Apr 1st, 2003, 03:49 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 87

I am starting to plan a trip to Australia to visit my son who will be studying at the Univ. of New Castle this time next year. I need advice as to nice hotels, places to eat, things to see, and how easy it is to travel around some while we are there, by train, plane or car. Can we just hop on a plane and get up to the coral reef inexpensively? Any advice, please...
mcrogers is offline  
Apr 1st, 2003, 08:44 AM
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I spent three weeks in Oz in October 2002 and had an amazing time. You will too!

If you're staying in Sydney and want to be near The Rocks and Sydney Harbour, I highly recommend a bed and breakfast called Bed & Breakfast Sydney Harbour (e-mail 'em: [email protected]). It is owned and operated by an older couple who prepare a mean breakfast. It's very charming and conveniently located (five minute walk and you are ON the Sydney Harbour Bridge). While you're in Sydney, you should visit Taronga Zoo (with a spectacular view of the city) and Manly and Bondi Beaches. Bondi has a beautiful cliff walk.

If you're headed to the Great barrier Reef, I highly recommend you spend a night or two on one of the islands in the Reef. I spent a few nights on Lizard Island (very pricey, but the highlight of my trip). There is an island for each budget level. If you're not a scuba diver, be sure to snorkel. The views are breathtaking! Take an underwater disposable camera!

If you enjoy hiking, etc., then head to Tasmania. A lot of peole thought I was crazy to trek to Tassie, but it was beautiful and VERY green. Very similar to parts of Ireland and Scotland.

In terms of transportation around Australia, I found it was cheaper to book your flights in advance.

Enjoy planning your trip! It's an amazing place!
WhistleHappyTune is offline  
Apr 1st, 2003, 09:25 AM
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WhistleHappyTune, Thank you so much, this is just what I hoped to get from someone who is obviously in love with the area. Your advice is the first page of my "Australian trip file". Any other ideas that come to mind... I will be watching this forum. By the way, I like your name.
mcrogers is offline  
Apr 1st, 2003, 01:40 PM
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Newcastle is a small city about 2 hrs drive north of Sydney. You could base yourself in Newcastle and have a good time, plenty of attractions in the immediate area including Port Stephens and a good wine region (Hunter valley). The drive along the coast north from Newcastle is excellent, about 10 hours to Gold Coast/Brisbane/Sunshine Coast area in the Sth/East corner of Queensland. To get to north Queensland and the Reef/Islands you probably need to fly from Sydney, unless you like driving long distances.
mpoll is offline  
Apr 1st, 2003, 09:05 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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Hi there!
As an alumni of Newcastle Uni and local boy, what I'll say is obviously parochial!

Newcastle is city undergoing change from one based on secondary industries like coal and steel making into more tertiary like industries like tourism. Locals are called Novocastrians and dislike Sydneyites whom we beat up weekly on the football field.

Geographically, Newcastle is fortunate to be surrounded by the largest salt water lake in Australia - Lake Macquarie which opens into the Pacific Ocean. Port Stephens one hr to the North is wonderful - check out Little Beach - a beautiful spot for a picnic with a safe swimming beach.

Speaking of beaches, like most of Australia, be aware as atourist that the surf is a lot larger and rougher than BOTH sides of the US. The beaches are usually kept spotless and they all differ slightly dpending on local conditions. Depending on when you travel, Spring and Fall are the best times, be prepared in the Summer when it is very hot >100 for much of the Xmas - New Year break.

The seafood is superb and prices are cheap compared to the US. Also tipping is not expected as labour laws mean that everyone gets at least the minimum wage and working conditions are also much better for the average worker than here in the States.

The Hunter Valley wines about 1 hr NW from Newcastle are world class and a wine tasting tour is highly recommended.

The train ride from Sydney to Newcastle takes about 2.5 hrs is very picturesque - you go through Sandtone cliffs and across the beautiful Hawkesbury River and several fishing villages. It is quite reasonable price wise. Another travel alternative, a neighbour used, was the airport shuttle from Sydney to Newcastle - the cost about 3 yrs ago was about $25US! Excellent value - it makes several stops and you do not have to worry about driving on the "right" side of the street!

There are plenty of airfares up to the reef - a rule of thumb is about $70 per night including airfare for most of the islands like Hamilton and Daydream (where my wife and I spent our honeymoon!). The fishing and snorkeling is unsurpassed! Truly a must when you go down under. If you want further info. or tips for your son about Uni life feel free to contact me at [email protected]. It is a very friendly Uni with excellent Schools in Medical Research, Computer Science, Biology and Engineering.

I hope this helps.
mick is offline  
Apr 1st, 2003, 09:11 PM
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Mick again!,
the popular mode of transport in Newcastle from the city (where I recommend you stay eg Radisson or one of the Motels on the Ocean front - superb views, restaurants and walking - all reasonably priced $70 - 90US), to the Uni is by Bus and takes about 1hr. Many students live at the beach in apartments and bus it to Uni ( my wife and I did). We even bought a unit (apartment) which we rent out, in readiness for our sons and our possible retirement!

The flight to the Barrier Reef would vary depending where you end up but it would be about 2hrs Minimum up to 4.5hrs if you go as far north as Cairns.

Mick Maher
mick is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2003, 04:16 AM
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Mick, You have provided me with some valuable and palpable information. Sometimes when I reply with "thank you's" the responses stop. I hope they don't. Anything else that comes to mind, I hope you will be so kind as to let me know. Australia sounds so divine and a place I know my son is going to find absolutely perfect for him. I am going to print this info and send it to him, so he can get pumped up and get some stress release from his studies here in the states. As I study this information, I hope I will be able to find you on this forum to ask you questions. I just returned from visiting my other son studying in Seville, Spain, and there is a fodorite named Maribel who knows all of Spain like the back of her hand. I read EVERYTHING she had to say about Spain and followed her advice for every turn, and our trip was so enriching. So, if you are going to Spain, do a "Maribel" search and you'll have a trip of a lifetime. As always, thank all you fodorites, but please keeping sending any ideas that come to mind.
mcrogers is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2003, 11:47 AM
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I don't think you can just pop up to the Reef cheaply. You need to fly from Sydney to Cairns, Proserpine or Hamilton Island, depending on where you want to be.
Check airfares with

Booking in advance or taking midwek flights are the cheapest ways. Other places on this forum will recommend accommodation.

It's a great country - have fun!
margo_oz is offline  
Apr 9th, 2003, 12:25 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 343
I think there's something called a "boomerang pass" that you can buy overseas for cheap flights in Australia. This could be your best bet for the cheapest flights although there is a real airfare war going on here between virginblue and qantas on the internet. It's warm enough to swim from Sep to May from the Gold Coast North, but you don't really swim in the tropics ( north of about Rockhampton) in any month with an "r" in it because of stingers. The seas are calmest up North from May to September so best for snorkelling then. What are your interests? Do you want to surf/hike/like good scenery? Visit Sydney and travel a short distance to the blue mountains - wonderful in Autumn (fall)! You can stay on the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane or the Gold Coast south of Brisbane and see some fantastic beaches, and travel from both into the hinterland to do some walks in National parks for great scenery!
Amanda is offline  
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