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3 weeks in November - stay in SE Australia or venture out?

SW England
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3 weeks in November - stay in SE Australia or venture out?

We are on the verge of booking flights to Melbourne in early November, returning just under 3 weeks later. This will be our first and perhaps only trip to Australia.

My wife has several members of her family in Melbourne and we are thinking we will spend 2 or all 3 of our weekends nearby. Originally we were intending visiting the Great Barrier Reef and some of the coast between Brisbane and Sydney.

However, having done a little bit of research, we are wondering whether there other areas closer to Melbourne which may deliver us at least as good a holiday as going further afield - and involve less heat and less travel. My wife is not much of a stay on the beach person so what we are after is good scenery mixed with some city sights.

Possible itinerary - excluding week-ends in Melbourne:

Arrive early Friday from the UK and crash out.

Fly to Sydney on Monday. Spend a couple of nights there, then pick up a car and drive back to Melbourne via the Blue Mountains and other recommended places, arriving back in Melbourne on the Friday evening or Saturday morning.

Fly to Tasmania the following Monday and do a car tour retuning on Friday. Perhaps 1 night in Launceston, 1 in Hobart and 2 in between.

Head off for the Great Ocean Road the following Monday. Can you get a good feel for the area with just one overnight stop? We would need to be at Melbourne airport for mid morning and will probably fly home on the Wednesday, maybe the Thursday.

Looking forward to your comments and suggestions.

Rick

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11. Re: 3 weeks in November - stay in SE Australia or venture out?

That looks good. I would try and give Tassie the extra day as it is really beautiful and lots to see.

5 nights in Sydney is plenty as it will give you enough time to really get around Sydney beyond the main sights.

Heaps of options also for an extra two days from Melb as well- like Wilsons Prom, Mornington Peninsula etc.

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12. Re: 3 weeks in November - stay in SE Australia or venture out?

<<Interesting that no-one so far has suggested that we would be better off visiting other areas, which indicates that the stay more local approach has a strong case.>>

Just a comment on this, this has to do mainly with the fact that it's November, our spring/early summer, which is the best time of year to visit southern Australia. Due to the weather, we generally don't recommend going to the central deserts (very hot) or the Top End / Far North Queensland (hot, humid, cyclones, stingers). This doesn't mean that if you absolutely wanted to go snorkeling or diving on the Great Barrier Reef, you wouldn't be able to do it. Cairns is the 2nd most popular international tourist destination behind Sydney for a reason - and even though the weather isn't ideal in November, you would still likely be able to visit the reef and have a good experience, barring a cyclone arriving during your trip (rare for that early in the season). You can get reasonably priced flights direct from Melbourne airport - and leaving on a Monday, returning Friday would allow three days there which is about right. So just a thought.

SW England
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13. Re: 3 weeks in November - stay in SE Australia or venture out?

Thank you for the replies and suggestions. The revised plan is looking promising.

Next steps will be to investigate flights and confirm dates with family. Had a quick look on Skyscanner and it will be pretty quick on there to check out the various options and to set up alerts about price changes.

Other than working out the precise dates, we will need to assess whether it will be more convenient to fly into Hobart and out of Launceston or vice versa.

SW England
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14. Re: 3 weeks in November - stay in SE Australia or venture out?

First internal flight booked. We will be arriving in Sydney early on a Thursday. Current thinking is to pick up a car at the airport and drive up to the Blue Mountains for a 1 night stay, then driving in to Sydney.

Next item to consider is how to split our next 7 nights between Sydney and Tasmania - we are likely to want to fly into Melbourne from Tasmania late the following Friday afternoon.

One option is to spend only 2 nights in Sydney. That would give us only 1 full day there. Our daughter was there last year and thinks that could be enough to see the main sights. That would allow us to have 5 nights in Tasmania. Although the island is relatively small, it sounds like several different areas are well worth a visit.

So - we need to choose where to compromise.

Another decision is whether to keep the car for the duration of the Sydney leg. That might give more flexibility and allow a drop off back at the airport. Is that sensible or would it be a liability in Sydney?

SW England
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15. Re: 3 weeks in November - stay in SE Australia or venture out?

Quick update:

Have now booked the flight from Launceston to Melbourne for late Friday afternoon.

