Wedding Woes

questions about australia

DK and I are planning a trip to Australia for October - figured it's spring for them, so not ungodly hot there and we can celebrate our anniversary. We'll be flying my parents to TX to house/baby/dog-sit for us. They did this once before and offered to do it again (Plus, we cover flights and all costs beyond food and gas, they get a good couple of weeks with the grandkid, and they'll both be retired by then, so no worries about vacation time - it's a win for all.)

Right now we're looking at ~2 weeks or a bit more to account for travel, split between 3-4 locations. 
Melbourne area ~> Tasmania ~> Sydney ~> Cairns (or a resort on the great barrier reef)

If you've visited any of these places and can provide feedback on things to do or avoid, and travel within Australia, I'd love your feedback. We'd rent a car in Tasmania (probably spend each night in a different location), and possibly for a day or so in Melbourne. (I want to see the fairy penguins on Phillip Island, and it's about a 2 hour drive - so we'd rent a car or book a tour company.)

We'd plan to fly between cities/locations, with the exception of Melbourne <-> Tasmania (depending on the order of the trip) - that would be an overnight cruise on the Spirit of Tasmania. 

We're planning to get SCUBA certified before the trip because while we love to snorkel, I know we'll see more on a SCUBA trip to the reef. 

Re: questions about australia

  • I've never been, so I can't add anything of value - just wanted to say this trip sounds like so much fun!!!
  • I have a good friend living in Perth, which she hates. Melbourne gets nothing but good reviews from her and anyone else I've spoken to about Oz. I toured around the western side of the country and had an amazing time. It's definitely worth the trip!
  • I've never been, but sounds amazing! 
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  • I haven't been there in about 10 years, but my itinerary was similar minus Tasmania. I don't think you need two weeks with the itinerary you have unless there's specific stuff you know is going to take that much time.

    I would try to do those four areas in a 9-10 days and then spend the remaining 4-5 days going to New Zealand. Or fly through Thailand or Hawaii and spend a few days there.

  • Also, we only snorkeled in Cairns because I was not scuba certified then and it was really disappointing. The reefs were super damaged and mostly dead. Maybe it's just where we were, but I wish I had done more research into reputable areas/companies and that I had done scuba instead.

  • @southernbelle0915 - thanks for feedback on research on reef areas - that's one of the main reasons we want to go now is because of the bleaching. DK is a fish nut, so I know this is going to be a BFD for him, and want to make sure we're going to good areas (one reason we were considering staying at a resort on the reef vs. in the city)

    we ruled out New Zealand, only because we want to do that in a separate trip and spend time on each island - I feel like doing it as part of this trip would feel too rushed. 

    part of the itinerary accounts for travel between cities and back/forth from the US - one reason we're talking about doing the cruise to Tasmania is because it's overnight, so won't lose part of a day to travel. we'll probably try to do early morning or late evening flights between cities for same reason. If our 2015 trip to Scandinavia is any indication, we could easily do 3-4 days/city and see quite a bit - if we're not finding enough attractions in each city or surrounding area, we may consider adding another city in Australia.

    we did toss around the idea of a 2-3 day stopover somewhere else - we're doing high level research at this point to try and figure out an itinerary. this hasn't been completely ruled out. 
  • thefanciestbecklerthefanciestbeckler Chattanooga, TN
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    edited March 2017
    This sounds like a blast!! 
    I haven't been, but I have a friend who lives in Australia. It's his native country and he's lived there his whole life. I can get some recommendations from him if you'd like. Let me know. 
    Etf spelling 

    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    It's been 20 years since the Mr. was there--but he spent like 6 months (he has family there)--I'll hit him up for info if you want
  • For the length of flight, I think 2 weeks is a good amount of time.
  • I'm just going to lurk in this thread, since Australia is on our medium-range bucket list.  Adventures by Disney does an Australia itinerary that I drool over.
  • Greenjinjo Greenjinjo New Zealand
    100 Love Its 100 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    I love Melbourne so very much. It is pretty much the Australian version of the city I'm from (Wellington, NZ). I really want to go back again!

