Travel Guide Book Recommendations

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Feb 10th, 2007, 07:00 PM
  #1
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Travel Guide Book Recommendations

My husband and I just decided that our next trip should be to Australia. Although we are seasoned world travelers, we know very little about Australia. We want an independent trip (no tours), so first need to do some research. Can anyone suggest an excellent travel guide book on Australia? Once I've started research, I'll be able to do some informed searches of this forum and (hopefully) be able to ask some reasonably intelligent questions.

Also -- any must see, must do things?

Hopefully my next posts will be more focused, but we just decided tonight that this would be our next adventure, please bear with me! I understand about doing searches on Fodors, but don't even know, at this point, what to ask.

Thanks for any advice.
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Feb 10th, 2007, 08:04 PM
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For must-see, must-do purposes any of the major guide books would be fine, although as an Australian publisher I think Lonely Planet has an edge.

The most mentioned tourist destinations are Sydney (which often scores No 1 in worldwide destination surveys), Cairns, Far North Queensland (for the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rain Forest and other attractions), the Red Centre (mostly for Uluru, previously known as Ayers Rock) and Tasmania. But there are many more - Melbourne (Victoria), Adelaide (South Australia), Perth (Western Australia), Canberra (the national capital) and Darwin (Northern Territory) and their surrounding regions all have their unique attractions - for example the winegrowing areas close to all the abovementioned cities except Cairns and Darwin and Kakadu National Park outside Darwin.

How long you have, and the time of year, will strongly influence your itinerary. You need to know that Australia is about the size of the US (excluding Alaska) and encompasses a great range of climatic conditions. There's no one time that's best for all parts of the country.

Likewise must-sees/dos depend to some extent on your particular interests (for instance whether you prefer opera to trekking or snorkeling).

You could check out www.australia.com, which is the official Australian tourist bureau site - that will give you an overview.
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Feb 10th, 2007, 10:52 PM
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We are a vast country so when you say independant, can we assume you will be using a car?- outside of main cities, public transport is virtually non existant-
must see places are many but they are all far apart and require fly/drive combination.(thanks to Virgin Airlines airfares are now very affordable.)
for us Aussies must see is Ayers Rock, The Olgas ( both in the Centre) and we love the Kimberley region (top of WA)-but you must pick your season
for both of the above June to July is a great time to travel.
The great barrier reef but no later then mid September.... and if you just want a laid back spot to swim/relax come to our village of Brunswick Heads, 1.5hrs south of Brisbane.
We would be happy to answer any questions you have by email if you provide it.
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Feb 11th, 2007, 12:49 AM
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I really can't agree with the murrays that fly/drive is the only option - because it isn't.

Australia is enormous so you do generally have to fly from A to B if you are short of time. You can do it by bus, and sometimes by train, but it takes much longer. And these days unless you book early with one of the budget carriers, or have a Qantas pass, it will be more expensive too. Of course of some journeys you will get to visit other places on the way.

Having got from popylar A to popular B there are zillions of companies offering all sort of tours.

And in some locations, imho, a tour with a good local guide, is the way to go. Why - because without local knowledge in places like the Daintree, the Kimberley, the Centre you will miss so much. You won't spot that Thorny Devil; you won't know that such and such a plant , rolizardhgo, becasuse - good examples wpul bo, fruur there are usually a zillion comp
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Feb 11th, 2007, 12:58 AM
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I really can't agree with the murrays that fly/drive is the only option - because it isn't.

Australia is enormous so you do generally have to fly from A to B if you are short of time. You can do it by bus, and sometimes by train, but it takes much longer. And these days unless you book early with one of the budget carriers, or have a Qantas pass, it will be more expensive too. Of course on some journeys you will get to visit other places on the way.

Having got from popular A to popular B there are zillions of companies offering all sort of tours.

And in some locations, imho, a tour with a good local guide, is the way to go. Why - because without local knowledge in places like the Daintree, the Kimberley, the Centre, you will miss so much. You won't spot that Thorny Devil; you won't know that such and such a plant has a use; you won't know the stories behind the naming of the Banksia, or the Major Mitchell cockatoo.

It's just a personal opinion. I'm not one for all inclusive tours, or itineraries arranged by travel agents, but sometimes day tours, or 2-3 day tours really are well worth it.

Sorry if this went off half baked before - have one eye on the cricket.

