GOR+KI or Cairns in December?

May 20th, 2004, 03:07 PM
  #1  
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GOR+KI or Cairns in December?

I am going to be in Melbourne for a conference in early december. I'll stay for 7 to 10 days in OZ after the conference. Where should I spend my time? I am considering great ocean road, Kangaroo Island and possible Flinders Range or Cairns/Port Douglas. Thank you for your help!
alisa23 is offline  
May 20th, 2004, 05:17 PM
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Alisa,

Two very different experiences, so it's hard to compare! As your going to be in Melbourne, distance-wise, doing the Great Ocean Road, Flinders & K.I. are certainly easily done from your Melbourne location. If you decide on Kangaroo I highly recommend getting a touring company/guide as you'll see so much more than trying to explore on your own. They have access to private land for optimum animal encounters in the wild that you wouldn't have on your own.

For Cairns/Port Douglas area you could fly there and easily spend a week or more; lots of options. It really depends on where your interests lie and what you'd most like to see!

Melodie
Certified Aussie Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
May 21st, 2004, 06:58 AM
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Is it going to be uncomfortable in Cairns in December?
alisa23 is offline  
May 21st, 2004, 07:44 AM
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>>>>>>Is it going to be uncomfortable in Cairns in December?<<<<<<

I think it depends on the weather that you're used to.

I grew up in a corner of Southern Africa that had very hot, humid summers. I have no recollection of this bothering me as a child.

For many years, however, I've lived in Calgary, which has a dry climate. I've found that I've lost my tolerance for humidity. When we went on an 18 month expat assingment to Houston a few years ago, I suffered terribly (although the climate was very similar to the one that hadn't bothered me as a child and teenager).

Check out the monthly climate statistics for Cairns at this website:

http://syd.australia.com/about_austr...aust?L=en&C=NL

As you can see from that, December already is feeling the effects of The Wet to some extent, but the full onslaught of The Wet typically occurs in January, February and March.

Fodorites who live in Far North Queesland have reported that last January, February and March were relatively dry, and The Wet arrived very late, bringing its torrential downpours in April.

The only time I've been to Cairns has been in July, when the temperature was in the 70s, and the humidity was at a pleasant level. So I haven't experienced it in December when it undoubtedly would be uncomfortably humid for me.

But, having seen the Great Barrier Reef and even knowing that December would be uncomfortable for a person who was anything like me, I would STILL recommend taking the opportunity of seeing the GBR if that person thought there was little chance of their returning to Australia any time soon. It is with good reason that they call the GBR one of the wonders of the world. Combine that with the fascinating tropical rainforest and mangrove swamp ecosystems, as well as the dry "Outback" that one can glimpse not too far inland from Cairns, and one has an extremely varied and interesting destination.

But the southern coast of Australia is beautiful and interesting too, so it's really tough to make a recommendation. As Melodie said, it really depends on what you want.

By the way, just by way of a warning, don't assume Melbourne's weather will be perfect either. I lived there for 2.5 years, and I absolutely love Melbourne and its environs. But its weather is very changeable. You know those sayings about experiencing four seasons in one day or if you don't like the weather don't worry because it'll change in ten minutes anyway? Well, they certainly apply to Melbourne. In my experinece, it depended on the wind direction. If the wind came from the south it had an Antarctic chill to it even in summer. If it came from the north it brought the desert heat with it.

We watched television coverage of the Australian Grand Prix, which takes place in Melbourne every year, in early March 2004. Mercifully the day of the race was 65 deg F, but the previous day had been something like 110 deg F. My husband and I just looked at each other. We well remembered the occasions when we had experienced those wild fluctuations in Melbourne.

Another thing about Melbourne is that the timing of summer's arrival varies a great deal from year to year. The first year we were there, spring arrived early, and the weather was delightful all through October, November and December. The next year, it was cool right up to a couple of days before Christmas, and then it jumped to 97 deg F for Christmas Day. That's the limitation with guidebooks and websites that give monthly average temperatures. You look at Melbourne's average temperature for December, see it's 75 deg F, and that sounds very pleasant. What the website doesn't tell you is that, on a given day, it could be scores of degrees on either side of 75 deg F. If I understand this correctly, temperatures in Cairns end to be more stable than those in Melbourne.

My husband was back in Sydney and Melbourne in November and early December 2003, and he said both cities were decidedly cool until a couple of days before his departure.

The one thing I'll say in Melbourne's favour, though, is that when it experiences heat it tends to be a dry heat, as the wind direction tends to be from the desert during hot weather.

I don't want to scare you unduly. In addition to the temperature spikes mentioned above, Melbourne also does experience lots of temperate weather. But if you're going there in December you'd be well advised to pack some hot weather clothes and some coolish weather clothes.

If you had 10 days to spend after your conference, you actually could split it between the southern coast of Australia and Far North Queensland. I think it would be feasible to spend 3 days driving from Melbourne to Adelaide along the GOR, fly to Cairns, spend maybe 5 days in FNQ, and perhaps even squeeze in a day or two in Sydney whose harbour is absolutely stupendous. (Kangaroo Island is not the only place to see Australia's native animals. One can see them in many other places, including FNQ.)

