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Your thoughts on my itinerary for My Very First Australia Trip?

Your thoughts on my itinerary for My Very First Australia Trip?

Old Oct 16th, 2009, 08:23 PM
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Amy
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Your thoughts on my itinerary for My Very First Australia Trip?

Thanks to much help on these boards and lots o' looking, I've come up with this tentative itinerary for July of 2010. I'd love to hear any suggestions on what might make more sense/be better as far as time is concerned/create a smoother flow. It's not much time, but it's what I have! (This will of course mean leaving on 01 July, Thursday)

03 July Saturday: Arrive in Sydney (from the East Coast of USA) As, at this point, it's now down to three of us, I'm planning to use www.wotif.com.au about two-three months in advance for a hotel or apartment; I'm thinking since this is off-season for Sydney I should be okay doing that?

03-08 July Sydney: acclimatize, travel round the city a bit, take a day trip via train to the Blue Mountains (depending on the weather, if not too rainy), walk across the bridge (but probably not climb across it), ride the ferry

08 July Fly Sydney to Alice Springs; one night in Alice Springs (maybe at the YHA in the old cinema; I'm guessing they'd have a place for excess luggage?)

09-11 July Camping out under the stars, Uluru, and Kings Canyon with this group:
http://www.wayoutback.com.au/getdoc/...tinerary.aspx; return to Alice Springs YHA for one night

12 July fly Alice Springs to Cairns, transport to Daintree Wild for two nights

12-14 July Daintree Wild "zoo" and rainforest experience, then back to Cairns or PD

14-18 July Cairns for Great Barrier Reef, Tableland; leave 18th for Sydney

18th July Cairns to Sydney, Sydney to USA flight
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Old Oct 16th, 2009, 09:07 PM
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Looks good to me, Amy. You're obviously a nature lover and I think you've fitted a good range into your available time.

In Uluru,I like the option of doing an Aboriginal guided walk. It would be interesting to know whether it goes around or partly around the base of Uluru though, because it reads as if it may not. I can't imagine that it wouldn't at least cover part of it because it's such an important part of the landscape & the Aboriginals' Dreaming. I'm a huge fan of Alice Springs, and in particular the desert park www.alicespringsdesertpark.com.au, so if you could, I'd encourage you to make some time to see it. There's a wonderful birds of prey exhibition each day 10 & 3, I think.

School holidays are usually in July, and it's a popular month for Europeans in Cairns & PD as well, so you might be wise to book your Qld accommodation a month or two before you arrive.

It's mid winter for us and colder than you might expect in Alice Springs & Uluru in the evenings & early mornings.
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Old Oct 16th, 2009, 10:35 PM
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This sounds a well thought out trip. I winced a little at the camping bit as it can get cold in that raea at night and it is mid Winter here. Should be lovely during the days though. Have a great trip and , if you are willing to cope with the cold, I wouldn't change anything.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 01:59 AM
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There are heaps of hotels on wotif.com always. Sometimes the cheap ones go in a week, but I wreckon you'd be super safe by booking two or three weeks ahead. If you book 3 months ahead the specials might not be as good. The idea of wotif is to get rid of unbooked rooms, and they probaby figure they have a good chance of booking it in 3 months time so keep the price high. Also, the section where it says the "real price" is definitely not the case. It always is so inflated.

The walk across the bridge is great.. no need to do the super walking one. I did a ghost tour of the rocks even though I am a local now (new from Melbourne). It was great looking at all the small alleys etc. Worth it for fun and at a reasonable price. Also, after the tour you get a few discount coupons for the local pub.. maybe a good chance to chat with a few locals from the tour.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 02:07 AM
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Oh, by the way.. I am a Sydneysider... and often use wotif for when we go out and stay in the city.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 07:31 AM
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Thanks, everyone! I know I will need to dress warmly for the camping trip...got my cashmere all lined up to go, fleece hat, and so forth, but I'm thinking I might invest in some long underwear as well. (Although the swag/sleeping bag combo should be pretty warm, but it's the in-between times--as in, getting TO the sleeping bag--that could be problematic.)

