Comments/Feedback on my tentative OZ Itinerary

Old May 3rd, 2004, 05:21 PM
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Comments/Feedback on my tentative OZ Itinerary

My husband and I will be traveling to Australia for the first time and I was wondering if anyone could please review our itinerary and let me your thoughts?

Here is our 2 week Itinerary -

Fly United from LAX to SYD(Aug 28)

5 Nights in Sydney. (Aug 28 - Sep 2) Accomedations at the Holiday Inn Darling Harbor. (Any suggestions on any other moderately priced hotels?)

Fly Quantas from SYD to Cairns

6 nights in the Cairns Area (Sep 2 - Sep 8)-
Looking at purchasing a package from P&O Resorts - 3 nights at Silky Oaks and 3 nights at Sebel Reef House.

Fly Quantas from Cairns to Melbourne

2 nights in Melbourne. (Sep 8 - Sep 10) Looking to stay at the Grand Hyatt.

Thanks in advance for your input!!!!!

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Old May 3rd, 2004, 05:35 PM
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To me, two nights, one full day in Melbourne, doesn't seem worth the hassle of flying there. Hard to think of places that would be. Personally, I'd take a night from Sydney and add it to the time in Melbourne. It obviously depends a lot on what your interests are and what you want to see.
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Old May 3rd, 2004, 05:39 PM
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Hello SK2005,

The time you've allotted to Sydney and Cairns looks good.

You don't mention how you'll get back to the U.S. Without knowing that, I'm somewhat handicapped in commenting.

With the qualification that I'm hampered by lack of some information, I'll share my opinion that it's a waste of time to go to Melbourne for 2 nights at the end. Melbourne is an awfully long way from Cairns. Two nights there would give you only one full day, which just isn't worth it, in my opinion.

I lived in Melbourne for 2.5 years, and LOVE it, so it's not as if I have anything against Melbourne per se. It's just that it doesn't make sense in light of your itinerary.

Besides that, early September is late winter / early spring in Melbourne, and the weather can be dodgy (cool, wet, windy).

If you didn't go to Melbourne, you'd be able to re-arrange your schedule so that you could add the Blue Mountains and maybe even Canberra onto Sydney, which I think would be very worthwhile. Yes, from my experience, the Blue Mountains would be cold at night, but you'd have an excellent change of having nice, crisp days. Although I haven't been to Canberra, I believe the same could be said of Canberra's weather too, besides which it's reputed to be an interesting city.

Hope you have a great trip.
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Old May 3rd, 2004, 07:53 PM
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Thank you both so much for your replies!

My return flight is as follows:

Fly United from MEL to LASep 10). The flight stops in SYD prior to heading to LAX, so I could see if I could rearrange my flight to depart from SYD instead of MEL.

It looks like I have 2 options:
1)Add more time in MEL. Instead of 2 nights stay 4.

2)Don't go to MEL. Spend more time in Sydney.

I am now leaning toward option 2. We also really wanted to go to Alice Springs/Ayers Rock. Do you think it would be too much to fly there for 2 nights on our way to or from Cairns?

Thanks again for all of your help!!!!
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Old May 4th, 2004, 01:00 PM
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For what it's worth, I'd be another vote for adding adding time to Melbourne. I thought it was a great city, and (perhaps even more importantly) there are some great day trips around the area (you might even find you want to spend a night out along the Great Ocean Rd.). I would do that over Uluru and certainly over Canberra (which I thought was a nice little city, but way down my list).
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Old May 4th, 2004, 01:43 PM
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I would be inclined to leave out the Melbourne leg, cut the Cairns section to five days and do Uluru( straight from Cairns without Alice Springs ). It will be an experience you will be glad you had. Have a great holiday!
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Old May 4th, 2004, 02:29 PM
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Five nights in Sydney is too long for your short itinerary.

Cut it back to three.

Two nights in Melbourne is not enough. Extend to three.

Three nights at Silky Oaks, much too long unless you just want to relax and do nothing and if thats the case you might as well stay home.

Three Nights at the Sebel, much too long for this itinerary.

Three nights in North Queensland is long enough to see the reef and the rainforest.

Use your other three nights to see some thing else of Australia.

Sliky Oaks is only a couple of miles from the Sebel, so you will have seen every thing by the time you arrive at the Sebel.

Choose a good hotel in Cairns, there are many to pick from, do the reef and rainforest from there, then fly back to Melbourne via Ayres Rock or the Gold Coast or Darwin or
the Whitsundays or Hinchinbrook, or Townsville. Throw a dart at a map of Australia, then fly back to Melbourne via the place the dart lands.

However if you are just looking for rest and relaxation six nights in the North would be great. But What a long way to fly to just rest. You will need a rest after the rest to rest your selves once you have had a rest.

fsg.



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Old May 4th, 2004, 02:47 PM
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Thank you all so much for your feedback! It is so helpful.

I have decided to scrap MEL and just fly in and out of SYD.

