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Need advice on two week trip to Sydney/North Queensland

Need advice on two week trip to Sydney/North Queensland

Old Sep 22nd, 2004, 01:35 PM
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Need advice on two week trip to Sydney/North Queensland

My husband and I will be vacationing in Australia, Nov.7-20th coming from the United States. We are ages 28 and 32 and love to travel and enjoy the finer hotels/tours. We are also very active. We will be in Sydney for four nights staying at the Shangri-La. I picked this hotel for it's location and room quality over Four Seasons and Intercontinental. Was not interested in Park Hyatt. I have booked a "Grand Harbour View Room" above the 20th floor. Our first daypera House, walking around Rocks,ect. and BridgeClimb. Day two: Blue Mountains tour with "Sydney Activity Tours"(small group of 18 people). Day 3: Private Day Tour with Aidan Mullen, anywhere we want to go. Day 4: Fly to Cairns, staying four nights at Outrigger Beach Club in Palm Cove. Day4: Flames of the Forest Dinner. Day5: Tjapukai Center, Skyrail, Kuranda Train on our own. Day6: Tablelands/Spanish Castles tours with "Northern Experience Eco Tours". Day7: Rest/swim/beach. Day8: Hot Air Ballooning in Mareeba then off to breakfest by Limo at Sebel Reef House and then onto Sheraton Mirage for four nights in Port Douglas. I have read the numerous neg.reviews, but have a guaranteed reservation for a newly renovated room and really want to stay here for it's size,pools,etc. We are not into small hotels and like alot of people around,etc. Plus we like the feel of a "Resort" and this is pretty much the closest thing to it. Has anyone stayed there recently? Day9: Reef tour with "Poseidon Tours" - we plan on snorkeling and doing an intro dive. Day10: OffRoad Rush surprise tour for my husband just for something different. He will be tired of beach/water at this point, but not me!! Day 10/11 - rest,swim,shop,etc. Day12: Private tour on Cairns Seaplanes over the Reef and then fly back to Sydney/United States.

Please give any feedback possible, including on Nov.weather. We are very excited to finally be visiting this INCREDIBLE COUNTRY!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2004, 02:19 PM
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Nothing I can add to your trip ideas - they seem perfect to me!
Have a wonderful time in Australia, you will find other things to do in brochures everywhere you go so you could do some on the spot changes if you wished.
Where are you going to go for a rest and a recovery AFTER your vacation?
Cheers
Liz
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Old Sep 22nd, 2004, 02:46 PM
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Thank you Liz for your reply. We will be staying in Oahu a few nights AFTER Australia to wind down and relax;Also to make the flight shorter between Sydney and Texas. Do you or anyone else have any detailed comments on any of the hotels or tour companies I've listed? Thanks for all the help!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2004, 05:50 PM
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Just remember:
You may be pretty wiped out by jetlag the first couple of days so don't try to do too much. I booked an opera for my second evening in SYD and coule not stay awake and ended up leaving at the break just so I wouldn't embarass myself by snoring!!LOL

The bridge climb is AWESOME. I just did it on the 30th of August and thought it was tremendous. Just don't try to do it when you are too jetlagged. They do a good job of keeping a group of people together so no one gets too wiped out... but it isn't something to do when you are too tired to enjoy it.

