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Australia planning - overwhelmed! Suggestions??

Oregon
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Australia planning - overwhelmed! Suggestions??

Hi friends - I would love some advice. I've done quite a bit of research already, but I'm at a loss for the best itinerary. We are going to Australia for two weeks over the Christmas break. We will be in Sydney for the first 4-5 days (that's where our plane lands so we will start there). We will eventually end up/fly out of Melbourne. We are a family of 6 (two grandparents who are pretty mobile/adventurous), two parents, two kids ages 9 and 12. Our biggest issue is that we hate spending hours in a car or a bus each day (we drove around Scotland this way, and although we saw a lot of great things, by the third day my son was throwing up with car sickness!). We much prefer staying in one place and seeing the area around that place. We are not opposed to occasional drives to/from a location, but multiple days in the car or a "road trip" vacation is not for us. We have been debating about Adelaide/Kangaroo Island; Great Ocean Road (seems like more of a driving vacation!); Phillip Island; or Tasmania. Would love to pick and focus on just one of these for our third location. Animals, culture, local life, beaches more important to us than lots of stops for scenery. Does anyone have any suggestions so I can narrow it down or any other suggestions I'm not considering? I heard Great Barrier Reef/Gold Coast was hot/humid/rainy that time of year. We have come to terms that we will not see everything in one trip, nor do we want to try.

28 replies to this topic
Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Australia planning - overwhelmed! Suggestions??

So just note after Christmas and early January is peak peak holiday time for us, particularly near a beach.

Sydney for 4/5 days - does this include NYE which is about the busiest time of the year for hotels/serviced apartments (min nights booking and high rates) ? If NYE in Sydney then start booking soon and don't be surprised at the cost eg Meriton Apartments for 6 people.

After that needs planning as the coast is super busy eg GOR, Noosa, Gold Coast (theme parks, beaches, hinterland).

Cairns/Port Douglas still works for reef/rainforest but no swimming at beaches due to stingers (every hotel has a pool).

Edited: 16 February 2018, 03:27
Edinburgh
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2. Re: Australia planning - overwhelmed! Suggestions??

Sounds like you need to fly between locations then. Pick no more than 3 and you will find there will be minimum night stays in some places at that time of year.

Tasmania and Kangaroo island are both lovely but not without a car. Tasmania would involve more driving than KI. GOR is a multi day drive.

Arlington, Virginia
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3. Re: Australia planning - overwhelmed! Suggestions??

Based on your stated criteria, I make the following suggestion:

Sydney (4-5 days); Adelaide/KI (5-6 days); Melbourne (4-5 days). Fly between each destination

For the Sydney portion of your trip, make a day trip via train to the Blue Mountains

For the Adelaide portion of your trip, book accommodations in Glenelg to be on the beach. Be sure to go to Cleland Wildlife Park.

Fly to KI and rent a car upon arrival if you want to avoid the drive and ferry (which made me seasick).

For the Melbourne portion of your trip, consider a day trip (or preferably an overnight stay) to see Ballarat and Sovereign Hill since you have a stated interest in culture and local life.

An alternative would be to split your time evenly between Sydney and Melbourne and just take more day trips. Or, if you think you can do the drive from Sydney to Melbourne, stop in Canberra for 2-3 days. The kids (and adults) will love Questacon, the hands-on science museum and there are opportunities to see animals in the wild at Namadgi NP (do the easy Yankee Hat Hike to see loads of kangaroos and Aboriginal rock drawings) and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

Oregon
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4. Re: Australia planning - overwhelmed! Suggestions??

Thanks! These are great suggestions! I will research all of them. Yes, hotels that time of year are a challenge. We are out of Sydney before New Years and have accommodation there already.

Sydney
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5. Re: Australia planning - overwhelmed! Suggestions??

If your children get car sick, GOR is not an option IMO. You could possibly do a dat trip to Blue Mountains out of Sydney.

I would not discount Port Douglas area even around NY. Yes, it is wet/stinger season, but a day trip to GBR, another to Daintree Rainforest/Cape Tribulation and even Atherton Tablelands, shouldn't be a problem for kids.

So, if it was my holiday, it would be Sydney, Port Douglas and Melbourne, since you are flying out to there.

Another option if Uluru/Kata Tjuta instead of Port Douglas. It does very hot though. We were there at Christmas several years ago and it was fine. You juts have to be prepared to get up early and do all walks before 11 am and after 5 pm.

While staying in the south of the country sounds fine, you are really not getting the amazing contrast and very unique landscape this country has to offer. It is all pretty much similar.

Edited: 16 February 2018, 05:22
Oregon
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6. Re: Australia planning - overwhelmed! Suggestions??

Thank you. So I don't know much about Stinger season - is this just an issue on the beaches and not the reef? Or is it basically you can't go in the water anywhere?

Sydney
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7. Re: Australia planning - overwhelmed! Suggestions??

Stinger season means that you have to wear a stinger suit when snorkelling. The tour operator provides it. It also means that you can only swim in the ocean in netted areas. Most places have a pool though and we don't normally swim in the ocean during stinger season.

We have been to PD in stinger/wet season and it wasn't an issue.

GBR is so amazing and unique that it is worth it even if it means wearing the stinger suit. Other attraction around there are also excellent.

Edited: 16 February 2018, 05:56
Newcastle, Australia
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8. Re: Australia planning - overwhelmed! Suggestions??

I tend to agree with the Sydney to Canberra to Melbourne suggestions, Canberra is an excellent city built in the middle of nowhere so surrounded by wonderful bushland and National Parks, hence the nickname “Bush Capital”. It’s not a usual destination for NYE either so may be a little more reasonable then although that’s just an educated guess. A car is also handy for getting around to the various sights which are all pretty close (within an hour or 2). Then you could go to Melbourne after NYE, maybe stop in Echuca on the way if that’s not too much of a detour. Another idea is to fly from Canberra to Melbourne, get a car and spend a few nights on Phillip Island, there’s plenty here to occupy 3-5 nights. You could also drive here from Canberra but it’s a long day in the car. Then have your last few nights in Melbourne ready for your flight home.

Sydney to Canberra is about 3 hours, Melbourne to Phillip Island is about 2.5 hours, Canberra to Melbourne is about 7 hours, 9 to Phillip Island. If you wanted to drive from Canberra with a stop along the way for 2-3 nights, Echuca would be about 6.5 hours, then Melbourne is a further 3 hours.

That should limit driving a bit with just one long leg and a couple of places to use as a base for a few days here and there giving a good mix in Coast, inland and city.

All the best.

Ballarat, Australia
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9. Re: Australia planning - overwhelmed! Suggestions??

The GOR might work for you if you slow it down. 2 or 3 nights in Apollo Bay, 2 or 3 nights in Warrnambool. You could spend a couple of nights in Ballarat on the way home. You are pretty much guaranteed seeing wild kangaroos and koalas along the GOR.

Tasmania has a lot of driving if you want to see anything. Ditto Kangaroo Island. However, I'm thinking that Phillip Island, perhaps combined with the Dandenongs/Yarra Valley might suit you best. It's about a half hour drive from one end of the island to the other, and there is plenty to see and do there, both for kids and for adults. You'll see koalas, penguins, seals and pelicans there. https://www.visitphillipisland.com

If Puffing Billy interests you, then Trees Adventure is nearby which your kids would probably like (heck, I love it and I'm in my 50s!) Healesville Sanctuary is definitely worth a visit, too.

https:/…

https://www.zoo.org.au/healesville

Sydney
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10. Re: Australia planning - overwhelmed! Suggestions??

5-6 nights on GOR. I can just see 9 and 12 year olds being extremely excited about that.

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