SYD/QLD 3wks Jan 14

Old Dec 6th, 2004, 08:27 PM
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SYD/QLD 3wks Jan 14

Hello,

My husband and I are leaving for AUS Jan 16-Feb4. We are in our Mid 20's enjoy surfing and are still looking to party until the morning (somenights) we want to spend majority of our trip on the beach relaxing but want to experience the rainforest,GBR. So far, after research this is what I have come up with...

Sydney Jan 16-19
Cairns (area) Jan 19-24
Gold Coast Jan 24-Feb02
Sydney Feb 02-04

We will be flying to all destinations.

Here are my questions..

1) Not sure whether to stay in Port or Douglas or Mission Beach or any other suggestions closer to Cairns as we won't have car.

2) Are we able to swim during this time ...stingrays

3) Sould we skip Cairns altogether and spend our time on the Coast

4) Is is easy to book accomodation and flights within Australia while there or should I book prior on the Net?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Trine
VanHen is offline  
Old Dec 6th, 2004, 10:16 PM
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Hi, VanHen!

One of our regulars on this forum, Pat Woolford, runs a B&B near Cairns, and would also be an ideal person to advise you about the weather at that time of year, the stingers, etc.etc. She has too much class to ever come on here and promote her own establishment, but if you type "Lilybank" into the search above, you'll probably find lots of reports from others so enthusiastic about the place that she couldn't top them if she tried (maybe it's all her, under a pseudonym!). Here's one cut-and-paste that I just found:

"We spent 4 wonderful August nights at Lilybank. Pat and Mike were wonderful hosts, helpful with arranging last minute tickets as well as tours we had pre-booked through them, and they graciously stored our baggage for us the day we checked out. The wonderful FNQ soaps provided were a very special touch. They even provided beach towels for our GBR tours. The delicious breakfasts were cooked to order and accompanied by exotic tropical fruits in season. A refrigerator was provided for our use. There was also a sitting area with books and games and sofas. The room we were in had a balcony overlooking the back yard, which was surrounded by tropical bushes and trees, with mandarins ripening on one. There was a large balcony in front overlooking the pool, also surrounded with lush tropical foliage. It was like staying in a botanical garden! Lilybank is located in Stratford, a suburb of Cairns. We walked with no qualms at all at night to the Garden Room and had a fabulous dinner there. I don't recall whether the path was dirt or grass, but it was not a difficult walk at all. And the stars were magnificent! We also walked to the town center, consisting of a few stores and a laundromat, again with no problems. I couldn't have felt safer. Stratford is not downtown Cairns, with its activity and crowds and stores and restaurants and noise; it is a peaceful residential area. One advantage to Lilybank that I have not seen posted elsewhere is its easy accessibility from the airport. It was our first experience at left-hand driving, and after a few errors, and many turns signalled with the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal, we were there. I was relieved not to have to drive in Cairns city traffic! It was also superbly located for traveling to Palm Cove/Port Douglas, to Mareeba and the Tablelands, and to downtown. Most of the tour operators pick up and deliver from Lilybank, so unless you want some late night entertainment, a car would not even be necessary. We had a great time, and only wish we had been there longer."

With regard to the rest of your itinerary, I think your choices are all great, except that you are spending too much time at the Gold Coast. That's ten days, by my reckoning.... way, way too much! Cut it down to two days... not that there's anything wrong with the beaches around the Gold Coast, but several hundred thousand other people also head there in late January to relax (this is the main school holiday season in Australia... schools udsually go back around January 28), so you may find the atmosphere a little different to what you'd hoped. I'm pretty "anti" the Gold Coast, from past experiences, but I know there are many on this forum who have seen the lovely side of it, which has so far escaped me (what has not escaped me are street after street of dreary motels, the tourist rip-off shops, the glitz, and the Disney-clone theme parks), so I don't want to turn you off it.... but I don't think even its most passionate advocates would tell you to spend ten days there out of a three-week holiday!

You could usefully extend your time in Sydney by three or four days, and maybe use that extra time to spend a couple of days in the Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves, and also a couple of days in Canberra, which is, I think, a much-undervalued (by visiting tourists) destination... you'd have a great time there, as all the best museums and art galleries in Australia are there, as well as our national Parliament. It's less than a half-day trip by train or coach from Sydney.

If you're heading north, you might also find a couple of days in Brisbane pleasant -- if nothing else, it's a laid-back contrast to busy Sydney!

