Sydney Report on Honeymoon in Oz

May 11th, 2004, 12:55 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 115
Sydney Report on Honeymoon in Oz

Hi everyone,

Since I planned most of my honeymoon on this site (through help for lots of Fodorites) I thought I would give a run down on our trip to Australia. I will probably break this into a Syndey and other Australia report.

Flight: We flew from the East Coast to Australia with United. Not bad service (typical United), the only problem was not being able to upgrade. They had plenty of seats available but I was unaware that United has several economy levels and it would cost about $3000 to upgrade into the appropriate level of Economy to then upgrade into Business or 1st class. Through it was not a big deal and we were pretty comfortable the entire flight it was a inconvenience.

1st day: We arrived in Syndey about 7 AM and got to our the 4 Seasons about 9 AM via Taxi. Our room was not ready but the Clerk allowed us to upgrade to Jnr suite for about $50 extra (all dollar amounts in US unless noted otherwise). We chose the option to allow us to change, take a shower and feel basically human again. We did a pay three nights get one free deal through the internet for the room. Our room was great with a fantastic view of the Opera house, harbor and Harbor bridge. (Well worth the extra cost) As expected the 4 Seasons service was impeccible and arranged a number of tours for us including reservations at 41, Doyles and others.

After settling in we walked over to the Tourist Information office in the Rocks. They were really helpful. We arranged for a pub tour that night and bought our Sydney 3-day Explorer passes there. We then used the passes and took off for the Taronga Zoo.

The Zoo was pretty neat and the ability to talk walkabouts amoung Kanagroos, Wallabies etc was pretty neat. A zoo ranger tried to push a picture with a Koala (but since Fodorites alerted us to pictures holding a koola in Queensland we begged off). We saw all kinds of neat animals and it was interesting to note how the zoo had many local animals from Australia. (my stupid American-centrist view). We also saw the seal show. Good for kids but probably not worth our time.

After the Zoo we ferried back to our room for a quick nap and then onto our pub tour. We took the pub tour with Shana who was exteremely friend and nice (good thing as we were the only people on tour). She gave a great deal of histroy on Sydney, the Rocks and the pubs we saw. Even after the tour we hung out and drank a few extra Middies with her and met a few locals and Americans in a pub. For dinner we ate a couple of pizza's in a italian restrurant on Ft George st in the Rock's (sorry can't remember the name only the that the waiter was a huge hockey fan and I was slightly inebriated)

2nd Day: We slept-in, i guess, both of us were up and ready by 9 am and took a ferry over to Darling Harbor to see the Aquarium. (We ate breakfast (egg and bacon rolls) in a small deli shop in the CBD). The aquarium was very neat (though they pushed "Finding Nemo" a bit, however by the end of the trip, as you will see we were very into Nemo as well). The best part of the Aqaurium is the Shark Tank and seal tank. The Aquarium's displays on platapus's was extremely informative and 10x better than the Zoo's display, IMHO.

After the Aquarium, we took the 2 1/2 hour ferry cruise offered by the Sydney Explorer. While it was very informative and neat to see how Sydney had blended nature and city into one conglomeration. It was also neat to see Spit and the Middle river, it was a little too long and did not have, as my wife said, enough useless information that she likes to get on a tour. The morning 1 hr cruise would have been a better option. (But if you have the time definitely worth it).

After cruise, we took the 4 o'clock Opera House tour. This was exteremely interesting and had piles of useless info that my wife likes. We ate a quick lunch at one of the Cafe's under the Opera house. (Not bad for a tourist trap food - had greek salad a Satay chicken wrap)

After the Opera House, we had arranged (via the 4 season) to go into the Sydeny Observatory to look at the stars. This was interesing tour but due to cloud cover we were unable to see any stars, though the guide did allow us to peek into a couple of window (just kidding for those Sydneyites he allowed us to see a clock tower on the far side of Sydney). However, the presentation on the observatory's work with NASA on the Mars explorers was really cool esp since it was in 3-D. We ate dinner in the Lowenbrau's beer garden (first real mistake we made as the food was undercooked and not very good to begin with - beer was excellent).

3rd day - We got up and took the underground via the Circular Quay stop to the ANZAC memorial. Very spiritual, as there is more memorial to WWI in Australia, (we just missed ANZAC day on April 25th) than in the States were there is more remembrance to WWII instead. After walking through ANZAC memorial and gardens we went into the Barrack's museum on a whim. This was great idea and very informative on the convicts, who one could argue built Sydney and Australia on their backs. If you want a good history of Sydney this would be a great place to start, esp since much of the displays and artifacts were preserved by the rats of the Barracks.

