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lynniewinnie Jun 4th, 2009 12:35 PM

Ready to book domestic flights 3 weeks Aust, Tas, 2 weeks NZ--your thought
 
Getting ready to pull the trigger on the AirPass for travel within Australia, Tasmania and NZ in mid Oct thru mid Nov. Thanks for all your input to get me to this point! Some of the order of destinations may sound crazy, but flights only originate or go to certain cities. Tell me if you think I should add or take away days or make any changes:

Arrive Auckland, stay 3 nights (maybe Bay of Islands or Waitakere Ranges for 2)
fly to Melbourne, 2 nights to see surrounding area
fly to Alice Springs, 2 nights
back to Melbourne 1 additional night
drive to Canberra, 2 nights
drive to Sydney, 3 nights to see surrounding area
fly to Cairns (not sure where to stay, one of the islands? Port Douglas?) 4 nights
fly to Brisbane, 1 night
fly to Hobart, 2 nights, drive to Freycinet 1 night, Launceston 2 nights
fly to Christchurch, rent car 12 days south Island (this part I've planned on a different post)

Thanks again to all of you that have given me great input and advice......I'm getting excited! Just want to make sure the above schedule sounds doable....

SnR Jun 4th, 2009 08:26 PM

Busy itinerary! I hope you aren't flying to Alice Springs and not going to Uluru, are you? Alice is a long way from Uluru and you can fly right to there (town of Yalara). Or you could fly to Alice and drive to Uluru and then fly out of there. Unless you've already been.... To stay in Port Douglas, check out the Le Cher du Monde, reasonable price (we paid $135/AUD in October 2007) or Lilybank B&B in Cairns. If money is no object, stay on Lizard Island (-: Enjoy your trip, it sounds like fun!
Sally in Seattle aka SnR and SnRSeattle

lynniewinnie Jun 4th, 2009 08:45 PM

Thanks for the input, Sally. We will fly into Alice Springs and, yes, drive to Uluru (maybe stay there?)---the "cheap" flights only go to Alice Springs. With limited time should I choose Cairns or Port Douglas to stay? I have seen other posts about Lizard Island but probably won't add that expense.

Hope you're enjoying "our" 90 degree weather while "we're" getting your rain for days and days!
Lynne in Carson City aka lynniewinnie

lynniewinnie Jun 5th, 2009 08:02 AM

One last idea which has been nagging at me all along----should I skip Uluru, Alice Springs, and spend those few days in one of the other areas in the itinerary?

Hate to miss The Red Center, but.....

SnR Jun 5th, 2009 12:41 PM

I don't believe you should plan on driving Alice-Uluru and back in one day. It's 460 kilometers each way. Although Bill Bryson did it in his book (which I loved), it was because he stupidly didn't get a reservation and was sorry. There are loads of animals on the road at night and your rental car probably won't allow you to drive at night. One of the big, big things to see at Uluru is the sunset!!! All of the hotels are run by one company, but they have a range of expensive to outrageous. We got upgraded, so I don't know how the Pioneer Outback is, but the reviews in 2004 were good for it. I think there are camping accommodations also which are cheaper. It seems wrong to go all the way to Alice and not go to Uluru. If you were going to cut out the red center entirely, it would make your itinerary much more workable. However, we loved, loved Uluru and wouldn't have missed it for the world. Others disagree (search and you will find loads of pros and cons.) BTW, why go to Brisbane at all if only for 1 night and then to Tassie??? Can't you go straight from Cairns to Tassie? I don't know Brisbane at all, but I would think that a less than 24 hours stop wouldn't be worth it and would be better spent in another place. I understand that Tasmania takes a number of days to really enjoy and you could have one more there. I am researching that now for our next Oz adventure. Our first trip we buzzed around like you are doing, but next one we discussed what we really like and tried to concentrate on that in a smaller area. RE Cairns vs. Port Douglas: Cairns has lots of restaurants and GBR trips, easier access to the Tablelands, and a great host at the Lilybank. Port Douglas is a small, "botique" town (although getting larger) with easy to walk street(s) and a great park to watch the sunset, much much easier to get to Daintree, some GBR boats go out of here, the highly regarded Wavelength for example. The road between PD and Cairns, while scenic, is windy and slow, and although tourist places often pick up at both, I wouldn't want to start out my touring day at the "wrong" end and have that long drive before we started. We stayed at both, both trips. For 4 nights, I dont' think I'd switch places. If you give Cairns area the extra Brissie day, you could do both places. People on this board often stay at an inbetween place called Palm Cove. Do a search for it. You can't see it all, so pick what you want to do and you'll have a GREAT time!! October is a good month for Queensland and Sydney (d/n know the other places that month.)
Sally in Seattle aka SnR and SnRSeattle

