Please help w/itinerary - leaving soon

Sep 27th, 2007, 07:35 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 68
Please help w/itinerary - leaving soon

Hi Everyone,

Our plans changed suddenly and the trip we were going to take in the spring will now be in a few weeks. Help! We are going mid-Oct to early Nov.

Several questions have come up. We want to spend time in Sydney, Melbourne and surrounding areas, plus Cairns and the Barrier Reef.

We were thinking of flying to see Uluru and Kata Tjuta. How much time would be good to see that, and would we need to rent a car to go between the two? Also, what would the weather be like there at that time - Oct. 20 or so? And does anyone have a recommendation of where to stay over?

We would love to do some hiking, see animals, the rainforest, and see aboriginal sites. Would that be best done around Cairns?

Where would be the best areas to snorkel and explore? Is Whitsunday Islands worth going to? What do I need to know about stingers?

What are the Must See things to do in Sydney and Melbourne area?

Also, I hear it should be wildflower time...any suggestions on the east or southeast where to see some?

Sorry for all the questions...we are pretty overwhelmed but know it will be great once we get there. Thanks very much

Honeybear
Honeybear is offline  
Sep 27th, 2007, 02:17 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 911
G'day Honeybear,
"We were thinking of flying to see Uluru and Kata Tjuta."

It will be hot during the day and cool at night. There are tours if you prefer.

"We would love to do some hiking, see animals, the rainforest, and see aboriginal sites. Would that be best done around Cairns?"

My preference is for the Atherton Tablelands near Cairns. The crocs will not be so obvious on the Daintree River as the water warms up. Lots of good wildlife, walks of different lengths and a variety of rainforest at different altitudes and rainfall regimes on the Tablelands. The beautiful rainforest encircled crater lakes are great for walking and swimming.

“Where would be the best areas to snorkel and explore? Is Whitsunday Islands worth going to? What do I need to know about stingers?”

Too big a question for me but as you will be in the Cairns area that should do you for the first time. We want you to leave something so you come back! Take the local advice on stingers. That is the beginning of the season and conditions change from year to year.

“Also, I hear it should be wildflower time...any suggestions on the east or southeast where to see some?”
The south west of the country is spectacular at that time of year but I feel you will experience best on a tour so a guide can point out the subtleties not obvious to the casual observer. More knowledge always leads to more appreciation.
Saltuarius is offline  
Sep 28th, 2007, 10:10 AM
  #3  
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 68
Thanks so much for your recommendations. Of course, there are more questions

"We were thinking of flying to see Uluru and Kata Tjuta." How much time would you recommend to spend in that area to see both. I was told to try to do the sunset at Uluru, so would 2 days be good, and would it be easiest to stick with a tour? Do the tours allow time at each site?

Where would be a good location to stay in that area?

The Atherton Tablelands sound amazing. How much time should we allow to check out all the wonderful walks/rainforest sites? Would you recommend hiking boots for these areas, or would good shoes/sneakers be sufficient?

We just want to have a lot of tastes, Saltuarius, and hope to come back for a meal or two! Thanks
Honeybear is offline  
Sep 28th, 2007, 10:14 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
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“We were thinking of flying to see Uluru and Kata Tjuta. How much time would be good to see that, and would we need to rent a car to go between the two?”

I recommend two nights, so you have one full day there. Definitely rent a car. It will give you so much more flexibility. A couple of the hotels have rental car offices. We arrived the afternoon, walked around the resort, got our rental car and checked out some art. The next morning we did the sunrise camel tour, which was fun. During the day, we drove around Uluru, visited the visitor center (bought art), drove to Kata Tjuta and did a short hike there. That night we did the Sounds of Silence dinner. The dinner was fun, but it might have only been because we ended up at a really fun table. We flew out the next morning.

“Also, what would the weather be like there at that time - Oct. 20 or so? And does anyone have a recommendation of where to stay over?”

We were there at the end of October. The highs were in the 90s but bearable. We actually had rain one day, and the temps dropped. The nights were chilly. We stayed at the Lost Camel, which was nothing special but adequate.

“Where would be the best areas to snorkel and explore? Is Whitsunday Islands worth going to? What do I need to know about stingers?”

