Prelim Australia itinerary - any advice?

Dec 28th, 2001, 07:39 PM
  #1  
Steve
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Prelim Australia itinerary - any advice?

Hi,

My wife and I (mid 30's) are planning 4 weeks in Australia as the third leg of our extended vacation. Should arrive around March 15th for our first visit to Australia. We're looking for a mix of relaxation, nature, and semi-adventurous activities. Our budget allows mid or upper-mid level accommodations with the occasional splurge for something spectacular.

We'd appreciate any advice or insight on the following general itinerary:

Fly into Melbourne (from Auckland), 2-3 days in Melbourne.
Fly to Adelaide, 1 day there & 3-4 on Kangaroo Island.
Fly to Sydney, 6-7 days in the area including some day trips
Fly to Brisbane, 1 day there & 3 days in Byron Bay (mid level resort?)
Fly to Cairns, one week in the area to do some snorkeling and easy diving (we're just learning).

We're working south to north to avoid some of the summer heat and obviously have omitted central and western Australia until the next time. Even with this, it still feels a little busy. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

Steve & Jill
 
Dec 29th, 2001, 07:53 AM
  #2  
Mary
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I'd stay in the Noosa area, perhaps do a day trip to Fraser Island instead of Byron Bay. Would also consider taking a couple of days to drive Great Ocean road from Melbourne to Adelaide. Beautiful drive, reminiscent of Hwy 1 through Big Sur. Different scenery but equally stunning.
 
Dec 29th, 2001, 11:49 AM
  #3  
LizF
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I would drop Adelaide and Kangaroo Island for that time in Tasmania where you have World Heritage Wilderness areas & absolutely fab. scenery along the east coast and equally wonderful World Heritage Wilderness scenery along the Western side. In the south particularly you have the pretty little Georgian convict villages and the ruins of Port Arthur which was Australia's harshest penal colony set in a beautiful area. That time of year the Huon Valley will be magnificent and the wonderful little bays and inlets are worth exploring and also you have easy access to penguin colonies.
Tasmania is Australia's gem, compact yet so diverse, the food is fantastic, the people very laid back and the sites are wonderful. Allow youself at least 6 days there and adjust the rest of your time-table. Take a day or two off Sydney and forget Brisbane and Byron Bay, the latter is stuck out on a point and has been spoilt with hippy types and has little else going for it other than hash and a lighthouse ( there are plenty of beautiful beaches in Australia that has everything and more that Byron has to offer)
I note that someone has suggested Noosa - being a Queenslander I would not go to Noosa, it is not a particularly nice beach and again there is little else to do. If you want something different to do then stay in and around the South East of Queensland and visit the many National Parks there, swim under waterfalls in rock pools, see gloworms, different flora and fauna, wineries, beautiful views and equally beautiful valleys. Kayak the lovely little rivers and climb Mt Warning. Visit Byron Bay for a few hours and a swim on a trip through Northern New South Wales and take a leisurely boat trip up the Tweed River stopping off to get some very fresh seafood for lunch. Then go to Cairns which will be lovely then and stay at Port Douglas or perhaps Lizard Island and have a really great time.
 
Dec 29th, 2001, 03:15 PM
  #4  
David
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Steve,