lynniewinnie Jun 5th, 2009 03:54 PM

We are planning on staying in Uluru and not Alice Springs---just need to fly in and out of there. And Brisbane only because again had to fly out of there to get to Tassie with the AirPass----tried to do it all in 1 day but didn't work.
I think I won't skip Uluru and just accept our hectic schedule.
I will look into Palm Cove. No we won't switch for 4 days---need to stay put once in a while!
The Nov part of our itinerary is Tassie and NZ for the most part, which I posted as a separate topic and received many great recommendations. For both of those segments we will rent a car.
Thanks again and any other comments are appreciated.

lynniewinnie Jun 5th, 2009 04:38 PM

OOPS---I just did the math on the 460km from Alice Springs to Uluru---- I will look into flying into Uluru and skipping A.S.---even though the flights will be much more expensive, or adding a day to this segment. (which means I would have to take a day away from somewhere else.....?)

lynniewinnie Jun 5th, 2009 08:46 PM

I revamped the itinerary---added 2 days (nights) to Alice Springs, Uluru (2 nights each), and took away Canberra...
Something had to go. Or should I take away another destination instead?

Bushranger Jun 6th, 2009 05:43 AM

Which Airpass are you considering using lynnie or are you using tigerairways who have cheaper flights and do Melbourne to Alice Springs?

Seems a reasonable idea to allow extra days for the centre and have you considered doing a tour from Alice to Uluru and return, budget ones like with www.waywardbus.com.au but also more upmarket trips available and one of the best ways to get to see the centre, and make sure one way or another to get yourself outside for the night stars, preferably away from polluting light.

What you do from Auckland will of course depend on how you'll feel with time change and jetlag etc., it not being a great idea to drive too soon.
You might want to get a ferry out to Waiheke Island and stay a couple of days there or Warkworth is a nice area abd fairly close to Auckland too.

Think you'll have to fly back to Melbourne to get to Christchurch and unless this airpass is a super one, I'd consider doing Tassie after your Melbourne and Centre bit and then heading to Sydney onto Cairns and direct to NZ from Cairns as that'll certainly reduce your flying greatly.

There'd even be some people who might say skip Tassie altogether and allocate more time for NZ or somewhere else in Oz., like Whitsunday Islands, weather down south not being the best to be expected in Mid October.

lynniewinnie Jun 6th, 2009 12:40 PM

Thanks Bushranger---I am using Virgin Blue Airpass for the majority of the flights, and Tiger Airways for Melb to Alice. Although Tiger is cheaper generally, most of the flights seem to be at night giving us no time to drive to accomodations (as we won't know our way). They also charge more for extra baggage so it seemed like Virgin Blue was close in price but many more time and destination choices.

Advice well received on not driving too far after we land in Auckland--I will look into Waiheke or Warkworth.
I just reworked (for the 100th thime!) my itinerary based in part on your suggestions. I think we would like to see Tassie----BTW my travel book says the weather is good during end of Oct which is where it currently is scheduled(?)

