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Old 02-14-2012, 09:05 AM   #46
skier_pete
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More great advice, thank you everyone so much! I've clipped some pieces of your advice below, but all of it is appreciated. I was just thinking how much better this is than just reading a travel guide! I love the DIS!

Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessInOz View Post
I don't usually tip the bellmen or cabbies in Australia. I *might* tip a waiter/waitress if the service has been exceptional.

Tipping is not expected at all over here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by battymum View Post
Never tip by adding it to your bill and charging to your credit card. I highly doubt any of that money would make it back to the service staff.
I wouldnt tip housekeeping, cab drivers, porters, hairdressers
Quote:
Originally Posted by cola View Post
Tipping - we don't have $1 notes, we have $1 and $2 coins, carrying a lot of $1 around for tipping gets heavy very quickly, so not recommended. The main thing is you are not obligated to tip, it will mainly be expected of you because you are American.
All great information. Especially the part about leaving the loose change. While we Americans do have the $1 bill, I am quite used to handling the $1 and $2 coins from our visits to Canada. You can get weighed down very quickly. Leaving the loose change is a good idea to show apprecaition. I especially liked the point from Cola (which I didn't repeat) that the shop owners often take the tips. Interesting. Though I do say, I've heard that can be a problem in some restaurants here as well, because our wait-staffs generally work for tips, I don't think it happens much.

BTW - for those visiting the states, in my opinion, the "Disney Standard" of 18-20% is ridiculous, especially at buffets. Outside of Disney, standard tipping for buffets is about 10 %, while regular restaurants is 15 %, with above that being for exceptional service. Wait staff at a buffet usually cover more tables since they only provide beverages and clean-up. I think about the servers at say Crystal Palace, and figure there's a good chance they make $50-$100 a hour waiting tables there.

I also tend to grade my tipping as well. If we got out to breakfast for $15, I am probably going to leave a $3-$4 for just normal service. Whereas, if we have a $150 dinner, there is almost no way the waiter will get more than 15 %, and is more likely to get less if the service is not up to snuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattincanberra View Post
Hi Guys,
The Stafford is a nice hotel, in a pretty cool location, so well picked there - i'm pretty sure all of the rooms come with at least microwaves and refrigerators, so they are well set up to have at least breakfast (and even make a packed lunch).

I think you really need to make a plan to do things on day 1 - I do the Australia-US trip about a dozen or so times per year for work, and the best way i know to defeat jet lag is to avoid the temptation to sleep early on the first day.
Glad to hear a positive comment on the Stafford. It doesn't seem to be "luxury" or anything, but we don't care about that. The location is more important than anything.

Re: Jet lag. My first thought is this as well, try the best to stay up at least until evening. My wife seems to want to sleep as soon as possible though, so it seems like we have two different opinions on how to get over jet lag, which may end up butting heads a bit. We shall see, but I am guessing once we land, considering we don't have a room we will probably go out and about. I will take your ideas and pass them on to her!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattincanberra View Post
Other useful tip - if you eat at a chinese restaurant in Australia the food is almost inevitably served family style, you order a couple of dishes and rice and it is served in the middle of the table, the only place this isn't routinely true is food ordered in a food court where you will get individual dishes with rice.

Good luck with the planning.

Matt
Chinese in the US is also usually family style as well. We are used to the "order different food and share" technique, so this will be right up our alley!

Quote:
Originally Posted by aussieGeorge68 View Post
Hi Pete. On a budget at 6:30am, lets assume you clear customs at 7:30am, its a Thursday and its rush hour, Traffic in Sydney is a bit like a mixture of LA and NY. As far as the train is concerned think NY subway on a weekday morning.

The Airport train line is not isolated and will be crowded with city office workers. It is possible to fight your way on with luggage but not pleasant. A cab on the other hand will be more costly because of the traffic. Lets just say it won't be all bad if your flight is delayed and you clear customs after 9am.
That's a fantastic point. Not that we'll be in the mood to "hang out" at the airport, but we may want to consider maybe getting something to eat even at the airport before we hit the commuter train. I took this into consideration when booking our flight out of Sydney. (I could've left at 6 PM, but thought we would be battling rush hour to the airport, so instead chose the 3:15 PM flight.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by aussieGeorge68 View Post
The Opera House tour is definitely worth doing, do it on a weekday if possible. In winter I would probably skip the beach.