Right now we are leaning towards the following:

4 nights in Sydney
2 night Alice Springs
2 nights Ayers Rock
4 nights Cairns
1 night near Sydney Airport

Any feedback on this one?

I have noticed that it is REALLY expensive to get to/stay in Alice Springs and Ayers Rock. Is there an ecomonical way to get/stay there?


THANKS again for all of your help!!!!
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Old May 4th, 2004, 03:13 PM
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SK2005 Too long in Alice and the rock. Try this.

3 nights melb
4 nights syd
fly to cairns via Ayres rock from Sydney.
1 night Ayres rock on the way through.
4 nights cairns.
Then return to Sydney for your return flight.

From Melb you can visit the yarra valley and even have enough time for the Great Ocean Road.

From Sydney you can do the Hunter Valley, the Blue Mountains (etc )

From Cairns you can do the Atherton Tablelands , the Daintree, Lizard Island, (etc )

And from Ayres Rock you do the rock.

Now thats a better Itinerary. And is much much cheaper than your previous.

fsg
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Old May 4th, 2004, 03:56 PM
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SK2005 - In August/September it will be cold in Sydney and probably freezing in Melbourne and for this reason they are the busiest months of the year in North Qld, when Aussies from "down south" flock here to escape their winter. So I don't think 3 days at Sebel in Palm Cove and 3 at Silky Oaks is too long. They're more than a couple of miles apart, more like 50km, Palm Cove is a beautiful beach destination and the rainforest around Silky Oaks is superb. The drive between the two resorts is one of the most spectacular in the country. From Palm Cove you can make a daytrip to the GBR and it's easy access to Kuranda/Skyrail/Tjakupai and train; or just lie around on the beach. From Silky Oaks you can do Cape Tribulation in Daintree, Mossman Gorge, visit the Kuku Yalangi people for a "dreamtime walk",in the rainforest, go on a nocturnal nstive wildlife spotting trip. These suggestions are only scratching the surface of what is available in the area. Have a great time!
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Old May 4th, 2004, 09:13 PM
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SK: Your most recent itinerary:

4 nights in Sydney
2 night Alice Springs
2 nights Ayers Rock
4 nights Cairns
1 night near Sydney Airport

seems fine to me. But would really help in commenting on your plans would be to know a little about you. Do you want to explore independently by car or take tours? Do you like to walk or hike? Do you want to see wildlife, spend your time shopping, or sit by the pool?
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Old May 4th, 2004, 09:32 PM
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I think your latest suggestion is better than your original. I personally would not bother with Alice Springs and I would stay at Port Douglas rather than Cairns. Have we thoroughly confused you now?
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Old May 5th, 2004, 04:56 AM
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I really enjoyed Melbourne on my trip. It would be a shame to miss it.

After much thought I decided to give Alice Springs/Uluru a miss on my first trip to Australia. After talking to others, I'm kind of glad I did. It's a LONG way out and a LONG way back ... and it's pretty much a rock in the middle of nowhere. For Americans who have been to the Grand Canyon (or even Devil's Tower) it's apparently sort of disappointing.

You might want to do the Play Postie for a Day thing that is offered by York Air instead. You get to ride out on a *real* weekly postal run out to some of the cattle stations and tiny towns in the outback of northern Australia. I thought it was great, and not something everyone sees. They run out of the airport at Cairns, and the pilot I flew with could tell me a lot about the history of the place, as well as the folks who live there now.
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Old May 5th, 2004, 05:34 AM
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>>>>>>I really enjoyed Melbourne on my trip. It would be a shame to miss it.<<<<<<

Kimbis, I lived in Melbourne for 2.5 years, and I just loved it. However, based on a previous post of yours that I found, it seems to me you went to Australia in March.

Melbourne in March and Melbourne in September can be two very different propositions.

Actually, the weather in Melbourne varies a great deal. It can change a lot within a couple of days. It can even change a lot from morning to afternoon. It depends if the wind is coming from the desert interior or from the Antarctic.

In February 2004 we watched the Australian Grand Prix, which takes place in Melbourne, on television. Mercifully the day of the race was 18 deg C (64 deg F). But the TV commentator mentioned that it had been 42 deg C (107 deg F) the previous day. Everyone there was enormously relieved that the day of the race was more temperate. But a change of some 40 deg F from one day to the next is not unknown in Melbourne.

That said, March usually is the most stable month in Melbourne from a weather point of view. Typically the days are dry and sunny and crisp with beautiful blue skies. April often provides one with many of those sorts of days too.

In my experience, spring weather in Melbourne is very fickle. One can get some nice spring days (just as one can get some nice winter days too), but the chances are good that winter and spring weather will be cool, wet and windy.

The Great Ocean Road on a clear, sunny day, and the Great Ocean Road on a cloudy, drizzly day are two very different propositions.

Lovely as Melbourne is, it is not the only lovely place in Australia. When it comes to Australia, one is spoiled for choice. So, given that there's an excellent chance that Melbourne's weather will be pretty lousy in early September, and given that there are so many great places to see in other parts of Australia where the weather is likely to be pleasant at that time, I recommend against Melbourne.

