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Working out the final details of 3-4 week WA trip

Bay Area, California
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Working out the final details of 3-4 week WA trip

Hi all,

Some of you may have remembered me posting about a long trip I was planning for Western Australia (tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g255101-i530-k7132…). I plan to spend 3-4 weeks there, cost-permitting, and one of my main draws is Ningaloo reef and diving.

Since then, I've been narrowing down some options and have also completed a few refundable bookings to be safe. Below is what I am thinking/planning so far. One of the things that I am struggling with is planning this while trying to determine the true impact of flight times on traveling between some of the vast areas--I realize Australia is huge, not unlike the US, and it can take a while to get anywhere. So right now I would love to figure out the best optimization between points (ie, should I switch the order of destinations, etc).

Starting in late April 2015:

- Fly San Francisco to Perth. Possible stay one night over in Sydney before going SYD-PER.

- Spend ~5 nights in Perth OR Margaret River region (my companion wants some land activities as he's not a diver ;)). I likely won't dive in Perth due to the water temps.

- May 2: Fly into Exmouth. Spend 5 nights there (hotel already booked, but can cancel/change nights). Allows enough time to dive the navy pier, snorkel with whale sharks, etc. Not sure yet if renting a car.

- May 7: Fly back to Perth. Stay 1-2 nights (breaks up the flight).

- May ~9: Fly PER to Cairns for ~5-6 nights. Originally, I had thought about going to Broome, but since there was no diving options there it didn't seem like a good trade-off, especially since it is also a little tricky to get to.

So, what I have above is somewhere around 3 weeks (when counting days lost to flights, etc). It's possible I could extend a bit longer if there is something I am completely missing. I tend towards trying to spend 1 week per location as I hate only spending 1-2 days in one spot. One nice thing about expanding my "Western" Australia trip to include Cairns is it puts me on the east coast for our last leg, and makes it easier when transferring back to San Francisco. I could also be tempted to go to the Whitsunday Islands instead of Cairns ;)

Thoughts on the above? Too much or too little time in any place? Something I'm blatantly missing? TIA!

rural West Aussie
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1. Re: Working out the final details of 3-4 week WA trip

If you're spending a couple of nights in Perth after Exmouth then I'd suggest going to MR for the first part of your trip.

I'd also suggest a couple of days in Sydney when you first arrive, both because there's some neat stuff to see there and also to help you get over the jet lag a bit before you drive down to MR.

Perth, Australia
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2. Re: Working out the final details of 3-4 week WA trip

Interesting -

<<Fly PER to Cairns for ~5-6 nights. Originally, I had thought about going to Broome, but since there was no diving options there it didn't seem like a good trade-off>>

Just a couple of observations to throw the proverbial spanner in the works:

Did you know there are direct flights via Qantas between Broome and Sydney?

Have you considered going from Sydney to Cairns when you first arrive?

Fremantle, Australia
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3. Re: Working out the final details of 3-4 week WA trip

Agree that great idea to have a stopover in Sydney. You will arrive in Perth in much better shape- maybe spend first 2 nights in Perth to see a few of the main sights. Definitely recommend a few days in the Margaret River region. At the start of your trip makes sense as weather should be lovely. School holidays are over on April 20th so pressure should be off for finding accommodation in the region-you need 2/3 night minimum to relax and enjoy the lovely part of our state. If your flight to Exmouth was in the afternoon then you could drive back from Margaret River in the morning (3 hours) which would give you more time there.

4. Re: Working out the final details of 3-4 week WA trip

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Bay Area, California
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5. Re: Working out the final details of 3-4 week WA trip

Sydney to Cairns first, that's an interesting suggestion--hadn't thought of that.

The only reason I figured Sydney wasn't a "must-stop" on this trip as I will be visiting that city on a dedicated trip in August of this year. So I thought it might not be necessary to allocate time to it.

Do you recommend hiring a car for the Margaret River portions?

rural West Aussie
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6. Re: Working out the final details of 3-4 week WA trip

"Do you recommend hiring a car for the Margaret River portions?"

Definitely. Getting to and around MR without a car is possible but difficult and inconvenient.

Bay Area, California
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7. Re: Working out the final details of 3-4 week WA trip

All righty! It's been a while certainly, but I think I've hammered out a more solid itinerary for our Western Australia Highlights + Cairns trip. Here goes:

April 12 (Sunday): Land in Perth. Just finished another 8-day stay in Sydney so don't feel like i need to stay overnight again in the city on the way over.

April 12-15: Stay in Perth

April 15-19: Hire a car, drive to Margaret River region, stay there. Looks marvelous.

April 19-20: Back to an overnight stay in Perth. Return car (since Exmouth flights are super early in the morning I don't think it's realistic for use to leave Margaret River and fly to Exmouth in the same day).

April 20-25: Fly up to Exmouth. Staying 5 nights, but let me know if this could be shortened (I already have the hotel booked, but with refundable fare).

April 25: Fly back to Perth (assuming I have to stay overnight again to get back out to Cairns).

April 26- May 1st: Cairns or similar diving access point on east coast

May 1st-5th: End a few days in Sydney or Melbourne, or maybe Port Douglas or Brisbane? Could cut this down and add more time to another region if necessary, but trying to not spend a crazy amount bouncing between extremely distant transit points, especially towards the very end of the trip.

Thoughts?

Ipswich, England...
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8. Re: Working out the final details of 3-4 week WA trip

In Cairns, you don't have direct access to dive sites, presumably Great barrier Reef. In fact you can't even swim in the sea there. They have a man made concrete lagoon for people who want to swim.To reach GBR, you have to go by boat, about an hour and a half each way. Tour operators have permanently moored pontoons where you stay all day for diving the reef. Food and drinks are provided, as well as snorkelling equipment and stinger suits. (Not sure about diving equipment)

We have stayed in Cairns and also Palm Cove, just North of Cairns,which is my personal favourite, a lovely little resort, easy to get around with a good choice of restaurants. We stayed in a very nice boutique hotel called Sarayi, which I reviewed after our stay.

There is a small area of sea enclosed by a stinger net for swimmers but, again, no diving.

Our experience of GBR was very good and worthwhile but doesn't come cheap and you have to book in advance. (Check the weather forecast)

I'm looking forward to our trip to WA later this month and will be spending some time in Broome, where there are some different kinds of activities. We hope to experience horizontal falls, visit a pearl farm, the oldest open air cinema and seeing first hand the colours of the landscape and ocean.I certainly wouldn't dismiss it solely on the grounds of no diving, especially as your companion doesn't dive, and it will be a complete contrast to MR area. You could then fly from there to the east coast without going back to Perth.

Also going to Exmouth and Coral Bay where we can snorkel direct from the beach.(alas we don't dive)

I hope you have a wonderful trip. It all sounds great.

Edited: 03 September 2014, 09:26
Bay Area, California
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9. Re: Working out the final details of 3-4 week WA trip

Thanks Eileen! Your trip sounds magical :)

Sorry, meant to say "diving tour access point on east coast." Definitely remember Cairns being far off of the reef (we've been maybe about 7 years ago) but still interested in going again :) Either that or will make a trek to the Whitsundays.

10. Re: Working out the final details of 3-4 week WA trip

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