If your focus is only Australian animals I would skip the zoo as well. Australia has some great wildlife parks that offer a much more personal experience.

I love Sydney Aquarium.

One of my favourite things to do on a sunny day is to go to catch the ferry to Watsons Bay for lunch. There are three options here take away fish and chips in the park (cheap-ish). The Watsons Bay Pub (Children are welcombe) (mid priced) and my favorite doyles seafood restaurant (Expensive).
I am thinking the perfect time for the Opera House tour might be our last (1/2) day. I think they have morning tours, so if they run them on Monday,we could do a tour and get back to the hotel for check-out before heading to the airport.

I get that it is unlikely to be beach weather in Sydney in July, right! Also my same thoughts on skipping the zoo, we will have other chances to see Australian animals, hopefully some in more natural settings. Even a world-class zoo is still going to be similar to our zoos. Sort of the same thing with Aquariums, but I think we would like to at least see one, and the Sydney one seems pretty close to where we'll be.

Thanks again everyone!
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Old 02-14-2012, 09:50 AM   #47
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Melbourne overview

So again, I'll post this here as well as on the front page in shorter form.

So, we leave Sydney on Monday, July 30th. I already have tickets on Jetstar leaving Sydney @ 3:40 PM and arriving in Melbourne (Tullamarine?) at 5:10 PM.

DW has a good friend from her youth that married an Aussie doctor and moved there 20 years ago. They live in the Melbourne area (don't ask me exactly where 'cause I don't know yet.) We will be staying with DWs friends' family, specifically her friends' mother-in-law, who apparently has the room for us. We are spending a week in Melbourne (7 nights - 6 full days), though I am not sure yet how much time these friends are devoting to us.

We have three specific "day-trips" that we definitely want to get in during the visit:
1) The Great Ocean road - as many have recommended to us and DW is also insistent that we do. This will be a bit weather dependent as we can probably pick what the best day to do this would be.
2) Phillip Island - not sure a FULL day trip, but DW has been pumping up to DD to see the little Penguins, and I realize some say this is not really so great, but I think we still will want to do it.
3) Day Ski Trip - as many that followed from my first post may recall, one of my stated goals is to get in a day of skiing while in Australia, and how to go about doing it has been the trick. Through our friends, I found a tour company that runs 1-day bus trips from Melbourne to the nearer ski resorts.

Yes, I know these aren't the "best" ski areas, as the cost will still run near $500 for the 3 of us, but really my goal is just to be able to say we skied in Australia. (It is one of my life's ambitions to have skied on 5 continents, and I am currently only at 2!) I think this is the easiest way to do this without a major detour on the trip. By doing it out of Melbourne, I also figure I can package up our ski clothes and ship them ahead of us...this will allow us to not have to carry that with us the whole time. (We of course will ski-hire the boots and skis - so only need to ship coats.pants.gloves.hats.)

Other things we (I) are hoping to do:
- Explore the city of Melbourne one day.
- Check out the Healesville Sanctuary, highly recommended by PrincessInOz and others as a neat way to encounter the local animal population.
- Meet PrincessInOz and her family (for dinner?)
- Do some laundry (maybe twice) - we will be on our 10th day of our trip when we arrive in Melbourne, and will have about 11 days left when we leave, so I am thining we do laundry here on both ends of our stay, and we should be all set!

At the end of our stay, we are flying to Cairns, which is pretty much the opposite side of the country (South to North - Picture going from Chicago to Orlando for my US followers.) I was planning on doing this on Monday, August 6th, but the flight becomes much, much cheaper on Tuesday August 7th, plus it seems we have a lot to do in Melbourne, so the extra day would help a lot. Plus, it would be one less hotel night, and I could use the budget savings. However, leaving for Cairns a day later just gives us less time on the coast, which I am already feeling like we don't have enough time for...so I am still not decided yet.

I guess I don't have any questions for this section. It's more we have more to do than we probably have time for, so I don't know that I need other suggestions!
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Old 02-14-2012, 03:04 PM   #48
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Dinner it is!