We stayed on Brampton Island, which is sort of in the Whitsundays. It was a lovely, relaxing place, but not the best for snorkeling. We took a small plane to Hamilton Island and caught a ferry to Reefworld. In my opinion, the snorkeling was very good. We saw tons of fish. If you go, definitely do the optional guided tour with a biologist, and do the earliest one available so that the fish aren’t scared away by all the people. The water was pretty cold. We were at Brampton and Hamilton during October. Even with wet suits, I could only stay in the water for a short time. No problems at all with stingers.

“What are the Must See things to do in Sydney and Melbourne area?”

We really enjoyed a twilight bridgeclimb in Sydney. The beaches looked fun, but we were there during the coldest November in years, so it wasn’t really beach weather.

Hope this helps!
lauraallais is offline  
Sep 28th, 2007, 12:35 PM
  #5  
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lauraallias,

that is great info, thanks. I did not realize the water would be cold...so a wetsuit is a must? We hope to do a lot of snorkelng and beaching!

Overall, would you say that there is flexiblitiy to make reservations when we get there for hotels, tours, rental cars? Or should we do almost everything from home?

"The next morning we did the sunrise camel tour, which was fun. During the day, we drove around Uluru, visited the visitor center (bought art), drove to Kata Tjuta and did a short hike there. That night we did the Sounds of Silence dinner."

The camel tour sounds great, was that out of Uluru? HOw long does it take to drive between the two sites? And what is the Sounds of Silence dinner? It sounds interesting.

In terms of walking around, are sneakers ok, or do we need good walking shoes or hiking boots?

Thanks again!
Honeybear is offline  
Sep 28th, 2007, 03:00 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 304
Hi Honeybear,

The water was pretty chilly around the Whitsundays, but it may be warmer in Cairns. We used the “shortie” wet suits (length of shorts and t-shirt), and I was still chilly. We were able to rent them from our resort.

If I were you, I would book hotels in advance. We were able to get a car when we arrived and realized there was no regular transportation to either “rock,” but we may just have been lucky. I think it took about 20 minutes to drive to Uluru from the resort, and about 45 minutes to drive from Uluru to Kata Tjuta. I don’t remember this exactly, so I’d check a map.

I’m not sure about the tours. We signed up in advance. Both tours picked us up at our hotel. Here is more info on the camels http://www.ayersrockresort.com.au/camel-tours/ and the sounds of silence http://www.ayersrockresort.com.au/sounds-of-silence/. SoS is dinner and an astronomy presentation out in the desert. Pre-dinner entertainment is a dijeridu player. We were lucky enough to sit with some really fun people at Sounds of Silence, so we loved it. Though others I know were disappointed when they went.

Sneakers are fine for walking. The ground is flat, and we didn’t climb either Uluru or Kata Tjuta because there are tons of warnings that they are sacred land. Several other people were climbing when we were there though.

lauraallais is offline  
Sep 29th, 2007, 02:53 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 677
Hi,

Whether you should book everything before you leave home depends really on how you like to travel. Some folk have very little time and want to cram in as much as possible - if that's you, then it probably is best to book in advance so you don't have to waste time organising things here, and to avoid disappointment.

If you like to allow for the serendipity factor and build some slack into your itinerary, then that's better really. There are plenty of small local operators that are very visible on the ground, but may not feature on the net or in the roster of at home travel agents.

As for going to Uluru. If you really are coming just for a taster then I would leave it till next time. I don't say that because of the season (October is not a bad month to go) but because it costs a lot to get there, so when you go you might as well give it (the Red Centre) the attention it deserves and not just focus on Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

There is so much else to see. So go when you can devote 4-5 days to it.

Finally, yes, the water is surprisingly cold, but pretty much all boats going out to the reef, whether from FNQ or the Whitsundays have wet suits on board, either for free or for hire at a nominal fee.

Have a great time.


chimani is offline  
Sep 29th, 2007, 04:35 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,047
We took a trip to the same locations in June--Sydney, North Queensland, Uluru/Kata Tjuta and Melbourne area. We debated about Uluru due to the cost and travel time, but we were glad we went. We rented a car there and did everything on our own--very easy.

Trip report here, in case any of this might be helpful:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...3&tid=35028342

ms_go is online now  

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