Help With Melbourne/Sydney/Cairns Itinerary

Old Feb 12th, 2006, 03:07 PM
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Help With Melbourne/Sydney/Cairns Itinerary

Hello,
My husband and I are planning a delayed honeymoon in Australia. Would anyone be willing to provide feedback on whether we've developed a realistic timeframe for our proposed itinerary?
We're flying from Chicago to San Francisco to Sydney in mid-April and plan to stay Down Under for 3 weeks (until the end of the first week in May). Our proposed stops are Sydney, Melbourne, and Cairns.
To get the best deal on Qantas' Aussie Airpass, we're flying to Sydney first. After 2 days to recover from the flight/settle in, we plan to fly to Melbourne, because I understand the weather starts to cool off there in mid-late April, so we want to get there relatively early in our trip. We plan to stay in the Melbourne area for 3-4 days. Our major interests in that area include the Great Ocean Road, koalas, and possibly the Yarra Valley.
Next, we plan to fly to Cairns and stay in that area for 6-7 days. We'd probably be arriving around April 24 and leaving April 30 (does anyone know if the school holiday schedule this year would make that a bad time to be in the Great Barrier Reef area?). Our plans are to see Cape Tribulation, do some snorkeling, and possibly visit Hinchinbrook Island.
Next, we would fly back to Sydney for about 7 days. Our plans are to visit the Blue Mountains, the Hunter Valley Wine Region, and the sites of Sydney (including Bondi, Opera House, Circular Quay). So, taking into account the 2 days on the front end, we'd be spending something like 9 days in the Sydney area.
Does this seem like a reasonable itinerary? Should we spend more time in the Great Barrier Reef area, perhaps shaving a couple days off Sydney?
Here are some other details about us: we're both fairly active, and enjoy outdoor activities such as kayaking and hiking. We both also enjoy good food. Also, I am an avid nature photographer.
Thanks in advance for any help!
laschuma is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2006, 04:32 PM
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Since you are interested in nature.

Cairns - Atherthon Tableland, Curtain Fig Tree, Paronella Park, waterfall circuit (Millaa Millaa, Zillie, Ellinjaa and Mungalli Falls, Mena falls), Crater Lake barrine

Kuranda skyrail and scenic train - beautiful rainforest experience

Sydney - Blue Mountains & Port Stephens

Can't make any suggestions for the timeline. Don't know what your budget is but since you have so much time to play with, why not visit some other areas?
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 07:59 AM
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I was rather disappointed with Port Stevens. I took the tour (three hours each way) which is a long way to go. You will love Qantas. Free wine in a glass in coach. If only the U.S. airlines could figure out how to do that.

Do you plan to do the Great Ocean Road? Could be chilly. How about Brisbane.
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 09:22 AM
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Thanks for the tips! We are definitely open to visiting other areas. Would late April be a good time to visit Ayers Rock?
Yes, we had planned to take the Great Ocean Road. Will it be too chilly in Mid/late April?
Any suggestions for must-sees in the Brisbane area?
I like the sound of a glass of wine to smooth over the bumps in our journey.
Thanks much!
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 10:11 AM
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I stayed just one night at Ayers Rock. If you can get an early flight into Ayers and a late flight out, one night should be enough. The flies were bad when I was there. Accomodations are not cheap, either. I love the BYO restaurants in Australia. I would purchase a bottle of wine at a liquor store and bring it to the restaurant. They opened it for "no charge" at most restaurants. Look for the BYO on the store sign.

As for weather, I live in Florida and it is suppose to get down to 29 in the southern parts tonight. I don't want to predict Australia's weather. But go to www.weather.com and you will find averages. Also look for sunrise and sunset times for the dates you will be there.

Are you flying over on United or Qantas?
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 11:37 AM
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Thanks, wally34949, for the BYO and Ayers Rock tips. Did you fly into Alice Springs or Ayers Rock? Any advantage to doing one or the other? Or flying into one and out of the other? How far is it to drive from Alice to the Rock?
We're flying Qantas from the USA.
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 11:57 AM
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Melbourne's weather is notoriously changeable, so don't be surprised whatever (within reason) you get. Unless it;s teeming rain, and that's not so likely in autumn, though, it shouldn't interfere with your activities.

I can understand why wally was disappointed with Port Stephens - it's a very pleasant laid-back holiday area with a lot to do (including hiking and kayaking) but you really need to chill out there for a few days to enjoy it properly. I wouldn't make a flying visit there, especially if I were heading for Cairns and surrounds.
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 02:21 AM
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Hi - I thought your original itinerary was pretty fine. It's good not to have to rush, and to be able to enjoy the odd day when you just hang loose and don't do much except get up, find somewhere interesting to have brekkie, swim a bit in the pool or walk a bit in the bush; wander; and have a good meal out in the evening!!

But if you wanted to you could visit Uluru, but it is expensive, and to be honest I wouldn't go for just one day. Wait till you come back and spend more time in the region - there's more to see than just the Rock.

re Hinchinbrook - an interesting destination. Never been there - would love to. What did you have in mind? The whole island is a Nat Park and most people who go, go to walk the walk which is graded difficult and takes several days. There may be day trips - but I suspect not.

Other places to visit in FNQ - Cooktown, Atherton tablelands, Undarra Lava Tubes. Can I also recommend for people staying in the area for a while, the trip to the Frankland Islands - not great coral but a lovely destination and a fun trip.

All the best.
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 05:02 AM
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A few responses:

9 Days in Sydney seems a bit much, even if you add in the Hunter Valley and Blue Mountains day trip. You may want to throw in a night in Canberra which is only 3 hours from Sydney.

Using you Qantas Airpass you can fly LA straight to Melbourne. If you do go via SFO, then you can only go to Sydney.

As a person from the Chicago area, you won't find Melbourne chilly in April. According to the Australian Weather Bureau, the Melborne area has average temps of 12-18 C in April (54-64F). Not tropical, but definetely not cold.

See: http://www.bom.gov.au

As for Ayers Rock, you could fly directly to Uluru from Melbourne and then onto Cairns. Alice Springs to Ayer's Rock is about 5 hours by car one-way. From what I've heard, you can see the best of Ayer's Rock in two days/1 night. Sure there is more to see, and it would be great to spend more time, but realistically, how often are you going to Australia? Go see the rock, it is a worldwide icon of Australia.

As for choosing Brisbane over Melbourne, well I think Melbourne is the more interesting place. If you are doing Northern Queensland already, then you might as well see something totally different in Victoria.

Just my opinion. You will have fun no matter what!




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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 09:05 AM
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Qantas flies from Brisbane to LAX and MEL to LAX along with SYD to LAX. I really liked Brizzy. Melbourne is nice, too, especially if you are doing the Great Ocean Road.
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