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Dec trip - Itinerary planning help and recommendations

Dec trip - Itinerary planning help and recommendations

Old May 18th, 2015, 06:08 AM
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Dec trip - Itinerary planning help and recommendations

We are planning a trip down under, starting the 12th of December and will have about 22-24 days. We will be travelling with our 2 adventurous girls who will be 6 and 8 years old. We expect this to be our first and only trip to Aussie for a while and would like to see/experience the best that Aussie offers, as much as possible.

Our main interests are nature, wildlife (especially Kangaroo, Koala and penguins for kids), hiking, Farmers markets and good food/wine (for me). Would love to do a bit of fruit picking (picking cherries was one of the highlights of our NZ trip). Maybe a farm stay would be nice for kids..
Haven’t researched in depth yet but we are thinking of starting off in Port Douglas(4days), in order to be there early Dec hoping for better weather opposed to end of Dec, to see the GBR/ Daintree (and Mossman Gorge/ Atherton Tablelands?). Flight to Melbourne and drive the great ocean road (7 days) – Explore Tasmania in a camper-van (6 days)and finish off in Sydney(4days) and watch the NY fireworks.

Would appreciate your expert advise re the below.
What is the best order of visiting the above places and how should we split our time?. It may be easier and cheaper to Fly in to Melbourne opposed to Cairns..but is it better to visit Cairns first in terms of weather?
We would prefer to use a small boat like Wavelength to visit the GBR but with a minimum age of 8 years, we need to find alternative co. Any recommendations besides Quicksilver?
Is a camper-van the best way to explore Tasmania, We thought it would be a great experience for us all as we haven’t done it before and a great way to be close to nature. Is this a bad idea? Anyone done this with kids?
What are the best locations to spot wild koalas/kangaroos and penguins? And do fruit picking during December.
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Old May 18th, 2015, 09:17 AM
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not sure if you realize it's stinger season in Port Douglas area - Which I think rules out swimming but you might be fine with that. Not sure if a few weeks make any difference but others will know better.
Its high season for holidays from about 15 December for the GOR - you just need to be aware that it will be busy .
You probably need to tie what you want to see in Tasmania even though it's small there a lot to see and 6 days says pick an area .
There are wine areas around Melbourne - some on way to GOR , some in Tasmania , not sure how close to Sydney the wine areas are .
There will be farmers markets all around .
There are berry farms just of Melbourne and around Geelong on way to GOR where you can pick your own.
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Old May 18th, 2015, 12:48 PM
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Of your trip is for this year, I'd suggest you book your Sydney accommodation "yesterday".

NYE in Sydney accommodation is expensive, limited and properties in the CBD often booked out well in advance. Expect to have 3 day minimum requirements around 31/12/15 - but as you'll be here longer than that, it probably won't bother you.
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Old May 18th, 2015, 12:51 PM
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The country is Oz, the people are Aussies.

Wild critters abound on Kangaroo Island. They're also in Barossa Valley (your vino) and various parts of South Australia.

Hiking is fish+barrel+shotgun. You need to pick where you're going first.

Would avoid the Red Centre in December - that's the start of summer and it hits over 40C with some regularity. Plus, there are more flies than a maggot convention.
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Old May 18th, 2015, 12:55 PM
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The Hunter Valley ( closest wine srea to Sydney) is a couple of hours north ; there are also good wineries on the scenic South Coast & hinterland.

Growers markets are in lots of locations - just google "Markets " & your destination.
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Old May 18th, 2015, 07:22 PM
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visiting vineyards is not a priority at all. Will like to focus more on wildlife (koalas/kangaroos and penguins) and scenery.will visit a vineyard only if passing by ..

So will it be better to start of in melbourne and GOR first to avoid the peak time and move on to Cairns (mainly for the GBR)? , and then to tasmania. Looking at the map the first routing seemed to make more sense.
We have relatives to stay with in Sydney but need to book accomadation in other cities.

