Australian Itinerary In Progress

Jan 25th, 2006, 02:44 PM
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Australian Itinerary In Progress

With my husband we're going to Australia for 3 weeks this April. We will be arriving and departing in/from Sydney. We think of renting a car and making a loop : Sydney + Blue Mountains - Melbourne + Great Ocean Road to the 12 apostles - Adelaide + Flinders Rangers NP - Alice Springs + Uluru (Ayers Rock) - Kakadu NP - Cape York Peninsula - Great Barrier Reef islands - Brisbane - Sydney. We dislike museums etc., but enjoy views of nice buildings and interesting bridges. From our experience, one day in a city is absolutely enough for us. We love the outdoors and are used to traveling long distances by car. Please advice us and help us on our itinerary in details. Also on where we could make a sweet deal on renting a car and what kind would be the best. Thanks in advance
Jan 25th, 2006, 03:17 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
It is impossible to drive those distances in 3 weeks - that's the sort of road trip retirees have time to take and they take months.

Cape York Peninsula is 4WD only at the best of times and April is not the time for it - its still wet season in the north, not only are there no bridges, you have to ford your way through flooded creeks and rivers which are full of crocodiles and the road (if you could call it that) will be washed out. Please fly between other points and pick up local rental cars for short trips.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jan 25th, 2006, 03:35 PM
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Thanks Pat for responding

What if we skip Kakadu National Park and Cape York Peninsula, whould then 3W be enough ?
and can you recommend on where to rent a car ?

Jan 27th, 2006, 01:30 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Maria, are you from the US? If so I suggest you start by overlaying a map of the continental United States on a map of Australia, then think carefully about what you're planning to accomplish. Your itinerary is still extraordinarily ambitious.

If you're intent on driving, I suggest you confine yourself to the SE coastal strip between Brisbane and Adelaide. Even so, you'll waste a lot of precious time on long, long, l-o-n-g stretches of very boring highway: thousands of kilometres, in fact. Consider flying between far-flung destinations.

BTW, how was your African trip? Are you planning to post a trip report?
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jan 27th, 2006, 02:56 AM
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I took a 3 1/2 day tour from Melbourne to Adelaide and a two day tour of Kangaroo Island. They used a mini bus that only held 20 people and they knew where to go and where to stop.

BTW, the alcohol level in Australia is .05. That almost makes mouthwash over the limit.

I would consider flying from Adelaide to Ayers Rock and Ayers Rock to the Great Barrier Reef. Do get a car in Cairns since you obviously enjoy driving.
wally34949 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2006, 06:28 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Wow, I thought I was ambitious with driving around OZ. Lets get some number here:

Sydney to Blue Mts: 100 km - 1.5 hours
Blue Mts: - Melbourne: 900 km - 10 hours
Melbourne - Adelaide via GOR 900 km - 10 hours
Adelaide - Uluru: 1600 km - 19 hours
Uluru - Alice Springs: 450 km - 5.5 hours
Alice Springs to Darwin (Kakadu): 1500 km - 16 hours
Darwin (Kakadu) to Bamaga (Cape York): 3600 km - 46 hours
Bamaga (Cape York) to Brisbane: 2600 km - 37 hours
Brisbane to Sydney: 950 km - 11 hours

This is just a rough estimate, but you would be driving at least 12,600 km, probably more. That is like driving from San Francisco to New York 3 times or driving from Anchorage Alaska down to Miami Florida and then back up to Seattle Washington. Basically it is really far and unlike the US, there are that many interstate quality highways, especially in the outback and northern Queensland which would be the bulk of your journey.

