Aug 24th, 2004, 05:18 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 46

I am an older lady (57) and I am thinking of coming to Australia next April or May.
I am a Europe fan and travel there once a year also I have been to New Zealand.
I like to wonder around a city or town and just take in the sites. I am not a beach bum again enjoy just sitting and enjoying the view - not a snorkler.
Where would you suggest I go or if Australia is even my cup of tea!!

Travelingmommy is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 07:11 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 76
Hi TM,
Australia, being a very young country, offers a very different experience to Europe. If you like unique experiences you could consider a trip in north western australia taking in some aboriginal culture. Or in north eastern australia visit some of the most ancient rainforest in the world.
Take in the Queensland Outback with a farm stay. Time your visit to one of our capital citites, (Sydney / Melbourne / Brisbane / Adelaide / Perth) with a Food and Wine Festival or a Film Festival .... Music Festival ...
The country is immense, the people friendly, the landscape beautiful to awe-inspiring, the wildlife unique ... there's more to us than Fosters and Surfing !
Go to for LOTS of great ideas.
have fun.
leisa is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 07:21 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Hello Travelingmommy,

I think your reaction to New Zealand will give you some idea of whether or not you will like Australia. The only place in Australasia to which I've been is Australia, but I've read and heard enough about NZ to understand that NZ is not the same as Australia, just as Canada, while it shares similarities with the USA, is not the USA. Nonetheless, NZ is not Europe either, so I think your experience of another place that was not Europe will give you a clue as to whether or not you have a chance of liking Australia.

If you like cities, I think you will enjoy Sydney and Melbourne. I haven't been to Canberra, but have heard really good things about it, and have placed it on my wish list for my next trip to Oz. I understand Hobart has a lot of history, so you may like it for that reason too. I haven't been to Perth, but my husband has been there several times, and he finds it absolutely charming. I've been to Brisbane, and I liked it. It's an attractive city of 1.5 million on the shores of quite a wide, meandering river. If European cities are your thing, however, I don't know if Brisbane would hold your interest. I've never been to Darwin, have heard good things about it, would love to visit it myself one day, but again don't know if it would hold your interest. I haven't been to Adelaide. It's a smaller city, but it too is reputed to be pleasant and "English," perhaps in something like the way that Victoria (Canada) has an English flavour.

As far as Australia's two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, are concerned, I think you'll find them to be cosmopolitan, sophisticated, and very pleasant places in which to spend time. They have excellent art galleries, amongst other amenities. My mother, who originally is from Europe, was surprised and impressed by Melbourne when she visited with us during our 2.5 year sojourn there. As for Sydney, the beauty of its natural setting makes it at least equal to, and perhaps better than, Vancouver.

Another attraction of Australia is that it's cheaper than Europe. Melodie Kennedy is a California-based travel agent who posts here at Fodors under the handle of wtzmatilda. The Australia page of her website provides comparisons of hotel, restaurant and taxi costs in Europe and Australia at

Even if beaches are not normally your thing and even if you don't think of yourself as a snorkeler, I think you would be amazed by the Great Barrier Reef. It really knocked my socks off.

Also, as Leisa rightly said, Australians are VERY friendly. On a couple of occasions total strangers insisted that we share their picnic food with them.

In another post you enquired about flights from Calgary to Australia. That gave me the impression that you might live in or near Calgary. If so, I would be happy to share my photos of Australia, if it would help you to make up your mind. However, my husband and I are busy getting ready for a family pilgrimmage to Europe, so we'll be leaving quite soon, and then will be away for a while, perhaps during the period in which you'll want to decide. So it might help you to go to the library or the travel section of a bookstore and browse through some books there.

If you do decide to go to Australia in their autumn, I recommend starting in the south and working northwards in an attempt to stay ahead of the onset of cooler weather. If you decide to include the GBR, I think it would be better to try to get there in May, as most of The Wet would be over by then. So in that case you could try to have your trip straddle April and May. If you decide to exclude the GBR, then the sooner in April you can start your trip the better, in my opinion. It's not that Australia's late autumn / early winter weather, starting in about May, is that cool in absolute terms -- obviously it's not -- but I get more than enough cold and cool weather in Calgary, so I personally try to time my travel so that I'll get pleasant weather if at all possible.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 07:30 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
>>>>>>It's not that Australia's late autumn / early winter weather, starting in about May, is that cool in absolute terms<<<<<<<

I intended that to read, "It's not that MELBOURNE'S late autumn / early winter weather, staring in about May, is that cool in absolute terms..."

Obviously Australia stretches across MANY degrees of latitude, and it's northern half falls within the tropics, so that statement doesn't apply to all of Australia.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 03:01 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 5
If you like Europe then probably the most European city would be Melbourne although all of them to some extent feel like European cities given the people are mainly from European decent. It has a European (almost Med) feel to it with the bars and restaurants. The architecture is the geniune British Colonial but in some ways reminds me of Boston. However saying that it still feels as Australian as Sydney, Brisbane etc.

