Our trip report of Australia

Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 02:03 PM
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Our trip report of Australia

We recently arrived home from our amazing trip to Australia. We had a great time, fond memories and are looking forward to our next trip there!

Day 1 � Sydney:
We got to Sydney at 7 am on Monday, March 31. Luckily, the Old Sydney Holiday Inn had a room ready for us. We were approx 5 min walking distance from the Opera House, Harbor Bridge, and Circular Quay. Great location and room. We headed out to try to stay awake to try to get adjusted to the time difference. We decided to go to the Sydney Aquarium. We got on the ferry and the rain started. It was sprinkling when we got to the aquarium. The aquarium was so neat. We saw so many different animals. They had a cool exhibit where you walked in a clear tube and sharks and sting rays swam right over you. In another exhibit, the floor was clear and elevated in the tank so sting rays swam underneath and over you. Definitely comparable to Monterey. When we left the aquarium, the rain started really coming down. We got back to The Rocks and had lunch. We headed back to the hotel and crashed. We slept the rest of the day.

Day 2 - Sydney:
We got up early, had a nice breakfast but expensive one at the hotel. We never ate there again since there were really neat cafes and restaurants a short distance away. We walked around the area and took lots of pictures. Then we walked to the Harbour Bridge and the Pylon where we took some great pictures. If you do the Bridge Climb, they give you free passes to the Pylon, otherwise it was $5 AUD for each of us. After that we had a quick lunch and headed out to do the Bridge Climb. They strapped us in gray jumpsuits, we looked like prisoners and went through extensive orientation on how we were hooked up to cables, climbing the stairs, and radio use. Then we headed out. Luckily, the skies were clear and no rain in sight. The climb was very smooth and the views were amazing. It was kind of scary to see the all the lanes of traffic underneath us and they also had a train that used the bridge which would kind of shake it. The whole thing took about 3 hours. We had a great time!

Day 3 - Sydney:
I found out the day before that the 4WD tour of Blue Mountains with Dal Myles was canceled since they didn't have enough bookings. The lady made it seem like that this was the first time in a long time that they had to cancel it. Throughout our trip we were hearing of a lot of cancellations due to the war and economy. So we were stuck on a coach bus with 15 people on going to Blue Mountains. The day started off cool and sprinkled in some areas. Then we were off to the Blue Mountains. Brian didn't think it looked blue at all, it was more blue-gray. We had a good time, but I would have rather preferred doing the 4WD tour or just going by ourselves.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 02:04 PM
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Day 4 - Sydney:
We headed off to Taronga Zoo and it was overcast. We did the VIP Gold Tour which allowed us to have 2 ladies escort us to areas closed to the public and we were allowed to touch and hold the animals. This was the highlight of the zoo. We were able to hold wombats. They are so cute. They are related to koalas and they have better personalities. They were following us all around their pen. We also got to have close encounters with lizards, snakes, kangaroos, wallabies, bush-tail possum, echidna, and koalas. The ladies that escorted us around were very nice and helpful. It rained all day that we were there and I got a cold from it that lasted for several days. In the evening we went to a TaikOz concert at the Opera House and it was great, my husband loved it. We enjoyed the drummers and they put on a great show. It was very upbeat and enthusiastic. The Opera House is an amazing building.

Day 5 � Sydney to Kangaroo Island: We spent the day traveling from Sydney to Adelaide to Kangaroo Island. The flight was delayed for 2 hours in Adelaide so we sat there for 4 hours. I was pretty cranky by the time we got to The Lookout B&B. We booked the 2 Day tour with Outlook Tours. Malcolm picked us up at the airport and we had a hot dinner and dessert waiting for us. They provide lodging, all meals, and tour with their package. The "apartment" was so neat. 2 big bedrooms and bathrooms. A full kitchen, dining area and sitting area. It was bigger than my first apartment. It also looked out on beautifully landscaped gardens. The funny thing was that I was looking through their guest book and about 2 weeks prior, 2 couples from the Sacramento area stayed there. They live about 15 min from our house. What a small world!

