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Three weeks in Australia Nov/Dec 2014 - Itinerary Help!!

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Three weeks in Australia Nov/Dec 2014 - Itinerary Help!!

Hello all!

I'm excitedly researching a three week holiday in Australia at the end of November/beginning of December for a grand total of three weeks. I'm torn between two itineraries right now, and am not sure what might be my best option for an optimal trip. Obviously, I'd like to see as much as possible, but upon returning home, do not want to feel like I just spent three weeks rushing around an incredible country! I'm not a big partier or night lifer, maybe some lower key pubs would be fun to sit and enjoy a beverage. I'm just looking to take in as much as possible, have a beer or a glass of wine here or there, relax on a laid-back beach and enjoy the culture. So here are my two itineraries. Any/all feedback/recommendations would be so greatly appreciated!

Itinerary One:

1. Arrive Sydney early Monday morning, leave Saturday evening. Would like to see the sights/sounds of the city, definitely fit in the Blue Mountains and possibly Hunter Valley (although if I go to Adelaide/Barossa Valley, is Hunter Valley worth it or should I skip it?)

2. Arrive Melbourne late Saturday evening. This itinerary gives me four full days here, departing for my next destination on Thursday morning. Too much time? Not enough time? To be honest, I haven't really researched a lot about Melbourne yet, but know it's definitely on the list. It's just a question of how much time I'll need - three days or four?

3. Arrive Ayers Rock Thursday afternoon (3pm ish). Tours and tours. Definitely want to do Sounds of Silence and a sunrise tour. Only there for one full day with travel days on the shoulder days. Arrive Thursday, tours all day Friday, depart Saturday. Doable?

4. Arrive Cairns Saturday. Would like to stay in Port Douglas versus Cairns just because from what I've been reading it sounds like it's more my scene (I want relaxing time at the beach, not really a hustle/bustle party scene). Obviously, the Great Barrier Reef is a MUST, as well as Daintree, and I've just started reading a lot about Kuranda. Can I do all of this in five days? Arriving Saturday, leaving first thing Thursday morning?

5. Final destination: Brisbane. Arrive Thursday morning - leave Saturday evening. There doesn't seem to be much to do here from what I've been reading. But something is pulling me there and it might be the Koala Cuddling at the Sanctuary. Haha! Well, that, and I'm a firm believer that any city has something to offer, so I wouldn't mind checking it out.

Itinerary Two is pretty similar but in the opposite direction, skipping Brisbane and instead, adding Adelaide:

1. Arrive Sydney early Monday; depart Friday instead of Saturday as in itinerary one (or maybe not? Do I need that much more time in Adelaide/Melbourne areas)?

2. Cairns/Port Douglas Saturday - Wednesday

3. Arrive Ayers Rock Thursday, depart Saturday (note, flight from CNS - AYQ gets me in much earlier than flight from MEL in first itinerary, so I will have and extra half day to enjoy this area)

4. Arrive Adelaide Saturday. Now this is where I get stuck. I'd like to obviously see the city a bit. Definitely a day trip to Barossa Valley. Possibly Kangaroo Island (worth it for one day?) So if I want to do all that, do I plan three days in Adelaide? Or four? Which is enough?

5. Arrive Melbourne Tuesday or Wednesday; depart Saturday. Enough time? Again - three days or four?

Sorry this is so long! But I'm booking ALL of my flights with miles so I need to be extremely proactive! My flight to Sydney is already booked which is why both itineraries start there. But any suggestions/additions/recommendations are so very much appreciated. It's my first time to Australia and, not that I think it will be a problem, but I want to make the most of the short three weeks I have! Thanks again in advance!

Melbourne, Australia
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1. Re: Three weeks in Australia Nov/Dec 2014 - Itinerary Help!!

Great research, and it makes for a much easier start for the locals to work with.

Personally, I think Itinerary #2 is nicer, and more practical.