If you don't mind driving then there's plenty out of Melbourne to see. The most obvious is Great Ocean Road but there's Phillip Island and the wine region as well (for the scenery as well as the wine). However there's plenty to see in Melbourne itself. It's mostly easily walkable but there is a free tram round the CBD so if you're feeling lazy just hop on. A trip to the tourist info would give you plenty to do for days.

Bear in mind that winter in Melbourne is a real winter - sub zero etc. Late spring (around now) or fall (April/early May) would be good times to go.

If you want city exploring then I would avoid Brisbane and head straight to Sydney.

However, depending on how long you are going for you could do Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and get a view of 4 totally different cities. The only way you'd know they were in the same country is the accent and the money.

The only real way to know which you'd like is to do them. I expected to like Sydney but hated it. It was too frenetic for me. Going to Melbourne was an afterthought but I loved it. Brisbane and Adelaide were somewhere in between.

I wouldn't bother with Perth unless you enjoy longgggggggg flights in the middle of your vacation. I haven't been because of that
andyindublin is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 07:02 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,283
Hi Travelingmommy!

First off, is 57 now an "older lady"...geez, that's a scarey thought! You're just a spring chicken! My oldest (and solo no less) client was a gentleman travelling at age 101, bless him!

I am also a "Europe fan"...Italy being my favorite European country, and I can tell you there's no way to compare the two. As Leisa said, Australia is a very young country, and you're not going to find the very very old architecture, history,etc, that you will in Europe. That said, Australia DOES have a wonderfully interesting history, just not ancient!

You said you're not a "beach bum", but as Judy pointed out, you'd be doing yourself a diservice by not exploring the Reef and surrounding areas. I recently had 4 clients, only one of which who swam, one who had "issues" with the water (as do I, but I still snorkel WITH a vest, always), and they all ended up going and said it was the highlight of their trip.

btw, Judy, thanks for the kind words, but just thought I'd let you know, my email is [email protected], you missed the "l" in easy to do!

You don't say how long you have to spend on your vacation, and that would certainly be a factor in planning an itinerary, as well as any specific interests you have. Give us some more info and we'll try to help!

Best regards,

Certified Aussie and Kiwi Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Aug 25th, 2004, 05:03 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 46
Thank you to all of you for your input. I just bought a Lonely Planet book on Australia and it does sound wonderful.
My thoughts were to travel from Calgary to Sydney - spend about three weeks on the east coast - hopefully fly out of Brisbane so I don't have to back track.
I will be using public transport exclusively - notice the rates on the rail/bus and was impressed with those since I like to do the budget thing - staying in YHA hostels where possible of bed and breakfasts.
On my way back I want to stop in Singapore, Hong Kong and Hawaii. That is why when I first posted on this board I was questioning a circle flight out of Calgary.
wlzmatilda - when you mentioned snorkeling with a vest do you mean a life vest?? What about people that wear glasses? I guess I just never even considered that I could snorkel since I don't swim and also wear glasses so am blind without them.
Why I mention my age is because alot of folks assume I am a young backpacker eligible for discounts.
Again thanks for all the input..
Travelingmommy is offline  
Aug 25th, 2004, 06:05 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Yes, all reef trips supply life vests, it's the law. Prescription masks are available in most, except for the very budget priced, when you may be expected to provide your own. They also supply snorkelling equipment - ie masks, snorkels and fins which will keep you buoyant even without the help of a life vest. Some vessels have semi-submersibles, if you really don't want to snorkel.
pat_woolford is offline  
Aug 25th, 2004, 06:55 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Hi TM,

I've heard that one can purchase a ticket for hop on / hop off bus travel around Australia, but have not looked into the details.

Fortunately for you, you are not planning to visit Australia during one of its heavy tourist seasons.

Australia's long summer school vacation (holidays, as Aussies say) is from the middle of December to the end of January. That's when most Australian families go on vacation, so of course that's when accommodation is most heavily booked.

The northern, tropical and sub-tropical parts of Australia experience another big blip of tourist activity when children have their winter holidays, usually the first two weeks of July. Residents of Australia's cooler southern states escape to the warmer north for a break from their winter.

There is another, smaller blip of activity when children have their Easter holidays. The New South Wales 2005 Easter hols will be April 9th through April 25th. The Queensland Easter hols will be March 25th through April 3rd. The Easter hols have less of an impact than the summer and winter hols do.

Here's a website that provides the school term dates for all Australian states:

In addition to flying out of Brisbane, you might want to look into flying out of Cairns, as it too has an international airport. (I say that because you will have to get further north than Brisbane if you want to visit the GBR.)

If you prefer to stay in hostels, you already may have discovered Lonely Planet's discussion forum, which is geared more towards budget travel than Fodors is:
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 12:13 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,114
Yikes....older lady at 57 - sheeessh!

C'mon sown - you'll have a ball - and most of us are friendly.

Australia IS different, to NZ, USA, Canada, Europe - enjoy that difference.
margo_oz is offline  
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