SYDNEY - Where do I start?

Old Dec 5th, 2004, 05:06 AM
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SYDNEY - Where do I start?

I am thinking about taking vacation in March/April (2005) in Sydney and I know very little about Australia. Where do I start?

For hotel - US$75-100 (AUS$95-125) . I like a bit of style but I am not too fussy. Modern bathroom and decent linens are important.

I like to stay near shopping and active areas which are trendy and nice neighborhood feelings. I like to go to markets, shops and walk around the streets. I perfer to be very near to public transportation.

What can I expect to pay for a nice meal in Sydney? I like good homestyle food, nice atmosphere and interesting preparations. I'd be happy with US$30-40 (AUS$44) for dinner and good US$15 (AUS$19) lunches.

What's the weather like in late march-mid April?

What are good Australian websights to check out?

Any advise would be appreciated.
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Old Dec 5th, 2004, 07:08 AM
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Richard,

Your budget is feasible.

The Fodors Destination section on Sydney has some good suggestions. It has "Best in 3 Days," "Best in 6 Days" and "Best in 10 Days" itineraries. The only place that they include (in their 6-day itinerary) that I personally did not find all that fascinating is Olympic Park.

I think Sydney deserves a minimum of 3 full days, not counting arrival and departure days.

If you have another 1 or 2 days, take a side trip to the Blue Mountains.

If you have another 2 days after that, take a side trip to Hunter Valley and Port Stephens.

Australia has many wonderful places. You are so spoiled for choice, it's difficult to rank destinations, and different posters have their personal theories.

I would say the next most important place, well actually perhaps more important than Sydney, even if Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, is the Great Barrier Reef. There are many ways of accessing the GBR, which is hundreds of miles long. There are many beautiful islands off the coast of Queensland, but a rather popular GBR destination for many first timers is Far North Queensland, the area around Cairns, Palm Cove and Port Douglans. The wet tropical rainforest there is another fascinating attraction.

After that, I would guess the next best place (realising that we're ranking superlatives) is Tasmania. It's ironical that I say this, because I've never been to Tasmania. However, I've learned a lot about it since I've come to Fodors, and I reckon I've missed a lot by not yet having seen Tasmania. It is reputed to have a wonderful combination of scenery, Australian native wildlife and history.

It is very easy to drive in the Australian countryside. It is NOT very easy to drive in Sydney, where the traffic is congested and parking is expensive. When you're in Sydney, it's better to use the good public transportation system.

The weather in Sydney should be good from late March to mid April. That's Australia's fall. Expect it to be like the coast of California in late September to mid October.

The problem with planning a trip to Australia is that the country is so large and covers so many latitudes that it's impossible to catch each location during its optimum weather. The time frame you're suggesting will fall into the later part of The Wet in Far North Queensland. However, this should not deter you from going there. Just leave yourself a couple of days of wiggle room. Plan your GBR day to be the very first full day you have in the area. Then, if weather doesn't permit boats to go out on that day, you have a better chance of rescheduling to another day.

I think FNQ needs 5 days : 1 GBR, 1 rainforest, 2 Undara Lava Tubes, 1 spare.

I think the part of Sydney that best meets your criteria is the area around Circular Quay.

There are numerous threads here at Fodors on Sydney accommodation, restaurants and activities. A word search will bring them up.

Here's a good website on Australia. I've set it to the Sydney page, but the links on the left will take you to other regions.

http://www.sydney.visitorsbureau.com.au/page1.html

Hope that helps.
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Old Dec 5th, 2004, 08:32 AM
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Richard, I've just realised that, in my eagerness to mention what I considered to be Australia's high points, I may have misled you. In re-reading your post I'm starting to get the impression that you may have only 2 weeks to spend in Australia, or at least not much more than 2 weeks.

If that is the case, you really only have time to see Sydney and environs + GBR. Take into consideration flying time to and from Australia and flying time amongst Australian destinations. To get from Sydney to FNQ, door to door, takes 3/4 of a day, basically the better part of a day.