The following is my tentative schedule:
Auckland (Waiheke or Warkworth or...) 3 nights
fly to Sydney 2 nights,drive Canberra 2 nights,drive Melb 3
fly to Alice 1 night, Uluru 2, Alice 1
fly to Melb 1 night (can't get direct connection to Hobart)
fly to Hobart (5 nights total) leaving out of Launceston
fly to Cairns 3 nights (or stay in Port Douglas or?)
return to Brisbane 1 night to Christchurch (can't fly direct from Cairns, and better times thru Brisbane)

Seems like a doable schedule---I lost 1 day in Cairns area given connecting times and adding a day in Red Center.

Also, is Canberra to Melb too far to drive in 1 day?

What are your thoughts???????

Bushranger Jun 7th, 2009 04:39 AM

That's looking somewhat better Lynnie and just a few other comments:
. If you've got three nights scheduled for Auckland/NI, you could always use the first night/couple of days to adjust near Auckland and leave yourself a couple of days to still explore further afield, Rotorua/Coromandel or Bay of Islands areas, the former being to south of Auckland and saving hastle of getting through Auckland.

. Used Tiger flights between Melbourne and Darwin last year and yes, later night flights are a pain and yes they have like other airlines tightened up on the luggage allowances.
Also make sure you allow plenty of time for check in for they have a very firm policy of shutting check in counter 45 minutes before flight times and even if there is a queue I've known of people missing out, so being there a good 1.5 hrs. before flights is not a bad idea.

. I heard recently of the Virgin Pass, maybe even a recent thread about and on that thread was a posting by someone who had not had the best experience with it - a few hooks in it and I'll see if I can sight the thread and drag it up for you.

. Suppose some guidesd may rate Tassie weather as being OK late October and relative to what some countries can have it probably is and it'll not be bitterly cold but our Spring weather pattern can be a bit like anywhere with some days of splendid sunshine mixed in with others of damper cooler conditions and generally considerably cooler than latitudes to the north - pity you cannot schedule to be in Melbourne for first Tuesday in November and get to the Melbourne Cup.

. Canberra to Melbourne can be driven easily enough in a day, especially if you head from Canberra to Yass to pick up the Hume Hwy which is except for a hundred kilometres or so, very much of US Interstate standard with dual carriageway, though something of a boring route, about six hours.

If you wanted to make it somewhat more interesting I'd suggest that seeing as there'll be daylight saving with darkness not until about 8-9 PM, you may want to make headway the afternoon before and head from Canberra south to Cooma and onto Jindabyne and through the Snowy Mountains [no Snow likely] and you could make time to hang about and stay overnight at Jindabyne or Thredbo [a www.yha.com.au with studio apartments as one option]or make on around the Alpine Way to Khancoban or Corryong, plenty of accommodation options.

The following day you would have the choice of taking in a historical town like Beechworth and then on through the northern Victoria wine region and on to the Hume Hwy for an easy 2+ hrs drive down to Melbourne or take the Kiewa Valley and then over Tawonga Gap [a lookout to stop at]to Bright and stay back from the Hwy for more of a country meander [still good roads] with little traffic through towns like Myrtelford, Mansfield, Alexandra, Yea, Healesville, taking a couple of hours longer.

Aside from some areas closer to Melbourne affected by disastrous bushfires earlier this year, it is splendid peaceful touring countryside and a look at a site like www.travelmate.com.au should see you sorted.

I'd also suggest that a most interesting drive from Sydney to Canberra could be had if you head south out of Sydney on the Princess Hwy to the Royal National Park and then via the road through there, take the Lawrence Hargreave [Pacific Ocean] drive to rejoin the Princess Hwy near Wollongong and then keep heading south to take turn just before Batemans Bay and up via Braidwood, Bungendore and Queanbeyan into Canberra, delightful smaller villages like Berry and Milton along the way and good for a coffee break.

