Australian Honeymoon

Jan 1st, 2004, 04:22 PM
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Australian Honeymoon

Greetings! My Fiance and I have decided to honeymoon in Australia. We are excited and can't wait! We're in our 30's, live in the city, and are looking for solitude, nature, and relaxation.

We will be in Australia for about 3 weeks in late June early July and therefore plan to stay in Queensland or even venture to the North Territory.

Islands: Right now we are thinking of picking one island in the reef - Whitsunday Wilderness Lodge is very appealing to us. Any comments on staying here in the winter? Would it be better to pick an island farther North? We love warm weather- the hotter the better.

Lodging: We were then thinking of staying on solid land in Queensland. Daintree county maybe? Or north of Port Douglas? We'd like to pick a secluded location along the coast or in the rainforest that is close to Port Douglas or another little city. Any suggestions on where and what to do would be nice.

Time permitting we may select one more location. We would love to see as many animals as possible, and were considering the North Territory? Seven Spirit Bay wilderness lodge is all I've seen so far online, but I need to do more research.

Books: we plan to buy the Lonely Planet guide for Queensland, but please recommend any other books we should get.

Plane Tickets: I'm not sure what a good price for tickets are from the U.S., if we wait a few months to buy a ticket, is that OK? I saw a message about seats getting sold out fast to Australia.

Any other help/suggestions are welcome. Thank you!

Amanda_Chicago is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 05:23 PM
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Hi Amanda, and Congratulations!

re: waiting for airline tickets. This is the first thing that you should be you're planning for late June or early July, that's only 6 months away and you need to get your airline tickets secured before you start planning the rest of your honeymoon. That's your starting point, the basis to plan the rest of the honeymoon. There are several on-going specials right now that could easily fit in with what you're planning.

Three weeks is a good amount of time in Australia and you should be able to see a great deal as well as meet your criteria.


Certified Aussie Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 05:43 PM
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Hi Amanda,

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. Great choice of honeymoon destination, IMO.

I LOVED the Whitsunday Islands (September 1999). As I keep telling everyone, I was almost never heard from again. They certainly would provide you with solitude, nature, relaxation and incredible beauty.

HOWEVER, in late June / early July, the southern hemisphere's winter, the Whitsunday Islands will not fit my definition of "the hotter the better." Here's a website with historical weather data:

As you can see, average high in June is 23.4 deg C (74 deg F) and in July it's 23.1 deg C. The winter water temperature (not shown on the above mentioned website as far as I could see) is betwen 20 deg C (68 deg F) and 22 deg C (71.6 deg F).

I personally do not need hot, hot weather. The Whitsundays are so beautiful, I wouldn't hesitate for one second to go to them in June-July. However, on this occasion I'm not the one who's going; you are. So only you can decide.

Even Port Douglas, further north, does not fit my definition of the hotter the better. We went there in July, and loved it. We found the temperature extremely pleasant. Our experience mosttly was consistent with the historical average high of 24.6 deg C (79.5 deg F) for July. (June's average high is 24.6 deg C.)

Water temperature in Port Douglas is 24 deg C in June and 22 deg C in July.

For most of our week in Port Douglas we wore T-shirts. There were a couple of days, however, when it was overcast, and it was cool enough for us to wear windbreaker jackets.

From Port Douglas we snorkelled in the Great Barrier Reef (HIGHLY recommended).

We also went on a boat ride on the Daintree River with a nature guide who had a degree in marine biology and had lived in the area for years. That was followed by a tour through the rainforest with another guide in a four wheel drive vehicle. He took us north of the Daintree River as far as Cape Tribulation. We found the tropical rain forest both beautiful and fascinating.

We went inland from Cairns - Port Douglas only as far west as Kuranda on he edge of the Atherton Tableland. We enjoyed that too. Went up to Kuranda by gondola (cable car) and back down again by train. It was nice to do it two different ways.

I've seen some people slamming Kuranda and saying it's touristy. Everyone's taste is different. My husband and thought it was a delightful little town .