I'm sure you were hoping for assistance in simplifying your options. I hope I haven't made the choices too complicated for you now. It all goes back to what Melodie said and that is what appeals to you the most.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 21st, 2004, 09:01 AM
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Given your starting point, the time of year, I'd go for the GOR and KI. Be warned the Flinders Ranges are typically VERY hot in summer, but it is a dry heat. A trip to Tasmania would be worth considering as a possible alternative or add-on. We went there in early Jan and the weather was lovely. December would be similar I would think.
RalphR is offline  
May 21st, 2004, 09:57 AM
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Thank you for your suggestions! Here is what I am looking for in the order of preference:
1) unique experinces (not urban though)
2) animals
3) nature
4) beach
alisa23 is offline  
May 21st, 2004, 12:48 PM
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There are animals + nature + beaches in many places in Australia, but the GBR is unique.

I just looked up a website that lists humidity in Cairns by month. The mean relative humidity at 9 am in December is 70%.

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averag...w_031011.shtml

I then looked up Houston, which is my reference point for hot, humid weather. Lo and behold, I discovered Houston was considerably more humid than Cairns. Houston's morning humidity in June (the equivalent of the southern hemisphere in December) is 92%. I still don't know if I can believe the differences, and if it's the same thing that's being measured, but anyway here is the website for Houston:

http://www.cityrating.com/cityhumidity.asp?City=Houston

Searching the same website, I see that Washington, DC's relative humidity on a June morning is 84%.

Melbourne's mean 9 am relative humidity in December is 60%.

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averag...w_086071.shtml

Hobart, Tasmania has the same level of relative humidity in December as Melbourne has:

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averag...w_094029.shtml

Hobart's mean daily maximum temperature for December is 68 deg F.

I agree with Ralph that the GOR + KI would be a great trip, and I also think his idea of seeing Tasmania is inspirational.

But, to flog a dead horse, the GBR is unique, IMO.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 21st, 2004, 05:08 PM
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Not to be argumentative Judy, the GBR is amazing, and I have been stunned by the incredible underwater treasures it holds, but I wouldn't characterize it as the most unique of Australian experiences. What is most unique about the GBR is it's huge size - it is over 1000 miles long. But there are other great reef systems in the world to be seen and for N. Americans, the Caribbean (Cayman, Belize, Bonaire) offers similar possibilities much closer to home.

But koalas, kangaroos, platypuses, Tasmanian Devils, emus, kookaburras, cockatoos, wombats, crimson rosellas, galahs, etc.....can't see them anywhere else but Australia and Indonesian islands east of the Wallace Line. (Just read about the Wallace Line and have been dying for an excuse to use that term!)

That's why I'd go for the GOR, KI and Tassie.
RalphR is offline  
May 21st, 2004, 05:26 PM
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Alisa,

Now that you've defined your preferences a bit, I'm going to side with Ralph and recommend Tasmania as your destination after Melbourne. I would take it over K.I any day, and you WILL be able to have that unique experience (I have a guide I use that will give you the MOST unique experience you'd ever want!).

You'll have amazing scenery, a huge variety of wildlife, and nearly secluded beaches. As Tassie is small, you'll also be able to get a number of different experiences and cover alot of the area to get a feel for it.

Let us know what you decide!

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Aussie & Tasmania Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
May 23rd, 2004, 12:00 AM
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You've had some great advice Ailsa - could I just add that it will be VERY uncomfortable in Cairns in December humidity wise. I know because I live in the area and after 30 years have still not got used to the oppressive, sticky climate at that time of year. It could also be wet which adds to the discomfort even though it is not a "cold" rain.

Personally I would opt for the southern part of the continent and come back mid year to explore the tropical north! Happy days!
Kanga is offline  
May 23rd, 2004, 12:37 PM
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I really appreciate your suggestions. I have a couple more questions. What do you think about Flinders Range? Is it worth driving there for a couple of days to get a different experience from K.I. or Tasmania?

What makes Tasmania unique? My thoughts about Tasmania have been biased by a couple of friends who told me that they liked Tasmania because it looked like England. Any comments?
alisa23 is offline  
May 23rd, 2004, 10:49 PM
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Flinders Ranges are absolutely amazing and you will certainly have a different experience to KI or Tasmania. They are rugged and intensely beautiful - often pictured in Albert Namatjira's art. If you are conscious of time, though, I would opt for Tasmania. The climate will be more comfortable at that time of year and it is unique for many reasons and not only because "it is like England". It is an island state and there is a lot of history there from early settlement and convict days. Some wonderful old architecture, great food and wine, seafood is plentiful and you have beaches and mountains to explore. The northern part of the island is quite different to the far south and the west is a surprise and only accessible in recent years. Try to spend some time in Strahan and do the Franklin River trip. Coles Bay and the Freycinet Peninsula are probably my favourite but then Cradle Mountain offers wildlife and stunning scenery and lakes.
It is very easy to drive there - the roads are excellent, especially in the south and the World Heritage Areas are breathtaking. Go for it!
Kanga is offline  
May 25th, 2004, 11:49 AM
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How many days is a bare minimum for Tasmania?
alisa23 is offline  
May 25th, 2004, 01:39 PM
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My only trip to Tassie was for 5 nights/4 full days. It wasn't enough but then again I think I got a pretty decent feel for the place. Surely more like England than a lot of mainland Australia, but then again there are plenty of differences too. (It reminded me more of NZ actually.) The Gordon River cruise, Hobart, the drive up Mt Wellington, The Nut (Stanley) and Port Arthur were the highlights for us. Missed Cradle Mt, Freycinet Peninsula, and, I'm sure, quite a lot of other great places.
RalphR is offline  

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