COVID-19 Travel Advisory: Stay up to date with the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.   Learn More >

Darwin vs. Kangaroo Island

Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 05:53 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 274
Darwin vs. Kangaroo Island

My wife and I are putting together a 22 night trip to Australia in August (22 nights on the ground) and taking our 3 boys (ages 17, 14 and 10). 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 as a day trip). 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 they like doing things, as opposed to just looking at scenery. For example, we might bicycle ride in Alice. Currently, we have 6 nights in Sydney, 3 in Alice, 1 at Uluru, 5 in PD and 4 in Melbourne. We will drive between Alice and Uluru, but fly everywhere else.

That leaves us with 3 nights (2 full days) that we can play with. I have been looking most seriously at Darwin and Kangaroo Island. Are either worth using the 3 nights on (is 3 nights enough to make either worthwhile)? I know about the weather difference, so please factor that out of the equation (we are from New York and Australian winters do not compare with what we are used to). Weather aside, with 2 teenage boys and a 10-year old boy, which one would be the better choice and why? In the alternative, would we be better off just taking these 3 nights and allocating them amongst our current destinations?
Europewithkids is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 08:09 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,092
Rather than trying see as much of Australia as possible, I would tend to tack the 3 days onto one of your destinations. No doubt either yourself or your sons will dictate which destination that will be.
Are your bookings "definite dates" or can you freelance and stay longer at will?
August weather for Sydney, Melbourne can be sunny, or bloody cold (oops shouldn't say that word, it is going to be featured in our new Australian tourism promos). I would tend to keep the extra 3 days for north queensland, as there is a lot to see & do up that way, especially water sports & adventure tours. You never know, you might get to see Nth Queensland Cowboy rugby league team, give those southern teams a hiding.
tropo is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2006, 03:15 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 274
Thanks. Our itinerary will be locked in, as we are buying the Qantas Aussie Pass and they require that all international and Australian domestic flights be finalized at the time of booking (which I want to do in the next week or so). Thanks for your advice not to add another destination. You make a legitimate point. However, I think what I have in Port Douglas is probably enough, maybe one more night at most. I am not concerned about water sports as they can be done much closer to home. What I am looking for are unique experiences that we cannot really reproduce closer to home, a look at another unique aspect of Australia for my kids. That is why I am at least considering KI and Darwin (open to any other suggestions as well. Others on the forum have also suggested Canberra, although it does not work as well for us logistically). Is there something unique that is worth the hassle of travelling to for three nights, something that we'll say when we are finished, "boy, we are glad we did that!," or would we be happier adding a day to Melbourne (and doing Ballarat), one to the Red Centre and maybe one more to PD?
Europewithkids is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2006, 04:22 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 993
If you are after a "unique" destination, I wouldn't really be considering Canberra (which doesn't mean that Canberra isn't a good holiday destination).

Both Kangaroo Island and Darwin certainly are unique in their respective ways. If your kids are big on wildlife than Kangaroo Island is probably the go, but if they want something that seems a bit more "way out" there than it should be Darwin. I know that my 3 teenagers would love to go to Darwin, but would think of KI as a bore. Not that it is, but that is their perception of it.

Between your other destinations, you will no doubt get to see a variety of the native Aussie animals, particularly if you spend a day on Phillip Island and/or go to Healesville sanctuary with your relatives, so you might not actually be seeing anything much at KI in the way of animals that you haven't seen elsewhere.

