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Picking apart my Northern Itinerary :)

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Atlanta, GA
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Picking apart my Northern Itinerary :)

Hello!!

I'm planning a 4 week vacation, and I'm hoping to get some detailed advice on my Northern portion of the trip.

Background: My boyfriend and I will be travelling, mid-20s, like to see and do many different things, like to be "on the go". Not "kid friendly" while on vacation. Travelling end of Nov. We are open to different types of transportation. Will most likely take a flight from Sydney to ... sunshine coast area?

Our temp. itinerary puts us in Sunshine coast area on Nov. 24 travelling north somehow to Cairns and then flying to Southern Australia. This gives us 10 days to hit all we need to hit.

Suggestions so far are:

Caloundra: 2 days

*maybe Elliot island*

Whitsundays Islands: 2 days

Cairns: 4 days

Daintree: 1 day

Cape Tribulation: 1 day

Interests include: I would like to hug a koala. Also, I hear that Steve Irwins Zoo is pretty cool. Surfing for a day, as is snorkelling and maybe a dive or two.

Can somebody help me pick apart this itinerary? We will be going during Schoolies week, and I'd like to avoid it as much as possible. I might be spending too much time in Cairns?

Thanks everyone!! You are all so nice! :)

-Cory

Buderim, Australia
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1. Re: Picking apart my Northern Itinerary :)

Drop Caloundra, substitute Mooloolaba or Noosa for starters. They are better for couples. Get your cheap flights from Sydney to Brisbane (qantas.com.au, jetstar.com.au, virginblue.com.au); pick up your car at the airport and drive north to the sunshine coast and stop at Australia Zoo on the way. Now you can do a Fraser Island trip from the sushine coast - it's a long day but worth it. Alt. you can drive to Hervey Bay and tour Fraser from there and also a day flight to Lady Elliot Island (only if good day). Back to Bris airport and fly to the Whitsundays (Proserpine or Hamilton Island) and stay there for a couple of days. Then fly to Cairns and stay there (northern beaches) or Port Douglas. Do your reef trips - make sure you go to Agincourt Reef out of Port Douglas - Poseidon cruises are excellent. I wouldn't stay at Daintree or Cape Trib - too isolated for me but you might like it. You can tour them from Cairns or Port D or an easy drive yourself. You can see all the rainforest near Cairns with the cable car trip to Kuranda. Flecker botanical gardens near Cairns airport are impresive. See my previous postings for Port Douglas for more info.

Buderim, Australia
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2. Re: Picking apart my Northern Itinerary :)

Oh, and four to five days should be sufficient for Cairns/Port Douglas/Daintree/Cape Trib. Use a day or two for Fraser Island. Schoolies are mainly on the Gold Coast so avoid it.

Atlanta, GA
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3. Re: Picking apart my Northern Itinerary :)

Hi Lockie,

Thanks for your thoughts! :)

I've revised my schedule according to your input, but I have a few questions.

1) I figured out I have a few hotel points that I can redeem. How about the Hyatt Regency Coolum? Would that be a good alternative to Mooloolaba or Noosa?

2) Coming from Sydney, should we fly into the Sunshine Coast rather than Brisbane? We would drive down to the zoo, but that way when we go north to Hervey Bay, we dont have to drive back to Brisbane to drop the car?

3) Just checked actually, and the guidebook says its about 4-5.5 hours drive up to Hervey bay. Should we just fly or bus, and then take the next flight out of Hervey Bay area up to Whitsundays islands?

Cool!

Ok, so my new itinerary includes:

Mooloolaba/Coolum/Noosa: 2 days

Hervey Bay: 2 days

Whitsundays Islands: 3 days

Northern Beaches of Cairns / Port Douglas: 4 days

Haha - don't take too much notice that I added another day up north. ;)

-Cory

Calgary, Canada
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4. Re: Picking apart my Northern Itinerary :)

I'm still in the early planning stages, too. But I have noticed that the cheap flights are generally only to and from major centers. For example, we're planning to fly from Brisbane to Proseperine to go to the Whitsundays, but there's no direct flight from Prosperine to Cairns.

So rather than flying back to Brisbane to get to Cairns, costing about double the Prosperine flight, we're probably going to pick up our car in Airlie Beach and drive to Cairns. It's about an 8 hour drive, and it'll cost us a little extra for the one way rental than just renting it after we get to Cairns. But we also get to see a little more of the coast.

Buderim, Australia
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5. Re: Picking apart my Northern Itinerary :)

You can fly direct into the sunshine coast from Sydney but flights are limited and I doubt you could get a cheap fare but if you can then do it. Brisbane is the hub for most flights north so you have to return there. Hervey Bay has a small airport where you can fly back to Bris.

The Hyatt is a golf resort back from the beach with beach access near Coolum and has good accommodation so use your points up and is half way between Mooloolaba and Noosa.

There are free coaches to Australia Zoo on the SC.

Buderim, Australia
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6. Re: Picking apart my Northern Itinerary :)

You can fly from Hamilton Island to Cairns with Qantas to save the drive to Cairns. Airlie Beach is the cheaper place to stay in the Whitsundays so go on day trips to the various islands or stay on one you like. Hayman Is is the fanciest and most expensive.

Atlanta, GA
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7. Re: Picking apart my Northern Itinerary :)

Lockie,

Can you surf in the Sunshine coast? Or is this something that is unique to the Gold Coast?

Sorry for the silly question!

Buderim, Australia
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8. Re: Picking apart my Northern Itinerary :)

Sure can. GC and SC have similar beaches with lots of surf. Mooloolaba has the advantage of both surf and calm water due to a part protected area from the sea so you can suit yourself.

Also Hervey Bay is a 3.5hr drive from Brisbane so you might prefer to drive back rather than fly if going there.

Geelong...
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9. Re: Picking apart my Northern Itinerary :)

Hello Cory, great to see you using all the advice from the forum to make up a great holiday. If I venture up north, I stay mostly at Alexandra Headlands, which is between Maloolooba and Maroochydore. As Lockie says, there is surf right along that coast all the way from Caloundra right up to Noosa. Coolumn is half way from Maroochy to Noosa and is a very nice little spot. There is also a surf beach here as well as one of the premier golf courses in Australia. I often do the climb up Coolumn Rock which is the only elevation close to the sea between Maroochy and Noosa, so you get a grand view and some great exercise.

If you stay there you may need a car, it is about 20mins drive from Coolumn to Maroochy and 10mins to Noosa. It is also only 10mins drive to the Sunshine Coast airport (called Maroochydore Airport) so definitely fly to there if you can...that will save a 90min drive from Brisbane.