Back to Australia after 30 years!

Apr 24th, 2005, 11:47 AM
  #1  
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Back to Australia after 30 years!

Having lived in Melbourne in 1974/75 and had the best 'straight-out-of-college' experience of my life, I am finally returning with my new husband for a friends wedding in Melbourne. We only have 2 weeks including travel time - unfortunately. We will spend 6 days in Melbourne (to accomodate the wedding and sightseeing) and 3 days in Sydney, 2 in NZ (just a taste on the way in) and then I'm trying to decide where to go for the remaining 3 days......somewhere in the Northeast, but since I never travelled to that part of Australia 30 yrs. ago, I don't know what is best. Should we got to Cairns, Gold Coast or Brisbane? We're not big beach people, but seeing the reefs and sights are appealing. We're early 50's..... I guess we could skip the northeast and do Tasmania instead. Would love some advice as this board seems to have so many helpful people on it. Thanks in advance! Oh, we're Americans, in case that wasn't obvious!
spinsker is offline  
Apr 24th, 2005, 01:50 PM
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My husband and I are in our 50's and just returned from 1 mo. in AU. Melborne for 4 days, Sydney for 12, Pt. Douglas (near Cairns) for 6 and Brisbane for 6. We are not beach people either. I would not do the Gold Coast, it has a nice beach with all shops and high rises (Like Miami Beach, I think) We just drove by and decided not for us. We loved Pt. Douglas, a highlight was to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, beautiful and an all day outing. We rented a car and did Mossman and Daintree Rainforest. Little traffic, EZ drive...Small town(vacation spot for Aussies), lots of cafes, restaurents. All tours pick up at hotels. (If you want the name of a great place,clean, inexpensive, knowledegable owners- right on the 4 mi. beach), email me. We loved it. We also stayed in Brisbane and had a great time--took a tour of Fraser Island (14 hr day) and a Lamington Natl Park tour, both very nice. Waterfront area lovely and ferry up and down river, yet it is a city. My choice, I would do Pt. Douglas in a heart beat. Have fun-jb
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Apr 24th, 2005, 06:31 PM
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JB, Thanks for your reply. I actually meant to say Great Barrier Reef, and said Gold Coast by accident. I didn't know about Pt. Douglas though. What airport would we fly into from Melbourne to go there? I'd love the name of the place to stay that you mentioned. Thanks for your help! We can't wait!
Susan
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Apr 24th, 2005, 08:02 PM
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If you plan to stay in Port Douglas, you'd fly into Cairns. Cairns has an international airport, the other option is to fly into Sydney then catch a domestic flight to Cairns. From Cairns it's about an hour's drive along the coast to Port Douglas. PD is lovely, has a small town feel but with lots of places to eat, shops, nice beach, Daintree/Cape Trib nearby, market on the weekend, etc. On the way to PD you will pass the turn-off to Palm Cove which is also nice, has good accommodation but is much smaller than PD.
Kay
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Apr 24th, 2005, 08:04 PM
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Spinsker, sorry I just re-read your last message and realised you would fly from Melbourne to Cairns. You could check out this new site called www.farehunter.com.au which compares all 3 domestic airlines at once. You may also be able to fly into Melb on your international leg then out of Cairns to save backtracking.
Kay
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Apr 25th, 2005, 06:48 AM
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What do ya'll think about doing Tasmania instead of Pt. Douglas. I guess this is the next choice I need to make. I'd be flying out of Melbourne to either Pt. Douglas or Tasmania, and then flying domestic to Sydney. My intl. return flight is out of Sydney. Thanks for all the replies!
Susan
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Apr 25th, 2005, 08:18 AM
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Spinsker-
We flew from Sydney to Cairns. The accomodation was the Archipelago Studio Apartments. The web site is www.archipelago.com.au. They have a small kitchen, double bed, nice bath, sitting area, very meticulious. When making the reservation, they make arrangments for the small bus to pick you up at the airport (and for the return). We asked for the SEAVIEW apt., for a view of the beach. The cost (last mo) was $155.00AU per nite-appx. $125.00US. Well worth it. Christel (partner of owner Wolfgang) did everything regarding reservations(no extra cost). The transporations cost was $26.00AUpp ($20.80 US) one way from the airport. If you want to snorkel on the GBR will give you info. That was one highlight of our trip. When are you leaving? jb
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Apr 25th, 2005, 11:05 AM
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Thanks JB,

