Going to Australia for a month...please help

Old Sep 19th, 2008, 01:38 PM
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Going to Australia for a month...please help

I am heading to Australia on vacation next March for a month... I decided to go there since I'll be in between jobs/moving and have friends in Perth... I will be travelling on my own (I'm in my early 30s/single) and have planned to go to Sydney and Perth so far.

I am looking at flights, and the best option seems to be the Qantus Aussie Airpass ($2100 for Sydney,Perth, Cairns, Perth from San Francisco). Regular flights from SFO to Sydney are currently at $1600, so I'm wondering if I should just wait and buy inland flights through Jetstar/Virgin, or if this option is best? When is the best time to book? I was told earlier is better, but am currently seeing fligths to Sydney for $1000 for next month.

I am planning to stay in Sydney for 4-5 days (staying at a hostel probably), then off to Perth for 1 week (at least, probably 1 1/2 since my friends are there), then wanted to see a third city....either Cairns (to snorkel the Great Barrier) or Melbourne for a few days. Then I'd return to Sydney for a few days (with possible side trip by bus/train), and back to San Francisco.

I haven't looked at specific activities I'd like to do yet, I would like to see some of the nice beaches, do snorkelling, visit Sydney...and maybe any 'do not miss' locations. Any recommendations? I might also consider going on a Contiki-type trek for one of these legs (since I'm single and it would be fun to meet people), didn't know which city/what tour though...thanks in advance!
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Old Sep 19th, 2008, 03:40 PM
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Well firstly I would go to Cairns and GBR every time over Melbourne - Melb. is just another city like every other city in the World with nothing much different whereas the GBR is different and has a wide range of things to do.
I would inclined to wait and see if you can get another fare to Perth - you could check out www.jetstar.com.au or www.tigerair.com.au ( not quite sure if that's the right web address and not sure if Tiger Air goes to Perth either. Also check on the fare from Brisbane to Perth, Cairns to Perth and Sydney to Perth because you may be able to get to Perth without fully backtracking as well.
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Old Sep 19th, 2008, 05:53 PM
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I just checked the Jetstar site and found that next March you can get to Perth from Melbourne for $149 ( I think it was $149) each way - so I would suggest that if that fits in with your plans to get that special now because it will not last.
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Old Sep 19th, 2008, 07:09 PM
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Definitely plan several days north of Cairns in the Daintree area, if you like the tropics. Great access to the Great Barrier Reef, amazing tropical ambiance. Think Hawaii--but maybe better. I think you would love it. It was my favorite part of Australia on our recent 5-week visit.

Sydney is wonderful; Perth and the southwest are also fun. We didn't get to Melbourne so can't comment on that.

We had free roundtrip tickets between San Francisco and Sydney and then did the internal flights as extras, using Jetstar and Virgin Blue. You can get fairly cheap internal fares, but if you can use the Aussie pass, it will probably save you money.


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Old Sep 19th, 2008, 07:25 PM
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Be aware that it is the wet season in Cairns at that time of year. The Daintree is a super wet area, that's why its rainforest is so special. If that is not a problem for you then it is a great time to be in the north. There are few tourists and the place is very green when the sun comes out. It does not rain all day every day, it just feels that way sometimes. The reef is best seen on a sunny day or at night.
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Old Sep 20th, 2008, 02:58 AM
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Hi there,

Re flights. That's a hard one to call, but the aussie pass at $2100 sound like a good deal to me. You might save a bit by buying the international flight later, but to score the really good deals internally you have to book early so there's a conflict there. And are you ready to commit to exact times and dates and places?

Also with the airpass you'd have more flexibility (unless the rules have altered, you can amend the timing of a flight).

Do you have any interest in non-city destinations? For many people it's what makes Australia so unique, and you did ask about "must-sees".

Uluru is one - although for me the the region is the star rather than the Rock. So I might be tempted to use the pass for SYD-PTH-Uluru-Cairns, and buy Jetstar or Virgin to return to Sydney. There are some wonderful 3-4-5 day trips you can take there for single travellers who feel like not travelling alone for a while. And the opportunity to camp under the stars is not to be missed, imho.

Or ...

From Perth go up the coast with Western Xposure. Visit the Ningaloo Reef instead of Cairns (cos as Salt says March is a borderline time to visit the GBR). Then you could maybe do SYD-PTH-MLB-SYD on the pass.

So many possibilities!

http://www.westernxposure.com.au

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Old Sep 23rd, 2008, 02:13 PM
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Great advice! Thanks...I will probably go with the Aussie pass, since I would like to stay flexible with flights. I also don't want to deal with buying 2-3 separate flights later!

I might reconsider Cairns if it's very rainy, although I'll research whether I'm smack dab in the middle of rainy season or just at the beginning.

Any suggestions on good hostels to stay at in Sydney and Cairns?

I am very much interested in outdoorsy/out of town sightseeing. Actually prefer that to citylife. I just didn't ask for options since I thought most might be driving distance from big cities...
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Old Sep 23rd, 2008, 07:22 PM
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I respectfully disagree that Melbourne is 'just another city' with nothing much to do. It's a great city to explore for a few days and is a terrific jumping off point for other parts of Australia.

If you are looking into doing some type of organized tour, I highly recommend Wayward Bus. I had a great time on their 3.5 day trek from Melbourne to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road. Groovy Grape is another tour operator that runs the same route.

Kangaroo Island is worth a visit. You can take a day tour or a group overnight, several operators offer the option.

