just back from 2 weeks down under

Jun 17th, 2003, 08:11 PM
  #1  
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just back from 2 weeks down under

HI, Just got back last week from australia. Spent two weeks there in sydney, ayers rock, brisbane and port douglas and cairns. Would love to help anyone out that has any questions about any of these cities or places. Please email me at [email protected]. I will answer all of your questions about anything you may want to know if I can. Hope to be able to help. Bruce
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Jun 17th, 2003, 09:20 PM
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Bruce, I hope you intend posting a Trip Report about your trip. It is always so interesting to hear from people who have enjoyed their visits to our country, as well as being of help to those intending to come.
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Jun 17th, 2003, 10:28 PM
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Bruce, I'd especially like to hear about what you did in Ayers Rock. Did you rent a car and explore on your own or take day tours? If so, which ones? We'll be there for two nights in August, with additional time in Alice Springs. I'm posting here rather than emailing as I imagine others would also like to hear more.
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Jun 18th, 2003, 07:37 AM
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Bruce,

Hi! It's jules & darin here - how did you find lizard?!? hope it was everything you expected and more! can't wait to hear your more about your trip!
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Jun 18th, 2003, 07:51 PM
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HI guys. I have so much to say and would need days. the trip was awesome. We left NY on Friday May23rd. the trip to sydney wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Got to sydney and it was pouring(about 56 degrees) which is what I expected. Checked in at the Grace Hotel. It was beautiful. It is right up the block from the queen victoria mall and around the corner from darling harbour. we started out getting a quick bite to eat. Our first mistake was asking for an iced coffee. In new york that is just coffee poured over ice. Well in australia it is like a milk shake with icecream and whipped cream. it was delicious but very fattening. WE next headed down to the rocks market at the base of the harbour bridge. It was a nice thing to do on a rainy day since it is covered but it wasn't as big as I thought it would be. From there we headed to the queen victoria mall and looked around the four levels of shops for about two hours. By that time it was 4PM and I was bone tired. I really wanted to go to sleep but had to fight it for a few more hours. We went to dinner that night at an italian restaurant in darling harbour which we walked to. It was only a few blocks. WE finally went to bed by 7PM that evening. Next day we had gotten tickets on the sydney explorer bus which was great because it was still raining and the bus stops at 22 different stops throught the city and you can get on and off all of the diffeent stops. We went to china town , hyde park, darling harbour, the opera house. We took a tour of the opera house and walked up to the bridge. My wife refused to do the bridge climb but it looked like alot of fun even in the rain. This was a full day but we got to see most if not all of sydney. That night we ate at a great restaurant called level 41. It was at the top of Chiefly tour. the views were worth the price alone. You look out the window right next to our table and the opera house and the bridge are right below you. Food was excellent but it was expensive. It cost 200 US dollars and we only drink soda and bottled water. day three tuesday May 27th. We now took the sister bus of the sydney explorer called the bondi explorer. IT goes to the outer suburbs(which I liked better than sydney itself) We probably would have taken the ferry to manly or watsons bay but it was still raw out even though it had stopped raining. It was just overcast but you couldn't tell if it was going to rain at any moment. So we took the bus to the east bay area and saw Rose Bay, Watsons Bay and Bondi Beach. Watsons Bay was my favorite. We ate at Doyles which I wouldh't have known about if it weren't for this site. The food was great and the views of sydney harbour in the distance even better. Then onto Bondi. It was windy but sunny when we got there and we walked around for a half hour and got back on the bus. ALl of the busses run between every 20 minutes to every half hour so stay as long as you want. that evening we ate at another restaurant reccommended to me on this site(Level 41 was the first).Boy the people on this site must be wealthy. I had to make a reservation at Tseyuas about 6 weeks in advance. When we got there it is on this little street and he gates open up and you go into the restaurant area. I should have know then this was going to be expensive. We sat down and there are no menus. It is a 17 course meals of all delicacies like cavier, duck different kinds of fish which I usually don't like but I was already here so I might as well make the best of it. Well we got the bill. It made level 41 look cheap. The bill was 360 australian dollars(about 250 us dollars). Oh well I will only be in sydney once. On wednesday morning we left the hotel early and headed to the airport for Ayers Rock(Uluru). I had debated between ayers rock and Melbourne and after seeing the rock and alice springs I am glad I made that choice since speaking to people in australia both from australia and travelere melbourne is just another city in australia(even though it has more european influence than the others) But Uluru and alice that is what australia is all about. to sit with the aborigines and talk to them about their life was fantastic. I will click this now so people can start to read it since I am talking alot. I will do more now about ayers rock and alice and then continue on with brisbane and the great barrier reef tomorrow. And julie yes greg is funny and it was the best part of our trip. More about ayers rock to follow in a minute. Thanks for listening. bruce