I would keep the skiing optional at this stage. You're heading to Mt Buller and it really will depend if there is snow there or not.

I have to run out to work...so I'll be back later. If there are any other Victorians on during the day, they might give their opinion about what you'd like to do.
Depending on weather, Phillip Island can be really great. When it is really really cold, you'll need your ski gear there.
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Old 02-14-2012, 04:11 PM   #49
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Your plans for Victoria, sound great. You might want to think about actually taking the ski gear. With the wind chill factor (there is always a huge sea breeze), the Penguin parade will be incredibly cold. Don't get me wrong its worth doing and in my top five things to do in Australia but come prepared.

Don't expect too much from Australian Ski resorts, value for money will be appalling.
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:08 AM   #50
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Finally home again.


Not sure if you already know this but Phillip Island offers a 3-parks pass for:
  • Churchill Island. This is a farm/Aussie homestead experience.
  • Koala Sanctuary.
  • Penguin Parade.
Link here. If you decide to visit/do all 3, it is a whole day experience. It just depends on how you plan to get to the Island.

But I will say that you will also be able to see Fairy Penguins in ST Kilda Pier, Melbourne. There is a colony that does come in at twilight at St Kilda/Port Melbourne. Link here. Depending on the weather and if DD really wants to see the penguins, it might be an alternative.

I'll PM you regarding plans for dinner.

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Old 02-15-2012, 01:14 PM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessInOz View Post
Dinner it is!

I would keep the skiing optional at this stage. You're heading to Mt Buller and it really will depend if there is snow there or not.

I have to run out to work...so I'll be back later. If there are any other Victorians on during the day, they might give their opinion about what you'd like to do.
Depending on weather, Phillip Island can be really great. When it is really really cold, you'll need your ski gear there.
Oh, I would be so bummed if there was no snow to ski!
Quote:
Originally Posted by aussieGeorge68 View Post
Your plans for Victoria, sound great. You might want to think about actually taking the ski gear. With the wind chill factor (there is always a huge sea breeze), the Penguin parade will be incredibly cold. Don't get me wrong its worth doing and in my top five things to do in Australia but come prepared.

Don't expect too much from Australian Ski resorts, value for money will be appalling.
I am not expecting much. If you mention skiing in Australia to most americans, they would say "There's skiing in Australia?" I just want to be able to say I did it.

We will have the ski gear there either way...we will ship it to our friend's house rather than lugging it through 7 different airports.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessInOz View Post
Finally home again.


Not sure if you already know this but Phillip Island offers a 3-parks pass for:
  • Churchill Island. This is a farm/Aussie homestead experience.
  • Koala Sanctuary.
  • Penguin Parade.
Link here. If you decide to visit/do all 3, it is a whole day experience. It just depends on how you plan to get to the Island.

But I will say that you will also be able to see Fairy Penguins in ST Kilda Pier, Melbourne. There is a colony that does come in at twilight at St Kilda/Port Melbourne. Link here. Depending on the weather and if DD really wants to see the penguins, it might be an alternative.

I'll PM you regarding plans for dinner.

My DW does know about the 3-park pass...she mentioned to me there are other things to do there, so perhaps we will do it that way. Nice mention of the Melbourne Fairy Penguins...perhaps that would make the trip less stressful.
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July/August 2012 Disneyland / Australia TripPTR "I choose to Be Amused" TR
The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"

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Old 02-23-2012, 02:40 AM   #52
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So happy to hear you plan on visiting Healesville Sanctuary My family has an annual Zoo membership (called a Friends Of The Zoo or FOTZ) for Victoria's 3 Zoos; Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range (an open African Savannah Style) and Healesville Sanctuary (Aussie animals). We live 20 mins from Helaesville so we visit a lot!

I have just started reading your WDW trip report and noticed your daughter likes the FOW show - Healesville has it's own bird show called "Spirits of the Sky" which runs twice a day and is included in the admission. It is a must see, showcasing lots of different Aussie birds and some Aboriginal dreamtime stories. On some days at the end an Aboriginal man whose mother was part of the tribe that used to live on the lands of the Sanctuary comes out and plays the didgeridoo and shows how to throw a boomerang. He is very entertaining but doesn't seem to follow a schedule of when he performs..