We then walked through the Royal Botanical Gardens to Mrs. Macquaries Seat and hustled back to our room to prepare for our Bridge Climb.

The Bridge Climb was the highlight of our trip in Sydney (and probably all of Australia). Our guide was Tigs, who was extremely informative and cracked some corny jokes to keep the group loose and friendly. Even if you are scared of heights(I am), you should do this it was great. I only had one trepidation and that was after the walkdown on a set of stairs near the end. Tigs said lots of people with a fear of heights take the tour. We walked down in twilight and it was very cool to see the city all lit up on the walk down.

We ate dinner at 41 this night. The food was good as I had the price fixe with wine accompaniment. My wife had the ala carte. Food was good (probably overpriced)- the view was great, even from the urinals . My wife was okay with the food (she is allergic to seafood and was somewhat limite on options).

4th day: We took a wine tour to Hunter Valley with Red Carpet Tours with David. He was awesome and gave all kinds of great information (esp the useless kind my wife eats up) on Sydney, more info on convicts and the convict roads to Hunter Valley. The biggest qualm was not being able to drink soda on the bus, we are not coffee drinkers but still needed the cafiene boost in the morning. David said it was so we did not spill on the bus but I got the impression he did not want us to ruin our palate for the wines. We stopped at the Kangaroo Habitat and had tea with the roo's. I think it was well worth it to see roo's in a semi-free enivronment. We made a quick stop to Dr. Jurd's jungle juice(not that great) and another stop to see the old convict road (most of which had been recently paved over to form the new road). The wineries we stopped at were McWilliams (Pleasant Valley), PepperTree and Coopers (a small boutique winery). All were very good but our favorite was Pepper Tree which gave us a good tour of the wine process and some excellent wines (including a couple of reserve wines to taste). Lunch was at McWilliams which provided kangaroo, emu and other Australian delights to try with more wine. Naturally, since we are sucker American's we bought about 8 bottles of wine which we drank and lugged around the rest of Australia.

After arriving back in Sydney, we were supposed to have a late dinner at Doyle's in Watson's Bay. However, we were too tired to even attempt a trek out there (we had an early flight the next morning up to FNQ, as well) and ate pizza at the Australian Hotel in the Rocks. It was really good and I love how Europeans/Australian pour great amounts of food on top of the pizza making it less based on the bread and sauce than the average american pie.

We flew Virgin Blue up to Cairns for the rest of our trip. VB is typical low fare airline that offers ala carte service for everything including the peanuts. Flight was okay.

Regrets/issues: We did not have enough time in Sydney to do everything we wanted. This was also due to poor planning on my part b/c of work issues and not being able to set up things in specific areas to cut down on travel time. We did not get to do alot of things including going out to Bondi or Manly, take in the Contempary Arts museum, the maritime musuem, museum of Sydney (we are musuem people) or tour the Blue mountains. We should of taken a later flight on VB up to Cairns to at least go out to the Beaches or visit such tourist traps as Paddington's Market on the Saturday we left.

That's it for now (gotta get some work done). I'll post the rest of my trip some time later this week.

cguest88 is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 01:12 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Thank you for that interesting trip report, Cguest88. So glad you enjoyed Sydney.

I'm glad to hear someone besides me likes useless information. That must explain why I loved the tour of the Opera House.

If you were giving advice to someone else who had only 3 days to spend in Sydney, would you advise them to skip the Hunter Valley and spend all of the time in Sydney, or are you pleased that you included the Hunter Valley?
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 01:48 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 52
I am in the midst of finalizing plans for our trip in July. I see you used the 3-day Sydney Explorer Pass. Did that work out well for you? We're splitting our time up in Sydney with 2 days at the front end of our trip and 3 days at the back end before flying home. Just trying to figure out the best scenario between using Explorer Pass, SydneyPass or Smart Visit card. Any suggestions?
Ninja is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 06:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Ninja, you will probably have seen the site, which compares the different types of passes available; for myself, I don't think that either the Sydney Pass or the Sydney Explorer Pass (both aimed at tourists) are as good value as the plain old One-Day Daytripper, which is aimed at locals. It costs $AUD15, and allows you to use ALL trains, ALL ferries and ALL government buses for as much as you like for one single day. This means that you are not paying for the day that you will use on foot (which is the best way to see Sydney). My tip: use the ferries as often as possible.... they will take you to most of the best places in Sydney.
Alan is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 07:37 PM
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This was a very interesting and detailed trip report. Thanks for taking the time to write it up! I'm looking forward to the next installment.
MikeTravels is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 05:00 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 115
Thanks Mike,

To answers everyone's question.


