How is this itinerary?

Jul 15th, 2015, 03:32 PM
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How is this itinerary?

First, I apologize for this being so lengthy.

DH and I will be in Australia next March for 23 nights. We have both been before (me 5 times, DH 3 times) but it has been about 17 years since our last trip. We are flying in and out of Sydney, using FF miles for business-first class so hopefully we will be rested and ready to hit the ground running when we get there. Now that our international flights are booked (leaving NYC March 11, return April 5) I am looking to put together an itinerary so I can book flights within Australia and, then, hotels. Does this itinerary look good?

March 13-16: Sydney- 4 nights (thinking of renting a car the day after we arrive and driving to either the Blue Mts. or Hunter Valley for a one night stay and then back to Sydney for two nights).

March 17-18: Uluru- 2 nights (thrilled that there are now non-stop flights from Sydney to Uluru. There weren't when I was last there).

March 19-22: Darwin/Kakadu- 4 nights, thinking of two nights in Kakadu, or, maybe drive to Kakadu from the airport and spend three nights there, and then March 22 in Darwin. Or, two nights Kakadu, one night Darwin, add a night somewhere else.

March 23-26: Melbourne- 4 nights. Possibly a night or two in some surrounding area?

March 27-April 1: Tasmania- 6 nights. Start in Launceston and end in Hobart, or, vice-versa.

April 2-4: Sydney- 3 nights. Fly home April 5.

23 nights seemed like so many to have to fill, but now it's not looking like so much! I want to avoid going to airports every couple of days.

Questions: Is perhaps one night at Uluru enough? I have been there, DH has not. I remember flying in and getting there early afternoon, taking a walk through the Olgas that afternoon, going to see Uluru at sunset, and doing a sunrise at Uluru the following morning, and then a walk around the base before flying out to Darwin. Neither of us have any desire to climb Uluru, for various reasons, chief among them is the Anangu people prefer people do not. So maybe two nights there is not necessary?

We have been to Kakadu and really loved it. Twice as a day trip from Darwin, which was way too rushed, and once for one night at the Crocodile Hotel. We really enjoyed that. Two nights seem like it would give us time to see more. Or, is there someplace similar to Kakadu that is driving distance from Darwin? Or perhaps from Alice Springs? We have no interest in going to Alice and staying. I realize we may need to fly through Alice from Uluru. Likewise, we have been to Darwin several times and were not terribly impressed, so one night is enough, unless things have drastically changed since 1998 or so.

Is there any place that is a good day or overnight trip from Melbourne that you would recommend? We have been to Ballarat and while enjoyable, would probably not go back, unless it is on the way to somewhere else. Are there any wineries around the Melbourne area? We enjoy going to wineries and enjoyed our overnight in Hunter Valley way back in 1992.

Lastly, we have driven around Tasmania twice before, I think for 5 nights both times. We have been to Port Arthur twice, but the first time, I was feeling lousy, and the second time, it was pouring rain. I am hoping the third time is the charm! We have been to Russell Falls, Cradle Mountain for one night (really loved that and may go back. We even saw a platypus in the wild there). Have walked Cataract Gorge, twice, and spent time in both Launceston and Hobart. Are there any other must sees in Tassie? I do plan on reading some guide books (I have a couple of new ones), but it's always a good idea to see what people in Fodorville think.

Thanks for any and all help!
laurieco is online now  
Jul 15th, 2015, 03:55 PM
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Have you been to Katherine ? It's 300 km or 3 hours drive south of Darwin and home to Nitmulik National Park (Katherine Gorge). You can access from Kakadu by sealed roads, so could do it after a night at Jabiru. The gorge is beautiful and you can canoe or take a boat tour.

Litchfield NP is about 1 hour south of Darwin. I didn't find it as stunning as Kakadu, but it does have some waterfalls and swimming holes which are pleasant.

Around the Melbourne area, the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula are great spots for wineries.
sartoric is offline  
Jul 15th, 2015, 04:48 PM
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For TAS, Freycinet, Stanley, St Helens (Binalong Bay) and more of Cradle Mountain would be my suggestion.