To weight up the "three days or four" question for Melbourne and Adelaide, it really comes down to what side trips you want to include. Kangaroo Island is fantastic, as is Great Ocean Rd, which you haven't mentioned. Have you considered driving from Adelaide to Melbourne? You can't compare Hunter Valley to the Barossa, although they are both distinguished wine regions, the experience with food, wine and scenery is very different. If you're a wine fan, then you've also got the option of Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula from Melbourne. If I wanted to 'sample' wine with added scenery, Id rank Mornington Peninsula higher than both you've listed (not purely for the wine).

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2. Re: Three weeks in Australia Nov/Dec 2014 - Itinerary Help!!

Thanks so much for the reply. And also for reminding me that I left off the Great Ocean Road, which yes, is definitely on my list. I did give brief thought of driving to/from Melbourne/Adelaide but thought I could make better use of my time in both cities by flying. I'll likely be traveling alone, so if I do the Great Ocean Road, there were a few tours I was looking at taking that leave from Melbourne for a day.

I think it might come down to what flights work better coming in and out of each city and then, of course (and unfortunately, because who likes to return from holiday?) heading home to the States. I would very much like to make itinerary #2 work. As I think from my research and from talking to friends that have been, that there might be a little more to do in Adelaide area than Brisbane.

Thank you also for the recommendations on Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula. I will definitely look into those as well. I would like to take at least one wine excursion while I'm there. Two would be a bonus, and with the time I'm planning in the Sydney area I could probably still do Hunter Valley in addition to something closer to Melbourne/Adelaide regions. With five/six days in Sydney; three days at Uluru; five days for Port Douglas/GBR, that leaves me with five, possibly six (depending how adventurous I am in deciding to go back to work the very next day after returning home, haha) in Melbourne and/or Adelaide.

I guess if I would like to see some of both cities, a day trip on the Great Ocean Road and wine tasting in the Barossa Valley (or elsewhere), are both Adelaide and Melbourne doable in 5/6 days total? Or is it smarter to pick one over the other?

Melbourne, Australia
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3. Re: Three weeks in Australia Nov/Dec 2014 - Itinerary Help!!

I would recommend no.2. Skip Brisbane, it's just a big country town, and boring, but then I think Adelaide is the same. Sydney is alright, it's more exciting than Melbourne.

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4. Re: Three weeks in Australia Nov/Dec 2014 - Itinerary Help!!

>>>and unfortunately, because who likes to return from holiday?<<<

Nobody. And you're dreaming of this holiday even more because of the weather - which in recent weeks has been about as exciting as watching the Bears over the past decade (unlike the Blackhawks)...

From what I can see, I think you've got the spacing in the cities done pretty well. The decision about one or the other between Melbourne and Adelaide or both, again comes down to what you *really* want to see. I'm repeating this question because at the moment, I'm not convinced that YOU are convinced about Adelaide. It just comes across to me, as "Barossa Valley, then ummm...not sure, maybe Kangaroo Island". And if that's the case, I wouldn't go to Adelaide just for Barossa Valley.

If you're going to truly see Melbourne and surround - tour of Great Ocean Road, Mornington Peninsula/Yarra Valley, really get into the great cafés (you're in for a treat), food, arts, culture, you need minimum 4 nights - and that's coming from a through and through Sydneysider.

Adelaide vs Brisbane - ooooooh don't compare like that, it's dangerous :) Because you're comparing the attractions surrounding Adelaide, to the city. You could equally view Brisbane's in similar fashion, with Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast nearby. I've lived in both and they both offer very different positives.

You'll get some wonderful planning locals coming to give you advice in the morning, so happy reading!

Edited: 11 January 2014, 15:12
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5. Re: Three weeks in Australia Nov/Dec 2014 - Itinerary Help!!

Haha! Well you are certainly right about the weather! After temps of -17* F this past week, the idea of a three week holiday during Australia's summer has certainly been occupying my mind while I hunker down in my warm apartment.