From what I've read here, it's best to have 10 days to drive around Tassie. Certainly it sounds as if it would be a shame to do it in less than a week. If you have only, say, 3 days to see Tas, then you have to be very disciplined and choose just one corner of it to concentrate on.

If you do in fact have only 2 weeks, then you probably would be better off thinking in terms of Sydney + GBR.

If you can spare a couple of extra days over and above your time in Sydney + GBR, a place that would put those couple of days to good use is Canberra. That is another place to which I have not been, but one about which I have learned quite a bit since I've come to Fodors. Its advantage is that it's not that far from Sydney, it's an interesting city, and it's a smaller, more compact city quite a bit of which can be covered in a couple of days.

Hope that helps.
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Old Dec 5th, 2004, 12:20 PM
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I may only have a week. What about Melborne?
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Old Dec 5th, 2004, 02:18 PM
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Not sure if you mean Melbourne as an alternative to, or in addition to the places Judy mentions, but if you have no more than a week, I suggest EITHER (1) Sydney region OR (2) Far North Queensland OR (3) Melbourne and environs. At a pinch you could do two areas, (1) and (2) being most popular with visitors, but you wouldn't be doing justice to either. First I suggest some research to get a better idea of what each region offers - invest in a guide book, have a look at www.australia.com, and use this forum (including the search function) to refine/test your ideas.
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Old Dec 5th, 2004, 05:41 PM
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Richard
Welcome to the Australian (and some other parts) board.

This country is the same size (roughly) as mainland USA, but without the population. It is NOT a cute little country.

A week! Considering the distance and the jetlag - A WEEK????

If you are so limited in time, then you may manage to see, say, SYdney and the Reef. Don't try and complicate it by adding anything else.

Consider if you only had a week to see the US - where would you go?

March / April is an excellent time for travel, especially in Sydney.

See if you can extend your trip, or focus on what you want to see.

Then ask more questions - we're a mine of information (and diversion, distraction, digression) on this board.
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Old Dec 6th, 2004, 02:36 AM
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I am not worried about seeing the entire country. I usually like to just "park" myself somewhere and enjoy a city. I mentioned Melbourne as a possible alternative to Sydney simply because a friend tld me it may have been more of my type of place.

Unfortunately I cannot be away from work for too long!
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Old Dec 6th, 2004, 05:11 AM
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Richard, I lived in Melbourne for two and a half years, and I love it. Absolutely love it. I cannot say that often enough. However, if you can see only one Australian city, I think it still should be Sydney. Melbourne would be a good candidate if you managed a second trip to Oz. Just my two cents' worth.
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Old Dec 6th, 2004, 10:43 AM
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I just got back from visiting Melbourne, Sydney and Port Douglas (north of Cairns). If you only have a week, I really would consider waiting and doing Australia another time. I did not feel "right" there because of the jet lag until about day 5 (and I'm only 30!) It's just a tremendously long way to go for a week, especially with so much of your time taken by travel. I'm sorry to be very negative on that, but I LOVED Australia and you'll want to feel good being there!

If you are going to go for the week, I would definitely stay in Sydney. You can easily get a nice hotel in your price range. Check out the Marriott on Hyde Park (ask for a room w/a view of park). We stayed there reasonably and it is walking distance to most of the great shopping, conveniently located for getting on the train and just a short way to the harbor (2 stops, I think), which is also where you'd get off for The Rocks, a trendy area with old pubs, live music, great art stores and the like. It won't be hard to find good meals in your price range -- we liked The Rocks Cafe for a laid back atmosphere before hitting the bars, we took the ferry to Manly and ate al fresco across from the water and at TONS of really great Thai and other Asian food. I had some really good lunches for around $10US in the shopping arcades when I was browsing for Christmas gifts.
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Old Dec 6th, 2004, 11:00 AM
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I am not so worried about the travel time, I am more worried about the jet lag. Whats the time difference from Eastern Standar time?
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Old Dec 6th, 2004, 03:53 PM
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Australia's Eastern Standard Time is GMT + 10 hours.

North American's Eastern Standard Time is GMT - 5 hours.

