We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

My itinerary is going wrong ...Help!

hemel hempstead
Level Contributor
180 posts
25 reviews
Save Topic
My itinerary is going wrong ...Help!

I am planning a 4 week stay in Australia, late Dec into Jan 2015. We are in Sydney first for a wedding and will have nearly two weeks there. Our plans were then to fly to Cairns and do a short liveaboard ; my first question to any divers, are the Ribbon Reefs much more pristine to the Outer reefs?

We then planned to stay on some Islands making sure we hit the Whitsundays and see Whitehaven. We have 9 days from when we leave Cairns to flying back to the Uk, from wherever works best.

I did plan to spend it all in Queensland, but after reading about the weather I thought we might head a bit more South.

Any ideas for a 9 day itinerary inc Whitsunday (not Hamilton though, we like a bit more laid back. Friends had recommended but reading the descriptions I think another Island would be better)?

Sorry a bit long winded!

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
1,777 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: My itinerary is going wrong ...Help!

There are a couple of problems with visiting north Queensland at this time of year:

* It is the monsoon/wet season in the tropical north, which brings a host of imperfect conditions: lots of rain, extreme heat & humidity, and the risk of cyclones. You need to keep in mind the reef trips may not be in ideal conditions or might get cancelled. Plus it is "stinger season" and you will need to wear stinger suits (this may not be too big a bother).

* You are travelling during the peak of summer school holidays, when all of Australia is on holiday too, and accomodation and flights will be priced at their highest. I realize your schedule isn't flexible, but bear this in mind.

The combination of this makes the decision of when to book a reef trip difficult - it would be nice to wait until you get there, to consider the weather, but because of the holiday season the trips may fill up too soon.

The effect of the wet season is not so great in the Whitsundays but it will still be hot, still has the odd chance of a cyclone, and will still have high accomodations prices due to the holiday season.

I can't really offer an itinerary suggestion - it's just too broad a question and there are so many options. Maybe you can provide some more detail on who you are (a couple?), what your prime/interests/activities are (diving is a priority I take it?), what your traveling style is - just want to relax or do lots of sightseeing, etc.

I also wouldn't knock Hamilton Island - it's easy to get in holiday mode there with plenty of nice apartments/villas that are plenty laid back. I think it's a great mix of a relaxing holiday getaway while still having the size to support multiple restaurants, plenty of activities, etc. For example it's so easy to get a day trip to the outer reef or Whitehaven directly from Hamilton Island - something you can't do as easily at other islands in the area. But I haven't been to the smaller resorts myself (except for Great Keppel Island, which got washed away recentl), so a little hard for me to compare them directly.

I do think it's worth considering if you might spend a few days in Queensland, despite the conditions, since you want to dive on the reef, and a few days somewhere further south and completely different (considered Tasmania?) - but that really depends on your interests.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Business Travel, New South Wales
Level Contributor
29,858 posts
1,348 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: My itinerary is going wrong ...Help!

Hi,

As mentioned by Jeremy late Dec/ Jan is the Wet season / Stinger season in Nth Qld. So you will need to take that into consideration when planning your hols as you are more likely to get rain & humidity.

I also think Hamilton Island is okay to stay as you do have more services available to you including restaurants & cafes etc... plenty of tours also operate from HI. The other option is to stay at Airlie Beach on the mainland.

Depending on your interests ? If you want more diving / snorkelling Lady Elliott Island Island would be ideal as there are no stingers or wet season. http://www.ladyelliot.com.au/ The island has its own airstrip and offers scenic flight transfers from Bundaberg (30min), Hervey Bay (40min), Brisbane (80min) and the Gold Coast (100min) for day trippers and overnight guests.

The other island worth exploring for it's natural beauty is Fraser Island. http://www.fraserisland.net/ However; you will need to book everything as its our very busy summer holidays.

What airport are you departing from ??

9 days QLD itinerary suggestion after flying from Hamilton Airport.

HI to Brisbane Airport. Fly - Lady Elliott Island - stay 4 days.

LEI fly to Hervey Bay - Do a tour of Fraser Island - stay 2 days.

Hire a car from HB & drive to Noosa (Sunshine Coast ) - stay 3 days.

Drive car back to Brisbane Airport - fly home.

Edited: 13 February 2014, 00:01
hemel hempstead
Level Contributor
180 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: My itinerary is going wrong ...Help!

Thank you both. We are a couple in our early 50s with lots of energy, diving and swimming our passion. But eating and relaxing too! A travel agent has put an itinerary together for us but when I started to look at the weather I wasn't sure. It's as follows:

Fly Sydney to Cairns, do our own liveaboard for 4 days.

Fly Cairns to Hamilton Island, stay 4 nights.........so you are saying easy to get trip to Whitehaven from there?

