Need help with the itinerary

Old Sep 12th, 2008, 09:19 AM
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Need help with the itinerary

My husband and I are planning a trip to Australia for late January to early February.
This is our first trip to Australia. The trip length would be about 14 to 17 days. We like to stay close to the coast and are interested in: beaching, snorkeling, canoeing, and visiting historical sites.
Our very preliminary itinerary is as follows:

- Arrive at preferably Brisbane (or Sydney) How many nights?
- Fraser Island and Heron Island. Question? Are there cruises which would go from either Brisbane or Sydney to Cairns with stops at some of the more popular Islands?
- Cairns how many nights??
- Fly from Cairns to Sydney
- Sydney How many nights?
- Fly back to U.S.

Any suggestions are appreciated.
double_H is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2008, 11:19 PM
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Try Captain Cook Cruises or Orion for cruises along the east coast. I know that Captain Cook cruises leave from Cairns but haven't heard of any that go from Sydney.
Have you thought of hiring a car in Cairns and driving to Brisbane. This would give you the opportunity to explore this part of North Queensland. You could then do day trips to Fraser and Heron, and also Dunk and Hitchenbrook Islands, and also go white water rafting on the Tully.
marg is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2008, 01:58 AM
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Fraser Island and Heron Island are two great picks. The problem you will have is working out how to put those plus Cairns and the two cities together.

For instance you can't fly from Hervey Bay (Fraser Coast) to Gladstone (for Heron) without going back to Brisbane. You can't fly from Gladstone to Cairns without going back to Brisbane except for one flight with 3 stops (4 hours). I checked this quickly on the Qantas website. Virginblue and Jetstar would have even fewer options for those routes. And you must time your arrival and departure to fit in with one boat a day transfers to Heron or take a helicopter.

So budget is an issue. Maybe car is the way to go. And whether you have those extra 3 days is a big factor too.

Fraser is worth more than a day, and Heron Island too, especially given the effort to get there!

You could spend a week in Sydney and surrounds, ditto FNQ. But a reasonable compromise would be 4 in each.

Re cruises, friends of mine took the Captain Cook out of Cairns and went to the Outer Reef and Lizard Island. They loved it.

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Old Sep 13th, 2008, 07:24 AM
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I agree that Heron and Fraser Islands are two great picks. Unless you take the helicopter from Gladstone (expensive!), doing a day trip to Heron Island is not an option. And besides I wouldn't recommend going to either island for anything less than two full days/three nights.

We combined Fraser and Heron Islands in a trip to Australia in 1998. The two complement each other well and they are relatively close together. We drove from Brisbane to Gladstone (5-6 hs), then south to Hervey Bay (about 2-2.5 hrs), then back to Brisbane.

In Jan/Feb it will be HOT in Australia. I've never been to Cairns in the summer (the Wet Season), but I'm thinking this is not the best time to go. Why not consider other options? Firstly, since you plan traveling via Brisbane, you might consider seeing some more of southeast Queensland, places like Lamington National Park (rainforests, waterfalls, wildlife), Noosa and Byron Bay (northern NSW - great beaches). Or, rather than flying north, fly south to Tasmania for milder weather, mountains, lovely beaches and countryside, history (e.g., Port Arthur).

Possible itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive Sydney
2: Sydney
3: Sydney
4: Fly to Gladstone via Brisane (overnight there)
5: Catamaran to Heron Island
6: Heron Island
7: Heron Island
8: Catamaran to Gladstone (overnight there)
9: Early drive (or public transport? ) to Hervey Bay; Barge to Fraser Island (Kingfisher Resort?)
10: Fraser Island
11: Fraser Island
12: Barge to Hervey Bay, flight to Brisbane, then Hobart, Tasmania
13: Tasmania
14; Tasmania
15: Tasmania
16: Fly to Sydney
17: Fly home
RalphR is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2008, 08:58 AM
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Thanks to all for taking the time and making great recommendations. Sydney and Cairns (GBR) are must see for us. The question is what else we can fit in the trip. Is Jan/Feb not a good time to see the GBR?
I liked the idea of driving from Brisbane to Cairns and then flying to Sydney. How is driving conditions? (not used to driving on the left side).
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Old Sep 15th, 2008, 01:18 PM
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Hi DoubleH,

I think you may want to re-think the drive Brisbane to Cairns. It's about 1700 km / 22 hours non stop, a lot of the route fairly uninteresting. You'd need to take 2-3 days to do it sensibly, and I think that's too much out of your available time. Far better fly to Cairns, hire a car there for some day trips.

Google has a useful link for guidance on distances, driving directions & times. If you google "Driving directions - Brisbane to Cairns, Australia", you will see the route.
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Old Sep 15th, 2008, 03:30 PM
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I agree with Bokhara (hi, Bokhara!) because we tried to work out a driving route from Airlie Beach to Cairns (look at a map and see how far north AB is) and it would have taken so much time with little time to enjoy the great places along the way. A good website to help you plan if you want to drive is There is a flight from Hamilton Island directly to Cairns so we did that, then rented a car and drove to Chilagoe (caves and outback) and then to Yungaburra (Atherton Tableland and animals). We also looked into Heron Island, but as others said, it is expensive and difficult to get to, plus I am allergic to birds. We did our snorkeling with Daintree Air (in 2004) to Lizard Island for a day trip--best snorkeling ever until we took the Spirit of Freedom dive boat in 2007 (the ribbon reef and cod hole trip) which had great snorkeling. No stops at islands, though. There are so many options for you, I recommend that you just read, read, read, this site--use the search--and guide books. It is good that you have identified your interests, that's a huge step. As the poster said, it is hot in Australia in Jan. We went in July in 2004 and in October in 2007 and were comfortable, but we live in Seattle and are hot weather wimps. October was excellent for everywhere, although hot in Cooktown. It is supposed to be the best weather for the GBR, but last year they had a lot of wind. We were lucky to have a nice window of good weather when we were on the dive boat. The wind is traditionally in June-July-Aug, but according to those that live there, the weather has been quite atypical for the last few years. Flying around Oz adds quite a lot to your budget, so minimizing flights is a good idea, unless you have an unlimited budget! Oh, it is so much fun to plan a trip to Australia--it was my "hobby" for about 5 years--and I envy you just starting out! This is an excellent site for great information, so keep the questions coming and someone will be happy to help you.
Sally in Seattle
p.s. you can search for my trip reports with SnRSeattle in the search window
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Old Sep 18th, 2008, 05:45 AM
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"Thanks to all for taking the time and making great recommendations. Sydney and Cairns (GBR) are must see for us."

double_H....since you plan to visit Heron Island, you will be seeing the GBR right there - Heron is right on, part, of the reef. A trip up to Cairns to see the reef would not be necessary in my book.
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