Australian Vacation Suggestions

Dec 24th, 2015, 09:37 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2015
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Australian Vacation Suggestions

Hey guys,

I recently posted on the forum for suggestions on a New Zealand itinerary. I’ve had some great responses and am hoping for more help with an Australian itinerary. I’d love feedback on what to do and how to best utilize my time. My sister and I will be in Sydney for a large portion of our trip but there’s flexibility with this time table. I’m thinking of using Sydney for beach time R&R and as a base for day trips and overnights, say a trip to Tasmania. We’ll be there in late February/early March. I know this is the wet season for the GBR but I would really love to see it. Do you guys recommend Cairns or going elsewhere? If all I want to do is snorkel and see the rainforest is three days in Cairns too much? Thanks for the help! Here’s the breakdown.

bemardus is offline  
Dec 24th, 2015, 11:03 AM
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This itinerary looks fine. Since you only have 3 days for the GBR area, I'd recommend just staying in Cairns. With 5 days allotted for Sydney, you could use one of those days for a day trip to the Blue Mountains.

Tasmania is not a "day trip" or "overnight" destination from either Sydney or Melbourne. If you want to go to Tasmania, I recommend no fewer than 5 days there.
longhorn55 is offline  
Dec 24th, 2015, 12:09 PM
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I think you will wish you had more time in Cairns/Port Douglas once you get there.
october_fun is offline  
Dec 24th, 2015, 12:21 PM
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Thanks for the response october_fun. Why is that? I'm concerned since it's the wet season most of our time will be a wash. Sorry, bad pun.
bemardus is offline  
Dec 24th, 2015, 12:22 PM
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Definitely wouldn't try to fit in a trip to
Tasmania - you wouldn't have enough time there to justify the extra airfares and travel time.
I'd take a day off Sydney and add it to either Cairns or Melbourne.
Some good things to do in Melbourne - visit Queen Victoria market, see Australian art in the Ian Potter Gallery in Federation Square, visit the Victorian National Gallery in St Kilda Road, have a walk through one of our lovely parks, take the tram to St Kilda (market on Sunday), take a ferry along the river to Williamstown.
marg is offline  
Dec 25th, 2015, 12:07 PM
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Three days in Cairns is fine. Day 5 you will travel from Melbourne, Day 6 or 7 a trip to the Reef, which is pretty much a whole day by boat out to the reef, snorkeling lunch on board and back.. be prepared in case the seas are rough, people can get seasick. Day 6 or 7 depending on what order you select will be the rainforest near may want to take the train down the mountain from the rainforest it will take you right into Cairns. You can decide how much time you want to spend there..and leave for Sidney Friday morning.

Tasmania is not a day trip from Sydney.
You can do a day trip to the Blue Mountains from Sydney by bus or car .

you could do an overnight at Ayers Rock, fly from Cairns to Ayers Rock and from there to Sydney .. it would take away a night from Sydney or Melbourne
maxima is offline  
Dec 28th, 2015, 12:49 PM
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Thanks for the recommendations. The suggested Melbourne activities sound fun and interesting. I’d love more recommendations. We’re curious to explore Melbourne and all its offerings. And the Blue Mountains sound like a great day trip from Sydney. Aside from the Opera House and Bondi beach we have a wide open schedule so the more suggestions the better. I looked at happenings in Sydney and we’ll be there for Mardi Gras. Thoughts on going?

While in Cairns should I book a snorkeling trip now or wait until I’m there? I know we’ll be there during the wet season but I don’t know how booked up things will get. That said, any recommendations on which snorkeling guides are best to book with? I’m thinking a day trip – not an overnight. We’d prefer to go on an excursion with glass bottom boat or something that stays close to one of the islands since my sister doesn’t snorkel if she can’t see land (she can’t swim). I know, I know.

bemardus is offline  
Dec 28th, 2015, 02:23 PM
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In Melbourne i'd do the streets and lanes tour -it's self guided and fun-map available from the tourist info booth in Bourke street mall.
northie is offline  
Dec 28th, 2015, 04:14 PM
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There are snorkeling trips to Green Island from Cairns but I am not going recommend doing any of them. The coral around Green Island is in poor condition meaning that you aren't going to see good coral or much in the way of sealife (which depends on the coral).

Instead, I will recommend you go out with Reef Magic. It is a large boat that goes to a fixed pontoon on the Outer Reef (which is where the best snorkeling is). They offer glass bottom boat rides, semi-submersible rides and an underwater viewing platform for those passengers who want to see the Reef but don't want to get wet. They also offer snorkeling in a sheltered lagoon, so your sister could snorkel there substituting the large fixed platform for an island.

Since Reef Magic can transport hundreds of passengers (and they claim they are never filled to capacity), I think you are safe waiting to book with them until you get there. (However, I don't know that would be true with a smaller boat company.)
longhorn55 is offline  
Dec 28th, 2015, 06:56 PM
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you can find a list of companies at

I can't remember the name of the company I went with, but we went to a fixed pontoon on the outer reef, there was a glass bottom boat and other activities for those who did not want to snorkel.

You definitely want to go to the outer reef..most are on Moore Reef, and the prices are about the same.. check the details for the amount of time you spend getting to the reef and back and the time spent at the pontoon.

Your sister may feel comfortable in an enclosed area, and can use a life jacket while snorkeling to help stay afloat and expend less energy while observing what is in the water.

In Sydney, I thought the aquarium and the zoo were first rate; depending on the weather you can take the ferry across to Manly.. good beaches and places to eat; you can do a walking tour of The Rocks if you are interested in the early history of Sydney.
maxima is offline  
Dec 29th, 2015, 11:59 AM
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Everyone heads to the Blue Mountains but on my numerous trips to Australia, I love the train to Kiama. It is a beautiful seaside town with a little beach and a very interesting natural feature called the Blowhole, where sea water forces its way up through a hole in the rock. There are heaps of cafes and great places to eat and it doesn't have the bus tours or crowds of the Blue Mountains. It is also just as easy to get there on the train.
Blueeyedcod is offline  
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