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First time in Australia guidance needed!

Plymouth, United...
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First time in Australia guidance needed!

Hi All

Me and my husband (late 40's/50's) are visiting Aus for the first time. Arriving 12th July for 3 weeks.

We land in Sydney and fly out of Brisbane, what we do in between is the question?

Ideas we have are definitely snorkelling GBR, spending time in Sydney, Gold Coast and seeing Whitehaven beach, maybe cruise for a couple of nights? Also 4wd tours on Fraser Island looks fun.

Would it be a different experience snorkelling from Cairns/Port Douglas to Whitsunday Islands?

Also would like to do whale spotting tour.

Not sure if we should fly between destinations or hire a car for some of it?

Finally should we make time to fly to Ayres Rock for a night or two?

I have heaps of questions and have spent hours trawling through the different threads!!

Many thanks

Melbourne, Australia
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1. Re: First time in Australia guidance needed!

If you want to see whales and are interested in a 4WD tour to Fraser Island then I would suggest staying in Hervey Bay for 2-3 nights. Not much to do in the town itself (though I do recommend a walk along the pier at Urangan) but it's the main base for whale tours and Fraser Island tours. I know the whales are out in August so just check they're around in July as well.

If you are flying out of Brisbane and you want to include Uluru then I would fly there direct from Sydney. I don't know if there are direct flights between Uluru and Brisbane, but possibly there are between Uluru and Cairns as the Sydney-Uluru-Cairns route is heavily promoted in Asia. However to do Uluru properly you probably need 2 nights so that you can do Kata Tjuta as well. Be sure to take in sunrise and sunset - magical. Also, with your suggestions in Queensland, at some stage I would recommend going to Cairns and working your way down the coast. Be aware it's a long trip so you need to plan your stays, but it's really it's the only way you're going to be able to take in Cairns, Whitsundays, Fraser Island before getting back to Brisbane. Overall sounds like a great framework for a trip - just need to work out the most efficient way of doing it.

Edited: 9:55 pm, May 14, 2014
Plymouth, United...
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2. Re: First time in Australia guidance needed!

Thanks Simone

So are you suggesting flying to Uluru from Cairns rather than Sydney? Also any suggestions of where to stay in Uluru, seems limited from my research.?

When you say working way down the coast, do you mean hiring a car and doing so, or flying parts of it?

On the subject of flying, does anybody know about flight packages if you are doing a number of flights? The only way it seems you can buy them is if you purchase an international flight with the same or partner airline.

Brisbane, Australia
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3. Re: First time in Australia guidance needed!

Fly to Uluru from Sydney, then fly from Uluru to Cairns.

Depending on how much time you have from Cairns, I would hire a car and visit Port Douglas and head south to Whitsundays, Hervey Bay/ Fraser Island , Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast.

Places like Port Douglas and Whitsundays are beautiful in their own way while the reef quality is probably not that much different. Sone will argue. I would visit both.

Bring on your questions, we are happy to help.

Plymouth, United...
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4. Re: First time in Australia guidance needed!

Thanks Surfoz, I have plenty of questions!

We have 3 weeks in total current plan is....

1. Sydney 4 nights

2. Fly to Uluru stay 2 nights. Where to stay, what to do? Tour?

3. Fly to Cairns, hire car drive to Port Douglas. Visit skyrail, GBR tour relax on beach. 4 nights

4. Fly to Whitsunday Islands, where is nearest airport? Thinking of sailing trip for 2 nights? Where to stay for another 2 nights?

5. Fraser Island next. Should we hire a car from Airlie and drive down or use other form of transport? Thinking of 2 night tour of the island

6. Then down to sunshine, Gold Coast and Brisbane for last 4/5 nights. Ideas welcome!

Once I have this structure in place I can start filling in the detail with tours, hotels and car hire.

Thanks for all your brilliant suggestions

Brisbane, Australia
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5. Re: First time in Australia guidance needed!

Wow what a great trip.

Whitsunday Coast or Proserpine airport , I don't think you can fly from Caitns, could be wrong..

Uluru and kata juta are awesome for hiking , there are other commercial tours sounds of silence etc. kings canyon is fantastic but not enough time

Check out wavelength at port Douglas for great snorkelling trip

Darwin, Australia
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6. Re: First time in Australia guidance needed!

