Australia Trip - 2021

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Barkingsparrow
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Australia Trip - 2021

Post by Barkingsparrow » Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:26 am

I am planning our long-awaited trip to Australia and had been struggling to narrow down our itinerary. Our primary travel interests typically has been the National Parks, hiking/wildlife/nature, and for this trip, aboriginal culture/history.

I've decided that I will focus on 3 locations (over a 14-day trip): Sydney, Uluru, and Darwin. For the Darwin segment, I've been researching multi-day, small-group tours into the aboriginal wilderness areas such as Kakadu.

Anyone have travel experiences to share for Uluru and the Darwin? Or maybe some other areas of which I may be unaware? I can state that I have zero interest in the Great Barrier Reef.

Calli114
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by Calli114 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:03 pm

You might think about hot air ballooning while in the Outback. When I was there we got scrubbed 2 mornings in a row due to weather, but I think it would have been fun.
Are you interested in Tasmania at all? It would be out of your way from the spots you've mentioned of course.

Carl53
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by Carl53 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:31 pm

We have made three trips to Oz for nearly a total of 3 months. We almost did Darwin the last visit but chose Uluru preceded by several nights on an old movie set twenty miles outside of Alice Springs. Be sure to have a rental vehicle so that you are not limited to the tours and tourist sites. They are OK as we did both. With a vehicle we were able to stop at several National Parks along the way from Alice Springs to Uluru and in the vicinity of Uluru. Other trips we've done the Great Barrier Reef, rainforests, New Years Eve in Sydney harbor, much of Victoria (Melbourne) and Tasmania.

As far as sights and parks, I would rate Tasmania (we took five days and traversed the island, taking day hikes into several national parks) and the old movie set (think perhaps a square mile of bluffs, sunsets and fantastic night skies with a couple of other guests that we saw perhaps once other than the kangaroo) at the top of my list. New Years Eve on a ferry in Sydney Harbor was fun, but overall I much prefer Melbourne to Sydney.

If you do choose Melbourne, try to get to Philip Island about 90 minutes east to the wildlife sanctuaries as well as the nightly Penguin Parade. We did take a Great Ocean Tour west of Melbourne once that had fantastic vistas.

In the outback, be sure to have bug spray and I recommend picking up one of those hats that has insect netting that can be stored inside when not needed. I got one in Alice Springs and was delighted to have it on a couple of our outings near Uluru. Others with me spent more time swatting insects than enjoying the sites. Staying in Ayers Rock means staying at the Ayers Rock Resort which has the local accommodations, restaurants, grocery, gas, entertainment etc. under one management. Not a problem, just not what I expected. BTW, we went in late May and the outback temperatures were comfortable.

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Barkingsparrow
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by Barkingsparrow » Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:55 pm

Calli114 wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:03 pm
You might think about hot air ballooning while in the Outback. When I was there we got scrubbed 2 mornings in a row due to weather, but I think it would have been fun.
Are you interested in Tasmania at all? It would be out of your way from the spots you've mentioned of course.
I did look at Tasmania, but the climate/scenery seems similar to New Zealand, where I've already hiked the Milford, Routeburn, and Greenstone tracks during two separate trips; so I was concerned that for the most part, it would be more of the same thing.

California88
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by California88 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:14 pm

Queensland is very special - amazingly beautiful untouched coastline, rain forest, quaint town of Port Douglas, Barrier Reef
and islands off Queensland's coast - but that's just me.

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mrspock
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by mrspock » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:28 pm

California88 wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:14 pm
Queensland is very special - amazingly beautiful untouched coastline, rain forest, quaint town of Port Douglas, Barrier Reef
and islands off Queensland's coast - but that's just me.
+1 for Port Douglas ... one of the most stunning and relaxing beach towns I’ve ever been to. Not commercial, and four mile beach is stunning, I was fortunate to watch 3 sunrises from that beach courtesy of some major jet lag... was a gift I’ll never forget :) . Rainforest Gondola trip (day excursion) was great too. One of those places that if you ever wanted to just fall off the earth and retire to... it would be high on the list.

As for Uluru, book your hotel way in advance, as there’s literally no other hotel options around for 3 hours. I found 2 days here sufficient.

I didn’t bother with Sydney so I can’t speak to that. I did Brisbane instead, which was great (more my speed).

What part of the year are you going? If doing the outback, I’d highly recommend the winter season. Any areas Gold Coast/Brisbane and above should have great warm comfortable weather. If spending a bunch of time further south summer might make more sense maybe?

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Watty
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by Watty » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:53 pm

Barkingsparrow wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:26 am
(over a 14-day trip)
Figure out a way to extent that trip. With almost two years before the trip you can figure out some way to take more time.