I probably would not do Hunter Valley if I only had three days b/c that would leave you only 2 days in Sydney. HV will take up the better part of a day and there is too much in Sydney to do/see that can adequately done in two days. Like I said in my report we probably needed at least an extra day in Sydney and we spent 4 days there including a trip to HV.


The Sydney 3 day explorer pass is good for any three days within an 8 day period. So if you were in Syndey for 2 days and not back to Syndey w/n that time frame you would be wasting your money on one of the days. The Explorer pass is well worth it and even gives great discounts to many attractions. As Alan said they do over 1 day passes as well.

I hope this helps. I'll provide the rest of the trip report this weekend. Darn work.
cguest88 is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 06:04 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 52
Thanks for the great suggestions. The way we're breaking up our trip wouldn't work for a 3-day pass. I think I'll use a 1-day daytripper pass as Alan suggested instead. I'll start a new thread about our specific plans for Sydney to see if I've overlooked anything. This message board has been so helpful.
Ninja is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 02:54 PM
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Posts: 115
As requested by lcuy(and no problem)...

Message: I decided to take my lunch hour and hopefully finish up our Honeymoon Trip Report

After taking VB up to Cairns we hopped on a Sun Coast transport up to our hotel - the Sheraton Mirage - $90Au roundtrip for the both of us. The property was very nice but eeriely quiet. I was told it was still the off-season. The rooms were relatively nice but outdated as was much of the property. The only troubling event was the bellhop told us to only drink from the bottled water provided by the hotel. (I learned later that this was do to PD's new water filtration system and that the Sheraton had supposedly not cleaned out the lines for new water to run through).

After settling in we took a Sheraton shuttle into Port Douglas ("PD"). The town was very cool and reminded my of a smaller version of Key West. Very similar laid back attitude which both of us liked. We ate dinner at the Cactus Grill and Cantina. My wife had steak with mashed potatos and I had the Barramundi and risoto (both very tasty). There tropical frozen drinks were excellant as well. After dinner we wandered around town and popped into and out of a couple of bars including the Courthouse hotel (which ended up being a kind of homebase for stopping off in teh town during our time there). Pretty soon we were tired and took the walk home to our hotel

Day 2: Kuranda, Skyrail and Train. We got up and ate breakfast at the Sheraton Buffet. Very good with a large assortment of offerrings. The fruit bar was excellent and I tried almost every different type of exotci fruit provided over the 4 days we were there.

We took the Reef and Rainforest tour to Kuranda with Kevin and James ($260 for the both of us arranged via the Sheraton.) Both were great guides and constantly gave great information and make funny swipes at the other. We were dropped off at Hartley Creek to check out the crocs. This was the highlight of the day for me. the boat tour and subsequent feeding of the crocs was very cool. Our schedule also provide time to feed the rare cassowary bird(a more colorful emu to some extent). At first we thought this would be a zoo keeper feeding the bird but in seconds he placed fruit in our hand and we were feeding the cassowary (pretty neat). We both could of spent more time here but R and R picked us up for the Skyrail.

After the tour at Hartley's we had the obligatory stop at an opal mine store and then off to the Skyrail. My wife thought the skyrail was okay and thought some type of audio track should of been provided (for her useless info fetish). Both stops at the Skyrail were interesting with descriptions related to the rainforest and the Barron Gorge. Kuranda was interesting but similar to many other "market villages" I had been to. We ate at Billy's, I loved my fried calamari and chips, my wife loved her garden salad but was not that excited for steak sandwich (said it was to tough to eat). The best part was pictures at the Koala Gardens while holding the Koala. We scanned in a photo to our parents and told them they already had a new grandson. The railway down was interesting and it was nice to feel the cool breeze and look at the gorge.

