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Help / guidance with Cairns to Melbourne 5 weeks itinerary -

Help / guidance with Cairns to Melbourne 5 weeks itinerary -

Old Sep 24th, 2023, 06:56 AM
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Help / guidance with Cairns to Melbourne 5 weeks itinerary -

Hi, I am new to this forum but have been reading and taking tips over the last few weeks.

I (33M) am travelling solo in a few weeks along the East Coast of Australia and am wondering if my proposed itinerary is doable or if I am trying to fit too much in? I will travel by plane where necessary and not on a huge budget constraint.

The only real non-negotiables are the weekends in Sydney and Melbourne as I have friends and family here and so seeing them would be best over a weekend rather than them taking time off work.

I am generally quite a relaxed traveller and don't mind amending my trip as I go, but I also would like to know if flight prices are significantly higher when booking a few days in advance rather than a few weeks?

Proposed trip in October:
Sunday 8 - Friday 13: Cairns (6 days)
Saturday 14 - Monday 16: Airlie Beach + Whitsundays (3)
Tuesday 17 - Thursday 19: Fraser Island (3)
Friday 20 - Saturday 21: Noosa (2)
Sunday 22 - Tuesday 24: Gold Coast (3)
Wednesday 25 - Thursday 26: Byron Bay (2)
Friday 27 - Monday 30: Sydney (4)
Tuesday 31 - Friday 3 November: Alice Spring (4)
Saturday 4 - Monday 6: Melbourne (3)
Tuesday 7 - Wednesday 8: Great Ocean Road (2)
Thursday 9: Melbourne
Friday 10: Depart for Auckland

My key questions are have I given myself enough time in the can't miss places, am I missing out not going to Brisbane, and is there a better way to incorporate Alice Springs (and is it worth making the cross country trip for)? Some important points perhaps - I am not into diving and not a huge fan of sailing as I get seasick (if this would impact Cairns / Whitsundays).

Thanks in advance



callums3953 is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2023, 11:16 PM
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It does seem too much to me. Have you booked international flights yet? And I guess you will hire a car? Airfares, domestically and internationally, always get more expensive closer to the date. If you book early, you get the best deals. I would check out hire cars as they can be expensive (since covid) and not as many available as normal, though that may have changed. The places on your list are spread over a huge distance so think about which bits you want to drive and which sectors you'd fly. You cannot take a normal vehicle to Fraser Island (it's a sand island). You can get the ferry/barge over on a day trip or stay in one of the resorts.

A suggestion is to lay out your plan with each date and where you'll spend overnight. It's easier to see how much time you have then for each place. For example if you have 3 nights in Airlie Beach - Sat 14 to Mon 16 - if you arrive Saturday and leave Monday, that only gives you the remainder of Saturday and all day Sunday. So not as much time as you'd think.

There is a lot to do from Cairns/Port Douglas that does not involve being in a boat - Daintree, Cape Trib, Mossman Gorge etc. Airlie Beach is mostly a hub for the Whitsunday Islands. If you don't want to visit the islands or do day trips by boat, perhaps not the best place to visit. Brisbane is nice but I wouldn't add it to your list.

I would drop Alice Springs as it's a long way to go for a short time and Uluru is quite a distance from Alice. Also I'd choose either Noosa (Sunshine Coast) OR Gold Coast and Byron, not both. Sunshine Coast is less built up and quieter, still with fabulous beaches and lots of places to stay/eat. Gold Coast is very built up. Byron has it's fans, I'm not one. If you're having six nights in Cairns, check out Port Douglas instead, or even Palm Cove. Cairns is a big city with no beach, lots of places to stay and cheaper. Palm Cove is small, beach is fine. Port Douglas is more expensive, lovely beach, lots of places to stay/eat (popular for a reason). Hope that helps a bit.
KayF is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2023, 12:39 AM
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Thanks for the detailed response. Will look at amending the first half of the trip accordingly.

The only confirmed bookings I have made so far are my flights into Australia (arriving 8 Oct) and out of New Zealand (departing 2 Dec). I also have made hotel bookings for Cairns, Sydney and Melbourne but on a fully refundable basis. Otherwise Iíve not booked anything else.