I forgot to say when we were going! We leave Sept. 24th and return October 9th. What about sharks near the GBR? Or jellyfish? Any worries there for snorkeling? Susan
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Apr 25th, 2005, 02:30 PM
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I had not worries about jellyfish/stringrays even though this was the season. The 4 mi. beach is netted off for swimming if you chose to swim in the ocean, a salt water pool in our hotel. No one was concerned in the reef. They gave us a black light weight suit to wear,which were disinfected.The water was warm. We were not concerned about sharks, not mentioned in any books and no cited incidents! With 3 days in Pt. Douglas you could also do the Aboriginal Center, Kuranda and Skyrail Rainforest. Between that and Mossman and Daintree, you will have 3 FULL days. I planned this trip for 9 mos. and left no stone unturned. Should you want the name of the snorkeling outfit and the prices on everything, let me know, I have a file. JB
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Apr 25th, 2005, 05:03 PM
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We returned from Oz last week - our 4th trip to Melbourne (& The Great Ocean Road west of Mebourne which is NTBM) plus a side trip to 1 island on the reef - Heron Island.) For the first time, we added Tasmania, and as long as you are willing to drive on the left- I think, it is Australia's best kept secret! We fed Kangaroos, got a live picture of an irritated Tasmanian Devil, drove for 20 kilometers without passing another car or live stock, & thoroughly enjoyed that State! We took the Spirit of Tasmania to get there - a Ferry that can carry 1400 passsengers - with rooms that range from basic to luxurious plus take your car or camper on the overnight sail between Melbourne & Northern Tasmania. You can also fly Quantas and pick up a car over there. I am glad to give more info via email - please put in your subject line:
Question - Tasmania, and will answer ASAP. Debbie
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Apr 25th, 2005, 05:21 PM
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Thanks again for all the advice! I love it and am getting so excited! I need help deciding between Tasmania and GBR/Pt. Douglas. what do ya'll think? And JB, would 2 days be enough in Pt. Douglas to still the GBR and Mossman and Daintree? Debbie, what is your email - I'd love to hear more about Tasmania. Susan
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Apr 25th, 2005, 06:14 PM
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Spin,

I absolutely adore Tasmania, and of course, very easy to get to from Melbourne, but with only 3 days you'd just be getting a "Taste of Tassie" although it would be doable, you'd be scratching the surface. Actually, the same goes for NZ...really 2 days is all?

My advice, if you're not locked in already with your airfare, would be to take the 2 days in NZ and apply them to Australia. Save NZ for another trip, and hopefully it won't take you another 30 years to get back!

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Aussie & Kiwi Specialist
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Apr 25th, 2005, 07:17 PM
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I agree with Melodie, save NZ for another time, 2 days is just not enough to see anything.

For the GBR you would need to arrive on one day, do the reef one day and rent a car the next to drive to Mossman and Daintree, than fly the following day. Take if off of NZ, which I understand deserves 2 or more weeks and spend it in AU. Just a note that if it rains (downpours) or high winds, you might not want to do the reef that day, so 3 days gives you daily options. If you think of any other questions as the time progress you can reach me at [email protected] I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and give you my options. jb
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Apr 25th, 2005, 07:20 PM
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meant to say "give you my opinions"jb
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Apr 26th, 2005, 07:25 AM
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Thanks so much everyone for your posts - they are very helpful! I thought maybe I'd lay out my itinerary, since I've sort of done this 'back-to-front!' We're using miles for the overseas flights, although unfortunately we don't have enough to do first or business class . Anyway, I hear what ya'll are saying about dropping the 2 day NZ. I just don't know if my hubby and I will ever get this way again, and I thought we could drop into NZ and take 2 day tours and at least set our eyes on the gorgeous country and feel like we've seen it, but maybe that's skewed thinking! Right now, we fly:
LA to Auckland - Arrive Sept. 26th 5 am.
Auckland to Melb - Leave at 6:15 am on Sept. 28th - arrive Melb. at 8:10 am.
Our next flight is out of Sydney to LA on October 9th at 9:45 am.