Also at the Sanctuary they have "magic moments" which is an extra fee ($10 per person) where you get to chose an animal for a close up encounter. You can meet a Koala, Kangaroo, Tree Kangaroo, Dingo, Emu or Reptiles. You get to pat them and sometimes feed them depending on the animal. Obviously for O/S guests the Koala or Kangaroo would probably be the most popular I think it is definitely worth the money..

And on weekends/public holidays and school holidays children are admitted to all 3 Zoos free. If you ring the Sanctuary a day or two before you visit you can book a free tour with a volunteer guide.

I'm sure you have seen it but here is the link to the Zoos Victoria website: http://www.zoo.org.au/Default.aspx?D...2-731ba6dd45e8 you can choose "Healesville" from the tabs across the top.

Food at the Sanctuary is actually pretty good for a tourist destination - they focus on local Yarra Valley produce - but it is expensive. You pass through the township of Healesville on your way to the Sanctuary where there is a Coles supermarket and a very nice bakery (http://www.beechworthbakery.com/File...2-8a3ec3931ee2 for the menu and prices http://www.beechworthbakery.com/Page...alesville.aspx for the location). You are more than welcome to bring food and drinks into the Sanctuary and there are quite a few water bubblers/fountains around to fill up a bottle.

About 15 mins from Healesville is the town of Yarra Glen, if you are looking for a great playground for your daughter then this is it! It is called McKenzie reserve and is very easy to find on the Main St, it was only opened last year and was built after the Black Saturday bush fires from money donated by Tesco (supermarket chain in England/Ireland). It cost over half a million AUD and as well as very imaginative play equipment there are lots of BBQs and areas for a picnic. Yarra Glen has a very nice pub (Yarra Glen Grand Hotel - http://www.yarravalleygrand.com.au/ and http://www.yarravalleygrand.com.au/images/bistro2.pdf for menu) which is child friendly and had great food including $6.50 for a children's meal with soft drink and jello desert). It is an historic old building and many locals sheltered there during and after the Black Saturday fires.

If you have any questions (after my essay!) fire away
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Old 02-23-2012, 04:24 AM   #53
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I second, third or fourth the Healesville Sanctuary. It's a really wonderful place. I didn't go back and check your whole itinerary but wondered if you were planning on visiting the Australia Zoo in Queensland. We have bee 5 times over the past 10 years and always thought it was a wonderful interactive experience for our children.

The Great Ocean Road is going to blow you away. Such amazing scenery. If anyone gets even the smallest big of car sickness I advise you to get something to fix that prior to the drive. It is not for the faint hearted in that regard. Port Campbell and surrounds will blow you away, so amazing.

I have never done a tour of the Sydney Opera House so I look very much forward to hearing what you think about it all.

What a wonderful trip you will have.

I hope you do get snow. I am in Canberra ACT and we get lots of snow around 2 hours away in Thredbo but I'm not entirely sure whether we get it earlier here than the Victorian snow fields.
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:57 AM   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dabecs View Post
So happy to hear you plan on visiting Healesville Sanctuary My family has an annual Zoo membership (called a Friends Of The Zoo or FOTZ) for Victoria's 3 Zoos; Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range (an open African Savannah Style) and Healesville Sanctuary (Aussie animals). We live 20 mins from Helaesville so we visit a lot!

I have just started reading your WDW trip report and noticed your daughter likes the FOW show - Healesville has it's own bird show called "Spirits of the Sky" which runs twice a day and is included in the admission. It is a must see, showcasing lots of different Aussie birds and some Aboriginal dreamtime stories. On some days at the end an Aboriginal man whose mother was part of the tribe that used to live on the lands of the Sanctuary comes out and plays the didgeridoo and shows how to throw a boomerang. He is very entertaining but doesn't seem to follow a schedule of when he performs..

