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SnRSeattle Oct 5th, 2005 09:03 PM

preliminary itinerary to Victoria, SA, Queensland, Sydney. Please comment and help.
Hi, Aussie group, we are in the planning stages for our second trip (3+ weeks) to Oz. We thought we wanted to go to NZ this time, but found we weren't finished with Australia yet (will we ever be???) We had a fabulous time last trip (2004) thanks to the wonderful advice from the lovely people here, so I thought I would send out our preliminary itinerary to get some comments on it. We are "fifty-something" and snorkel mad, love the outdoors and learning natural history, geography, geology, cultural information, and meeting new people. We had all that in spades our last trip to Sydney, Uluru, Kakadu, and Cairns/Port Douglas. Wonderful. Now we are interested in other areas (although we could do our same itinerary and still see new things and learn a lot!) We are using FF miles so can fly into Melbourne this time.

Victoria--visit Melbourne two nights, leaving on the third day and driving to Ballarat and then back to GOR staying in Apollo Bay, so as to be poised to go on to 12 Apostles after hiking in Otway Park. That night stay in Port Fairy having seen the whales (maybe) and the town, leaving the next day to see the caves (maybe) and getting to a jumpoff point to go to Kangaroo Island, staying there one night.
Comment--I hate one-night stays in places, but I don't want to rush the GOR and want to see some of the sights enroute. Any advice on this section (or any section) would be appreciated.

South Australia--stay in Adelaide two nights, one day seeing the town and another to the Barossa Valley. Then drive to Wilpena Pound (sounds terrific!! and unique) and stay there two nights. Drive back to Adelaide and stay there near the airport to catch a 6 AM flight to Emerald.

Queensland--stay in Carnarvon Gorge--this place has really caught our imagination, a secret gorge with unique plants and animals, rock paintings, and "luxury" tent accommodations. Two nights. Spend a day flying/train/?? to Shute Harbor to get the boat out the next day to Reefsleep. Another experience that has captured our imagination--two days and a night on the reef, viewing platform all night long if we wish, stars, wow. Boat gets you back to Shute Harbor at 5. We'd like to get to Heron Island (seems the best for our needs--laid back, informational guides, not too outrageously expensive, comparatively speaking,unless the prices have gone up since I last checked) for three nights. Could cut this to two and spend one more in Carnarvon Gorge.

Sydney--stay in Sydney two nights and a day (plane leaves at 4 pm) and see some of the things we missed the last time.

This is long, but I hope you can have some helpful suggestions for us. Thanks in advance! Oh, I forgot to say when--October 2006, although we are flexible.
Sally and Randy in Seattle

SnRSeattle Oct 6th, 2005 09:15 PM

wondering why no one has responded to this post. Is it too long? Too confusing? I thought I was organized and put the states of interest in the title as requested. Anyone able to help out? I can repost in a different format if needed.
SnRSeattle aka Sally and Randy

Tassietwister Oct 6th, 2005 11:37 PM

Hiya Sally

Think you are getting to the point of giving out tips rather than ask for them.

In other words you seem more knowledgeable than the locals!

I am not sure where we will be next year but if around maybe a fodor meeting up maybe fun.

SnRSeattle Oct 7th, 2005 09:29 AM

Tassietwister, we would love to meet you when we come to Australia (and any other Fodorite, too!) Will check back closer to wheels-up time. Thanks for the compliment, but we are just book-informed, not real-life informed about Australia, and I know that the regulars here have lots to say to help out. Where do you live now and are you planning on moving?

shandy Oct 7th, 2005 02:22 PM

You seem to have your itinerary all worked out preety well SnRSeattle. Only real comment I have on it is that you are on the move a great deal in order to cover the ground that you wish to do. However, you have been to Australia before so presumably have a good idea now of the distances between places. Provided you are happy with being on the road nearly the whole time I don't see any problems with it.

I've never been to Carnarvon or Heron Island so can't comment on your split up of time between the two.

oliverandharry Oct 7th, 2005 04:27 PM

We spent four days on Heron last year. I wouldn't call it cheap - particularly including the cost of the boat transportation to get there and inconvenient flights from Gladstone. That said, we really enjoyed our stay. What would you like to know?