Have a great time! BTW, I just did island hopping in the Cook Islands and French Polynesia to break up my trip back home to Illinois. It was GREAT! Much more laid back in Cook Is than anywhere I've ever been.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2004, 11:07 PM
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Thank you SimpsonC510 for the great advice. We are arriving in Sydney on a Sun.evening at 8:30pm, putting us in our hotel room around 9:30pm and then soon to bed after the long flight. Unfortunately, the only day we have to do the BridgeClimb is the following day (Monday) at 5:35pm as we want a twilight tour. Tues. is out because we won't be back from the Blue Mountains till 6pm and tired. I guess we could do it on Wed. after our all day private city sights tour, but we don't get back to 5pm and I'm afraid we will be too tired. Thurs.morning we fly to Cairns at 11am. **Do you think we will be ok to do BridgeClimb Mon.pm if we do nothing else that day - just rest! We don't have to go sightseeing on that day for we could just add the Opera House to our tour on Wed. **Also, can you give advice on how to get over jetlag quickly? The longest flight I've done is 7hours from Hawaii and we did not have any jet lag, however we came home and slept for 6hours - so maybe that is why. The flight to Sydney will only be 10 and a half hours vs. the 15hrs. from LAX, for we are spending one night in Hawaii to adjust and make for a shorter flight. **If anyone can help me on this I would appreciate it. Thank you.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2004, 04:12 AM
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Hi,
The weather in Sydney in November should be beautiful ( Spring)but good idea to have something a little warmer for some evenings just in case. Cairns at that time of the year will be hot so light clothing.
The Shangri-la is very nice but the Park Hyatt is where all the " Stars" stay. But where ever you stay I'm sure you will enjoy. For your free day you could consider a trip up the Northern Beaches from Manly to Palm Beach where you could have lunch at Jonah's or Barrenjoey House. A ferry trip on the Harbour is also great,could go across to Mosman catch a cab to Balmoral & have dinner at "The Bathers Pavillion " or the "Watermark" both 1st class but would suggest you book on arrival.
Have a great trip. I live in Sydney but will be in France & Italy whilst you are here.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2004, 06:23 AM
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I assumed you would be landing in SYD in the early morning as I always do. Since you arrive in late afternoon, you will be OK going to bed, TRYING to sleep a while, and then hopefully having a lovely day for the climb.

Do enjoy it!
Carol

PS I was in Queensland for a week on my trip, staying at the Mercure Harbourside in Cairns. Had a lovely time there!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2004, 06:46 AM
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Hi Kelly,

My husband and I just returned from Australia a few days ago! You are going to have a wonderful time!!!

We flew Hawaiian Air (with and overnight in Honolulu) and arrived in the evening as you will, and found the adjustment to be an easy one. You are dead tired when you arrive, and trust me...the beds at the Shangri-La are the BEST!! We were there for five nights, and were pleased with our choice. We were on the 32nd floor with a fantastic view of the Opera House. The Grand Harbor View is even better!!!

The Bridge Climb isn't overly taxing, they go at a fairly slow pace. I can guarantee you will have adreneline kicking in to overcompensate for any jet lag remaining.

One idea you may want to consider for your time in Palm Cove is to take a day trip to Lizard Island with Daintree Air. This was the highlight of our trip. You fly on a small (10 seater) plane to Lizard Island in the early AM. We snorkeled in two different areas, had a nice hike, and a gourmet lunch was provided. We saw things we never could have without Greg the Owner/Pilot/Snorkel Guide. He knows the island so well, and is great fun too. Plus on the way back he flew us over the reef. It was the best of many great experiences we had.

I'm sure you will have a great trip...we are already planning our next to Australia!!!

DKW

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Old Sep 23rd, 2004, 11:19 AM
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Hello again everyone,

Thank you so much simpsonc, trumps, and dkw. All your advice sounds great and makes me feel much better about my itinerary. Thanks especially to DKW for writing - you're the first one I've talked to who stayed in Honolulu and flew Hawaiian with an evening arrival. Most people fly straight from LAX and arrive morning or noon. I'm so glad to hear that the jetlag wasn't so bad - as I definately do not want to miss ANYTHING in Sydney! Also great to hear that you loved the Shangri-La. I spent many a nights contemplating where to stay when I started booking this trip 6 months ago. The restaurant choices SIMPSONC gave sound perfect, as well as the advice on Lizard Island. Except now I've got to decide that if I do that I need to either eliminate Poseidon tours and the seaplane or both??

