Itinerary for East Coast Australia

Aug 29th, 2004, 02:35 PM
  #1  
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Itinerary for East Coast Australia

Need help planning a detailed tour of East Coast Australia! Please! My husband and I will land at the Gold Coast(Coolangatta) Airport on Nov 1st and depart from Cairns on Nov 13th. We have rented a car in Coolangatta. Need help deciding distances and how long to stay where! It proves difficult!!! Surfers Paradise, Fraser Island, Whitsundays, Cairns, etc??? Any help would be grateful.Also, any help with tours in each place for a couple on a budget! Thanks so very much!
deniseterry is offline  
Aug 29th, 2004, 03:09 PM
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Deniseterry - depending on what time of the day, you pick up your rental car at Coolangatta, I would the Gold Coast a big miss, and head up the Gold Coast Motorway to Brisbane, over the Gateway Bridge (toll), then up the Sunshine Coast Motorway and stay on the "Sunshine Coast" (much nicer, and bit more upmarket than the Gold Coast)
Stay 1 night somewhere near Noosa Heads, Tewantin or Noosaville (overlooking the Noosa River). From Noosa drive to Hervey Bay (allowing 2 night stopover & visit Fraser Island. A full guided day trip costs about $100, including lunch, morning tea, etc.
The next day, a comfortable drive aof 385 kms would be to Rockhampton, or go out from Rockhampton to Yeppoon or Emu Park (overlooking Great Keppel Island).
The next day drive north for 483 kms to Airlie Beach & base yourself there for about 3 days (if possible), and go out on the "day trips" to various islands, or barrier reef trips, etc. (To stay on the islands will cost you more)
From Airlie Beach, head north on the Highway to Townsville...294kms, and easy 3 hr drive, getting there before lunch. (stay 1 night with a possible visit out to Magnetic Island in the afternoon) Have dinner on the Esplanade.
Then from Townsville, its an easy 344 km drive to Cairns, and enroute stopping at Cardwell, to view Hinchinbrook Island in the distance. For a lunch stop you could try Mission Beach, or Kurramine Beach, both very nice.
tropo is offline  
Aug 29th, 2004, 03:13 PM
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I forgot to mention, if you decide to stay on the Gold Coast the first night, then its still an easy drive from Surfers Paradise up to Hervey Bay (about 4.5 hrs drive)
Noosa is only 2 hrs drive.
tropo is offline  
Aug 29th, 2004, 06:12 PM
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Nice trip, tropo, but on your times that's going to take about 8 days which only leaves 4 days for Wet Tropics, GBR,Daintree,Cairns, Port Douglas, Kuranda, Atherton Tableland, let alone Undara Lava tubes and a bit of the outback. and you haven't made an allowance for a day trip to Hinchinbrook, which is more than worthwhile. Also MissionBeach deserves at least a night's stopover. deniseterry, let us know if you have any particular interests, we may be able to tailor this for you by eliminating what may not be of much interest to you.
pat_woolford is offline  
Aug 30th, 2004, 08:24 AM
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Denise: In my opinion, you'd be a lot better off flying and dividing your time between Gold Coast and Cairns. There is A LOT so see in both areas and you will waste valuable time driving the considerable distance (>1000 miles) between them. Hinchinbrook and Dunk Islands are an easy day's drive south of Cairns, though you will miss the Whitsundays.
RalphR is offline  
Aug 30th, 2004, 01:53 PM
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deniseterry - Pat is right, you only have 13 days of travel, and thats not much, for the distance you will drive & places to visit.
