheets, a spa, breakfast and a bottle of champers on arrival then why cannot a B&B when it has exactly the same, and more provided in a much more individual nature to boot?
As for those tizzy shops which sell "highly priced" pot pourri and things, only a left wing, suspicious, ex-Public Servant who has absolutely no knowledge of these ventures first hand would make a statement saying that they are sophicated tax minimization schemes. Some people are not as fortunate as yourself to be supported in a grand way by the Government is some cushy job. Some people actually have to try and eeek out a living one way or another in the retail industry. Stick to what you know Neil and that has nothing to do with B&Bs or little tourist shops.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 04:45 AM
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I wouldn't dream of getting inbetween LizF and Neil on the subject of small towns, and bijou retailers. And it is, of course, wonderful that there are B&Bs out there that offer a glorious experience with great surrounds, and fine accommodation, etc. etc, at a price. They must give much pleasure to those that want that.

But once upon a time, a B&B was what you chose if you wanted a cheap and cheerful sort of place. It filled a gap between hostels and hotels. And now all that seems to be gone.

I just wonder if one day the tide will turn and hospitable people with a spare room might decide that they can offer it without frills to travellers.

That would be just great!!
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 06:56 AM
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You might also want to check whether you can fly into Cairns from overseas. I would be surprised if you didn't have to go through Brisbane. As someone else suggested earlier you might be better flying into either Sydney or Melbourne and out of the other.

While March is the start of autumn (fall) it can still be quite warm some days. Check when the wet season is in Far North Queensland (ie Cairns) and Darwin / Kakadu if you're planning to head to those places.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 01:44 PM
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Another vote for Kakadu - wonderful place
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 02:21 PM
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Fuzzylogic, I owned a B&B which cost say $125 per couple for Saturday night and included drinks on arrival or a hot soup if it was a cold day, self contained unit with views, use of the bbq on the deck with 180 deg views out to see and over the Gold Coast, 5 course gourmet breakfast which never finished before mid-day usually, free use of videos and latest movies etc. This B&B still offers the same as does most of the ones around where I live as I still have contact with the owners of same. I don't think that that is expensive in any way shape or form and I know from experience that Pat's B&B in Cairns is cheaper than that to boot. If there are some around Canberra, the Southern Highlands of NSW and Sydney which charge more than that is because either people will pay for it or they offer something extra special. That is NOT indicitive of the whole of Australia and although those who live in that area may think that they are in the navel of the world I would suggest that there are other places in Australia who do not think that they are.
Perhaps Neil should take some lessons in running a B&B and the costs thereof from AndrewD when he is over in Canada as he has experience from his own when he ran one in Santa Fe.
If perhaps the Government had not decided to interfere loading the industry with Government charges, licences, costly Health inspections and anything else they could think of the cost would still be much lower but we live in a Government run world where there is no hiding from the increasing expenses which are hidden from the man in the street.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 03:00 PM
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Liz, that is so true - many a small Mum and Dad B&B in Cairns area alone has gone to the wall as they can't cope with the council and health department licencing fees, expense of wired in fire alarm systems, etc. Even asking thousands for "headworks contributions" (road improvements etc) for new B&B's trying to set up. A joke when Council limits number of bedrooms to 3. There's a $150,000 fine here for operating a B&B not registered and approved of by council. Pretty soon commercial kitchens will be the requirement and even now, without a food handling licence, and a separate restaurant licence, a B&B may only serve something like a sealed packet of cereal and unpeeled fruit for breakfast.

The beachfront B&B mentioned somewhere above by Sally in Seattle (Beaches at Holloways) costs between AU$88 and AU$110 a double a night with ensuite bathrooms and a/c. This includes full breakfast of freshly squeezed orange juice, large croissants, brewed local coffee, tropical fruit in season, selection of cereals, then a choice of cooked breakfasts. The tropical fruit is not just the obligatory slices of melon and pineapple as is dished out by many 5 star resorts, Jo includes the much more expensive and unusual fruits such as mangosteen. She also allows guests' use of a kitchen to cook other meals. Jo's a font of local knowledge and will save her guests money on tours, trips, etc.

by the way, Sally, if you're reading this, you'll be interested to know that Jo's husband, Dave, passed away a couple of weeks ago, after a long illness.
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Old May 24th, 2006, 08:01 PM
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Goodness, Liz, I'm the first to support people running a good business at a reasonable price, and at the end of the day if there are people willing to pay $600/night for frills, furbelows and fripperies (sorry, I forgot the $10 bottle of champagne) I see no reason why the owner shouldn't charge what the market will bear. Caveat emptor. Being a person of humble means and tastes that's not my definition of value for money, but each to his own.

I don't know where you got the idea that I'm a public servant, or have ever been. The nearest I came was a few months in Kununurra, working for the DPW as a labourer and sandblaster/ painter. I can assure you that this was far from being a cushy job. Come to think of it, I must have been a slow learner - I never seemed to be able to score any of those.
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Old May 24th, 2006, 11:04 PM
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We stayed in 5 or 6 B&B's ( including the fabulous Lilybank in Cairns) and found excellent value in the $85-100 range.

We set or prices relatively low for our market in Santa Fe, because we weren't prepared to provide continous hotel level service. We were full 90% of the time for an 11 month season and enjoyed our guests

Interestingly here in Victoria, B&B's charge quite high rates and attempt to compete head on with the first class fhotels.Some of the properties are quite lovely, however they do not offer a full range of hotel services like pools, gyms and room service

AndrewDavid
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Old May 25th, 2006, 04:54 AM
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Neil, I just don't know where you're getting $600 a night from. The Australian Bed and Breakfast Book with its website lists hundreds of B&B's, state by state. The only one that approaches that price is the high end of Victoria's at Watego's, Byron Bay. Most are many $100's less.

An example in FNQ is a B&B - Marae, at $150 a double a night with full breakfast. Its a spit away from Silky Oaks resort, $750-$880 a double a night and does include both breakfast and dinner. Even if you spend $150-$200 for two on dinner for in Port Douglas you're still way ahead. I've stayed in both, Marae's rooms are far classier, more spacious, and without a frill in sight.
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Old May 25th, 2006, 05:38 AM
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Pat, I got the number from one of Liz's posts, above. Personally I thought it sounded grossly exaggerated, but Liz has convinced me that she knows whereof she speaks. She even knows things about my employment history that I don't.
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Old May 25th, 2006, 02:33 PM
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Neil, you said yourself you worked for Telstra at one time and if that is so then as it has been majority owned by Government then to me that is a Government job with Government perks per se. Whether you were a Public Servant is a moot point.
You were also the one to comment on overpriced B&Bs, my comment in respect to $600 per night is what a hotel will charge for simular extras as the B&B which is charging $200 per night. That was my point and you know it.
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