Also still looking for ANYONE who has used any of the tour companies I mentioned in my original message or anyone who has stayed at Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas in the last 6-12 months?

Thanks to all for the great advice!!

TO: DKW- where are you from? I'm assuming the U.S.?
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Old Sep 23rd, 2004, 11:41 AM
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Hi Again Kelly,

I am from the Detroit area. Since you are flying Hawaiian, let me suggest the DigEPlayers that they have for rent on the planes. They are individual screens pre-loaded with about 10 movies that you can play at your leisure (like a portable DVD player) I watched a bunch of movies, and they sure helped pass the time. These players only rent for $10 ....well worth it!

DKW
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Old Sep 23rd, 2004, 11:46 AM
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Hello again,

I've just thought of another important question. I'm thinking our itinerary sounds great but MIGHT be too much activity and not enough relaxation - however I really don't want to cut anything out. But if I did just to have some down time, can anyone recommend if I should cut out Kuranda,skyrail, and the train. I've heard the SKYRAIL is a must but we will be doing the NEW Scenicsender skyway and train at the Blue Mountains - are they similar in experience? Plus I'm not sure if the train in Kuranda is so great - EVERYONE has said we won't see that many waterfalls in mid Nov. and the train is hot/stuffy and long. Can anyone comment on this? I really was only going to Kuranda to see the Koala Gardens and that's all - I hate to shop! Also wanted to do skyrail of course and see the Tjapukai Cultural Center - if it's worth taking out 2 and half hours of one day doing?

Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I just don't want our trip to be so busy that we can't relax some on our VACATION.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2004, 11:51 AM
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Hello DKW,

I'm so excited about the DigE Players on Hawaiian! Are there enough for everyone to rent on the plane? Of course my husband and I could share if they don't have enough. I really hope that have them on our flight! We are flying out from Honolulu on a Sat. at 1:15pm and arriving in Sydney on Sun. at 8:15pm - is this the same flight you did?
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Old Sep 23rd, 2004, 02:51 PM
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Hi, Kelly!
There's really no comparison to the Skyrail and the Blue Mountains Sceniscender, as they are in totally different parts of Australia. The Skyrail is in the tropics among a rain forest, while the Blue Mountains is in a temperate zone full of eucalyptus and tree ferns. You could easily do both and not feel like you were repeating an experience, any more than if, say, you went to the top of the Sears Tower in Chicago and the Empire State Building.

If you have a choice on your Blue Mountains day (but I'm not sure you do, as I think you said you were on a tour) you might like to walk down the Giant Stairway, past the Three Sisters (you'll actually walk on one of them), and then, after half an hour of steep stairs, you'll end up on the valley floor, where a short (fifteen minutes)walk to the right will take you to the lower station for the Scenic Railway. The railway and the Sceniscender do much the same journey, so there's no reason to do both, and the walk is really very interesting (and not too taxing -- people in their seventies and children under five do it regularly).
Have a wonderful holiday!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2004, 03:46 PM
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Hi Kelly A
As Alan says there's really no comparison with Blue Mountains in NSW and tropical rain forest in Far North Queensland, completely different climatic areas and vegetation. The Kuranda train is not airconditioned, it can get very warm on afternoon trip, so it might be better to take morning(when its cooler)train to Kuranda then Skyrail (two rainforest stops included) down and do Tjakupai last. Alternatively there is now an old steam train with an open viewing carriage, lots of fresh air, (it does have enclosed carriages as well). As you're coming from Palm Cove take either train from Freshwater Connection station, rather than go all the way back into station in Cairns city. However, if the only reason you want to go to Kuranda (there is no need to shop - a few minutes walk out of the village will take you to very scenic rainforest tracks) is to see koalas you don't need to travel nearly as far. Cairns Tropical Zoo is on highway at Palm Cove and the excellent Rainforest Habitat is close to Port Douglas - they both keep koalas as does Hartleys Creek crocodile farm between PC and PD. Koala cuddling is only permitted in Kuranda Koala Gardens and Cairns Tropical Zoo, the others will allow photos with koalas only.

