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Sydney/Cairns/Melborune or Sydney/Melbourne/New Zealand

Sydney/Cairns/Melborune or Sydney/Melbourne/New Zealand

Aug 9th, 2006, 09:07 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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Sydney/Cairns/Melborune or Sydney/Melbourne/New Zealand

Our family (two mid 30s adults, two 65-70 year old grandmothers and a 15 month old toddler) are going to Melbourne for a family event in Late November..The whole trip will last three weeks..

Our flight departs from San Francisco to Sydney on November 22...At this point, we plan to spend the first few days in Sydney aclimatizing to the new time zone and seeing the sites...From Sydney, we are thinking of flying up to Cairns/Heron Island area for a few days and then flying to Melbourne for the last few days of our trip..

We're concerned that Cairns/Heron Island may be too hot and humid around that time of year and are looking for advice on this issue bearing in mind the age of group but having heard how beautiful the Cairns area is..

A second option is to skip Cairns/Heron Island and do Sydney/Melbourne and then Tazmania or New Zealand as a third leg of our three week (21 days) trip instead..

This is our first trip and may be the only trip we (certainly for the two grandmothers) will take to Australia..

We would appreciate any suggestions for helping us finalize our trip...Would also appreciate any input on where to stay, what specifically to see and if there are any local travel agencies we can check out for local tours when we arrive in Australia...We figure we might get to see more if we pay for an organized tour rather than doing it all ourselves.

Thanks in Advance,
David and Debra
LastMinuteTravelers is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 03:10 PM
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Well firstly Cairns is about 1,000 Klms ( give or take several hundred Klms) north of Heron Island and they are not in the same area however from a climate point of view the would be very much the same. Usually in November the temps and humidity are quite OK then anyway so I would not discount the GBR at that time. If you did go to the Cairns area there is plenty of things to see and do other than going to the reef and/or islands but with Heron it is a very small island, hard to get to and nothing else around worth seeing. You would need at least 4 days in the Cairns area though I feel to get to see anything at all so factor that into the scheme of things.
Seeing that you will be in Australia for only 3 weeks and seeing that it will take a few days to get used to the time change and get over jet lag just make sure you give yourselves enough time to relax and enjoy your trip. Your idea of Sydney/ Melbourne GBR is a good one and that certainly would give you a real feel of the country. On the other hand missing out on the GBR and going to Tasmania is also a great idea and there is also plenty to do there and just getting a car, a map and asking the Tasmanian information Service where to go would be just fine. I think you miss out on seeing a lot if you go on a tour as they generally spend too little time anywhere and try and fill in too much. Adding another country into the scheme of things would be overkill I think and would detract from your holiday. I don't know who you will be flying with but if it was Qantas I think that you would come into Australia via Brisbane and this is were I would get off and then take a flight in a day or so up to Cairns- then Sydney - then Melbourne. That way you are not going back over where you have been so much. Once you get an idea of where you want to go then we can look at where you want to stay - i.e I presume that you would want an Apartment Hotel in Sydney which would give you more room and flexibility. If you were thinking of the same in Melbourne then I would highly recommend the Grand Hotel run by Sofitel in Spencer Street. A 5 star beautiful apartment hotel with 1,2 or 3 bedrooms, lounge and dining room and full kitchen but with all the other trimmings of a hotel if you want.
lizF is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 05:03 PM
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Thanks for your advice.

If the GBR area won't be too hot, humid or wet around November 24, then our preference would be to go up there after spending a few days in Sydney.

We are flying on United and using FF points to pay for some of the trip...The points allow us to fly from San Francisco to Melbourne and since it makes a connection in Sydney, we are able to "jump off" and stay a few days before moving on to our final destination, which is Melbourne.

I will check to see if United flies into Brisbane so we don't have to back track back from Sydney. However, I suspect that if they do, they would go San Fran, Sydney, Brisbane and we would have to fly from Cairns down to Melbourne and then back to Brisbane so we can fly from there to San Fran (through Sydney)...I also presume a roadtrip from Sydney to Cairns would take too long given our three week time frame...do you agree?