Also at the Sanctuary they have "magic moments" which is an extra fee ($10 per person) where you get to chose an animal for a close up encounter. You can meet a Koala, Kangaroo, Tree Kangaroo, Dingo, Emu or Reptiles. You get to pat them and sometimes feed them depending on the animal. Obviously for O/S guests the Koala or Kangaroo would probably be the most popular I think it is definitely worth the money..

And on weekends/public holidays and school holidays children are admitted to all 3 Zoos free. If you ring the Sanctuary a day or two before you visit you can book a free tour with a volunteer guide.

I'm sure you have seen it but here is the link to the Zoos Victoria website: http://www.zoo.org.au/Default.aspx?D...2-731ba6dd45e8 you can choose "Healesville" from the tabs across the top.

Food at the Sanctuary is actually pretty good for a tourist destination - they focus on local Yarra Valley produce - but it is expensive. You pass through the township of Healesville on your way to the Sanctuary where there is a Coles supermarket and a very nice bakery (http://www.beechworthbakery.com/File...2-8a3ec3931ee2 for the menu and prices http://www.beechworthbakery.com/Page...alesville.aspx for the location). You are more than welcome to bring food and drinks into the Sanctuary and there are quite a few water bubblers/fountains around to fill up a bottle.

About 15 mins from Healesville is the town of Yarra Glen, if you are looking for a great playground for your daughter then this is it! It is called McKenzie reserve and is very easy to find on the Main St, it was only opened last year and was built after the Black Saturday bush fires from money donated by Tesco (supermarket chain in England/Ireland). It cost over half a million AUD and as well as very imaginative play equipment there are lots of BBQs and areas for a picnic. Yarra Glen has a very nice pub (Yarra Glen Grand Hotel - http://www.yarravalleygrand.com.au/ and http://www.yarravalleygrand.com.au/images/bistro2.pdf for menu) which is child friendly and had great food including $6.50 for a children's meal with soft drink and jello desert). It is an historic old building and many locals sheltered there during and after the Black Saturday fires.

If you have any questions (after my essay!) fire away
Great advice all. We're getting lots of good feedback about Healesville, I hope we can make it there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ms. Shuttergirl View Post
I second, third or fourth the Healesville Sanctuary. It's a really wonderful place. I didn't go back and check your whole itinerary but wondered if you were planning on visiting the Australia Zoo in Queensland. We have bee 5 times over the past 10 years and always thought it was a wonderful interactive experience for our children.

The Great Ocean Road is going to blow you away. Such amazing scenery. If anyone gets even the smallest big of car sickness I advise you to get something to fix that prior to the drive. It is not for the faint hearted in that regard. Port Campbell and surrounds will blow you away, so amazing.

I have never done a tour of the Sydney Opera House so I look very much forward to hearing what you think about it all.

What a wonderful trip you will have.

I hope you do get snow. I am in Canberra ACT and we get lots of snow around 2 hours away in Thredbo but I'm not entirely sure whether we get it earlier here than the Victorian snow fields.
Yes, we are also planning on seeing the Australia Zoo. Steve Irwin was a pretty big celebrity over here, and DD used to watch his video with The Wiggles from Australia Zoo a ton, so we figured we better go a check it out. She pretty fascinated by Crocodiles as well.
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1971 - 1982 Many childhood trips May 1997 - Off-site w/ DGF (now DW) October 2000 - Off-site w/ DW - 1st AK
October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
October 15-25, 2010 @ AKL Trip Report!
November 11-20, 2011 - Free dining at CBR! PTR! and Trip Report
July/August 2012 Disneyland / Australia TripPTR "I choose to Be Amused" TR
The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"

