First time in Australia. Opinions wanted!
Replies: 20 - Last Post: Jan 23, 2013 4:01 AM Last Post By: ThurstonHowell4th
Dec 13, 2012 4:13 PM
First time in Australia. Opinions wanted!My wife and I will be making our first ever trip to Australia at the end of May, coming from California, and staying for about three weeks or so. We are in our early-mid 30's, and love the outdoors, major cities, good food, wildlife,and the occasional beach day. We're not into night clubs but love a good beer or three. We're both in reasonably good shape and want to be active, whether that means hiking a mountain or swimming in a swimming hole. Is this itinerary reasonable? Is it too ambitious? As this is the first, and probably last time we'll ever be in Australia, we are trying to see and experience as much as possible. Also, we do not want to rent a car.
May 24- Arrive in Cairns. Get over the jetlag, Visit the GBR (would love any info on guide operators), spend a day visiting the Daintree rainforest.
May 28 - Fly to Darwin in the evening. Overnight in Darwin
May 29-30. Take The Ghan to Alice Springs (this is not negotiable)
May 31-June 5. 6 day backpacker tour to Adelaide, hitting the red centre, Flinders, Coober Pedy etc. (I have seen a lot of these tours, and if anyone has any opinions on the various operators, like Groovy grape or Adventure Tours I would love that)
June 6 Fly from Adelaide to Melbourne
June 9 Fly Melbourne to Sydney
June Fly Sydney back to the US.
I have specific questions on each destination of course, but was really wondering if people felt like this was a reasonable sounding itinerary, and whether you would swap out some things or eliminate other things.
Thank you in advance, I really really appreciate any advice you all might have.
Dec 13, 2012 7:31 PM
1You are covering some distance and more than half seems to be with tour companies so its doable. The companies that take you out to the GBR (Quiksilver)are all pretty much the same, maybe combine a GBR trip from Port Douglas and then a Daintree trip as well Overnight Port Douglas. IMHO the Daintree is not that special. May this year was bloody wet around Port Douglas, next year who knows.
A bus will pick you up from the airport and take you to PD for about 34.00 per person. PD is preferrable to Cairns to spend a night.
Dec 13, 2012 8:59 PM
2Yes that is a good 3 week itinerary, making good use of flights and tours. You are right that the Ghan is not negotiable but I love trains so am biaised.
I have had backpackers stay at my house via Couchsurfing who have used Groovy Grape and Adventure Tours and they enjoyed it no matter the company it was with. So choose either one mate.
As you only have 1 night in darwin I would recommend going down to the Wharf for a seafood dinner. Google it for more info.
Dec 13, 2012 9:14 PM
3Have dived with Quicksilver - cracking company!
Have done the trip from Adelaide to Coober and back.....awesome experience!
That's my 5 cents worth ;-)
Dec 13, 2012 9:28 PM
4If you like a beer or 3 then make sure when you are in my city, Adelaide you try the different Coopers Ale varieties. It is the last family owned brewery in Australia.
Dec 13, 2012 11:45 PM
5Only change I would suggest is a detour to Uluru from Alice Spring south. Might not be your cuppa, but if icons are on the itinerary, then you'd be silly to miss it.... but maybe the 6 day tour covers this.
Dec 14, 2012 2:36 AM
6As well as Coopers, which is a nice but a mass produced variety, there are lots of smaller ale brewer options which are more available in the larger cities and they are worth making an effort to try.
Melbourne is a sports mad kind of place, take a look while you are there, there will be some Aussie rules on so you might try that (you may not get all the rules but the atmosphere and experience should make it worth it). A slightly different experience might be a coach trip to the snowfields. I think you can still do the 5.30am-ish bus to Mt Buller and it might be fun (if there's enough/any snow).
Be aware that 8-10 June is a long weekend, the Monday being a public holiday but I'm not sure what that means for things (galleries, museums) not being open.
I know it is the obvious but take seriously any 'don't swim here' signs at swimming holes. I'm pretty sure you would but at least some don't.
