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4 week trip to mostly east coast

Edmonton, Canada
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4 week trip to mostly east coast

My apologies in advance for this lengthy post! We are planning a once in a lifetime trip to Australia in April 2014, and would like to see as much as possible in a 4 week period, but still have time to relax and enjoy where we are.

I have found that our most enjoyable travels have been those that involved little planning and spur of the moment decisions, but since we will be visiting during a busy time of the year, we have decided to make some definite plans.

Our original plan was to rent a campervan in Sydney and drive to Cairns, but thanks to the large number of comments and wonderful advice from the posters here, we have decided to fly from point to point. I have made the arrangements and was very happily surprised to find that the cost of flying for 2 was less than that of van rental, campsites and fuel costs.

We are in our mid-50s, and enjoy beach time, snorkeling, cruising through the countryside visiting small towns and markets, animal encounters, beautiful scenery, etc. We both have minor mobility issues, so long difficult hikes are out of the question.

So this is what we have planned so far, we would appreciate any advice or suggestions of what to do at each stop on our itinerary:

We arrive in Sydney on April 4 and plan to spend 5 days there. Have not really made any plans on what to do, other than the usual “must see”.

On April 9, we’ll be renting a car and driving inland to the Mudgee area then coming back to the coast to Newcastle on April 11.

On April 12 we will fly from Newcastle to Brisbane, rent a car and drive to Tweed Heads, where we will stay for 3 nights. This will be a start point for day trips to Byron Bay, Nimbin, Lismore, Lennox Head, and some of the beaches on the south end of the Gold Coast.

April 15 we will drive up to Noosaville and spend 3 nights there. Planning on seeing the Eumundi market and the Australia Zoo.

On April 18, we will drive back to Brisbane airport and fly to Proserpine. We have a hotel booked in Airlie Beach that night, then board a Tall Ship for a 3 night/3 day tour of the Whitsundays. Then another hotel in Airlie beach upon return from the ship on the night of the 22nd.

Since I could not find a direct flight from Proserpine to Cairns, we will rent a car and drive to Townsville, stay there overnight and then fly from Townsville to Cairns. We will rent a car there and drive to Port Douglas for a 7 night stay. Hope to get in a few day trips to the GBR, see Daintree, Mossman, Cape Trib, and Kuranda.

On May 1 we fly from Cairns to Melbourne, thinking of staying the night in Geelong in order to get a head start on the GOR the morning of May 2, probably stay overnight in Port Campbell then back to Melbourne. Not sure of the route, should we continue on to Port Fairy, then back through Dunkeld and Ballarat? Or back through Colac? Is it worth spending a night (May 3) in the Daylesford area?

We will be flying back to Sydney the evening of May 4, so don’t have a lot of time in this area. Not sure if I will be able to fit in Philips Island?

We leave Sydney for home the morning of May 5. So much to see, so little time!

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Docklands Melbourne
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1. Re: 4 week trip to mostly east coast

A little disappointed to not see much time in Melbourne from you...it is the World's Most Liveable City three Years running for good reason....

Darwin, Australia
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2. Re: 4 week trip to mostly east coast

Great itinerary.

The trip from Airlie to Townsville be at least 3 hours, so allow plenty of time to get going and make it a leisurely trip. There are many semi tralier trucks on this section of the Bruce Highway, so be careful. The highway does not have a good reputation as a good rood.

However it is a pretty trip. Stop in Bowen or Ayr for a coffee

In Townsville, try and dirve yp Castle Hill before you hand the car back it has sensational views.. or MT STuart , about 20 min from the centre of town, Breakfast at the C bar on the Strand for being right on the water and views of Magnetic Island

Try to fit in your trip to Australia zoo on your way up to Noosaville or back to Brisbane. You will double back and waste travelling time if you go up to Noosaville and then on another day go to Australia zoo etc.

You can easily spend time other time wandering around Noosa doing the boardwalk at north end of beach to the river mouth and also into the National Park which is a flatish walk and very pretty.

You have heaps of time to relax in PD -and there is alot you can do as you have already researched prob. Daintree , Mareeba etc

I would leave Phillip Island out and spend either more time in the GOR area / Daylesford etc. You will be rushing if you add PI.

Sydney
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3. Re: 4 week trip to mostly east coast

What is the thinking behind Mudgee? and what is your planned route to Newcastle? Are you planning on visiting the Blue Mountains on the way to Mudgee? Are you thinking of stopping in the Hunter on the way to Newcastle from Mudgee? Are you doing the winery thing? Or did you just want to do a loop through the country?

It is only 3-4 hours to Mudgee, and probably the same back to Newcastle, so you can do it easily in a day's drive and still have time for sightseeing, I just think three days isn't going to give you time to do the mountains, Mudgee, the Hunter and Newcastle. If you were doing the winery thing you could get a similar experience in the Hunter, and get a day in the mountains.

Geelong...
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4. Re: 4 week trip to mostly east coast

Re the Gor leg to travel from Geelong down the Princess hwy to Port fairy and returning by the Gor is around 560k of solid driving. The Gor because of the nature of the drive requires fairly intense concentration for much of it. I would suggest that you aim for Apollo Bay on the first night and then stay at either Warrnambool or Port Fairy on the second.

This will enable you to take a more leisurely pace. There is a lot to see and it's best not to be rushed. Torquay, Aireys inlet, Lorne - Erskine falls, Wye and Kenneth rivers are worth visiting and will soon fill in your day.