    If you like wine head to Yarra Valley for a day of wine tasting (there is also a chocolate factory out that way).
    Scienceworks is a super cool museum I absolutely loved a short train ride from the city. 
    Federation square near Flinders Station also has some very cool museums. 
    The coffee is fantastic, heaps of great cafes around. 
    Lygon St is Italian food central, would highly recommend. 
    Dracula's is a bit of fun, dinner and a show! 
    Get the tram to St Kilda, very pretty over there. 
    Queen Victoria market is great (wouldn't recommend on a 42°C day though) 
    One thing I didn't do was visit local breweries (next time!) 
    The casino, aquarium, zoo... 

    Is there anything in particular that you are interested in? 
  • Greenjinjo Greenjinjo New Zealand
    100 Love Its 100 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    Forgot to add - public transport In Melbourne CBD is so easy! They have a card, something similar to the Oyster/Snapper that can be used on the tram, buses and trains. Would definitely recommend getting one
  • I have to echo how wonderful Melbourne is! I spent my semester abroad in college there (Fall 2008) so I imagine some things are different now. I loved the fairy penguins - there is/was also a wildlife reserve on the island where you can feed kangaroos and see all kinds of other animals.  

    To explore "city life" in Melbourne, I recommend the following:

    The Royal Botanical Gardens are beautiful. I think you'll just miss footy season, otherwise I would recommend an Australian Rules Football Game at MCG.

    St. Kilda is great! There's a small theme park (more beach/boardwalk style) there called Luna Park. I believe there is also one in Sydney.

    I would also look into a "Laneway Tour." There are so many cool alleyways in Melbourne filled with incredible graffiti art and sprinkled with cool bars and hidden spots! 

    To experience more of the Australia countryside and terrain, I would consider a tour of the Great Ocean Road.

    I did a bus trip on the Great Ocean Road where we took surfing lessons at Torquay beach.  It was through school, so I'm not sure the name of the company, but it was AWESOME! The surfing was so cool, and the scenery was incredible. The tour included a trip to the "12 apostles" and waterfalls and amazing views of the coastline.

    I didn't go to Tasmania or Cairns, and I only spent about a week in Sydney. I was visiting family in Sydney so we had a car, but the Blue Mountains were gorgeous. Bondi Beach is super cool and the walk between Bondi and Coogee on the cliffs is really scenic and unique.  

    Please feel free to ask me any questions and I can try to answer if possible! Hot spots as far as bars/restaurants have probably changed since I've been there, but I still have some Aussie friends in Melbourne, so I may be able to get you some suggestions!

    Can you tell how jealous I am of this honeymoon trip!?!?! ;)

  • Can you tell how jealous I am of this honeymoon trip!?!?! ;)
    @Knottie1466901937 - appreciate the feedback. It's not our Honeymoon though - that was almost 11 years ago! :-) I just have serious wanderlust and DK is along for the ride. 
    I'll ask about restaurants and such when we get closer - we love trying local places vs. eating every meal (or any meal for that matter) at Mc. Donald's/Burger King/Subway/etc. 
  • We have a new Aussie member.  @Australian_girl_in_Paris , maybe you can help with this one?
  • Yes, I can!! be warned this post is super long.

    Firstly I disagree with southernbelle0915 on needing less time! if anything 2 weeks is short if you're including travel time. Australia is on the other side of the date line so you will lose a day going there (you retrieve it on your return but still) 
    You also need to know that the jet lag will be real. It takes one day for each hour of difference for you to get back to feeling normal. So keep that in mind with your planning. 
    I live in France and we never do less than 3 weeks in Aus to deal with that, and to have time to get around. October is technically Spring but you'll find the temperature to be different where you go. Tasmania at that time of year could be a bit cold 45-62 degrees, Melbourne you'll get 4 seasons in one day 50-70. Sydney a bit warmer 55-70 and Cairns is in the tropics so hot and sweaty between 75-90 degrees