Bushranger Jun 7th, 2009 07:19 AM

Lynnie, likely worth reading the last post on http://www.fodors.com/community/aust...-australia.cfm

lynniewinnie Jun 7th, 2009 04:28 PM

Yes it would be nice to stay away from Auckland---Bay of Islands sounds good and maybe Rotorua on the way back before leaving.
I also like the idea of taking the less traveled roads from Canberra on the way to Melb, and the suggestion from Sydney to Canberra.
One more question----currently I have 5 nights scheduled in Tassie---arriving in Hobart, departing from Launceston. I only have 3 nights for Cairns area and 11 remaining to see NZ. Should I cut 1 day from Tassie and add it to GBR (Cairns, Port Douglas) or NZ? Wish I had more time!!!!!

SnR Jun 7th, 2009 08:39 PM

>Should I cut 1 day from Tassie and add it to GBR (Cairns, Port Douglas) or NZ? <

These kind of dilemmas will drive you crazy. The truth is, IMO, there is never enough time to see "all" of any given area. You have to weigh what you REALLY want to do/see against the time/money that you have to spend. We would never shortchange Cairns because we are crazy about snorkeling and the GBR is endlessly interesting to us. In addition, there are loads of places to see animals, and unique places like the Daintree to experience. We spent 3/5 of our 5 week vacation in the greater Cairns area. Here's a question to ask yourself--what do you want to do in Cairns and what if the weather was bad and you couldn't go to the GBR? If that is unacceptable to you, you have to plan a few more days there. If you're Ok with that and want to take little sips of lots of different places, then go with your itinerary. I am currently running different scenerios for a trip in 2010 and facing the same issues--2 days in Melbourne vs. more, do we have time to go to Adelaide, etc. Here's something to think about--what is your ratio of time in airports/airplanes vs. awake time actually IN Oz and NZ? Include packing up, travel to/from airport, and the 1+ hr. ahead of time to go through security, and don't forget time changes between states. If it is too high, then you have to cut out some places and put them in the "NEXT TRIP" catagory. If it is acceptable to you, then go for it. It is horribly frustrating now, but when you get there and are actually doing it, you'll be so happy, you won't mind these weeks of angst! The good thing about planning a trip to OZ (probably NZ as well but we havent' been there) is that EVERY PLACE is awesome, so you can't miss!
Sally in Seattle

Bushranger Jun 7th, 2009 10:23 PM

I think Lynnie, that SnR makes the point somewhat with:
" You have to weigh what you REALLY want to do/see against the time/money that you have to spend. We would never shortchange Cairns because we are crazy about snorkeling and the GBR is endlessly interesting to us."
giving the example of having a great interest in snorkelling.

To answer your question a bit further in adding to SnR's comments I'd think that weather will be far from being an issue for the GBR in early November, it usually being a well settled time of the year without getting too warm but do cover up when out on the water, either a stinger suit or tee shirt when in the water to make sure you do not get a lobster back, particularly if of fairer complexion.

In addition to that, I've snorkelled here and there a bit in addition to SCUBA and though it is something to love and enjoy anytime I do go, it is not an addiction to the extent for me to go day following day, and so with good weather you'd not really need more days just for snorkelling, but the Cairns region does offer much more too.

Generally speaking, you also need to ask in addressing what you want to see - is this to be a once ever trip downunder?, or is it likely you'll be back again sometime and can include other areas.

In an earlier thread I made the comment re skipping Tassie on the basis of cooler weather in south and whereas I'd be loathe to cut back to four days if attempting to enjoy a tour of the island myself, I'd still suggest that weather aside another option for you could still be to skip Tassie for
. Tassie is going to be closest to NZ of all you see in Oz.
. And yet the red centre and tropical north offer contrasts.
. In addition to being light on for Cairns area you are a bit skinny re the centre.

So if prepared to skip Tassie, you could not only give yourself more time for up north [think I previously mentioned the Whitsundays], but perhaps make another day for the centre and also even give yourself another day for Sydney - Melbourne.

