Australia!
October 19, 2011 7:22 PM   Subscribe

Help my friends plan a honeymoon in Australia.

Two friends are getting married and then heading off to Australia and New Zealand for a two-and-a-half week honeymoon. Unfortunately the chaos of wedding planning has prevented them from making any arrangements or plans beyond the purchasing of the airplane tickets from the U.S. (They haven't even figured out how or when they're getting to New Zealand from Australia, much less what they're going to do in either place.)

They arrive in Sydney in the middle of next month. I'm aware of this thread but they could use some Australia-specific information as well.

Thanks!
posted by gerryblog to Travel & Transportation around Australia (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
It depends on what they like to do and how much money they want to spend. There are so many really amazing places to visit, it's hard to be general about it, but if they can, they maybe should head out to Uluru and experience that; the Blue Mountains west of Sydney are artsy (and touristy) and stunning; Byron Bay, in northern NSW is beautiful and alternative; south coast NSW is rugged and has penguins; Sydney itself is a fun city to explore with distinctive suburbs, great food and personality...
posted by thylacinthine at 7:49 PM on October 19, 2011


My suggestion is that they consider sticking to Australia. It's a huge country with tons to explore, and if they're only there for two and a half weeks, then a trip to New Zealand really eats into their time. If, however, they're set on NZ, then they should do only the south island (where they could easily spend three weeks). How will they be getting around? With limited time, they should consider renting a car in NZ. Highlights on the south island for me included hikes, skydiving, hiking up Ben Lomond, swimming with the dolphins in Kaikoura; there's a ton to do. MeMail me if you want more details about anything.

In Australia, some highlights include Cape Tribulation in Queensland, Kakadu and Ayers Rock in the Northern Territory, and the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, but you can't do it all in two and a half weeks, and it's a lot of flying - but worth it. Near Sydney, they should absolutely do a day trip to the Blue Mountains (Katoomba). In Sydney, I'd also recommend a ferry ride to Manly Beach for a few hours.
posted by Dasein at 7:50 PM on October 19, 2011


What are their tickets for? If they are flying out of Wellington then it isn't very helpful to recommend that they stay in Australia (which I would).
posted by jacalata at 7:52 PM on October 19, 2011


Their tickets are in and out of Sydney.
posted by gerryblog at 7:59 PM on October 19, 2011


I've lived in country for nine months now, and the coolest thing I've done is the Yellow Water Cruise in Kakadu. Would be a flight to Darwin and a drive out to Kakadu, but you get to see more native birds than you can imagine, and the crocs will swim right up to the boat. I'm not a huge fan of Darwin otherwise, but Yellow Water Cruise is worth it.
posted by GamblingBlues at 7:59 PM on October 19, 2011


Rough idea of things to do:

Fly into Sydney, head straight to Darling Harbour to view Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, catch ferry over to Taronga Zoo. Coo at baby animals.

Head to Katoomba/Blue Mountains and visit the Three Sisters and go on the train down the mountain, walk back up the steps. Enjoy jelly legs.

Fly to Melbourne, tour the city, St Kilda, etc then either jump on a bus or hire car to enjoy Great Ocean Road and visit Phillip Island for the Fairy Penguins.

Fly to Brisbane, hire a car and tour the city and up to Mt Cootha at night to enjoy the lights, take a tour or drive up to the Sunshine Coast and visit Australia Zoo and then go into Maleny/Montville and check out the crafts. Fly up to Whitsundays and tour Great Barrier Reef.

Fly back to Brisbane then out to Alice Springs and Uluru, marvel at giant rock and Olgas, visit the wildlife conservation and out to the canyon.

There is so much more but this is just some ideas and I can't help with NZ sorry.
posted by latch24 at 8:00 PM on October 19, 2011


What sort of information are you looking for? Places to see? Places to stay? Activities? Also, what kind of things are your friends into? Adventure sports? Food and wine? Art? Music?

Just off the top of my head, in Sydney, check out the Opera House, of course. And the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Taronga Zoo is pretty cool. Ferries are a great way to get to Darling Harbour, Manly, and the Zoo. The Rocks is a great place to wander. Don't forget Bondi. The Blue Mountains are gorgeous and there's a scenic railway at Katoomba.