Fly HI to Brisbane, hire a car and drive to Byron Bay, stay 2 nights.

Drive back up coast, stopping Brisbane one night, then onto Hervey Bay for ferry to Fraser Island. Stay Fraser Is 2 nights.

Back to Brisbane 1 night....fly home!

Our son travelled Aus 10 years ago, and his suggestions were not to miss Whitehaven and really liked Fraser Island.

Of the Whitsundays is it Hook that is actually on the GBR?

Appreciate any suggestions or further advice.

hemel hempstead
Level Contributor
180 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: My itinerary is going wrong ...Help!

Just realised I think I meant Heron Island not Hook.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
1,777 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: My itinerary is going wrong ...Help!

That is an odd itinerary with backtracking after the trip down to Byron Bay and having to drive across Brisbane twice. Maybe you could visit the Sunshine Coast instead of Byron Bay to avoid a lot of extra driving. How about:

<<<Fly Cairns to Hamilton Island, stay 4 nights.........so you are saying easy to get trip to Whitehaven from there?>>>

Yes, several operators offer day trips, it is not far. You could also do a reef day trip for more diving if you want (and the budget can handle).

<<Fly HI to Brisbane, hire a car and drive to Byron Bay, stay 2 nights.>>

I would instead drive north to the Sunshine Coast - probably Noosa area.

Noosa to Hervey Bay is only a couple hours' drive so you wouldn't be rushed with this modification. Byron Bay to Hervey Bay is pretty much an entire day driving, passing through the Brisbane CBD (for no good reason).

<<Drive back up coast, stopping Brisbane one night, then onto Hervey Bay for ferry to Fraser Island. Stay Fraser Is 2 nights.>>

. Note that you can't take your car on the ferry - only specialized 4wd's are allowed. What is the accomodation suggested for Fraser ? Kingfisher resort would be the most common place to visit without a car as there is a passenger ferry, and various activities are available. There are other tour options though.

I've saved you a day so you could stay in either Noosa or Fraser for 3 nights.

<<<Back to Brisbane 1 night....fly home!>>>

Good idea to stay in Brisbane for a night to reduce hassle getting to your flight. Depending on your arrival time, you'd a bit of time to look around the city maybe. Or add your extra day here so you have time to see the sights (it's not the world's top tourist city but you can easily spend a day).

Edited: 13 February 2014, 09:59
hemel hempstead
Level Contributor
180 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: My itinerary is going wrong ...Help!

Hi thanks, I'm getting a bit more understanding now of the area, it's difficult trying to piece it altogether. Like you i did not understand the travel agents thoughts going down and back up again to Brisbane.

After reading the replies above, I may rethink ......

Keep Hamilton Is and see Whitehaven. Then down to Lady Elliott, which I seem to have read would give us the snorkelling/diving. I had emailed Kingfisher about the car, and yes they have confirmed cannot take it on the ferry....another thing the agent didn't take into consideration! Do you believe Fraser is a must see?

We may ditch the car idea....

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
1,777 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: My itinerary is going wrong ...Help!

Well, "must-see" is up to interpretation but I think Fraser Island is wonderful and unique. Given your interests in beaches and outdoors it would certainly keep you occupied and awed for a few days! I have only been there on a single-day tour but wished I had more time. The crystal clear waters in the inland lakes and streams, the contrast of the forests growing on white sand, the fast 4wd driving along the surf coast, the chance to see a dingo- all totally unique. Y

LEI is only affordably accessed from either Bundaberg or Hervey Bay airports (see http://www.ladyelliot.com.au/content/flights ). Unfortunately there are no flights from Hamilton Island (or Proserpine, the mainland airport near HI), to either of those, so you still end up going to Brisbane. You would have to fly Hamilton Island->Brisbane->Hervey Bay->LEI, which can't be done in the same day - you'd have an overnight in Hervey Bay.

There are buses and trains along the coast too but not easy to schedule either and obviously quite a bit slower, plus you have a $50 ferry from Hamilton Island to the mainland to consider.

I don't have a real sense for your budget though, including lots of flights like this could really blow it out...plus LEI is quite expensive too. But maybe it could be worked out.

At least, once you get to Hervey Bay you do have access to both Fraser Island and LEI from there.

hemel hempstead
Level Contributor
180 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: My itinerary is going wrong ...Help!

Thanks again for your imput. Budget? Well we are coming a long way and want to get the best out of the trip so although money is not never ending we are not doing it on a very low budget. The original itinerary put together for us with all accommodation except Sydney was actually better than we thought.

I will keep thinking and researching.

9. Re: My itinerary is going wrong ...Help!

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 15 February 2015, 06:18
Get answers to your questions about Whitsunday Islands