Request for advice re: Australia

Old Apr 9th, 2006, 09:35 AM
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Request for advice re: Australia

Hi, everyone!

My parents and I are planning a 10-day trip to Australia for this summer (June-July timeframe), and as part of the travel package we're getting, we could visit several cities there. Which three cities outside of Sydney would you recommend? We are fond of seeing people/places that are uniquely Australian (in other words, seeing places/people and trying out activities that are not available elsewhere in the world). For sure, I want to visit the village where the aborigines live. FYI, my dad and mom are 73 and 66, respectively, so the extreme adventure activities might be out of the question for them. Also, they prefer visually stimulating environments (for example, they loved the glacier cruise we went to last year in Alaska) and are not fond of museums and plays/shows. I must finalize the package by Tuesday, April 11, so any advice you could provide before then would be very much appreciated. Since Australia is such a big terrority, if you think we should go to only one or two other cities (instead of three) because of the time contraints, please let me know.

Thanks in advance!
Anastasia
Age, mid-30s, from New York
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Old Apr 9th, 2006, 10:56 AM
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Cairns or Port Douglas are uniquely Australian. You are in the vicinity of tropical rain forrests and the Great Barrier Reef. There is also a decent aboriginal experience at Tjapukai.

With ten days, I'd stick with two areas and forget about a tour. You can fly easily between Sydney and Cairns. Cairns is chockablock with day excursions so that you can pick and chose among those that suit you best.

Sydney is a great city. Try to stay in the Rocks. Any guidebook can give you more ideas than you can handle in five days.
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Old Apr 9th, 2006, 11:45 AM
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Look down a few posts to the Cairns skyrail and Kuranda (train). That's what I was thinking of.

I highly recommend staying in Port Douglas vs. Cairns. We love the Radisson Treetops.

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Old Apr 9th, 2006, 12:52 PM
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I third the recommendation for Port Douglas, which is about an hour north of Cairns. (I would not stay in Cairns proper.) We stayed there for 4 days in January. We took a snorkeling trip out to the Great Barrier Reef, and it was the highlight of our time in Australia.

For 10 days, I would stick to two cities total. Three is too much, IMHO.
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Old Apr 9th, 2006, 02:45 PM
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Couldn't imagine any place less "uniquely Australian" than Port Douglas, especially in June-July when its packed with tourists.

For accommodation choices in Far North Queensland, have a look at www.bnbnq.com.au - locally run properties in Cairns area(not in the town), Cooktown, Daintree,Atherton Tableland and south to Mission Beach a far less touristed and commercial beach/rainforest/island area than Port Douglas. More scenic, too. Any of the above operators will have detailed local knowledge of not-to-be missed sights in area, most not even mentioned in guidebooks.

For a reef trip your parents should enjoy Ocean Spirit to Michaelmas Cay out of Cairns with pickups all over town, including Palm Cove. Lovely motor/sailer catamaran, easy snorkelling from a sand cay and a semi-submersible, high ratio of very well trained and friendly crew per passenger.

Tjakupai, whist not "a village where Aborigines live" is easily accessible from Cairns and its northern beaches, Palm Cove, Trinity, etc.


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Old Apr 9th, 2006, 04:54 PM
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How about Tasmania? We thought it was beautiful and interesting. We also stayed in Port Douglas at the Sheraton Mirage, gorgeous!
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Old Apr 9th, 2006, 05:31 PM
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Anastatia, Australia's major cities are dotted around the edge of a continent the size of the lower 48 American states. They are widely spaced, and seeing more than three at the very most would make for an unpleasantly rushed visit.

I agree that two locations will be enough for a 10-day visit, and Sydney and Far North Queensland (3 hours' flying time apart) will be a good introduction to Australia. As I'm sure you know, June-July isn't summer in Australia, and Tasmania won't be too pleasant at that time of the year.

Traditionally, Australian Aborigines were nomadic hunter-gatherers who didn't live in permanent settlements. Relatively few adhere to the old ways, and those who do aren't very accessible for a short-stay visitor.

