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Need help in planning itinerary for Sydney, Australia

Need help in planning itinerary for Sydney, Australia

Mar 13th, 2016, 08:43 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 21
Need help in planning itinerary for Sydney, Australia

Hello, everyone, I need help in planning our family itinerary in June to sydney, Australia.
This is what we have.
My family consists of my son 23, daughter 18, wife and I. Our vacation will be for a total of two weeks. (From Friday May 27 to June 12th)
We will be taking Air New Zealand from San Francisco on Friday, May 27th, at 10:30 P.M, making connection in New Zealand (1.5 hr layover). Then, we will be taking the connection to Sydney arriving Sunday morning. Now, the help I need is places to visit, how many days is recommended to visit in each place, what the weather is going to be like? Pretty much, how I can spread my time wisely, should we rent a car? what places to avoid. This is the first time we are visiting this country and my family and I would like to make it a memorable one. Also, I have heard that in June is the beginning of Winter. What should clothes can we bring for those dates? Should we bring winter clothes?
Just help u out as much as you can. Also, I have heard through other forums that we need Australian Visa and I can do it online. Is that correct? We would like to sightseeing, food, Blue Mountain and other great things.
Thank you so much for helping us in advance.
migueltejada is offline  
Mar 13th, 2016, 08:46 PM
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Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 21
Also, let me know places or hotels were we can all stay.
Thank you
migueltejada is offline  
Mar 14th, 2016, 02:14 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,056
Here's a few suggestions to get you started:

For weather in parts of the world I'm not familiar with, I use:

One person's definition of 'cold' is quite different from another's, so temperature guides are more accurate. If you look under NSW,then Sydney and Katoomba, that should give you a better idea.

Are you comfortable driving on the opposite side of the road to USA? That would be one determiner for me!

Sydney could easily fill several days, depending on what you want out of your trip. Do you want to 'tick a bucket list' or really walk around and see detail? There are some lovely harbourside walks, ferry trips, museums, art galleries etc if you have the time.

Taronga Zoo https://taronga.org.au/taronga-zoo is so unlike any zoos I have seen in the Americas that it is worth a day trip. Only nocturnal animals and Platypus are housed indoors, and it's a great place to view the harbour from, as well as experience the wild life.

Blue Mountains: once again, it depends how deep an experience you want. For a day trip you can either drive or take the train. Katoomba has a hop-on-hop-off bus http://www.explorerbus.com.au/ that would enable you to do a flying visit. Spend a few days, and you can do some of the wonderful bush walks and get a much better sense of the Australian mountain landscape.

Tourist Visa: I'd have thought you'd do better to take a look at an official website like http://usa.embassy.gov.au/whwh/visiting_australia.html rather than accepting advice from non-experts.

Happy planning, Di
di2315 is offline  
Mar 14th, 2016, 03:21 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 12,013
Hi & welcome to the Australian Forum

Yes - you will all need Visas. Apply here:


Typically, first time visitors with 2 weeks to spend do what we call "Bridge, Rock, Reef"

And BTW - you're coming at a great time. I suspect our early winters are not too different from yours in Sydney & the north. Bring coats, it will be cool/cold in the mornings & evenings, especially in the Blue Mountains, Canberra & Uluru.

www.bom.gov.au for Australian weather.

BRIDGE: Sydney. http://www.sydney.com.au
And the destination tag & FAQs here.

The Harbour is very much part of our life in Sydney, ferries go to lots of inner Harbour suburbs and 30 mins to Manly. Great surf & lovely walks.

We have a good range of restaurants & one of the things exiting visitors comment on frequently is our wonderful fresh food.

With your group, I'd do the Bridge Climb. It's not super cheap, but it's fantastic & a great one for your family "memory bank".

You don't need or want a car in Sydney - but it can be an advantage to have one for day trips out of town.

Day trip or overnight to Blue Mountains.

Perhaps an overnight trip to Canberra. It's our Capital & it's an absolute gem.
Look it up.


TRANSPORT: Public Transport is excellent in Sydney. Get Opal


Just put $30 each on them to start as you can top up as required, but unused $ can only be refunded to Australian bank a/cs. Yes we think that's silly, too.



Fly from Sydney. Rent a car. Go to the Cultural Centre at Yulara before you do anything else. It will enhance your experience.

You don't need to do a bus tour. Research, see if any if the rangers is doing a guided walk & do that. Allow time to do the Valley of the Winds walk at Kata Tjuta.

Uluru accommodation is expensive. Remote, supply & demand, monopoly. There are some more economical options than the resort.

Book your car ahead of time - it's a popular time & they don't have an unlimited supply.

REEF: Great Barrier Reef. Fly Uluru (AYQ) direct to Cairns.

Rent a car. I like Port Douglas better than Cairns ( it's about an hour's drive north).

There are a number of operators doing trips out to the reef - I probably see more accolades for Wavelength than any other, but that is not at all to denigrate any of the others.


There is a lot more to FNQ ( Far North Queensland ) than the Great Barrier Reef, & I'd encourage you to take a trip to the Atherton Tablelands & the Daintree Rainforest if you can.

