When to go?

Old Dec 14th, 2004, 06:57 AM
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When to go?

I just decided to cash in those frequent flier miles for a trip to Australia. Now I have to decide whether to go this summer (i.e., July) or next winter (Dec.). Any suggestions for a northern California girl not used to the heat? Also, I'm planning to go for 2 or 3 weeks. I'll definitely hit Brisbane since I have a friend there. What are the must-sees for a family with a teen-age boy and pre-teen girl, with all of us interested in flora and fauna? Thanks!

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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 07:43 AM
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Hello TravelinMom,

I'm suppose your references to summer and winter mean your seasons, not the Australian ones, which are the other way round.

If you don't like heat, I think July would be a good time to visit Australia.

Brisbane is a pleasant city. But, with only 1.6 million people, it's not huge. My own feeling is that the city itself can keep a persona meaningfully occupied for only a couple of days.

We went to Brisbane too, also to visit friends. We had only a couple of days there, en route to another destination, but our Brisbane friends told us there were good day trips that could be done from there to nearby islands, to rainforests inland from there, and so on. That is something that has been confirmed by my reading of the Fodors forum.

A short distance south of Brisbane is an area known as the Gold Coast. I have not been there, but it is reputed to be very touristy -- highrise hotels on the beach and that sort of thing. However, there apparently are many natural areas, including national parks, that are readily accessible from the Gold Coast.

The two destinations that seem to me to be most popular with first time visitors to Australia are Sydney and Far North Queensland (FNQ), the area around Cairns and Port Douglas.

Sydney deserves at least three full days, not counting arrival and departure days. If you can add a day or two for a day trip or an overnight trip to the Blue Mountains, so much the better. If you can add to that a couple of days for visiting the Hunter Valley and Port Stephens, better still.

The priorities in FNQ are to go out by boat to snorkel or dive in the Great Barrier Reef (essentially an all day outing), a visit to the Daintree wet tropical rainforest (another all day outing) and a visit to the Atherton Tableland, a high plateau that is a short distance inland from the coast. If you can afford the time, it's nice to go on an overnight drive to the Undara Lava Tubes. If you can afford only a shorter visit to the Tableland, you can go on a day's outing to the small town of Kuranda (it's rather popular to take the Skyrail in one direction and a conventional train in the other direction).

I would recommend at least 5 days in each of Sydney and FNQ. Don't overlook the travelling time between the two (the better part of a day to travel from one to the other). Add your travelling time to and from Australia, and you really don't have time to do much more than Sydney and its environs and FNQ during a 2 week trip to Australia. If you wanted to add Brisbane and some of the activities near Brisbane, it would be nice if you had 3 weeks at your disposal.
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 01:24 PM
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I think your friend in Brisbane would be the best one to tell you what you should see and to show you where to go as she knows you best. There is plenty to do in and around Brisbane ( especially around ) but I don't think I would opt for July as it is not in its prime then and no swimming much and also that is near the Ekka time which usually brings yukky westerly winds.
It does not get too hot in December and the beaches are bouncing and people are partying - great both at the seaside and in the hinterland.
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 02:02 PM
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I've travelled to Australia 3 times in teh past during April and May. If you can do it at this time it may be good idea. The prices have dropped ready for the winter yet the winter weather, in my experience, hasn't really arrived yet.
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 02:05 PM
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Liz, you'll have to translate for this southerner - what is "Ekka time"?
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Old Dec 16th, 2004, 05:30 AM
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Neil, Liz may have missed this one so am sure she won't mind if I answer - "Ekka", I think, is an abbreviation of "Exhibition" - anyway its the Brisbane equivalent of Sydney's Royal Easter Show. Liz is right, July is not the greatest month to visit Queensland coast, westerlies in the south and south easterly trade winds, which play havoc with reef conditions, in the north.
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