From Adelaide, head into the Outback and go up towards Uluru/Alice Springs via train or with a tour operator like Wayward.

If you want to snorkel, head as far north in the GBR as you can. Under water visibility much better as you head north. Daintree area is great for exploring the tropics. Atherton Tablelands also worth spending some time checking out.

If you like to sail, The Whitsundays are terrific. Again, options are a day sail or join a group for an overnight sail around the islands.

Fraser Island is also a beautiful place to spend some time on an extended trip.

Outside of Sydney, the Blue Mountains makes an easy day trip, but is even better if you can spend an overnight.

For hostel reviews, check bugaustralia.com or hostelworld.com - you'll get plenty of feedback on whatever hostel you may be considering. On the whole, hostels in Australia are pretty clean and have lots of perks you don't find in most European or American hostels.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2008, 08:20 PM
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Hi Celine

As a Melbournite I can only support Melb it is perfect in March. You can still make the beaches and the Great Ocean Road (the surf coast) is a must do. Obviously we don't have the harbour that Sydney has but who needs water when you have the rest! The north is wonderful but at that time of year very hot and humid, it is the rainy season in the tropics. If you come to Melbourne in March, our footy season is about to start, don't miss an AFL game at the Melbourne Cricket (ignore the cricket bit for winter!) Ground.

Re air fares, keep and eye on Qantas, Jetstar and Tiger, you can definately get flights for a couple of hundred but that airpass seems very good value. It is often the way that the cheapest flights can be found when you are overseas.
good luck
Marg
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Old Sep 23rd, 2008, 10:29 PM
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I guess I didn't consider Melbourne as I live downtown in a fairly busy/big city (San Francisco) and am very outdoorsy.

I really want to go snorkelling (as much as possible), nice beaches, hiking possibly, and nice sightseeing. I'm also on a fairly tight budget (in case the hostel question didn't make that clear!

The YHA hostels seem nice (love their website!), so I'll probably stay there in Sydney at least. Am thinking of going to Uluru and Blue Mountains (and camp under stars?).

I guess right now my debate is whether to go to Cairns or not, if not where to go for snorkelling...
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Old Sep 24th, 2008, 04:27 AM
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Celine,

I also have travelled with Wayward Bus. From Adelaide to Coober Pedy and from Adelaide to Melbourne. They are are a top company.

So you could do Sydney - Aussie Pass to Melbourne - Wayward to Adelaide - Wayward to centre. Fly on Aussie Pass to Perth. Do a trip up to Exmouth and return, and fly back to Sydney.

But this is all a bit manic, will be expensive and flight timings might mean you waste a lot of time.

So skip Melbourne.

Re hostels - you are on the right track looking at YHA.

Camping under the stars is not an option in the Blue Mts. You need to go to the Centre for that.

I've stayed in hostels all over Australia, so if you need any more info on that please post again.

My fave in Cairns is:

http://www.dreamtimetravel.com.au/

It's in a lovely old house with an outdoor space and the option of a single room with shared bath if that interests you.
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Old Sep 25th, 2008, 12:06 PM
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I think I'm getting there with my itinerary (although havent' looked at specific activities yet)...here's what I have:

March 4th: SFO-Sydney (via Qantas)

March 4- 11:
- Hang out in Sydney, stay at YHA central.
- Blue Mountains day trip (possible overnight)

March 11-19:
- fly to Perth (Virgin) to visit friends.
- Day trips to wineries, beaches, Perth downtown.

March 20-25: Western Xposure 5 day tour from Perth to Exmouth via the Pinnacles, Kalbarri & Monkey Mia (any other recommendations if not this tour??)I especially want to go to Ningaloo reef.

March 26: fly to Sydney via somewhere? Can I get to Sydney from Exmouth somehow?

March 26-28: Sydney or other city depending on flight from Exmouth area.

March 29-30: Sydney-SFO.

Any recommendations/comments on this itinerary?? Thanks!!

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Old Sep 25th, 2008, 07:02 PM
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Remember, if you leave SF on the 4th, you'll land in Sydney on the 6th, losing a day when you cross the international date line. Don't worry though, you'll get it back on your return. Heads up when you book your international flight.
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Old Sep 26th, 2008, 08:08 AM
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Celine,

Brilliant that you're going to spend time in WA - congrats. But once you are in Exmouth you are sort of stuck. Qantas doesn't go there. There'll be a regional airline that does, but it'll be expensive and the only destination they will offer that would interest you is PERTH. So why not do the Western Xposure seven day trip, and get them to take you back?

You've obviously clicked on the link I provided. They say you can stay longer in Exmouth and join another trip back. You'd want more than one day at Ningaloo, that's for sure.

So .. leave Perth two days earlier; Wed instead of Fri.

Or pay lots to fly back from Exmouth to Perth.

The big thing you need to take on board is that Australia is an enormous country with a small population. So although we have two competing airlines for "no frills" flights, they only operate on a capital city basis. How many people want to fly direct from Exmouth to Sydney or Melbourne every year, never mind every day?

Answer? - very few.

Best of luck and write again if I can be of further assistance.
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Old Sep 28th, 2008, 11:24 AM
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Thanks Afterall...The tour looks like fun, but I guess I'm a bit worried since you seem to be the only one on this board who's done this trip! It's quite expensive (but worth the cost), so I just want to make sure it's worth it.

Also, I guess I didn't want to lose a full day spent in a bus...but taking a flight might be too expensive (I'll check).

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