I was wondering how close to the time I might be safe with going on wotif; it doesn't really matter exactly where we are, although it would be nice to close to the Harbour for most of the touristy bits. If someone has a place that they love to stay in Sydney, though, I'd like to hear about it; sometimes dealing direct can get you pretty good prices, as well, of course.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 10:23 AM
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To get the low rates on wotif you have to book within 4 weeks of your check-OUT date. Booking any further out than that will give you virtually no savings at all.

I've used wotif in Sydney and all through NZ in May and June and never had a problem having a huge choice of hotels and self-catering apartments to choose from four weeks in advance.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 12:09 PM
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Have you considered adding New Zealand to your travel plans? 3hr flight from SYD? On 18th I leave for a first time backpacking trip to AU/NZ and will post a trip report that might be helpful.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 01:23 PM
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Thanks, Songdoc, I'll go for that time-frame then. (So it makes me a little nervous being that close to the time, but hey, I went to China for three weeks with only the first three nights booked. Seriously, though, I'm guessing I won't have too much of an issue at that point.)

DMcKB, I'd love to go to New Zealand as well, but only if I had at least a month for the trip. With the time that I have, I feel that I've stretched as far as I want to. As an old lady who has done all kinds of travel, I've found that I enjoy and learn more when I'm not doing too much dashing about.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 03:23 PM
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Sydney will probably be quite a bit easier to find accommodation in than Cairns in July, Amy. There's a lot of capacity, from self catering apartments, boutique & other hotels with a wide price range.
A few around The Rocks which you might like include:
The Lord Nelson, one of Sydney's oldest hotels: www.lordnelsonbrewery.com
Bed & Breakfast Sydney Harbour: www.bedandbreakfastsydney.com
The Old Sydney Holiday Inn: www.ihghotelsus.com
The Harbour Rocks Hotel: http://www.harbourrocks.com.au/
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Old Oct 18th, 2009, 12:43 AM
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I would like to suggest that on your way from Port Douglas to Cairns you go via the Atherton Tablelands and spend one night there. Not enough to really see the place but with the best part of two days you can see quite a bit.

I suggest at least one of the food and/or beverage places, Granite Gorge for the Rock Wallabies, the falls circuit for the scenery, Lake Eacham for a swim (you wont have to compete with the locals at that time of year), Tarzalli Lakes for Platypus, a nocturnal tour to see the animals in the true wild, the Curtain and Cathedral Figtrees.
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Old Oct 18th, 2009, 10:30 PM
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Nice mix of interesting places, Amy, you'll fall in love! RE the ghost tour of the Rocks in Sydney, we liked the scenery but at one point the guide we had told an off-color joke complete with male body part prop which was tasteless and not good form because there were children in the group. FYI. If you only have one day for the reef and want a wonderful snorkel experience (and have a few AUD left) then contact Greg at www.daintreeair.com and book a flight to Lizard Island for the day. You won't regret it. Ever. At all. If you don't have the $$ for that, then do go out on the reef at least. It is fabulous. We went to Uluru in July in 2004 and it was very nice weather but quite cool at night. They had had rain previously and one night it was quite cloudy (the one we had planned to go to the star observation place, figures.) So don't forget your gortex! I think camping in the Red Center would be the best and good for you for going for it and just doing it! We stayed at the Lord Nelson (see Bokhara's link above) and it was quite handy to everywhere in the rocks and right on a bus line. small room, no elevator, breakfast included, we paid $180 AUD in 2007 in October.
Sally in Seattle
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Old Oct 18th, 2009, 11:07 PM
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Sally, did you do a guided walk at Uluru? I'd be interested to know where they go & what's included. Cheers, also to R.
Bokhara
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 05:02 PM
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Saltuarius, I'd figured on doing a Tablelands day trip out of Cairns. As we're not driving. I figured I'd be better off with one base, maybe? I thought we might go to Cape Tribulation out of Daintree, then settle in Cairns for the reef and Tablelands (Kuranda, most likely...) Would it be a big advantage to stay overnight in the Tablelands instead? Any recommendations for where?