Finally, your flights.... the centres you are flying to are all major destinations, connected by several flights daily, so you could easily book while here.... but you may pay dearly for the luxury. The two cut-price airlines on the east coast -- VirginBlue and Jetstar -- have frequent internet sales where a trip from Sydney to Cairns might go for under $AUD50 for a few days, before reverting to its usual price of approximately-equal-to-the-USA's-national-deficit-this-year. Thousands of people have travelled all over Australia for next to nothing with these fares; but you have to be ready to pounce when the cheapies come up, and you have to be flexible enough to go on the "quiet" days targeted by the airlines. You're lucky, at least at the end of your holiday.... when the schools go back, it will suddenly get VERY quiet in the sky, and you can expect advance prices to plummet, during these sales, for early February. But if you wait until then, you may have to pay full fare. So, my advice: haunt the Virginblue and Jetstar websites, have APPROXIMATE travel dates worked out, and when their cheap fares come up, don't delay for even an hour (they disappear almost while you watch!)

Good luck -- and do investigate Pat and Lilybank -- everyone seems to think it's a great place (haven't been there myself, but it's definitely on my list for the future!)
Alan is offline  
Old Dec 6th, 2004, 11:37 PM
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Wow, what service! Thank you for the info. We will plan to stay in Sydney longer and explore outskirts. I will also take your advise and contact Lilybank.

I have just posted this question but you seem to be the expert re: these hotels. Russell or Aus. Heritage? Both seem to be an Aus. experience and upbeat.

Thank you for all you great info.

Trine
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Old Dec 6th, 2004, 11:50 PM
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Alan, you are too kind and we're looking forward to seeing you here one day.

VanHen, you won't find surf in Cairns area. the Great Barrier Reef is just that, a barrier between the Coral Sea and coastline. So the surf breaks on the outer edge of the reef. But you'll find fantastic surf on Sydney or Gold Coast beaches and hundreds in between those areas. What you will find is some of the world's best snorkelling and diving and world heritage rainforests.

If you're looking to party until morning, in this area, you would be better off staying right in Cairns city where you can walk back to your hotel - there's many nightclubs including world famous Johnno's Blues Bar, many other bars, a casino - there's not a lot of nightlife in Port Douglas and almost none at Mission Beach.

Stingrays are not a problem, in fact snorkellers and divers seek out the giant manta ray in these waters. You're thinking of box jelly fish which are a huge problem on northern coastal waters (not the reef) at this time of year. Stinger-proof nets are in place on most beaches, and you'd be wise not to swim on any Australian beach without lifeguards on duty. In the north at that time you should expect some heavy tropical downpours, often with brilliant sunshine between showers. The weather will be hot and humid, and excluding the slight chance of a cyclone, excellent for snorkelling and diving. Many tourists don't realise this so there won't be the crowds that the Gold Coast would expect then. Of course, the rainforest will be at its best with rivers and waterfalls in full flow. Hope this helps.
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 03:18 AM
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Sorry if I've confused, just re-read this - "stinger" is another name for box jelly fish, nothing to do with sting rays. The nets are designed to keep out box jelly fish.
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 04:05 AM
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Hi VanHen,
We just got back from visiting Sydney, Cairns and the Gold Coast. We had a wonderful time and loved each of the areas for what they had to offer. Sydney and its harbor is absolutely beautiful, Cairns, the Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef is spectacular and the Gold Coast has beautiful beaches and terrific surf. I don't surf but my college son lives there and surfs every day at 6 AM. My other son got the opportunity to do this while we were there and loved it. It's definitely a party atmosphere, so for people looking for that it's great. We stayed in Broadbeach a block from the beach and one morning as we went to the beach to see the sunrise, people were coming out of the bars, so you'll have a chance to do that if you choose to. A know my son parties til dawn on the weekends. Whatever you do, you'll love Australia. It's a great country! I'm hoping to go back again some day so I can go south. This website was so helpful and people like Alan and Pat helped make our trip so easy and memorable. Have a great time.
Jayne
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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 11:35 AM
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C,mon Al you are just after a freebee arn't you?
Yes VanHen I am on ( nearby in the hills behind the Gold Coast ) and I do NOT agree with Alan about the Gold Coast being only glitz and motels 'cause he has not had ME as a guide and he knows that I have told him time after time to come on up here and I will show him a different side of it - the invitation/challange is always there for him. However I do agree with Alan that you should take off some of the time on the Gold Coast and add that to Sydney so you can do some more sight seeing around that area. Having said that though the Gold Coast is the Party place in Australia so that is really up to you.
I also agree with Alan that Pat's place would be a great place to go and stay and having someone who knows the areas as she does is soooooo much more helpful.
Getting back to the Gold Coast, if you spent 10 days in the area there is plenty to see and do in that time and you would have time then to see Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, perhaps over to Morton Island or North Stradbroke Island and certainly down to Byron Bay ( the big party small town for mid 20s people ) so whatever you decide I am sure that there will be enough to keep you amused. Don't forget the hinterland of the Gold Coast and my little village of Tamborine Mountain which has lots and lots of things to offer the visitor!
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