Each state has its own tourism site: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, and Western Australia.

For accomodation, look on Wotif.com.
posted by t0astie at 8:07 PM on October 19, 2011


Nth'ing "that's not much time to see a lot of stuff". They really would be better off dropping the NZ idea (although if they'd not already booked tickets, I'd have suggested the opposite as NZ is gorgeous and well worth spending a month in).

latch24 has a good list, for such a short period of time you're not going to be able to do most of that stuff justice if you try to do it all. I'd probably skip the Brisbane/Sunshine Coast stuff (if you're doing Taronga you probably don't need Australia Zoo), and much as it's my home area it's not all that thrilling. Pretty, yes, but not amazingly more-so than the Whitsundays/FNQ.

Instead of the Whitsundays I might suggest doing Cairns and Port Douglas - do go diving from PD. Also, from Cairns they can do the Kuranda skyrail/scenic railway trip which is worthwhile, and will get them their fix of slightly-dodgy-craftmarket stuff.

If they do go the Whitsundays, DIVE. There's a lovely 3-night trip you can do on a tallship (Solway Lass) that is relaxing, not overly expensive, and well worth the effort.

Finally, if flights can be arranged it might be better to rejig the order of things -- for instance, Sydney - Melbourne - Alice Springs - (Queensland) - Sydney -- to minimise back-tracking.
posted by coriolisdave at 8:15 PM on October 19, 2011


A Day On The Green is a series of events with music in vineyards. Seems pretty honeymooney.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:16 PM on October 19, 2011


Oh, I just realised, mid next month = mid November? It'll be the start of the wet season in Far North Qld, the Northern Territory (well, Darwin anyway) and the top end of WA. So... Cairns, Port Douglas, Darwin might not be great. It won't be cold, but if it rains, it really, really rains. For days on end. And if it's not raining, it'll be building up to rain. Which means hellish humidity.
posted by t0astie at 8:26 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would be a flight to Darwin
Don't forge that there are limited flights in an out of Darwin and, no matter where you are coming from, it's a bloody long way. It might take too much time out of the trip and, when added to the US-Aus-US flights, you'd be spending a lot of time on planes.

Yeah, you're coming up to the wet season up north, which has it's own attractions for some, but can create chaos for travellers. Definitely head up there for the Great Barrier Reef, though and a few days in Cairns/Townsville and surrounds will give you all the natural beauty you can handle.

If you don't mind a bit if touristy stuff and/or like theme parks, spend a few days on the Gold Coast. If you're heading up north, you can do this on the way up or back and there are plenty of flights both ways. Alternatively, you could do the Sydney-Brisbane (or reverse) drive, which will provide a view of 'the real Australia' and a perspective of just how big this place is (drive for 12 hours straight, then look at how small a piece of the country you have covered).

Alice Springs and Uluru would be a must-see, I think. Again, a long way from everywhere else, but worthwhile.

Melbourne is great for culture vultures and coffee shops.

Tasmania has lots of lovely foresty stuff and lakes and rivers.

If they get over to NZ, the North Island may be a better bet in the summer - Rotorua for awesome springs, geysers etc, lakes and rivers everywhere you look and lots of awesome stuff in the Bay of Islands.

This all depends on the type of honeymoon they are looking for - do they want to flit around and see/do as much as possible or are they wanting to be more laid-back and just chill?
posted by dg at 9:21 PM on October 19, 2011


Not to discredit other places or sights, but if I had 2.5 weeks (18 days for the sake of argument) I would want to minimise the travel time, and split it up into something like:

- 5 days Sydney & Blue Mountains (some of this will be recovering from the inbound flight)
- 11 days NZ (South Island)
- 2 days in Sydney (basically, in transit from NZ for much of the first day, then a final sunset & dinner, and last round of sightseeing)

Australia is quite large, and to reach places like Kakadu or far north Queensland would eat up around 8 hours each direction, just getting to & from the airports, checking in, and flight time.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:21 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, with summer down south, you don't have to worry about the usual "oh I'll go in my summer break (June/July/August), go to Melbourne, Canberra etc... WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT IS SNOWING?"

So yeah- lots of rain up north, lovely and sunny down south. (Including NZ, I think.)

These are two big places (cheesy size comparison) with lots to do.

Some people like to absorb a place, others like to tick things off and visit as much as possible.
What do they want to see? Why did they choose Australia and NZ in the first place? This will help you plan. I'd pick a few cool things in each city/region that you think might appeal and

Also: it would be cool if you set up a survival pack- ear plugs, neck pillows, moist towlettes (should be ok with the liquid laws?) etc. for them to take with them- it will be a long flight. Also jetlag survival issue- yes it is real and yes it will through them.

Jetabroad.com.au is useful for tracking down cheaper fairs, but I wouldn't book through them unless you really liked them- the airlines might have cheaper flights. You should be aware that interior flights are not very cheap in Australia (compared to Europe) and that the airlines are of different qualities. Qantas may have industrial action in the next month and Tiger seems to be ok at the moment, but has a history of cancelled flights and other problems. (They can be pretty fussy about luggage.) Book soon- they most likely will not get cheaper.

Suitcases should be no heavier than 21kg*, even if they are allowed heavier to/from the US, because the limit is smaller here.
*(this is my memory that we were allowed up to 32kg flying through the US, not so much otherwise)

Late November you'll get schoolies week(s), which is when the year 12 kids finish their exams, and hit the beach to party (and party, and party) so it might be advisable to avoid schoolies hot spots (Gold Coast, etc). They aren't always a flood of obvious drunk 18 year olds, but there are places you could enjoy without the spew on the ground.

On a more subjective level, I reckon three or four days in a place is enough to soak it up a bit before moving on if that is the kind of travel you're doing, and it is also nice to soak for a week in one spot. I would maybe pick four places to see.

Your job is to help them plan their honeymoon, not plan it for them (which I'm sure you're aware of.) You'll have to research lots and let them go "hey yes totally" or "budget wise we might have to drop that option" or "eww, that's not really us" or "hey what about something like..." - it will take a few meetings with them, I think.
posted by titanium_geek at 9:27 PM on October 19, 2011


jet lag: throw them, not through them.
posted by titanium_geek at 9:31 PM on October 19, 2011


Three words: Great. Barrier. Reef.

No other place in the world comes close. Lots of good suggestions upthread, but there is really only one *must* place - the reef. Plan everything else around it.

Swimming ability, hobbies/interests, age.. none of those things matter in the face of.. well.. in the face of having cute fish right in your face. It is real life Nat Geo in HD.

Hamilton Island is a fantastic base for exploring the reef for a honeymooning couple. Easy flights available from Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane etc.
posted by vidur at 10:50 PM on October 19, 2011


Seconding the reef -- scuba diving lessons if they're so inclined.

Global warming means no reef in a decade, so go now.

Wine touring is second on my list -- they keep the best stuff and export the rest!
posted by wenat at 11:57 PM on October 19, 2011


Bear in mind, the reef currently looks like ass* due to cyclone damage at the start of this year. This is not to say it's not worth doing, but it's definitely not at its best.

WRT wine touring, absolutely. Just... ignore the people who recommend SE Queensland. Or NSW (unless you like insipid reds, and pointless whites). South Australia (Clare Valley / Maclaren Vale / etc) is where you want to go for wine, and come to think of it - if they're foodies they'd adore a tour through the Barossa Valley.


*technical term

posted by coriolisdave at 2:12 AM on October 20, 2011


Sydney is awesome all around, so definitely spend a few days there eating and seeing and walking and monorailing. The Blue Mountains are beautiful. (I rented a cottage from these guys. It had a stunning view and it was a really nice place. I'd absolutely stay there again.) Scenic World, for the little inclined railway and Three Sisters hikes, is touristy but worth it. Definitely do the inclined railway, it's a trip.