October 2014 Pre Trip Report- "Let us plan our Escape !" LINK NEW TR
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Old 02-27-2012, 06:52 AM   #55
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Hi-catching up after a few months absence from the boards. Brilliant trip-its coming together well. On Jetlag-going to and fro Europe we find if we get in early am- and as we don't sleep on planes- we need a "nap" to get us through or we collapse at 3pm and wake at 3am starved. I read in a medical article you need a 4 hour nap-no more no less to wake up feeling good and it seems to work. So we get to our hotel (and we normally put up the cost and prebook the night before so we can go straight to our room unless they do/have a rep for early check-in), leave our gear, go get some food then generally settle down and crash asleep but set alarms for 4 hours. Then we get up, shower and go out sightseeing, eat dinner and go to bed the usual time and wake up pretty good. Happy to chip in comments as your latter half of the trip comes together.
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Old 02-28-2012, 06:32 AM   #56
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Back again. Was also thinking last night re food-wherever we travel in the world we often carry a plastic bowl, spoon, plate, knife etc with us for in-room breakies with cereals/rolls/ spreads/ juice bought from supermarkets and occasional supermarket/market bought lunches-if its a hot day especially it can be nice to crash in an air con hotel room over lunch before hitting the streets again. You will always get a fridge and kettle of some description in your room in Aus but we often carry sachets of coffee, sugar and teabags as they often don't supply enough if we are indulging daytimes as well (depends on the grade of hotel!). In Aus cheaper places to eat, not gourmet (the gourmet ones are dearer) but decent are Rugby League Clubs and Taverns or in the cities, a better class of pubs-most have dining areas suitable for adults accompanied by children with main meals averaging $10 (often $10 lunch deal) to $20.
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Old 02-28-2012, 06:34 AM   #57
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I would also add in Sydney consider catching the ferry from Central Quay to get to Darling Harbour-its a great ride past the Opera House and under the Harbour Bridge, past the Luna Park face and around into the Harbour (and eg walk back). Most overseas visitors we have taken there also love the Chinese Gardens in Darling Harbour-small but pretty and only take an hour. I second checking out the eateries near the children's playground (in area called Darling Quarter) here too-the playground is fantastic-its new since last we visited and we saw it in Jan. Not sure of the prices of the cafes here. The chocolate shop (for coffees etc) is a lot less crowded than the popular (and expensive Lindt) in the main part of the harbour area. Not all the restaurants around the edge of the main harbour looking out at the water are dear and the cheapest fish and chips is right around by the Maritime Museum (a little shop tucked in the row near the end)-if you get take away watch out for greedy gulls.

In Melbourne a walk along the Yarra in the evening is beautiful with lot of fairy lights and buskers and you can have fun "playing" the giant theramin - sorry just looked it up and it is only a temporary artwork til end Feb-blow-if they extend the installation though its a lot of fun.

If you are actually in Brisbane rather than passing through- Southbank is a good walk eg start from the Kurilpa Bridge (with all masts to represent ships masts and means place of the water rats-Indigenous name for the area, won 2011 World Transport Bdg of the Year) leads from city over the river to GOMA (modern art gallery), then walk past art gallery, museum, QPAC, through parklands, beach (good pics with beach and city across the river behind,especially at night when the casino is lit up or back towards Kurilpa Bridge lit up) to the Goodwill Bridge where you can cross over the river again-but thats a long walk! You can also cross from the city from Brisbane Sqe near the casino over Victoria Bridge-comes out by QPAC and museum instead of Kurilpa. Lots of eateries in Little Stanley St, the street that parallels Southbank on the non river side (look at Google maps). The citycat is also a nice ride...but you may not be planning time in Brisbane itself? Many don't and with so much to see that's understandable. You are covering a lot of highlights as it is! In Cairns you have to do a reef day trip and a day trip up to the Atherton Tablelands and/or the Kuranda skyway. Ok you prob have heaps of suggestions from others so will sign out!
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Old 02-28-2012, 08:55 AM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie Wendy View Post
Hi-catching up after a few months absence from the boards. Brilliant trip-its coming together well. On Jetlag-going to and fro Europe we find if we get in early am- and as we don't sleep on planes- we need a "nap" to get us through or we collapse at 3pm and wake at 3am starved. I read in a medical article you need a 4 hour nap-no more no less to wake up feeling good and it seems to work. So we get to our hotel (and we normally put up the cost and prebook the night before so we can go straight to our room unless they do/have a rep for early check-in), leave our gear, go get some food then generally settle down and crash asleep but set alarms for 4 hours. Then we get up, shower and go out sightseeing, eat dinner and go to bed the usual time and wake up pretty good. Happy to chip in comments as your latter half of the trip comes together.
Nice! I agree, short nap (2-3 hours) or else you are up in the middle of the night.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie Wendy View Post
Back again. Was also thinking last night re food-wherever we travel in the world we often carry a plastic bowl, spoon, plate, knife etc with us for in-room breakies with cereals/rolls/ spreads/ juice bought from supermarkets and occasional supermarket/market bought lunches-if its a hot day especially it can be nice to crash in an air con hotel room over lunch before hitting the streets again. You will always get a fridge and kettle of some description in your room in Aus but we often carry sachets of coffee, sugar and teabags as they often don't supply enough if we are indulging daytimes as well (depends on the grade of hotel!). In Aus cheaper places to eat, not gourmet (the gourmet ones are dearer) but decent are Rugby League Clubs and Taverns or in the cities, a better class of pubs-most have dining areas suitable for adults accompanied by children with main meals averaging $10 (often $10 lunch deal) to $20.
My mom mentioned the Rugby Clubs when they went were a great deal.We will definitely have to check that out. Also probably a good idea to bring/buy some basic utensils for the rooms.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie Wendy View Post
I would also add in Sydney consider catching the ferry from Central Quay to get to Darling Harbour-its a great ride past the Opera House and under the Harbour Bridge, past the Luna Park face and around into the Harbour (and eg walk back). Most overseas visitors we have taken there also love the Chinese Gardens in Darling Harbour-small but pretty and only take an hour. I second checking out the eateries near the children's playground (in area called Darling Quarter) here too-the playground is fantastic-its new since last we visited and we saw it in Jan. Not sure of the prices of the cafes here. The chocolate shop (for coffees etc) is a lot less crowded than the popular (and expensive Lindt) in the main part of the harbour area. Not all the restaurants around the edge of the main harbour looking out at the water are dear and the cheapest fish and chips is right around by the Maritime Museum (a little shop tucked in the row near the end)-if you get take away watch out for greedy gulls.

