Self drive VS Hiring tour operators

Sep 1st, 2009, 09:08 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 62
Self drive VS Hiring tour operators

Hi everyone,
In finalizing our plans, we'll have one day (and maybe extra 1/2 day) each in Cairns, Sydney and Melbourne for day trips. There are 4 of us, 3 guys and 1 girl in our 30s. A couple people in the group is not scared to drive on the wrong side or have done it before.

Can you think of advantages and disadvantages of self driving vs. going with a tour operator?

Also any info on must-sees in these places would be appreciated. Just incase I'm missing something from my research. Other suggestions are also welcome.

List of places up for day trips:
1. Atherton Tablelands
2. Blue Mountains
3. Great Ocean Road

I see one advantage in cost: it would cost at least $400 total for us to hire one tour. Renting a car/self-drive would be much cheaper. Another advantage is adventure of self-drive itself. It will provide some good stories.

One disadvantage: lack of information and history a guide can provide.

JYK is offline  
Sep 1st, 2009, 01:21 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 4,039
Another disadvantage to tours: Each person has their preference and I am generally a "no tours" person. While I appreciate the info that I may glean from a really good tour guide, I do not like to be on somebody else's timetable and I do not like being dragged places (e.g. shops) in which I have no interest. I have done the Blue Mountains twice and the Great Ocean Road once and all of them were self-drive trips. If you read some good guidebooks before you go, you will already have some information which will increase your enjoyment of the places you go.

P.S. You, or course, mean that some folks in your group are not afraid to drive on the LEFT side of the road. Driving on the left is not WRONG if you live in Australia.
longhorn55 is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2009, 09:45 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 911
An obvious compromise between the two is to hire a step aboard guide. Actually not a compromise but the obvious alternative for a group like yours.

This way you get local knowledge, see only those places your group wants and stay as long as you wish. Your guide can even drive for you as long as you clear it with your hire company. Some car companies will allow for anyone with an open license to drive but others want to sight all drivers' license details.

In the Cairns area I recommend Alan Gillanders, for the Atherton Tablelands and suggest you take the full day and nocturnal option which would cost your group of four $420. For the Daintree area contact Ellen Terrel, [email protected] Both these people are extremely knowledgeable and very pleasant as well.
Saltuarius is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 02:04 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Please listen to Saltuarius, he knows what he's talking about. With only one day on Atherton Tableland you'll want to make the most of it in a very short space of time, and for a group of 4 a stepaboard guide, such as Alan, is pretty well essential - you'll miss so much if you drive it on your own.
pat_woolford is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 08:56 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 62
All points well taken, especially about the wrong side being left side

Is a step aboard guide like a private tour guide? They drive our rental car?

Like longhorn55, I don't like organized tours either. I like to move at my own speed. A couple of guys just want the adventure of driving and doing our own thing.

I realized soon into planning this trip that we won't see everything in Australia. I need to win the lottery so I can come back for 6 months
JYK is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 08:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 62
BTW, so Atherton Tableland is only place you guys think we shouldn't self-drive? How about other places?
JYK is offline  
Sep 4th, 2009, 12:51 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 911
When you win the lottery I'll be your private guide.

A step aboard guide is like a private guide who can drive your rental if you wish and it is cleared by the hire firm. In any area you can benefit from such services. You are the boss, not the guide, and they should meet your needs first.

If using Alan, he will probably want to start the day somewhere near Yungaburra where he lives. He could tell you of things to do on the way to meet him. The more information you give Alan about what your interests are the better. I know he will plan the day to suit and is smart enough to adapt if needed. ( Be careful though, he is a crazy birder ;-) )
Saltuarius is offline  
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