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Old Sep 23rd, 2004, 08:51 PM
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Thanks Alan and Pat for the great comments!

Pat: I have decided not to do the train - my husband would die if he found out it didn't have air conditioning. However, really want to take the skyrail up because their website says it only takes 90 minutes vs. 2 and a half hours coming down - is this true? Is skyrail airconditioned? Also if we do skyrail up and visit Koala Gardens (instead of Cairns Zoo), could we simply take a taxi back down to our hotel? Do you know approximately how long the taxi ride would be to Palm Cove?

Thanks for all your help!

Kelly A
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Old Sep 23rd, 2004, 10:53 PM
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Kelly

The only reason I know that it would take 2/5 hours return is sometimes the line is so long in the afternoon. You can wait an age just to get on it. Also they encourage you to jump off enroute to do a walk in some rainforest.

I know a bus goes up to Kuranda, however from Palm Cove not so sure. Pat maybe able to help out more there.

You could take the skyrail up, see the Koala then get a bus down to the base where the aboriginal park is for your show, then a taxi back to Palm Cove (or the local sun bus).

The skyrail and aboriginal cultural centre are right next to each other at the base of the hills on the main highway.
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Old Sep 24th, 2004, 05:58 AM
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The view from the skyrail is really awesome. And that's especially so when you are coming DOWN, IMO. But then, I've not made the trip going UP. I took the skyrail as part of an all-day tour in my two trips on it.

The shopping isn't great at Kuranda. When I first went there in 1988, it was a sleepy little town with a local market on Wednesdays and Saturdays (?) and those were the best days to make the trip. Now the market, what there is of it, is open everyday. There are more souvenir shops in the center of town than there used to be. I enjoyed the butterfly sanctuary in '88 but did not return there last month when I returned for my 4th time to Kuranda.

I've always taken the train UP. No, it isn't air conditioned. We had a bit of excitement on our trip up this last time. One of the two engines pooped out more than halfway there and couldn't make the climb so the train had to be backed down the mountain!!! We rescheduled the tour a couple of days later and everything was just fine.

LOVED the koalas at the Rainforestation Nature Park near Kuranda. There were several babies clinging to their mom's back and chewing on leaves. You were given an opportunity to get a photo holding a koala but we did not do this. There were also a number of kangaroos that you could walk right up to and pet. Thank goodness the crocs were confined!!!

I'm thinking that IF you do the skyrail on your own, up or down, you as an individual will wait while a tour group gets in line and goes, in order to maintain its schedule. That's the reason why the trip DOWN can be longer. The two stops along the way are not all that necessary to make, although the views are awesome. You do have to get off the skyrail and change cars at each stop because there are three separate lines that take you from bottom to top, or top to bottom.

Carol
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Old Sep 24th, 2004, 07:01 AM
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Hi Kelly,

Yes, the Hawaiian Air flight you are taking is the same one we took. On the way over the flight was very empty. Empty enough that everyone in economy was able to move to their own row. Very nice!!! This was on a Wednesday night. As for the trip home on Friday, Sept 17th.....problems!! A mechanical problem delayed the flight til the next day. Hawaiian did make hotel arrangements for us in both Sydney (Four Seasons) and in Honolulu (because we missed our connections)...they also arranged transfers and meals as well. It was all very confusing, as the plane was quite full, but everything was handled as best as could be done. I was truly impressed with the way the Sydney employees of Hawaiian Air were able to make arrangements for over 300 people in as organized a manner as they did. Everyone on the flight was also issued a $300 voucher to be used on a future Hawaiian Air flight.

We took a Taxi back to Palm Cove from Kuranda. There is a dedicated phone to the Taxi Company in the lobby. They will send a car our within about 10 minutes to pick you up. I think the charge was about $22 AUD. The ride is only about 15 minutes or so.

DKW
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