Day 6 � Kangaroo Island:
Our first destination was a lagoon where we saw different kinds of birds and we had our morning tea. After that we went and saw the Australian seals and we were lucky enough to see a pup. We went to a lookout over a bay, where Malcolm set up for lunch. The lunch was gourmet. We stopped off on a couple of vista points and the coast line is beautiful. We headed off to private property to look for koalas. We found several and also saw a kangaroo. Afterwards, we headed back to the B&B where we had a great dinner cooked for us. After dinner we went and saw the fairy penguins. They were too cute. We saw a couple mating and one couple after they were done, had one wing over the other. I noticed that I�ve never seen so much roadkill or skeletons in my life. I guess it indicates how much wildlife is on the island.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 02:05 PM
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Day 7 � Kangaroo Island:
Again the day started early and we headed to a vista point. We decided to tour the Kelly Hill Caves, that was really interesting. Then we headed off to Little Sahara desert where it was several huge sand dunes. We headed off to Flinders Chase National Park for lunch. While Malcolm was preparing our lunch we wandered around and saw several koalas, a kangaroo that came close to check us out, and a Goanna lizard that crossed our path. We went to the coast to see the New Zealand seals and the Admiral�s Arch. Then we headed off to the Remarkable Rocks. They're considered remarkable because you can't believe they're standing. Some only have 3 or less small points touching the ground or some are leaning against each other and that's how they are being held up. After all that we headed off to the airport to catch a flight back to Adelaide for the night.


Day 8 � Adelaide � Ayers Rock: We flew to Alice Springs and then on to Ayers Rock. The driver warned us how 35 people have died in the past year due to dehydration and to bring and drink lots of water. It was easily over 100 degrees for the past 4 months. When we got there, it was overcast. We stayed at Sails in the Desert. I figured we should splurge before our adventure Darwin.
Our first event was the Sounds of Silence Dinner, it was a memorable experience, but we didn't get the amazing sunset. The clouds parted enough for the astronomer to point out the stars. I saw things that you cannot see the northern hemisphere. We had a buffet for dinner, this is where I tried crocodile (pretty good), kangaroo (not too good, but I think it's due to how they cooked it), and emu (ok). We met some nice Australian couples that have been to more cities in the US than I have. And we were going to more places in Australia than they have been. It's funny how we take our own country for granted. We went to bed early, because we were being picked up at 6 am for a 6 mile walk around Uluru.

Day 9 - Uluru:
We got up early with some difficulty and we woke up to rain. The tour company was Discovery Ecotours and we did the Uluru Pass. This includes the Uluru Walk where you walk around the base of Uluru and The Olgas and Dunes where you walk between Kata Tjuta and watched the sunset. Here we are in the desert and it's comfortable and raining. It was kind of hard to appreciate the desert when it's raining. But it wasn�t raining hard enough to get the wonderful view of water cascading down Uluru. We never saw a great sunrise or sunset due to the weather. Most people told us that even without the clouds you don�t see Uluru the way you see it in the enhanced pictures.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 02:06 PM
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Day 7 – Kangaroo Island:
Again the day started early and we headed to a vista point. We decided to tour the Kelly Hill Caves, that was really interesting. Then we headed off to Little Sahara desert where it was several huge sand dunes. We headed off to Flinders Chase National Park for lunch. While Malcolm was preparing our lunch we wandered around and saw several koalas, a kangaroo that came close to check us out, and a Goanna lizard that crossed our path. We went to the coast to see the New Zealand seals and the Admiral’s Arch. Then we headed off to the Remarkable Rocks. They're considered remarkable because you can't believe they're standing. Some only have 3 or less small points touching the ground or some are leaning against each other and that's how they are being held up. After all that we headed off to the airport to catch a flight back to Adelaide for the night.


Day 8 – Adelaide – Ayers Rock: We flew to Alice Springs and then on to Ayers Rock. The driver warned us how 35 people have died in the past year due to dehydration and to bring and drink lots of water. It was easily over 100 degrees for the past 4 months. When we got there, it was overcast. We stayed at Sails in the Desert. I figured we should splurge before our adventure Darwin.
Our first event was the Sounds of Silence Dinner, it was a memorable experience, but we didn't get the amazing sunset. The clouds parted enough for the astronomer to point out the stars. I saw things that you cannot see the northern hemisphere. We had a buffet for dinner, this is where I tried crocodile (pretty good), kangaroo (not too good, but I think it's due to how they cooked it), and emu (ok). We met some nice Australian couples that have been to more cities in the US than I have. And we were going to more places in Australia than they have been. It's funny how we take our own country for granted. We went to bed early, because we were being picked up at 6 am for a 6 mile walk around Uluru.