Did you visit the Huon Valley and Mt Wellington from Hobart previously?
Melnq8 is online now  
Jul 16th, 2015, 02:38 AM
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An overnighter from Melbourne - I would see the Great Ocean Road - or go the other way and see Cape Otway and Philip Island.

There is a new museum in Tasmania called MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) - it is amazing.

Your idea to drive out of Sydney is a good one but I would head to the seldom visited South Coast. It is utterly gorgeous. Kiama, Jervis Bay and Batemans Bay never see overseas tourists. There is a beach on Jervis Bay called Hyams Beach which has the whitest sand in the world. Some information is here:
Blueeyedcod is offline  
Jul 16th, 2015, 07:07 AM
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Bruny Island was one of our favorite spots in Tasmania. Huon Valley is also nice.

Also it sounds like you haven't been to the east coast of Tasmania?
Patty is online now  
Jul 16th, 2015, 09:43 AM
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indiancouple have a great TR covering parts of the same itinerary, which might help with some of your trip:
annhig is offline  
Jul 18th, 2015, 07:24 AM
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laurico, March is still technically the Wet in Darwin/NT, you might like to factor that in and be flexible, depending on how the season has been.

This year there were late cyclones and tropical lows well into March that caused a bit of damage and disruption in the Top End, but Darwin was fine (if a bit soggy at times). Other years the Wet is over by February.

Litchfield NP is my pick if you just want a day out of Darwin driving yourselves, it's beautiful to get away from Darwin before daybreak and see it in the early morning as the light is coming up (about 90mins drive on sealed roads).

Or there are day trips to Mary River (2hrs) or stay at one of the lodges there if you want an overnight stay in croc territory plus a spot of barramundi fishing. I personally wouldn't bother much with Kakadu if you have been there a couple of times previously. Not much has changed.

One other suggestion out of Darwin is an overnight trip to the Tiwi Islands with the local indigenous people. It's by permit so you have to go through them, but they are lovely and it's a place you can't see on your own. NT Tourism will organize that for you.

Overnight or by day from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsular each have very good wineries, food, nice places to stay.

Tasmania, if you have been there before and are spending 6 nights, how about Freycinet Peninsular for a night or two and walk to Wineglass Bay and around the Hazards, if you haven't done that previously? Or from Launceston drive up the Tamar River Valley, many fine wineries along that route.

Also from Launceston, you could drive west via Deloraine, which is probably the prettiest town anywhere in Tasmania in location, and rich in the food and arts community there. From there on to the north-west to Stanley and Wyndham for a bit of the wild Bass Strait, or south-west to Mole Creek, Lemonthyme, Cradle Mountain, Strahan. Six days would do that.

Hope this helps with your planning. Through business and family we get to these places often enough to be current. Lots of good recommendations from other posters above, as well.

btw, If you haven't been to Australia in 17 yrs, Sydney is a bit of an ordeal these days due to traffic and pressure of numbers. The airport is a shocker. Do some research. We live about 150km from there and fly from our regional airport to Brisbane 800km north for international flights.
mareeS55 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2015, 09:18 AM
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Thanks for the replies! I have a lot to consider. We really loved Kakadu and didn't do it justice in the short time we were there. Really, the longest was just an overnight and there were other places within Kakadu that we never got a chance to get to. Tiwi Islands in definitely worth considering, as is Katherine.

Good suggestions for Tasmania. Out of Melbourne, we will most likely opt for the wineries. I've done the Great Ocean Road and Philip Island. DH hasn't but I don't feel a need to go back. I'll ask DH what he thinks though.

Every time I went to Australia, planning the trip was always a logistical nightmare, before the internet and after. I really hope it's a bit easier now, but with so many choices and limited time, it won't be easy. With Europe, we are so close from NYC that it isn't a big deal to keep going back. Australia is another story...
laurieco is online now  
Jul 18th, 2015, 12:29 PM
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Just thinking about your Uluru-Darwin leg, the shortest flights I could see was about 5 hrs, one arriving around 3pm & the other close to midnight.

Unless I've missed something, I wonder whether you might want to allow an extra day here to fit everything in.

Looks like a great trip in the making.

