Planning a trip to Australia for 2015

Old Jan 21st, 2014, 05:10 AM
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Planning a trip to Australia for 2015

My wife and step daughters have their hearts set on a trip to Australia in 2015 and I have been assigned the job of planning the trip. I don't expect people to tell us where to go, but I am starting from scratch, really no nothing about this huge country, and would like a few pointers - broad strokes on what areas might be reasonable and a good time of year for a 16 day trip.

The only instructions I have been given is that they think they want to visit the Great Barrier Reef and they definitely want to go to a Sydney Swans game. My wife's late first husband was a huge Swan's fan. Looking at their 2014 schedule, they play April through September, 3 or 4 games a month.
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 05:11 AM
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"know" nothing
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 06:30 AM
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Broad strokes, Keith.-

If you want to take in the Swans, home game in Sydney would be OK, but my husband and his mates do a "south bank" thing in Melbourne (MCG) or Brisbane, or Fremantle, as a bit of an in-joke, staying on the south side of the rivers.

There are plenty of AFL games with the Swans for the time you are planning to visit.

As for the Barrier Reef, you can start anywhere from 1770 to Thursday Island. Truly. A map will show you, about 1500kms of it. And contrary to rubbish you may have read that it's all going to die, we have been diving and fishing there since the 1970s, and were doing the same out of Cairns and Port Douglas in October, and the reef is in fine shape.

An alternative is Ningaloo reef, off the central west coast, much more remote than the east. Few international visitors go there, but that part of Australia is amazing, every bit as good as the Barrier Reef with far fewer visitors. Plenty of whales, dolphins, sharks, whale sharks, turtles etc and etc, the most crystal water, such a marine and coastal wilderness. Exmouth is the closest arrival point.

If you think about going to the west, the Kimberley is also not to be missed, Broome would be your reference point. Oh, Darwin too but then you would need six months minimum.

You will note that I have not said much about southern Australia. Add another six months, as it has scenic country, nice cities and food & wine that are darn good quality.

Swans play in Perth, Fremantle, Brisbane and Melbourne on several away dates through the season. Plan your trip around any of the games and you will be in a good bit of Australia.

For 16 days, late August into September would be my tip, as AFL is then getting into the finals of the season, and southern Australia is coming out of winter, and the tropics are in the later part of the dry. Pretty good all round.

Happy travels,

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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 12:55 PM
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i think that you, but particularly your wife and step-daughters would love Port Douglas. We were there for 5 nights in November and it is a great place to explore the Reef as well as having lots of terrific shops and restaurants, plus a gorgeous beach.

I can't help you with the Swans games, but could recommend a nice reasonably priced place to stay in Brisbane if you need one.
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 01:42 PM
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I don't know anything about the Swans schedule, but if you do plan to come to WA to visit Ningaloo, do be aware that whale shark season runs from March-June. Accommodation is limited and gets booked out in a hurry that time of year. The NW of WA is extremely remote and you'll need to plan well, particularly if you plan on driving.
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 08:42 PM
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All good replies above. Regarding the (mighty) Swans: the AFL schedule for 2015 will be published around October/November 2014. Something to consider: most AFL clubs are very big on goodwill. If you have an interesting story, e.g. coming from o/s especially to see the Swans in memory of your wife's late first husband, you could do worse than contact the Swans and see if they'd be willing to let your family have a tour of the SCG or go into the team's rooms before the game. They might even sling a few free tickets your way.

FWIW, my must sees for a first-timer to Australia:
1, 2 and 3 - The Great Barrier Reef, the further north the better.
4 - The Outback. Australia is about 90% Outback, so you can fit this around any other part of your trip. Personally, I think a visit to one of the great mining towns (Broken Hill, Kalgoorlie, Coober Pedy) is the best way to get an Outback experience.
5 - Sydney - stunning harbour plus many iconic sites such as the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Bondi Beach etc.

If you've still got time, and depending on your interests:
Melbourne - undoubted cultural capital of Australia
Tasmania - lots to see, great place to drive
Whitsundays or Gold Coast - if you want more beach time after the Reef
Wine regions of South Australia - Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra
Kangaroo Island - camping, lots and lots of native animals (but native animals are easily seen in most places).

Have fun!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 03:26 AM
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Just to confuse you further, Keith, the Nullarbor Plain on the surface, the sinkholes below for cave diving (people have disappeared, never found), the Eyre Peninsula and the Great Ocean Road.

The Simpson Desert.

Birdsville races.

The Alpine National Parks.

The Riversleigh dinosaur fossils.

Kakadu, Arnhem Land, Cape York.

Any boat trip around the coast.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 11:28 AM
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Thank you for all the advise. I'm sure that I will be coming back with many questions over the next year or two.

pm_mteliza, I appreciate your comment about the AFL clubs and good will. He had been active on the online fan community and when he passed away, the Swans sent a nice letter.
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