Both the previous posters have given you some good information. Can I suggest the following;
(a) The Melbourne leg is a good idea. I agree with LizF I would drop Adelaide but Mary has a great suggestion regarding the great ocean road. Why don't you spend the time planned in Melbourne and hire a car for two days and drive out through south Western Victoria (on the Princess Highway to Warrnambool). That gets you to the south coast thru some lovely countryside. Then you can head back to Torquay along the great ocean road. There is only one word for that...spectacular. When we lived in Melbourne we never tired of driving that stretch of road. When you get to Geelong, drive east on the Bellarine penisular to Queenscliff. From there get the ferry across to Portsea. Then drive up the Mornington Penisular and Port Phillip Bay back to Melbourne. So I'd say 2 days in Melbourne (we lived there 18 months and didn't see it all!!)and 2 days doing the drive.
(b) As I said, I reckon LizF is on the money. Drop Adelaide & Kangaroo Island and spend the balance of that time in Tassie. Same thing, rent a car and go for it as per LizF's suggestions.
(c)Now Sydney is a great city. I would spend some time there, probably 3 days. Instead of the Byron/Brisbane option can I suggest another option that lets you see some classics Australian coast line and beautifull beaches. If you took 4/5 days driving up the Pacific hwy north along the coast you could see/do the following...if you are into wine the Hunter valley (west of Newcastle has great vineyards), visit the Nelson Bay, Hawkes Nest area, take the coast road through the Myall Lakes National Park (great lakes and unspoilt coastal beaches to Seal Rocks, on to Forster. Between taree and Port Macquarie get on the coast road again and see North Haven. Port Macquarie is lovely. From Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour there is plenty to do and see.
(d) From Coff's I'd catch a flight via Brisbane to Cairns. Having lived also in Brisbane for 2 years I'd give it a miss. Nice enough city but nothing there really. Shoot thru to Cairns which while in itself is not a spectacular place it is a good base for the Barrier Reef and many other activities.

With this type of itinery you get to see the two major cities as well as the best parts of the countryside being the Great Ocean Rd, Tasmania and the North Coast of New South Wales.

David

 
Dec 29th, 2001, 03:15 PM
  #5  
Rhonda
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If you do go to Byron Bay, Coolongatta (Gold Coast) airport is closer than Brisbane - not so far to drive.
 
Dec 30th, 2001, 12:52 PM
  #6  
Patti
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Thanks Liz, I had been looking for someone to add some info on Tasmania and I'm tickled to learn how fabulous it is. We'll definitely take in the Port Arthur and Huon Valley areas. Thanks for your comments.
 
Dec 30th, 2001, 11:28 PM
  #7  
Steve
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Thanks for the great info!! We're revising our plans now to replace Adelade/Kangaroo island with Tanzania and have cut Brisbane to one day. Will post the revised version for input once we've put a little more detail to it (specific activities, hotels, etc).
 
Dec 31st, 2001, 08:38 PM
  #8  
Daisy
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"Tanzania"???? Now THAT's a side trip! LOL

Seriously, though, the other posters have some really good suggestions.

However, I would warn that at times you can be getting one person's opinion. Lyn gives generally excellent advice, but I take issue with her bagging of Noosa. We are born and bred Queenslanders and our idea of a great day trip is to go up to Noosa for a bushwalk in the national park adjacent to the beaches, followed by a swim at Tea Tree Bay.

Anyway, that is not to put a spanner in the works of your pending itinerary, just to make a comment.

Whatever you do, you are going to have a great time.
 
Jan 1st, 2002, 12:43 AM
  #9  
LizF
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I presume that the previous poster meant "me" when she referred to the bagging given to Noosa. So just to get the record completely on line, I am a Queenslander, I was brought up in Bundaberg and I live in S.E.Queensland now. I have owned 15 different properties in S.E. Queensland. However try as I might I cannot rate Noosa's beach higher than 'average'. I cannot see anything about it that is of interest to International visitors, the serious crime and drug rate of late has been something of a worry, the cost of accommodation is higher than most other places, it's out of the way, its beach is washed away whenever we get a bit of a swell and a bit of a storm and I can think of about 2 dozen beaches that are far better within a relatively short distance of Noosa.
Having said that I believe that there are a lot of people who love Noosa for all sorts of reasons but there is no way that Noosa can compare in the International stakes with a hell of a lot of other places.
 
Jan 1st, 2002, 02:45 PM
  #10  
Aileen
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Hi Steve, I feel you have been badly mislead by the previous post, I am an ex-Queenslander who has just returned to beautiful South Australia. Noosa is a beautiful location with scenic surrounds, the whole area is quite special in fact. With regard to South Australia - have missed some wonderful opportunities to experience the fabulous beaches, the rugged coastlines, the unique outback, the magic of Kangaroo Island's "cottage" industries and unique wildlife, the beautiful Barossa & Clare Valley Wineries - I think you get the message. Maybe next time you can make some independant decisions, having been here once and seen for yourself.
Either way, enjoy your stay!
 