You will regret not spending more time on what may be a once in a lifetime trip. With the travel time to and from Australia and the travel days when you will be flying between cities I would guess that you would really only have about 10 good days in Australia.



We were there a few months ago in the spring(their fall)

We were there for five weeks and our rough itinerary was basically;

1) Sydney/Blue Mountains/inland - We had lots of rain which is why we decided to go inland.

2) Sunshine coast(north of Brisbane)/ Southern Great Barrier reef

3) Melbourne/Great Ocean road/Grampians NP/Ballarat (If you need a dentist in Ballarat we found one we can recommend - long story)

The Great Ocean Road and Grampians were good but with just two weeks it would take too long for you unless you can extend the trip.

We did not have much of a problem with jet lag going there but when we returned it took me about a week to really get back to normal. I don't know how common that is.
Carl53 wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:31 pm
....but overall I much prefer Melbourne to Sydney.
That was our impression too. If you are just going to do one large city then I would lean towards Melbourne.
Barkingsparrow wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:26 am
Anyone have travel experiences to share for Uluru and the Darwin?
We decided to skip Uluru since it is so far away and the time and expenses of going to it added up pretty quickly.

We did not get anywhere near Darwin but while we were in Australia I think that there were at least two hurricanes(cyclones) that at least threatened north Australia. I don't recall if they hit Darwin or not but if you are going there be sure to research the hurricane risk for when you will be there.

You most likely will not want to go during their summer or winter because of the extreme weather but in the spring or fall you may still run into several days in a row with bad weather which could eat up a lot of your limited time there.

Did I mention you should extend the trip for more than two weeks?

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Watty
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by Watty » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:59 pm

One more thought. Be sure to check when their school holidays are which are several times a year. Just like our spring break a lot of places may be much busier and expensive during their school breaks.

neglogic
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by neglogic » Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:01 pm

I would agree with extending your trip. Australia is basically as big as America, and getting to Uluru takes a lot of time. We skipped it and did Sydney/Port Douglas instead.

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Barkingsparrow
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by Barkingsparrow » Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:43 pm

Thanks for the replies.

I do understand that 14 days is far too short, but it is the best we can do. We'd rather make the best of it and see what we can of Australia while we are able, and not assume we'll have time down the road to take a longer trip - we are both in our early 60's and looking at retirement 3-5 years out; and just maybe things will work out that we can go back; but my wife does have a few health issues that are starting to manifest more overtly as she gets older. I think our days of long-distance hiking are over unfortunately, or at least, the window is starting to close.

We had planned on mid to late August - trying to avoid the heat and rainy season, while avoiding the holidays.

Port Douglas was on my potential list - I've got links pertaining to the Daintree Rain Forest; but that means flying to Cairns first? I planned on renting a car for Uluru for example, because it's remote with light traffic; but not sure about driving between Cairns and Port Douglas. Part of the trick here with Uluru is that there's a limited number of non-stop flights to other locations - for example, there's non-stops between Darwin and Uluru only on Wed/Sat.

AlohaJoe
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by AlohaJoe » Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:44 pm

Barkingsparrow wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:26 am
I've decided that I will focus on 3 locations (over a 14-day trip): Sydney, Uluru, and Darwin. For the Darwin segment, I've been researching multi-day, small-group tours into the aboriginal wilderness areas such as Kakadu.
I'm Australian and have been to all three places. Your plan seems fine. Yes, in an ideal world you could spend a week or two just in Sydney. Most tourists never leave the CBD, which isn't where any Sydneysider actually spends much time and most of the best food is outside of Sydney. Sydney's motto is "city of villages" for a reason. Try visiting Carriageworks in Redfern, a cafe for breakfast on Crown Street in Surry Hills, go shopping in Paddington, find a restaurant on King Street, stop in at a bar on Harris Street in Pyrmont. And that's without venturing further afield to places like Marrickville, where all the signs will be in Vietnamese, or Rushcutters Bay Park or the North Head Quarantine Station. Sydney Harbour is world's largest & greatest natural harbour in the world, you could spend a week just exploring the coves, beaches, and parks.

You don't really need a group tour into Kakadu, it is entirely possible to do it self-drive if you prefer. See if you can get out to Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls -- which look best from the air (i.e. in a plane or helicopter). If you have time, check out Litchfield as well, which I liked better in some ways. In any case, all of those places have been world-famous tour destinations for decades so there are hundreds of guidebooks and thousands of blogs on the internet that will provide every conceivable detail you could possibly want to know to help plan your trip.