When you leave Apollo Bay try and take the time to visit Cape Otway, Melba Gully and the twelve apostles etc. Cheese world near Warrnambool is worth a stop, Tower Hill between Warrnambool and Port Fairy is set in a volcanic crater with the chance to see some Aussie Wildlife.

The princess highway between Geelong and Colac is being upgraded and the planned up grade of the Gor will start early in 2014. There will be additional speed restrictions in place in road work zones which means a bit of extra care when driving.

Good luck planning your trip.

Oz
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5. Re: 4 week trip to mostly east coast

Hi,

>>I have made the arrangements and was very happily surprised to find that the cost of flying for 2 was less than that of van rental, campsites and fuel costs.<<

Finally someone listened ! Well done :-)

Sounds like a great trip.

Enjoy

Edmonton, Canada
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6. Re: 4 week trip to mostly east coast

Hi hamiriver, thanks for the great advice, especially about the Australia zoo and the warning about the Bruce highway. We’ll be sure to get an early start from Airlie, and take our time. We have a bit of time before our flight to Cairns that morning, so hopefully will be able to see a few of the things you suggested in Townsville.

Inas66, we thought to go to Mudgee because it seems to be more off the beaten track and although we love the ocean, we wanted to see some of the hinterlands as well. Plan to drive through Katoomba to Mudgee, then across to Merriwa (stop in Munghorn Gap for a few hours?) then down to Newcastle. We will likely bypass Hunter Valley. We didn’t want to drive back to Sydney airport, so thought Newcastle was a good choice instead, but did not really plan to spend any time there other than overnight. I haven’t made any hotel plans for this section of our itinerary, other than in Newcastle, so suggestions would be appreciated..

And Docklands Trikeman, I would have loved to have more time to spend in Melbourne, but just did not have enough time. No offence, but the GOR was a little higher on our must do list than Melbourne city. 

Also, thanks Famrick. For some reason, it seemed to me that Apollo Bay was a fairly short drive (although very twisty) from Geelong and that it would not be too bad to follow the GOR all the way to Port Campbell in 1 day. But I just took a closer look and realized Apollo is about halfway to Port Campbell, so I think I will take your advice. I had hoped to fit in PI or Daylesford, but I guess those won’t be possible. Do you think it necessary to book hotels in advance the first few days of May? Thanks, too, for the heads up about road construction.

One other thing, I would love to see a lyrebird, but have not seen any references. Where would be a likely place to see (or hear) one?

Thanks again for all your advice. This forum has been a great help in my planning!

Oz
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7. Re: 4 week trip to mostly east coast

Hi,

To be certin of seeing a Lyre Bird you would have to visit a wildlife park or do a tour with a reputable birdo. Lyre Birds are usuall found on the rainforest margins and are usually most active around dawn and dusk. They can imitate the sounds of other birds, chainsaws, musical instruments, car doors slamming, etc so listening for calls is usually unproductive. In NSW/SE QLD they are most common on the coastal the hinterland between Sydney and Brisbane.

Dorrigo NP would be a very likely spot to spot them in the wild, near the vistor's centre or the Never Never day visitor area.

Cheers,

Edited: 10:53 pm, December 14, 2013
Edmonton, Canada
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8. Re: 4 week trip to mostly east coast

Hi OZRCFLYER, I read a lot of your posts about campervans. I take it you are not a fan. :-)

Flights from Newcastle to Brisbane, Brisbane to Proserpine, Townsville to Cairns and Melbourne to Sydney came out to a total of $1000 for two of us. (Cairns to Melbourne doesn't count because I used frequent flyer points). When we looked at campervans, it would have been about $2400 for two weeks Sydney to Cairns including the extra insurance charges. If you add up the campground fees and fuel costs it would still come out more expensive or same as flying, car rentals for fewer days, and hotel stays. Plus you get to spend more time at your destinations.

Thanks for the info about the Lyre birds. Saw some on a TV show, and they were absolutely amazing! Dorrigo is a bit further south of Brisbane than we were planning to go, though....

By the way, from your name, I guess you fly remote control planes? That is a hobby of my husband's. Any airfields we should try to get to?

Oz
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9. Re: 4 week trip to mostly east coast

Hi,

If you do a tour from Brisbane or the Gold Coast to Green Mountain, O'Reillys or Lamington you should find some Lyre Birds.

R/C wise this may help.http://www.maaa.asn.au/

Cheers,

Sydney
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10. Re: 4 week trip to mostly east coast

If you're just looking for a country drive, then the drive from Sydney out to Mudgee and back to Newcastle will certainly fir the bill.

It's worth diverting off the Castlereagh to drive through Rylstone. A pretty town, and the Castlereagh itself is fairly unchanging.

Even if you're not into wine, it is worth timing your arrival into Mudgee for a winery lunch - one with a nice view. Take your pick from the list on the tourist webpage.

You pass close to several national parks, Gardens of Stone, Wollemi. There are a few bushwalks there, but take care as they aren't as well developed or as well trafficked as the ones in the Blue Mountains.

There is lots of info on what you can see in the Blue Mountains on the way through. However, if you aren't trying to do the Scenic World/Three Sisters thing, then you can take the Bells Line. Mount Tomah Gardens is a great spot for lunch on a sunny day too.