In Melbourne a walk along the Yarra in the evening is beautiful with lot of fairy lights and buskers and you can have fun "playing" the giant theramin - sorry just looked it up and it is only a temporary artwork til end Feb-blow-if they extend the installation though its a lot of fun.

If you are actually in Brisbane rather than passing through- Southbank is a good walk eg start from the Kurilpa Bridge (with all masts to represent ships masts and means place of the water rats-Indigenous name for the area, won 2011 World Transport Bdg of the Year) leads from city over the river to GOMA (modern art gallery), then walk past art gallery, museum, QPAC, through parklands, beach (good pics with beach and city across the river behind,especially at night when the casino is lit up or back towards Kurilpa Bridge lit up) to the Goodwill Bridge where you can cross over the river again-but thats a long walk! You can also cross from the city from Brisbane Sqe near the casino over Victoria Bridge-comes out by QPAC and museum instead of Kurilpa. Lots of eateries in Little Stanley St, the street that parallels Southbank on the non river side (look at Google maps). The citycat is also a nice ride...but you may not be planning time in Brisbane itself? Many don't and with so much to see that's understandable. You are covering a lot of highlights as it is! In Cairns you have to do a reef day trip and a day trip up to the Atherton Tablelands and/or the Kuranda skyway. Ok you prob have heaps of suggestions from others so will sign out!
All good stuff! Thanks so much. So much to do and see.
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Old 03-01-2012, 12:50 PM   #59
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Queensland Question!

So, it’s time to talk a bit about the longest, most expensive, and so far most nebulous portion of our trip. The visit to Queensland, also to be referred to by me as the “east coast” or Cairns to Brisbane.

So, my starting plan for this was to fly out of Melbourne on Monday, August 6th mid-day, arriving in Cairns in the afternoon. We would spend three nights in Cairns, with two full days, before leaving on Thursday. One day would be for going up to Kurandu to do the Skyway / Railway, and the other would be for a day out to the reef. We would drive down to the coast to Whitsundays, and on Friday take a day out in the Islands. This would leave us with four days (Saturday – Tuesday) to get to Brisbane and the other thing we really want to do, which is the Australia Zoo, on Wednesday before we fly back to Sydney for our trip home. What we would exactly do on the trip down to Brisbane I haven’t yet worked out, though I am very interested in Eungella National park as a stop right out of Airlie Beach.