I understand what you mean about Europe being easier to plan from the US. Not only is it closer ( and so cheap to get there), but most countries are only the size of a decent sized cattle station in the Top End
Bokhara2 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2015, 12:49 PM
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Yikes! 5 hours to get to Darwin from Uluru? That's nuts. Even if we fly through Alice? Or, is it 5 hours flying through Alice? You would think there would be better flights between the two.
laurieco is online now  
Aug 10th, 2015, 07:46 PM
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Hi Laurie,

On your overnight question out of Melbourne, I second the Yarra Valley area.

Half my days seem spent out there so I don't sleep over. So no hotel recs. It's a pretty area though. Closer to the city than Ballarat. A lot of wineries (Pinot Noir the main grape). Cider (apple and pear) is big too. And if you haven't been, Healesville Sanctuary in the YV is a good place to see some native animals in enclosures cut from the local bushland.

Mornington is good too, but not as scenic IMO and the wineries are a little further apart. There ARE great views at the coast of the Mornington Penn. This is "our" beach:

But the wineries stop before you get that far south, as far as I know.

Do go see the Blue Mountains... which are not mountains at all, but rather a collapsed plateau. Really pretty and different than the usual mountain views. We walked the valley floor where lyrebirds crossed our path just ahead.
CounterClifton is offline  
Aug 11th, 2015, 05:35 PM
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laurieco-as far as I can see the flights to Darwin from Uluru go via Alice. I did see one flight that took 4 hours but I didn't have your date.
I love Kakadu in the wet season -such a different picture from the dry.You can do a boat tour that goes over the roads you drive on in the dry season.
northie is online now  
Aug 12th, 2015, 01:07 PM
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Clifton, I think the Yarra Valley it is. I love a good Pinot Noir
We have been to the Blue Mountains, but that was in 1992, on our first trip to Australia, and we did a day tour from Sydney. It may be time to return and spend a night or two. Great photo of your beach!

northie, I guess we are going to have to waste half a day getting from Uluru to Darwin. Oh well, not much we can do about that. I don't believe I've ever been to Kakadu during the wet so I think going back for a few nights may be fun. I just hope we can drive from Darwin and not get caught in a cyclone or flood!
laurieco is online now  
Aug 12th, 2015, 03:37 PM
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Blue Mountains

Much and not much has changed in the Blue Mountains since 1992, Laurieco & I'd encourage you to spend at least one night up there.

One of the nicest changes IMO, has been the expansion of cottage rentals in towns like Leura. A nice alternative to the hotel & motel accommodation, some of which is excellent.

Silks was there in 1992, and is still the premier restaurant, and I think Leura Gourmet Deli was probably serving up its delicious foods in the back room overlooking the stunning Jamieson Valley. Other eateries & the excellent Carrington Cellars in the former boiler room of Katoomba's lovely old Carrington Hotel.

I've been to the Blue Mountains many, many times, but hadn't done the tourist stuff for probably 30 years, until I went with UK & Victorian visitors a couple of months ago.

What a pleasant surprise & revelation Scenic World was! Rides down into & across the valley, walks of various times connecting them. Yes, it can be crowded in the main hall, and I wouldn't eat there, but they so it remarkably well and if you strike it in a cool, clear day like we did, it's just heaven!

We stayed at a lovely cottage, just behind Leura Mall - Endellion. Perfect for our group. There are myriad others - and I have a growing short-list for future forays.

These links might whet your appetite...

Josophans Chocolates.


If you could stretch your time a little, I'd do my utmost to coax you a couple of hours west to the Central West for another night or two.

If you dig around, there's a trip report under "Bokhara" that I did years ago that might be of use/ interest.

I've rabbitted on enough now ... Enjoy your planning
Bokhara2 is offline  
Aug 12th, 2015, 07:47 PM
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I think the Yarra Valley it is. I love a good Pinot Noir!3m1!4b1

You won't have to travel far to get to the next one!

For the setting or atmosphere, I like Yering Station and Tarrawarra, but I'm fond of Killara Rise to supply my everyday drinker.
CounterClifton is offline  
Dec 29th, 2015, 03:47 PM
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Laurico, do you have time for a quick gtg in Sydney? Maybe towards the end of your trip?
cathies is offline  
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