Two nights before GBR cruise: Sydney or Cairns area?

Old Jul 14th, 2010, 09:29 AM
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Two nights before GBR cruise: Sydney or Cairns area?

In mid October we board a boat in Cairns for a seven day cruise to include Cape Tribulation, Port Douglas, Hinchenbrook, Magnetic Island, Hardy Lagoon, Whitsunday Islands and Hamilton Island. We will arrive in Sydney early in the morning from the U.S. with two full days and nights to spend before embarking. We are a middle-aged couple and we have never been to Australia. We love city sightseeing and dining and we also love the beach and outdoors. We could spend two days at the Kewarra Beach Resort or nearby, or we could spend the time in Sydney. I understand from previous posts that we may encounter "stingers" that time of year, so swimming at any beach may not be good? Any suggestions?
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 10:52 AM
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My opinion: stay in Sydney for those two days. You'll be tired from the long flight--but besides that, you'll love Sydney--and you'll already be getting to see so much of the north during your cruise. If you like Asian food I'd highly recommend East Ocean in Sydney's Chinatown for amazing "yum cha" (that I'd call dim sum). It's an adventure--and delicious. And of course, you'll have to see the Opera House and Darling Harbour ... and just enjoy wandering.

Yes, definitely explore Sydney. Take a ferry to Manly beach for gorgeous views of the harbour--and a lovely stroll. Sydney's one of my favorite cities. And your cruise sounds FABULOUS! Hope you have a great time -- but yes, there will likely be stingers.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 11:04 AM
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I, too, vote Sydney. It is a magical city. I think the harbor rivals Hong Kong in beauty.

When I arrive from the US on an early morning flight, I drop my bags at the hotel and then explore the harbor area. A walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens provides a fabulous view of the harbor while transitioning into a new time zone.

Your cruise sounds great. I love that area of Australia. Have a wonderful time!
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 12:02 PM
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Sounds very consistent so far. My friend who married an Aussie said, "go out on a harbour cruise, do the Opera House, eat at Doyle's on Circular Quay, stay somewhere in the Rocks...mayb even head to Manly Beach or Bondi Beach or the Botanical Gardens and National Gallery..."

Do the stingers select certain places to hang out during this time or are they everywhere, meaning no snorkel, no swim, no ocean at all?

Thanks alot.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 01:55 PM
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If there are stingers, they will only be in North Qld., and the cruise operators will advise you and provide stinger suits.

I endorse the recommendations to stay in Sydney. Do take the 30 minute ferry trip to Manly - there are a couple of excellent restaurants right on the waterfront, and the return trip gives spectacular views of the city.

Can thoroughly recommend these restaurants:
Manly Pavilion: http://www.manlypavilion.com.au/
Hugo's: http://www.hugos.com.au/
and for a casual meal/coffee/drink - right on the wharf - Manly Wharf Hotel: http://manlywharfhotel.com.au/

Closer to the city, you might take a ferry to Milsons Point or Kirribilli on the North Shore (or walk over the harbour bridge if you feel like a stroll with fabulous views).
These are charming suburbs, with some lovely terrace houses - and lunch at Ripples (BYO, casual) or Aqua Dining restaurant will give you wonderful views back to the city.
http://www.aquadining.com.au

Sydney's a great city for exploring on foot; the area around The Rocks and Circular Quay lead naturally to the Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens and the Art Gallery of NSW (the National Gallery is in Canberra).

The Art Gallery http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/ has a very good restaurant (and a more casual cafe downstairs). If you happen to be here on a Wednesday, the gallery is open until 9pm for its Art After Hours program.

Do you like walking? There are some wonderful walks and, as your friend mentioned Bondi, the Bondi to Bronte walk springs to mind. http://www.visitnsw.com/Bondi_to_Bronte_P677.aspx

So much to see & do - and the two days here before FNQ (Far North Queensland) will give you a chance to slough off any jet lag, as well as indulging in some great food & city exploring.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 02:34 PM
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Thank you for the very detailed recommendations with links.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 05:27 PM
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"...head to Manly Beach or Bondi Beach or the Botanical Gardens and National Gallery..."

The National Gallery of Art (NGA) is actualy situated in the national capital, Canberra, a 3-hour drive SW of Sydney. Sydney however has many excellent galleries and museums, including the Art Gallery of NSW, Australian Museum, Powerhouse Museum, National Maritime Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 11:01 PM
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Very early for stingers.

the reason for going to Cairns early would be to see the hinterland and wildlife. This does not seem to be your thing so go with the city sights.
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Old Jul 15th, 2010, 11:37 AM
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AlanJG, We are moderate hinterland/wildlife people, but being that this trip is one of the few without our teen boys, we're leaning towards the city for the two days. Do you think we'll miss the stingers? Because we would probably bring our own stinger-resistant suits with us- -not sure if the boat owner would have any.

Neil_Oz, thanks for the clarifications. Will research these further.
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Old Jul 15th, 2010, 02:54 PM
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Agree with AlanJG, early for stingers. Stinger nets go out on beaches on Nov 1 around Cairns - including one directly in front of Kewarra Beach Resort.
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Old Jul 15th, 2010, 03:18 PM
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If you have the suits already then take them as they will fit well. If not then ask if the boat has them. It is unlikely that they will be around but take local advice. Life Savers trawl the beaches to check on their arrival which is usually late November to late December but can be well either side of that. As they breed in mangrove creeks it is rare for them to make it out to the GBR.

Take the advice about getting out in the sun on the first day to reset your body clock; and take the sunglasses off so your body can actually register the time of day. The quality of light at midday and the late afternoon is very different.
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Old Jul 17th, 2010, 03:45 PM
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Another vote for spending the time in Sydney.

Lots of great info so far. Anywhere down around the harbour. The Manly Ferry trip is beautiful on a sunny day. Another great Harbour trip is the ferry trip to Watsons Bay, there is another Doyles Seafood restaurant and also a Doyles takeaway cafe. A walk up through the park will deliver you at "The Gap" which has amazing views along the cliffs and out to sea. From there you can catch a bus to Bondi or return by the ferry to Circular Quay.

The red "hop on - hop off" bus gives you a good opportunity to visit local historical sites and points of interest.

You will love Sydney! Enjoy
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Old Jul 19th, 2010, 10:12 AM
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Thanks to all. We'll be spending the two days in Sydney, staying in the Rocks area. I'm going to research your suggestions, then I'll top this up if I have any questions. Can't wait to go!
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Old Jul 20th, 2010, 05:24 PM
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You'll like the Rocks. If you stay over a weekend there is a nice market on Sundays, with high quality goods which make unique gifts. There are also lots of nice restaurants. Enjoy!

Lavandula
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