There would also be considerable advantage to be obtained re flights times etc. to then head from the Centre direct to Cairns and though Qantas are only airline for that and it may kiss the Virgin Pass goodbye, have a look all up at what that does to number of flights, time needed and costs and you could be in front on all accounts.
www.webjet.com.au will scan all costs.

So now after attempting to up end the plan, it is now on its side again, only other comment I'll make for you in respect to both all that unpacking/packing SnR makes so joyous for us, even if you are a suitcase traveller, make sure of having yourself a reasonable size day backpack into which you have all your day/transit essentials, passport/ticketing/camera/toiletries/even a spare set of underwear/socks so all that stuff is always handy and it'll help with the unpacking/packing as you will not be diving into the suitcase so much and it can always be kept more or less ready to go or made that way night before.

And then re planning for any road trip sections you do and for other than any special locations you really want to be staying at, for October/November in Oz and NZ you are outside of domestic holidays and peak tourism times, tourism waning anyway, and so you do not need to organise yourself to the extent of booking everywhere - you'll find plenty of options available to you for accommodation as you travel about and will have little or no problems just rocking up to a motel or holiday park with cabins as you go and getting good quality accommodation around the $80-100/n mark.

lynniewinnie Jun 8th, 2009 06:14 PM

Okay Sally and Bushranger---your suggestions well taken--I will work on revision 101! I will eliminate Tassie and add more days elsewhere. Yes GBR is one of our priorities.
I'm sure we'll be much happier in the long run and I hope we will be able to return some day and see some of the sights we'll miss. After I rework the schedule I will post it again.

lynniewinnie Jun 10th, 2009 12:33 PM

I reworked the itinerary both directions adding the Whitsunday area. One direction I end up with 4 nights instead of 5 in Alice/Uluru, with 1 night in Bris to connect to Cairns. The other way I lose a day in NZ and have to spend a night in Bris to connect to Christchurch. Either way adding Whitsundays adds app $650 in airfare. From what I've read it would take too long to drive to from Cairns? I am willing to add Whitsundays to itinerary but not sure if I end up any better off than when I had Tassie scheduled other than we see so much more of the coast areas and not quite so much hopping or driving around.
Here's the first (#105!) itin:

Auckland (somewhere north) 4 nights
fly Whitsunday (2 ni)
fly Bris (1 ni) can't get connection same day to
fly Cairns stay there or Port Douglas/Palm Cove (3 ni)
fly Alice (2 ni) Uluru (2 ni)
fly Melb (3 ni) Canberra (2) Sydney (3)
fly Christchurch

As I said the other itin. in the other direction gives 1 more day to the Centre but 1 less day in NZ. I still have only 3 nights in Cairns area scheduled at this point in either scenario.(Could take away 1 day in Auck in beginning)
With above itin. I have 12 days/nights left for remainder of NZ and to work our way back to Auckland.

Again your thoughts suggestions. Bushranger--I reread the rules for Virgin Blue and have only 1 flight with a connection to be worried about.

Thanks again and again.....

SnR Jun 10th, 2009 05:55 PM

Sorry you are having so much trouble, but it's because you have so much time! Soon the "right" itinerary will jump out at you and you will feel really happy. FYI, there is a flight from Hamilton Island to Cairns w/ Qantas. It flies in the AM and you can get a boat from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island and catch the plane. I know because we did it. It was pricey by the time I finally did it, but far cheaper than staying another day. And much less frustrating than going through Brissie. When we were in Airlie Beach we went to "Reef Sleep" with Fantasea where you take the snorkel boat out to a pontoon and stay overnight. The food was fantastic and the experience really unique. Otherwise, we also went on the one day boat to Whitehaven Beach and snorkeling. IMHO, however, you should skip Whitsundays and stay the whole time in Cairns area and see the animals on the Tableland, the GBR and also the Daintree. Why buzz around and lose several days in transit when you could be snorkeling??? The Whitsundays are best, I think, if you have time to sail around and see the area, not for a quick stop in. There is also a fabulous fabulous day trip via plane to Lizard Island out of Cairns see at www.daintreeair.com and also do a search on this site for Daintree Air. Everyone raves about it, including us. Pricey, but cheaper than staying on Lizard. That way your itinerary would be
Auckland (4 nights)
Cairns area (5 nights) with day trips to GBR, Daintree, Atherton Tablelands, maybe even Daintree Air to Lizard I.
Fly Alice (2) Uluru (2) or take tour that includes King Canyon
Fly Melbourne (3)
Drive Canberra (2)
Sydney (3) NOT ENOUGH TIME HERE except you will be back!! It is such a cool city that maybe one less in Melbourne??
Fly South Island
WOW!!
Sally in Seattle aka SnR and SnRSeattle (you can search and find my trip reports, the one to Lizard was SnRSeattle and was in 2004)