Day 9 - Uluru:
We got up early with some difficulty and we woke up to rain. The tour company was Discovery Ecotours and we did the Uluru Pass. This includes the Uluru Walk where you walk around the base of Uluru and The Olgas and Dunes where you walk between Kata Tjuta and watched the sunset. Here we are in the desert and it's comfortable and raining. It was kind of hard to appreciate the desert when it's raining. But it wasn’t raining hard enough to get the wonderful view of water cascading down Uluru. We never saw a great sunrise or sunset due to the weather. Most people told us that even without the clouds you don’t see Uluru the way you see it in the enhanced pictures.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 02:07 PM
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Ooops, did a double post.

Day 10 – Ayers Rock - Darwin: We flew back to Alice Springs and then onto Darwin. It's really humid and hot in Darwin. We got to our hotel, the Value Inn, and the room was so tiny. It barely fit a queen and single beds in there and it was so muggy. It was only for a short night before we leave for the camping trip. We walked around a bit and went to bed early to be ready to go camping the next day.

Day 11 – Kakadu National Park: We got up early to be picked up at 6:30 am with Wilderness 4WD Adventures for a 3 day camping trip. We met our other campers, a couple from Germany, 2 English girls, an Irish mand and a Dutch man. We rode in a LandCruiser that had benches in the back. The seats were worn and you couldn't stretch your legs. It was a difficult ride to Kakadu National Park. First we stopped off at Mary River for a crocodile cruise. We saw several and the guide scared the crap out of us by telling us stories. A German girl was killed by one almost a year ago when her idiotic tour guide told her she can swim in waters that he should know that were likely to have crocodiles in there. Another strory was that an Australian guy was walking a long a flooded road after fishing and slipped, well the crocodile got him, but he almost got away until he slipped on the bank and the crocodile decapitated him in front of his wife, son and a busful of tourists.

After the cruise, we finally got to the park. Our first hike was uphill to a vista point. OMG! The climb was so hard and we were sweating our butts off! We got some great pictures of the view, though. After that we deserved a swimming break, except it's a 45 min hike to the swimming hole. The water felt soo good, but by the time we hiked back to the truck, we were sweating again. It was a great and relaxing swimming hole, though. After that, we headed to our campsite and set up camp. We camped near a lagoon. The mosquitos were horrible and even if you had repellant they were bad. As soon as dinner was done and the tents set up, everyone stayed in their tent to avoid them. The ground was hard even though we had swags under the sleeping bags, but I was so tired that I fell asleep pretty quickly. My husband didn't and heard lots of strange noises. One time he heard a crash in the water like a car being driven into the lagoon. In the morning he found out it was a crocodile. That is a story he loves telling everyone.

Day 12 – Kakadu National Park:
We woke up early and packed up the tents and headed off to Ubirr Rock for aboriginal cave art and a vista point. The aboriginal cave art is pretty amazing, they don’t look tens of thousands of years old. Most of the drawings were anatomically correct showing the bone, organ and muscle structure with great detail and accuracy. They drew white men when they first saw them without hands and toes. They think this is due to hands always being shoved in pants pockets and their feet were in shoes. We hiked to the top for a great view of the surrounding land. We headed back down for our next campsite. We set up camp and then we headed off to another swimming hole. Another refreshing and beautiful one with just a 15 min walk. We returned back to camp. The mosquitos were pretty much non-existant there. So we had a great dinner and slept great.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 02:10 PM
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Day 13 � Darwin � Port Douglas: We woke up at 4 am to be at the airport at 6am. We flew to Cairns and drove to Port Douglas. It's such a neat little town. The main road ends at the beach and 3 story hotels are the tallest buildings. Lots of restaurants and the weather was perfect. We checked in to Archipelago Studio Apartments. The room was clean and big and the location couldn�t be beat. We relaxed this day and went to the local market where I picked up some fresh fruit and checked out all the different things for sale.

