Please critique my Australia itinerary

Old Oct 15th, 2023, 04:44 PM
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Please critique my Australia itinerary

Hello everyone,
You were all very helpful in responding to my planning thread which is listed below.
Need advice for Australia/New Zealand Itinerary Fall 2024

I now have a 3-week itinerary planned for the Australia portion of our trip. We will also spend 3 weeks in New Zealand after Australia. I will post that itinerary in a separate thread later this week. Our trip is for October/November 2024. This itinerary includes a one-week roadtrip which includes 7 one-night stays. I realize that probably sounds crazy, and we don't usually do very many one-night stays but I think it is doable because we will be driving. So all we need to do each morning is eat breakfast and then leave when we are ready. I wouldn't do this if we had to call a taxi every morning to drive us to the train station or bus station or airport. We haven't made any reservations so none of this is set in stone. And we do have another option which I will mention at the end of the itinerary. Drive times are from Google so please let me know if these are not realistic. So, here goes:

Box Hill - 5 nights
I am sure everyone is scratching their heads about Box Hill! This is where my husband actually lived and went to school when he was a teen-ager so he really wants to stay in Box Hill. Plans are to visit his school (or walk by it), visit the neighborhoods, and visit relatives. (We will pick up our rental car at the airport when we land.) People on Trip Advisor have told me that Box Hill has changed drastically since the 1960's, that my husband will not recognize it, and they tried to persuade us not to stay there. But this is something my husband really wants to do.

Melbourne - 3 nights actually in Melbourne, probably the Central Business District - not sure if we will keep our rental car while we are here. Might drop it off and then pick it up again for our roadtrip but that could be time-consuming.

The roadtrip portion of our trip:
San Remo - 1 night

This is to visit Phillip Island and see the Penguin Parade
Melbourne to San Remo - 2 hours

Apollo Bay - 1 night
San Remo to Sorrento - 1.5 hours (my husband worked in Sorrento and wants to make a quick stop here)
Ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff - 40 minutes
Queenscliff to Apollo Bay - 2 1/4 hours

Port Campbell - 1 night
Apollo Bay to Port Campbell - 1.5 hours

Bendigo - 1 night
Stop in Ballarat for a few hours on the way from Port Campbell to Bendigo
Port Campbell to Ballarat - 2 hours; Ballarat to Bendigo - 1.5 hours

Bright - 1 night (This is so we can visit Wandiligong where my husband went to camp)
Bendigo to Wandiligong - 3.5 hours

Metung - 1 night
Bright to Metung - 3.5 hours

Narooma - 1 night
Metung to Narooma - 5 hours

Leura - 2 nights
Narooma to Leura - 5.5 hours

Sydney - 5 nights
Leura to Sydney - 1.5 hours

Then we will fly from Sydney to Christchurch.

Our other option:
At first my husband really wanted to drive from Melbourne to Sydney. But today he said he might consider flying from Melbourne to Sydney. If we fly, we will have 2 extra nights because we won't be staying in Metung or Narooma. Where do people think we should add those 2 nights? Great Ocean Road? An overnight in Ballarat? Or 2 nights in Bendio? Or 2 nights in Bright?

If we fly from Melbourne to Sydney, I think it makes the most sense to depart on our roadtrip when we are all done in Box Hill. And visit Melbourne CBD after our roadtrip. So we would drive from Bright to Melbourne to drop off our rental car, stay 3 nights in Melbourne, and then fly the next morning to Sydney where we would pick up another rental car to drive to the Blue Mountains.

I know this is a lot to read and digest. I really appreciate and welcome any and all suggestions. Except we have to stay in Box Hill at the beginning of our trip. This is not negotiable.
Thank you so much!
Karen









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Old Oct 15th, 2023, 07:37 PM
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Hi Karen,
I post on both TA and here. Would you please provide a link to your query on the Australian TA Forum, so I'm not repeating what I or others have already advised & commented.

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Old Oct 15th, 2023, 08:45 PM
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Hi Bokhara2,
For some reason I am not able to post the TA link. It's currently on page 9, titled "Best places to stay between Melbourne and Sydney", and the latest post was on October 4. Hope this helps.
Thanks!
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Old Oct 16th, 2023, 09:43 AM
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Hi Bokhara2, I tried again to post the link from TA but for some strange reason I am unable to do this. I did not give the TA forum my updated itinerary that I just posted here. I basically asked about where to stay between Melbourne and Sydney. And when I mentioned we were staying in Box Hill at the beginning of the trip, many people gave advice about that.
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Old Oct 16th, 2023, 01:00 PM
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Hi Karen,
I recall your thread now. You will find the TA Forum much, much more active than this one, so do suggest you give any updates etc, there.

I understand you need to stay in Box Hill because your husband specifically wants to spend a week there, but on the surface it's not typically somewhere we'd recommend visitors wanting to see something of Melbourne & environs would base themselves - hence the comments. Anyway - moving on:

I would take Google driving times with a grain of salt. They allow nothing for road conditions, recommended "rest & stretch" stops every 2 hours* etc. Probably add 30-50%, but they give you a rough idea.

