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Itinerary help requested for 16 day trip in Feb 2013

Pune, India
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Itinerary help requested for 16 day trip in Feb 2013

We are in the early stages of planning a 16-day trip to Australia in February 2013. We are a couple in our 50's, avid travelers, interested in scenery, vistas and natural beauty. Our priorities for this tour would be :

1. Great Barrier Reef : Planning to fly to Cairns, and possibly stay at Port Douglas for this. Should we also include Whitsundays ? How many days ?

2. Ayers Rock : Must see. What other attractions should we combine with this if we plan to fly to Ayers Rock ?

3. Great Ocean Drive : Plan to visit Melbourne, and rent a car for 2-3 days for driving on the Great Ocean road, staying at places on the route.

4. Sydney : Would like to see this iconic city, plus Blue Mountains for a day.

Not too interested in theme parks of the Gold Coast. The trip will probably have to start in Sydney and end in Melbourne (or vice versa), as international flight connections are best from these cities. We plan on using flights for internal travel in Australia. Can rent car for Great Ocean Drive, or anywhere for local driving if required.

Nothing is set as yet. Just to kickstart suggestions, here is a possible itinerary :

Day 1 : Arrive in Sydney in evening

Day 2, 3, 4 : Sightseeing in Sydney, including Blue Mountains

Day 5 : Fly to Cairns, drive to Port Douglas.

Day 5, 6, 7, 8 : Great Barrier Reef; should we include Whitsundays here ? What activities ?

Day 9 : Fly to Ayers Rock

Day 9, 10, 11 : Activities at Uluru and nearby

Day 12 : Fly to Melbourne

Day 13, 14, 15, 16 : Melbourne plus Great Ocean Drive.

Day 17 : Fly back home.

Please give suggestions on itinerary. Suggestions on activities at GBR, Whitsundays (to include ??), Uluru would be most appreciated.

South Pole
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1. Re: Itinerary help requested for 16 day trip in Feb 2013

1. no need for the whitsundays if u have been to PD. a bit 'same same' on a short itinerary

2. kings canyon

u will have to fly thru sydney to get to melbourne from uluru.

might be as well to start your travel in melbourne then cairns, uluru, sydney to save some extra flying time. it's a busy itinerary but doable. dont think about adding extra destinations.

just be aware that cairns will but hot and humid and possibly very wet in february. also there could be the possibility of a cyclone. weather conditions during 'the wet' can disrupt travel plans.

and uluru will have scorching days.

Edited: 15 August 2012, 23:29
Pune, India
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2. Re: Itinerary help requested for 16 day trip in Feb 2013

Thanks for the valuable inputs. Do you think I am allotting the right amount of time for each destination, or would you add/subtract from somewhere ?

London, United...
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3. Re: Itinerary help requested for 16 day trip in Feb 2013

Hi there,

I spent a year travelling round Australia in a campervan, and the east coast was my favourite part, especially Queensland.

If i tell you a few of my highlights between Melbourne and Cairns, perhaps you could research the ones that tempt you and try to work them into your itinerary.

Definately take a day to drive from Cairns, north, to Port Douglas. It is one of the most scenic coastal drives in Australia, with a beautiul rugged feel and long abandoned beaches, it would be hard not to appreciate the view.

Kuranda is a nice place to visit from Cairns. A liitle village high up in the rainforest accessible by cable car and steam train. Get one up, and take the other down. Great views of cairns from the cable car, and a lovely butterfly sanctuary and market when you reach the top. Stop at the lookouts on the way up, for short walks, cascading waterfalls, and Aussie flora and fauna.

The whitsundays are magical. If you are the kind of person who wants to experience tranquil, peaceful, desert island living, then you have to stop here. Even if not, do a days island hopping tour, visit Whitehaven Beach on the uninhabited Whitsunday Island for the ultimate in secluded perfection. They're well worth seeing if you can.

Fraser Island is wonderful. Worlds largest sand island and accessible only by 4wd. There are lakes, ancient trees, wildlife a plenty including dingo's, snakes and sharks off the beach. There's the Maheno shipwreck that lies in the sand, and so much more. It's like nowhere else in Australia.

The Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane is a nice place to stay. Noosa is particularly scenic, and not far from The Glasshouse Mountains which are a sight to behold in themselves.

Lamington and Springbrook national parks around the gold coast area, offer some very picturesque walks in the wild. A tree top climb, waterfalls, little streams to take a pitt stop at. Very pretty area.

Byron Bay is a favourite spot. Australia's easternmost point, and just over the border into New South Wales. There's a lighthouse, glorious views of the beaches down below, and a chance to spot Whales and Dolphins basking in the ocean.