Dec 14, 2012 3:48 AM
7Agreed with others that that is reasonable in your time frame. You'll have warm weather to start with, then cooler as you head south. You probably realize that Australia is about as big as the contiguous USA, but with less population than California. All you can do in a short trip is sample different parts of the country. Which is what you are doing. Agree worth trying to attend an AFL (Aussie Rules football game) in Melbourne - just for the atmosphere. If you have a pocket radio, matches are described live on both AM & FM stations, so that helps understand what's happening. Melbourne & Sydney are both nice cities by world standards - different, good points and bad points. Plenty to see just walking around both from a downtown base. Both have good public transport. At present, Melbourne has the better 'day pass' system (MKYI card), but Sydney is in the process of introducing something similar (OPAL card). The Destinations section of this site has lots of good info. If you want to know good day walks around Sydney (there are plenty), or good public transport trips, just ask. A good day walk in Melbourne is train to Upper Fern Tree Gully, then walk up through the adjacent national park to One-Tree Hill. Sometimes you can see the famous Lyre Birds. June will be a bit too cold to be swimming in Sydney & Melbourne. By the way, Melbourne is not pronounced 'mel-BOURNE' - rather as 'Mel-bn' (almost one syllable). And in Sydney, 'Circular Quay' (a key transport hub for tourists) is pronounced 'Circular Key'.
Dec 14, 2012 5:38 AM
Dec 14, 2012 7:28 AM
9Wow what an amazing response. Thank you all so much!
I will have some more specific questions as time goes one, but one general one I have is regarding all these flights.
As an American, we've come to expect a certain amount of aggravation with flying, and on some routes delays are so common they are almost routine. So I'm curious, can I expect Qantas around Australia to be generally a smooth experience, or should we anticipate some issues?
Also, for anyone who has made the trip from the West Coast of the US to Australia, how bad was the jet lag and how long did it take to "recover?"
Thank you all again so much!
Dec 14, 2012 11:00 AM
10few years ago i arrived early to LAX because i had connecting flights so decided to get to LAX day earlier. out oif curiosity i showed upo at virgin counter and got a flight day earlier than planned. no worries since was booking into hostel they had space. never been one to have so called jet lag. so no help there. but remember to take a cushion on board with you rather than just those kneck things it is a long flight might as well be comfy.
Dec 14, 2012 11:12 AM
11did the ghan ride. unfortunate you not allocated much tine for darwin. they have real good tours there. train ride down you get stop over at katherine not much there to speak of but many go on the gorge tour which they pump. myself did not bother, from train its a bus ride to town while in alice be sure to buy some paintings from street vendors. make nice sounvanires. in alkice trhere is a truck maintenance yard just aske trucker how to get to it i walked to it and got magnificent photoos of the road trains even sitting in cab of one thats unique australian thing.
Dec 14, 2012 5:44 PM
12The major internal airlines in Australia (Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin) are usually very reliable. Tiger Airlines the true low cost carrier is a bit more of a mixed bag.
A point to remember in Sydney. The international and domestic terminals are in separate buildings and you need to transfer by bus so you need to allow plenty of time to transfer you AND your luggage when you have domestic/international connecting flights.
Dec 14, 2012 6:02 PM
13when in Adelaide be sure to visit the wildlife farm there you get real close to koalas. roos etc and see other wildlfe as you wander around i took the transit bus from terminal about 8 in the morning since the buses are i few and far between to protect the tour operators i gues not well advertised but i found out about had to leave around 1 or so in afternnon otherwise its a costly cab ride.to adelaide city center, check with trhe bus transit people pretty sure trhey will help out at the farm is a koala feeding opportunity but real get in line que is essential for the photos with them . cause it gets long real quick head for it as soon as you get there.
Dec 14, 2012 11:08 PM
14In relation to Poppageorges #14 about wildlife farm. There are 3 around Adelaide. the first one is Warrawong Sancturary. You can get there by public transport. It is free to enter and the Koala's there are wild. no enclosures and they come and go via overhanging trees to the surrounding eucalypt forests of the Adelaide Hills. they can be hard to spot but I usually see 3 to 4 in tree tops each visit. They have a small population (captive) of Kangaroos and wallabies, as well as platypus, but they are very shy and I have only seen them twice in over 20 visits.
The most famous wildlife park is Cleland near Mount Lofty. Can also get close by public transport. They have a a variety of Australian wildlife and you can pay to hold a Koala.
My personal favourite for taking travellers to is Gorge Wildlife Park. It is a family run park at Cudlee Creek. No public transport that I know of to get there though. Here you can hold Koala's for free 3 times a day. It has different species of Wallabies and has Eastern Grey and Red Kangaroos.
You will see kangaroos in the wild on your trip, no doubt, especially on your tour.
(5 star Hotel)
From US$255.54 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$187.39 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$30.28 per night