As I was pricing things out, two problems have come up with this plan, and both are budget related:
1) The cost of the boat trips – as I look into it I am realizing how expensive it is for a day of sailing, like somewhere around $500 AUS or more for the three of us for a day. This is an awful lot of money to do it once, not to mention twice. In addition, we are not “water” people. I do not like being ON the water (though I don’t mind being in the water) and have a phobia that makes docks and bridges very hard to deal with, and while boats are better they are not my favorite. My DW doesn’t care to be IN the water very much as she gets creeped out by anything alive around her and gets motion sick pretty easily. (I also don’t like the sun much – since I was a teen and got sun poisoning and couldn’t go out in the sun for about 4 years without breaking out in a rash. Doesn’t happen any more, but I very aware of it.) Suffice it to say that that even though seeing the reef is high on my list of priorities, our discomfrcombined with the price limits us to a single boat tour.
2) The flight from Melbourne->Cairns. If we get an early flight (6 AM) on Tuesday instead of Monday, we can save about $150 on the flight, as well as save a nights hotel stay for the trip (so another $150 or so). We are already looking like we might run over budget as well as run short of time in Melbourne, so this is appealing as well.

So, taking these two things into account, my next round of thought was this, where do we do the day cruise? Do we skip the Whitsundays completely and just do the cruise out of Cairns? But then I was thinking if we go out of Whitsunday/Airlie Beach, we could see BOTH the islands (as we go through them) and do a Reef cruise. The important thing to me is to see a part of the Great Barrier Reef. While I am already really bummed we are not going to get Uluru, I am definitely not going to miss this. In fact, while searching, I found what I think is the absolutely perfect cruise out of Airlie Beach. One of the web-pages is http://www.cruisewhitsundays.com/gbra.aspx. it takes you on a day cruise out to a Pontoon destination near Knuckle Reef. The Pontoon has an area for snorkeling but best of all has both a glass-bottom boat and a submersible for touring the reef. I really do believe that after an hour or less of snorkeling, our family will have had enough, but to be able to relax see the reef using a boat/sub as well seems like a great day. I downloaded a brochure from this web-site (PDF file listed at bottom) that I showed to my family, and they LOVE this idea for the day. I haven’t found anything yet similar out of Cairns, which makes this the most appealing choice.

If we do this, though, and we fly to Cairns on Tuesday, do we:
Choice A: cut Cairns back to two nights and a day and half? Leave for Airlie on Thursday and sail on Friday. Still 4 days to get to Brisbane.
Choice B: Still spend 3 nights in Cairns, push back the drive to Airlie so we take the boat tour on Saturday, and then leave only three days for the trip down the Australia Zoo/Brisbane?
Choice C: Find a cruise out of Cairns and skip the Whitsundays completely?

So, my Australian friends, for those that take their tours to Queensland what would be your recommendation. Honestly, once we get below Airlie, my thought is to track more inland. As said above, we tend to be less “ocean” people than “mountain” people, I just love the American Southwest, so though we like a little beach/sea time, it is not our focus. I am honestly leaning toward option B, as there seems like a lot of stuff to see out of Cairns.

The one piece of this whole section of the puzzle that is in place. We have a flight from Brisbane to Sydney booked for 8:30 PM on August 15th. This allows us to even wait until Wednesday to do Australia Zoo, and still be able to go to the airport. (Seems likely we will have little time for visiting Brisbane). We then have a flight from Sydney to LA on the morning of August 16th. I figure we will stay at an inexpensive hotel near the airport overnight on Wednesday.

So, more opinions please!
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October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
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Old 03-01-2012, 03:09 PM   #60
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Pete- I'm running out to work and I'll be back later with more thoughts.

But.....have you checked how far Cairns is to the Whitsundays/Airley Beach? That's quite a drive.

There are quite a group of islands at the Whitsundays. I'm pretty sure there are over 75. You get to see the lower reef from the Whitsundays and I've been on a similar boat to scuba/snorkle trip out on the pontoon from Long Island. I cannot comment on Cairns as I have yet to make it up to Far North Queensland (it used to always be cheaper to go somewhere else overseas than go to Cairns).
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