Comments and Suggestions about our Itinerary

Oct 13th, 2004, 04:45 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 157
Comments and Suggestions about our Itinerary

Thanks to all of the Fodorites, I've put together the outline of a visit to Oz. Your comments, suggestions (particularly about dining) would be appreciated.
Day City Events
1 Sydney Pylons
2 Sydney City Tour
Botanical Gardens
Opera House tour
3 Blue Mtn on our own
Train to Katoomba
Explorer Bus
Lunch at Paragon
SkyWay and Scenicruiser
to the valley
Dinner at Solarity
4 Sydney Ferry to Zoo
Walk to Aquarium
Lunch at Paragon
Monorail to Hotel
5 Cairns Dinner at Garden Room
6 GBR Ocean Spirit to Michaelmas Cay
7 Cairns Train to Korunda
Dinner at Tjapukai
8 Cairns Wildernessecosafari Tour
9 Melbourne
10 Melbourne Yarra Valley Wine Country
11 Melbourne City Circle Tram tour of Mel

glk11b is offline  
Oct 13th, 2004, 06:28 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,078
My only concern is on day 4:

>4 Sydney Ferry to Zoo
Walk to Aquarium
Lunch at Paragon
Monorail to Hotel<

Now - the ferry to the zoo (and presumably return) and the walk to the Aquarium may well be fine - even though it does seem to be a bit crowded to me. But...nipping up to the Paragon (presumably the one at Katoomba, you were there on day 3) again for lunch does seem to complicate the morning excessively. And I have my doubts about the "monorail to hotel" idea from Katoomba.

I would have thought the zoo and the aquarium would take the whole day, or a good part of it. May I suggest that, as the zoo is so wonderfully located, you take a picnic with you to enjoy. I know there is a kiosk at the zoo, but I can't remember if it has a spectacular view.

Where are you staying in Sydney? What are you looking to eat?
margo_oz is offline  
Oct 13th, 2004, 07:49 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Hello Jerry,

My comments pertain to Melbourne. I will do this in a few posts, so please bear with me.

Working from a previous post in which you said you were arriving in Australia on November 5th, I am guessing Day 10 and Day 11 in the above mentioned itinerary are November 14th and 15th.

If I have got that right, I will suggest you switch the day in Melbourne to Day 10 (Nov 14th) and the day in the Yarra Valley to Day 11 (Nov 15th).

The reason for the recommended switch is that one of the places I will suggest you visit in Melbourne, the Queen Victoria Market, is closed on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Nov 15th is a Monday.

Also, by staying in Melbourne on Sunday, Nov 14th, you may be able to take in the St. Kilda Esplanade Art and Craft Market, which is held only on Sundays and which is rather a fun thing to see.

SUGGESTED ITINERARY FOR NOV 14TH

Start out with the free City Circle Tram. It does a loop around downtown Melbourne, providing a pre-recorded commentary of what you are seeing as you go along. You can ride it on a hop-on / hop-off basis. However, I recommend you first do one full circuit of it to get the lay of the land.

(But you may be able to fit in the City Circle Tram earlier than this, on the afternoon of the day you arrive in Melbourne.)

Next, I suggest going to the Queen Victoria Market. The Vic Market is in the NW corner of downtown Melbourne. The City Circle Tram will have pointed out to you the tram stop that is closest to the Vic Market.

The Vic Market has stalls that sell seafood, meat, fruit, vegetables, clothes, arts, crafts, and everything you can imagine. I have found Australian souvenirs to be more expensive the further south one goes in the country, so I am not necessarily recommending that you go to the Vic Market with a view to shopping. It is just an experience to walk through the place. The goods get picked over by the afternoon, so it is much nicer to go in the morning.

Catch the City Circle Tram again, and get off at Flinders Street Station (a big yellow building with prominent clocks on it).

Use the Swanston Street Bridge next to Flinders Street Station to walk across the Yarra River. The south bank of the Yarra River (called, you guessed it, Southbank) has some pleasant sidewalk cafes overlooking the river. It is a rather pleasant area to have lunch.

Immediately south of the Yarra River, Swanston Street changes its name to St. Kilda Road. After lunch, catch a #16 tram or a cab down St. Kilda Road to the seaside neighbourhood of St. Kilda. (I will compare tram fare and cab fare later.)

There you will find the St. Kilda Esplanade Art and Craft Market in progress. If the weather is good, it is nice to walk along the Esplanade, watch the families out walking, pushing baby strollers, rollerblading, cycling, etc. It also is fun to see the arts and crafts that are on display at the market stalls.

WARNING: Port Phillip Bay, in which Melbourne is situated, makes the sea calm. The beach here is much more boring than the beaches in Sydney.

Catch the #16 tram or a cab back into the city (downtown), and go to dinner. Consider sticking with the #16 tram till it crosses Victoria Street and turns from Swanston Street into Lygon Street. Then you will be in Carlton, the neighbourhood that is immediately to the north of the downtown core. (If you choose to get there by tram, Carlton is still in Zone 1.)

