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Help! Honeymoon in two weeks in Australia and Need Advice on Where to Go

Help! Honeymoon in two weeks in Australia and Need Advice on Where to Go

May 11th, 2004, 07:15 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2004
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Help! Honeymoon in two weeks in Australia and Need Advice on Where to Go

We were planning on going to Paris and Italy in late May for our honeymoon, but when we saw the great deals to Australia last week decided to change everything. The problem is we are now going to Australia in two weeks and have no idea where to go. We are flying into Sydney on Saturday evening (5/29) and leaving Sydney on Sunday morning (6/6). I have reserved and paid for a hotel room at the Sydney Harbor Marriott through Priceline for five nights (Saturday night through Wednesday night). I am starting to think that we should go somewhere else beginning Wednesday and just eat the money for one night. Where do you think we should go besides Sydney? Would you recommend New Zealand? the Barrier Reef? Any recommended itinerary would be greatly appreciated. We live in Atlanta, Georgia (U.S.A), and would like to see somewhere beautiful and different. Thanks for your patience in reading this and any advice you may have.
Atlhorn is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 07:31 PM
  #2  
 
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Do you mean you've booked to stay in Sydbney for a week - the entire lwngth of your trip.

Or have you booked a week in Sydney and then want to go somewhere else. The usual second destination is the Great Barrioer Reef. Fly to Cairns, and then stay in Cairns, Palm Cove or Port Douglas.

Check the threads here for accommodation suggestions.
margo_oz is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 07:41 PM
  #3  
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Sorry for the confusion. We will only be in Australia for a week and want to go somewhere else besides Sydney. We booked a hotel room from Saturday night to Thursday morning in Sydney but are willing to leave earlier if we are wasting our time staying in Sydney.
Atlhorn is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 09:38 PM
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Hi, Atlhorn. Well ... the Reef (along with Sydney) is Australia's premier travel destination, for good reason - but it's a long hop from Sydney (think from Atlanta to Boston?). If you leave Wednesday morning you could be in tropical Cairns for 4 nights and maybe 3 days in aggregate, which would allow you (say) a reef excursion, a day tour to Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rain Forest, a trip to Kuranda via the skytrain on the Saturday before flying back to Sydney, airlines permitting. (Check the threads for more info on these attractions). You'd certainly enjoy the experience, but you might end up frustrated that you couldn't spend more time there. NZ is a whole interesting country and you'd be selling it way short on that timetable. As for Sydney, you'd definitely not be wasting your time if you spent the whole week there - it's a great city, with a wealth of indoor and outdoor things to do and great eating. Again, check the threads for the list of usual-suspect activities, which usually includes a day trip in the nearby Blue Mountains. In fact, an overnight in a suitably cosy B&B there would be worth considering. If you also run a search on sydney +tourism you should get a few ideas.

I'd suggest my home town (Canberra, the national capital) but it's a 3-hour drive, and as you're already investing a lot of flying hours just getting from Atlanta to Sydney and back in a week, and you'd end up too knackered to do whatever honeymooners like to do (at my age it's all a bit hazy). That's the only question mark I'd put against the North Queensland idea.

On balance I think I'd suggest getting a taste of Australia in and around Sydney, and who knows - maybe deciding on a return trip to see the other good things in Oz and NZ one day when you have more time. However, if you want to squeeze as much as possible into your trip and don't mind the idea of a flying visit way up north, don't be deterred by my comments.
Neil_Oz is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 02:21 AM
  #5  
 
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Palm Cove, I can't think of anywhere better to spend part of a honeymoon


;-)

Muck
Mucky is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 03:35 AM
  #6  
 
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I'll add my vote for Sydney plus the Barrier Reef. You might be worn out by the time you are done, but it will be an unforgetable honeymoon!

(I also like Adelaide, but since you will be in Sydney, your best option is to try something more nature-oriented than another city) Enjoy! OZ is a great destination.
simpsonc510 is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 04:05 AM
  #7  
 
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Well, Atlhorn, I don't really know what I'd do if I were you, but I do agree that you should try to see more of Australia than just Sydney.... as lovely as this city is, you really don't need more than four days here to see it (you could even do a one-day Canberra trip and a day iin the Blue Mountains in the Saturday-Wednesday leg). At the same time, I really don't think I would be so rash as to write off a pre-paid night at the expensive Marriott. Maybe the Reef would be nice, but there's a lot of running around attached to a return flight to Cairns, and, as someone suggested above, you may be quite worn out at the end and feel rather cheated that you only scratched the surface of this beautiful area, while you spent quite a bit of your precious time getting from your accommodation to the airport and back again.

