My girlfriend and I are planning a ~4 week trip around Australia in March-April 2014. Her brother and his girlfriend live in Melbourne, so we definitely want to stay some time in and around Melbourne. However, of course we also want to tour the continent. After quite a lot of research online and in guide books, and asking our Australian friends for advice, we’ve come up with the following itinerary. I would love to get some good feedback, both in general, and also on some specific points I’ve indicated below.
Flight Amsterdam – Singapore (or Abu Dhabi) – Melbourne
8 nights Melbourne and around (Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island,…; but what to see and do here we’ll basically leave up to our hosts)
Flight Melbourne – Alice Springs
1 night Alice Springs
3 nights (4 days) organised tour Uluru – King’s Canyon – Katja Tjuta – MacDonnell Ranges
- Probably going for an organised tour is best in the red center, right? I’ve looked at renting a 4WD, but it seems this is quite expensive. Or would a normal compact car suffice? In any case having a tour guide is also quite nice.
- Any experience with Viator tour operator for this tour? Specifically, this one: viator.com/tours/…d358-5703W04
- It seems the tours always leave very early in the morning and end quite late in the afternoon, so we really need accommodation for one night before and one night after the tour?
1 night Alice Springs
Flight Alice Springs – Cairns
4 nights in/around Cairns
- Cairns itself is supposedly not very interesting, but we would mainly go here for the rainforest.
- Taking the train to Karunda and the skyrail back is very nice, right? Is it worth staying a night over in Karunda?
- We definitely want to visit the Daintree, especially Cape Tribulation (best part according to our guide book). Should we rent a car to do this by ourselves, or is a tour the better option? If so, should we go for a day tour or 1 or 2 nights overnight tour?
Bus Cairns – Airlie Beach
- Here I’ve also tried to find flights (to Mackay/Proserpine), but it really seems like the bus (by Premier Motor Service) is the best option; very cheap and with a 10-12hr drive probably not even much slower than flying (in case of a transfer in e.g. Brisbane).
1 night Airlie Beach
2 nights (3 days) sailing trip around Whitsundays
- Recommended? We also want to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef while here (we don’t have a diving license). The “outer reef” is the best part? I found this sailing trip operator: whitsundayssailingadventures.com.au/… Is it any good? And what about this one: sailing-whitsundays.com/…
1 night Airlie Beach
Flight Mackay – Sydney
- Proserpine is the closest airport to Airlie Beach, but they only fly to Brisbane. I found it difficult to make a two-leg booking Proserpine-Brisbane-Sydney, does anyone know how to do this? Or is flying from Mackay the best option? (In which case: is there a cheap way to get to the airport?)
5 nights Sydney & Blue Mountains
- Should we try to do the Blue Mountains in one day, or is staying overnight (or even 2 nights) there recommended? And is it better to do an organised (single-/multi-day tour) or go there ourselves (by bus/rental car)?
Flight Sydney – Singapore (or Abu Dhabi) – Amsterdam
As for budget, I found estimates for all the flights and tours mentioned on the various websites. As for accommodation, I think Au$ 150 per night (for two persons) should be sufficient, right? (In Melbourne we will stay with family.) We don’t need luxury, but do want a decent clean hotel or B&B with a private bedroom. For the two nights in Airlie Beach I budgeted Au$ 200 per night. Converting all this to euros, brings me to a grand total of € 2400 per person (excluding intercontinental flights), for 26 nights including accommodation, travel within Australia, and the Uluru and Whitsunday tours. Does that sound alright?
Apart from the accommodation, travel, and tours, I would budget again Au$ 150 in total per day for other expenses like food, drink, museums (coming to about € 1400 per person for 28 days). Again, does this sound reasonable?
Very many thanks for any answers to my questions you might have, or any other comments/suggestions!