We didn't book any of these tours in advance. The information on all of them was available in brochures at our hotel's reception desk, and many of the tour companies also had offices on Port Douglas's main street.

On our Melbourne travel agent's advice, we also didn't rent a car for Port Douglas. We flew into Cairns and caught a shuttle bus from the airport to our Port Douglas hotel. (Our travel agent booked and paid for the shuttle bus in advance, and gave us bus coupons which we handed to the bus driver.) We found this arrangement entirely satisfactory. We were centrally located in the little town of Port Douglas, and everything was easily accesssible on foot. The Daintree River / Rainforest tour and the Kuranda tour picked us up from, and dropped us off at, our hotel.

We heard about the Undara Lava Tubes inland from Cairns, and would have loved to have seen them, but ran out of time.

We didn't get to the Northern Territory, but I think it would be wonderful.

Best of luck with your trip.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 05:58 PM
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Arghhh! One of these days I'll learn how to preview and edit a message properly before I post it.

Wanted to add that one last thing I highly recommend is a flight over the GBR in a small plane. We did it from Airlee Beach, the mainland town closest to the Whitsunday Islands, but it also would be possible to do it from the Port Douglas area. Flying OVER the GBR, as opposed to snorkelling or scuba diving IN it, is a whole different experience. If I could only afford to do one of the two, however, I would choose the snorkelling / scuba diving.

Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 06:03 PM
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P.S. Again. I've seen a lot of people on this board praising Palm Cove. It's another little coastal spot north of Cairns but, if I remember correctly, south of Port Douglas. We didn't go into it, but passed the turn off to it. I imagine Palm Cove would be very nice too. We greatly enjoyed our time in Port Douglas, but I'm not "married" to it.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2004, 02:14 AM
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Palm Cove is a lovely looking place with some great hotels. We actually stayed at Kewarra beach but visited Palm Cove and I was tempted to transfer. Sebel Reef house and the Beach Club hotel both looked impressive. The beach is good there and you're not too far from the bustling, lively town of Cairns, which is good if you feel like a change of pace and want to sample some nightlife or do some shopping. My first impressions of Port Douglas was that it was a nice-looking but perhaps a little small, with less going on. It's good for access to the reef and Daintree though.
stevelondon88 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2004, 07:19 AM
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So it sounds like:
1) weather temperature will be in the 70's regardless of how far North we are in Queensland. I'm OK with this.
2) We need to buy airline tickets ASAP
(does $1500 per person in US dollars sound about right?)
3) We don't need a car. This worries me some (though I am American I do not owne a car! We live in the heart of Chicago and don't need one, but I find this hard to believe for Australia!!)

Thank you everyone for you advice. We are also considering B&B's in the Port Douglas and Daintree areas. They look wonderful!
Amanda_Chicago is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2004, 08:59 AM
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Amanda, I'm not a great expert on airfares to Australia, so I'll let others advise you on that point.

When it comes to a car in the Port Douglas area, it depends what you want to do. If you wanted to go into Cairns to check out the night life, for example, you would need a car.

We were content to stay in Port Douglas. Since we were staying in "downtown" Port Douglas (I use the term loosely, because it's a small town!), we easily were able to go everywhere on foot. There was a great enough variety of restaurants to satisfy our needs in Port Douglas itself. If we had been staying at the outer edges of Port Douglas, we would have needed a car.

Our hotel room included a kitchenette, so we prepared some of our own breakfasts as well as lunches on the days that we weren't day tripping. We mostly had our dinners in restaurants.

The day trip to the Daintree River and then northwards through the tropical rainforest to Cape Tribulation could have been done independently. We saw other travellers doing it in their own cars.

But we were quite glad of our tour guide's four wheel Land Rover type vehicle. The road north of the Daintree River was fairly rugged. If memory serves me correctly, it was unpaved in 1999, and it had quite a few hills and sharp turns. By having someone else doing the driving, neither my husband nor I had to watch the road, and we both could enjoy the scenery.

The other thing that we loved about our tour is that our guide explained so much about the rainforest and mangrove ecosystems. We found it all fascinating. That was a feature that we very much appreciated both on the boat trip on the Daintree River and the excursion through the rainforest.

There is no bridge over the Daintree River. One crosses by means of a cable ferry that can take 16 vehicles at a time.

There is no electricity in the rainforest north of the Daintree River; at least there wasn't in 1999.

I forgot to mention that that day trip included a visit to Mossman Gorge (recommended!) on the return journey.

When it comes to the trip up and down the escarpment, to and from Kuranda, it's handy to be on a day tour if one is going to take the Sky Rail up and then the train down. If one parked one's car at the Sky Rail departure point at the bottom of the escarpment and then returned by train, one would land up miles away from one's car, and one would have to find a way of getting back to the Sky Rail departure point. We didn't have to worry about it, because our bus driver was waiting for us when we reached the train station at the bottom of the escarpment. In fact the Kuranda tour was not so much a tour as it was a shuttle service to get to the Sky Rail departure point and return from the arrival train station. Once we were delivered to the Sky Rail station, we pretty much did everything independently, went up the Sky Rail alone, lunched and looked around Kuranda alone, and so on.

We tried a real variety of restaurants in Port Douglas, all the way from super casual to quite fancy. One fun night was at a restaurant that was deliberately built to look like an Outback shack (rusty corrugated iron walls and that sort of thing). One hilarious feature of the evening were the cane toad races. Some time into the evening, a couple of tables were cleared in the middle of the restaurant, and the patrons gathered around. Then some cane toads were released from a bucket. People who wanted to do so placed friendly bets on which "jockey" would cross the finish line first. Of course the cane toads didn't understand they were in a race and they did what cane toads do, jump around, while their backers were shouting directions at them. Even as the races were in progress, we thought they were touristy and corny, but we couldn't help ourselves; we got a good laugh out of them anyway.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2004, 10:44 AM
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Guided day trips cost money, of course. The one guided day trip that should NOT be cut out, IMO, is the boat ride to and from the Great Barrier Reef. The other travel, the foray into the rainforest and visits to Kuranda and beyond, all can be done independently by car.

Doing it independently would save one money, I suspect. On the other hand, car rental isn't free either. So one would need to do some math to figure out the best combination. Also, it depends on one's budget, the amount of time one has in the area, and other factors. I don't think there's a way that's right for everyone and a way that's wrong for everyone.

One other advantage of the guided rainforest tour that I forgot to mention was the fact that it enabled us to travel down the Daintree River in one direction only. Our land guide dropped us at the river bank, we joined our river guide and accompanied him downstream, and when the boat docked our land guide was waiting for us with the vehicle. If we'd done the river tour independently, we would have had to return with the boat upstream to retrieve our vehicle.

Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2004, 03:27 PM
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Hi Amanda - you don't need to book a tour to Kuranda - if you have a car and book through Skyrail they have a shuttle to take you about 4km back to your car (whether you leave it at Skyrail or Freshwater Connection). However, there's not much point as Skyrail will pick you up near or at your accommodation. But I would really recommend taking a Daintree/Cape Trib tour rather than driving - it is World Heritage listed Rainforest - you need an experienced and knowledgable guide to get the most out of it. I know plenty of people are self-driving - that's the problem - good for the rental car companies - tragic for the wild life. With so much traffic the area is becoming in danger of being "loved to death". There are plenty of day tours which leave from either Cairns, PD, Daintree Village or anywhere in between - look at this forum for threads or be guided by your B&B hosts. Have a great honeymoon!
pat_woolford is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2004, 03:42 PM
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Sorry, Amanda - meant to say that the Skyrail shuttle will pick up on or near accommodation from Cairns city and beaches (which includes Palm Cove) and Port Douglas although it gets a bit pricey from PD.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2004, 04:27 PM
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Hey Amanda - you sent me here from theknot! Thanks for the advice. I'm enjoying reading your thread to get good advice for us too!
jilln is offline  
Jan 6th, 2004, 01:32 PM
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Hi Amanda,