Lizard Island looks gorgeous, but, well, a bit rich--the US dollar isn't stretching too far these days and the trip is close to $600AUD each. I'm sure it would be glorious!

Bokhara2, did you see this description from Wayoutback.com about the Uluru aboriginal walk? It seems you walk into the base?
"Your Anangu guide will provide an introduction to Aboriginal Law and Culture before hosting a fascinating walk into the base of Uluru. Visit caves at the base of Uluru where the ancestors left paintings in time worn ochre’s. See the beautiful Mutitjulu Waterhole, whose life-giving waters have been drunk by generations of Aboriginal people. Discover local bush foods, and hear tales of desert survival."
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 05:45 PM
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I hadn't, Amy. Thanks for the link - looks good, doesn't it?

The problem with participating on Fodors is that I'm in a constant state of "I want to go ... NOW!" In my next life, I'm going to be a Trust Fund child & travel all over the place whenever the whim strikes.
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 06:03 PM
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Mmm, I agree; I have decided to become independently wealthy and travel whenever I can, but I haven't quite figured out the details yet.
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Old Oct 20th, 2009, 09:02 PM
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Amy,
Kuranda is not the Atherton Tablelands. In fact it sits just at the top of a low part of the escarpment. It has many tourist attractions and is well worth the visit but if you want to see the countryside and wildlife in the wild then you need more time and to go a little further afield. There are day tours out of Cairns. I forgot that you mentioned on a previous post that you would not drive.
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Old Oct 21st, 2009, 04:18 AM
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Yes, Kuranda is almost a suburb of Cairns, its not as its in a different local government area, but its not far. Most visit Kuranda from Cairns on Kuranda train one way, Skyrail the other. www.skyrail.com.au

Without a car, good day tours out of Cairns district which includes its northern beaches for Atherton Tablelands are:

www.northernexperience.com.au - Boat trip on Lake Barrine, morning tea at Lake Barrine Teahouse for the best scones,jam & cream, Yungaburra and its Curtain Fig Tree, waterfalls, Wooroonoran National Park, lunch at Mungalli Falls Dairy, Paronella Park and a swim or rainforest walk at Babinda Boulders.

www.wildernessecosafaris.com - off the beaten track in 4WD, in restricted areas where tourists don't usually go. Max of 7 passengers, usually need to book at least a few days ahead.

For wildlife and scenery- www.waitawhile.com.au - Tour 1 to Tablelands. Afternoon trip and nocturnal wildlife spotting, picks up in Cairns area about 2pm and gets you back at around midnight. Would book this one ahead, too.
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Old Oct 21st, 2009, 09:35 PM
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Bokkhara and Amy, we went on the Aboriginal led "Liru" tour which takes off from the visitor's center doesn't go very far, but the guide spoke in his native language and a ranger translated. Showed us some traditional things which were very interesting. We also went on the free ranger-led tour that took off from the place where people climb the rock. We walked around part of the base and saw and went into a cave that looked like an ocean wave. We also learned about the sacred parts of the rock and why parts of the road veer off. Very educational. I don't know if they are still the same since we went in 2004. We didn't walk all around Uluru, but I wish we had been able to. We did drive around and also went to the sunset twice and sunrise once. One little hike took us to a great pool of water with a little waterfall (it had rained recently). Very peaceful and the shapes of the fallen rocks and the smooth parts of Uluru itself were so beautiful.
Sally in Seattle, wishing we could go again!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2009, 08:16 PM
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Amy, if you love wildlife, you really should follow some of the suggestions on here to book a wildlife tour of the tablelands. The afternoon and nocturnal tours would be great choices. You will see so much wildlife -- it's especially fun to go nightspotting for possums. You won't regret it.

Sara
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