Just leaves the Sydney to Hobart flight - choosing between late afternoon on the Sunday or mid morning on the Monday.

SW England
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16. Re: 3 weeks in November - stay in SE Australia or venture out?

After something of a lull we are back in planning mode.

This post is about the Great Ocean Road trip.

We will be staying with my wife's cousins in Viewbank, northern Melbourne, for our first three nights. They have kindly offered to lend us a car for the GOR trip. We intend to set off on the Monday morning, have 2 nights away and then spend a final night in Viewbank before our flight to Sydney. Possible itinerary for your comments please:

Day one - Travel to Apollo Bay for an overnight stop. Ideally we would travel a bit further west on our first day but have had Apollo Bay recommended ahead of Port Campbell. We would be happy to stay somewhere smaller if recommended, and have the advantage of sunset not being until around 8pm.

Day two - Continue along to Port Fairy but then head north for an overnight in Dunkeld.

Day three - Drive through the Grampians to Halls Gap and then take a relatively quick route back to Viewbank. We would not have a great deal of time for any long walks or detours. Is just a drive through the Grampians worthwhile?

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17. Re: 3 weeks in November - stay in SE Australia or venture out?

IMO I don't see the point of just driving through the Grampians without stopping and doing some of the walks.

If you only have time to just drive through the area I would skip Dunkeld as an overnight stay and stay overnight at Port Fairy instead and return to Melbourne from there.

Staying overnight at Apollo Bay is sensible as the section between AB and Port Campbell is one of the most difficult parts of the GOR and I would not want to do this section in the evening or at night. There was a recent double fatality with a number of injured on that part of the GOR when a mini bus ran of the road in bad weather.

There is a lot to see once you leave Apollo Bay, Cape Otway, the 12 Apostles and the Port Campbell national park as well as Warrnambool and Tower Hill nature reserve near Port Fairy are all worth visiting and will quickly fill in your day.

Good luck with this and safe travels.

SW England
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18. Re: 3 weeks in November - stay in SE Australia or venture out?

Thank you for your thoughts Famrick. Not the answer I was hoping for - we will probably not get another chance to visit the Grampians but if there is not much benefit in a quick drive through then there would be little point in making the detour - so many things to see and so little time!

If we spend the second night at Port Fairy - is there a recommended route back to Melbourne? I have heard that the main road is not of great interest - there appear to be a couple of alternatives.

Geelong...
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19. Re: 3 weeks in November - stay in SE Australia or venture out?

I've done some calculations and have listed a couple of options for you below. I've used Google Earth to calculate the distances involved and although Google earth does show estimated travel times these are IMO optimistic as they dont take into account time spent for stops to refuel, toilet breaks and rest stops.

Driver fatigue is a real problem on our roads and the authorities strongly suggest that you stop every 2 hours and have at least a 10 minute break.

Port Fairy - Viewbank 320k via the Princess highway will take around 5 hours depending on stops you make.

There are currently major road works underway between Waurn Ponds (on Geelong's southern outskirts) and Colac due to the duplication of this highway. There are speed restrictions in place which will vary between 80k to as low as 40k/hr in the road work zones.

Even if you travel through these area's and no work is being undertaken you need to stick to the posted speed limit.

Port Campbell - Dunkeld 149k will take close to 3 hrs.

Dunkeld - Halls Gap - Viewbank via the Grampians and the Western Highway 330k travel time 5+ hours.

Another option would be Dunkeld - Viewbank via the Hamilton highway I haven't calculated this distance but at a guess it would be around the 340 - 350k mark.

I would also suggest avoiding travelling at dawn, in the evening and at night due to the risk of animal activity and the potential for an animal strike.

www.vicroads.vic.gov.au for road information and www.visitvictoria.com.au has a lot of good information about the GOR, Grampians and other parts of the state. www.parkweb.vic.gov.au has information about the states national parks and road closures in these areas due to the bush fires earlier in the year.

A search of the forum re the GOR and Grampians will also show a number of recent and relevant posts.

Good luck with this and safe travels.

SW England
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20. Re: 3 weeks in November - stay in SE Australia or venture out?

That is great thank you Famrick - very good of you to spend your time researching and reporting.