So, at this point, I am thinking our prelim itinerary would be as follows:

Nov 22-Depart San Francisco

Nov 24 - arrive in Sydney...spend a few days aclimatizing and checking out the sites and restaurants.

Nov 30 - Fly to the Cairns/GBR area for a few days...I understand airfare inside Australia is relatively inexpensive...Would 5 days be enough to check out the Cairns, Port Douglas, Cooktown and Cape Tribulation area as well as take a boat ride around the reef area?

Dec 6 - Fly back to Sydney and connect to our United flight to Melbourne...Spend 6 or 7 days around Melbourne, Great Ocean Road, Adelaide and Tasmania.

Dec 14 - Fly back to San Francisco (although we are also working on stretching out the return date to Dec 16).

What do you think of this itinerary?..Can we do this without being rushed?

We would like to stay in reasonably priced apartment hotels as much as we can. We prefer to have a kitchen and not always eat out...Thanks for your recommending the Grand Hotel.

Do you have any other suggestions for accomodations or other parts of our trip?
LastMinuteTravelers is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 05:10 PM
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6 or 7 days for Melbourne, Great Ocean Road, Adelaide, and Tasmania does sound rushed.
judilie is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 05:23 PM
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Everything was great until you got to - Melbourne, GOR, Adelaide and Tasmania in 6 days - far too rushed as 6 days is the minimum you need for just Tasmania alone. I must say that I am not much of a fan of the GOR as I think there are much better trips in Australia than that one especially two in Tasmania alone and with more spectacular scenery. However there are people who think that the GOR is the "bees knees" so it is different strokes for different folks I guess.
As for Apartment hotels in Sydney, yes there is one which has changed its name and therefore I cannot tell you what it is except to say that I have stayed and found it great - not the best situation but Ok and certainly per person its a great price. There are lots of people on this forum i.e. MargoOZ and Alan who are experts on the hotels in Sydney so if they do not answer you here then do a seperate posting for Apartment hotels in Sydney in the hope of catching their eyes. Pat Woolford should be able to help in the Cairns area as that is her town so again if they don't appear try asking specifically for the location or their names. If you do get to Tasmania I can recommend the Woolstore Apartment hotel in Hobart as I have stayed there and also a place in Launceston which is something like "Lido". I stayed there recently and it was excellant.
lizF is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 05:41 PM
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Okay, we will need to give up on Tasmania since we need at least a couple of Days to visit with family in Melbourne...Any suggestions on what to do with the rest of our time in that area?
LastMinuteTravelers is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 05:42 PM
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Hi Last Minute (and fellow Bay Area neighbor!)

Everyone's making very sugestion, but let me add a little tip that may put it into perspective for you -- re:
Great Ocean Road = think of the drive to Big Sur. GOR is a beautiful drive, but very similiar, so you may want to consider scrapping that in favor of other sightseeing.

Hope this is helpful!


Certified Aussie Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 02:21 AM
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Melodie, having driven both, and at the risk of being flamed here, I have to say that area around Big Sur is a lot more spectacular than GOR. Big Sur is steeper and craggier, a couple of times was a bit scared to look down.
pat_woolford is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 06:35 AM
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LastMinuteTrav, bring up the Virgin Blue website and look at their Happy Hour Fares. A selection of internal flights, which changes daily, is greatly reduced on the site from noon to 1 pm AEST daily, which is 7 to 8 pm on the US West Coast.

I was able to book several flights very inexpensively for our October trip by checking the site daily for a
few weeks.
Betsy is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 06:37 AM
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Melodie and Pat, thanks for your comments comparing GOR to Big Sur...If you have any suggestions for sightseeing down in the "Melbourne" area, we'd be grateful for your insight.
LastMinuteTravelers is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 06:40 AM
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Betsy, Thanks for the tip on Virgin Blue!
LastMinuteTravelers is offline  
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