Re having the rental car in Melbourne CBD: I would drop it off unless it is a massive hassle to do so. You're unlikely to get free parking at your accommodation and the CBD is easily walkable and well serviced by public transport. Like the centre of Sydney, even we locals don't take our cars in unless we absolutely have to - it's just an expensive, unnecessary nuisance.

Melbourne-Sydney drive: I think there were some comments on where to stay on the TA thread, so I'll leave that alone. Except to say I love Bright & Beechworth in Autumn (our Autumn, not your Fall), and imagine they would be equally pretty in Spring. If you decide to fly, I would add the extra days to the Great Ocean Road & Grampians.

And, do give the update on the TA forum. There's a lot of people with more and more recent experience in driving the Victorian country regions than me.
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Old Oct 16th, 2023, 02:22 PM
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Bokhara2, thank you for your reply. I will post my new itinerary on TA, too. I appreciate and respect everyone's opinions on Fodors, so I always like to get their input as well.

What is your honest opinion about us doing a roadtrip that includes 7 one-night stops? Will we be spending too much time in the car and not enough time seeing these beautiful places? The more I think about it, the more inclined I am to fly from Melbourne to Sydney, thus giving us 2 extra nights to add to the roadtrip from Philip Island to Bright. Right now we don't have plans to visit the Grampians but I will seriously consider your advice to add the 2 extra nights to the GOR and the Grampians if we do fly to Sydney. Will we regret not visiting the Grampians? And yes, on the TA thread, people recommended staying in Metung, Narooma (and a few other places) if we drive to Sydney. That is why I chose Metung and Narooma.
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Old Oct 16th, 2023, 02:36 PM
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Hi Karen,
I can understand that your husband wants to re-visit Box Hill, but that's a lot of time to spend there. He will be amazed at the difference between Box Hill today and Box Hill in his schooldays. Are you going to spend the entire time seeing family? Otherwise, there isn't anything to see. There are some good day trips you can do to the Yarra Valley (wine and views), Healesville (views and a native animal sanctuary), the Dandenong Ranges (views and small towns).
I would be very surprised if you could drive from San Remo to Sorrento in 1.5 hours (I'm a local). I'd guess at least 2.5 hours, more if you stop for photos or a coffee. It would be more sensible to stop overnight at Torquay or Aireys Inlet rather than Apollo Bay. It will make a much easier day for you.
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Old Oct 16th, 2023, 10:32 PM
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Hi again, Karen

I've been re-reading your itinerary. You obviously have reasons why you want to drive from Bright to Metung, then Narooma, then inland again to the Blue Mountains but it is so far out of your way. Would you consider staying inland and travelling along the Hume Freeway towards Leura. You could spend time in our national capital Canberra plus there are other really nice towns to stop in (Goulburn, Berrima, Bowral, Mittagong. You could have lunch beside the submarine in Holbrook! (and yes, there really is a submarine in Holbrook). If you take that option, then I'd recommend you stay in Beechworth instead of Bright. Pretty gold-rush town with nice buildings. It's only about 50 km from Bright to Beechworth. Re Wandiligong, we were there recently and it's asmall residential village, all tourist facilities are in Bright.
In Leura, we've stayed at the Leisure Inn Spires and liked the accommodation. It's top of the main street, with restaurants and shops within a few minutes walk.
Re your trip along the Great Ocean Road, can you squeeze in another night. Port Fairy is an old fishing town and really pleasant to visit and stay, good choice of accommodation, restaurants, shops etc. Near Warrnambool, Tower Hill is an old volcanic crater - you can usually see emus and kangaroos there and worth a visit.
We've done a lot of road trips here in Australia and overseas and I know we have zigzagged here and there, to places that no one else has heard off, and enjoyed it. So you are the only ones who really know what you want to do and see. Regardless of where you go, I hope you have a great time in our country.
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 12:47 AM
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Driving distances from Google are always underestimated in our experience. If it says 6 hours, it will take us 8 or 9. It doesn't take into account traffic, roadworks, stopping for food/petrol/toilets, getting lost. Roads in Australia are generally fewer lanes than what you might be used to, often one lane each way, so you can get stuck behind a slow truck or caravan.

If you are picking up a hire car on arrival, have you considered the effects of jetlag and tiredness on driving? Especially if you are not used to the left hand side.

Box Hill. Mmmm. Hopefully you can get out and about and visit some other areas while staying there. The Dandenong Ranges would be worthwhile for a day trip (not Dandenong, two totally different places.)

If you keep your hire car while staying in the centre of Melbourne, check if your hotel has parking. If they do, it will probably cost extra. There are parking garages if your hotel doesn't have parking but check costs before you drive in and park. We did once collect a hire car in the city centre (Hertz I think) and it was fairly straightforward but Melbourne has trams and an unusual hook turn. If you are driving in the city centre, maybe check how it works online before you arrive.

