do-able intinerary? (with kids)

Feb 8th, 2015, 06:44 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 20
do-able intinerary? (with kids)

Hello there,

We are a family of 4 (kids are 9 & 7, very good travelers). We have 11 days in Australia, flying into Sydney mid August. I am thinking CBD sydney for a couple of days and can't decide if we have time to do the great barrier reef. Pushing it? I might skip GBR this trip if its not do-able for such a short stay so, perhaps a trip down to Melbourne. We are adventurous and outdoorsy family. Things to do with kids around this 2 cities? I really rather not do a ton of museums, etc unless its a must see. My daughter would love to hold a koala (I am already putting Taronga Zoo on the list). My husband is a photographer but have decided to skip Uluru this time. I am thinking the great ocean road in Melb.

How are public transportation? Also looking at apartments, I was reading the board and see that I should use stayz instead of airbnb because the former is more "australian based", thoughts? Rental car companies, any recs?

thank you!
autumnrain is offline  
Feb 10th, 2015, 05:57 AM
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Posts: 20
no one? too much?
autumnrain is offline  
Feb 10th, 2015, 06:59 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Based on your description of being an "adventurous, outdoorsy family", with 11 days in Australia, I would split them between Sydney (4 days) and Port Douglas (7 days).

For the Sydney portion of your trip, I'd spend 3 days in the city and 1 day as a day trip to the Blue Mountains (which can easily be done on your own by taking the train, but there are organized tours as well.) The Taronga Zoo is excellent and, IMHO, should not be missed. However, your daughter is not going to be able to hold a koala there. Laws prevent holding koalas in the state of New South Wales. (It's stressful for them.) She can, however, for a fee, have her photo taken next to a koala.

The Great Barrier Reef region is a great destination in August--it's warm and the beaches are good for swimming because it's not stinger season--and we always found Port Douglas a fun place to go with our kids because of the excellent Four Mile Beach. Your children are old enough for a snorkel trip too and my recommendation would be Wavelength out of PD. Other good adventures can be had in Daintree National Park, Mossman Gorge and taking the Skyrail to Kuranda. (I'd recommend taking Skyrail both ways since the train is kind of a bore, especially for kids.) Also don't miss the Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas. We enjoyed taking our kids to "Breakfast with the Birds". This would also be the place your daughter could hold a koala since it is permitted in the state of Queensland.

As for transportation, you don't need or want a car in Sydney. Your feet, buses, taxis and the train will get you where you want to go. In Port Douglas, you won't need a car everyday since you can walk to most places (depending on where you stay), but when you factor in the cost of the shuttle for 4 people to/from Cairns, you'll come out better just renting a car for the week. That will give you the flexibilty to drive to Daintree, Mossman Gorge, the Skyrail terminal, etc.

As for accommodations, our family would stay in hotels, serviced apartments and the Sydney Harbour B&B when we visited Sydney--they were all good. In Port Douglas, we stayed in several different 2-bedroom serviced apartments. You can find these accommodations online and book directly with them--no need to go through a 3rd party. (I'd look at the reviews on Trip Advisor to find ideas of accommodations in both Sydney and Port Douglas.)

Finally--I wouldn't recommend doing the GOR in August. The weather is going to be chilly, and perhaps rainy, along the road at that time of year. While it's a nice scenic drive (in clear weather), it's not really anything better than I've seen driving in the U.S. I think your family, particularly your children, would prefer swimming, snorkeling, playing on the beach, etc. rather than sitting in the car driving the GOR.
longhorn55 is offline  
Feb 14th, 2015, 12:50 AM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 249
I agree, go north to the GBR and sunshine. Sydney is a beautiful city with plenty to fill 4 or 5 days.
Your kids would like the Coconut Holiday Park in Cairns. They have lovely self contained cabins and a great water park and activities for the kids.
It's often bitterly cold down here in the south west of Victoria during August.
Kwaussie is offline  
Feb 14th, 2015, 03:35 AM
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thank you! this is what i was looking for, i am going to skip GOR this time.

longhorn55, when you say i can book accomodations directly instead of going through 3rd party,i am assuming this is for hotels? i am looking more for serviced apartments, so i shouldn't go through airbnb or stayz?

we are coming from canada, its currently windchill -58C outside right now so i think it wont feel bitterly cold for us in Australia in August. hahaha
autumnrain is offline  
Feb 14th, 2015, 09:17 AM
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If I didn't already know about various serviced apartments in PD and Sydney, I would go to to begin my research. You can enter your dates, the number in your party and filter for "self catering apartments".