Thanks so much for all of the suggestions. I'm now leaning towards skipping Adelaide and Brisbane both in lieu of more time in Melbourne to properly experience the Great Ocean Road, the surrounding areas and perhaps a day tour to Phillips Island.

Do you have any suggestions for a good one-night stay along the Great Ocean Road? I'm thinking rather than taking a day tour, I'll hire my own car and go out a bit, spend the night somewhere and then head back to Melbourne the following day.

Melbourne, Australia
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6. Re: Three weeks in Australia Nov/Dec 2014 - Itinerary Help!!

Unfortunately, I'm guilty of only doing one day trips to the Great Ocean Road, so I've little experience with accommodation along there, but your idea to drive that stretch and overnight somewhere is a brilliant one, and it's often recommended.

I'll just bump this thread up, so that the local experts can give you some suggestions on the best place to stay. In the meantime, if you wish to 'browse' and do some homework, take a look on www.Booking.com and www.Wotif.com

Just so you are aware, Wotif will only show availability 6mths out, but you can look to see what is available in the region.

Edited: 12 January 2014, 13:33
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7. Re: Three weeks in Australia Nov/Dec 2014 - Itinerary Help!!

All honestly, is the Great Ocean Road worth driving the whole thing? I'm thinking now of the following itinerary:

Arrive Sydney Monday - depart Sunday (six full days)

Arrive Cairns Sunday - depart Friday (four and a half days)

Arrive Ayers Rock Friday - depart Sunday (one and a half days)

Arrive Adelaide Sunday - drive GOR to Melbourne - arrive Melbourne Tuesday morning, then four full days in Melbourne area

I would really like to go to Phillips Island while in the Melbourne area. Is four days enough to really see the city and go to Phillips Island for the day? Is it worth driving from Adelaide to Melbourne? Or should I just go straight to Melbourne and take a day trip to the GOR? (This option will also likely save me money as the price to hire a car one-way from Adelaide to Melbourne is double the price of hiring it and returning it to the same location).

My return trip is officially booked out of Melbourne, so I'll be arriving Sydney, departing Melbourne approximately three weeks later (a little less). Am I trying to squeeze in too much?

Melbourne, Australia
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8. Re: Three weeks in Australia Nov/Dec 2014 - Itinerary Help!!

G'day Irish,

Yeah I'm definitely not the one to say with great authority, and the drive is worthwhile.

BUT, in your situation with limited time, PLUS the added cost of one way car rental, perhaps an organised tour ex Melbourne maybe more suitable for your itinerary.

A quick check - you're aware that the average temperature out at Uluru that time of year is going to be around 35C/95F. That's the average, and I've seen it frequently going up to the mid 40C (100F+). It's not to discourage you.

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9. Re: Three weeks in Australia Nov/Dec 2014 - Itinerary Help!!

Hello KVE,

Yes, I'm aware of the ridiculous heat I'll be experiencing. But it's on my bucket list and I'm not sure I'll be making it back to Australia again in the somewhat near future if I don't take the opportunity and do it now.

After a little further research, I think I might take the Melbourne route. If I'm reading correctly, there's not much to see/do between Adelaide and say Warnambool, is that right? So now I'm thinking about keeping Melbourne my central location and trying to squeeze in the GOR (as much of it as I can) between 4pm on Sunday and dinnertime on Tuesday.

Is there an alternative route on the way BACK to Melbourne that might be a good option for the trip back that would allow me to see some different sites?

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10. Re: Three weeks in Australia Nov/Dec 2014 - Itinerary Help!!

Yes, definitely a must for your bucket list.

I was mentioning on another thread the other day, that whilst it's common for visitors to return to Australia, the number of those visitors who return to the Red Centre is not very high. You'll see colours and sights that's like nothing else in the world.

Yes, there's an inland route, but again I'm not the best with this. There was a thread last year that mentioned the inland route, and also the official tourism guide here;

tripadvisor.com.au/ShowTopic-g255100-i278-k6…

…visitvictoria.com/Regions/…