I think if you fly the domestic sector, I'd add one night to the Great Ocean Road area and one night to Bendigo or Ballarat. Airlines are Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar, Rex and Bonza (new). I saw the Grampians mentioned, it is a an area with wonderful scenery, wildlife and great walks but you don't have time to go everywhere. This is the dilemma we all have as travellers!!
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 08:22 AM
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Marg and KayF, thank you so much for all of your helpful advice!

Marg, my husband wants to spend 5 nights in Box Hill so that he will have flexibility to do what he wants regarding visiting old neighborhoods and his old school. I am sure we can't go inside the school but he wants to see it and take photos. We don't know yet how much time we will spend with the relatives but he hopes they can take a day or two off from work. Or perhaps we will plan on being there over a weekend. And also meet them some evenings for dinner. He likes your suggestions for daytrips from Box Hill in case we get bored in BH. Yarra Valley sounds great! It's less than an hour from Melbourne, according to my research, and we are wine drinkers! I will look into Healesville and the Dandenong Ranges.

Will adjust our itinerary to overnight in Aireys Inlet rather than Apollo Bay. We will stop in Sorrento to walk around and that would be a nice spot for a drink. So will take a later ferry. And Aireys Inlet is supposedly about an hour from Queenscliff. So thanks for the suggestion.

I looked up Leisure Inn Spires. Looks wonderful! Thanks for the recommendation!

KayF, right now we are planning on picking up our rental car at the airport to drive to Box Hill. It's about a half hour drive, right? We have lots of time to think about that. I suppose other options would be to hire a private driver to pick us up or take a taxi. And then get the rental car the next day in Box Hill. Hopefully there are rental agencies in BH.

My husband and I are now seriously considering flying from Melbourne to Sydney instead of driving. Based on what KayF said about Google driving distances, etc. I am concerned that we have too many one-night stays and won't be able to see a lot. So we now have 2 extra nights, and I like the idea of adding one extra night to the GOR. I agree with you, KayF, that while I am sure the Grampians are beautiful, I don't think I want to add another region because we don't have the time to go everywhere. This is always our dilemma!

So, should I add the extra night to Port Fairy? Or would it make more sense to spend one night in Aireys Inlet and 2 nights in Port Campbell. I know we will make lots of stops along the way to take photos; other places we are interested in on the GOR are Bells Beach; Otway NP and maybe do Otway Fly Treetop Adventures; Kennett River; Mariners Overlook; the 12 Apostles and the other rock stacks.

And will consider adding the other night to Bendigo or Ballarat. I discovered in my research that Bendigo is a wine region, too.

We will depart on our roadtrip from Box Hill, and then spend 3 nights in Melbourne CBD when we return from our roadtrip. We will return our rental car at this time so don't have to worry about expensive parking and the hassle of having a car in Melbourne by doing it this way.
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Old Oct 18th, 2023, 03:19 AM
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It might be worth contacting the school and ask if you are allowed to go in, after school hours. I have no idea if they'd let you but worth asking.

Healesville has a nice small town centre with shops and cafes, also the Healesville Sanctuary is worth visiting. It's a zoo but fairly small and only Australian wildlife. On the website they have timings for when the keepers feed koalas etc, great for photos. I remembered the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie which is wonderful if you like chocolate, icecreams or cakes.

Timing for driving to any of these places is so dependent on time of day, if it's the weekend etc. A half hour drive from Melbourne airport to Box Hill? I'd guess an hour minimum, much more if it's busy. Just to give you an example, from Melb airport to my parents home, according to Google Maps, takes 1hr 10 mins. It actually took just over 2 hours last time I did it, that was peak hour and traffic was horrible.
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Old Oct 18th, 2023, 05:46 PM
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its about 48 mins to 51 mins to Box Hill from airport -thats at this moment-one way is via th edg eofth ecity with tolls and the other is through the area I live in no tolls but part freeway and much construction sites for the new 6.5 kms tunnel. I would suggest geting a taxi or Uber from the airport to Box Hill -its not an easy drive after getting off a long flight. or any flight.I drove to work on that road for 14 years There are car hire places in Box Hill -which is a great place to visit the Yarra Valley and Healesville from.
Did your husband go to Kingswood College?
As a former principal I would be happy to have former students visit -I would just drop them an email a little befroe and ask.
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Old Oct 18th, 2023, 05:47 PM
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PS I hope we can meet
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Old Oct 19th, 2023, 07:09 AM
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Northie, I don't think he went to Kingswood College. He was in school in Box Hill from age 13 to about 17. He's not home now but I will ask him.

That would be wonderful if we could meet for a drink, coffee, lunch or dinner. We haven't made any reservations yet but we hope to be in Australia for 3 weeks during October 2024. We can PM when the time comes.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2023, 04:57 PM
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