Australia in December (looking for travel advice)...

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by jpripcord, Aug 20, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. jpripcord

    jpripcord Silver Member

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    So I took advantage of the SQ inventory opening up a month or two ago for all Star Alliance partners, and booked a trip from EWR > SIN > PER; SYD > LAX > EWR for me and the fiance.

    This will be our first time down under, and would like to hit as many of the highlights as possible. Obviously towards the top of our list is the Great Barrier Reef, but all the guide books I read caution tourists that December can be "unbearably hot and humid".

    Now, I completely understand that we're not going during the optimal time, but is it really worth missing out on our (potentially only) time to swim in the GBF?

    We aren't certified to dive, so my plan would be to snorkel for a day, then hike in the rainforest the other day. It would be a quick trip (2 days) between Perth and Sydney, and I feel like it's too special (and far from NYC where we live) to pass up this opportunity.

    Looking for some advice/sanity check to tell me "Of course you should go. Yes it will be hot and humid, but this is your only time in Australia (at least for the next 5-10 years), how can you pass that up" or "It's just too hot and the chances of rain are way too high. You're rushing the trip, and it's not worth it. Just take your time and relax and enjoy the trip"

    Any other thoughts/comments/advice are always appreciated.

    Thanks

    -JP
     
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  2. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    a few Great Barrier Reef resorts are discussed here: http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/great-barrier-reef-resorts-australia.21195/

    Sanity Check, you didn't say for how long you were going to go for but my advice is to forget Perth for this trip, that is pushing it too much.

    Don't worry about the humidity. I went to Japan in mid July & sweated my arse off, I wouldn't trade the trip for anything, if timing works for you guys, go !

    If the GBR truly appeals to you, consider getting certified in diving BEFORE you go. Bang out your classroom & poolwork near your home/business, then do a quick trip to FL Keys or elsewhere to get your checkout dives done.
     
  3. jpripcord

    jpripcord Silver Member

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    Thanks for the feedback.

    We have 9 or so days in Australia. We land in Perth from Singapore, which is why we were considering spending a couple days there, but we could just change planes and continue onto Cairns.

    As far as timing goes, the "humidity" wouldn't stop me from doing the trip, but it is rainy season. As great at the GBR sounds, traveling all the way out there for a few days of rain does not seem like the best bet. Obviously there are no guarantees, but I was hoping to get some feedback on others who visited Cairns in December in the past

    Also, while getting certified would be great prior to going, it's just not realistic. We live in NYC and have plans every single weekend between now and December 1st (when we leave for our trip). I can't believe how busy we are this year, but snorkeling will have to work for this trip. We are hitting Moorea/Bora Bora for the honeymoon, so maybe we can get certified before that trip.
     
  4. philatravelgirl

    philatravelgirl Silver Member

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    I was in Perth at thanksgiving time and it was just like the heat/humidity of the east coast Philly area. I loved Rottnest island just a beautiful holiday island. I also did wineries and sand boarding. That said it was my second trip to Australia and Perth is a good way away from Sydney (5 hr flight if I remember). I wouldn't tell first time visitors to go to Perth, I did it as a "how far will my miles take me and the agent said Perth and I said ok"
    For a first visit I did Sydney (one of my favorite cities) and Cairns/barrier reef in ten days so much to see in both and December is start of their summer I don't remember it being too hot (Perth was hot).
    Book ahead to climb bridge (I haven't done this yet), book a performance at the opera house, visit the wineries in hunter valley and do much more. In Cairns, snorkeling was good and then we did helicopter from tour boat back to town amazing!
    great trip to look forward to - you'll fall in love with everything Australia and definitely go back soon.
     
  5. georockc

    georockc Silver Member

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    I can't talk about the rest of Australia, but I've spent a bit of time in the Perth area. If you do decide to spend time there, I'd take a trip to Rottnest Island. It's beautiful, great biking (no cars), great sand beaches and some good snorkeling as well. The beaches all around WA are beautiful (watch out for sharks ;)). The Swan Valley wine region and Margarette River area are great for wine tours.
     
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  6. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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  7. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    If you do go to Perth, take a boat trip down the Swan River to Fremantle and then come back by train. Plenty of places in Fremantle for a nice lunch. Keep an eye out for quokkas on Rottnest if you go over there for the day. I've deleted the Rottnest photos from years past, but have some Perth and Fremantle photos from 2010 HERE.

    I've been out to Perth a couple times, once doing a 3 day backpacker tour all the way up to Exmouth, and another trip heading south to Augusta with a combination of school buses and public transit. Very different experiences. Not sure you really have the time to do either of those. The trip north is the one I remember the most due to the vast stretches we covered that were uninhabited and stops at roadhouses for meals and fuel.
     
  8. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Have you played the course at Coober Pedy? PHOTO (not mine) That's one place I still want to visit. I've been to Alice Springs and Adelaide on either side, but have never done the road trip/train between the two.
     