So, nominally, Sydney is 15 hours ahead of NYC. Another way of looking at it is the Sydney is 9 hours behind NYC, but a day ahead of NYC.

This norminal time difference is affected by Daylight Savings Time.

In the northern hemisphere winter / southern hemisphere summer, Sydney is on DST, while NYC is on Standard Time. So, for practical purposes, Sydney is 16 hours ahead of NYC.

In the nothern hemisphere summer / southern hemisphere winter, Sydney is on Standard Time, while NYC is on DST. In that case Sydney is 14 hours ahead of NYC.

Australian DST will end on March 27, 2005, and North American DST will begin on April 3, 2005. So there will be a gap of a week in which the time difference will be the "proper" 15 hours that it should be if there is no DST in either place.
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Old Dec 6th, 2004, 04:03 PM
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US EST is GMT-5, Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time is GMT+11, so we're 17 hours ahead of you. But towards the end of April we'll go back to plain old Australian EST, which is GMT+10, and you should be switching over to daylight saving time, which ... well, I think that would make the difference 15 hours, but why does this stuff always confuse me?

Anyway, yes, you'll have a bit of a jetlag issue. There are heaps of posts on the Europe forum in particular with numerous suggestions for dealing with it, but I suggest simply going to bed at a "normal" time on the day you arrive - i.e., don't crash during the day, no matter how tired you feel, or you'll just delay getting into synch with local time. You should be fine next morning, although different people do react differently.
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Old Dec 6th, 2004, 06:41 PM
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Hi,
We just got back from 2 weeks visiting Sydney, Cairns and the Gold Coast. What a great experience! We loved all of it, but especially the GBR. We snorkelled using the company Wavelength and it was absolutely spectacular!!! Sydney is wonderful too, but my teenage boys preferred the Cairns area due to the GBR and the Rainforest. And, the beaches on the Gold Coast were incredible. We didn't really experience much jetlag going over and we flew straight through from Boston, but we are still feeling it from the return. Our plane was delayed 8 hours so that really contributed to the jetlag. Don't worry, though, it will all be worth it. Wish I could go back tomorrow. Have a great time.
Jayne
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 06:15 AM
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Yikes! So its already tomorow in Sydney? Does that mean you get the news before i do?
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 11:39 AM
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No, later - I had to wait until Wednesday for the US election results. I told you this was confusing stuff.
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 01:08 PM
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And just to make it worse, the state of Queensland doesn't have DST at all - they reckon they have enough sun. So between October and March all of Queensland is one hour behind the DST times of States on Eastern Standard time.
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 04:57 PM
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Hi Richard,
From what you've said about yourself & the time you have then I'd suggest just staying in Sydney with a day trip to the Blue Mountains as part of your week. To do FNQ & the GBR I think you need at least another week on top. From trying to see too much in the past I now understand the need to take enough time to not only explore, but also get some sort of genuine feel for the place being visited. I had 13 days in Paris just over a year ago & could have stayed longer.
Have a look at my Sydney pagebr /> www.virtualtourist.com/m/5f1d7/1c86e2 for a variety of activities & also cafes/restaurants for both lunch & dinner for varying budgets.
I'll have a scout round for some hotels at the budget you're suggesting, but for those figures they'll be about 3 star. Will get back to you in a few days.
That is a good time of year to visit. We usually, have pretty stable weather with lovely sunny days, but pleasant milder evenings.
Regards,
Doug
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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 03:45 AM
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And Btw, you shouldn't experience any jetlag coming this way, but may suffer from it after flying back home.
After a 21 hour flight to Paris Oct 03 I experienced some general tiredness, but not jetlag that I suffered after flying from Osaka to N.Y. Took my bodyclock about 3 days to re-adjust.

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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 09:40 PM
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Richard

We're busy making the news for you!!!
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Old Dec 9th, 2004, 01:35 PM
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Just came back from a little of one week in the USA ( LA and Vegas with a side trip around the country from Atlanta - Philly - Denver but that is not counted ) and have no side effects at all. One week in OZ????? Sydney and surrounds or Sydney 3 days and GBR the rest of the time. Depends too on where you are flying into and out from.
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