Sydney is my favourite city in the world. It's surprising small, meaning nothing is too far away, but there is so much to do it needs an itinerary all to itself. Climb the Harbour Bridge, my parents are in their 60's and they found that it was easy to do. The steps are very shallow, not at all steep, and it's an awesome view from the top.

The Blue Mountains are lovely, very scenic.

Eden Beach (NSW) is beautiful.

If you had time to head west from Melbourne, then the most spectacular drive in the entire country is on your doorstep. The Great Ocean Road is only 400kms long, but you could spend a week admiring the wonderful vistas and unique scenery. Very highly recommended.

Uluru is incredible, The Olgas nearby are also worth a mention, along with Kings Canyon, The Devils Marbles, and of course Alice Springs. These are all remarkable places, completely unique to the outback of Australia. The flying doctors service in Alice Springs may be of interest, this whole area is an amazing place to explore.

I could go on all night, so I'll force myself to stop there. Hope some of this helps, although wherever you go it will be a wonderful trip.

South Pole
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4. Re: Itinerary help requested for 16 day trip in Feb 2013

no. i think u have the durations about right.

Pune, India
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5. Re: Itinerary help requested for 16 day trip in Feb 2013

Lien, thanks for your comment about my duration at locations.

LauraB53, thanks for the most wonderful suggestions : just what I was looking for. I am planning on driving from Cairns to PD, and to perhaps stay in PD itself during my visit to that part of Queensland. Your suggestion about Kuranda sounds excellent. About Whitsundays (which entices me), how to I get from Cairns to Whitsundays ? Is there a convenient way to get there by boat or something ?

If you note my original post, I am planning on a few days in Sydney (incl Blue Mountains), Uluru and Melbourne, including the Great Ocean Drive. Thanks for the suggestions about places to visit close to Uluru. Very helpful.

Are you suggesting a long drive up the eastern coast ? If so, from where to where ?

Melbourne, Australia
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6. Re: Itinerary help requested for 16 day trip in Feb 2013

Cairns or Brisbane to Whitsundays - quickest and easiest is to fly direct from Cairns or Brisbane to Hamilton Island (Great Barrier Reef airport) - either flight is about 1.5 hours.

You can also go by bus or train (Cairns or Brisbane >Airlie Beach) - either option takes about 10 hours.

Sydney
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7. Re: Itinerary help requested for 16 day trip in Feb 2013

The Whitsundays are lovely - but don't reduce the days at Cairns / Port Douglas to see them. Port Douglas is a better place to set off to see the reef on a short trip.

You can lose a day just getting there from Cairns (although there is a flight to Hamilton Island - fairly expensive for a short trip)

Pune, India
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8. Re: Itinerary help requested for 16 day trip in Feb 2013

Thanks everyone for the helpful suggestions. I think I need a few days to research all the suggestions in depth, before I come back with more specific questions.

Vancouver, Canada
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9. Re: Itinerary help requested for 16 day trip in Feb 2013

I just had a quick look at Google Maps and to travel from Cairns to Airlie Beach (the mainland base for access to the Whitsundays) is 620 km and about 8 hrs of driving time. This is a completely different destination, and not an add on to Port Douglas. You would need to, as noted above, add flights and destinations to your trip, which would mean extending your trip or taking time out somewhere else.

I like the pace of your trip as is, as well as your destinations. Given the time of year, I might be inclined to take one day out of Port Douglas and add it to one of your other destinations, probably Sydney or Melbourne.

You also might want to check about access to Uluru at that time of year. My first trip out there was a very long time ago, and the roads are better now, but I was there in...April I think...and it was still just drying up and the road out to the Olgas (sorry, forgotten the more correct Aboriginal name) wasn't open yet. Not sure if this sort of thing is still an issue during the wet season around there but it may impact your overall plans, so do some research on that.

If you enjoy wildlife, I can recommend some time to see the penguin colony on Philip Island near Melbourne. On our trip in March, we made a point of flying down to Melbourne for a couple of days, just so my kids could see the penguins - a very special opportunity for those of us in the northern hemisphere. This was a real highlight of the entire trip for us. Not everyone gets as worked up about wildlife as I do, but if its your thing, then check it out.

http://www.penguins.org.au/

Edited: 19 August 2012, 00:25
Pune, India
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10. Re: Itinerary help requested for 16 day trip in Feb 2013

Thanks Vancouverite for your thoughtful comments. I am researching all the suggestions in greater detail. I guess it just makes sense to leave out Whitsundays, and focus on Port Douglas/Cairns for the GBR area.