Are you intent on "driving" all the way from the Gold Coast to Cairns, its a long drive. Perhaps you might take Ralph's advice, and just do the tourist thing, and fly straight from the Gold Coast to Cairns, a pity in a way, as there are lots of things to see along the way, provided you have time to stop & see them. As like any trip you need to have 2 night stops every so often.
tropo is offline  
Aug 30th, 2004, 03:34 PM
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Tropo and I am going to agree to disagree because as far as I am concerned the area around the Gold Coast has more to offer and is more diverse than anywhere else in Queensland. It ranks in beauty and interest with the Whitsunday area and the Cairns area. The hinterland of the Gold Coast down to Byron Bay is some of the most beautiful countryside you will find in Australia and has the greatest variety of bird life and flora in a small area. I am talking about 4,000 year old Antarctic Beach trees, one of the world's largest caldera which then brings its own flora and fauna. Mountain walks, waterfalls, 326 varieties of bird life in a 200 sq mile area, some very interesting islands, waterways, lovely villages etc etc and that is before you embark on any "tourist things". Sure the Gold Coast has its "tourist area" which is thought of by some as "tacky" but if that be the case then you would have to say that Disneyland is "tacky". However you have a choice of being in the tourist area or not and if you are not then you still have the greatest variety and choice of accommodation available in Australia together with about 500 restaurants and some excellant shopping. The fact that Australians ensure that the Gold Coast is their top choice holiday destination must say something for the place.
I would "do" the area around the Gold Coast and then fly to Cairns but do give yourself enough time in Cairns to discover the delights of that area as well, as it is different from the southern part of Queensland and at that time of year should be just beautiful to enjoy the reef excursions together with the surrounding countryside. If you like seafood then you are in for a treat as you will have any number of wonderful places to try new and interesting tastes of the Tropics.
lizF is offline  
Aug 31st, 2004, 01:39 PM
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LizF, Its wonderful in this world of ours, that everyone is different, and as they say each to his own.
Don't get offended, but I don't like the Gold Coast. If I am driving that way, I take the Gold Coast Motorway to bypass the place, even though this motorway is congested with traffic. The last time I stayed there at Palm Beach, we saw young persons below our apartment, trying to break into a car, then later that night, we went to nearby surfclub for drinks & dinner, and couldn't get over the numbe of people effected by drugs along the way. I can now understand, why so many people there opt for the "gated" communities.
I will agree that there are some nice beaches along the Gold Coast, but not surfers paradise beach, which has rips & undertows.
When I visited the Sunshine Coast recently, I came to the conclusion, that it was "heading in the same direction" as the Gold Coast, too many people and too much crime. I suppose it could be compared with Miama in Florida, USA, lots of tall buildings & people cramming the beaches.
tropo is offline  
Aug 31st, 2004, 01:48 PM
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LizF, I forgot to mention....I agree with you on Byron Bay region. But you should mention that it is in NSW, not Qld, about 60-70 kms drive from the Gold Coast, not really part of the Gold Coast at all. Byron Bay township in my opinion, has been taken over by the backpackers, so it has lost some of its appeal, not because of backpackers, but because local shop keepers have changed their businesses, in a way, that the old ambience of the place is slipping away. I do agree, that the countryside around Byron is lovely.
We sometimes visit relatives on the Gold Coast, and one place I did enjoy was not the coastal tourist strip, but the hinterland, around Tambourine Mtn.
Like you, I like to tell it how it is, so please do not get offended. I just think its important to let overseas tourists know what the Gold Coast is really like.