With a bit of further research (e.g. Trip Advisor), you can get reviews of these places, find out where they are located, etc. and make a decision on which property works best for you. You can then book through if you like. However, I find that the individual properties will often match the Wotif prices AND don't charge booking fees or require full payment up front. The individual properties also generally offer much better cancellation conditions than does Wotif. And, if there's a problem, you generally get better service dealing with the property itself than with a 3rd party.
longhorn55 is offline  
Feb 14th, 2015, 02:32 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,846 is more for hotels, apartments, B&Bs and other properties that have multiple units whereas Stayz is more for individual vacation rentals. We've booked several cottages/houses through Stayz and had good experiences. It works much like VRBO does in that you deal directly with the property owner so you need to do your due diligence. Each owner sets their own deposit/payment/cancellation policies. I've never use as it didn't seem to offer any savings over booking directly.
Patty is offline  
Feb 16th, 2015, 03:34 AM
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in PD we stayed at Beside the Sea which advertises itself as a hotel but is effectively apartments very near the beach but walkable to the town and its restaurants.

not sure why you would want a serviced apartment particularly - the apartment we had was very clean when we got there and i'm not sure that having it cleaned everyday would have been an advantage.

as others have said there is loads to do in the area and it would be a great spot for week's family holiday.
annhig is offline  
Feb 16th, 2015, 05:23 PM
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To my knowledge you cannot hold a koala.
MissGreen is offline  
Mar 11th, 2015, 07:18 PM
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thank you everyone for replying.

unfortunately we decided to skip GBR at this time. we wanted to go with wavelength because of their stellar review but they wont take my 7 yo for the snorkeling trip due to his age. but we will definitely go back to do this.

So now I am cutting the trip down to 7 days, so really wanting to just do Sydney and surrounding, MELB is tempting but seems a long drive. Anyone know if Port Macquarie is worth visiting? Also we are going in early August, winter dont bother us but wonder if activities like surfing will be close? I cant seem to find any info about winter=water activities.

thoughts? thanks!
autumnrain is offline  
Mar 12th, 2015, 12:48 AM
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I think you would have to surf with a wet suit even in Port Macquarie. So is your trip 7 days in Australia total?
If you wanted to come to Melbourne flying would be best otherwise it's an over 12 hour drive.
If only I had 7 days total I would stay in one area,
northie is offline  
Mar 12th, 2015, 02:10 AM
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yes, 7 days on the ground, we are going to skip melb for now and concentrate on sydney and surrounding. but what is port macquarie like?
autumnrain is offline  
Mar 12th, 2015, 08:59 AM
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How about spending a couple of days in Canberra? It's at least one-hour's less driving than to Port Macquarie and it gives you the chance to see some of the interior of the country.

There are great photo ops and wildlife viewing in Canberra. We always enjoyed hiking in Namadgi National Park and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve with our kids. If you do the easy 6km RT Yankee Hat Hike in Namadgi, you will see lots of kangaroos along the trail and at the turnaround point, there is a rock with Aboriginal drawings.

There are some great, and mostly free, museums in Canberra too. One which charges a fee (but is well worth it) is Questacon, the hands-on science museum. We could spend almost a full day there when we took our kids.

It will be a bit chilly in August in Canberra, but the skies will be clear and a brilliant blue.
longhorn55 is offline  
Mar 12th, 2015, 11:55 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Oh my, I am sorry you are not going to the GBR. Although not as intimate as the Wavelength, the Quicksilver takes even toddlers for snorkeling. There is soooo much for children in the Cairns/Palm Cove/Port Douglas area.

I love Sydney, but it can be very cool in August (it is their winter). While in Sydney, our son (he was 12 at the time) loved Luna Park, the Blue Mountains, the Sydney Aquarium in Darling Harbor and a visit to Featherdale Wildlife Park. Featherdale is smaller than the Taronga Zoo and provides many hands on experiences for kids. You take take a local train/bus to get there.

I am in the process of planning our fifth trip Downunder. I am sure your family will have fun regardless of where you go.
BarbAnn is online now  

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