Here's another suggestion to use up those last few days without wearing yourself out, and at the same time you'll see a bit of Australia:

On Thursday morning, catch the cheap ($AUD99) 9:45 a.m. VirginBlue flight from Sydney to Adelaide. Only take with you carry-on luggage... surely the Marriott will look after the rest until you return on the Saturday. The Sydney airport is close to the city, and is easily accessible by train, so you won't have to check out of your hotel until 8:30. You can book this flight right here on-line at the site www.virginblue.com.au. It arrives in Adelaide at around 11:15 a.m.

You will have just under twenty-four hours to look around Adelaide, but it's a small city, you'll be fresh as daisies (it's not a long hop), and you could use your day really well.... I am sure some native Adelaidites will write in and suggest how best to use your day and where to stay.

Stay as close as possible to the main railway station. On the Friday morning at 9:30, catch the Indian Pacific train back to Sydney, via Broken Hill... a chance to see some of the outback without having to spend days and days going clear across the country. You will not spend long in Broken Hill, but you will, I think, find it interesting. Once again, you can make the booking on-line at this website:http://www.gsr.com.au/indian/index.htm. It will cost you around $AUD220 each, more if you want a sleeping compartment. The train crosses the Blue Mountains and arrives back in Sydney around 9:15 on Saturday morning, giving you one last day in Sydney and a final night at the Marriott (you might be able to book this at cheaper prices by trying www.wotif.com.au just before you leave Sydney on the Thursday morning) before your final flight out on Sunday.

I don't think you'd find that option too tiring, as the train journey would be quite relaxing (it's expensive, but the impact of this is lessened by the fact that you won't be giving up that prepaid night mid-week).

This option isn't as spectacular as the Barrier Reef, but it is more "do-able", a little unusual, and, perhaps, rather memorable. Get out a map of Australia and check Adelaide and Broken Hill to see where you'll be going... this is the fringe of the desert, an area few tourists see... and you'll be seeing it at a good time of the year (not too hot, no insects all over you).

Whatever you do, I hope you have a wonderful time in Aussie!
Alan is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 04:19 AM
  #8  
 
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Atlhorn, may I add a postscript to what I just wrote above? I realise that bookings made on Priceline are non-refundable and can't be changed, but that doesn't mean that you can't do a bit of talking to the people at the Marriott when you arrive. After all, it IS your honeymoon, and you DID give up a trip to Paris to stay with them! Maybe they'd look at you "swapping" the Wednesday night for the following Saturday, so that you could get away from Sydney on the Wednesday morning. If you decide to do the mad rush to North Queensland, that would certainly make things a little easier! Or, should you decide to do the Adelaide-Broken Hill-Indian pacific triangle, you'd have two days in Adelaide (you can't leave on the Indian pacific a day earlier, as it only runs twice a week). It wouldn't hurt to have a try... although, of course, you might find that by the time you arrived here the cheap VirginBlue fare had disappeared! Ah, the complications of travel! You'll be starting to wish you'd gone to Paris after all!
Alan is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 06:17 AM
  #9  
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Thank you very much for the advice. I am paying $115 per night for the Marriott room. In the scheme of things, it is not a big deal to lose $115 since I can never be sure that I will get back to Australia. I am more angry with myself than anything else because I pride myself on being fiscally responsible and knew as soon as I booked it that I shouldn't have included Wednesday night. Based on your recommendations thus far, I am leaning toward going to the Barrier Reef on Wednesday. So I should fly into Cairns to go to the Barrier Reef? How far is the Reef from Cairns?
Atlhorn is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 08:48 AM
  #10  
 
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I'd recommend a stay on a Queensland island for a few days after your Sydney stay. Which one would depend on your interests and budget. Seeing you would like to visit the GBR, you could go to Lizard, Lady Elliot or Heron Island which are situated right on the Barrier Reef and have a resort. Lizard would be the pick if you have the dough. Heron and Lady Elliot are similar islands (small coral cays)...Heron being the more up market. I have been to Heron on multiple occassions and would highly recommend it as a honeymoon destination and a great place to experience the GBR at your doorstep.
RalphR is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 02:32 PM
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For International visitors
Lady Elliot .........NO NO NO

