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!
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!