september trip to oz!!!

Old Jun 18th, 2004, 08:55 AM
  #1  
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september trip to oz!!!

i am going to australia in september. i will be in sydney from wednesday til noon sunday, cairns from sunday evening til wednesday afternoon, then melbourne from wednesday evening til monday early morning.

will be flying from city to city as i know there is quite some distance between cities.

any suggestions for must do's in each place? i am not very adventurous, i.e. athletic, but love to see new and exciting places. NOT a water lover, but gotta take a harbour cruise in sydney. do you suggest a dinner cruise or take a picnic for a cruise at lunch? i am planning on doing a day trip to the blue mountains, so i don't have alot of time left in sydney, aprox. 2 full days left besides. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

gotta to a great barrier reef tour in cairns, how about ocean spirit? does it take you to an islandish area so you don't have to jump off a pontoon directly into the water? i don't swim and have a fear of the water. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

as for melbourne, we are renting a car for a day trip on the great ocean road. also thinking about visiting a cattle farm/sheep station and also the puffing billy steam train. would you suggest these?

highness67 is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2004, 12:19 PM
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Rather than doing a cruise of the Harbour in Sydney, unless you are fond of inane commentary, buy a transport day pass (around $15 I think), and use the ferries to get around quite a bit of the harbour, and it covers buses, trains, etc., as well. There's a public transport information kiosk at Circular Quay - check out some of the suggestions there, and plan your day.

There's heaps of things to be done - most already mentioned here.

Look for Michi's thread on unusual things to do around Sydney - but with that short a time, you'll probably only be able to get around to the major things.

I love the Bridge Climb.
margo_oz is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2004, 01:11 PM
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Pat Woolford, who lives in Cairns, pretty much said what there was to say about Ocean Spirit in this thread:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...3&tid=34487502

According to Pat, Ocean Spirit takes one to Michaelmas Cay, which is an island. Even if you don't know how to swim, all you need to do is wear a life jacket, and you're all set. The staff members on these boats introduce hundreds of visitors, including people who don't know how to swim, to the GBR every year, so they're very experienced at helping people.

I second the suggestion Pat made in that thread to visit the tropical rainforest between the Daintree River and Cape Tribulation. That would occupy you for a full day. Trek North is one of the companies that provides a good rainforest tour.

In the thread mentioned above, I gave a brief run down of the main things to see in and around Melbourne.

In an ideal world one would spend at least 2 days driving the Great Ocean Road. The best part of it is not accessible in a single day. However, if memory serves me correctly, you're committed to accommodation in Melbourne. If you can devote a single day to the GOR, that's better than nothing. Lorne is a nice place to have lunch. Erskine Falls, in the temperate rainforest just behind Lorne, is pretty. It's nice to climb down the steps to the bottom of the falls and walk along the banks of the Erskine River for a bit.

Downtown Melbourne deserves a day (or maybe two days). Minimal things to include are the free City Circle Tram, the Queen Victoria Market, and Southbank, just across the Yarra River from downtown. The Royal Botanic Gardens, within walking distance of Southbank, are beautiful. If it's raining, skip the Royal Boatnic Gardens, and go to the National Gallery of Art on St. Kilda Road. Take the free guided tour that explains the history of Australian art.

There is a day tour that includes Puffing Billy, lunch at a winery, and a visit to Healesville Nature Sanctuary where one can see native Australian animals. This is something that could occupy a 3rd day.

As I understand it, you will have a 4th day (Sunday) in the Melbourne area. It would be nice to see the Sunday market on the Esplanade at St. Kilda (a short tram ride from downtown or Southbank). After that, catch the tram back up St. Kilda Road towards downtown, and get off at the Shrine of Remembrance. The Shrine is an interesting place to visit at any time, but on a Sunday there is a guide who explains Australia's involvement in the Gallipoli Campaign, which makes it even more interesting.

Another way to spend this 4th day would be a repeat visit to the Dandenong Ranges. You could see the William Ricketts Sanctuary, view Greater Melbourne from Mount Dandenong Lookout, have lunch in or near Olinda or Sassafras, and visit the Rhodedendron Gardens. You'll be too early for the rhodedendrons, which bloom in October, but you'll catch the cherry blossoms.

Of the Melbourne area's many delightful offerings, the William Ricketts Sanctuary is my favourite.

A good place to eat in Melbourne is Lygon Street, just north of the downtown core. It has many ethnic restaurants, including several Greek and Italian ones. Just walk down Lygon Street till you see a restaurant you like, and walk in.

No, I don't think it's worth visiting a cattle or sheep station (just my subjective opinion).

In Sydney, besides the ferries back and forth across the harbour and the Harbour Bridge, which already have been mentioned, the tour of the Opera House came as a pleasant surprise to me. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it all that much, but I found it very interesting.

Oh yes, Melbourne's weather could be pleasant or it could be cool and wet, so be prepared for either eventuality.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2004, 01:45 PM
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>>>>>>No, I don't think it's worth visiting a cattle or sheep station<<<<<<

Perhaps my comment requires some clarification. I feel the amount of time you have in Australia is too little for you to spend any of it visiting a cattle or sheep station. I think it would be interesting to visit a cattle or sheep station if you were on a repeat visit to Australia or if you had more time.

