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Itinerary advice and then travelling on to Sydney

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Itinerary advice and then travelling on to Sydney

We are planning our first holiday to Australia. We are a couple (40s) who love wildlife, culture and experiencing all the country has to offer.

I've been reading the forum posts but wanted some advice.

We will be coming to Melbourne from Singapore then travelling on to Sydney and Brisbane. I was thinking of spending around 5 nights around Melbourne, say 4 nights around Sydney and then travel to Brisbane (fly or drive) as we have friends there.

We arrive mid morning on 20th Feb and thought we'd start with walking around the city of Melbourne (tram/ St Kilda etc). On our other days, we definitely want to see the Healsveale Sanctuary, Philip Island, Victoria Market and Great Ocean Road. Anything else is a bonus.

A few questions:

1) Whilst we're on a budget, we recognise that time is scarce. Would you organise day trips from Melbourne to these places ie costly?


Would you hire a car and travel to these places? it looks you need 2 days at least for GOR (or say day trip with ATWD), I day for Phlip Island etc Whilst we can both drive, we realise we may be slightly jetlagged so don't want to drive too early in the holiday.

2) Would you drive to Sydney, stopping off at Phllip Island or fly/ overnight train/ bus? We'll have luggage with us.

3) Would you go to Yarra Valley near Melbourne or Hunter Valley near Sydney?

4) We'll be going to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, would you also go to Healesveale Sanctuary?

We'd love to see what the outback / farm stays are like but I think we may need to leave this till another time.

Many thanks!

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1. Re: Itinerary advice and then travelling on to Sydney

I have personally never been a fan of day trips, as there are far too many restrictions on you. Melbourne is a very easy city to navigate, and roads are not complicated at all. So I would personally be driving. The inner city can easily be navigated by public transport (free tram depending on where you are staying), so for places like victoria market I would leave the car at home.

Jetlag may not be a problem for you if you leave the first day for just getting the feel of the place and trying to get a good nights sleep.

1) Philip Island is a easy 1.5hr drive from the city. A car would be beneficial as you can carry plenty of blankets (penguin viewing) etc. if you so need. There is also the flexibility of stopping at Coal Creek Village (Korumburra) etc on the way there.

2) Driving to Sydney may not be a good Idea unless you have a few days to devote to this. Appoximately 900kms it takes about 10 - 11 hours on a long flat stretch of road. Besides one way rentals can be quite expensive. If you take a few days and drive up the east Coast (Lakes Entrance - Mallacoota - Eden-Batesman Bay - Woolongong-Sydney) and possibly stop at one or more of these beautiful sea-side towns on the way up, the drive could be very much worth your while. Check this link http://www.standbyrelocations.com/

You may be able to score a last minute one way rental for a song.

Otherwise flying is the best way. You can get some really good fares as the MEL-SYD route is service by something like 25 flights in a day.

3) I'd go to both. If you like your wine, you may be interested in the variances of wines each of these regions produce. Otherwise just go to the place where you can afford the time. And oh, please take one of the day trip busses here please. Wine tasting and driving do not mix very well.

4) Never been to Lone Pine, but you will find that Healseville is a very beautifull place to visit. Just accross the mountain is Marysville which was completely burnt down in the bushfires last year, and this would be a great chance to see the regrowth in the area.

You may have time for a short farmstay. An unique experience would be:


Good Luck

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2. Re: Itinerary advice and then travelling on to Sydney


Welcome to TA SkyFish1ng your reply to the OP question is impressive for your first post ....

PLumTree its very easy to navigate your way around Melbourne on the trams / trains or buses you don't need a car in Melb. However, its far easier and more convenient to just hire a car and drive the Great Ocean Road taking at least 2 days - to say Port Campbell.. stay Lorne / Port Campbell and then return your car to the Airport to fly to Sydney.

How long do you have for your WHOLE trip ??

Do Philip Island as a separate day trip from Melbourne.

There are many cheap deals regarding flying to Syd from Melb.

www.webjet.com.au www.jetstar.com.au www.virginblue.com.au www.qantas.com.au

For accomm - www.wotif.com.au ( the is a very reliable and respected site to use in Australia).

Have a read through these links below to see what route you may enjoy driving . IMO the Melbourne to Sydney coastal drive is more appealing than SYD to BRIS.



Happy planning,


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3. Re: Itinerary advice and then travelling on to Sydney

Hello PlumTree,

Given your limited time spread over three state capitals, I would fly from one city to another. For your time spent based in Melbourne, and to avoid driving whilst overtired in the first couple of days, I would make use of a good day tour to the GOR; ATWAD has had several enthusiastic plugs on this forum recently. I would then hire a car for an early morning start to drive through the Yarra Valley, with lunch in Healesville or on one of the wineries, spend say three hours at Healesville Sanctuary, then set off not too late for Phillip Island to find your overnight accommodation before getting to the penguin parade area on dusk. Make sure you have warm extras, even if it has been a hot day, it can get mighty cold after dark down there. Stay overnight on the island, as you will have had a very full day, and here you can indulge one more of your interests, a farmstay nearby -

about-australia.com/travel-guides/… then drive back to Melbourne at leisure the next day. You should allow two hours driving time from Healesville to PI, going almost due south via Woori Yallock, Cockatoo, Pakenham, Koo-wee-rup then joining the South Gippsland Hwy for a short time then taking the Bass Hwy and the turn-off to PI. This route is approximately 175 kms, but quite picturesque for much of it. Spend the balance of your time exploring what the city of Melbourne has to offer.