Heron ...............No NO no

Apart from the fact that it is too COLD in the water there at present they do not have the infrastructure nor the surroundings to make the trip worthwhile. Also getting to either of them is more expensive as you have to go through either Bundaberg or Gladstone neither of which are on regular and frequent flight routes. Then you have to get to the islands. Besides Elliot does not have a resort.
Go north to either the Whitsundays - Hamilton or Hayman or to Lizard, Hinchinbrook, and a couple of others further north where it is warmer.
Get on www.webjet.com.au for cheap short holidays or www.qantas.com.au which flies right into Hamilton and has more frequent flights everywhere else.
OR stay in Sydney and do some day trips around when you have run out of things to do there. But it is winter there then and take that into consideration.
lizF is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 05:15 PM
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Agree 100% with Liz, far too cold on southern end of Reef at this time of year and if you have bad weather there's nothing else to do on either island.
pat_woolford is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 07:33 PM
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Heron...Yes, yes, YES. Even in the dead of winter (July), it is generally very nice. Daytime highs well into the 70s. Shorts and tee-shirts every day. Water is cool not cold, just rent a shortie wet suit for extended snorkels and dives. May should be really nice, a bit warmer too, air and sea. Of course a bad stretch of weather can always happen and this can go for anywhere along the coast.

As to whether there's enough to do -depends on the visitor. It's a quiet and very beautiful place to relax and get away from it all. Besides the superb snorkeling and diving, there's a semi-sub, the wonderful Wilson Island day trip, reef walking, fishing boat trips, helicopter rides (the reef is awesome seen from the air.), tennis. During winter months humpback whales are frequent visitors.

Been to Heron 5 times (during "winter"-June-Aug) and would surely go back again. We've always gone for 5 nights. Our kids love it too.

We've always driven up from Brisbane - about 5 hrs. Can't speak for the fare, but there is indeed regular air service to Gladstone from Brisbane.

Ralph R, CT, USA


RalphR is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 10:26 PM
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OK Ralph - a CT winter is a vastly different thing to a southern Queensland one but Liz and I are both live in Queensland and to us it's cold! I wouldn't out on reef today even from Cairns without a full wet suit. Even though it is sunny and 78F there's a chilly autumnal wind. But then I think my blood has thinned from living in the tropics!
pat_woolford is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 01:22 AM
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Ralph, you may like Heron and so do I but it does not stack up against other islands on the GBR. The birds are noisy, it is a very, very small island and there is absolutely nothing else to do if it is raining, as Pat says. You cannot see other interesting things like Daintree, Atherton Tablelands, and the areas that are around Cairns. Gladstone is a dreadful town. The area from Rockhampton to Fraser Island was my stamping ground for 22 years so I know it well and I used to spend a lot of time on the other islands and coastal areas of QLD in all seasons. I have absolutely no vested interest where anyone holidays but as a proud Australian I would rather see people leave having had a great time and not just a good time. That to me is the difference.
If for instance someone asked me if they should go skiing in Tasmania or New Zealand I would 100% go for NZ because it is better - both have snow but NZ is better. Likewise the southern colder end of the GBR v the Northern Tropical end of the GBR, the latter is better but that is not to say that I, you or anyone else would not like the south, probably would, but one would be much more likely to like the northern end best.
As for the flights: sure there are flights into Bundaberg and Gladstone but as neither of those towns are on the regular runs the relative distance cost is far greater than going somewhere that has a bigger and better service. The thought of getting into Gladstone and missing the transport to Heron on a particular day would fill me with dread, I couldn't think of a worse place to be stuck in and that could be the case if someone is getting a flight from Sydney to Gladstone via Brisbane.
lizF is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 03:24 AM
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Atlhorn, As you are going to so much trouble to come to the land of OZ why don't you have a look at just a couple of special places.

Sydney is a city, thats it, a city no more no less except for the beautiful harbour you might as well be in Minsk.

Sydney 2 days , honestly that is enough to walk on the Harbour bridge.

Gold Coast 2 days to see some of the most beautiful beaches in the country with a little night life as well.

Cairns 2 days, visit Lizard Island one day and then rainforest on day 2.

Then fly back to sydney to connect with your flight out.

At least then you will see and experience some of the most beautiful places on the East Coast.

Not many but some.

fsg
fivestargirl is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 03:29 AM
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Liz: For one the birds are only a "problem" on Heron during the nesting season Nov-Mar, an important point you fail to mention. Weather would be a problem on any non-commerciallized island in terms of things to do.

Granted Gladstone is not a holidaymakers dream, but it is not the destination. And besides, Cairns, the city, would hardly be a place I'd want to spend much time either.

I disagree entirely that there are not other interesting things to see in the area, though they a bit more spread out. Quite the contrary...Fraser Island is wonderful - totally different to the reef islands. Inland, there are also some very pretty and, I might stress, non-commercialized places, such as Cania Gorge and the magnificent Carnarvon Gorge, one of the best kept secrets in Australia, in my opinion.