SnRSeattle Oct 8th, 2005 10:09 AM

Thank you, Shandy, for pointing out how much time we are on the move. It seems it can't be helped on the GOR, but we can look to other places to relax the itinerary. We don't want to just whirl through the country, but we also want to see a lot--a dilemma for such a diverse country. Oliver and Henry, thanks for the info on the expensive boat ride and inconvenient flights from Gladstone. What made you decide on Heron? What was your favorite thing about it and what did you miss? We might rethink Heron, but really want to snorkel without having to take a long boat ride every day, so decided to go for the island option. How much was it when you were there? Thanks for your help.

lizF Oct 8th, 2005 12:59 PM

Hi all, I have been away this past week and had thought that I had been banned from Fodors since my comments about Bali but they have given me another password so I can write in again.
Firstly let me tell you that I have been away in what I regard as Australia's best kept secret - that being the Huon Valley of Tasmania and I am mentioning that here because I note that SNRS are "doing" the GOR. I know I seem repetitive sometimes but if you think, or anyone else for that matter, that the GOR is nice then you would absolutely love the river drive in the Huon Valley which to my way of thinking beats just about anywhere I have ever been for a scenic drive and I have been to a fair number of places. I too have done the GOR and yawned it off lateer. But I will post another report later about Tassie when I have more time and have unpacked etc.
So lets see: we have two fairly elderly :0) people here who like snorkeling, out-doors etc etc - seems we should start a club as you are in my elderly age group with similiar interests.
I won't comment on the Victoria bit of your trip as I have said my bit above and you can read between the lines there. I will say however that if this is your second trip to Australia and Tasmania is not on your list of must dos and you have added Melbouren and the GOR then apart from being a terrible shame obviously no one reads my postings about Tasmania! However back to comments - 2 nights in Adelaide is possibly one too many as I have not found anything in Adelaide itself that would grip me for more than an afternoon but of course that does not apply to the Barossa Valley, the Flinders Range or Wilpena Pound. I will say however that you are duplicating things somewhat by going to Carnarvon Gorge and Kangaroo Island as far as animals go because C.G and surrounds are covered with them. Here again I will say that I think Kangaroo Island is not worth the trip in terms of cost, experience and sightseeing. Sure it has animals but then so does many, many other better parts of Australia.
You mention Heron Island, it is not cheap once you factor in the getting there and depending on the time of year it is not quiet either. The noise of the birds can drive people crazy. It again looks like no one reads my posts because I think I have written and written and written about Hinchinbrook Island being the best of all islands but am yet to hear anyone say that they have been there. It IS NOT owned by P&O or any other world-wide mega group and therefore does not get the International attention of the other islands but if I wanted to go to an island then that would be the one.
So those are my comments about your trip and in case you are unsure about what I am saying the following is what I would be doing:
Fly into Melbourne - Ballarat - Drive up to the Dandenong Range, fly to Hobart - spend several days there ( as many as possible actually as although it is small it is packed with interesting places) - direct flight to Adelaide and go to Barossa, Wilpena Pound but leave off Kangaroo Island because if you have been to Tassie with a flash-light and drive along a country road at night you will see heaps of animals and all for free! Fly to Brisbane and get to Carnarvon Gorge however you were getting there anyway - train or however to Hinchinbrook Island which believe me you will find marine life which is different from the other areas i.e. dugongs etc. then fly home.

shandy Oct 8th, 2005 04:45 PM

In response to Liz I would have to say that as much as I love the drive along the Huon Valley in Tassie I prefer the GOR. It all comes down to individual taste of course. I also tend to think of the Huon Valley as something you do as a one day drive out of Hobart, rather than spend 2-3 days over which the GOR lends itself to, looking around a bit more in-depth than just zooming past. The other thing that I would be concerned about is adding in more flights to another destination in what is already a very crowded trip.

I had thought of saying in my previous post that if you wished to free up some time that perhaps you should think about dropping Kangaroo Island off the itinerary. However as I had never been there I felt I couldn't really say how it would compare with the other places you are going. As Liz says it is rather duplicating what you are doing elsewhere than I would give serious consideration to leaving it out altogether.

marg Oct 8th, 2005 09:05 PM

As you are well aware, you will be on the go for much of the time but that is the catch with travelling in another country with limited time.
If you are going to Kangeroo Island for the wildlife, you could consider detouring through the Grampians in Victoria - it's not really out of your way.
One small suggestion - when you are Port Ferry, check to see if it is mutton bird season. In season, they come back to land at dusk in their hundreds - worth watching out for.