tropo is offline  
Aug 31st, 2004, 03:26 PM
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Ok I'll tell it how it is: Outside the "tourist strip" of the Gold Coast - which incidently is not that big anyway, is Currumbin Bird Sanctuary which houses many of Australia's birds, koala's, Kangaroos which you can interact with and pet and play with, emus, snakes, nocturnal house, displays of aboriginal dancing, bird feeding, crocodile feeding and talks by rangers etc. There is also Fleay's Fauna reserve which does a lot of eco stuff with animals and was the first place in the world to breed many of the Australian native animals such as the platypus. The informative talks by the rangers there are particularly interesting and it is of world class standard. You can take a short drive through the Currumbin Valley and swim in the spring fed rock pools there, another reasonably short drive will take you through the magical Numinbah Valley and you can stop at Natural Bridge where you can enjoy a short walk through the rain forest to a magnificent waterfall which tumbles into another lovely waterhole cave which is wonderful for swimming in. Have a BBQ there in the evening and stay for the FREE gloworm display which lights up the cave formed by the rock pool and waterfall. Whilst enjoying the beautiful countryside drop in to some of the many great wineries around the district. There are about 6 on Tamborine Mountain alone together with Australia's smallest distillery which makes liqueur from local fruit (There are more off the mountain) The owner then paints the bottles and the whole effect is one wonderful memory or gift for people back home. The distillery has won many of the prestige International competitions and a visit there is a memorable one. Whilst on Tamborine Mountain take a walk through one or two of the 9 National Parks on the mountain. If that is not your thing then perhaps you may be interested in Thunderbird Park where you can either dig for Thunder eggs ( natural agate) or buy something made there by the locals. Visit many of the local art and craft places on the mountain or some of the wonderful restaurants for a meal or just a Devonshire Tea. From there continue on your way to the World renowned O'Reilly's or Binna Burra on the Lamington Plateau where there are many, many rain forest walks, a tree top walk above the rain forest canapy, unique flora and fauna and take in the fantastic views whilst beathing in some of the cleanest air you can find. Drive down again and go up to Springbrook which has some beautiful walks as well and the "best of all" viewing spot. Waterfalls abound and there are many beautiful picnic areas or little cafes.
Check out the Canungra Valley winery en route to O'Reilly's, if not for wine then to check out their stream that runs at the back of the winery as they have a few resident platypus which can be seen neally every day, especially in the later afternoon.
If you are around the area on a weekend there are many local craft markets in a lot of locations which are really fun OR you can visit the Carrara Markets on the Gold Coast, which start from about 6AM to about 3PM Saturday and Sunday. Have breakfast or lunch there and wander around the craft areas and the really cheap clothing, gifts, bric a brac, food, books etc etc. Whilst on the G.C. perhaps try and game of golf at one of the 68 Golf cources there many of which are signature/International rated Golf Cources. Perhaps the one on Tamborine Mountain would be a nice one as you have beautiful view out to the Pacific Ocean whist you play.
Take a BBQ boat up the beautiful Tweed River to Tumbulgum and if you are not interested in making you own BBQ have one there at the Pub which is famous around South East Queensland/ Northern New South Wales for having some of the best meals available in a beautiful setting. Whilst in that area you can visit Griffith Tablecraft ( I think though that the name has changed)
but any local with point you in the right direction. They have a display of gifts and furniture made from the local timber of the area and it is a lovely place to spend a couple of hours in, has a cafe too. Just up the road is Tropical Fruit World ( perhaps again a name change here) where you can take a little train ride through the orchards of exotic fruit with names you may never heard of. After the trip sample some of these fruit fresh or if not in season then have them make an icecream using frozen fruit i.e. chocolate pudding fruit, Soursop etc.
Whilst on this road you will return to the GC across the Tweed River and then across Terranora Lakes where you can deside to either go along Kennedy Drive ( sign-posted) and stop at one of the fresh Trawler brought in fish shops for some of the best sea food or just fish and chips that you will find. Alternatively go into any one of the Golf/ Rugby League/ RSL/ Bowls clubs along this area and have a meal at a very cheap rate OR catch a show that will be on.
If you are on the G.C in the summer a nice way to end the day is at the Oasis Centre where you can walk around the Mall there, play a game of giant chess, grab a meal or get a hamper and walk across to the tables and chairs at the beach area across the road and watch the moon rise over the Pacific Ocean.
If you want to "name watch" then go and eat at one of the many outdoor restaurants on Tedder Avenue, Main Beach and see how many International names you can see i.e. Paris Hilton to name only one - mother live thereabouts.