In any case, I was only suggesting to the original poster a great place to go for 2-3 days. So what there is to do on the mainland is immaterial.

Like you, I have no vested interest in recommending a Heron or anywhere else. And in terms of what is "best", Heron Island is unquestionably the best resort alternative to Lizard Island for seeing the Barrier Reef. Hamilton, Hayman, Hinchinbrook, Brampton (which I have been to), etc, etc. are not coral islands - a longish boat ride is still needed to see the reef. Green Island near Cairns (been there too) is a reef island but is unfortunately overrun with daytrippers - not a problem with Heron or Lady Elliot.

As for May temps, how can 70's and 80's be cold to anyone? Yes the water could require you wear a shorty wetsuit but it's a good idea to wear one anyway to avoid coral scrapes.

Our neighbors here in CT did a trip to Aus last year..beside Sydney and the Gold Coast, they spent 3 nights on Heron and 6 nights in Port Douglas. What was the highlight of their entire trip? Heron Island.
RalphR is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 05:13 AM
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Ralph, you have expressed your views expertly and convincingly, and you have taught me a few things I didn't know about the islands on our reef. But, reading your post, and the one from Liz which inspired it, one comment from Liz stuck in my mind, so I went away and did a google search. This is what I came up with re transport from Gladstone to Heron Island:

"The majority of registrants are travelling as a group from Brisbane to Heron Island. The Brisbane-Gladstone-Brisbane flights connect with the daily catamaran service from Gladstone to Heron Island. The catamaran travel is included in the accommodation cost.
It is crucial that registrants arrange to be at Brisbane domestic airport in time to connect with the flight to Gladstone. Failure to do so will mean arriving at Heron Island a day later.

There is only one catamaran service to the island each day. Registrants who are not on the group flight must ensure they arrive at Gladstone marina at least 30 minutes prior to the catamaran's scheduled departure."(http://www.arch.usyd.edu.au/kcdc/con.../info-new.html)

I note that the plane to Gladstone goes from Brisbane. So now, poor Atlhorn has an extra set of problems to co-ordinate: plane from Sydney to Brisbane; plane from Brisbane to Gladstone (and it must be the RIGHT flight); connecting catamaran to Heron. And exactly the same going back. One mistake and a whole day has vanished, which would be a disaster on the return journey, as Atlhorn has to connect with a flight back home! All of these connections, with the "in transit" times to account for, add up to very little time for sightseeing, even if everything goes smoothly. But, if it were me... I wouldn't be in it. In fact, the ONLY north-Queensland airport I would fly into from Sydney if time were so crucial (as it is in Atlhorn's case) is Cairns, because there are so many flights in (at least four a day)... and out. Now, Liz, if Atlhorn flies to Cairns, what's the easiest GOOD island to get to, with no hassles about "one launch a day, and if you miss it, wait till tomorrow"? Surely this is more important than choosing the "best" island, which, as is quite evident from the above posts, is a very subjective matter!

Cairns is, I think, a four-and-a-half hour flight from Sydney. Gladstone, with its change in Brisbane, would be significantly more. Either way, is the prize worth the journey? With all the good points being made about the Reef, no one has yet convinced me that this is the best option for Atlhorn's last few days in Australia. Frankly, I think a honeymoon couple may have more fun just hopping on the train to Lithgow, then hiring a car and driving around some of the inland towns, around Forbes or Wellington, or Parkes. No traffic to worry about, plenty of interesting old hotels to stay in (some over 120 years old), and lots of unique characters to meet (some almost 120 years old)! And when they return the car to Lithgow, they know there will be a train every hour, and they'll be back in Sydney in under three hours.

Atlhorn: if you do go to the Reef, please make sure you have ALL your transport organised, so you will be in no danger of being stranded. Liz's reservations are always worth looking at twice!
Alan is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 05:26 AM
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Alan: valid point...timing with the cat to Heron can sometimes mean a night in Gladstone. But there is a helicopter service to Heron...faster, smoother and great views of the reef. And this runs multiple times during the day according to demand, ensuring connections to Brisbane can be made without an unneccessary waste of a night.
RalphR is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 05:31 AM
  #20  
 
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Well, Ralph, that's an important point... but I didn't find that helicopter on my Google search, and it may be something that Atlhorn would be wise to "brush up" on before proceeding further. So can you tell us how one can find details on times, costs, departure points, etc?
Alan is offline  

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