California88
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by California88 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:19 pm

The drive between Cairns and Port Douglas is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt drives in the world - driving along the coast you'll see the "crystal clear" Pacific the whole time - it's an easy not too long not much traffic drive - I've done it a few times. You're pretty close to New Guinea up there!
The drive to Uluru would be thru the outback ... which at best is boring ... it doesn't have the vegetation that our beautiful deserts have.
Keep in mind that if you fly into Sydney keep in mind that you'll fly into the International Terminal - which is not connected to the Domestic Terminal that you'll need to fly domestically - and no one tells you about that! I'd allow at least 1-hr to get to the Domestic Terminal (in addition to the time it takes to get bags/go through passport/visa check)!

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Barkingsparrow
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by Barkingsparrow » Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:14 am

California88 wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:14 pm
Queensland is very special - amazingly beautiful untouched coastline, rain forest, quaint town of Port Douglas, Barrier Reef
and islands off Queensland's coast - but that's just me.
Could you tell me more your experiences in Port Douglas? What time of year were you there?

Talking to my wife, we discussed how our best trips always seems to be when we avoided the touristy spots and got off the beaten path a bit more and took a slower pace. For example, we loved our NZ trip where we flew to Dunedin, rented a car and drove around the south coast of the South Island down to Nugget Point, through the Catlins and up to Te Anau and back across the Otago to Dunedin. Very remote, very few tourists - as there was literally no tourist infrastructure down there - we stayed at a sheep farm that had 2 guest bedrooms.

I went back to my old Port Douglas/Daintree links and this seems to be a good fit for us. There's a DainTree Eco Lodge 45 minutes north of Port Douglas that I've been looking at for a while.

jello_nailer
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by jello_nailer » Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:25 am

Watty wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:59 pm
One more thought. Be sure to check when their school holidays are which are several times a year. Just like our spring break a lot of places may be much busier and expensive during their school breaks.
This ^.
I was just stung by this. Totally caught off guard. I was in Aus for 3 weeks for business end of June. Brought my wife over at last minute for a long 4th of July weekend, this was smack in the middle of their 2 week winter school holiday break. Availability for hotels, resorts, rental cars was ridiculously tight. All the way from Surfers Paradise Gold Coast to Port Douglas. Oops.

lomarica01
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by lomarica01 » Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:14 am

went to sydney last dec, and stayed downtown. just realize it is a crowded noisy big city. If I had to do it again I would have stayed outside the city and then taken the ferries in for the day. the ferry system is great

have fun, book your stays early and enjoy the strong dollar and yes tipping really is optional, one person tried to return it thinking we just forgot some money on the table

California88
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by California88 » Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:18 pm

Barkingsparrow wrote:
Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:14 am
California88 wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:14 pm
Queensland is very special - amazingly beautiful untouched coastline, rain forest, quaint town of Port Douglas, Barrier Reef
and islands off Queensland's coast - but that's just me.
Could you tell me more your experiences in Port Douglas? What time of year were you there?

Talking to my wife, we discussed how our best trips always seems to be when we avoided the touristy spots and got off the beaten path a bit more and took a slower pace. For example, we loved our NZ trip where we flew to Dunedin, rented a car and drove around the south coast of the South Island down to Nugget Point, through the Catlins and up to Te Anau and back across the Otago to Dunedin. Very remote, very few tourists - as there was literally no tourist infrastructure down there - we stayed at a sheep farm that had 2 guest bedrooms.

I went back to my old Port Douglas/Daintree links and this seems to be a good fit for us. There's a DainTree Eco Lodge 45 minutes north of Port Douglas that I've been looking at for a while.
Last time I was in Port Douglas was 10 years ago early Dec. - Probably not the best time because (a) their school holidays start mid Dec. (that's their summer) and (2) the beaches are not their best (can't remember why - maybe the weather or bugs ?) - but these things didn't bother us. Driving north of Port Douglas was wonderful - pretty un-spoilt - we didn't see many tourists. Maybe the poster from Australia can help?

Zubs
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by Zubs » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:07 am

For Port Douglas the rainforest was really fun to see. The town is really touristy though.

If you are looking a quieter town with less people I would recommend Trinity Beach. There were a couple restaurants, one hotel, and a quiet beach!

The only downside is that the only transport was a bus system and calling a taxi. Uber wasn't available when we went 3 years ago.

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Watty
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by Watty » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:24 am

Barkingsparrow wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:43 pm
We'd rather make the best of it and see what we can of Australia while we are able, and not assume we'll have time down the road to take a longer trip - we are both in our early 60's and looking at retirement 3-5 years out; and just maybe things will work out that we can go back; but my wife does have a few health issues that are starting to manifest more overtly as she gets older. I think our days of long-distance hiking are over unfortunately, or at least, the window is starting to close.
With the health issues it might make sense to not wait until 2021 to make this trip and do it sooner.

The exchange rate is really good for US travelers now so you might also be able to make the trip before that changes.

gogleheads.orb
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by gogleheads.orb » Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:16 pm

we did 14 days,
Sydney/ blue mountains
port Douglas / great barrier reef
Uluru


all and all a lot of fun.

I remember the cairns port Douglas drive being stressful, but I think that was because I was just getting used to driving on the wrong side of the road.
we rented a camper van in alice springs and drove to Uluru to get an interesting experience. I also found that a little stressful because the van would sway back and forth when one of the huge trucks passed the other direction.

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onthecusp
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by onthecusp » Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:25 pm

We took a bus round trip from Alice Springs Airport to Uluru, stayed overnight at the resort and back the next day. Might be a nice break from driving if the rest of the trip is going to be self drive. There are other activities worth a two or three nights stay if you have the time.

caffeperfavore
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by caffeperfavore » Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:47 pm

How were people getting around? Car? Plane to places further afield like Uluru? Train anywhere?

I would love to see everything but it's just such a big place. Traveling with a six year old (also looking at a 2021 trip) is also a factor for us, so we're thinking we may stick closer to Sydney and Melbourne. Anyone been to Perth and the western side?

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Barkingsparrow
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by Barkingsparrow » Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:43 pm

caffeperfavore wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:47 pm
How were people getting around? Car? Plane to places further afield like Uluru? Train anywhere?

I would love to see everything but it's just such a big place. Traveling with a six year old (also looking at a 2021 trip) is also a factor for us, so we're thinking we may stick closer to Sydney and Melbourne. Anyone been to Perth and the western side?
Among the 1,521 itineraries that I have drawn up was one where we flew to Perth for a few days, then up to Broome. But I keep running into the same roadblocks as you mention here - how exactly would I get around? Not to mention that from where I live, it would be a 30+ hour flight to and from Perth.

smalliebigs
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by smalliebigs » Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:47 pm

I highly recommend Adelaide. Lived there for 10 years. It's a great small city with everything within 30 minute's drive. Not to mention also having the greatest wine region in the world: Barossa Valley.

yakk0
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by yakk0 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:59 pm

Barkingsparrow wrote:
Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:14 am
California88 wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:14 pm
Queensland is very special - amazingly beautiful untouched coastline, rain forest, quaint town of Port Douglas, Barrier Reef
and islands off Queensland's coast - but that's just me.
Could you tell me more your experiences in Port Douglas? What time of year were you there?

Talking to my wife, we discussed how our best trips always seems to be when we avoided the touristy spots and got off the beaten path a bit more and took a slower pace. For example, we loved our NZ trip where we flew to Dunedin, rented a car and drove around the south coast of the South Island down to Nugget Point, through the Catlins and up to Te Anau and back across the Otago to Dunedin. Very remote, very few tourists - as there was literally no tourist infrastructure down there - we stayed at a sheep farm that had 2 guest bedrooms.

I went back to my old Port Douglas/Daintree links and this seems to be a good fit for us. There's a DainTree Eco Lodge 45 minutes north of Port Douglas that I've been looking at for a while.
We were in Port Douglas in late September. Seemed only moderately busy in terms of tourism, and weather was good - warm but not hot. The drive from Cairns to Port Douglas was not difficult. It was my husband's first time driving on the other side of the road and he enjoyed all the driving. If you've had experience driving in NZ South Island, I consider driving around Port Douglas much easier. I didn't expect my husband to enjoy the temperate rainforest as much as he did, otherwise I might have scheduled more time there. We spent one day driving up to Daintree and then Cape Tribulation (to go further north, you need a 4x4). By the sounds of it, Port Douglas - although a very slow paced, sleepy beach town - might be a bit touristy for you, but I'm sure you can find more unique experiences in the Daintree and surrounding areas.

AlohaJoe
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by AlohaJoe » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:48 pm

caffeperfavore wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:47 pm
Anyone been to Perth and the western side?
Yes, I've been to Perth and down south through Margaret River and back east as far as Albany, I think it was. Haven't been north up to Broome.

It was nice enough but nothing special. I wouldn't visit it if I were coming from the US or Europe, though. Even most Australians have never been to Perth.
Barkingsparrow wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:43 pm
Among the 1,521 itineraries that I have drawn up was one where we flew to Perth for a few days, then up to Broome. But I keep running into the same roadblocks as you mention here - how exactly would I get around?
You'd rent a car or campervan. I feel like I must be missing something because that is the obvious -- and only -- choice.

smalliebigs
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Re: Australia Trip - 2021

Post by smalliebigs » Tue Aug 06, 2019 8:17 am

Perth is pretty far from the other populated cities. If you have limited time, and/or budget, I'd recommend staying in the East coast. I've been to Perth a few times, it's a nice place, but not that special enough for a 4 hour plane trip over.

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