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Jun 18th, 2003, 08:09 PM
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so We got to ayers rock about 2:30 and had a tour of the base of the rock and sunset viewing area. everything anyone told me about the rock was true. The sun hit it about 5PM and it glowed like the sun and for the next ten minutes I just kept clicking away at my camera. The pictures came out unbelievable. there is alot of history in the rock. The writings on the walls of the rock are very interesting. That night we stayed at the sails in the desert hotel. WE really didn't get to see too much of it since as soon as we got to the hotel we dropped our bags and headed for the tour. then we got back to the hotel about 7Pm had dinner and had to get up to go on the bus trip to Alice springs. We stopped at kings canyon on the way but we left the hotel at 5AM and got to alice at 8PM so it was a long day. I felt that the few hours I had at ayers rock was fine. We saw the olgas from the distance. It would have been nice maybe to have spent one more full day there just to relax but we were pressed for time since I had to be at the rotary convention in brisbane on saturday may 31st. KIngs canyon was very nice. No where the size of the grand canyon but the hike up to the top was exhausting and they tell you this before you go that you had better be in shape otherwise you can have a problem with dehydration. After hearing that my wife decided to take the walk along the bottom of the canyon which she said was not so straight at all. I met up with her three hours later and then we headed to alice springs. There is literally nothing in the middle of australia but barren land. Uluru is just uluru. In fact the people that work at the hotels there and work at uluru have to go to alice springs(A five hour drive just to get clothing). That is why most of the workers there only stay up to a year and then leave). ALice springs was a nice little town. We arrived there at 8PM and the next mornign up again at 4AM to be picked up for a hot air balloon ride over the macdonnel moutain ranges. How unbelievable that was. It was quite cold though. When we woke up it was about33 degrees farenheit. The heat that inflated the balloon felt so good everytime the guy made it go into the ballon. The views of the sunrise were beautiful. My wife was very aprehensive about going up in the balloon but after it went up she saw how smooth it was. (except for the landing when it tipped over on it side but it wasn't that bad)THere were three ladies probably 75years old each in the compartment beneath us and they were laughing hysterically so how bad could it be. Well it wasn't. AFter the hot air balloon ride they took us to this place called Dream time where the aborogines stay. they do their paintings there and they gave us a nice breakfast and told us the stories of the aborigines. we bought painting by the actually aborigines who made them and were able to take our pictures with them which they usually do not like. WE learned about their customs and the food that they eat. We next went back to the todd mall which is a nice little mall in alice and had some lunch. then back to the hotel for a nap for two hours before being picked up and taken to a camel farm where we took a one hour camel ride along the todd river(which is dried out by the way)This was so nice riding camels along the river as the sun was setting. Then we went back to the camel farm and had a delicious dinner. I actually ate kangaroo sausage at this dinner which wasn't bad. My wife ate that but refused to eat camel meat. I tried it. IT wasn't bad. Then back to the hotel and the next day we left early for the rotary convention in brisbane.Since it is 11PM in newyork I am exhausted. I will try to write more tomorrow about brisbane and barrier reef. We stayed at Port douglas and for those who haven't made their reservation you must must must stay at the peninsula hotel. I felt like a king but more about that tomorrow. Please email at [email protected] to let me know if you are finding this interesting or am I wasting my time. I don't always come on this site but will if you guys are interested. I learned alot from this site even if it did cost me all the extra money at tsyuas and level 41. Speak to you soon. bruce
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Jun 18th, 2003, 09:20 PM
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Bruce, this is wonderful! I can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip. We head to Australia (first visit) in late July.
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Jun 18th, 2003, 10:46 PM
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Bruce,
Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a great report - as I said before it is always so nice for us in Australia to hear from those of you who visit, especially as it only happens every once in a while.
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Jun 18th, 2003, 10:54 PM
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Great stuff Bruce