Several of my local & international friends have done wildlife trips with Alan Gilanders & raved about it.
This is one of the few times I'd recommend a tour - you'll see more of of our native animals with Alan than you ever would on your own.


Accommodation: in Sydney, you might like a self catering apartment,
rather than a hotel. More space, kitchen & laundry facilities & can be cheaper.

Have a look at www.booking.com

You might also look at Airbnb.

Just a note about prices/costs in Australia. Australia is often more expensive than the US & we hear /see complaints about "sticker shock".

However, It is useful to keep in mind/know:

1. All prices are as shown in the price tag/menu/ hotel site. There are no extra taxes or other unpleasant surprises at the cash register.

2. Tipping is not necessary or required. Anywhere, any time or by anyone. Myriad threads on this here & on Trip Advisor emphasize that it is not part of our culture.

Our people are paid award wages, not subsistence wages which are expected to be subsidized by tips at the whim of customers.

If you are in a tourist area restaurant & a waiter/waitress picks up on your accent & attempts to coerce you into "tipping in Australia is the same as the US" - it is not! Please do not fall for this!

That said, if you receive exceptional service at a restaurant - well over & above what would normally be expected - and would like to leave a small gratuity that's fine, but keep it minimal. 10% tops. But it won't be expected. And it certainly isn't required.

How to divide your time? Have a look at the destination tags & see what you want to see & do - but as a very rough guide, I'd consider :

Sydney & surrounds - 4-5 days
Uluru -2 days
Cairns & surrounds 4-5 days

The extra couple of days could take you a little further in the Blue Mountains / Central West/ Canberra

Or spend it exploring the Cairns hinterland.

If you aren't wedded to flying in & out of Sydney, you might be able to open-jaw into Sydney & out of Cairns. That would save a bit of back-tracking & give you an extra day.

That's just one idea for your fortnight. You could choose lots of other things, depending on your particular interests.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Mar 14th, 2016, 11:25 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561

That's Australian understatement. It's expensive. It's also unique.

Sydney will have its Vivid festival for part of your run. It's best around Circular Quay. Info here: http://www.sydney.com/us/events/vivid-sydney

Taronga Zoo is bloody expensive. It may not seem bad to you if you're accustomed to San Diego Zoo prices. There are wildlife parks throughout Oz, including a couple within a short drive of Sydney, that are better value (although the views from Taronga are good).

You don't need an Opal card for Sydney. If you're in the CBD, Rocks, Circular Quay or Darling Harbour area (note, Aussies have extraneous letters in their words, just like the Brits or as Dr. House said "the Queen is on your money, you're British"). Much of the CBD to Rocks to CQ area is walkable and the CityRail coverage is far less extensive than in comparable cities of Sydney's population (none of which have Sydney's size - physically it is immense). Just as easy to pay for your train rides as necessary.

Do NOT use City Rail for transport to, from or within Sydney's airport. For some reason, the most environmentally conscious nation in the Anglosphere sees fit to discourage train use by charging a huge premium for alighting upon or disembarking from City Rail trains at the airport. Seriously daft notion.

If you go to Uluru, go to Emu Walk Apartments. It's less expensive than most of the other resort properties and a 1BR apt will fit your whole crew. But book on a secondary website, not the resort's website. We booked a 1BR for me, wife, hobbit 1 and hobbit 2 through booking.com or similar and it allowed a four-person group. The resort's website said we had to book a 2BR apt. That's stupid - the 1BR had a couch that folded out into a double bed and a chair that transformed into a single bed.

If you decide to take day trips, then you should rent (hire) cars. If you're thinking about hiring a car to go from major city to major city, don't. The only two major cities in all of Australia that are within driving distance of each other (read: 5 hours or less) are Canberra and Sydney. Every other gap is a flight - Sydney to Brisbane is 560 miles, Adelaide to Melbourne is > 450 miles, Sydney to Melbourne is over 500 miles, Cairns to Brisbane is over 1000 miles (and Cairns is on the far side of Brisvegas from Sydney). We're not even going to mention how far Perth, Alice Springs, Darwin or Broome (if that counts as a "major" city) are from the others. And we're not including Hobart because you can't drive there without a duck-bus (it's the capital of Tasmania, an island).

You can rent a car if you go to Uluru, but note that it will probably have a severe mileage limitation. (Other cities will have unlimited mileage rentals). Uluru is in the middle of nowhere so Avis and Hertz need their local fleet returned locally. Petrol prices are about 50-60% higher in the Red Centre than the rest of the country.
BigRuss is offline  
Mar 14th, 2016, 02:05 PM
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I would definitely rent a car if you go to Uluru. Your only other option for getting to Uluru itself or Kata Tjuta is organized tours or a private shuttle company, both of which are pretty expensive options, especially for a family of 4. (There is a free shuttle but it only runs around the hotels and to the airport.) Having a car will give you the flexibility to go where you want, when you want. If you want some sort of a guided tour, the park rangers do a free one every morning. If you have never driven on the left side of the road, this is the perfect place to do it for the first time--traffic is light; the roads are in good shape and you can't get lost because there's only one way to get around. Be sure to book your car in advance of your visit. They don't carry a large inventory so you can't expect to get a car on a walk-up basis.