Incidentally, I personally would split Alice Spring and Uluru as two nights each rather than three and one. It is a long drive up to Uluru for only one night.
shandy is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2006, 07:21 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 39
I have not been to KI but we used Darwin as a home base to see Kakadu National Park and Nitmiluk National Park(Katherine Gorge) which were both amazing. The boat ride up the Katherine I recommend (1 day) and 2 days at Kakadu. If you need to choose between the 2 my pick would be Kakadu
rickzalucki is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2006, 07:58 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 274
Thanks. What is it about Darwin that would come acroos to my kids as "way out" and what would be so unique? The city itself? Kakadu or Litchfield? Jumping crocs? On Kakadu, my feeling is that based on what I have read, my guys would be bored. Litchfield and then stuff in and around Darwin for a day may be of more interest. Of course, this leads to the next question. At most, we would only be able to devote 3 nights/2 days to the Darwin part of our trip before flying out to another destination. Is it worth going for this amount of time?
Europewithkids is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2006, 09:09 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 32
Have you thought about going to Perth or Broome in Western Australia. They're both beautiful places and well worth a visit. Coming from the East Coast of the US you may appreciate Broome for a beautiful sunset over the ocean but you can also see that in Darwin.

I haven't been to KangIsle but I've been to Darwin and I didn't find it all that memorable and I think that, coming from New York, you may find that as well. That's not to speak ill of Darwin but I live in Sydney so a city as compact as Darwin didn't impress.

I found Kakadu National Park an amazing place and could easily go back there and stay for a few days. The thing about Kakadu is the diversity of wildlife and the scenery from the escarpment.

Katherine Gorge (in the Northern Territory) is also one of the most beautiful places in Australia. We hired a canoe at dawn and paddled up the river. We were the first on the water and it was as if we were floating on a mirror. It was beautiful.

I also suggest you might think about Alice for two days and Uluru for two days. If I were back there that's what I'd do.

nevets
nevets is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2006, 10:10 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,123
Again I say it doesn't make much sense to cram another destination into your short itinerary that already involves flying between four cities. Every additional stopover adds the better part of a day just getting to/from an airport, waiting around, not to mention the flying time itself. Darwin/Kakadu/Litchfield are spectacular but 3 nights is not going to do them much justice. The time in North Queensland and in the Red Center could definitely be extended. I wouldn't suggest necessarily spending all 5 nights in NQ in Port Douglas. Maybe a night out at Undarra or a couple south of Cairns, e.g., Mission Beach. No shortage of cool places to see up there...not just the Barrier Reef.
RalphR is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2006, 05:03 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 993
My kids would prefer Darwin because of Litchfield, the possibility of running into crocs, the night markets in Darwin and the fact that it is so different to their "surburban" life. On Kangaroo Island they are not going to see anything they haven't seen before basically - some of the local wildlife and some good coastal scenery.

Having said that, I am actually in agreement with Ralph that I would tack an extra day or two onto other parts of the trip rather than add a new destination altogether. It gives you a chance for a breather rather than rushing from one spot to the another. I've no idea how planned the Port Douglas part of your trip is for instance, but have you allowed for not being able to get out onto the reef on the day you planned to go because of weather. Upping Uluru from one night to two nights is also defintely worth it.
shandy is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2006, 06:15 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 274
Thanks for all of the great input. While I am very tempted to add a new experience to the itnerary, I hear you on the fullness of what I already have. Flights out of Darwin are especially inconvenient (getting my kids on a 1 a.m. or 6 a.m. flight would not be pleasant!) and KI demands a few nights out of our time based on getting to and from the rest of our itinerary. If I just add to what I have, what does Mission Beach offer that Port Douglas does not? I have thought about a couple of nights there, or adding activities from our Port Douglas base, such as a day out at the Frankland Islands.
Europewithkids is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2006, 07:55 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,123
Mission Beach would be a good base for seeing some of the great places south of Cairns and avoid having to trek all the back to PD if you wanted to see them. Josephine Falls, the Boulders Nat'l Park, and the Tully River Valley come to mind. Also, Dunk Island is only a short boat trip from from MB and makes for a good day trip from there. Though it's been a while since I last was there, I don't think MB is anywhere near as commercialized as PD has become - that's may be a good thing.
RalphR is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2006, 08:17 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 993
You could consider spending a night at Cape Tribulation in the middle of the rainforest as compared to another beach location.
shandy is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2006, 08:56 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Its true that Mission Beach is nowhere near as commercialised as Port Douglas and that is a very good thing. When you drive in on southern approach from Tully (grade 5 white water rafting on Tully River) you pass through virgin rainforest sprinkled with native licuala palms, where cassowaries live and although some have become road victims they still stand a far better chance than if attempting to cross the busy Port Douglas road. The approach to Bingil Bay at the north end of Mission is one of the most scenic in the country, green rolling pastures backed by rainforest in turn backed by purple mountains and fronted by a brilliant clear tropical sea. Dunk Island is only a water taxi trip, or you can take a trip further out to GBR, and if your teenagers don't find white water rafting exciting enough they could try a skydive - Mission Beach is one of the best "drops" in Queensland.