Try an Aussie Air Pass.
DasFX is offline  
Jan 27th, 2006, 11:51 AM
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Neil - I live in NY and I drove around 27 states so far (f.e. I did 10 day road trips from NY to Florida or to Louisiana and back). I know the distances, they are stated in every bigger guidebook. The problem is I don't have a road map of Australia and can't figure out what are the road conditions in Australia. That's the information I'm looking for and hope to find here.
As for some feedback on my last trip to Kenya&Tanzania here it goes :
11/18 Nairobi
We didn't like the city, but we expected it to be this way, so we only dined at Carnivore Restaurant (very nice place and the ostrich meat was superb, crocodile very good, only the camel was awful - very dry) and overnight at the Norfolk Hotel.
11/19-21 Masai Mara NR
Early morning drive through the Rift Valley to Masai Mara with Kania Tours. 3 nights at their camp = nice, spacious tents, but terrible facilities... never again. Big plus was we had a very good cook and a very clever driver (showed us all the animals and on top of it we saw a leopard 3x and a black rhino). Gameviewing : 19. afternoon and evening, 20. morning and evening, 21. morning through afternoon.
11/22-23 Lake Nakuru NP
Drive up to Lake Nakuru also with Kania Tours. This time we overnight 2 nights at a charming colonial guesthouse. Evening and morning gamedrive. In Nairobi they dropped us off directly for our shuttle to Arusha. We arrived in Tanzania around 7 PM and overnight at a very clean Lutheran hostel.
11/24-25 Ngoro-Ngoro CA
We went on a 2 day safari with African Trails to the Ngoro-Ngoro crater and Lake Manyara. Spectacular views. Overnight again at a different Lutheran hostel (also very clean and the portions of all meals were huge). After gameviewing on the second day the driver drooped us off at the Kilimanjaro airport where from we took a flight directly to Zanzibar, where we stayed for 2 nights at Matemwe Baharini Villas.
I strongly recommend . Practically it was 100 yards from our bungalow to the crystal clear water. We relaxed for 2 days in our little paradise, then drove to the airport (on the way visiting Stone Town - lovely buildings, but terribly covered with mold) and flew back to Nairobi for our flight back to London.
Reassuming it was a great trip - very interesting animals, spectacular views and the beautiful palmy beach on the clear waters of the Indian Ocean
10 days there and the costs PP = 50(hotel in Nairobi)+355(KeniaTours)+15(shuttle bus)+455(AfricanTours)+400(domestic airfare)+100(Zanzibar:MBV+transport)+maybe125(extr as)=1500,-USD + of course airfare NYC-NBO. You can see my pictures on and
Jan 27th, 2006, 11:54 AM
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DasFX - Thank you for all the numbers, especially hours, that's very helpful.
Btw, does FX in your nick name mean Foreign Exchange ? I was working as an FX trader some time ago ;-)
Jan 27th, 2006, 11:57 AM
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Thx Wally for your reply. You guys are all right - 3W is simply not enough time. So maybe we could do this:
-Sydney-Melbourne-Adelaide by a rental
-fly to Alice Springs (rent a car to go to Uluru)
-fly to Darwin (rent a car to go to Kakadu)
-fly to Cairns (rent a car to go around the Cape)
-and drive along the coast back to Sydney, what do you think ?
I looked at , their prices are OK, but maybe someone knows of a better deal? Where can I find the Aussie Air Pass?
Jan 27th, 2006, 12:40 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
Looking a lot better, and thanks for the trip report (I should have mentioned that I know someone who's interested in heading for that part of the world - they'll be interested to read it).

I believe the Aussie Air Pass is offered by Qantas. The other major domestic airlines (both budget carriers) are Virgin Blue and Jetstar (a Qantas subsidiary). Australian Airlines is Qantas' international budget offshoot, focusing on the Asian market.

A local (pat_woolford maybe if she's still tuned in) would be best to comment on Cape York, especially the road to the settlements on the Gulf of Carpentaria, but I believe that Cooktown, a few hours from Cairns, is about as far as you'd get heading north. One road follows the coast and would require a 4WD vehicle; the other is west of the mountains, dry country and OK for a 2WD car.

If you run a search on this forum you'll find some previous threads about driving Cairns-Sydney. The majority opinion is that Cairns-Brisbane at least runs mostly inland from the coast and isn't very interesting unless you have time to visit some of the coastal towns - time which I'm not sure you'll have, even under your revised itinerary. I appreciate you want to see the countryside, and for this purpose either the Pacific (coast) or New England (inland) highways from Brisbane to Sydney would be better IMO. Even better would be one of several routes from Sydney to Melbourne, but not the boring Hume Hwy.

My only experience of driving in the US took in three car rentals and almost 3 weeks in total, and all we managed was part of New England, Richmond VA to Charleston SC via the Blue Ridge Pkwy, and a loop from Santa Fe NM to the Grand Canyon via the Four Corners region and return - but we tend to dawdle, I guess.

DasFX's point about road conditions is correct: with a population of 20 million occupying an entire continent, multi-lane highways are an affordable proposition only for the areas of greatest population density.

Just a suggestion - if you haven't bought a guide book yet, do so! I know this is a Fodors forum, but in this case I'd favour Lonely Planet, which as an Australian company should be more useful for your purposes. You could also check out the official tourism site
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jan 27th, 2006, 12:54 PM
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For 3 weeks the latest itinerary still looks too rushed to me. Sure you can do it, but you're going to miss a lot unless you take it a bit easier. You could easily spend 3 weeks alone just driving Sydney-Cairns and taking it all in. If it werent for the final drive down the coast, I'd say you might be OK.
RalphR is offline  
Jan 27th, 2006, 01:44 PM
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MW - do a google search for RACQ (Royal Automobile Club Queensland) and check out road conditions. You'll see at the moment much of the Peninsula Development Road to Cape York is closed due to flooding (depicted by red traffic light symbols). Now this is the beginning of the wet and could possibly clear by
April, just depends on how long the wet lasts. 4WD tours to the Cape run from May-October, in dry season. OzTours runs such a trip, if you look at their website you'll see that it takes 7-8 days from Cairns and that's only one way, they fly you back to Cairns from the top of the Cape.

Cooktown from Cairns (about 4 hours) is no problem, the last inch of sealed all weather road on inland route has just been completed, however the much more interesting coastal "road", ie, Bloomfield Track from Cape Tribulation to Cooktown is 4WD. There is no bridge or ferry over the Bloomfield River and other creeks plus one at least very steep and slippery hill. Its a terrific trip though, and worth the extra $$'s you'll spend on renting a 4WD from Cairns.

Whilst in area you might also like to take a trip from Cairns to Undara Lava Tubes, (4 hours from Cairns if you don't stop) this takes you through outback country after leaving the Atherton Tableland which is green and fertile and worth a couple of days at least.

pat_woolford is offline  
Jan 27th, 2006, 01:49 PM
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PS - meant to add that you don't need a 4WD for Undara, there's a few kms of dirt just before it but rental car companies are happy to let you take conventional cars, they'll just tell you to take it easy on the dirt stretch. You have to anyway as there's kangaroos everywhere.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jan 27th, 2006, 02:28 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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I preface my comments with the fact that I have never been to Australia am only passing only advice and information that has come my way as I plan my own 4 week vacation for this August. That being said let's talk about your new schedule:

Sydney-Melbourne-Adelaide by a rental

- We are doing this sort of. We are doing Syd to Canberra and then flying to Melbourne and then continuing by car to Adelaide via the GOR. I was driving the whole way, but was told that the drive from Canberra or Sydney (inland route) is a complete bore and waste of time. The coastal route is supposed to be quite nice, but requires much more time.

-fly to Alice Springs (rent a car to go to Uluru)

I was first doing this as well, however I was told the drive there and back is quite long (5 hrs each way) and you would have to take the same route back. I instead am now leaving the driving up to someone else and taking a tour out of Alice.

-fly to Darwin (rent a car to go to Kakadu)

Again, we opted for a tour of Kakadu, but the drive there is quite reasonable. About 2.5 hours one way I'm told.

-fly to Cairns (rent a car to go around the Cape)

No comment, I'm going as far north as Cape Tribulation and again doing it with a tour.

-and drive along the coast back to Sydney

Very long drive and apparently not a very pleasant one. I was going to do Cairns to Brisbane and was told that it is a complete waste of time. I was told to fly. I heeded their advice part way, I'm only doing the Cairns to Airlie Beach part by road, after that I"m flying from the Whitsundays down to Brisbane.

I've got a pretty good road map and there are only interstate quality highways in and around the major capital cities. The only inter city route that is expressway quality all the way is the Hume Highway inbetween Sydney and Melbourne, other than that it is all undivided one lane each way.

The Qantas air pass is quite nice, you get three domestic flights and return airfare from LA. You can fly into one of Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane and then leave Australia from the same or one of the other two. Internally, you can fly any three domestic routes, without having to start and stop from the same place.

We also booked two additional one-way flights with Virgin Blue who are super cheap.

Anyhow, that is the extent of my Aussie knowledge. Hope it helped.
DasFX is offline  
Jan 27th, 2006, 05:14 PM
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"The (Canberra-Melbourne) coastal route is supposed to be quite nice, but requires much more time."
- Well, an extra day anyway.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jan 27th, 2006, 08:31 PM
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Hi MW123, I agree with all of dasFX last post. Some additional points also to consider: Cost for petrol is hovering around $1.20AUD per litre and 10 to 20% more in regional spots add the cost of a hire car & stop over accommodation and flying may be a better option. Check the versus Virgins website they frequently post deals around $100 one way City to City.

In my opinion the Great Ocean Road (GOR) is one of the most spectacular drives. From about a 1.5hours from Melb you hit the coastal road and you can follow it for hours visiting places such as Lorne, Apollo Bay, Warrnambool and Port Fairy. Be aware though, that as the majority of the GOR is very windy and speeds can be down to 30Lkms per hour you will need to budget more time. Be aware of long weekends and school holidays also (as a guide Melb to Apollo Bay is 3 hours).

Any inland drive is dull, flat, boring and in the outback add dusty Re Melb to Sydney suggest you fly here also, you should pick up an extra day doing this - both Melb and Syd are beautiful cities and have excellent architecture mixing new to the Victorian era.