Now all I have mentioned so far is within 3/4hour drive of the centre of the Gold Coast - sometimes much less, and all this is NOT within the tourist areas nor really classified as a tourist activity. The tourist activities I will leave for the many web sites that are available for people and if anyone needs to know them they can either do a Google search or just ask and I will provide some for you. Now that is how it is AND there is much, much more but there are other activities that I have to do today so I have to cut this short.
lizF is offline  
Aug 31st, 2004, 03:50 PM
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I'll second the motion that the GC is an excellent base for seeing a magical part of Australia. It's not hard to get away from the commercialism, at least for now, sadly. O'Reilly's, Binna Burra, Springbrook, Numinbah Valley, Mt Warning, the Border Ranges, Byron, Mt Barney and, further afield, Girraween and Bald Rock via the scenic Mt Linsay Hwy. Awesome places!
RalphR is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 01:58 AM
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I have a curiosity about Mackay. I am thinking of a trip there next year if I can get over my FNQ addiction.

As this would be enroute for Denise and Terry it could be helpful for both of us to hear a bit about the place. There seems so little written about this town yet the little that is written seems positive.

Anyone stayed there at all?
Jane_47 is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 04:51 AM
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Hi Jane again, Mackay is a perfectly pleasant Qld town, but quite frankly its as boring as batshit. Its a hell of a long way from the reef, just about everything shuts at 8pm, its cold in winter and blazing in summer - nearby Bucasia Beach is pleasant and a long-time friend of mine who was born and bred there couldn't wait to move to reasonably near-by Airlie Beach, where she is now as happy as a pig in mud.
pat_woolford is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 05:46 AM
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Visited my wife's aunt in Mackay a couple of times. Agreed that it is not the most exciting of places but there are some great spots within a morning's drive - Eungella Nat'l Park (great views, platypuses, rainforest walks)and Cape Hillsborough in particular. Mackay is also the departure point for Brampton Island, with its spectacular walks and beaches.

Ralph R, CT, USA
RalphR is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 01:10 PM
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Gee LIzF, your not a travel agent are you? Generally, you wont get an argument from me, on the Gold Coast Hinterland, just fabulous, however, the Gold Coast itself, I find "tacky" and too commercialised. I know of friends in Sydney, who have investment properties on the GC, but would never live there, as they call it, ".......by the sea". I still remember standing on Palm Beach, and looking north towards Surfers, and seeing all those "high rise" apartments & hotels, and thinking the ground should slowly start sinking into the sea, and the poor beachgoers, that have the shade cast onto the beach by the tall buildings.
The Gold Coast is now suffering, from all those years, of people wanting to move & live there. It is now really overpopulated, water is getting cruicial because of the population, crime has esculated, drugs are common, schoolies week is a disgrace in Surfers with the fights & violence, however, having said all that, I guess for an overseas tourist staying 1 or 2 nights there, they probably wont see all that, as most stay in one of the high rise, dine out nearby, and are taken around to various sightseeing attractions.
Jane47, I have to agree, Mackay is a quiet place, in comparison to Airlie Beach, but it does have Brampton Island, which I consider to be the best island in that area, including the Whitsundays. Yes, I know there is Hayman etc, but Brampton is something special, very beautiful island, and somewwhat off the beaten track, when compared with the Whitsundays. We are returning to Brampton sometime this year, its quite special to us.
tropo is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 01:19 PM
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Jane47, I forgot to mention, that from Mackay, I believe there are trips out to two other islands now, called Keswick and St.Bees Islands, mainly for snorkeling & diving, etc. I have heard that these islands have pristine fringing coral reefs. Could be something to look into.
