Canberra or Darwin or Neither?

Feb 19th, 2006, 10:09 AM
  #1  
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Canberra or Darwin or Neither?

I want to put out a conversation I have been having on another posting to a wider audience. I am considering whether to add Darwin or Canberra to my itinerary. Here are the essentials:

My wife and I are planning on taking our 3 boys (ages 17, 14 and 10) to Australia in August. We have Sydney (incl. day in the Blue Mountains), Alice Springs, Ayers Rock, Port Douglas and Melbourne (visiting relatives, so no suggestions to eliminate please -- might do Phillip Island and Ballarat/Sovereign Hill as day trips). My boys are sports nuts (we will time everything so that we can see Rugby League in Sydney and Aussie Rules Football in Melbourne) and like doing things, as opposed to just scenery. For example, we might bicycle ride in Alice and Melbourne. We will spend 21 nights in Australia. Currently it is 6 in Syd, 3 in Alice, 2 at Uluru, 5 in PD and 5 in Mel, in that order. We will drive between Alice and Uluru, but fly everywhere else.

I have kicked around Kangaroo Island, Darwin/Kakadu camping safari and Canberra as possible extra destinations. KI would take 3 nights (only 1 on KI -- the other 2 would be in Adelaide the night before and the night after), Kakadu would take at least 3 nights, Darwin at least 2 and Canberra 1 or 2. I am limited to 21 nights, so these nights would have to come from other parts of my itinerary.

Any thoughts on what to do, or other suggestions? Should I just keep what I have (is it a full plate?) or use 2-3 nights for something else. Please keep in mind that although I have teenagers/kids, I am not interested in the Gold Coast.

Thanks for any help.


Europewithkids is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 12:27 PM
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Canberra far more formal, parliaiment house, galleries, museums ewwwwwwwwww, DarVega$ aka Darwin - Kakadu, Lichfield, casual, laid back, cringe! dyed in the wool Aussie. Need to tire the kids out and burn off some energy. Canberra will be freezing and Darvega$ will be delightful as it is the dry. Warm and sunny guaranteed.
ja_oz is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 04:54 PM
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Either would have benefits I think. Darwin/kakadu would be good at that time of year and definitely offer good activities based options. weather a plus - warm warm warm.

canberra other extreme, definitely cold in august (although not by northern hemisphere standards). Contrary to popular impressions of most Australians, there is actually a lot more to Canberra than just Parliament House and other national attractions. It's a great place to do outdoorsy things - great bicycle paths all over the city, national parks (namadgi np, tidbinbilla nature reserve) within very short distance and at that time of year you could also go to the snow and ski if that's your thing (very easy to do a day trip to the snow on the bus from Canberra).

Either option has merits, but you're right, kakadu/darwin would require more time.

Sorry I can't make the decision for you! let us know if you have more questions.
lancefan is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 06:32 PM
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Well, you do seem to have a lot on your plate already, so I'm reluctant to recommend adding another destination. I agree with lancefan though that there's much more to Canberra than the monumental stuff, and the kids would certainly enjoy a visit to the Australian Institute of Sport, the training centre for Australian Olympians, not to mention the hands-on science and technology museum Questacon (and, very likely, the warplanes etc displayed at the Australian War Memorial).

Some facts on the weather: in August the average temperature range is 1-12C (34-55F). Erudite readers will know that water freezes at 0C (32F), so "freezing" is perhaps a little alarmist, although below-zero temps are certainly a possibility overnight. Brisk and bracing, I'd say, although I wouldn't expect the weather wimps to agree with me.

As an ex-German said to me when I first arrived in Canberra, "Winter? What winter? This is more like spring where I come from!"
Neil_Oz is offline  
Feb 20th, 2006, 04:52 PM
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Anyone else want to weigh in?
Europewithkids is offline  
Feb 20th, 2006, 09:08 PM
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Flying is a must between these locations so well done, some people think they can drive.
But do justice to what you visit, don't try to do 'too much'. We'd love to see you back some other time to see & experience more.
Weather is a consideration. Ausies will say it will be cool(cold)in the Southern States & Warmer up North.
. Central Oz can be very cool overnight but the days will be warm.
. I reckon KI will a distraction for this trip and probably cold/wet so stay North.

If you decide on Canberra, just put a couple of extra layers of clothes on.
6 days in Sydney! probably too many unless you have things planned, include your trip to Canberra from there it is an interesting city as others have said!

I would not necessarily suggest Darwin this time although it is a great destination.

Why not take your time getting to Uluru from Alice! Are you driving or being driven? my thought is to do a round trip by going to Yalara via Kings Canyon (the Merinee loop) it is easy 4WD. Maybe take in Palm Valley (sort of on the way) which is a short distance from Hermannsberg Mission. The boys will love this 'outback experience'.

The Gorges & Chasms around Alice are spectacular (take the camera) and you can cycle to some of them too.

PD is yuppie & commercislised but I'd suggest a day trip to Cooktown and the Daintree area (Cape Tribulation). The Atherton Tablelands are worth a visit too.
Enjoy your time in Oz.
bluey is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 08:37 AM
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I concur with bluey. I wouldn't add another sector of flying to your itinerary with just 3 weeks. With 6 nights in Sydney, you could have time to drive to Canberra and stay one or two of of those nights there. It's a quick trip nowadays with the completion of 4 lane highway almost the whole way. Maybe you could do a more scenic route on the return to see the beautiful lookouts of the Southern Highlands, Wentworth Falls, Kangaroo Valley, etc.

Also some good suggestions re Alice and Uluru from bluey. The Kings Canyon suggestion is an excellent one.

All in all, reflecting comments regarding August weather, I think your itinerary is a little too weighted in favor of the cooler parts of Aus at that time of year. That's why I'd suggest giving up 2 or 3 days down south to spend extra time in north Queensland, and maybe an extra day in the Red Center, if you can.

RalphR is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 12:31 PM
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I had planned on the Red Centre activities that have been mentioned (Palm Valley, cycling out of Alice Springs a little), but not King's Canyon. What would my boys do there, other than look at scenery?
Europewithkids is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 12:31 PM
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You can now drive between the city centres of Sydney and Canberra without striking any 2-lane conditions or (until you're within about 3 km of Canberra City) any traffic lights. I've made the trip in less than 3 hours, but that depends on Sydney traffic conditions.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 05:50 PM
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I understand one of the sights absolutely not to be missed in Canberra is Neil_Oz.

AndrewDavid
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Feb 21st, 2006, 07:13 PM
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Kings Canyon - climb all over it & look at the scenery. Maybe if you/they need to let off some steam, go for a run in the area but take water. That is what Central Australia offers - scenery, tranqility and adventure if you look for it. Why is any unique land formation an attraction in any country?

My idea was to incorporate this area as a camping/4WD trip from Alice, surely the boys would like that! take a football (must be a 'real footy' - an Aussie rules Sherrin brand) & kick to kick with the boys - others will soon join in.
With respect, go to this area with the intention to take time to absorb the environment and appreciate the simple things. Look at the stars in a clear outback sky - see if you can find the 'Southern Cross' & determine how it points South..
You should not have to entertain the lads all the time!
bluey is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 08:31 PM
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What's that sepulchral voice I hear emerging from the damp confines of British Columbia? Could it be the well-known gadabout, wit and raconteur AndrewDavid? Welcome back to the land of the living, A/D (assuming that's what this is)...
Neil_Oz is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 02:50 AM
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Very poetic! I had planned a 4WD day out as far as Palm Valley, which is a pretty reasonable day trip out of Alice. I also planned to stargaze at Yulara (I think they have an obervatory program at night). My kids do not play footie (they'll see it in Melbourne, maybe they'll get hooked), but if I could find a way to conveniently transport 3 lacrosse sticks...
Europewithkids is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:53 AM
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Neil, Ecco io. I wondered about you when you didn't reply to my last e-mail at New Years. Any solidifying on your travel plans to the west coast?

Not a particularly soggy winter here. Cherry trees have bloomed and daffodils are up.

My trip report continues w/ Canada Calling, etc

cheers
Andrew
AndrewDavid is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 12:57 PM
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(With apologies to other posters for mild hijack) A/D, here was I wondering why you didn't reply to my reply! Maybe I screwed up your new email address. If you drop me a line at ncammack(at)bigpond(dot)net(dot)au* I can check that!

* not to be paranoid but I was told that avoiding the '@' and '.' characters makes it more difficult for spammers who may electronically trawl sites like this.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 01:56 PM
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Regarding King Canyon, we took our boys there in 1999 when they were 14, 11 and 8. We all had a great time. If you go to KC, the hike around the rim is a must. The kids ought to love it.
RalphR is offline  
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