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Amy Sep 2nd, 2009 06:50 PM

Under the stars in the middle, but now need a bit more help!
My friends decided to go for the Alice/Uluru/King's Canyon sleeping under the stars bit for the middle part of our 18 or so days in July, so now I'm getting together some ideas for the other bits: Sydney and, I think, Port Douglas.

We won't have a car, is the first thing to consider. There will probably be four (and maybe more) of us, all women of various interests but not drinkers/night club types. I've stayed happily in everything from a $10 a night guesthouse in the Himalayas to a 5 star outside of Delhi where my suite was bigger than the apartment I live in, so I'm flexible with accommodations.

My thoughts were that I might be okay waiting and wotif-ing a boutique hotel for Sydney as it's not really prime season. Would you agree, or do you think it would be better to book further in advance for four? Or perhaps serviced apartments...Area is another consideration, as everything I'm reading is contradicting everything else I'm reading in that respect. I'm thinking that we should base in Sydney for five or six days and do a day trip to the Blue Mountains, then our flight to Alice, stay there for a night, then the two night camping bit and back to Alice from whence we'd fly out after anther night. (Or should that be another two nights, at least, would you say?)

I was thinking Port Douglas rather than Cairns for snorkeling/boating on the GBR and then into Daintree (possibly staying a couple nights at ). I was looking at vacation house rentals on and, but wasn't sure about getting around/out for tours; I'm guessing a hotel might be best for that part?

I know it's earlyish to be planning, but I'd like to get my ducks in a row so to speak so that I can get a rough itinerary to my friends, including a few who are borderline and might end up coming along!

Thanks so much; I appreciate all the help I've gotten so far and your patience with what may seem like some stupid questions. :) I've got more books coming, but Fodors forum is always the best source!

Bokhara2 Sep 2nd, 2009 08:29 PM

Hi Amy,

Others will be better on the FNQ (Far North Queensland)bit, but I might be able to help with the Sydney end.

I think your plan to use Sydney as a base & do day trips is good. You won't need a car in the city and in fact it would be a hinderance to have one. Likewise, you can certainly do day trips to the Blue Mountains by train, and if you wanted to go to the Hunter Valley, there are quite a few day tours by coach.

Accommodation: I'd be tempted to leave it until closer to your arrival. I can't remember when you're here, but the only possible threat would be school holidays and even then, families probably aren't going to be looking for boutique hotels. Someone posted a good list of boutique hotels a few months ago - do a search on this board and it might turn up. I'll have a look and re-post if I find it. If you find something you like, you might contact them & make a tentative enquiry as to likely availability and then firm it up a month before you leave. With larger hotels, you wouldn't need to do that but as you say, with 4 it might be an idea to make bookings a little earlier with the smaller places.

Serviced apartments are certainly an option for 4 and assuming you could make do with 2 or 3 bedrooms, there is a good range in several locations which may appeal to you. Do you have a feeling for where you'd like to be ... close to Circular Quay, in one of the residential areas just out of the CBD, on the North Shore (North Sydney, Kirribilli etc) or perhaps one of the beaches?

You're not clubby girls, but might you go to the theatre, a concert or the art gallery one night? Just to whet your appetite ....;;;
not forgetting, of course the Sydney Opera House and its range of drama, concert & operas. I'm a local, am at something there at least once a month, and it and the city from it never fail to take my breath away.

Can't tell you how thrilled I am that your friends went for the "under the stars" option! I'm sure they will love it, but even if they hate it .... think of the dining out stories they'll have ;)

Peter_S_Aus Sep 2nd, 2009 08:49 PM

Think about staying here - it's reachable by bus from Cairns, and is north of Port Douglas.

I stayed there 15 years ago (some small animal tried to make a meal of the bike saddle) and it was good.

Amy Sep 3rd, 2009 11:56 AM

Thanks to you both!

Bokhara, location is just the problem: Circular Quay sounds good and exciting, the Rocks seems like it would be a really interesting area, the residential neighborhoods nice and peaceful...just a tough decision without really being there! I'm thinking that we don't need to be on the beach, though.

Peter, would you suggest basing at the hostel for Port Douglas/Cairns area, or doing that as a partial stay of maybe 2-3 nights and then staying somewhere in either of those places for the other part of the 5 or 6 days?

Peter_S_Aus Sep 3rd, 2009 02:26 PM

I'd recommend staying there for two nights, and a couple of nights in Port Douglas.

Bokhara2 Sep 3rd, 2009 03:55 PM

Circular Quay and The Rocks are adjacent to each other so now you just have to work out whether you want to be in a local residential area or in the city. Oh yes, and whether it's to be a boutique or a serviced apartment :)

pat_woolford Sep 3rd, 2009 04:43 PM

Given your interests, I think Daintree Wild, just south of Daintree River, would be perfect for you. Sun Palm Express has daily coach services from Cairns, Cairns Airport and points on the way up as far north as Cape Tribulation Daintree Wild is an easy pickup point for any Cape Tribulation tour either out of Port Douglas or Cairns, tours have to go right past the door. You're correct in assuming that tours don't pick up at private residences, but usually there would be a nearby pickup point.

For reef trips out of Port Douglas without a car, you'd better off staying closer to PD, maybe at Port O'Call (has free transfers to and from Cairns city}; if you stayed in Cairns city which has any number of hostels, its any easy walk to wharf from many of them, and transfers are available to and from outer Cairns areas and its northern beaches.

One area you shouldn't miss is Atherton Tableland, day tours leave from Cairns city and its northern beaches. A few good ones to consider for the car-less are; and the Atherton Tableland trip (Tour 1) with The first two are day trips, Wait a While commences early afternoon and includes nightspotting of nocturnal wildlife, returns to Cairns around midnight.

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