lynniewinnie Jun 11th, 2009 01:00 PM

Thanks to both of your great suggestions I think I'm close. I have 3 scenarios and the differences are nit-picky but I'll mention for your final input. I have decided not to do Whitsundays and spend more time in each of the other places. In all scenarios I'm @ 6 days/nights GBR---probably Port Douglas from my research thus far, 4 Melb, and 5 Alice/Uluru (2 itins). #1 itin gives me only 2 days Sydney 1 Canberra but I gain 2 in NZ. The next only 4 Alice/Uluru, gain 1 NZ. And #3 max days everywhere but lose 2 NZ.
I'm sure we'll have a wonderful time no matter which one I choose (but please suggest if you have a chance---especially on only 2 days Syd 1 Canb). And no doubt I'll be planning a return trip as soon as we get back to see more of what we'll miss the first time.

I hope to meet you both someday in Oz or....?

Bushranger Jun 11th, 2009 06:22 PM

Yep Lynnie, looking good and the Whitsundays is more for getting out on a yacht about the islands for a few days of some great beaches and snorkelling but it is not always the easiest of places to schedule getting into with limited time - I was wondering on just how you were going to get there from Auckland a couple of posts back up.

I'm sure you'll enjoy your travels in a less hurried approach and having more time most places.
If you're after another day in Sydney, I'd just drop a day from Cairns as even five should be pretty good and having the extra two days for NZ is good as getting about on the narrower windier NZ roads in places, and with some great sights seeing will suck up time.

You mention in #1 you gain those 2 NZ days but then say next, you drop 1 day in Alice/Uluru but only gain 1 in NZ = to me that 2 days have gone missing somewhere! - is that more days for adding to Sydney/Canberra/Melbourne?

With flight times matching you mentioned earlier and losing time, now that you have settled on what is something of a loop itinerary, I'd actually run it both ways and see if one way has advantages over the other re connections/costs, ie.

Auckland - Cairns - Alice Springs or direct to Uluru and a *reverse tour back to Alice Springs - Melbourne with Tiger and then Canberra - Sydney - NZ [and by reverse tour, a tour between Alice and Uluru is by far the best way to do it and some of the companies such as Wayward have in past offered structuring so as best sights can be seen either heading to Uluru or in coming back - one way is usually a long bitumen drive and nothing too great to be missed]
OR

Auckland - Sydney/Canberra/Melbourne - Alice Springs/Uluru - Cairns - NZ

I'd closely check for connections to Christchurch if doing the latter for I have flown between the Gold Coast just south of Brisbane direct to CC when in past AirNZ had their elcheapo arm FreedomAir flying and a lot of Kiwis just love the warmer Queensland weather just as much as southern Aussies and so I'd be surprised if there's not direct flights from Cairns, you may be able to do it from Brisbane rather than from connecting back through Sydney.

For airfares generally, October/November is not really high season either and through this month and next you'll likely find specials coming out for both International and Donmestic for about October/November.
www.mobissimo.com is a site I've seen both Qantas and AirNZ advertising specials on in past or just go direct to their web sites to see what is on over next couple of months for international fares unless you already have a good special available.

You should have a great trip.


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