I also went to Jenolan Caves on my last trip there, and they are pretty incredible. Stayed at Caves House with my boyfriend and it was cute. These guys are a little west of Katoomba, where Scenic World is, so it's not hard to make a several day excursion out of the Blue Mountains.

I spent several days in Melbourne and enjoyed it; I'd compare it to sort of a cross between San Francisco and Boston. (Sydney I would say is a cross between San Francisco and NYC) There was some good food and I liked walking around there. I went to an Aussie Rules (AFL) football game that was entertaining and pretty inexpensive.

I went to Gold Coast for a weekend and was not impressed. It's like Waikiki Beach in terms of how the city is set up (beach, high-rise hotels, and surf shops), but the time of year -- second week of November -- the beach was covered with jellyfish and there were surf advisories. Not quite the beach vacation I'd been hoping for.

Cairns reminds me of Florida, in that it is excruciatingly humid and therefore I don't like it. YMMV. When I went (February) I never saw the sun in six days I was there and therefore never saw whatever is supposed to make it so pretty; also, I was there for work and didn't have time to dive or snorkel, so I didn't see the reef, though my coworker who did go out said it was amazing. Cairns itself is a really small town that seems mostly dedicated to backpackers and Navy guys that come through the town, which means tons of bars and clubs with cheap drinks. There were a few fun/nice restaurants, but I'm not sure I'd pay money to go back there.
posted by olinerd at 4:10 AM on October 20, 2011


Limit your destinations to one or two in each country, or you'll travel a lot and really experience little. Fly up to Byron Bay and stay in a villa on the beach. It's a honeymoon right? Byron and surrounds seem
so quintessentially Australian to me - beach, drive to rain forests, oceans, surfing, hippies, trendsetters, great food.

Then choose one location in NZ for a similar chilled time?
posted by honey-barbara at 7:35 AM on October 20, 2011


I went to Gold Coast for a weekend and was not impressed. It's like Waikiki Beach in terms of how the city is set up (beach, high-rise hotels, and surf shops), but the time of year -- second week of November -- the beach was covered with jellyfish and there were surf advisories. Not quite the beach vacation I'd been hoping for.

There's a lot more to the Gold Coast than Surfers Paradise, but tourists often end up staying there and really don't get a true impression of the place. Jellyfish aren't a seasonal thing particularly and it's not usual for this to happen at any time of year - usually after stormy weather, which would also explain the surf advisories. Those advisories are pretty much there all the time anyway, as lots of visitors come from places without surf beaches and don't understand the risks, so they go a bit over the top with warnings.

The Gold Coast hinterland is absolutely beautiful and accessible, with lots of great bushwalking at all levels and (a few) places you can have a swim in fresh water if you don't mind an easy walk through a national park.

THe best way to experience the Gold Coast is to ignore most of the tourist advice and find out where the locals hang out - Broadbeach instead of Surfers for restaurants etc, beaches further south that aren't overloaded with tourists or over on Stradbroke Island if you are OK with unpatrolled beaches.

But yeah, I'd forgotten that November is Schoolies time (kind of like what I imagine 'spring break' to be in the US, so that's not the best time to visit, unless you stay away from Surfers Paradise as the locals do. The schoolies action is mainly confined to that area.

Cairns reminds me of Florida, in that it is excruciatingly humid and therefore I don't like it. YMMV. When I went (February) I never saw the sun in six days I was there and therefore never saw whatever is supposed to make it so pretty; ... I'm not sure I'd pay money to go back there.
Yeah, I'm not that keen on Cairns (been there quite a few times, but only for work) and can't really see what the attraction is - it's as if they've taken the worst of the Gold Coast and plonked it down in an area where marine stingers mean you can't swim in the ocean except for a small window in the year and crocodiles mean that it's not safe to leave the boardwalk along the beach anyway. Townsville is much nicer and you can access the reef from there, although you still can't swim in the ocean.
posted by dg at 2:55 PM on October 20, 2011


Re Cairns, yeah, the city itself is not that great. If you go, maybe stay at Palm Cove, or even up at Port Douglas rather than in Cairns itself. Port is beeeutiful.
posted by t0astie at 9:49 PM on October 20, 2011


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