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gladgourd Mar 10th, 2004 09:31 AM

December and January Down Under
My husband I are going to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary in New Zeland and Australia.
We plan to spend 3-4 days in Cairn/Port Douglas. I have read that their may be "monsoon rains" at that time. Is this true and should we re-consider this portion of the trip based on the weather?
We also are going to spend 3-4 days in Tasmania. At this point, we are only planning to go to Port Arthur as a day trip from Hobart. Everything I have read about Freycinet National Park sounds amazing! Can we go there from Hobart in one day or should we plan on staying over?
This is a great forum and I have found it so helpful already!

margo_oz Mar 10th, 2004 10:04 AM

Dec/Jan is not the best time to visit the Reef - but, if that's the only time you can make it - well - go for it!

pat_woolford Mar 10th, 2004 11:36 PM

Hi gladgourd - December/January is a bit early for real "wet" season which seem to be getting rarer and rarer- we had a bit of cyclonic activity in February and early March which made conditions on the reef unpleasant for a few days. It will be quite hot humid, but who cares if you're in the water. I'd go for it.

gladgourd Mar 11th, 2004 05:51 AM

Thanks for the information, Pat Woolford and Margo Oz. I am relieved to know that it might not be too wet at that time.
On another topic, do you know anything about Tasmania? Frecyinet?
Thanks again!

mpoll Mar 11th, 2004 05:34 PM

Its well worth a trip up to the Freycinet Peninsula. Its not much more than 2 hours drive from Hobart. Its a nice drive through Richmond and then along the coast.

MD Mar 12th, 2004 05:27 PM

When we were in Cairns Nov.29th, yes it rained a bit, but not enough to interfere with our plans.

We took the tour boat "Reef Magic" out to the reef. Fantastic, and well worth the day spent - especially if you scuba.

pat_woolford Mar 12th, 2004 06:10 PM

Hi MD - glad you enjoyed your Reef Magic trip - excellent value too, with a free introductory dive.

MD Mar 13th, 2004 09:41 PM

Yes, "Reef Magic" was great. It was recommended by the Hotel Clerk (Tuna Towers). We were not disappointed.

As far as cost, it was significantly cheaper that the more-heavily promoted boats like Quicksilver - I think it was $A115 each, including lunch and morning and afternoon snacks - and as you mentioned, 1 free introductory dive. The second dive if I recall was about $40. The whole day, you could use the snorkel gear free of charge.

I guess it was good for us but unfortunate for the boat owners, but in a boat that could hold about 50-75 people there were only 16 passengers.

The reef was fantastic; we would love to go back. I think it was the hilight of our trip. (Of course I've never seen other reefs, so I don't know what to compare with).

It was a good start when "Wally" came by for a visit just as we were starting our dive. Wally is (IIRC) a Maori Napolean Wrasse, a fish about 4 feet long and 1.5 high, with bright blue and green curlicule markings. He swam right up to the instructor and let him pet him. (Apparently Wally is a regular visitor there and well known to the crew).

Then there was the giant clams, about 3 feet across. Fish everywhere...

If you are going to Australia, don't miss the reef.

pat_woolford Mar 14th, 2004 10:05 PM

- a bit more on Reef Magic - yes, it is only AUD$115 (AUD$229 on one of the huge cats which take hundreds)and includes all snorkelling equipment, intro dive which is valued at AUD$55, lunch and snacks - the vessel has permits to visit 10 reef sites and the skipper picks the best 2 of the day, according to weather and tidal conditions. If you don't want to take advantage of the intro dive you can take a marine biologist guided snorkelling tour for the same price, if you want to do both it's an extra AUD$22 for the snorkelling tour. A great day!

Lyndie Mar 14th, 2004 10:20 PM

Freycinet is really a gorgeous part of Australia and deserves at least a couple of days, imho. There are some great wineries to visit, the park has wonderful walks and treks, a couple of lodges right on the water which is aquamarine and glorious. The view of Wine Glass Bay is not to be missed and the walk down is superb-a little too strenuous for me but other raved about it. I would allocate 2-3 days as we did when we visited. Cairns/PD is nice but Freycinet is unique! Can be chilly in early Dec so take a windcheater!

gladgourd Mar 15th, 2004 11:36 AM

This is great information. I am glad that Cairns is part of our trip. We already had planned the Quicksilver trip but now you are all giving me some second thoughts on that decision.
We do not want to drive and I am having a hard time trying to figure how to get to Freycinet. It seems that the bus ride from Hobart will take us 4 hours or so. Any thoughts on alternatives?
Thanks again for everyone's help!

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