Solo traveler 2 weeks in Australia itinerary help

Mar 27th, 2011, 08:43 AM
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Solo traveler 2 weeks in Australia itinerary help

I have never been to Australia and am a female in my 30's from the U.S. I booked flight for a 13 and half day trip in middle of October, flying into Sydney on Day 1 (a Saturday) at 11AM, and departing at 3 PM from Sydney on Day 15 (Saturday also). I will be spending the week prior in two Asian cities (approximately same time zone as Sydney), so hopefully jet lag won't be a big issue by the time I arrive in Sydney.

I did some initial research and here are a list of places/things I want to go see/do:
Sydney: Taronga Zoo, Darling Harbour, Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, Sydney Harbour Cruise, Sydney Opera House, Blue Mountains
Melbourn: Great Ocean Road, Phillips Island, Ballarat or Bendigo
Cairns: Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest

1. Is the list too ambitious? I can fly to/from Melbourn and Cairns if needed, and am planning to spend 3-5 nights at each base city.
2. Will it be relatively easy to go to these places without having to rent a car or hire a taxi? I am planning to go with a local tour group for day trips to Great Ocean Road, Phillips Island, Great Barrier Reef, and Daintree Rainforest. I read on this forum that for Blue Mountains day trip, I can take the CityRail.
3. How about Ballarat/Bendigo? Will I need to go with an organized tour group or can I go via public transportation and explore by myself? I am guessing I will only have time to go to one and not both cities for a day trip. Which one would be better? Or they are about the same?

oscarandpenelope is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 01:41 PM
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Three places in 2 weeks is doable. You will have to fly between Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns.

The cities of Melbourne and Sydney are easy to navigate without a car. You might consider renting a car if you go to the Mountains, but you can also go by train.

For your Sydney list, I'd add in the Bondi to Bronte walk, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Cockatoo Island and I'd leave out Darling Harbour: except for the Aquarium there's not much there but overpriced mediocre food and touristy shops.
Susan7 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 03:34 PM
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@Susan7, I'll add Bondi to Bronte walk. The art gallery would probably be a waste of money for me, since I got bored after spending only 2 hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Cockatoo Island seems very interesting; I'll look more into it. Thanks for pointing out about Darling Harbour; I'm not interested in the shopping but was planning to go there for the Aquarium and the Maritime Museum.

Does anybody know a good sailing cruise in Sydney Harbour, one with sail ship/boat (wind-powered)? Something that runs regularly, not private charter (don't want to pay over 50 AUD for a 2-hour cruise).

(Sorry for the spelling mistakes in my original post.)
oscarandpenelope is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 11:38 PM
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Take your point about your interest in art, Oscarandpenelope; but the Art Gallery of NSW is free. Only special exhibitions attract an entry fee.

I doubt very much that you'd get 2 hours sailing on the Harbour at
Bokhara2 is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 01:41 AM
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The regular ferries on Sydney Harbour are a great way to see some of the harbour too.

You can travel to both Bendigo and Ballarat by Vline train service from Melbourne. Once there, you'll need to walk a bit to see things (taxi's available as well). If you go to Bendigo, consider stopping in Castlemaine enroute (and Maldon by steam train if it's a weekend).

When flying to Melbourne be aware that there are two airports, one (Avalon) which is much further from the city. There is a bus from Tullamarine Airport to the central rail station, Southern Cross. From there there are trams, trains and buses to lots of suburbs.

My personal preference would be to skip Philip Island and spend that time on the Great Ocean Road (which needs at least two days minimum).

There are also heaps of things to do and see in Melbourne itself. In fact, for a more relaxing holiday, as you're flying into Sydney I'd drop either Cairns or Melbourne but it depends on how busy you like to be.
dreamon is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 08:04 AM
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@Bokhara2, thanks for the sailing cruise links. I was looking for something like this:
I might go to the Art Gallery to check out the architecture of the building, since it's free admissions as you mentioned.

@dreamon, I am now leaning toward going to Bendigo over Ballarat, so I'll look into Castlemaine.
oscarandpenelope is offline  
Sep 21st, 2011, 01:28 PM
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I am putting together the final details on the itinerary and I have a question about the train ride to Bendigo with a stop in Castlemaine. Can I just purchase one ticket from Melbourne, get off in Castlemaine, and then get back on a later train to Bendigo using the same ticket? Or do I need two separate tickets, one from Melbourne to Castlemaine, and another from Castlemaine to Bendigo?
oscarandpenelope is offline  
Sep 21st, 2011, 03:40 PM
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If your interest in the Dairntree is botany and the beach then that is a good choice. If on the other hand it is mammals then you would be better in higher altitude rainforest. Do remember that most of our mammals are crepuscular or nocturnal. Saw only two Platypus on my morning walk today in Yungaburra where as it was seven individuals yesterday.
AlanJG is offline  
Sep 21st, 2011, 03:59 PM
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I've been to both Ballarat and Bendigo and I found more things to see and do in Ballarat. The main attraction in Ballarat, and which is well worth a visit, is Sovereign Hill, a re-created goldrush town. You could easily spend all day here and even stay around for the sound-and-light show, "Blood on the Southern Cross". Unfortunately, the Eureka Stockade museum which we visited is closed until 2012 for re-development. But another attraction which we enjoyed was the Ballarat Wildlife Park.

For a list of Ballarat attractions, see:
longhorn55 is offline  
Oct 19th, 2011, 01:03 AM
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I don't know whether you need two train tickets or not but you could contact Vline train services via their website and ask. It may not be a material price difference.
dreamon is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2011, 05:25 PM
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Thanks for all the info on Bendigo/Ballarat. I ended up buying a one-way ticket from Southern Cross to Bendigo and enjoyed walking around there so much that I didn't have time to go to Castlemaine (bought another one-way ticket back to Melbourne). But judging from the ticket itself and the way conductor checking the tickets coming back, I think I could have just gotten one ticket, with a short stop in Castlemaine.
oscarandpenelope is offline  
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