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1st Visit to Australia: Itinerary Help

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Hello,

My husband and I are planning our first trip to Australia and are very excited! We are city-dwellers but love experiencing nature and the outdoors on vacation. We enjoy exploring off the beaten path gems, getting to know local people and customs and immersing ourselves in the culture of a place as much as possible. We are hoping to finalize our airfare this week for a trip in July. We are just beginning to sketch out an itinerary and would love some feedback!

Day 1: Arrive SYD early morning. Spend 4 nights in Sydney.
Day 2: SYD
Day 3: SYD
Day 4: SYD
Day 5: Depart SYD for Blue Mountains* Spend 3 nights in Blue Mountains
(*I was originally thinking to depart Sydney for Fraser Island but am reconsidering because of the time involved in flying and ferrying on the way there, then ferry and a connecting flight through Brisbane on the way to Cairns on the way out. Please let me know if Fraser Island is worth these complications or if you have a different suggestion of where to spend these 3 nights).
Day 6: Blue Mountains
Day 7: Blue Mountains
(Is this too much time in Blue Mountains? Should we do 2 nights and a night to Great Barrier Reef or somewhere else?)
Day 8: Depart Blue Mountains for Cairns. Spend 4 nights Great Barrier Reef
Day 9: GBR
Day 10: GBR
Day 11: GBR
Day 12: Depart Cairns for Ayers Rock. Spend 3 nights Ayers Rock
Day 13: Ayers Rock
Day 14: Ayers Rock
Day 15: Depart Ayers Rock for Melbourne Spend 3 nights Melbourne
Day 16: Melbourne
Day 17: Melbourne
Day 18: Depart Melbourne, return home.

-DH and I have not been scuba diving before. Is it necessary (or even possible!) to get certified before we leave?
-We are looking at flights home from Melbourne but I am not necessarily wedded to spending 3 nights there so am open to other suggestions.

Looking forward to your input, thanks!
Michelle

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