Would appreicate some advise re routing the trip and splitting time between cities.and advise on places to spot wild life?

also, any views on using a campervan in tasmania when travelling with kids.
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Old May 18th, 2015, 09:22 PM
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one more thing, should we include Kangaroo Island to the itinerary? read mixed reviews on KI.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 02:04 AM
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I think your first routing makes sense.

7 days is a long time for the GOR, or does that include time spent in Melbourne?

A nice loop with kids is Melbourne - GOR as far as Warrnambool - Grampians National Park - Ballarat (Sovereign Hill & Wildlife Park) - Melbourne.
No fruit to pick but plenty of wildlife and interesting eateries.

You might also consider taking the overnight ferry to Tasmania and then flying out. It's a fun experience, especially in the warmer months.
A camper van in Tassie is a great way to see the countryside. There are lots of great caravan parks there, including Cradle Mountain and Strachan. Probably need to make bookings for these fairly soon though. December / January is school holiday time here.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 02:09 AM
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Realised I spelt Strahan incorrectly I hit the submit button!

Plus, here's a link to my blog post from our last trip to Tasmania. Might be helpful for idea.

http://demansersintheusa.blogspot.co...ania-2013.html
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Old May 19th, 2015, 06:49 AM
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Thanks Kwaussie, for the info. yes 7days was including melbourne..Its the splitting of the days between destinations thats the hardest.. should I take few days from Tasmania or Melbourne/GOR for Cairns and surrounds..seems like there is a lot to see there.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 11:45 AM
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I don't think you necessarily need to include KI. You should see plenty of wildlife in Tasmania and there are areas there to see penguins as well. Tasmania also produces some nice cool climate wines. 6 days isn't long for Tassie so I wouldn't take any away.

The Atherton Tablelands south of Cairns is also a very good area for wildlife.

I haven't done GOR.
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Old May 21st, 2015, 07:57 PM
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Thanks everyone, So now looking at the following itinerary.

Flight to Cairns - hire a car and drive to Port Douglas.
spend the next 2 days exploring the GBR and Daintree/Mossman Gorge.
Would appreciate some recommendations for a smaller boat to do some snorkeling with the kids.(8/6years)

Drive to Atherton tablelands and spend the night to explore the area.

4 nights in all and fly out to Melbourne.

How many days should we allocate to the GOR? 3 nights and 3 nights to Melbourne city.the plan is to drive along the GOR,include Cape Otway for the kangaroos and Koala spotting and take the internal route back to Melbourne.

Melbourne and GOR - 6 nights

Fly to Tasmania (Launceston)1 nt. - Hire a campervan.
drive up to Low Head for penguins.
2 nts: Swansea , 2 nights cradle mountain, 1 nt. Lake Claire
1 nt. Hobart

7 nights in Tasmania - Would love some advise on how to split our days in Tasmania!

Also,we really need camper van hiring advise, having never used one before, not sure exactly what we should be looking for when hiring one and which company we should be looking at?

Fly out of Hobart to Sydney for - 3 nights. explore the zoo, opera house , Bondi to Bronte beach walk and a bit of shopping.
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Old May 22nd, 2015, 04:06 AM
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I think it would be really hot in Port Douglas in December and swimming won't be easy due to stingers. However it is beautiful, especially if you checked out Mossman Gorge and the Daintree. I'm Victorian so I think Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road are awesome - I live not far from there, in Ocean Grove on the Bellarine Peninsula, which is an underrated gem but being discovered by international visitors. However the weather is unpredictable - could be hot, cool or in between! And yes it will be busy but so will everywhere. You can pick berries down my way also.

I would recommend choosing a handful of locations and enjoying your time. Travelling from Melbourne to the GOR for example will take the best part of the day, plus however long you want to stay and enjoy. Lorne ans Apollo Bay are stunning towns to base yourselves in - but will be very busy - and there are lots of beautiful small places in between. Don't try and see all of Australia though - maybe two states and two capital cities with a couple of others in each state, giving you a taste of our cities, beaches and beautiful country towns. It's a big country and you don't want to be exhausted from trying to get to it all. Whatever you see you will enjoy.
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Old May 22nd, 2015, 01:38 PM
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Yes, PD will be hot in December. IME you can swim in the sea within a small netted area, but that may not be a problem for your children who probably don't want to swim long distances. Most of the hotels have pools, and some have big pool complexes so one of those might be suitable.

