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-   -   great barrier reef (https://www.fodors.com/community/australia-and-the-pacific/great-barrier-reef-284794/)

Berina Jan 16th, 2008 12:22 PM

great barrier reef
 
I am going to Australia in March. I will be staying in Melbourne for five days, five days in Sydney and I also plan on visiting the Great Barrier Reef for another five days. I got Melbourne and Sydney covered, but I am not sure about the Reef yet. I am traveling alone and I want to have a good time but also be safe.

I was thinking about making Cairnes my main station and then do trips from there. Is there a better place for a central location or is Cairnes ok? Any ideas on accommodations? It doesn't need to be anything fancy but I also dont' want it to be a dump either. I would be there between 03/12,13 through 03/17.

I would like to see as much as possible. I am not a diver, so I would do some snorkeling. I was also thinking about doing some day trips to the islands around there. Any ideas on what to do or see or what the best companies would be to book with?

How would you spend five days there?

I would appreciate any advice. Thanks, Berina

LizzyF Jan 16th, 2008 01:10 PM

Book yourself in at Lilybank B&B which is owned by Pat and Mike Woolford ( Pat is always giving out information about everything around Cairns on this site) and not only will you be safe but you will be with people who know the area like the back of their hand and can tell you, and book for you, all the best things to see and do so that your holiday will be more than special. The website is [email protected]

longhorn55 Jan 16th, 2008 01:50 PM

I'd base myself in Port Douglas which is about 45 minutes north of Cairns. You can arrange for coach transportation to and from the Cairns airport and you won't need a car once you get to PD because there are local buses and you can walk almost everywhere.
I like PD because it's got a great beach (Four Mile Beach) and Cairns doesn't. There are also lots of boats in PD that do trips to the Outer Reef (as well as to the Low Isles if you prefer that). If you are just interested in snorkeling, you can't beat Wavelength, a snorkel-only boat that carries a maximum of 30 passengers. I've gone out with other boats, but keep coming back to Wavelength (5 times).
If you are traveling alone and want a safe, yet fun place to stay, I'd recommend that you look at a hostel. I've walked by several of the hostels in PD and they look like nice places to stay. You can also arrange for trips to Mossman Gorge, Daintree, etc. through the hostel.

AmanteDelLimoncello Jan 16th, 2008 02:13 PM

Another vote for Port Douglas- everything there or easy to get from there. We have stayed a week there with no car and it was not a problem.

Berina Jan 17th, 2008 11:04 AM

Thank you so much for your input. I have definitely decided to stay in Port Douglas.

As far as the accommodations, would you recommend Archipelago Studio Apt. or Beach Terraces Holiday Apts? These prices seem ok and the location seems to be pretty central. Am I correct on this?
Longhorn, you also mentioned hostels. Which one would you recommend instead of one of the hotels?

Also, what company would you recommend to go see Low Isles and Mossman Gorge and Daintree. There are many options and I just wanted to see if anyone has any recommendations on that one? Wavelength has come up in numerous searches for the one day snorkeling trips, so I am definitely planning on using it.

Thanks for all the help. Berina

pat_woolford Jan 17th, 2008 03:04 PM

Hi Berina

Archipelago is probably the better location, as its on Macrossan St (main street in PD) and very near 4 mile beach. Beach Terraces are a little further, but there's not much in it.

Backpackers is Port O'Call, its a bit further away, about 15 minute walk to town and 10 minute to beach. Close to it is Pink Flamingo, a funky and fun place to stay at reasonable prices - www.pinkflamingo.com.au

All of these properties have tour desks where local operators can give you unbiased advice on reef and rainforest trips. It can be very wet in March, and with their local knowledge will be able to pick the right trip for the right day.

Have a great trip.

Berina Jan 17th, 2008 04:14 PM

Thanks Pat. So, would you recommend just to book the hotel now and wait until I'm in Port Douglas to schedule the tours? You don't recommend booking it beforehand?

lerasp Jan 17th, 2008 09:26 PM

isn't it a jelly-fish season in March in that area? We were warned not to swim from shore, although strangely diving from boat was ok. i don't get it. in any case, waves were big enough that i didn't know how to get into the water from shore.

pat_woolford Jan 18th, 2008 02:43 AM

Bernina, its quite safe to wait until your in PD before booking a reef tour - March is off-season. Whilst sometimes a boat may be out of the water for maintenance before high season; there'll always be another - trust the local accommodation operators - its their business to know what is going on when.

lersap, nothing strange about it - marine stingers frequent coastal areas in FNQ from about Nov-April, sometimes later. The coast is not the GBR, which is at least a one and a half hour boat ride out (depending on speed of vessel).

Its most unusual for waves at PD to be too be big enough not to be able to enter sea from shore (hopefully this was not in stinger season) as FNQ is protected by GBR from surf.

Berina Jan 18th, 2008 07:28 AM

so, as far as the jelly fish problem goes...... i read that there are special nets put around shores to keep them out. is this true or will i not be able to go inot water at the four mile beach? that would really be a bummer.. :((

oliverandharry Jan 18th, 2008 08:57 AM

We stayed 4 days at Archipelago in 2006. One block to beach, easy walk to town. Clean apt., we had a nice balcony, the front desk folks were good. Only drawback was the stairs - we had too much luggage (a month long trip) for no lift!

Berina Jan 18th, 2008 09:22 AM

thanks oliver and harry. i think i'll book my room there. they have different ones, depending on if it's a garden level or with balcony or sea view. can you tell me if you saw any differences? is it worth the upgrade?

pat_woolford Jan 18th, 2008 03:58 PM

Bernina, stinger nets in NQ go nowhere near covering a whole beach, they're just small netted enclosures,about the size of a large swimming pool, used from about November to May.

They're designed to keep out potentially lethal box jelly fish; and so far have not proved effective for the smaller irukandji jellyfish which can fit through the mesh. In fact a couple of weeks ago 4Mile Beach at PD was closed because of irukandji found by lifesavers IN the stinger net enclosure.

This is the reason that towns such as Airlie Beach, Townsville, Cairns have built enormous saltwater stinger-proof swimming lagoons, adjacent to the sea, but not in it.

Also no stingers at places like Mossman Gorge where there's clear, cool fresh water running down from the mountains behind. And of course nearly all accommodation operators provide a pool.

Berina Jan 23rd, 2008 10:46 AM

so, i have another question for the people who did stay at archipelago apts.
three days ago, i went online to book a room and i gave it all of my credit card information. i didn't get a confirmation saying it's been booked or anything like that. instead, i got a message we'll get back to you shortly. i tried emailing them today as well and still no answer. given, today, with the time difference, they might have not even gotten it yet.
my question is if this is normal? does it usually take a few days to get a room confirmation at this place? i don't want my credit card info out there, especially if i don't end up with a room. and on the other hand, i'll have to find another place to stay if they're all booked.
thanks for help, Berina

Berina Jan 23rd, 2008 02:50 PM

Never mind, I finally heard back from them and my room has been booked :) Thanks!


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