Day 14 � Port Douglas:
Today was the highly anticipated One Day Lizard Island. We got to the airport where we met Greg, a fun guy, for a day of snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. Another American couple booked it with us who also heard about it on Fodors. The flight was uneventful and saw the beautiful ocean and the reefs underneath the water. The reef was only about 30 feet away from the beach. We saw great fish, touched the clams and coral (they were slimy, smooth, and soft feeling), saw an octopus and lots of neat other animals. Unfortunately, my husband had trouble with the mask leaking water so he ended up having a frustrating experience. But he was a good sport about it. After lunch we walked to the other side of the Island to the Blue Lagoon. Another beautiful water and beach! Well worth the money!

Day 15 � Port Douglas:
This day we headed off to tour the Daintree Rainforest with BTS Tours. We went on a crocodile cruise and spotted a couple crocodiles. After that we had lunch at this neat spot with a creek. My husband and I kayaked along the creek and played with the many turtles and fish in the creek. After lunch we headed towards Cape Tribulation, the tide was low and we saw a starfish and my husband saw a sand shark. Then we took a walk through the rainforest, the guide giving us details about the plants. Next time, I would prefer to do this trip on our own. We had dinner at On The Inlet, where I had bugs. They were very good.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 02:11 PM
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Day 13 – Darwin – Port Douglas: We woke up at 4 am to be at the airport at 6am. We flew to Cairns and drove to Port Douglas. It's such a neat little town. The main road ends at the beach and 3 story hotels are the tallest buildings. Lots of restaurants and the weather was perfect. We checked in to Archipelago Studio Apartments. The room was clean and big and the location couldn’t be beat. We relaxed this day and went to the local market where I picked up some fresh fruit and checked out all the different things for sale.

Day 14 – Port Douglas:
Today was the highly anticipated One Day Lizard Island. We got to the airport where we met Greg, a fun guy, for a day of snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. Another American couple booked it with us who also heard about it on Fodors. The flight was uneventful and saw the beautiful ocean and the reefs underneath the water. The reef was only about 30 feet away from the beach. We saw great fish, touched the clams and coral (they were slimy, smooth, and soft feeling), saw an octopus and lots of neat other animals. Unfortunately, my husband had trouble with the mask leaking water so he ended up having a frustrating experience. But he was a good sport about it. After lunch we walked to the other side of the Island to the Blue Lagoon. Another beautiful water and beach! Well worth the money!

Day 15 – Port Douglas:
This day we headed off to tour the Daintree Rainforest with BTS Tours. We went on a crocodile cruise and spotted a couple crocodiles. After that we had lunch at this neat spot with a creek. My husband and I kayaked along the creek and played with the many turtles and fish in the creek. After lunch we headed towards Cape Tribulation, the tide was low and we saw a starfish and my husband saw a sand shark. Then we took a walk through the rainforest, the guide giving us details about the plants. Next time, I would prefer to do this trip on our own. We had dinner at On The Inlet, where I had bugs. They were very good.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 02:12 PM
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Day 16 � Port Douglas:
We arranged pickup service with SkyRail and we did the round trip to Kuranda on SkyRail. We enjoyed the views and the different perspective of the rainforest. When we got to Kuranda we went to the Koala Gardens (I guess formerly Heritage Zoo) where they had several animals and I was able to hold a koala and have a picture taken, $14 AUD. The highlight of the trip. I also went to the Butterfly Sanctuary which was worth it. We wandered around the town and found the candy factory where they gave a demonstration on how they make their candy and gave free samples. We returned to Port Douglas and had a nice dinner as our last dinner in Port Douglas.

Day 17 � Port Douglas - Sydney:
In the afternoon, we headed to the airport to fly to Sydney. It was raining and very cool when we got there. We checked in to Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel. The atmosphere was great and the room was larger than I expected for being such an old building. The only disadvantage was the windows let in a lot of noise. We could hear pretty much everything that was happening on the street below. I slept through most of it, but my husband is a light sleeper. It is at most 10 min walking distance to our previous hotel. We had dinner and as we were walking back to the hotel, bats flew over our heads after we passed under the bridge. I was surprised by how big they were. We stood in the sprinkling rain watching the bats in the trees. They moved so well from one branch to another without flying.