  9. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Take a look at the Whitsunday Islands that are further south. That's also a gateway for snorkeling and water activity on the Reef and it's a haven for backpackers with meal and drink specials in the bar along the main road there at night. The gateway there is Airlie Beach. Closest airports would be Prosperine or Hamilton Island and you'd have to do shuttle bus or ferry from those (not at easy as Cairns where the airport is 5 mins from the city center).
     
  10. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    If you want to swim, etc. near the GBR or even the Sydney beaches, be sure to check the dates for the jellyfish season which seriously keeps people out of the water.

    December in Australia in VERY high season for resorts and Sydney. Book far in advance and expect to pay high prices for lodging. Northern hemisphere folks come to visit and the locals have school vacation periods around the holidays. I know someone who did a once-in-a-lifetime trip only to find that they were unable to get any hotel room in Sydney, so they were forced to spend the entire trip in other areas of Australia. The only part of Sydney, which should have been a highlight, that they were able to see was the airport.
     
  11. jpripcord

    jpripcord Silver Member

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    Thanks for the advice.I booked 4 nights at they Park Hyatt Sydney on points. Expecting that to be a very nice experience.

    We're definitely going to try to settle down in Sydney for the last 4-5 days of the trip, just trying to plan out the Pert/Cairns part.

    Lot of potential drawbacks of Cairns (Hot, Wet, Stingers, etc.), but the positives seem to be outweighing the negatives. I'm still really hoping to hear from someone who's been to Cairns in December Specifically as my concerns deal mostly with the weather/conditions in that month compared to others.

    I appreciate the "off the beaten" path recs as well, but in all honesty, with only 9 days for our first trip to Australia, we're probably better off hitting the major highlights

    Thanks so far for everyone's suggestions, please keep them coming. You guys are great
     
  12. jpripcord

    jpripcord Silver Member

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    Ok, so the my most current plan for the Australia part of my trip is as follows. Thoughts, advice, tips are always welcomed:

    Thursday morning - Land in Perth (from Singapore) at 6 am. Check into hotel, explore city for the day
    Thursday night - Take 9:50 pm flight to Cairns
    Friday morning - Land in CNS at 4:10 am, take car service to Port Douglas
    Friday day - RELAX. We're going to be exhausted from the two previous days. Hit a beach or two, chill by the pool, explore the town
    Saturday - Snorkeling on the reef for the day. Still looking for a good operator to explore the outer reefs
    Sunday - Day trip to the rainforest/daintree
    Monday - Flight to Sydney at 12:30, arrive at 4:30
    Tues/Wed/Thurs - Explore Sydney, take a trip to the Blue Mountains, enjoy the beaches
    Friday - Travel back home to NYC
     
  13. georockc

    georockc Silver Member

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    If you've got the time well you're in Perth, take the train down to Fremantle on the coast. Lots of great places in Fremantle for a good lunch or cup of coffee and some time people watching. If you're a fan of great beer and food, be sure to stop at Little Creatures Brewery on the fishing boat harbor. Excellent Pale Ale and Cider and the food is top notch as well. Plus there's lots of nice beaches in the area.

    Sounds like you've got a great trip worked out. I'm heading for Oz next week, I'll let you know if any of my coworkers have recommendations for Cairns and the reef.
    Have fun
     
  14. willwillie

    willwillie New Member

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    I have taken 4 separate 4-5week private vacations in Australia (mid-Dec to mid-Jan). Your itinerary is a little tight, but you are fine tuning it well. This is just my opinion and what I have actually done seveal time long ago and recently.

    Sydney: Skip the touristy Circular Quay area except for the Opera House. Enjoy the many Sydney neighborhoods (Balmain, Leichhardt, etc.). Eat dinner at the many tiny outdoor neighborhood sidewalk cafes with superb service and food. Romantic and friendly. Bring your own bottle of wine from the bottle shops ahead of time. Enjoy Bondi and Tamara Beaches. Do the bridge climb. Walk around the Gardens. Swim in a pool over the Harbour (Andrew Charlton Pool) at lunch. With only 3 full days in Sydney, I would skip the full day trip to the Blue Mts.

    Cairns: Fine in December. Yes, it's hot and humid. It's tropical! Just slow down and relax. Warning: it is jellyfish mating season just along the beach. Swim in netted-off beach areas.

    GBR: Not sure if you are still able to take 'escorted' dives taught by a dive company without a certificate. I did and felt very safe. It was fantastic. I dove morning and afternoon. You do need to have a day between flying and diving. Check for logistics with your dive company. I used Tusa Dive. They have smaller boats (not big ships), personalized service and take you to the outer edge for the best diving.I would use them if only snorkelling, too. And enjoy the trip into the rainforest, also.

    If I ever see ya there, it's your shout! (Your turn to buy beer.)
     
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  15. suenam

    suenam Silver Member

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    I love the Rocks area of Sydney. If you do the bridge climb, you will be right in the area. Worth a walk around there. Also, they have a great weekend craft market there, especially in December. I found lots of unique gifts.
     
  16. suenam

    suenam Silver Member

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    I also like the ferry to Manley Beach. It is a great ride across the harbor and you can spend some time at Manley. At Christmas time they have a Salvation Army band that plays Christmas carols.
     

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