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Best Guide Books? And Should We Drive?

Tampa, Florida
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Best Guide Books? And Should We Drive?

My husband and I are planning a trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji in the latter part of this year. We are thinking we will NOT do an escorted tour because we want to spend several days on a liveaboard dive boat and we also want to go to Uluru/Ayers Rock along with other traditional stops on our Australian leg of the trip, but we can't find a tour that accommodates both. So I am looking for the best guide book/s that will help us plan our trip. I particularly like guide books that provide off the beaten path type of walking tours & maps within an area/city, along with good coverage of the typical where to stay, where to eat, what to see information. Please provide recommendations.

Second question: is it worth our time to drive the 1500 or so miles from Sydney to Cairns? Are there interesting things to see along the way? Or should we fly?

Thanks in advance for your input and recommendations.

South Pole
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1. Re: Best Guide Books? And Should We Drive?

guide book? DK eyewitness Australia.

how long have u got for the Sydney to cairns drive?

3 weeks?

lots on interesting places on the way as well as lots of tedious driving thru nothing.

the coast roads hardly ever see the coast and u have to do loops and detours to get the best of them.

and we are not talking interstate type hwys here.....more like county roads (or worse).

Melbourne
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2. Re: Best Guide Books? And Should We Drive?

When you say "the latter part of this year", are you talking about our summer months? Its the monsoonal season up north and will be hot and humid. I would fly.

Melbourne, Australia
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3. Re: Best Guide Books? And Should We Drive?

I like the DK books, though have started using the Lonely Planet pocket city guides as they are small:

…lonelyplanet.com/australia/pocket-sydney-3/

…lonelyplanet.com/pacific/…

Brisbane, Australia
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4. Re: Best Guide Books? And Should We Drive?

Fly .... the trip between Cairns and Sydney is 90% scrub or forest. There are probably quite a few nice little stops on the way but seriously.... it's mostly nothing. If you really want to do a road trip drive from Sydney to Brisbane (still monotonous) and fly to Cairns from there.

Tampa, Florida
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5. Re: Best Guide Books? And Should We Drive?

Thanks so much for your reply. It is helpful.

Tampa, Florida
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6. Re: Best Guide Books? And Should We Drive?

Thanks for your input. Based on what you and other have said, I think we will fly. And thanks for the recommendation on the book.

Tampa, Florida
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7. Re: Best Guide Books? And Should We Drive?

Thanks for your input. Based on what you and other have said, I think we will fly.

Tampa, Florida
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8. Re: Best Guide Books? And Should We Drive?

Thanks for your reply on the guides. Very helpful.

Blueys Beach...
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9. Re: Best Guide Books? And Should We Drive?

I'm sorry to say I would not consider visiting Uluru in the summer. Our trips have always been in the winter when the nights are cool and the days beautiful. You are from Florida so perhaps the heat is not a concern?

If you do go to Uluru you should be able to find one of the outback six wheel drive camping tours.

The drive from Brisbane to Cairns includes a lot of long stretches of unattractive scenery so I would agree that you are better to fly. Unless of course you have plenty of time to stop off along the way.

Boulder, Colorado
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10. Re: Best Guide Books? And Should We Drive?

All the advice here is spot on, so I just want to chime in from an American perspective as an American who has spent a decent amount of time in Australia.

I love seeing Australia by car. If you are on a trip of some length, getting out and seeing some of Australia by car is fantastic. Just be realistic about how much you can drive in one day. I think Sydney to Cairns would be too much, but either Sydney to Brisbane or Brisbane to Cairns could be nice (we have done Sydney to Brisbane but not Brisbane to Cairns). Just keep in mind "highway" does not mean four-lane divided highway here in Australia, it is often a two-lane road. Speed limits on the Pacific Highway vary from 80kph-100kph (there may be some 110 thrown in there, but not much). That is 49-62mph and you do not want to speed. You also don't want to drive after dark outside the cities. The roads don't have reflective paint or signs, so it is very dark and there are lots of animals running around. And, the sights are not right off the highway, you need to drive a ways to get to them. But, when you get there, they are amazing. Google maps is pretty accurate about expected times in my experience, so if you look at the guidebooks, find some places you want to go, and map out how long that would take, then driving part of the way could be a great experience. There are also a lot of helpful threads and trip reports on here about these drives. As an example, we usually drive 1000-1200 miles per day on big road trips in the US. Here in Australia, we find that the maximum we can drive in a day is about 500 miles, and that is just getting from point A to point B, not seeing the sights.

On the guidebooks, I think I may have them all (I am a guidebook junkie) and I am partial to the Rough Guide to Australia and the Frommer's. I usually don't like Frommer's, but it seems to have more of the secondary sights in my opinion. I am a weird one, though, I think, in finding the pictures in the DK distracting- it is a beautiful and comprehensive guide.

You will see a lot of beautiful things just flying, too- either way I am sure you will have a fantastic trip!