Day 18 � Sydney � home: We left Sydney in the morning and the trip seemed like it went by so fast! We enjoyed every bit of it, more than others. My husband says that his least favorite was the camping trip, but it�s the thing that he talks about the most to everyone. I could�ve spent more time in Sydney, Kangaroo Island, and Port Douglas.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 02:25 PM
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Hi Teresa. Thanks for taking the time to do your trip report. It is wonderful.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 04:52 PM
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Theresa...your report is so thorough and helpful. Thanks for taking the time to post. I'll be in Port Douglas next October and have two questions: 1) Any reason why you didn't take the Kuranda train one way,instead of roundtrip on skyway? Did you hear opinions from other travelers who took the train? 2) How hard is it to drive around Port Douglas/Daintree? We are thinking of renting a car in Port Douglas,but taking the shuttle from the Cairns airport,which might be a difficult drive for us to make alone. Thanks for your advice.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 05:27 PM
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Hi Teresa,

Thanks for your detailed post. Would you recommend the two tour companies -- Outlook Tours and Discovery Ecotours? Did they have knowledgeable guides (could they identify flora and fauna)?

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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 11:54 PM
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Hi Teresa

Great to read your report. We'll be in Oz at the end of the year doing a similar tour. We're also staying at the Archipelago Apts in PD and the Lord Nelson in Sydney!

Would you advise hiring a car at Cairns airport and drive to PD and do your own thing, rather than doing organised tours?

Many thanks

Sonia
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Old Apr 23rd, 2003, 08:18 AM
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Answers to questions.

Marthag - 1)I heard mixed on this board. Most would rather do the SkyRail both up and down. The waterfall that they show in the pictures is very small right now as they are having a drought. With SkyRail, you are not stuck on a timetable, they literally have one leaving every minute and even there may be a line, it went very quickly. With the train, you have to be there at a certain time or you missed it.
2) We didn't need to drive around Port Douglas at all as everything (restaurants, shopping, beach) were within walking distance. But it's not hard at all. The town is laid out based around the main street. There was a car rental place about a block from the Archipelago Apts. I would go ahead with your plan, the drive from Cairns to PD is pretty easy, but it's curvy and if you're going slow, people ride your bumper. If you're doing SkyRail, you will have to drive that road, but at least you'll be somewhat familiar with it.

beezus9 - I would recommend both. The Discovery guides were informative about the plants, but we didn't quiz him extensively. He pointed out the plants that were used by the Aboriginals.
With Outlook Tours, feel free to e-mail them with what you are looking for. He'd be happy to tailor it to your wants. He had one person wanting just tours regarding the geographical features and he did a lot of research before they arrived. Overall, he pointed out a variety of plants to us, we were mainly interested in the wildlife.

Sonia - I would recommend that. As I told marthag, the drive from Cairns to PD is very curvy and people like to ride your bumper if you're going slow. But you will be doing that drive to SkyRail, if that's on your agenda. The first day and last day, we didn't even need a car. So if the car rental is more than $25 AUD times the amount of people going to/from the airport, you may save money just doing the shuttle to/from the airport and renting a car in PD. But then I'm not sure what the rental rates compare vs in Cairns. Shopping, restaurants, and the beach is within walking distance from Archipelago, so we wouldn't have used it after our day trips. But it would've been nice to check out Daintree on our own. The drive to Daintree is easy.
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Old Apr 29th, 2003, 07:40 PM
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just a quick opinion needed..... should we stay at Lord Nelson Brewery or Holiday Inn Old Sydney???? What were the advantages or disadvantages of each?
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Old Apr 30th, 2003, 10:06 AM
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If I was to go back I would choose Old Sydney Holiday Inn for the main reason of noise. My husband is a light sleeper and you can hear practically everything from the street at Lord Nelson. If you don't have that problem or willing to have ear plugs, just in case, go with Lord Nelson.

Lord Nelson has only stairs, bigger bathroom, more atmosphere, comfortable bed, and all the typical amenities (coffeemaker, iron, etc), AC, and continental breakfast included.

Old Sydney Holiday Inn has elevator, decent bathroom and bed, closer to Circular Quay and Sydney Opera House (not by much though), double windows, bigger TV (if it matters), pool and all the typical amenities.
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