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itinerary help in OZ Sydney then to Cairns, back to US

itinerary help in OZ Sydney then to Cairns, back to US

Old Jun 20th, 2010, 12:27 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 6
itinerary help in OZ Sydney then to Cairns, back to US

Here it is in a nutshell. 56, fit, female, widowed, sick of not travelling. Planning backpacking trip to Oz, solo traveler, from state of Wa USA one month, October 2010. Getting ready to book flight, planning to fly to Sydney, spend a few days (not much a city person) and fly to or towards Cairns. From my research, all the things I love are in and around Cairns. I also plan on going to a few islands. Frasier, Magnetic, which ones I am not sure yet. Heron, some say favorite place, others say boring..?? Leads to more confusion. Any input on what not to miss, any island info is great. Also flights.. If I am not sure where and when , how can I book tours and flights when I am there? How far in advance for cheapest price, etc?.I am used to flying by the seat of my pants, my hub planned most the travel for us and we just went. Mostly to islands where we could dive. I am drawn to familiarlity but dont want to limit myself. Must be a lot of firsts for this trip. I have traveled light, but never taken a bus..anywhere! So here goes, with opinions and feedback, please. Oh, and do I fly home from Cairns or go back to SYD for round trip ticket? Should I contact a travel agent or just wing it? Thanks Robyn
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Old Jun 20th, 2010, 01:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Robyn, you can book flights from Seattle to LA to Sydney and return Cairns to Brisbane to LA to Seattle on American Airlines website. You would actually be flying Alaska Airlines, Qantas, and JetStar. Price using dates in October is $1460.
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Old Jun 20th, 2010, 04:18 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
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I'd highly recommend Heron Island, but I haven't been there since the change of ownership. That may not make that much difference as the food and so forth was never the attraction. The snorkelling and diving as well as the bird colonies are the reasons to visit. Heron is a coral cay directly on the reef, so you can snorkel straight out from the beach.

Green Island and Lizard Island (near Cairns) are other coral cays with resorts. Lizard is very expensive.

In the Whitsundays, I really liked Long Island but that is a still a long way from the reef.
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Old Jun 20th, 2010, 06:25 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
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Hi Robyn,
In your shoes, I'd book an open jaw into Sydney & out of Cairns (or the reverse if that works better $ wise), and then just go with the flow/wing it when you get here.

Most school holidays finish 3rd - 10th October, so your timing is good for likely air & accommodation specials.

Australia is a very easy place for solo travellers to enjoy with more palatable options than doing group tours everywhere or taking long bus trips. I'm a solo travelliing local who avoids buses here & elsewhere if I possibly can, too. You might combine flying the longest legs with driving, and taking short term, small group tours at different locations. There are some excellent wildlife & tablelands tours in the Cairns area, for example.

One option that might suit you and is really inexpensive if your schedules match is one-way car rental (basically relocating rental vehicles). www.onewayrentals.com.au
This is just one site - google gives lots of others.

Live aboard diving trips are great and as you're a diver, would be just the thing for you. Lots out of Cairns and others from the Whitsundays. There are some sail/dive options too. If you are interested in sailing, I can recommend www.sunsail.com.au in the Whitsundays. Nice people and they often put a group together for a couple of days.

Lastly, good for you. It must be hard to take the first big trip on your own again. Australia's a great place to start.
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 08:25 AM
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Thanks so much. A few problems with driving, they drive on the good side of the road, unlike in US. so I start out retarded driver, thinking I will pass on that. I definitely HAVE to go on a dive snorkel boat for 3 or 4 days, they say be careful and ask a lot of questions to get the best deal. What about sea sickness, is there places that are not as rough etc? I have been ok in the past but its a damper on a good day if it happens to you I hear. There are so many opportunites for snorkel dive that I am confused. I also researched Heron and it sounds a bit intensse money wise, but then some say its worth it...? I have read Frasier and Magnetic are backpacker friendly. Its not that I am a poor traveller, just trying to make the buck last for the month and do what I want. I am also battling the intimidation thing of going alone. But if I wait for others I just will never do much.
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Old Jun 27th, 2010, 04:47 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
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My recommendation is just to continue looking for great deals when it comes to your accommodations and flights. You still have over three months to plan, well two, you should try to be ready by September. I'd recommend checking out http://www.bookitnow.com.au/ for rates and places to stay along your planned stops, or flights if you haven't booked that yet.
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Old Jun 27th, 2010, 05:47 PM
Join Date: May 2009
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For a more comprehensive list of accommodation with good deals for the next 3 months look on www.wotif.com.au which includes 5 accommodation sites throughout the World i.e. Asia Web Direct, Last minute.com, Travel.com and Late stays including Wotif itself. I have found that sometimes there is a great deal of difference in $$ terms between some of the accommodation sites so its best to check out more than one. Also google Bed and Breakfasts in the areas that you want to go because there are sometimes great deals with them.
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 07:26 AM
Join Date: Jul 2010
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Hi Robyn,

All of these deals sites are definitely great ways to find a true indication of prices for flights and accom. It would be a great idea to see the place before you actualy travel.

Do you remember the hype about the 'Best Job in the World'? Apparently, National Geographic and Tourism Queensland have teamed up to present a 6-part TV series that is set to air in August in HD!

It will highlight Ben's "Island Caretaker" job and all of the amazing things you can do in the Whitsundays and throughout Queensland.

I spent nearly two years in Melbourne completing a Masters of Tourism and really believe that Queensland has so many amazing things to offer tourists of all shapes and sizes.

Might be worth watching the Nat Geo TV series as you get closer to your departure date. I'm sure it will get you nice and excited!
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Old Jul 18th, 2010, 09:51 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Hi, Robyn, we went to Australia in Oct. of 2007 and it is true that loads can be found around Cairns. You can find our trip report by clicking on my name. Also, it was a great month, weatherwise. However, to see the area you'll have to either drive or take tours and the tours add up. Driving in Oz is quite easy because aside from the cities it is quite uncrowded. If you go to Cairns, check out staying at Lilybank B&B. Pat is a regular here (on Trip Advisor she'd be called a "destination expert"), it is inexpensive and she'll help you book the best tours and hook you up with the best guides. The B&B is right on the bus line as well, so it handy to where you want to go. As far as a 3-4 night snorkel/dive boat, we went with Spirit of Freedom for their 3 night Cod Hole and Ribbon Reef tour. We are only snorkelers and it was great--there were only two dives we couldn't go on--one was too small a pinnacle to see anything and the other was a night dive. I got a patch of Trans-Scop from my doctor beforehand and I wasn't seasick at all (and I get seasick on the dock). The worst part is when they steam to the first place overnight--my DH who never gets sick was "feeding the fishes". The patch fixed him up, too, even after he got sick. The snorkeling was amazing and so worth the high price. We thought the operation of the boat was top-notch, but have nothing to compare it to. Look for trip reports here via the search function on Spirit of Freedom. I don't know how they fared through the economic slump. Be prepared for high prices for food in Australia, especially if the US dollar continues to be weak against the AUD. It is worth it, though, in most places! Great salads and seafood, especially the barramundi. Yummmmm. Congratulations to you for having the courage to go solo. You'll have a great adventure!
Sally in Seattle
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