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4. Re: Itinerary advice and then travelling on to Sydney

If you can take at least 2 days for the GOR, then driving yourself is the best way to see it. If you had more time, you could combine it with a visit to the Grampians, which is is also an excellent wine region. If you can only allow 1 day for the GOR, the doing a small group tour will let you relax & enjoy the sights. ATWD has had excellent reviews on here, & there is recent trip report you might like to read.

As noted above, Phillip Island is an easy day trip & you can combine it with some other sightseeing, either on the Island or on the way there. It does depend on what else you want to see. There are actually some nice wineries in South Gippsland, or you could visit the Mornington Peninsula along the way.

Depending on how much wine tasting you want to do, you have a few options in Victoria. I believe ATWD does a day tour which combines some wine tasting in the Yarra Valley with a visit to Healesville Sanctuary, so this could be a good option for you. If you just want to visit a couple of wineries & combine tasting some wines with lunch, then you could do as I have suggested above. We have several wine regions within a couple of hours drive of Melbourne. If you want to taste lots of wines, then a specialised wine tour might be your best option. However, this will be more expensive & take up a full day.

The coastal drive from Melbourne to Sydney is worth doing, but you need to decide if you have the time to allow for it. Do look at the links EM has given you.

You will be able to see a bit in Melbourne with 5 nights, but you do need to decide exactly what you want to do.

SkyFish1ng, I'm curious about your location. The only Corhanwarrabul I know is a creek at the base of Mt Dandenong.

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5. Re: Itinerary advice and then travelling on to Sydney

We have just returned from a trip similar to yours in some ways, although we started with 4 days in Adelaide then caught a Firefly coach (approximately 10 hours with 2 stops) up to Melbourne for a wedding. We then took the train (approximately 12 hours) by day to Sydney and spent 3 nights there, fully intending to continue up to Brisbane as we too have friends there, however I am sorry to say that my jetlag lasted for almost 2 1/2 weeks (although I think I may have picked up a bug or slight food poisoning in Singapore, which might have made me feel ill for such a long time), and we decided to head back to Melbourne for the remainder of our stay, which we did (also on a coach and not recommended - 14 hours!)

Whilst in Melbourne we used the tram all the time, quick, easy and reliable...one comes along about every 12-15 minutes or so.

We did the Great Ocean Road trip with APT tours...a long day but very interesting and not really tiring although the lunch that we paid extra for was a bit disappointing. We also did a trip with APT to Soveriegn Hill at Ballarat which included a visit to a wildlife sanctuary where we were able to pet Koalas.

We decided not to fly anywhere whilst in Australia, having spent so long in the air getting there and it was not imperative that we visit Brisbane (although we would have liked to see our friends). We had 4 weeks in Australia and will be going back. We would like to take the Ocean Pacific train from Perth to Sydney.

Hope you have a brilliant time and manage to see and do all the things you mentioned. With careful planning I'm sure it won't be a problem :o) x

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6. Re: Itinerary advice and then travelling on to Sydney

I meant to say....if you are in St Kilda go and have an evening meal at the Little Blue Restaurant at the end of St Kilda pier, sitting outside overlooking the harbour with the cityscape as your view....gorgeous meal and beautiful setting, then as it gets dark, walk along the harbour and see the little penguins coming in for the night :o)

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7. Re: Itinerary advice and then travelling on to Sydney

We spent 5 days in Melbourne and 5 days in Sydney on our trip to Oz back in October so our Melbourne / GOR itinerary might work for you. For the first 2 days we spent exploring Melbourne using the free tram and walking so that's quite easy to do. We flew in from Canada but found no problem with jetlag at all but the first couple days in the city should ease you into it.

We then took the shuttle to the airport early in the morning, rented a car and drove to Philip Island. Having a car affords so much more freedom to do things on your own pace. We did the Koala Conservation Centre, Nobbies and the penguins in one day, then spent the night in Cowes. On the 4th day, we headed out on the GOR and spent the night in Apollo Bay. On the 5th day we continined on to the Apostles / Port Campbell and then back to the Melbourne airport for the night before hopping on a flight the next day to Sydney.

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8. Re: Itinerary advice and then travelling on to Sydney

If you love wildlife, dont forget to go to Melbourne Zoo, its a tram ride from the CBD and one of the best zoos in the world :) really !! And we just had a new baby elephant born....

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9. Re: Itinerary advice and then travelling on to Sydney

Hi Plum trees,

1. Fly to Sydney. Absolutely no reason to drive given your restricted time schedule.

2. If you want to go to Philip Island, suggest you skip Healesville/Yarra Valley and sample the wines and scenery on the Mornington Peninsula. Then drive on to Philip Island via Tooradin on the same day. This is an efficient use of your time - Yarra Valley is, unfortunately, a detour. If you want a specific route with suggested stops I'll be happy to put one on this thread.

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10. Re: Itinerary advice and then travelling on to Sydney

Melb0urnegirl I'm sorry but I have to disagree with you on that one...we visited the zoo whilst in Melbourne and were a bit disappointed. The bears were the first exhibit we saw and they were pacing up and down, looking very motheaten, and quite frankly sad and bored. A lot of the exhibits were empty with a sign apologising for any disappointment. And although the new baby elephant must be very exciting for those who work at the zoo, she was not on display when we visited, and the whole area leading up to the elephant enclosure was tired and depressing. There were shops and stands, all of which were shut. So much more could have been made of this area to make it interesting and informative.

During our trip we also visited Adelaide Zoo which in my opinion was a far better day out. Their animals all looked content, the meerkats were alert, unlike those at Melbourne and the new pandas from China have a beautiful brand new enclosure with lots of information.

Personally I would give the zoo a miss and perhaps visit the aquarium instead.