TRAVELLING SYDNEY TO CAIRNS--NEED SUGGESTIONS

Old Nov 29th, 2004, 04:41 PM
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TRAVELLING SYDNEY TO CAIRNS--NEED SUGGESTIONS

My son has booked a trip to Australia departing Dec.26th. He has also booked a Rainforest Adventure tour out of Cairns Jan. 2nd. He is wondering how he should get from Sydney to Cairns--plane, train, or drive that great distance stopping along the way? He wants to be in Cairns by Jan. 1st and wants to return to Sydney after the tour. I would like to hear suggestions on what you would recommend for a young man travelling by himself. Thank you.
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Old Nov 29th, 2004, 05:05 PM
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Unquestionably he should fly to Cairns given the huge distance and very short time frame. (I assume he arrives in Sydney on the 28th?) On the return, it would depend on how much more time he has. It's a 3 day drive at a minimum - 2800 km (1700 miles), two-lane a large proportion of the way. Ideally you'd want a few weeks for the trip and to not miss some of the great places to see along the way.
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Old Nov 29th, 2004, 05:10 PM
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Yes, he does arrive on the 28th. Thank you for your response.
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Old Nov 29th, 2004, 05:13 PM
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Ralph is right - in a short time period, flying is the only sensible way. Going by train takes about 3 days and is as boring as batshit. Driving is much the same, and remember, this is prime holiday time, so the roads north will be pretty crowded and accommodation difficult if not pre-booked (thank goodness I'm going south )

Check Qantas, Virgin Blue and Jetstar, all of which fly to Cairns. If he's flexible about dates, he may still get a good fare (but not necessarily). It'll probably still be cheaper than any other way to get there.
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Old Dec 9th, 2004, 04:49 PM
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My son has decided to drive from Sydney to Brisbane only, and fly from Brisbane to Cairns. He arrives Sydney Dec. 28th and flight leaves Brisbane Dec. 31st. Where is a good overnight stop on the 28th driving no more than 4 hours? Your suggestions for a driving itinerary are very much appreciated.
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Old Dec 9th, 2004, 07:55 PM
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Since he is driving right in the middle of the week in Australia when just about everyone is on holidays (and all of them heading along the coast road between Sydney and Brisbane!) he may not have as much choice as he would like -- it will probably be a question of grabbing whatever still has a "Vacancy" sign out the front!

If he's only going to drive four hours maximum on that first day -- and, since he arrives in Sydney the same day, I can quite understand why he doesn't wish to drive further -- he probably won't get much farther than about 200 kilometres. Just negotiating his way out of Sydney will take the first hour! So he would probably be best advised to just drive to Newcastle, which is a large city with accommodation in all grades -- it's unlikely to be booked out, and he may enjoy staying somewhere where there's something to see if he walks around.

The next day will be much faster driving, and he could easily get to Coff's Harbour (a pleasant town with a lot of beach-side motels which just may have a vacancy because you have to drive a couple of kilometres off the highway to get to the water's edge, and most travellers don't bother doing that), or Urunga, which is only a small place but which hasn't moved into the 21st century quite as fast as most of the towns around it -- he could stay at the lovely old hotel there called "The Ocean View" (it used to have a website, but when I typed in the URL (www.nnsw.worldtourism.com.au/OceanViewHotel/) it didn't call up anything, so maybe it's changed -- or maybe you'll have better luck.)

Otherwise, if he wants to get further away from Sydney than nearby Newcastle on the first day, he could drive the extra 90 minutes and stay at Port Macquarie, which has so many motels that I can't imagine it would ever fill up! (It also requires a small detour off the highway; it's more popular with long-term residents than overnighters who just want a place to sleep).

You should tell your son that if he's having difficulties finding a motel with a vacancy sign out the front, a good alternative is the old Australian pub, of which there will be three or four in every decent-sized town. He'll have to park out the back -- or maybe even in the street-- but accommodation in these places is generally good value for money (sometimes they serve up a hot breakfast), and they often have rooms when the motels are full. It's not a bad way to meet Aussies, either, as in most of them the TV set will be in a common lounge area.

Good luck -- and I am relieved that the idea of driving all the way from Sydney to Cairns has been abandoned. Frankly, if it were me, I'd fly the whole way and forget a car altogether. The Pacific Highway -- the main road between Sydney and Brisbane -- sounds lovely, conjuring up visions of blue water and beaches, but the reality is that it's mostly ugly freeway nowadays, and glimpses of the water are few and far between. And he will be sharing the road with a lot of trucks, tour coaches, and 4WDs towing caravans. It's not a road I enjoy driving, and the last couple of times I've had to drive to Brisbane I chose to head inland through Singleton, Muswellbrook, Tamworth, and Armidale -- a bit further, but the driving is pleasant and you seldom see a tourist.
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Old Dec 9th, 2004, 09:45 PM
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Scotia - Alan's right, that's too short a time frame for your son to drive Sydney-Brisbane and have time to appreciate some of the lovely coast. As Alan says, most beaches are some distance from Pacific Highway, which at that time of year will probably be the busiest road in the country. If I were your son I'd spend the night of 28th in Sydney and catch a flight the next morning to Ballina, northern NSW. Its a good road between there and Brisbane. He could pick up a rental (would need to book now as it's in a very busy holiday time)in Ballina, spend some time driving around the surfing beaches of Lennox Head, Byron Bay, the lovely little town of Bangalow, then overnight somewhere on the Gold Coast. Its then only a relatively short drive to Brisbane to catch flight to Cairns for New Year's Eve. There's more than plenty of entertainment on Gold Coast, as well as excellent surfing beaches.
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Old Dec 10th, 2004, 01:22 PM
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On behalf of my son, thank you very much for this helpful information. I also feel better knowing he has a "plan".
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Old Dec 11th, 2004, 12:23 PM
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I see that you say your son has decided to drive from Sydney - Brisbane after he arrives from a presumably 20 hours flight from USA. Please can you tell me the exact day he is going to do this so that we can issue a travel warning to holiday-makers. Being young, driving on the other side of the road, in the middle of the most busy time of year I would say that that is a recipe for disaster. I would also suggest that if he is intending to rent a car at Sydney airport the best place to sleep than night would be north Sydney as I would reckon that that would be as far as he gets.
Please tell him from me at least that at that time of year the ONLY way to travel is by flying and I wonder if he has thought of the huge cost of a one way rental? A smart traveller would fly from Sydney to the Gold Coast and rent a car there after having a good night's sleep and see the spots in and around that area before going to Brisbane and flying to Cairns. Most of the Highway from Sydney is 2 lanes ( one going one way and the other the other way ) and as Margo says its a boring as batshit.
But if all else fails please let us know his exact day of driving as I will stay off the road those days for safety sake.
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Old Dec 11th, 2004, 03:33 PM
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Scotia - Liz's suggestion is better than mine - I just thought that driving Ballina-Brisbane would give him a bit of a drive on the way, on a relatively good road. Sydney - Gold Coast air fare is less than Sydney-Ballina/Byron, even thought its a bit further. check Virgin Blue and Qantas Jetstar.

Liz and Alan aren't kidding about the Pacific Highway - much of it is only one lane each way, you get stuck behind a slow moving vehicle, on a no overtaking section (most of it), then you have to wait for miles for the slow vehicle to come to an overtaking section to move to the left (sometimes it doesn't) - by this time traffic is banked up behind and most of it doesn't have opportunity to overtake. You just get through that - you'll soon come to another slow vehicle and it all starts again.

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