You have to be VERY careful of the strength of the sun - you can get burnt very easily. [DH burnt his feet though he used what he thought was a lot of sunscreen and that was in November].

I would give PD at least 3 days - one for Mossman [don't miss the great restaurant there called Mojos] one for Daintree and another for the GBR. and you probably ought to add a day just for mucking about in town, especially if you're going to be there on a Sunday when they have a great market of [mainly] locally made crafts.

And don't miss the Tablelands - we loved them - but it can get very hot and sticky.
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Old May 22nd, 2015, 11:18 PM
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Its hard to explain just how hot it could be in FNQ - it's not just the heat but the humidity. We stayed at the Cairns Coconut Holiday Park when we were up there and it was great for kids. It has a water park and outdoor movies and stuff and the cabins had great air conditioning. I think most of the reef cruises cater well for kids. We went with Quicksilver and they were good. They all have stinger suits that you can wear while snorkeling and I imagine they would be vital at that time of year.

I think Apollo Bay is a good half way stop for the GOR but all the coastal towns are nice. You will have to book at that time of year though. The Otway Fly is a great way to check out the southern rain forest and an interesting contrast to the Daintree. Warrnambool is a good end spot on the GOR when you're traveling with kids. There's a great playground at Lake Pertobe and a short drive out to Tower Hill will give you another wildlife opportunity.

annhig is right about the sun - our UV levels are deadly in Summer. Make sure you have bucket or broad brimmed hats and plenty of sunscreen, even when you're in Tasmania and it doesn't feel as hot.

I've never used a camper in Aus but have hired a couple in NZ. My tip would be to go one size bigger than you think, i.e., if there are 4 of you go for a 6 berth so you aren't constantly turning the table into a bed!
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Old May 24th, 2015, 09:24 PM
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thanks RT2015,annhig and Kwaussie!

Any advise on using a campervan in Tasmania?? would the driving times be much longer in a campervan opposed to standard vehicle?I guess this would be a great chance to use a camper van, but would doing so add to the whole Tasmania experience or limit it.any thoughts??
Also, what are the must visit places in Tasmania, finding it tough to decide on places for our limited time. is our current plan ok?

and the GBR small boat options! advise much appreciated.
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Old May 25th, 2015, 07:11 AM
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No advice on a campervan but I was wondering if it would be less backtracking to go Launceston, Cradle, Lake St Claire, Swansea and Hobart. Maybe not a huge difference either way.
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Old May 25th, 2015, 07:30 AM
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I know that my DD and her friend had had enough of their NZ camper van after a week but they did have the smallest one possible.

We also met a very nice german couple in Franz Joseph who had been travelling in their van for about 2 weeks and they were desperate for human company.

our best experiences in NZ were when we stayed in B&Bs because of the interaction we had with locals [and other tourists] and a good second were small motels where we also met some interesting people. if you are travelling for any period of time, making sure that you have the chance to say more than "2 beers and 2 cokes please" could be quite important.
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Old May 26th, 2015, 05:01 PM
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The driving times won't be that much different in a camper van but to be honest, I think the experience is a bit over rated, especially when you're traveling with children. Its really hard to get any breathing space from each other.
Tasmania has great holiday parks and so a rental car and cabin stays are a good way to travel there. You can cook in the cabin or eat out and you have a vehicle that can be easily parked in the street or shopping centre car park!
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Old May 28th, 2015, 07:44 AM
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Are you planning to use the campervan in wilderness areas where there are no accommodations? We were jealous of the couple with the campervan staying inside Narawntapu NP. There are no accommodations inside this park and the closest we could find was 20 minutes away.

But if you're only planning to stay in areas where there are other accommodations, the campervan might be more of a hindrance. Australia has some nice self catering cottages/cabins that would work well for a family.

You could also consider doing your penguin tour in Bicheno to free up a night so you don't have so many one nighters.
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