When I lived in Melbourne (July 1997 - January 2000), Lygon Street used to be lined with ethnic restaurants, especially Italian and Greek ones. It used to be fun to stroll along and decide which restaurant appealed to one on the spur of the moment.

People here at Fodors say Lygon Street is not as much fun as it used to be. For one thing, there now are guys out on the sidewalk touting their restaurants. People say this has spoiled the atmosphere.

But some Fodorites have mentioned that the side streets off Lygon Street have some cute restaurants.

My own gut instinct, which seems to serve me well most of the time, is that a restaurant that looks busy usually gives good value for money. It seems to me there is a reason that locals patronise a given restaurant.

Hopefully someone whose knowledge of Melbourne restaurants is current will come along and give you some tips. Otherwise I suggest using my method of sniffing out a restaurant that looks as if it has potential.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Oct 13th, 2004, 07:51 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
ALTERNATIVE TO ST. KILDA MARKET : ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS

I do not know that you would have time to go to St. Kilda AND fit in the Royal Botanic Garden. You may have to choose one or the other. The Royal Botanic Gardens are really lovely too.

If you are willing to go for a fair walk, you can reach the RBG by walking from the Swanston Street Bridge, through the Alexandra Gardens and Kings Domain. (When I say it is a "fair walk," I do not consider it to be bad at all. My mom did it with me when she was over 70, just to put it into context.)

A pleasant place to have lunch or afternoon tea is the restaurant that overlooks the big pond where kids feed the swans in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

After lunch, walk past the Shrine of Remembrance. To my mind the Shrine of Remembrance (war memorial) is an attractive and interesting object in its own right.

From the Shrine of Remembrance, you can catch a #8 or #16 tram back into downtown or a #16 tram out to the neighbourhood of St. Kilda, depending on what you want to do next. You also can catch a cab from there. St. Kilda Road is rather busy. If you want to catch a cab, it is better to go round the corner to quieter Domain Road, which forms the southern boundary of the Royal Botanic Gardens. There usually are cabs hanging around there on a Sunday afternoon.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Oct 13th, 2004, 07:53 PM
  #5  
 
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TRAM VERSUS CAB FARE

The neighbourhood of St. Kilda, which is the furthest point I have recommended in my suggested itinerary for central Melbourne, is still within the confines of Zone 1 for the purposes of calculating a transit fare. It costs 3.00 AUD per person for a 2-hour fare or 5.80 AUD for a full day fare in Zone 1. (Fares from the centre of the city out to Zones 2 and 3 would cost more.)

You can buy Metcards (transit tickets) from vending machines at train stations (like Flinders Street Station). If you board a tram without a Metcard, you can purchase one from a coin-only machine on the tram. The most convenient way to buy a Metcard probably is to go to a convenience store that displays a Metcard symbol. There you can speak to a human being who will give you change.

But ?? since there will be four of you to split cab fares (if I remember correctly), and since my suggested itinerary recommends travelling short distances for which the cab fare would not be great, I think you might be just as well off catching cabs (except for the free City Circle Tram).
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Oct 13th, 2004, 07:54 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
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RAINY DAY ALTERNATIVE

National Art Gallery of Victoria on St. Kilda Road.

Most interesting.

The guided tour that explains the development and progression of Australian art, which does not cost anything over and above the admission to the Gallery, is very enlightening.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Oct 13th, 2004, 07:57 PM
  #7  
 
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SUGGESTED ITINERARY FOR NOV 15TH

Doing a circuit of the Yarra Valley Wineries is a fine way to spend a day. Based on a suggestion that Paul_S recently made to another poster who was planning to visit the Barossa Valley wineries outside of Adelaide, you may want to consider going on a day tour of the Yarra Valley rather than driving yourselves. The reason is that the state of Victoria has a Blood Alcohol Concentration limit of 0.049 for driving a motor vehicle, and that will cramp the style of your designated driver. If, however, there is a member of your party who wants to drive and who does not mind strictly limiting his/her intake of wine, that is fine.

Something else to consider is a day tour that includes a ride on the Puffing Billy steam train, lunch at a Yarra Valley winery, and a visit to Healesville Nature Sanctuary where you can see native Australian animals. (How eager you might be to visit Healesville might depend on the number and variety of animals you will have seen on the Wilderness Eco Safari tour out of Cairns.)

In my next lifetime I will learn how to express myself briefly. For now this is as good as it gets. Sorry about that.

So, that's it for Melbourne......
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Oct 13th, 2004, 08:02 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Hi Jerry - just be aware that the Garden Room (Stratford about 8km north of Cairns city) is not open on Sunday or Monday nights - wonderful food. Sorry, have never had dinner at Tjakupai, locals don't, so can't comment.
pat_woolford is offline  

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