After getting back from Kuranda we took a taxi back into PD ($12AU) for dinner at the Star of Siam. Decent food and since it is a BYO we took one of the bottles from Hunter Valley to accompnay our dinner - a verdhalo from PepperTree. Again we stopped for a couple of beers at the Courthouse to wind up the night.

3rd Day: This was our first day of real relaxation with nothing on the schedule. We lounged by the pool which was very nice and chilled after a numerous outings in the last week in Sydney and PD. My wife arranged for us to have massages at the Spa right next to the Star of Saim (sorry can't remember the name). We ate dinner at Paddy Irish pub (wife had been jonsing for the steak and guiness pie since the first night in PD). Food here was excellant. I think I had the some of the best chicken wings I have ever had here. Highly recommend this place for dinner.

Day 4: Daintree and Cape Tribulation. We took this tour with Gary's Safari and our guide was Gavin ($280 AU for the both of us). He was very informative and explained all the various walk-abouts, fig trees, and animals we came across in our various walks and trips though the rainforest. We stopped off at the Mossman gorge and later at thier privately owned swimming hole. Unforunately, it had rained the night before and off and on during the day and we were unable to swim. Gavin said it was okay to swim but it just did look right swiming in browm murky water. We also took an electric boat ride up the daintree to see some Salties in there natural environment and had a good informative report on how the Mangrove tree survive in salt water.

After lunch at the Daintree cafe, which had an excellent fruit presentation by one of the waiters (Craig?) we were off to the Cape. The Cape was okay (Typical of every other cape I had been to). The ride back was exteremly eventful as we saw one of those rare cassowary's in the wild. Gavin said it was his first viewing in over 6 months. The bird was on the road and within 5 seconds it had disappeared into the rainforest. Overall well worth it but I could see why some people might want to head up to the Bloomfield falls. One the other interesting facts was we ran into three other couples that were on thier honeymoon and had gotten married on the same day as us.

After the tour it was dinner again in PD at the Iron Bar. Decent food, we both had there steak special. Stopped off to the Courthouse for a couple of beers after dinner.

5th day: We lazed about until Sun Coast picked us up for our flight on Macair to Lizard Island.

Sorry, I though I would get this all done in one more shot but I guess I will need to do one more trip report.
cguest88 is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 03:40 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 21
I see that you are also from the Easter U.S. and took your honeymoon to Sydney, and was wondering your opinion as to our itinerary. As I mentioned on another post in this forum, we were going to go to Europe for our delayed honeymoon, but saw the great fares to Australia and booked a flight there. We are leaving in two weeks and are wondering what we should do. We will only be there for one week (arrive 5/29 and leave 6/6) and are arriving in Sydney. Would you recommend going up to Cairns and seeing the GBR? Would you recommend staying in Sydney the entire time? I was thinking that we would stay in Sydney from Saturday night until Wednesday morning, take an early flight to Cairns Wednesday morning and then come back to Sydney Saturday night (and go back to the U.S. Sunday morning). Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.
Atlhorn is offline  
May 13th, 2004, 11:10 PM
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We were lucky enough to have 3 weeks when we visited Aus, but if I'd only had a week, I'd do what you suggest. a quick overview of Sydney, and a trip to the GBR will give you some great adventures and will whet your appetite to come back!

You should have great weather in both spots, too. Have a great time! Lucy
lcuy is offline  
May 14th, 2004, 05:10 AM
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If I could have gone on a honeymoon for a week I would of not gone to Australia. How come you can't get extra time, I basically told my boss I was going and there was nothing he could say to change my mind, you only get one honeymoon. (Ironically we meet a couple of England on thier 5th week of their 6 week honeymoon - Europeans know how to holiday).

But since you are committed to it, that sounds like a good plan to see the reef. The only problem is your are going to burn alot of Wednesday travelling. It is over a three hour flight to Cairns. We had a 10 Am flight and did not get into our hotel room until almost 5 PM in PD (the flight was delayed an hour). Have you thought about doing the Gold Coast (Brisbane) or something like Heron island, they are much closer and you would not lose the much time in an airport.

Sydney is a big town and we did not see everything in the four days we were there. You could add in side trips to the Blue Mountains. Another thought would be to rent a car and drive up to Hunter Valley and stay in a couple of B&B's/Wineries. You could stay in a B&B and travel around the valley tasting wine (there is a bus so you would not have to worry about driving).

But I have a feeling your heart is set on the Great Barrier reef and I see nothing really wrong with your sked.
cguest88 is offline  
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