Regarding the visa--Assuming you are all US citizens, you will need what is called an ETA or Electronic Travel Authority. It is electronically attached to your passport. The ETA itself is free but there is an A$20 processing fee for each one. Apply through the official Australian government website which Bokhara provided.
longhorn55 is offline  
Mar 14th, 2016, 02:53 PM
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Posts: 12,013
Just a note about the Opal card: it's good for all forms of public transport & capped at $15/day ($2.50 on Sundays).

Apart from the savings it can represent if one is, for example, taking a couple of ferry & a bus trip, I find it a lot more convenient than having to line up to buy paper tickets.

Many (most) of our buses are pre-paid & I don't want to have to mess about with a pocket full of paper tickets for varying prices to cover different journey lengths. Or having to find a shop to buy one.

The Opal card debits the appropriate amount, shows the balance available & stops debiting when $15 is reached for that day. One card. Multi purpose. Saves me $. I'll go with that

The airport train is privately operated. Pricing has nothing to do with the government. Same with toll roads.

Russ makes a good point though - 4 people = taxi from the airport to the CBD. Don't even think about a shuttle - they are uniformly dreadful in Sydney. And would be more expensive for 4.

Good point about using Booking.com & Emu Walk Apartments at Uluru.

Car rental at Yulara has limited kms, but if the OP is only going to Uluru & KataTjuta, they will not be over the 200km daily limit. Even if they do go over, the 37c ( Avis, medium car)/km is not going to break the bank. Fuel prices in remote areas are expensive.
As with all rental firms, Avis charges a hefty impost if cars aren't returned with a full tank -$4.05/L today.

There are other rental companies - I just checked with Avis because I use them elsewhere & I think they would be typical of the other majors.

With 4 people, having a rental car would not only be more flexible than taking tours - it would be quite a bit cheaper.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Mar 14th, 2016, 03:26 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561

No, the airport is privately operated. The City Rail line that runs to the terminals is not.


Yup. Did this ourselves. And there's a petrol station on the Yulara resort grounds so you can top up before driving to the airport. That 7 km run won't deplete the vehicle's tank.

We went to Uluru sunset viewpoint, Uluru main car park (where the climbers go who don't care about tromping on what the local tribes view as hallowed ground), and to the Kata Tjuta sunset overlook and that was basically our kilometrage allotment for our two nights in Uluru on the rental.

And in June, you won't get the swarm of flies in your orifices that plague life in the Red Centre during warmer months. I've been in late April and early/mid June and the fly concentration was far lower in the latter.
BigRuss is offline  
Mar 19th, 2016, 10:37 PM
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Thank you all for your incredibly helpful responses, we are so excited for our trip! I would also like to know if various/ most locations accept major credit cards, or should I have cash at hand? In addition, I have noticed that hardly any water attractions were mentioned; is it not popular to explore them in that season?
Thank you!
migueltejada is offline  
Mar 20th, 2016, 12:31 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 12,013
Most locations accept credit cards - foe anything <$10 you would probably pay cash, although I notice even some coffee shops are doing "swipe & pay " for small amounts.

Water attractions: we 're not really into canned/ theme park events ( except on the Gold Coast) but, being an island, our major cities are located on beaches - so there is no shortage of "water activities". Bear in mind, June is winter in our part of the world - although it's the ideal time to visit FNQ & the Great Barrier Reef.

I'm not sure what you were looking for, but have a look at the FAQ for each if your destinations & you'll probably find it.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Mar 20th, 2016, 03:17 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 12,013
Vivid Sydney will be on during your visit. Make time for it in your evenings while you are here.

Bokhara2 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2016, 01:28 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561

What season, Aussie winter? Somehow water attractions become less popular in winter . . .

First, you're lucky to find water of any sort in the Red Centre, so there's a dearth of water parks.

Second, why would you fly halfway across the world to go to a water park when you have bunches of them in Northern California?

As for water attractions - if that means snorkeling and diving, that's primarily going to be up in Queensland at that time of year. Sailing or boating is anywhere on the various coasts. But your meaning is unclear.

If you're asking whether to BRING dollars from the US to Australia, the answer is no. The Aussies have plenty of ATMs all over the bloody place and you can withdraw their colorful cash wherever you want. Just don't offer to "use plastic" when paying anywhere - Aussie money is plastic too.
BigRuss is offline  
Mar 27th, 2016, 07:59 PM
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Thanks again for the responses. I guess I did use the wrong word, I meant water attractions as in popular beaches, snorkeling, etc, perhaps with great ocean life. Where we are, we occasionally get some warm days during the winter and perhaps if a day like that came up while there, we'd use it to check out some beaches.
migueltejada is offline  
Apr 5th, 2016, 03:16 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,140
Great thread for our planning.
yestravel is offline  
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