We have a wedding in Melbourne on Sept. 30th. I wanted to have 6 days in Melbourne - between the wedding and related activities and I definitely want to go back to all my stomping grounds - Dandenongs, Phillip Island and the beach, the gardens, museums, St. Kilda, the zoo. I don't remember The Great Ocean Road. Is that new in the last 30 years?!??

So, if we leave Melbourne on the morning of the 3rd or 4th then that gives us 5 or 6 days to do one city (either GBR or Tasmania at this point) and then a couple of days in Sydney. Any new thoughts now that I've laid it out like that. We could drop NZ - I trust you guys implicitly! I'm leaning towards Tasmania a little bit from the posts, but am still not sure I want to miss seeing the GBR since I didn't get there 30 years ago. Any ideas or help appreciated! Thanks again JB and all others who have replied...for taking the time and sharing!
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Apr 26th, 2005, 10:14 AM
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Hi!

I would definately agree with the thoughts of the others to drop the 2 days in NZ. Not enough time at all. Instead add that time on to Port Douglas or maybe a bit further north at Cape Tribulation which is just beautiful. I have spent a week at a time in that area a few times and felt that was a good time period. 3 days could feel a bit rushed but 5 should be great give you a chance to see the area and get in some incredible snorkeling.

Happy travels. J
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Apr 26th, 2005, 05:26 PM
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Hi Spin!

I'll take a guess here that you must be using UA miles on Air New Zealand; hence the stop in AKL...is that right?

Otherwise, if you can drop the 2 Auckland days from the itinerary, I'd suggest flying Qantas DIRECT from LA (QF94) leaving at 11:40P and arriving at 7:55A.

Of course, if your miles are on UA/Air NZ, as I thought, this isn't possible, as you have to connect through AKL, which just eats up your time. (which is the problem with miles...great to use them - except when the routes don't exactly fit in with your plans)!

Melodie
Certified Aussie & Kiwi Specialist

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Apr 26th, 2005, 07:20 PM
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Great Ocean Road is not to be missed, one of the highlights. We took a small personal tour seeing all the sights. We used Melbournes Best. The website is www.melbournetours.com/au They are everything they say and they pick up/drop off at hotel. An excellent(not touristy)Greek restaurant named "Pireaus Blues" in the Fitzroy section of Melbourne was well worth it. Keep my email if you would like any further info on tour names, prices, hotels, etc. The name of the GBR boat was the "Wavelength". Happy Planning JB
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Apr 27th, 2005, 06:47 PM
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Spinsker: If it is 30+ years since you were in Melbourne, then you might not recognize the place. You could spend at least two of your days there exploring the redeveloped Docklands, and the Southbank area, on the bank of the Yarra opposite Flinders Street Station. IF you have a car, and a spare day, the Great Ocean Road from Anglesea to Port Campbell is one of the great drives of the world. In any event, enjoy the wedding!
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Apr 29th, 2005, 07:47 AM
  #20  
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Thanks again for more great info! Melody, we are using miles, but through Continental. I have to check and see if we can skip Auckland and get a different flight. That seems like the way to go. Two questions: I'm hearing more GBR votes than Tasmania for my remaining days......is this right? Second, do you think the Great Ocean Road would be better experienced by our own car or on the tour? Thanks for all the new Melbourne info. adeben - none of it was familiar. I'll check it out!
Susan
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