And you guys who live in Cairns can chuckle at the news that I woke up to snow this morning!
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Old May 5th, 2004, 05:43 AM
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Ok, let me try this again. Please see my revised Itinerary with more details.

5 nights in Sydney
We will stay at the Darling Harbor Holiday Inn. We plan to do a day trip to the Blue Mountains and spend the rest of the time exploring Sydney.

2 nights Ayers Rock
Stay at the Sails on the Desert and do some type of educational tour around the area.
**We have been to the Grand Canyon, but i have been told this is a must see.

5 nights Cairns
Plan to stay in Palm Cove at Sebel Reef House or Ansgana Resort....hard decision. Any feedback/suggestions? We would like to do the following: Snorkling on GBR at least once (Quicksilver Tour), Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation

1 night near Sydney Airport

Thanks again for your help!
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Old May 5th, 2004, 06:33 AM
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Hi SK2005,

Your itinerary is looking good to me.

When my husband and I went to Port Douglas, we used Quicksilver to get to their pontoon at the Agincourt Reef, where we snorkeled. We thought we'd died and gone to heaven.

However, that was way before I'd participated in a travel discussion forum. Since I've read other people's advice here at Fodors, I've discovered other options, including Wavelength Reef Charters, a Port Douglas based company that caters only to snorkelers (as opposed to a mix of scuba divers and snorkelers) and that takes a maximum of 30 passengers per trip. Some people say there's an advantage to Quicksilver's larger boat if the sea is a bit choppy. Still, next time I go to the GBR, I'm going to give Wavelength a try. See the comments of Fish Boy, who lives in Far North Queensland, in the following thread:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34491907

As for the rainforest, we did a day tour of the Daintree River, rainforest, Cape Tribulation and Mossman Gorge with Trek North. We were very pleased with their service, and others who post here have said the same thing.

http://www.treknorth.com.au/

However, since my arrival at Fodors, I've also seen numerous posts that have had the highest praise for David Armbrust's rainforest and Outback tours:

http://www.anhs.com.au/

David's tours are more expensive than Trek North's, but then he takes only 4 passengers. I forget how many of us there were in the Trek North vehicle, maybe 10. It felt like a comfortable group size to us, but I can see how David would be able to provide even more one-on-one interaction with each passenger.

Try to visit the GBR early in your stay in Far North Queensland. That way, if the weather isn't good enough for the GBR on your chosen day, you could switch to a rainforest tour or another activity and postpone the GBR by a day or two.

We took the Skyrail to Kuranda on the edge of the Atherton Tableland / Cairns Highlands. We enjoyed that a lot.

We didn't visit the Undara Lava Tubes, which is something I now regret. Apparently it can be done, at a stretch, as a looooong day trip from Cairns. However, people here say it's more ideal to do it as a 2 day trip with an overnight at the Undara Lava Tubes.

Another thing that is really worthwhile doing is flying over the GBR in a small plane.
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Old May 5th, 2004, 08:46 AM
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I thought Undarra was really cool...even my city slicker wife had a great time there too. We arrived by car with the intention of staying one night...ended up staying 2 nights and taking the full day tour. (The tubes can only be seen by tour.) The drive out there is interesting going from tropical rainforest to the lush Atherton Tablelands to the dry open savannah with zillions of termite mounds in all directions. We spent our first afternoon at Undarra doing a pretty long walk through the open forest over lava fields to a large rock outcropping. Lots of wildlife...roos, emus, red tailed black cockatoos...we even had bettongs (small kangaroos) hopping through the outdoor dining area at night. We went spotting at night...saw a few Australian possoms (nothing like their US cousins)and sugar gliders. A couple of dozen kangaroos always seemed to he hanging around the grounds during the day.

At night we went stargazing and a lot of the guests gathered around a big fire the staff got going. The Lava Tubes themselves were very impressive... the longest in the world. Pockets of rainforest survive in some of the collpased sections. Our lady guide was a real fair dinkum Aussie character and a lot of fun. She took the time to explain various plants and which one can be eaten as "bush tucker".

The first night we stayed in one of the RR carriages. Nice, but we were actually more comfortable the next night when we stayed in one of the "swags" - semi-permanent tents with shared facilities. Food was pretty good, not gormet. All eating was out of doors...breakfast was served in a separate area out in the bush, cooked over a campfire.

That was 10 years ago...I assume not much has changed. Undarra's a great place to go for a little adventure, lots of wildlife, and a taste of the Aussie Outback within a day's drive of Cairns.
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Old May 5th, 2004, 04:37 PM
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Oh you MUST spend 2 nights at Silky Oaks. we loved it. check out my trip reports from 2 weeks ago. If I had it to do again, I'd skip Ayers Rock. I'd personally thought Darling Harbor was a bit tacky, try the Rocks instead. David Armbrust's tour is a MUST (worth the extra money), and you need more than 3 nights in Queensland. try 2 at Port Douglas, 2 at silky Oaks.
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