Jan 1st, 2002, 08:41 PM
  #11  
Ernie
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Well I think I am qualified to buy into this arguement having spent the last 2 years travelling around Australia.
South Australia, well Adelaide is a nice town but hardly a place you would make a special effort to go and see. The Barossa Valley is nice too with its wineries but again that it all there is, except for a little bit of German culture. Clare is the same as the last answer.
Kangaroo Island is a nice place to visit if you are in the area but again I would not make a special trip to go there, its more of an R&R place.
Melbourne is a nice staid Europian type city with a good night life and the Great Ocean Road is a lovely trip.
Sydney - a fabulous city and a very beautiful one at that with many things to do.
Queensland is the Jewel in the crown though and it really starts in Northern New South Wales and goes on into the Gold Coast and hinterland. I spent a lot of time here in the hinterland and enjoyed it very much. The Sunshine Coast is about as far from Brisbane but on the north side and it has some lovely beaches and a nice hinterland too, though not as big as the Gold Coast's hinterland. Noosa: well I had the misfortune of being there when the beach had washed away and there was nothing much about it that was really attractive. I also felt that my girl-friend and I should order matching designer sandwiches when we ate so that we could "fit in".
The Whitsuday Islands are fantastic and there are beaches there that will take your breath away. North Queensland i.e. PD and Cairns and surrounds are fab. too and I spent 2 months there treking also up to the top of the Cape.
I don't want to sound like I am bagging any place in particular because all of Australia is wonderful but there are places that are nice in their own way but not "international destinations", as someone put it.
JMO
 
Jan 2nd, 2002, 07:21 PM
  #12  
Kay
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Steve,
if you get the chance, try and visit the Grampians National Park in Victoria, about 3-4 hour drive west of Melbourne, via Ballarat. If you are driving the Great Ocean Road, you could come back to Melbourne via the Grampians. Stay in Halls Gap, a little village in the valley with motels, a pub, a few shops etc. You'll see kangaroos, emus, lots of native birds and maybe a koala. There are some fantastic walks there, visit the National Park Visitor Centre when you arrive for a walking map.
Have a great time.
Kay
 
Jan 3rd, 2002, 12:17 PM
  #13  
Francine
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Hi Steve,

I almost hesitate to offer advice since you have received so much here. But I bring a different perspecitive. I am a travel agent who specializes in Australia. While I have travelled extensively throughout the country, I have not lived there. But here is my opinion for what its worth. I agree on the Great Ocean Road. It is spectacular scenery. And Tasmania also has fantastic scenery - just beautiful national parks. However, I also love Kangaroo Island. Its a totally different experience. Here you are going for the wildlife. Since these are nocturnal creatures, the night tours are just fantastic. Lots of unusual sightings during the day as well. It all depends on what you prefer. As to Adelaide, its a small town, with a couple of Universities, theatre, museums, nearby beach, lots of cute little bistros and close to wineries. Again, its a matter of what you particular likes are.

If you want to relax at the end of your trip, consider either staying on one of the islands or taking one of the small cruises around the islands. Either way you can snorkle and take diving lessons.

Finally, I should mention that the driving is on the left side of the road. A lot of Americans are not real comfortable with that.

Francine
 
Jan 3rd, 2002, 05:35 PM
  #14  
Daisy
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Steve,

I don't know what sort of budget you are operating with, but I just had another thought. If you are planning to be in the Cairns area for a week, you might want to consider a short cruise out from Cairns to reefs and islands. Some friends of mine recently took a cruise with Captain Cook Cruises, and really enjoyed it, and felt while it was a bit expensive, it was good value for what they wanted. They went snorkelling on a reef during the cruise. If you want to find out more, their website is www.captcookcrus.com.au
 
Jan 3rd, 2002, 06:55 PM
  #15  
TassieTiger
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TASMANIA HAS ONLY NICE NATIONAL PARKS.......
 