I know it is impolite but how much did you spend on your trip?
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Jun 19th, 2003, 08:26 AM
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Hello again. So we arrive in brisbane for the rotary convention. Brisbane is a great city. We met so many rotarians. The one thing you need to do in Brisbane is the Lone Pine Koala Sancturary. IT is the only place in Australia you can hold a live Koala.(THEY ARE SO SO CUTE). We did that for the day. We ate a restaurant recommended on this site called Eccos. It was good but I wouldn't tell people to run there. SO must of my time was spent at the convention. There is a queen anne mall there that my wife went to alot.(Can't you tell she likes to shop alot). Some people took what is called the city cat which is this fast ferry and it stops throughout the different spots in the city. From what I am told if you are in brisbane you should head south for the gold coast which is like Las Vegas and South Beach Florida combined. Big hotels on the beach with casinos. We did not do this since I spent most of my time at the convention. On Wed. June 4th we flew to Cairns.(FINALLY WARM WEATHER) The temperature in Brisbane was about 70degrees but to cool to swim or lay at the pool.(although there were some crazy people that did). When we got to cairns we were transported to port douglas. I originally was going to stay in cairns but after hearing about port douglas decided to do that. I am glad that I did. We went back to cairns for one night after our lizard island day trip and it is very very touristy. Port douglas is just so quiet. You stroll on the beach(which cairns really doesn't have). Palm cove was also recommended but after picking people up at there hotel I was glad that I did not stay there(not because it wasnt' nice or beautiful which it was but it was too quiet for me. really nothing to do in palm cove). So port douglas was fine for me. After arriving at the hotel(the peninsula hotel) I felt like royalty. This hotel is right on the beach just around the bend from the town. The owners are a very nice young couple who make you feel like they are your family. the hotel is only 34 suites. Our balcony looked right out onto the beach and you could hear the ocean. It was heaven. WE walked into town and looked around and then came back and laid at the pool. That evening we went out to dinner at a restaurant at the best western hotel. It was okay. I forgot the name of it though. Then next day was the day I was waiting for the most. It was a one day trip to lizard island. We had to take a bus to the cairns airport which cost us 25 dollars each(australian dollars) we met greg who owns daintree air. We went on this small 8 seater plane and flew over the rainforest. We were very low. you could see the kangaroos fromthe air. After about one hour in the air we landed on this small runway on lizard island. I felt like it was a deserted island and the only ones on it were my wife the pilot and this one other woman who was with us. WE then proceded to walk along this long pathway to the beach (also called watsons bay like in sydney). WE saw green ant homes(massive round houses)Greg proceded to pick up some ants and chew them and asked us if we wanted to try it.(no thanks) and julie incase you are reading this the flying foxes were gone for the winter so we missed out on the flying foxes which i really wanted to see) well we finally get to the beach which is beautiful. IT is surrounded by mountains.Greg gave us instructions on snorkling and then proceded to take us on a two hour snorkling adventure of a life time. Showing us giant clams and fishes of all shapes and colors. IT was awesome. Then back to lay on the beach for some relaxation. There was another beach called the blue lagoon on the other side of the island which we did not walk to but from listening to julie and darin they say it is great.(oh and by the way julie greg told me he couldn't get you out of the water to even eat lunch which by the way was a great lunch of meat and fruits. Everything couldn't have been more perfect. Then on the way back to the plane we actually saw why they call it lizard island. I couldn't believe the size of the lizard that I saw. The only thing I had seen in the states before that were salamanders so this was a site. When we flew back to Cairns we flew very low over most of the reef islands and greg even opened his window so I could put my video camera out to video it. It was beautiful. We arrived back in cairns at about 6pm and that is when we walked around the market place at cairns. like i said it was very touristy and very busy and we couldn't wait to get back to quiet port douglas. Then next day was friday June 6th. We were suppose to go on a half day tour of kurunda and the sky rail which I was looking forward to but when we got into the van they told us it was a full day and we wouldn't be back at the hotel until about 6pm Now the next day we had to leave the hotel at 3AM(that is right you heard me correctly because our flight back to the states was leaving cairns for sydney at 5:50 AM) so we really wanted to relax that afternoon on the beach. So we cancelled that part of the trip. I am sorry I missed the sky rail but being I was in the little plane over the rainforest i guess I saw alot. So we just laid on the beach all day and relaxed. That night we went to a FANTATIC restaurant called Nautilus. It is a must if you go to pOrt Douglas. Need a reservation though. The food an atmosphere were great. You eat outside under the stars and palm trees. so back to the hotel and UGH packing. WE hated to do it but we did. The trip home was grueling. I figured that it was 36 hours from the time we left the hotel in Port Douglas until a walked into my home in Putnam county new york. But we survived. It was a trip I will never forget. In answer to the last message here the whole trip cost me about 10 thousand dollars including air and hotel and food and the lizard island trip which was 500 US dollar alone(that is for two not for one- it was 250 per person but worth a million.). SO that is it . I hoped i have helped you guys as much as I was helped by this site. If you need to email please do at Marshall 531 @hotmail.com. I would love to talk to anyone who has any questions abou the trip. Thanks for listening to me ramble. Bruce
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Jun 19th, 2003, 04:26 PM
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What a great report of your holiday Marshall. Thanks for taking the time to report back.

