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Forums » General & Multi-Country » First Time to Australia

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Boblivenla

First Time to Australia

by Boblivenla »

Hi All,

I'm planning to leave LAX on March 20, arrive Sydney on March 22 in the a.m. to watch the Dodgers play in Austrailia that night and am using it as an excuse to visit.   I'd like to see some additional sites and could use some help.

  • I plan to be in Sydney for an additional one or two days (do you think that is enough? And one or two days?)
  • Fly to Cairns from Sydney
  • Visit Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, along with the rainforest (2-3 days?)
  • Probably drive from Cairns back to Sydney along the coast, the trip could also be done in reverse driving from Sydney to Cairns and then flying back to Sydney.
  • I have a total of 9 days in country, not including the day I lose flying in or the day I fly out.
  • What other sites along that route would you recommend? Or, am I totally off base and should consider another option?  I don't want to spend too much time flying which is why we are looking at driving.  Last year, I drove 2 weeks in Ireland so I'm thinking I might be able to pull off a coastal drive here.
  • Our interestes including wildlife (kangaroos, kuala beers, other exotic creatures land or sea); culture, rainforests, magistic mountains, etc.
  • I know its not alot of time but that is unfortunately the time frame we have to work with.

Thank you in advance for any assistance/guidence you can provide.  It is such a vast last with so much to see but I realize in sush a short time I need to focus on a specific area.  Thanks again.

Boblivenla 

PS - I've used Frommers board for years, especially to help plan my Ireland trip but couldn't remember my password so I had to resign up so I show up as a first time poster.

 

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Boblivenla

RE: First Time to Australia

by Boblivenla »

Wow, thanks for the info about the trip back.  I may have to leave a cushin day before I come back to work.  I live in Los Angeles so it will be straight off the flight and home.

I've been discussing the trip with my gf and we are thinking of not going to the Dodgers game in Sydney, which because of her work schedule, would limit us to 9 full days in country; and going in April when we will have 14 or 15 full days in country.  There are so many places to see, and who knows when we'll get back because there are so many great places to visit around the world, that we want to take advantage of the trip.

If we do the longer trip, based on some initial research and your input, we would look at Sydney-Cairns-Uluru-Melbourne.  Would love to see the Blue Mountains, Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforests, Great Ocean Drive and Kangaroo Island but I have to see how realistic that is.  I typically start out BIG and cut the trips quite a bit! 

 

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Boblivenla

RE: First Time to Australia

by Boblivenla »

Great, thank you for all this great insider information! I'll post again when I think I have a pretty good idea of what we are going to do.

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kringenwally

RE: First Time to Australia

by kringenwally »

Good idea. Meanwhile keep an eye on the travel section of Sydney's major newspaper, at www.smh.com.au/travel - they have sometimes great travel articles and news about offers etc., it makes planning easier when you feel you're being kept "in the loop" by the locals.

Unfortunately there are no more direct flights from North America to Cairns, but you can connect via Brisbane or Sydney. Consider starting out in Cairns - then flying to Ayers Rock for Uluru, then to Adelaide, look into staying one night at Kangaroo Island then get a rental car and drive to Melbourne - but not on the inland route but along the coast - spend at least one night along the way, maybe in cute and quaint Port Fairy or in nearby Warrnambool where the Great Ocean Road starts that runs all the way to Geelong on the outskirts of Greater Melbourne where you can surrender the car.

After a couple days in and around Melbourne, fly to Sydney for the remaining days before flying home. Book your tickets accordingly - into Cairns and home from Sydney, but look into the Qantas Air Pass that you can add to your transpacific tickets if you fly Qantas - it could be a big savings for the domestic flights over there.

The US Dollar doesn't go a long way in Australia, you'll be shocked at some of the prices. A single can of regular beer, as part of a six-pack, cost me the equivalent of US$3.40 eleven months ago. A single can, not in a bar, in a liquor store (called bottle shop, or "grog shop" in the local vernacular). So save your money between now and when you go, you'll need it...

Happy planning!