Yes you can fly from Cairns to Hamilton Island. Its about 1.15 hour flight

Do you want to go to Uluru- or it is a perceived must see? Only reason I ask is that its an expensive detour if you are just ticking it off IYKWIM. Accommodation at Yulara near Uluru is limited- yes- so you choose between hotel, camping or more budget self catering, or a luxury camp. You will not find much else out there. Its also 3 hr flight from east coast. So you need to factor in when flights arrive and leave and take this into account in travel days as you can lose lots of time this way .

Syd 4 n

Uluru 2

PD 4

Whitsundays 4

Hervey Bay 4 ( you need to be there night before and when yo u come off island after tour , so it may end up needing 4 nights here)

Sunshine Coast 2

Brisbane 1( to fly out)

This doesnt allow a night to stop on way from Whitsundays to Hervey Bay which will be at least a straight 7 hour drive.

I think you are trying to see a bit much - however, it is possible if you really keep your travel times tight.

Darwin, Australia
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7. Re: First time in Australia guidance needed!

At Uluru I would recommend hiring a car over a tour. It's very easy to find your way around and that way you can go at your own pace. The base walk around Uluru is great.

Melbourne, Australia
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8. Re: First time in Australia guidance needed!

+1 for hiring a car at Uluru and walking around the base ie doing your own thing rather than a tour. And yes I did mean fly Sydney-Uluru-Cairns - sorry I wasn't clear. I actually like the idea of flying from Cairns to Mackay or Prosperine and driving down the coast from there (assuming you can do a one way with the car hire). Agree that with a 2 day tour of Fraser Island you probably need a night either side in Hervey Bay. The town itself isn't much to write home about but obviously handy for Fraser Island and surrounds.

I've driven the stretch of coast between Hervey Bay and Brisbane a few times and can suggest the following. A detour to Rainbow Beach, especially on a sunny day, is well worth it. A stunning stretch of coast line with the beach sweeping around the bay. Possibly my favourite beach in Australia (along with Port Douglas). Sunshine Coast - you can easily fill a few days here. The hinterland drive along the Blackall Ranges through Montville and Maleny is lovely. Noosa is upmarket but unlike many I love it there - I love the walk through the national park along the coast and up to the headland. Also highly recommend breakfast or simply a coffee at Bistro C overlooking the beach. Glass House Mountains are an interesting detour - after that as you head south you start reaching Brisbane's outer northern suburbs. You can probably do Brisbane in a day - really not much to offer tourists. Personally I'm not a fan of the Gold Coast (Sunshine Coast wins hands down for me) but I understand why people might like to visit there, especially if they have children. In my view the beaches north of Brisbane are far superior as you don't get the shadow of the high rise over them in the afternoon.

Australia
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9. Re: First time in Australia guidance needed!

Sounds like a well thought out trip.

Snorkelling in all places is similar - but different in prices. Port Douglas / Cairns is probably cheaper than Airlie Beach / but more to choose from in Airlie. Depending how long you want to spend in the water - remember July is the middle of winter - so snorkeling will be more pleasant the further north. It's still a reasonable temperature in most places above Fraser, but can get cold. (Many of the Cairns tours drive up to Port Douglas then go out to the reef from there).

I have done a 3 day yachting/sailing cruise around the Whitsundays which included Whitehaven. I went with bareboat charters - it was great.

Also note you can fly from Cairns direct to Hamilton Island, (the biggest island in Whitsundays) and many of the resorts pick you up from there. If you're staying on the mainland and go out each day then fly into Proserpine and get the bus out to Airlie - about 40 min.

The 2 day tour on Fraser is great and time well spent. However I don't think the whales will be there by July - you might see them coming up the coast with a tour on the Gold Coast prior to leaving (seaworld do a good tour).

Edited: 8:25 am, May 18, 2014
Plymouth, United...
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10. Re: First time in Australia guidance needed!

Wow thanks all!

After careful consideration and taking into account all you have said we have decided to remove Uluru from our itinerary. We will have to have a future trip to include it with Darwin, Alice springs and the coast of the North West!

So this gives us a valuable extra 2 days. Also re thinking the sailing trip. Thinking now to stay on Hamilton Island or Airlie and doing some trips from there. Hamilton Island seems expensive and there is obviously much more choice on mainland. Any idea which airline flys from Cairns to Prosperine, can't find a flight!

Agree with you Simone, driving the coast from Whitsunday to Brisbane, stopping off for tour of Fraser Island ( and other places along the way) sounds great! Thanks for all the fantastic suggestions of places to stop off. How many days do we need for this, within the realms of what we have.

Regarding the whales, it will be the very end of August we will be there. Our flight leaves Brisbane 1st August!

Feel like I'm getting there, however all I have booked so far is hotel in Sydney, so need to get on!!