Cape Hillsborough National Park, is worth visiting also, for the wildlife, eg. scrub turkeys and kangaroos.
tropo is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 02:35 PM
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Tropo, why would all those people move to the Gold Coast ( as you put it ) if there is nothing for them there. It is an International destination by any standards, with everything up to a 6 star hotel and some of the best restaurants Australia has to offer. Its climate is absolutely wonderful - not too hot and not too cold. The beaches are beautiful, the lakes are beautiful, the waterways are wonderful, the islands off the Gold Coast are an adventure in themselves. You could say the same ( too many people ) about Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Port Douglas, Byron Bay, and points in between and in respect to high rises and increase of population. The more a place has to offer the more people move there. What the Gold Coast has that most other Australian cities do not have is access, easily and quickly, to some of Australia's most beautiful countryside and some of us have the pleasure of actually living in that countryside, which is all more enjoyable having spent too many years in places that are less than interesting in all aspects .
Those who do not know the Gold Coast and find that they have booked accommodation in the middle of the Tourist Strip need have no fear as there are free buses that will take you to other areas that are less congested, tours that will whisk you away to the peace and quiet of the countryside or boats that will take you out on the ocean. There is, something for everyone, be they 8 or 80 in that area. The only thing that could stop you from enjoying yourself is you and an inability to read a brochure or local magazine about places of interest.
As for people who wish to go diving or snorkling there is Morton Island not far away which is pristine and beautiful and has some of the largest sand hills in the world. The waters off the island are crystal clear and the diving is a great experience.
As for whale watching - the waters off the Gold Coast down to Byron Bay have had some great shows this year from whales and only yesterday there were about 15 putting on a great show off Tweed Heads. You don't need to pay to see them and you don't need a boat to go and see them.
I look forward with great interest to hear of how Tropo spent the summer in Hervey Bay as I know only too well how humid and stinking hot that place can get with no sea breeze because it is blocked mainly by Fraser Island. Finally Tropo are you not a recent "migrant" from down south yourself who has come to Queensland to increase the population and increase the density of housing and lessen the peace and quiet of the countryside - remember he who lives in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!
For those International readers I should explain that Queensland has had, and is still having, a torrent of people moving up here and getting away from the congestion of Southern Cities and high cost of living, not to mention a much nicer climate. It has been akin to the California Gold Rush days or the "Alaskan" gold rush, at least to an old Queenslander it seems that way because it is we who have had to put up with such a life change for the benefit of you southerners.
lizF is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 03:20 PM
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Well said, Liz. The same thing is happening even way up here in Cairns - cashed-up retiring baby boomers from the south forcing up real estate prices, making home ownership for locals out of reach and then complaining that the development they've caused is ruining the character of the place. Because the younger locals can no longer afford the type of properties they grew up in, the ones that can afford a house have had to resort to tiny block boxes jammed together from south of Cairns nearly all the way to Gordonvale - then the tourists complain that they're ruining the scenery!
pat_woolford is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 10:08 PM
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We actually have had far more immigration pressure in NSW than QLD has and yet have been able to keep many many many (most) beaches free from high rise. i think is silly to blame interstate immigration, it is town planning. It is the people you vote for.


To blame migration in a country of immigration is totally ignorant imho.
Jane_47 is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 01:36 AM
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Liz, I'll put the use of terms like "you southerners" down to a temporary rush of blood to the head. I'm sure that on reflection you'll agree that such usage is an example of a rather unattractive side of narrow Queensland parochialism - the sort of thing that allowed a former state premier, Joh "Bananas" Bjelke-Petersen, to get away with the laughable statement that he was "a Queenslander first and an Australian second". I think that was before he championed a car engine claimed to run on tap water, a development that would really have put Queensland on the world map.

Most Queenslanders originally came from the south, beginning with the establishment of the Moreton Bay penal colony. Many Queenslanders, my father included, moved south in search of greater opportunity: as far as I know they never had to put up with being referred to as "you northerners". There may be a lesson there.

Thinking of Moreton Bay reminded me of an ballad written by an Irish convict:
"I've been a prisoner at Fort Macquarie, at Norfolk Island and Emu Plains/At Castle Hill and at curs'd Toongabbie, at all these settlements I've worked in chains/But of all places of condemnation, of penal stations in New South Wales/Of Moreton Bay I have found no equal, excessive tyranny each day prevails."
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