Re driving Cairns to Sydney, this route has some beautiful stops - but is mainly highway driving. Your choice to drive the Blue Mountains is excellent and if you like wine try and visit Hunter Valley NSW, Yarra Valley Victoria or Barossa in SA. You could easily spend a day or 2 at each of these.

Hope this helps.
Beagle1 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 06:27 AM
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Quite mad!!

I think a long road trip in Australia is an excellent idea - you might see nothing for hours but it gives you an idea of the vastness of the country. But you only have 3 weeks - so if you want to do that sort of thing hire yourselves a car in Sydney and head west, tour the remote areas of NSW and maybe QLD.

But if you want to see all those places on your list. Fly to MLB - do the GOR and ADL and Flinders with your own wheels if you insist. A day in Sydney and a day in MLB and a day in ADL would mean this would take 10 days. You probably think you could do it in seven.

You are crazy. Have you got that road map yet - aren't they available in the US?

You can hire a car if you want at Uluru. ditto Kakadu - but you will learn nothing. You won't know what you are looking at. Those are two areas where going with a guide, or on a tour, is a million times better than getting in a hire car.

Cape York? Most sane people would say a trip there from Cairns would be a 3 week exercise - and to be undertaken by people who know what they are doing or who are travelling with others.

There's mad (fine) and there's over ambitious (why not?). But both of those presuppose that the madness and ambition have some knowledge to back them up.
fuzzylogic is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 05:29 AM
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A couple of random opinions regarding a few aspects of recent replies.

We visited the Red Center and Kakadu in 1999 and 2000 respectively. Apart from a one day tour to Jim Jim Falls and a couple of boat cruises in Kakadu, we did this all on our own in a campervan. This was a great way to see both areas and we learned a lot. There are no shortages of information and cultural centers, self guided walks, and even free guided walks (at Uluru) to make use of. Yes, tours are good for spoon-feeding you information, and can be fun, but, given the accessibility of these places nowadays to regular vehicles, I'd choose the freedom of self-drive any day.

I also differ from the opinions that driving along the coast is preferable to traveling inland. The coastlne of Australia is beautiful for sure, the Great Ocean Rd being perhaps the best of the best. However it is also much more populated and is getting over-developed and over commercialized in places. It may be a matter of taste, but I rather like the quiet, wide open big sky, off-the-beaten path feel of driving inland, the little towns, the pubs - no McDonalds for several hundered kilometers. There are also a number of wonderful parks to visit, off the radar of the typical overseas visitor...Carnarvon Gorge (Qld), Girraween Nat'l Park (SE Qld), the Warumbungle Ranges (NSW) to name a few. Roads are generally very good everywhere in eastern Australia so quieter and prettier secondary routes are always worth considering.
RalphR is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 09:44 AM
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THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR ADVICE Btw, remember Fuzzy, that some crazy people can read, think and learn (even on their own, without tour guides) ;-)
What do you all think about this - we would need to rent a car for the first and last 6 days + to go to Uluru, Kakadu and Cape Tribulation.
1. arriving at 7AM in Sydney, driving to Melbourne
2. Melbourne-GOR
3. GOR-Adelaide
4. Adelaide-FR NP
5. FR NP
6. FR NP-Adelaide
7. early morning flight to Alice Springs, then drive to Uluru
8. more of Uluru & Kata Tjuta, then drive back to Alice Springs
9. early morning flight to Darwin, then drive to Kakadu
10.more of Kakadu, then drive back to Darwin
11.early morning flight to Cairns, then drive to Port Douglas
12.Cape Tribulation
13.back to Cairns
14.early morning flight to Fraser Coast/Gladstone, ferry to Fraser Island/Heron Island - PLEASE ADVICE ME WHAT'S BETTER ?
15. Fraser Island/Heron Island
16. departure the island and drive to Brisbane
17. continue driving (Brisbane-Sydney)
18. Blue Mountains
19. Blue Mountains
20. Sydney and departure for the US
Jan 30th, 2006, 11:32 AM
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I checked on the Aussie Air Pass. not for us - my husband already bought a roundtrip NY-SYD and I'm traveling through Europe (stopping there for 10 days) and Singapore (2 days), but I searched Quantas and Virgin Blue and Jet Star for deals. Maybe I'm blind, but only Quantas seems to fly Adelaide-Alice Springs and Alice Springs-Darwin, anyway the prices are OK (198,- and 250,- respectively). For Darwin-Cairns the best price is also with Quantas (327,-), but for Cairns-Brisbane the best is on Jetstar (139,-) or Virgin Blue (145,-). All in AUD.

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