Happy planning.
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Feb 11th, 2007, 05:57 AM
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Ditto Neil Oz's recommendation of the Lonely Planet series. I'd suggest starting out with their general "Australia" guide and once you've narrowed down the parts of Australia you want to visit, you might want to get the individual guides for the particular states or territories you will be visiting. I found that the individual guides had much more information about interesting out-of-the-way places. Also, once you have consulted the Lonely Planet series, you might like to take a look at the DK Eyewitness Guide to Australia. The photos and descriptions of various attractions in Australia are wonderful.
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Feb 11th, 2007, 06:02 AM
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Nevermind,

I personally find that all the travel books have different "personalities" if you will, so what I usually do is go to the library and check out every single guidebook they have My favs for Australia were Lonely Planet and DK--only for the pretty pictures.

We also set up our trips independently, but use tour services for some specific things. My husband is an avid birdwatcher, so typically we hire guides for some of that as it saves so much time. We're not fond of big birdwatching groups so typically hire a private guide, but that is just our preference.

For Aus I do use a travel agent for my airline tickets, visa, etc. I just find it easier to let her do that work.
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Feb 11th, 2007, 06:03 AM
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Longhorn and I must have been writing at the same time! I'm glad we like the same guides!
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Feb 11th, 2007, 08:42 AM
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I really appreciate the suggestions that have been made. We only definitively decided that Australia would be our next destination last night, and taming such a huge and diverse country seems overwhelming right now. Your observations and thoughts are so valuable in helping to guide my thinking!

Toucan, you are so right about travel books having different personalities. We are very rural and the nearest bookstore is almost a 2 hour drive away, so I'd thought to buy online if there were any suggestions from posts whose content felt "compatible" (for want of a better word) with my thinking. I think maybe a trip to the city might be in order so I can look through what is available. After the recommendations here, Lonely Planet is certainly on my list.

The length of time we can stay and the time of year is very flexible. We are so fortunate in that! We don't want to miss the tourist "must sees", but are really interested in having a quiet, varied experience and seeing some of the country that is off the beaten path. Some of our favorite travel experiences include such things as a local dance recital in Inverness, spending an evening with a local farming family that befriended us in County Donegal, and an impromtu side trip to Lake Victoria, where we were able to wander through a fishing village (I must admit to having been a bit nervous, and we did have a guide on this experience).

We enjoy driving and, at this early planning stage, think renting a car might be our best bet. We are fairly quiet people and enjoy the creature comforts. Unfortunately hiking is not possible as I had an ACL reconstruction (knee surgery) last year and am still coming up to speed with regard to mobility - although I refuse to allow this to impact my basic travel plans!!

We are interested in the hidden gems, that might get passing mention in guidebooks, but are truly worth a visit. I welcome your suggestions.
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Feb 12th, 2007, 02:01 AM
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Hidden gems? I'll rephrase that as not on the must see list, but more memorable than some of those that are:

Windjana Gorge (NT); Ningaloo Reef (WA); East Macs (NT); Lady Musgrave Island (QLD); Stanley (Tas).

Better known but still not mainstream:

Rottnest Island (WA); Pittwater (NSW); Fraser Island (QLD);

And journeys - journeys are maybe the thing. To William Creek (SA); from Sydney in a loop the long way round;
Cairns to Cooktown; Cairns to Alice; Darwin to Broome.

Enough to be getting on with, maybe?

And I would recommend getting hold of a Rough Guide if you can.

Cheers,
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Feb 15th, 2007, 07:48 AM
  #11
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My husband and I made the trek to civilization yesterday and purchased the Lonely Planet guide to Australia and a map. I've also bookmarked the Australian website Neil suggested. We spent the evening pouring over the map and identifying the suggestions made by Neil, themurrays, and fuzzylogic.

I didn't find the DK guide suggested by longhorn and Toucan, but will try another bookstore when I'm in the city again -- or maybe I'll try Amazon.

In the meantime, I just discovered another thread by someone planning a first time visit that I'll follow.

Thanks for your advice. I'm already getting excited!
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Feb 15th, 2007, 04:08 PM
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It's amazing that given the forum we are on, no one has mentioned the Fodor's guide to Australia.
Well, I will. I used it extensively in our planning. And I am not just pandering.
Thanks for the great Australia guidebook, and this forum, both of which I used a lot.
Nevermind: Your trip will be ruled by a process of elimination; that is, what you have to cross off your list due to time. Good luck
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