Looks as if you have had plenty of good information so far but I notice you are looking for a "secluded location along the coast or in the rainforest" and while Port Douglas and Palm Cove are great holiday places they might not be quite what you are looking for. I suggest you have a look at the Daintree Village Tourism Association website at under "accommodation" - also the website of the B&B & Farmstay Assoc. of Far North Qld at

Anyway, wherever you stay I hope you have the most wonderful honeymoon in this lovely country!
Daff is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 04:32 AM
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Hi Amanda,
congratulations on the impending wedding.
Palm Cove is gorgeous and one of this worlds most lovely places, if you like peace and tranquility its certainly an option.
Kuranda is great but we took a tour and found ourselves very restricted and having to keep in line with the tour operators schedule. It would have been far better for us to have gone alone.
That of course is my opinion, some people really prefer the tour its a matter of preference.
And yes it is touristy ...but that is what appeals to it not?
The coastal bus service is really good and we found it quite useful.
Whatever you decide, the area you are looking will be perfect for you.

Good luck

Mucky is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 07:50 AM
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"We'd like to pick a secluded location along the coast or in the rainforest that is close to Port Douglas or another little city. Any suggestions on where and what to do would be nice."

You could always try Kewarra Beach, which is certainly secluded and a short bus ride from bustling Cairns. The rooms are surrounded by trees, you'll see butterflies and wild birds in the hotel grounds, and the beach is right on your doorstep, although the water is not very clear on that part of the coast. There are some minus points about Kewarra which I mention in my full trip report here


but they are just niggles really, and you might want to consider it.
stevelondon88 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 03:34 PM
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Thank you everyone. We will look into Daintree and are pretty sure that we are going to the Whitsunday Wilderness Lodge (though most honeymooners seem to go to Lizard Island!)

We have ordered our Lonely Planet books as well. Looking forward to the planning and I'll ask more questions soon I am sure. Thanks again!
Amanda_Chicago is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 09:09 PM
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Congratulations on your wedding. We stayed at Palm Cove both times we have been in Australia. We love the Sebel Reef House. Luxourious but small and quaint at the same time. The beaches are quiet and beautiful. There is a pier in Palm Cove that will pick up for some of the GBR tours. The bus service to the Kuranda Sky Rail, and Kuranda Train as well as into Cairns is really easy to use. I haven't been to Port Douglas, but if we go again to Queensland, I can guarantee we would stay at the Reef House again.

I would also recommend a two day trip through Ayer Rock/Alice Springs. It would be a shame to travel all that way and not see Uluru - and the weather and lack of bugs would be a benefit.

I would recommend exactly what Melodie says as well. Book the airline and hotels as soon as possible. While it may not be High season, I found that even 11 months in advance was really tight timing to get everything I wanted.

DebD is offline  
Jan 10th, 2004, 11:29 AM
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Amanada, Check out the Thala Beach Lodge just south of Port Douglas. We stayed there for a few nights this summer and it was incredible. For a small photo of the beach, check out this weeks People magazine, on page 101 about the wedding of Natalie Imbruglia. This was a beautiful place to tay, very secluded, lots of wildlife abd we were treated like royalty. THE BEST pampering I've ever received at a hotel and the location is breathtaking.If you have specific questions, I'll be happy to answer.
moneygirl is offline  
Jan 10th, 2004, 01:01 PM
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Moneygirl, did a Google search for Thala Beach Lodge, and saw their website at

It does indeed look fabulous!
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 10th, 2004, 01:21 PM
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Oh, just one proviso about Thala Beach Lodge. The website does say it's a 5 star property, and I don't know what your budget is, Amanda_Chicago. Anyway, I've enjoyed sitting here looking at the photos. Makes for a nice contrast with the snow outside my window.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
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