Frankland Islands are worth a visit, numbers are limited and there is no accommodation apart from camping. They're much closer to Mission Beach or Cairns than Port Douglas and Mission is less than an hour's drive to Cardwell for magnificent Hinchinbrook Island.
pat_woolford is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2006, 09:01 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Forgot to add that rainforest does come right down to beach at Bingil on northern part of Mission Beach and terrific views from Horizon resort on hillside at South Mission.
pat_woolford is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2006, 03:20 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 274
Anyone else? I am going to make a drop dead decision tomorrow. I now have four nights to work with. Again, the trip is in August and I have three boys, ages 17, 14 and 10. Thanks.
Europewithkids is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2006, 12:51 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,936
When I went to KI, I had two very full days there. It was wonderful and think I saw a ton. Being an American, it was pretty exciting to leave the airport and see koalas in a tree w/in 10min. of arriving. (That was thanks to our wonderful tourguide...I think when it comes to nature spotting, a knowledgeable guide is the way to go) There really was no shortage of wildlife--kangaroos, of course, but also other creatures.

I spent about 3nts. in Darwin, but with travel, probably only had 2.5 days to sightsee. If I had to do it over, I would've saved that part of the NT for another visit. It was too rushed and the distances are vast. Doing a day in Kakadu and Litchfield isn't doing either justice, especially Kakadu. I left there feeling like I could say I've been to Kakadu but didn't experience it like I would've liked.

I spent a full month in Australia--visited friends in Sydney and Adelaide (a cute, underrated city),KI, and also went to Melbourne, Darwin and Port Douglas. Lots of time in airports and on planes but honestly, it was worth it.

OneWanderingJew is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2006, 02:12 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 274
What time of year did you travel?
Europewithkids is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2006, 04:42 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,936
I was there in July. KI, Melbourne and the Blue Mtns. were definately cold but it didn't compare to a bad day during a NY winter (I know, I'm a native NYer) Most every day of my trip was sunny; I just remember one rainy day that whole month.

If you pack so you can layer you'll be fine. I brought my Columbia 3-in-1 ski jacket and it was great for the climate changes. It has a fleece liner that can be worn on its own and a waterproof shell that can be worn w/ or w/o the fleece.
OneWanderingJew is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2006, 07:00 PM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 274
Thanks to all for your good advice. You gave me a lot to think about. I booked my Aussiepass today and have decided on 5 nights Sydney, 5 nights Port Douglas, 4 nights Darwin, 4 nights Red Centre and 4 nights Melbourne. Our flight out of Cairns to Darwin leaves early evening, meaning we can get in almost a full day when we leave.

Both KI and Darwin sound great but since both were of interest, I went with the better climate and the fact that we can see animals elsewhere, although maybe not in the same setting as KI, while we cannot duplicate the Top End anywhere else in any form. In addition, we can vary what we do up in Darwin and that should keep my guys interested.
Europewithkids is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
where_to
Australia & the Pacific
16
Sep 14th, 2007 04:58 PM
YesteryearAcres
Australia & the Pacific
22
Apr 7th, 2004 03:49 PM
jilln
Australia & the Pacific
7
Jan 6th, 2004 12:17 PM
SallyKate
Australia & the Pacific
11
Mar 22nd, 2003 07:05 PM
elz1
Australia & the Pacific
15
Mar 12th, 2003 03:10 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO