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#1 of 22 Old 10-01-2013, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My dh has a conference in Melbourne in July and it has always been my dream to go to Australia, so I might go with him.  Here's my issue, though...  I've wanted to go to Australia since I was 8 and I have a whole list of things that I want to do and see.  However, my 8 year old self did not take into account just how big Australia is and how much money it would cost to get from on destination to another.  We'll be in Melbourne initially, but I want to see the GBR and visit Kakadu country and see Uluru, but these things are so far away from each other that they'll require flights that cost a ton or trains that take a while or additional cruises and tour buses, etc. etc. 

 

I'm hoping you all can help me out a bit.  Mostly, I want to see Australia's natural wonders, Aboriginal rock paintings, etc. and not so much the cities.  Can you recommend some of your top things to do and see in Australia overall and then in the general Melbourne area?  If you could also include recommendations for more specific things like airlines, trains, accommodations, etc. that would be wonderful!

 

Thanks in advance!!


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#2 of 22 Old 10-01-2013, 03:11 PM
 
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Hi,

I live in Australia and used to live in Melbourne. The things you've picked out are certainly some of the best natural attractions in Australia but you're right about the distances and costs.

Around Victoria the Grampians are lovely and the Great Ocean Road is beautiful. You could hire a car and do both of those yourself. Have a look at www.visitvictoria.com for lots of things to do and information on how to get to places etc

Everything else you mentioned is, as you say, a long way from Melbourne. How long do you have? Buses are the cheapest way to travel usually, although you can sometimes get great deals on flights from Melbourne to Cairns (reef). But of course buses are also the slowest and you're looking at two-three days travel.

Train travel is fairly limited around Australia and it is expensive and not much faster than buses.

Sorry, I'm not much help. I'm very happy to answer more specific questions if you have them but without knowing your budget and timeframe I can't be more specific :-)

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#3 of 22 Old 10-01-2013, 07:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much Kate!  I'll check out the site you posted and come back with more specific questions.  :thumb


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#4 of 22 Old 10-03-2013, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, I'll start by asking about a few things listed below.  Are they worth the money?  Worth the time/money to get there from Melbourne?

 

Eureka Skydeck: http://www.eurekaskydeck.com.au/
one of the world's tallest views from a building ($18.50/person)
 

Queen Victoria Market: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/australia/melbourne/shopping/market/queen-victoria-market
Southern hemisphere's largest open air market, Tues, Thurs-Sun

 
The 12 apostles are one of the 7 natural wonders of the world
 

90 minutes from Melbourne, fairy penguins come out of the ocean ever night of the year at sunset

Otway National Park: http://www.otwayflytreetopadventures.com/
2.5-3.5 hours from Melbourne depending on the route (3.5 hours if using Great Ocean Rd), Treetop adventure- highest elevated walkway in the world ($25/person), zip lining ($115/person)

 

 

This is just a start, I know...  Also, is there a place you can hike through or get a tour through for indigenous animal sightings near Melbourne?  Hanging Rock?


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#5 of 22 Old 10-07-2013, 03:11 AM
 
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Ok, I'm back. Sorry for the delay.

Sky deck: when I did it, it was free. I'm not sure I would have paid to do it. It's a view of the city but that's it KWIM.

Vic markets: if you like markets then I would definitely try to do this. Especially as the cost/travel should be fairly minimal, depending on where in Melbourne you're staying. Tram/train travel is pretty good around the city and you can get multi-trip tickets which cut costs and can be used for all three.

Weedy sea dragons: I haven't done this but I think it would be pretty cool.

Great Ocean Rd/Twelve Apostles: I really like this trip. Very beautiful and the apostles are eroding so they won't be there forever. A girlfriend and I did a road trip and camped at Apollo Bay.

Phillip Is/penguin parade: I went to Phillip Is as a volunteer medic for the Grand Prix so I didn't have time to do the penguin parade. I'm not sure I would trek all the way down there just for that but the island is quite scenic.

Otway NP: didn't do the walkway or zip line but, if you are doing the Great Ocean Rd then I would try to incorporate the Otway NP. Very beautiful forests. It's a long time ago but I seem to recall plenty of walking tracks so you could easily get into the forest and do little short jaunts or longer treks.

Not sure what to suggest to see native animals. Of course you might get lucky doing some of the Otway walking tracks but I don't know of any guided walks. Some of the more interesting animals are nocturnal though so if you came across a guided night walk that would probably be worthwhile.

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#6 of 22 Old 10-07-2013, 03:22 AM
 
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Just did a quick search and there is a company called Otway Eco Tours. They offer some big walks but at the bottom of the Great Ocean Road page it says they can organise tours to see echidnas, kangaroos, koalas etc.

There are also some suggestions here

http://www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/Great-Ocean-Road/Activities-and-attractions/Nature-and-wildlife/Wildlife-and-zoos

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#7 of 22 Old 10-08-2013, 07:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you!!  I appreciate the insight on these things.  I will check out the link again and see what they offer. 

 

As for getting to the GBR and Uluru from Melbourne... it seems like a flight is the way to go, though I see the train is also an option (except that will take several days).    We haven't get booked our trip until we can plan things out a bit and see how many days would be realistic to both do what we ideally would like to do and how much money we are comfortable spending. 

 

I know that there are several GBR cities you can fly into- you would recommend Cairns?  Do you have any information about lodging?  Would you suggest staying on the mainland and taking a cruise out to the reef or staying on an island and if so, which island?

 

And Uluru... I'm dying to see it, but I'm just not sure it's realistic with a flight into Alice Springs, lodging in one of the most expensive parts of Australia due to the lack of options...  Any thoughts?

 

Are there any other "must sees" that you just wouldn't let a friend leave Australia without seeing?


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#8 of 22 Old 10-08-2013, 01:47 PM
 
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Uluru is spectacular but yes, sooo expensive. I wouldn't suggest flying into Alice Springs unless you specially want to go there too. You can fly direct to Yulara (the community nearby). I then hired a car as it is about a 20-30 minute drive (IIRC) to the rock and Kata-Tjuta (The Olgas). What time of year will you be coming? A lot of the walks around Ularu are closed in summer due to extreme heat. There is still plenty you can see but not everything.

Cairns is definitely my preferred city (although I am a tad biased as I live here :-). ) I would stay on the mainland both for cost reasons and to give you the opportunity to see other things as well. If you did come to Cairns I would suggest you consider also visiting Cape Tribulation - one of the only low land wet tropical rainforests left in the world (google cape tribulation or wet tropics North Queensland) - which is about 3hrs drive from Cairns.

There are a squillion places to stay in Cairns(covering all budgets) several companies do daily reef trips and you can do day tours to Cape Trib and the Atherton Tablelands. My BIL&SIL were here last Christmas and used Barefoot Tours which they were very happy with. You can also hire a car obviously.

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#9 of 22 Old 10-09-2013, 05:06 PM
 
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We just did a trip to Carnarvon Gorge in Central Queensland. It was absolutely amazing, one of the most beautiful places i've been to, has aboriginal rock paintings and is a very special place. You can only get there by road, but you could hire a campervan or car and travel out there.

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#10 of 22 Old 10-09-2013, 05:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oooo!  Thanks Shelly!


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#11 of 22 Old 10-09-2013, 08:09 PM
 
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#12 of 22 Old 11-14-2013, 06:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, we're finally booking tickets and it looks like we can use frequent flyer miles within Australia, too.  So we can book a ticket INTO Alice Springs, then down to Melbourne, then up to Cairns or Brisbane, and then back to the states.  So with the prospect of being able to see both my #1 and #2 spots, I have some different questions...

 

1.  It's 440km from Alice Springs to Uluru... do you have a recommendation for lodging and travel been these two cities?  I don't think our miles will get us directly to Yulara.

 

2.  What else would you recommend seeing/doing in the Uluru/Alice Springs area?  We will have a couple days there most likely.

 

3.  Which GBR city would you recommend the most for not just reef touring, but also for other things to do as we'll have a few days there as well.  We can fly to either Cairns or Brisbane.  I know that Kate recommends Cairns... any thoughts on Brisbane?

 

4.  And then what things do you recommend in that city?

 

THANK YOU!!!


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#13 of 22 Old 11-14-2013, 06:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, and we'll be coming in July... I assume everything around Uluru will be open at that time.  But what about the GBR?  Will it be cold?  I guess I need to google that...


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#14 of 22 Old 11-14-2013, 10:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, there is a 6 hour (one way) coach ride from Alice Springs to Uluru... yikes.  That is longer than I thought.  So much travel... LONG flight, another flight, long coach ride, a few hours of sight seeing?  Hmm...

 

So from Cairns to the GBR, looks like there are a lot of cruises that offer sight seeing wet or dry.  Anyone done the helmet diving?

@katelove

@Shelly C


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#15 of 22 Old 11-14-2013, 09:36 PM
 
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Brisbane is the capital of Queensland, but if it's barrier reef you're wanting to see i'd definitely fly to cairns. I live in Brisbane and it's a great city, lots to do and explore, but no barrier reef.

 

I've only done snorkelling, no diving. My husband has dived up there and says it's amazing. Snorkelling is amazing on the reef though as well.

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#16 of 22 Old 11-15-2013, 01:25 AM
 
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Oh yes, everything is long way from everything else here. It can make travelling really difficult. Especially with limited time.

In Alice Springs I really liked the Telegraph Stationhttp://www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au/parks/find/astelegraphstation#.UoXn8WQayc1

And the Royal Flying Doctor Service museum/visitors centre might be of interest to you http://www.flyingdoctor.org.au/about-us/visitor-centres/vc-co/
The RFDS is an iconic Australian institution and a service which is, I believe, unique in the world. I am slightly familiar with Alice Springs because I did a 9 week locum for the RFDS a few years ago. There is also the desert park which is interesting http://www.alicespringsdesertpark.com.au/

Just so you don't get a shock, Yulara isn't a city. It's a very small community centred around the accommodation for people seeing Uluru. Unfortunately all the accommodation is owned by the same group so it is expensive! I stayed in the cheapest room I could get - it was a bathroom and bunkbeds but it was clean and secure. It can get quite cold at night in the dessert in winter so be prepared for that.

Swimming in May will be cold but not freezing. You can probably hire a wet suit on your tour boat if you need it. Check when you book though. As Shelly C said, the GBR doesn't extend as far as Brisbane so Cairns would be the way to go for that.

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#17 of 22 Old 11-15-2013, 07:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks ladies!  My dh had booked our tickets to go to Alice Springs, Cairns, and Melbourne, but the trip was nearly 3 weeks long- something he hadn't told me prior to booking!  My MIL wasn't keen on watching the kids that long and honestly I wasn't keen on leaving that long either, so we had to scramble and reschedule the trip without Alice Springs/Uluru.  Sigh...  I'm disappointed I won't get to see it (this time) but I think balancing our time away and making sure it's fairly relaxed (not too much travel) with seeing things is important.  So we will be flying into Cairns (via Sydney), staying there for a week, then flying down to Melbourne and staying there a week. 

 

We looked up the average temps and it looks like in July it's usually around 70 F (21 C) in Cairns and 60 F (15-16 C) in Melbourne?  Does that seem about right?  That's not really beach weather or swimming weather.  Sounds like a wetsuit might be in order!

 

Now, any recommendations for GBR cruises from Cairns?  We aren't very good swimmers and certainly aren't divers, so easy snorkeling or even glass bottom boat viewing might be it for us.   I'd love to take pictures. 

 

Cape Tribulation sounds amazing- thank you for that recommendation @katelove!

 

And Carnarvon Gorge sounds great, too.  Thanks,@Shelly C !

 

Anything else you ladies would recommend seeing while in Cairns?

 

I SO, SO appreciate your time in helping me out!  I cannot believe our tickets are booked and this is becoming a reality!!!  jumpers.gif


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#18 of 22 Old 11-15-2013, 05:07 PM
 
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Melbourne will be much colder than 15-16 in July. Melbourne is known for very cold winters, can be as low as 3-5 C up to 15C, but around 15C would be the max you would get in Melbourne probably right in the middle of the day. Winter in Cairns is beautiful, temps usually around 24C.

 

Port Douglas is lovely, about a 1 hour drive north of cairns if you wanted to hire a car. There are the rainforests (daintree) around there and cable car, kuranda train. Heaps ot explore. Here's some websites that may help you out.

 

http://www.cairns.qld.gov.au/region/tourist-information

http://www.tq.com.au/

http://www.visitcairns.com.au/cms/Article.aspx?ID=443358d2-fd4a-40ce-b1e2-e81ab3c55877&gclid=CNSj4OCO6LoCFUzkpAod23MAHA

http://www.cairnstoday.com.au/

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#19 of 22 Old 03-07-2014, 01:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi ladies!  We are now in the full-on planning stages of where to stay and what to do while in Cairns.  Any and all recommendations, suggestions, and advice most welcome!  I'd especially love to hear if some things are definitely worth seeing, others not so much, if the package deals I've found sound reasonable or crazy, or if I've missed some MUST see stuff.

 

I have lots of ideas for day trips outside of Cairns, but not really any ideas of where to stay or what to do while actually in the city of Cairns.  I know we'll need at least one day to adjust to the time difference so I figure we'll stay the night in Cairns at least the first night and probably the second as well.  We're not looking for resort quality, but clean and close to restaurants that could offer us vegetarian dining.  Any thoughts @katelove?

 

As for day trips and overnights to near by attractions, this is what I've come up with...

 

An overnight "safari" to Daintree and Cape Tribulation- packages include some of the following: the Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary, Daintree River crossing on cable ferry, Daintree River cruise, Alexandra lookout, Maardja Rainforest boardwalk, giant fig tree at Emmagen Creek, Rex Lookout, Mossman Gorge, tour of Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation Beach walk and then accommodations in Cape Tribulation with the chance the next day to do something like jungle surfing.  Depending on which style of accommodations we choose this will be about $200 per person (USD).

 

Green Island: 45 minute catamaran/ferry ride from Cairns, Green Island Resort includes accommodations/return catamaran ride and: glass bottom boat tour, rainforest walks, snorkeling equipment, kayaking, windsurfing, etc. $600ish for 2 people/night.  Do you think this would satisfy our desire to see the GBR?

 

Fitzroy Island: I can't seem to find much information on this place... how does it compare to Green Island in terms of GBR/snorkeling, etc.?  Everything I've read just talks about how beautiful it is, but that there isn't much food on the island so we should bring our own...?

 

Frankland Island:  I see it's an uninhabited island, so tours would just go there and come back.  Probably not the best for poor swimmers like dh and me.

 

Tully River Rafting: dh has requested river rafting and this seems to be it.  I see day trips from Cairns running about $180ish/person (USD)

 

Atherton Tableland: I see there are sample itineraries on the area's website, but we aren't sure we'll be renting a car.  So I see tour packages for about $150/person (USD) that include a cruise on Lake Barrine, giant curtain fig tree and the tall pines with a guided walk, platypus sightings at Tarzali Lakes Aquaculture Center, swimming in Millaa Millaa Falls, tour of Paronella Park and view Mena Creek Falls and the gardens/castle ruins.

 

 

I looked up Carnarvon Gorge and while it sounds amazing, it appears to be a 12 hour drive from Cairns.  I don't think we'll be able to swing that with everything else we're doing.

 

@Shelly C thanks for the links!


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#20 of 22 Old 03-07-2014, 03:57 PM
 
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this is another great website that will have lots of information... would be worthwhile looking at. It's the Australian tourist commission website.

 

http://www.australia.com/

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#21 of 22 Old 03-07-2014, 08:46 PM
 
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For accommodation in Cairns I'd suggest something on the Esplanade. That is also where the main restaurant strip and tourist hub is as well so you'll be able to walk to eat and most tours will pick up from your hotel. I don't have any particular insights into quality but I can talk about location if you let me know which ones your considering.

The Cape Trib tour sounds good.

My BIL & SIL did a Barefoot Tours day tour of the tablelands and really enjoyed it.

It been 30 years since I went to either Green or Fitzroy Is. but I think the reef around both is pretty good. You could also just do a day reef trip out of Cairns if you didn't actually want to stay on one of the islands.

Whitewater rafting is weather dependant and July is the middle of the dry season. I'd suggest you email them and see how likely it is that they will be operating then.

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#22 of 22 Old 03-08-2014, 05:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Kate, I'll look into Barefoot tours and see what they have to offer for the Tablelands.  As for the rafting, their site says Tully River is a controlled river so it flows all the time.  But it is good advice to contact all these tour companies when booking just to make sure nothing is a surprise!

 

I'll check out the Esplanade to see what's there and post again.

 

As for the islands, it does sound like they're both good for snorkeling as they are considered "true coral cays."  Hopefully that would satisfy our desire to see the coral reef since we don't plan on diving or anything.

 

Shelly, thanks for the website... I went there and was reminded I need to get a tourist visa!  I'll get on that!


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