March Travel to Oz- Syd/GBR/Melbourne

Jan 21st, 2004, 09:06 PM
  #1  
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March Travel to Oz- Syd/GBR/Melbourne

Hi:
I will be travelling to AU in mid-march, and plan to visit Sydney, GBR, and Melbourne.
Because of our international flight, we are coming to AU from NZ directly into Sydney, but because of the needs of one of our travellers, we need to go to GBR first. Here are my questions:
1. Is there an easy/inexpensive way to change our flight? (Currently LA/Auckland/Sydney/LA, but really want LA/Auckland/Cairns/Sydney/LA)
2. For the GBR portion of the trip I am struggling with choice of location. I am concerned about too much rain being that we are mid-march. We are interested in moderate-priced hotels, good access to reef diving, good access to land-based activities in the event of rain. Suggestions on the best cities to select?
3. Hotels in Sydney and Melbourne. We will be in each city for several days, and would like a "home base". Is there an FAQ on this site with some moderately priced suggestions? (Would like central, easy walking/bus access, just the basics-- we are more interested in value than view)
Thanks for any help you can offer-- these threads have been invaluable thus far!!
Jennilettuce is offline  
Jan 21st, 2004, 10:01 PM
  #2  
 
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Hi Jennilettuce,

1. I don't know the answer to your flight dilemma. I mean I do know one can fly from Auckland to Cairns, but I don't know what penalties you would incur by changing your existing reservations (if you've already paid for them and all that). Indeed, I don't know if anyone can help you without knowing more details about your exitsing reservations.

2. If I could go to only one jumping off point from which to see the GBR, it would be the Cairns area. There are many islands off the Queensland coast whose beauty is legendary. One group, the Whitsundays, actually comprises over 70 islands. Did a cruise there. Pure magic. However, the Cairns area has the greatest variety of things to see and do. First of all there are the GBR and the tropical rainforest. Then, once one has climbed to the top of the nearby Atherton Tableland, one doesn't have to drive all that far before one reaches the Outback. Plus Cairns, being a fair sized town, can keep one occupied.

When my husband and I went there in July 1999, we stayed in a small coastal community, Port Douglas, which is some distance north of Cairns. I notice on the Fodors forum that another small coastal community, Palm Cove, is extremely popular.

I think Palm Cove and Port Douglas are fine if the weather is good. However, I think they'd have their limitations if it was raining. In that case, I suspect Cairns might have more to offer.

Since you will be going at the tale end of The Wet, it's possible that Cairns might be a better fit for you. The experienced Queenslanders on the forum tell us that it's okay to go to the Cairns area during The Wet, as long as one has a few days to play with. If you have a bit of leeway, from a time point of view, and it's too windy and rainy for you to go out to the GBR one day, you can substitute land activities for that day (tropical rainforest or whatever), and then go out to the GBR another day.

As far as Cairns accommodations are concerned, you might want to look into Lilybank B&B:

www.lilybank.com.au

3. When it comes to Sydney hotels, I'll leave you in the good hands of the forum's Sydney experts. As far as Melbourne is concerned, I lived there for 2-1/2 years, but never stayed in a hotel! The Fodors website does, however, offer some suggestions in a variety of price ranges and districts. Across the top of the screen, there are some buttons called Destinations, Hotels, Restaurants, etc. Click on the Hotels button, scroll down to the bottom of the resulting screen till you see the Australia section, and then click on Melbourne. You then have the option of sorting the hotels list by price or by location. All the neighbourhoods in which Fodors lists hotels are conveniently located, either right downtown or in neighbourhoods that are adjacent to downtown. The only neighbourhood they list that's a little far out is Kew. Actually even it is not bad, as it's on a train line. Also Kew is one of several Melbourne neighbourhoods that has some cute Edwardian architecture (not the motel itself, but nearby homes). Still and all, Kew is further out than all the other Fodors suggestions, and if I were you I would go with one of the others.

Hope this has been of some assistance.



Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2004, 04:57 AM
  #3  
 
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Jennilettuce, I feel I should add that the hotels list I mentioned in my previous post has not been generated by the people who participate in the forum. Rather, I believe the list has been created by Fodors' staff. I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with that, but I just thought I should come back and ensure I hadn't created a misunderstanding by somehow implying that the rest of the Fodors website is the same as the Talk section of the website. As far as I know, the Talk section is the only part of the website that publishes the feedback of ordinary members of the public.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2004, 10:12 AM
  #4  
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Thank you Judy. You have been very helpful. I really enjoy the raves and reviews that you can learn from travellers vs. those from the general guidebook--so thanks for that clarification.
I do have a few days to play with in GBR, so I think I will take your suggestion and stay to the far north.I had been wavering, thinking of going further south to try to stay a bit more dry (Heron Island perhaps) but the more I think about it, I prefer the option of having numerous interesting diversions both in town and around the area. Thank you for your reply.
Jennilettuce is offline  
Jan 25th, 2004, 02:27 PM
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I've talked about this is "Ten Things I Liked and Disliked About Australia," but while in Sydney we stayed at the Airport Holiday Inn. At first blush you may think "Ugh," as "Airport" and "Holiday Inn" may sound like "American White Trash Takes a Vacation" but I would recommend this hotel highly for the following reasons:
1) It is 1/2 the price (A$117) of most city centre hotels, but is two blocks away from the Mascot subway station which will whisk you into Circular Quay (Opera House) station in ten minutes.
2) There is a wonderful deli/cafe between the hotel and Mascot station (forget name but you can't miss it) which offers a great breakfast for $7, and you can also take-out some of the fabulous salads and sandwiches for your day of sight-seeing.Believe me, any salad or sandwich you buy in Sydney will be twice the price and a quarter of the quality/quantity.
3)This "Holiday Inn" is one of the more upscale hotels in their mega-chain:Modern, great rooms and ammenities,(we loved the little touches like the bedtime Oreo cookies)and our maid even found my tiny earring stud and placed it on the T.V. for me! Even though it is close to the airport, we did not find it noisy. We also appreciated the complimentary early-morning shuttle to the airport.
Airsick_ is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 07:00 PM
  #6  
 
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Cairns does not have a good beach but it does have the best bed-and-breakfast we have stayed in www.lilybank.com.au.
Just out of town so quiet, stroll to some marvellous restaurants, wonderful accommodation and breakfasts, the best hosts who will help with your choice of excursions (if you want them to). Most tours will pick up and drop off at Lilybank's door.
RoseDreamer is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 10:29 PM
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Re changing flights. The segment u want to change is not the first so there shouldn't be any problem (unless U have tied yourself into something with special conditions). Don't know about other airlines but if u are flying with the excellent AirNZ they certainly used to fly Auckland-Cairns (that route was my own first landfall in Australia) but prob not every day of the week.

Thefe
alice13 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 10:29 PM
  #8  
 
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Re changing flights. The segment u want to change is not the first so there shouldn't be any problem (unless U have tied yourself into something with special conditions). Don't know about other airlines but if u are flying with the excellent AirNZ they certainly used to fly Auckland-Cairns (that route was my own first landfall in Australia) but prob not every day of the week.

There is very little to uis v
alice13 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 10:43 PM
  #9  
 
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Re changing flights. The segment u want to change is not the first so there shouldn't be any problem (unless U have tied yourself into something with special conditions). Don't know about other airlines but if u are flying with the excellent AirNZ they certainly used to fly Auckland-Cairns (that route was my own first landfall in Australia) but prob not every day of the week.

There is very little to do in Cairns itself (except shop). It's not a city - there are no great museums or galleries. You have to get out of town - take a trip - Daintree, Atherton Tablelands, etc. I guess if it's raining it might be raining there too.

The Whitsundays are fantastic but about 5-6 hrs south of Cairns.

For Sydney accomm - AlanR is the guru - he will suggest various pubs with accomm - some of which are not esp cheap (ie the Russell). But his list includes the sort of places I wd go for if I wasn't equally happy in a hostel.
There is one place top of George Street that I believe has had a recent makeover and might fit the bill. (I've never stayed there though). Do a google for "Great Southern Hotel".

Have a wonderful time!
alice13 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2004, 11:15 PM
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Hi Alice 13 - can't help but disagree with you when you say there is "nothing to do in Cairns but shop". Sure, it doesn't have the museums and art galleries one would find in the state capitals and one would hardly expect to find in a small regional city of 130,000 people, which until reasonably recently was a sugar cane and fishing port. However, it has a very high proportion of people to it's population involved in the arts - Cairns Regional Gallery has constantly changing exhibitions often with major works from all over the world as well as Aboriginal, Torres Strait and local works. The Tanks Gallery in nearby Edge Hill assists and displays works by local artists - it's next to the Flecker Botanical Gardens - the only Wet Tropical Botanical Gardens in Australia. The Cairns Civic Theatre has become to small for the local audience and is replaced by something far larger - it stages productions of the calibre of "The Hollow Crown" with the Royal Shakespeare Company with such renowned British actors as Sir Donald Sinden, Sir Derek Jacobi, Ian Armstrong. There's also a very lively music scene - Johnno's Blues Bar is just one which constantly attracts top international musicians. So we're not complete Philistines - we have this going on as well as easy access to the most beautiful areas of the country.
pat_woolford is offline  

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