I will fly wherever possible to save on time, and assume I will travel by road where flights are not possible.

Would you have another suggestion for the period in between Sydney and Melbourne if not going to Alice Springs?
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Old Sep 25th, 2023, 02:29 AM
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I realised I mucked that up. You said 3 nights in Airlie Beach, which is Sat/Sun/Mon nights = arrive Sat, all day Sun, all day Mon, leave Tuesday? So you do have an extra day in the area, if that's still part of the plan.

For the days you had allocated to Alice Springs, I think I'd add them to places you are already visiting. So maybe add a day to Sydney, another to Melbourne and one or two to the Great Ocean Road. There's lots to see in Sydney, if you like coastal walks there are websites dedicated to those with maps etc. Also galleries, museums, the bridge, Opera House, ferry to Manly or other places, historic buildings, it depends on your interests.

I guess you've checked distances between places and know that Australia is a huge country? Visitors often underestimate how long it takes to get from A to B.
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Old Sep 25th, 2023, 02:16 PM
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We have a new domestic carrier which might be useful for some of your flights. Check out Bonza airlines. You will need to download their App to book.
Renting a car is a good idea for the flexibility and convenience out of major places, where public transport is usually sparse or non-existent..

As noted, Australia is a big place, but most of our 25m people live along the eastern seaboard, so inland and more remote areas can involve a bit more planning and $ to visit. Here's a map you might like:Australia – size map: https://www.virtualoceania.net/austr...ustralia.shtml
I'm sure you will be all over it, but as we've had a few people who didn't realise everyone except New Zealanders needs a Visa to visit us, I'll just add the reminder to get yours now if you don't already have it approved.

VISA FINDER: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visa...sa/visa-finder
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Old Sep 30th, 2023, 09:52 PM
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I would agree with what Kay and Bokhara have said about distances. As a starting point, check drive times between your destinations, noting that google maps is often optimistic and doesn't allow for things like stopping to check out the view, have a coffee, etc.
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Old Oct 4th, 2023, 04:12 AM
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I had a wonderful trip to Queensland several years ago, starting in the Cairns area, then Airlie Beach, and finally to Noosa where I had been before. In the Cairns area I divided my time by staying in Palm Cove and Cairns, with a trip up to Cooktown and Cape Tribulation. Spent a couple of nights at Cape Trib Beach House, which is my idea of a tropical paradise. Walked on a short path through the rainforest, which opened up to a beautiful sandy beach.

Had I to do it over I would stay in Port Douglas instead of Cairns, but from PD took a catamaran to the outer Great Barrier Reef, my main reason for going to that area. While in Cairns took the train up to Kuranda, and the cable car back down, and another day a trip to Fitzroy Island.

From Cairns I took a coach to Airlie Beach, and enjoyed a couple of days snorkelling on a dive boat from there. There are catamarans that go from there to several islands in the Whitsundays, which would be an alternative to staying at Airlie Beach.

My next stop, was to Noosa Heads, which I enjoyed so much the first time decided to go back again. Noosa has it all, with a nice beach, a national park with koalas that cause chaos when they stray into Noosa, and day trips to nearby Fraser Island. I liked the cafe culture on Hastings Street. I was never tempted to stay on the Gold Coast, preferring the more laidback atmosphere of the Sunshine Coast.
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Old Oct 10th, 2023, 05:52 AM
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To your followup question about the gap between Sydney and Melbourne, consider some reading up on the south of NSW (Kangaroo Valley, Bateman's Bay, Berry) as well as alpine regions of Victoria (Beechworth, Bright, Myrtlesford). Beautiful areas that reflect a different side to Australia than tropical or urban. The mountains are getting nice and green at the moment (but be prepared for some chill... they get snow earlier in the year)
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Old Oct 10th, 2023, 08:04 PM
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I wonder if the OP is still around. Did they get to Australia? By now, according to the original Itinerary, they should be in Cairns.
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Old Oct 12th, 2023, 03:32 AM
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Oh gosh, I was thinking this was still a pretty recent question but they did say they were leaving in a few weeks.
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