Jan 3rd, 2002, 07:23 PM
  #16  
TassieTiger
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meant to say further that from someone who is a travel agent who has only been on holiday in Australia but never lived here it appears that she may have never been to Tasmania either. What about the little Georgian villages with convict build buildings and lovely little shops? The World Heritage Listed areas of Tasmania where few people have been? The beautiful ruins of Port Arthur and the area around there? Sure the National Parks are lovely but there is much, much more to Tasmania than National Parks. White water rafting? The Antarctic Exhibition. We have wineries too. Great food, fantastic cheese and Australia's best lamb. I have a sneaking feeling that this person has not been there otherwise she wouldn't have been so dismissive of it.
 
Jan 4th, 2002, 03:09 AM
  #17  
Carol
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Hi Steve

I spent three weeks in and around the Cairns area in Jan/Feb 2001 and found masses to do The Kuranda trip was very scenic, the Daintree and Cape tribulation was memorable particularly the rainforest and eco tours. I found that Low Island a small coral reef on the inner reef was the best place for snorkelling folowed by a guided tour of the island with a very clued up marine biologist. Green Island on the way out to the outer reef was very pleasant but not as peaceful as the smaller coral islands. Fitzroy island is another quiet island to snorkell from which is a place I visited after completing a balloon flight over the Atherton Tablelands (another great area to look at) (the company I used was called Raging Thunder who organised adventure tours - (great fun with lots of options of activities). I would recommend a stay in Palm Cove as it is very peaceful with a nice beach with stinger net for swimming - The place I stayed was called Marlin Waters - SC accomm small but very friendly.

I also visited Brisbane and Sydney in December 2001. I found Brisbane a fascinating city and think you would need more than one day to appreciate all Brisbane and it's suburbs has to offer. To the north is the sunshine coast particularly Noosa and up the river a nice little place called Tewantin which is totally free of the 'High Rise Blocks' which dominate the Gold Coast to the south of Brisbane.
However the Gold Coast does have some superb beaches. From Broadbeach down to Tweed Heads you start to leave the glitz of the Gold Coast behind but I wouldn,t think that Byron Bay was worth a three day visit perhaps you could combine this with a trip to the Hinterlands.

Sydney I found very cosmopolitan and loved every minute of my stay, albeit the area In which I stayed (Double Bay) was a bit expensive but it was only a 10 minute ferry ride away from Circular Quay which is the hub of the transport system in Sydney (worth buying a ferry/bus pass for a week - you can then hop on and off the Ferries and the buses including the Sydney explorer buses). I found that I travelled on almost every route the ferries and buses took - armed with my Lonely Planet's guide I managed to see most of what Sydney has to offer - the half day Sydney harbour cruise was a valuable intro to the city and it's suburbs. but I think the Darling Harbour area was my favourite spot after the Opera House and Bridge.

Have a nice trip
Cheers!
Carol
 
Jan 6th, 2002, 03:41 PM
  #18  
Jill
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The highlight of my recent trip to Australia was the Great Ocean Road. We did a day tour - they all leave early (seems like 7 and don't return till 7-8pm). We took a smaller tour but which made a stop at a golf course where we saw lots of wild kangaroos and then on a cutoff from the main road (which only these small ones do) we saw wild koalas. We also did a day tour to the Grampians which was another long day -didn't get back till about 9pm. In addition to beautiful mountain scenery you see hundreds of kangaroos and lots of emus. In addition to the lookouts, you do one short hike and another one longer one to a waterfalls. I didn't expect this type of scenery in Australia. The other thing I liked in Melbourne was the Victora Market - you can definitely stock up on your souvenirs there. We also found that the best exchange rate and no commission was at the casino.
6-7 days seems too long to me for Sydney. I definitely recommend getting the Sydney pass and taking both the Explorer Bus and the Bondi Express. From the Bondi Express you can do some cliff walking from one stop to another. We did a day trip to the Blue Mountains which was very nice but not sure how the current fires will effect that area.
In Cairns we did the day trip to Cape Tribulation - would highly recommend this.
 
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