If you search on this forum you'll find plenty of discussion about what to do and see in various places. I'd also buy a good guidebook.

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Old Apr 9th, 2006, 08:18 PM
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If I was from OS and only had 10days, I think I'd still want to see 3 places rather than 2, even though it will be more rushed. I'd go sydney, far north queensland and either darwin or yulara. That time of year would be nice in Darwin, I'd say it's uniquely australian, plus have wide range of tours to choose from (Kakadu, lichfield, katherine). Or, of course the rock (uluru). I think 3 can be done in 10 days, 3+3+3 and a day spare that could make up the flying times.

I know it's short and obviously you could spend more time in both Sydney and FNQ, but if it's an overview you're after, reef outback and city would be my suggestion.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2006, 08:52 PM
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Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. I forgot to mention in my original posting that part of the reason I'm going to Australia is to run the marathon on July 2 in Gold Coast City, so we must go there at some point. Based on the suggestions posted, we did add Cairns, so here are our flights:

SUN 6/25
06:15 Arrive SYDNEY from US

TUE 6/27
09:50 Depart SYDNEY
13:00 Arrive CAIRNS

FRI 6/30
06:30 Depart CAIRNS
08:30 Arrive BRISBANE

MON 7/3
11:05 Depart BRISBANE to US

Right now, our biggest concern is to outline the itinerary in the Cairns area because we probably need to book lodging and tours as soon as possible.

Could you let me know whether you think the following would be feasible? Since we have only 2.5 days in Cairns, we're trying to squeeze in as much as possible (we're not the type of family to lounge on the beach or spend hours over a meal, so we don't mind being on the go).

My main concern is being able to do Kuranda in half a day:

TUE 6/27
13:00 Arrive CAIRNS
14:00 Check into lodging
15:00 Shuttle service to Skyrail

- Skyrail to Kuranda
- Tjapukai
- The bat sanctuary in Kuranda
- Koala bears
- Return to Cairns via Kuranda Train

WED 6/28
- Day at GBR

THURS 6/29
Day Trip to Atherton Tableland

If you think the above is feasible, could you recommend a tour guide for the Tableland? Ideally it provides a pick up in Cairns, where we'll most likely be staying, mainly because of its proximity to the great GBR day tours that Pat Woolford and others have suggested from Cairns.

FYI, we chose the Tableland over the Daintree Rainforest because there seems to be a greater variety of things to see and do in the Tableland.

Thanks again for any advice you could provide!

Anastasia
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Old Apr 22nd, 2006, 09:22 PM
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P.S. FYI, there are now 5 of us in our group. Traveling with me are my parents, my 31-year-old brother and a friend who's also running the July 2 race.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2006, 10:14 PM
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Hi Anastasia,
So pleased to see you have opted for Cairns rather than PD, etc. We think Cairns is a great place with plenty to offer.
I suggest you search for Tablelands on this forum - I am sure there will be recommendations for Tablelands' guides. The other option is a day tour with any of the reputable companies.
I'm sure others will have good ideas for this section.
Good luck in the marathon.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2006, 09:10 PM
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Dotty,
Thanks for your reply. I'll look into a guide for the Tablelands. So, do you think it's possible to arrive in Cairns at 1 PM and go to Kuranda by Skyrail and back by train that same day? I just want to make sure that's a feasible plan before I start looking into a guide for the Tablelands.

Thanks again for any insights anyone could provide.

Best,
Anastasia
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Old Apr 24th, 2006, 05:15 PM
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Sorry Anastasia, but you haven't a hope of taking Skyrail and train on your arrival day. The fastest way to Skyrail from Cairns would be by taxi, at least 15 minutes, depending on where you're staying. You need to allow 90 minutes for Skyrail and Kuranda train to Cairns takes about the same time. Last train leaves Kuranda at 3.30pm and last Skyrail at 3.45pm.

You would just have time for Tjakupai on arrival day, once again about 15 mins from Cairns by taxi, quicker than shuttles and for 3 people probably cheaper - you need to allow two hours for Tjakupai which closes at 5pm.
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