SnRSeattle Oct 9th, 2005 11:04 AM

Marg, Shandy, and Liz, thanks for replying to my post. I looked at Hinchinbrook, Liz, and it looked great, but not so much for the snorkeling (have to take boats) and was still in the same price range as Heron. Will look into it more. We will also look into the Grampians vs. Kangaroo Island because we were going there for the wildlife and if we get a similar experience without another flight or boat ride--bonus! We could add a day exploring the Flinders Ranges then. I am also thinking of skipping Reefsleep in view of the comments of moving around to much and wasting time enroute to places rather than IN the places. It is as expensive as Heron, so we could add a day on Heron (or Hinchinbrook, Liz!) and eliminate a lot of travel time. We will also have to read up on Tasmania. We have a negative feeling about it since our daughter went there in September and left early because of the weather, being socked in with rain and fog. They did have a wonderful experience in Cradle Mountain, though. I understand the weather is iffy there a lot. Is that true? We are gong in October. I knew that Fodor's would have some good advice for us. Thanks for coming through this time. I recommend to everyone I meet!
Sally of SnRSeattle fame

lizF Oct 9th, 2005 12:56 PM

I have just finished writing a post on Tasmania which I hope will answer some of your questions and also in reply to Shandy re Tassie V GOR.
I might also add that I have spent quite a bit of time in the SeaTac area and whilst I do not dislike the GOR I do not think it is an International destination for people from Washington State and therefore my answers reflect those feelings.
However I do think Sally that you are trying to do the impossible in cramming in too much and it is here that I agree with others about that side of things.
At the risk of being poo pooed by a lot of South Australians I would delete South Australia this trip because you do not have the time and there is nothing worse that spending all your time on planes and in airports.
Whilst you can snorkle off Heron Island without taking a boat the main problem I have with it is its cost of getting there i.e. having to go into an off the main route town like Gladstone. To get to Gladstone, unless you are driving, you will have to do that from Brisbane and that can mean going back to Brisbane to fly to Gladstone ( one of Australia's most forgetable cities). I could be wrong here and there may be a "air milk run which includes landing in Gladstone and continuing on to somewhere else but you would have to check with the airlines. If however you are driving then that will not be a problem. I mentioned Hinchinbrook because it is so diverse, many native animals, marine life and tranquility there and it has won several eco tourism awards of recent years.
I think finally that you should think of fine tuning your trip and making sure that there is transport where you want it.
Do read my post on Tasmania as well and perhaps if not this time then next time!
Cheers Liz

Tassietwister Oct 10th, 2005 12:12 AM

Hiya Sally

We decided to sell our house in Sydney but then the property prices decided to drop because we have that impact on markets hee hee.

So where we are next year will depend on whether we rent it out, sell it or stay put! We are moving to FNQ one day but before we settled back down again wanted to go to the US and take our own sweet time going up the Californian, Oregon and Washington coastline and then do the Alaskan Marine Highway. Time will tell.

Back to your question.

Tasmania in October was great for us (all the rain your daughter had to contend with made the island lush and green). Beautiful. Maybe a bit like your part of the world rainforest wise, plenty of moss!

I haven't seen too much of South Australia, Adelaide and Glenelg, Barossa Valley and a german tourist town, Heilde something I guess is about it. I personally prefer Tasmania but haven't see much to make a fair comparison.

I was recently in Ballarat for 4 days which was 3 days too long. Lots of older buildings unusual for a country town because it did start out to be a major city but then the gold ran out I guess. Area around was burnt from drought but that may not be the case next year. Sovereign Hill may interest. I haven't been to that attraction for about 15 years. We went to Yellowglen winery because I love sparkling wine but fairly redundant because it is cheap as chips in every bottle store in Australia! But any excuse for this girl to have a glass of sparkly on holidays:)

By the sound of it you will have fun wherever you go, and rememebr there is always 2007! :)

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