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Jun 19th, 2003, 05:16 PM
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Bruce, Thanks for the report. How expensive was the Nautilus and how far in advance did you reserve. Thanks!
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Jun 19th, 2003, 06:36 PM
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the nautilus cost us about 150 US dollars but was worth every penny of it. Please do not miss this place it is one of kind.
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Jun 19th, 2003, 07:11 PM
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Great trip report. I leave in a few weeks and reading your report got me very excited. I have already made my reservation for restaurant 41 in Sydney, so i was so glad to hear you enjoyed your meal there.
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Jun 19th, 2003, 09:51 PM
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Hi Marshall. Your trip account was very interesting, informative AND fun! Appreciate your taking the time. I especially liked your comment about Port Douglas vs. Cairns as I am/was struggling with that decision too. Now I know where to stay in Port Douglas!

You've got me thinking of trying Lizard Island. I had it on the list, then crossed it off, but now I'm quite curious and may put back on list.

I have a question about purchasing Aussie domestic airline tickets. I had heard it's best to purchase prior to leaving the US which I plan to do. Qantas (800 number) quotes each Boomarang segment as AU$260. Qantas' Internet site quotes much cheaper fare, but you lose the flexibility. Which did you (or anyone else) use?



donna523 is offline  
Jun 20th, 2003, 06:11 AM
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Thanks for your thorough report. I'll be going in October, and your reviews are very useful!
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Jun 20th, 2003, 02:02 PM
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ah bruce,

your trip report made me SMILE and laugh and even get goose bumps! thanks for telling us how it went. darin and i also had the chance to ear dinner at level 41 our last night in oz and oh what a meal (i just told one of my co-workers about the meal and the view and the bathrooms...and then broke the news that it was 220 US dollars and she screamed, literally out loud. i know, i said...but when will i eat there again?!? well, actually soon i hope!)
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Jun 20th, 2003, 02:04 PM
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anyway, i'm glad you enjoyed lizard as much i hoped you would! i e-mailed greg yesterday actually (before i checked this site to see your postings) to see if you were back yet and how it went! i had no idea the flying foxes were gone during the oz winter season. ah well. you''ll have to go back during "summer" someday...they're a sight...and a sound)! and THE ANTS! i love it. i was a vegetarian for eight years and i felt like a wimp for not eating one so i did, and it was the most explosive sour citrus taste ever. my family almost had a heart attack when i came home to tell them that i ate giant green ants. but as they say, when in australia....(do as the aborginals do?!?)
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Jun 20th, 2003, 02:05 PM
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i keep getting cut-off...sorry bruce -

anywho. i'm so glad you had such a great time. and wasn't the snorkelling the best ever?!? so did you snorkel in the clam garden?!? just amazing! i don't know what's better that lizard, i'm still wondering if there is such a thing; we're going to fiji in four months so i'll let you know if i find something as heavenly there...if not, we're headed back to lizard for 2004!! now, i'm starting to think lizard is quite a rare and special spot and that i should keep it more of a secret?!? anyway, welcome home! thanks again for a great read!
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Jun 20th, 2003, 05:24 PM
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First to DOnna 523 we booked our inter australia flights from the US. It cost us each 618 dollars. what that got us was the flight from Syndey to Uluru then from Alice springs to Brisbane then from Brisbane to Cairns and finally from Cairns back to sydney. I thought that was a good price since that was four separate flights each almost three ours each.
Jules. It was great to hear from you. Yes lizard is truely amazing and I thin our next trip will be to New Zealand and then back to Lizard. But first we will use all of our frequent flyer miles(and we accumulated about 25000 for all the flights and go to Hawaii which we have never seen and here is paradise(I can't imagine it being nicer than Lizard island.)Lets keep in touch. Please email me at [email protected] and lets keep in touch. Tell darin I said hello. By the way where do you guys live. We live in Putnam County new york which is about one hour and a half hours north of manhattan. take care. bruce
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