As it is, the basic "must see" list will fully occupy your time.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2004, 07:17 PM
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I'm not sure if you appreciate how long it will take you to do a drive along the Great Ocean Road. Yes, it is possible in day but that means leaving very early and coming back very late with a lot of driving inbetween and very little time to appreciate the stops you make on the way. It will take you a good 90 minutes just to get to the start of the road itself. I know that nowdays they always advertise the road as starting in Torquay. This is a bit of a furphy. You don't actually start to travel by the water until you get to Anglesea. The road is very windy and therefore the kph/mph you are covering drop considerably. The road will take you all the way through to South Australia. Obviously you won't to go anywhere near that far but you should go as far as Warrnambool to see the most famous sights ie Loch Ard Gorge, 12 Apostles. I see you mentioned a sheep/cattle farm as somewhere you wanted to go. Consider spending one night down Warrnambool way or in the Otways (around the Apollo Bay area). Lots of green rolling hills running down to the water and there are plenty of dairy farms around some of which I'm sure would offer accommodation. This would break you drive in half. When you talk about a cattle or sheep station you do realize that in that region we are only talking about small dairy or sheep farms. It is definitely not the big outback cattle station that people associate with outback Australia. B&B's are plentiful in the area. Very popular with Melbournians going down for a weekend and range from fairly basic to quite luxurious and expensive.
Puffing Billy is still a very popular trip. If you are finding yourself a bit short of time take note that it has several stops and therefore you can drive to one of the intermediate stops and board and get off there rather than the entire run. It is very preety around the entire Dandenong Ranges area with lots of restaurants, art and craft type shops, galleries and places for afternoon tea. Devonshire teas are an institution up there.

shandy is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2004, 08:49 PM
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I second Margo regarding the ferries - two of the most popular trips are to Manly and Taronga Park Zoo. At Manly you can walk a short distance from the ferry wharf to a full-on Pacific beanchfront, and it's a nice place to have lunch too. Just don't take the Jetcat - take slow (30 mins) boat.

I heard a story about unwitting Japanese tourists being charged an arm and a leg by their Tokyo tour company for a "harbour cruise with lunch", then being herded onto a Manly ferry, bought fish and chips at the beach then shipped back. Significantly, perhaps, it was a local who spotted the scam - the Japanese visitors seemed quite happy with the deal!
Neil_Oz is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2004, 05:54 AM
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I'll be making my 6th trip to OZ in mid August thru early September. I've not been since 1999 and am excited about the day pass on all the ferries and buses and such in and around Sydney. I know, for sure, I'll do the Manly ferry (the slow one, not the jetcat) as it is a favorite of mine. It doesn't require a lot of time, and Manly is a nice place for a picnic lunch on the beach.

They used to have a Sydney Explorer sightseeing bus that you could ride for a day, hopping on and off as often as you liked. I don't know if that is still an option, but if it is, it is a good way to get a ride around the city to see places that you might want to hop off and look/shop. Maybe one of our OZ friends can tell us if the Sydney Explorer is still up and running.

I'll also visit Cairns (3rd time). I'm sure I'll go up to Karanda on the old train, and ride down on the skyrail over the rainforest. Another good trip is the Daintree and Cape Tribulation.

As far as the reef is concerned, I'm also NOT a swimmer, but I enjoy a nice beach. I would opt for one of the islands you can visit in a single day trip. Green and Dunk I believe are both options from Cairns. I went for a half-day to Green Island (in 95)and had time for some sun on the beach and a little souvenir shopping and a look at the "sub" viewer to see the reef life.

The boat trips to the closer islands are not as rough as the ones that go out to the cays, IMO. Cays are basically sandbars out in the water. I've been to Beaver Cay (in 92). I've also been to Agincourt Reef (in 88), which was just a large pontoon anchored over the reef. For me, Dunk or Green Island feel a LOT MORE secure as they are land masses, not just sandbars or pontoons with water water water all around!

Do enjoy yourself in OZ. It's a great vacation destination. I can't wait to make my 6th trip!

Carol
simpsonc510 is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2004, 05:33 PM
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highness 67 - Judy has pulled out my previous remarks about the ease of snorkelling from Michaelmas Cay with Ocean Spirit, which also has a semi-submersible for those who truly don't want to get wet. You see a lot more coral and marine life from OS's semi than you will from the one at Green Island. It may have been fine for Carol in 95 but last time I went on it most of the coral was dead. Michaelmas Cay isn't a "sand bar in the water", it's a sand cay which makes up part of Michaelmas Reef, the reef you see when snorkelling from the cay. It is also nesting area for thousands of seabirds and renowned by birdwatchers from all over the world. Roughness of the water, be it Green Island or further out, depends on the wind factor of the day. Of course, once you're actually on the reef or island you have some wind protection but it can be very bumpy getting out and coming back in winds over 20knots. My ideal is anything under 15knots, so wait until you're here to book trip, so you can choose the best day.
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