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kringenwally

RE: First Time to Australia

by kringenwally »

OK, one at a time:

I plan to be in Sydney for an additional one or two days (do you think that is enough? And one or two days?)

I suggest you fly in a day earlier. Most people fade quickly after staying up all day on arrival - the flight from the West Coast departure hubs is anywhere from 14:35 hours (from SFO) to 15 hours (from LAX) to 15:30 hours (from Vancouver), and you'll have been up all day already (maybe flying in from elsewhere) since the flights leave the US West Coast around midnight. You'll fall asleep during the second inning... If you go to sleep during the day of arrival, other than a brief nap, you're likely to be turned around, wanting to sleep during the following days and wanting to be active at night when you should sleep...

Lots of people spend a week in and around Sydney and don't think it's too much, so whether you have one or two days makes little difference - either way it's not enough.

Fly to Cairns from Sydney - Visit Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, along with the rainforest (2-3 days?)

If you take the 6AM flight you get to Cairns just a bit after 9AM and you stand a chance at doing something that day, like taking a boat out or going up to Kuranda, so maybe that day and one more would let you see a minimum, but three days would be better.

Probably drive from Cairns back to Sydney along the coast, the trip could also be done in reverse driving from Sydney to Cairns and then flying back to Sydney.

Not really an option with your limited time. If you never stopped and drove like crazy you'd be on the road for about 30 hours straight, and that would be at rally-speed with on-board toilets and a support system... not realistic. Three days would be exhausting. It's hot up that way, and if you take the shortest route, it's deadly monotonous, and you have be alert to give way to the 'roos and the road-trains, they stop for nothing and nobody. The more interesting route that follows the coast is slower. Either way, you can't win. Fly.

These monsters come at you like crazy, and if you don't slow down and get onto the shoulders, it's not their fault...

I have a total of 9 days in country, not including the day I lose flying in or the day I fly out.

Let's see if this works out - modify to suit:

Day 1: Depart for Australia 

Day 2: Arr in SYD, find lodgings, leave bags (too early to check in), go walking, end up at Circular Quay and hop on a harbour ferry (any ferry - the simple fact that you're on the harbour will excite you and keep you awake, but the Manly Ferry lets you walk from the harbour-side terminal to the beach on the open ocean side, highly recommended)

Day 4: See Kangaroos, Koalas (note spelling, and they are neither beers nor bears, they are just Koalas), and other exotic creatures at one of these: Featherdale or at the fabulously located Sydney Zoo where you find many other species also and a great view of Sydney, easily reached by Harbour ferry, or at the walkaboutpark

Day 5: Go up on the Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout where you have a 360 view. It is easily reached and not expensive.  This is not the same as the expensive and elaborate bridge climb - which is an exciting option also of course.

On the way up to the bridge, check out The Rocks, and across the bay is the stunning Opera House - they do tours of the inside during the day, great photo op with fabulous looks out onto the harbour.

There is much more in Sydney, not to mention the environs, but...

Day 6: Fly to Cairns.

Day 7: In and around Cairns.

Day 8: Fly to Sydney

Day 9: Depart from SYD

What other sites along that route would you recommend? Or, am I totally off base and should consider another option?  I don't want to spend too much time flying which is why we are looking at driving.  Last year, I drove 2 weeks in Ireland so I'm thinking I might be able to pull off a coastal drive here.

See above.

Our interestes including wildlife (kangaroos, kuala beers, other exotic creatures land or sea); culture, rainforests, magistic mountains, etc.

I know its not alot of time but that is unfortunately the time frame we have to work with.

See above.

Hope this helps.

 

 

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Boblivenla

RE: First Time to Australia

by Boblivenla »

Thank you for your detailed input.  It is a lot to think about. 

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kringenwally

RE: First Time to Australia

by kringenwally »

You're welcome. 

 It is a lot to think about.

Yes, the country (a continent) is as wide and tall as the US, so the distances can be immense. And it's so far away, that the logistics are never simple - I've gone back and forth dozens of times and still have to figure things out carefully every time, to make sure I get done what I need to do.

Take your time, and remember that less is more - if there is the slightest hiccup (weather, a strike, a delayed flight, a sprained ankle, an indigestion, whatever) and your itinerary is so overloaded that you don't have an hour to spare, the whole thing can go south.

Most people are not worth much the first day - they keep going on adrenalin because it's exciting to finally get there after the long trip, but if you ask them later what they did or saw that first day, they find it's hard to remember without looking at the date-stamped photos in their camera...

Get used to sleeping with earplugs (the waxy kind, not the flimsy foam type - see below), and wiggle yourself into a position in the airline seat that you can hold for an hour at a time, then sleep - those who can't bring themselves to sleep on the way down are poor wretches on arrival.

But I'm not trying to paint a negative picture - on the contrary, you can look forward to a great place with - on the whole - great people and sights!

These (or similar brands) will help, but they take some getting used to, so "practice" early:

I have another suggestion: Coming back is even more exhausting. I don't know why, maybe because you wear yourself out a bit while away, or because of the timing (you leave Sydney in the afternoon and arrive on the West Coast mid-to-late morning the same day !).

If you have to wait for a connecting flight, you'll be near dead by the time you get home. If my US target is anywhere other than the arrival city on the West Coast, I have made it a practice to book a motel near the arrival airport, go sleep for a few hours, go walking, work up an appetite, have dinner and go back to the motel and get a good night's sleep, and fly the rest of the way the next morning.

For that reason, because going for a long walk is more fun, I like to book flights that arrive/connect in San Francisco (where I take the BART to Downtown and walk along the Embarcadero or whatever), or in Vancouver (which also has an excellent train from the airport) rather than in Los Angeles.

Makes a world of difference - that one extra day's overnight stay prevents me from being dopey for two or three days on coming back. It has worked for me for the last 32 years (don't remind me of the old days with two touchdowns on the way - now at least you can fly it in one hop...).

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Boblivenla

RE: First Time to Australia

by Boblivenla »

KringenWally,

Which would you suggest, a day tour to the Blue Mountains, or an overnight stay at the Blue Mountains?  Also, what are your thoughts regarding Kangaroo Island?  Thank you in advance for any insight you can provide.

 

Best,

 

Jason/Boblivenla

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kringenwally

RE: First Time to Australia

by kringenwally »

The Blue Mountains as a daytrip is a fine idea, and I don't want to sound like I'm advising against it, just advising against raising expectations too high, and trying to impress on you that  - to me - it is not overwhelming unless you stay the night up that way and make a trip to the Jenolan Caves.

Nothing wrong with the Blue Mountains, the Three Sister as viewed from Echo Point, and the look over the valley with the blue haze in the distance,

and maybe even the Explorer Bus and the funicular or whatever it's called

(the picture is from this website )

Hope for a most fabulous day with good weather and perfect views, and also go see the Everglade gardens when things are in bloom.

However, once you're up there, go see the Jenolan Caves - pick the one that suits your time and fitness level and hiking ability best, bring warm clothing (it's cold in there!), and you just may have one of the most memorable experiences of your trip.

It's a bit of a drive from Katoomba, and there is only one way there and the same way back, that's why it's best done during an overnight trip. You can even stay the night right there - as the website tells you.

See if this company still has such a two-day trip.

These are three samples from the Jenolan caves: 

I haven't been to Kangaroo Island in over 30 years so I can't tell you what it's like these days. I've read good things, as you will when you snoop around the internet and at your local library in guidebooks and on DVDs.

Also check out the travel section of Sydney's big daily newspaper (it also has links to its Melbourne sister publication, the Melbourne Age): Sydney Morning Herald

Hope this helps.

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Boblivenla

RE: First Time to Australia

by Boblivenla »

Thank you for the reminder about the Jenolan Caves! It was in the early plans but was inadvertantly dropped.  It's a site we really wanted to see.  I'll look for a two day combo that includes both a "day tour" of the Blue Mountains and the cave tour. 

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