    Melbourne area ~> Tasmania ~> Sydney ~> Cairns  Sounds like a great plan in the time you have.
    People have given you great advice on Melbourne already but I lived there for 3years (I was born in Alice Springs and grew up in Adelaide) So if you need any other advice on that let me know but the others seem to have you covered. You must drink the coffee in Melbourne - The world's best baristas (there's a competition) have consistently been from Melbourne (Although we didn't make the top 5 this year) Coffee is the most serious thing in a Melbournians life and people will walk for kilometers to go the place they like the best. In fact, Starbucks failed in Australia and Melbourne first because we live and breath good coffee. I suggest you try 7 seeds it's really good - and get a 'flat white' it's and Australian invention. Also, the food in Melbourne will be the best (in my opinion) Lygon Street for Italian, China town for amazing dumplings, Lord of the Fries for vegan burgers! The Queen Victoria Markets are amazing - look to see if the night market will be on, it might be a bit early in the year but that really cool. it's amazing!! 

    Tasmania isn't that large so driving is the best way I think to get in what you want to see - maybe check and make a bit of a list so you have a driving itinerary? It just so beautiful there that you might have to prioritise on what you want to see. Thoughts about driving. - be aware it's on the left. Also, distances are far. Depending on where you're going you need to pack enough water for the day and make sure that someone knows where you're going just in case. Also be a wear that your phone won't work in all areas. Your plan looks like your not going to be driving super long distances, so I think you'll be ok - I'd call ahead to the hotel you plan to stay at in the morning to let them know just in case so they will come looking for you if anything should happen. This is mostly for when you drive in Tasmania - all the other driving seems closer to civilisation. 

    Sydney Is where I tell people travelling to Aus to base from. It's got so much to see and its a very welcoming city. My sister lives in Bondi, but there are so many (slightly less crowded) beaches - I recommend swimming in the ocean pools. The Luna Park in Sydney is the more famous and you get a great view of the opera house from there.

    The reef you need to check on where is still alive - my understanding is that a good half of it has died from coral bleaching. :( But I think that it's ok just south of Cairns than on the sunshine or gold coasts. They can also be a bit tacky so it nicer to go up to near Cairns anyway. I know that some places will take you SUBA diving for a 'test' without certification but I wouldn't bank on it 100%. Better to get the certification if you're interested in diving anyway. 

    So this is really long but feel free to ask if you have any other questions.

  • @Australian_girl_in_Paris - appreciate the feedback. i'm eye-to-eye with you on the impact of travel time and potential for jet lag. I've never done a trip with that large of a swing - max for me has been about ~8 hours of difference when we were in Russia. I'm weird in that I'm more impacted by a 1 hour time change than a 7-8 hour change. I'm looking at leaving on a Thursday and coming back on Saturday/Sunday like 2 weeks later. Hoping to spend almost 2 full weeks in Australia. 

    Packing will be light layers to account for weather swings and activities. We live in Houston which is generally very hot/humid year round, so Cairns in October is essentially what it is in Houston in March - by summer we rarely drop below mid 80s, even overnight. 

    I found some driving itineraries online for Tasmania - so we'll probably use those as a starting point to map our route and eventually make our way to Hobart to fly to Sydney. Thanks for the notes about planning well for water/snacks/etc. I took a look at the driving distances and it doesn't look too bad - but depending on speed limits and conditions (e.g.  mountains vs. plains) i know that can impact actual driving time. 

    We can do weekend certifications for SCUBA in the next couple of months, so that shouldn't be too much of a concern. 

    We also talked about a "live aboard" ship instead of staying in Cairns to maximize reef time, but we may stay in the city instead for the comfort factor and opportunity to see other things. I'll probably let DK make the final call on that since I'm excited to see the reef, but that part of the trip is for him more than me, and i want him to have the best experience possible. 
  • I'm just impacted a lot by any jet lag so good that you think you'll be ok.

    That all sounds good to me. Let me know if you have any other questions
  • Where abouts were you planning on driving around Tassie? You could do a whole week just from Hobart to Launceston and get in Freycinet National Park, penguins at Burnie etc. 
    Also in Sydney, do the Bondi to Bronte walk. It's amazing walking past all the beaches that Sydneysiders take for granted. (I'm a Sydney local for 25 years. Now live in Melbourne). 
    If you need any Sydney or Melbourne recommendations, feel free to hit me up. 
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