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HELP! - short on time, how best to get there

Livingston, United...
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HELP! - short on time, how best to get there

We are travelling to Australia from Scotland in Sept/Oct later this year. Our original reason for travel is to visit my sister-in-law in Perth but I insisted we see a bit of Australia whilst there. We arrive in Melbourne on the 12th Sept and are there through the weekend, until at least the 17th. We intend to fly to Perth on 29th.

I’d like to visit Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef also; we are so short on time though…

What is the most efficient way to get to the reef for a couple of days?

I’d originally looked at Airlie Beach, and Hamilton Island – they seem ideal at first look in terms of location.

However as I’m looking into it more, it seems it involves getting flights into Proserpine then travel to Airlie Beach then Hamilton Island; the cost and time will likely add up. Cairns looks easier to get to by plane, but a less ideal overall location.

Can anyone offer some advice to help me on this?

I think given our schedule, we might only have 4-5 days including travel time.

Thanks in advance

Arlington, Virginia
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1. Re: HELP! - short on time, how best to get there

Perhaps you can "split the difference" and stay in Port Douglas. It's easier to reach PD than Hamilton Island or Airlie Beach and IMHO, it's a more pleasant place to stay than Cairns (mainly because I love being on/near a beach and Cairns City does not have a beach--you have to go to the northern suburbs for that.) There are plenty of GBR tour boats that leave from Port Douglas too.

Sydney
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2. Re: HELP! - short on time, how best to get there

Fly to Cairns; stay there or PD.

Access to the Reef is easier from there, also.

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: HELP! - short on time, how best to get there

You can fly directly to the airport on Hamilton Island. The Whitsunday Islands are inside the actual "barrier reef" but still beautiful. Personally, I preferred this area to Cairns.

Either way the actual "barrier reef" is a long way off shore and you have to take a boat ride of an hour or two to get out there. However, there is lots of coral and tropical fish around the Whitsundays. Not off Cairns though, which has a muddy, mangrove shoreline. Very pretty, but not perhaps what one expects.

Livingston, United...
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4. Re: HELP! - short on time, how best to get there

It doesn't seem like it would be that easy to get in and out of Hamilton Island in 3 days?

We'd likely be coming from Melbourne or Sydney.

Sydney/Melbourne
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5. Re: HELP! - short on time, how best to get there

You could get the 6 am Jetstar flight from Sydney directly to CNS, arrive at 9 am and have most of the day - perhaps rent a car for the day and take a trip to Mossman Gorge or the Daintree or take the train up to Kurandra that day?

Then have a day trip out to the reef the next day and take the 7 pm flight back to Sydney.

Or stay till the following morning and take an early flight back on Day 3.

In such a short time, I wouldn't be messing around with trying to find transport to PD which is an hour out of Cairns.

Livingston, United...
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6. Re: HELP! - short on time, how best to get there

If we flew into Cairns at 16:05, I would think we could be in Port Douglas by 17:30 if we had a hired car - does that seem reasonable?

If we get to PD, it means we can have a day at the reef and a day at the beach instead of milling around Cairns, which from what I've read is nothing special?

Edited: 24 January 2013, 14:39
cairns
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7. Re: HELP! - short on time, how best to get there

Hi

What a shame you don't want to visit our lovely city

Yes you could be in PD by that time

WE have lots of boats that go out to the REEF from Cairns

Lovely Hotels, lots of hire cars

Great Restaurants

Lovely Islands close by

What else can we offer you, yes friendly people

Livingston, United...
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8. Re: HELP! - short on time, how best to get there

Mosiewigs,

It's nothing personal against Cairns; we simply have about 3 days to fit in some activities. I'm a beach lover, so based on feedback here and another forum I'm leaning towards PD as it means we don't have to go elsewhere, we could stay settled for a couple days at least.

I've travelled quite a lot, to many towns and cities, and I am sure there are lovely things to do and places to eat and drink in many of the places I've skipped along the way, but as I've learnt over the years sometimes I need to be ruthless in decision-making, or I won't make any at all!

Whitsundays
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9. Re: HELP! - short on time, how best to get there

Hi there,

I think if you've got from the 17th - 29th to do Sydney and the reef, you will be fine. You could split your time equally, or weight it towards the one where you think you find more activities that you want to do.

Flying direct from Sydney or Melbourne into and out of Hamilton Island is easy,and you will get to enjoy that holiday feeling the minute you land. You can fly with Jetstar or Virgin Australia, so check the flight times and see what fits. You could quite easily do Mel - HTI - Syd - Per. It may seem like you are hopping over Sydney just to come back to it later, but the flights work well that way for your onward journey to Perth.

Recommendation: there will be school holidays on the east coast from 21/9 - 7/10, so flights and accommodation will be at peak prices at this time. WA's holidays are one week later (28/9 - 13/10).

Have a fabulous trip, whatever you decide to do!

TW

Livingston, United...
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10. Re: HELP! - short on time, how best to get there

If we fly to Hamilton Island, it looks like there are limited accomodation options on the island itself, and they are all fairly expensive in the dates we are looking at.

Airlie Beach has many more options which would help our budget, but it seems strange to fly to an Island then have to get a boat to the mainland?

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