Australian Vacation: Round Two
May 29, 2009 3:26 PM   Subscribe

AustraliaFilter: The hive mind helped me plan a very enjoyable trip to Australia in April 2008. I had such a good time I'd like to return this October/November for another few weeks and try some new places. Suggestions/advice please!

I'm am an American guy based in Los Angeles. I'll be 26 when this trip starts. Let's assume I'll be single and traveling alone.

Last year's 17-day adventure consisted of stays in 4 cities, flying Qantas between them. Here's what I did:

- Sydney (5 days): Bridge Climb, Taronga Zoo, Aquarium, Bondi Beach
- Brisbane (2 days): GoMA
- Cairns (5 days): Overnight boat trip diving the reef, bungy jumping, sitting on my butt
- Melbourne (5 days): Stayed in St. Kilda, Melbourne vs. Carlton at the MCG, music at the Espy, various sightseeing

I enjoyed the entire trip, but I came down sick in Brisbane and felt crummy and didn't get to explore much. I only scratched the surface of each city, and I obviously missed out on many other cities I wanted to travel to. Also, I think that I spent a bit too much time in transit for a trip of that length.

This year's trip would likely be 20-25 days long, beginning at a time to be determined in October. I'd likely fly in/out of some combination of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and I'd like to limit myself to 2 or 3 domestic flights, using car/rail day trips to explore neighboring attractions.

I enjoy a mix of busy cities with lots of culture and things to do/see, natural landmarks, and lazy beaches where I can relax and read. I'm a SCUBA diver, and spent a few days diving the Great Barrier Reef last time. If there's decent diving anywhere else, I'm interested in it. I like to stay in hostels that have activities and bars, to help with meeting new people. I'm happy to look at art, listen to music, take in some sporting events, and enjoy some good food and drink. I'll be on paid vacation, so I'll have money to spend.

Some options I'm considering include Perth, Alice Springs (or someplace I can get a feel for the Outback), Darwin, Byron Bay (and other East Coast beach spots), and perhaps a few more days in Sydney or Melbourne (probably on the way in or out of the country).

Obviously some of these places are FAR away from each other, and I've just complained about how I thought my last trip involved a bit too much time in transit. However, if the destination is worth spending 5-7 days at, I'm fine with it since I have more time to spare than last year.

So, any fun events to attend in October/November? I welcome all itinerary/activity suggestions, links to other threads or online resources, or tips in general. Who knows, I may come back a third time, perhaps for a few months!
posted by adamk to Travel & Transportation around Australia (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
When I was a kid my family took me to Lake Mungo National Park, and I never forgot it - it was beautiful, lots of interesting history/culture and we had an Aboriginal guide who cooked us kangaroo stew on a campfire for dinner.
posted by Chrysalis at 3:42 PM on May 29, 2009

Instead of Alice Springs I would suggest flying straight to Ayers Rock. There is an airport there that is serviced by Qantas, and it would save you the long drive from Alice Springs. Uluru itself is incredible, and you could hire a car or take a coach to see some other pretty incredible sites. Kata Tjuta, (The Olgas) is breathtaking, as is the Henbury meteorite field.

From Ayers Rock you could fly to Darwin, and be within spitting distance of Kakadu.
posted by arha at 3:47 PM on May 29, 2009

Yeah, Uluru and the top end are worth seeing. Darwin itself is fun but kinda small, but Litchfield and Kakadu are easily accessible and well worth it.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 4:16 PM on May 29, 2009

Perth is only worth considering if you want to spend at least a few days there - it's the most isolated city in the world and far away from EVERYTHING.

I spent a fortnight there with friends in February. It's very beautiful, sunsets over the sea, fabulous beaches, lovely parks. Not a lot to do in the city, but drive a little way out and there are wonderful "Tingle Tree" forests, the breathtaking Margaret River valley to the south, and just 30 mins by ferry off the coast, Rottnest Island - a car-less haven which you can bike around, snorkel off, or just fantasize about buying when you win the euro-lottery rollover.

So anyway, I can't say whether it is worth the hassle of going those extra few hours in the plane. But if you feel inclined, do it :] apparently it's a totally different feel to the East coast.
posted by greenish at 4:39 PM on May 29, 2009

The Melbourne Cup, 'The Race That Stops a Nation' is in early November. I can vouch from personal experience that it's a fun day out. Seconding arha, you can fly direct to Uluru and avoid wasting time at Alice Springs. If you're in Sydney, I would recommend going to see something in the Opera House - you can just go and check at the box office for returns. Manly beach and town is also a good relaxing day out in Sydney. I also enjoyed a day trip from Melbourne to see the penguins at Philllip Island. If you take 2-3 days to drive from Melbourne to Adelaide (or vice versa) you can see the Great Ocean Road and McLaren Vale wine country, then spend a day or two in Adelaide itself, which I think is a nice town and has some nice beaches. Have a great time
posted by Jakey at 4:58 PM on May 29, 2009

Here's some answers about what to do in Brisbane which I prepared earlier.

And here's an AskMe I once asked about what to do in Melbourne you may find useful (I did).
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:59 PM on May 29, 2009

Here's a previous question about an Australian roadtrip that might have some useful tips for you in it.
posted by barnacles at 7:23 PM on May 29, 2009

Just off Stradbroke Island (Brisbane) somewhere, there is an underwater gorge just full of Grey Nurses. Although as I understood it, the best part about going there was taking someone who had no idea and then watching them crap their pants when they saw it...

They are all pregnant so it might be subject to season?? Apparently you can just go through and pat them and stuff. Sounded pretty neat to me. I don't know how you might find someone to take you there...? But I could ask around if you come up with nothing.

Stradbroke Island is really pretty, has a bunch of lakes ect. too so you could check out all of that while you're there. And definitely drink the tap water!! (It actually tastes ok.)
Get there via train, with a bus connection to the flyer. Too easy. :)
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 2:08 AM on May 30, 2009

Moreton Island, off of Brisbane is also a great trip. Can be done as a day trip with backpacker 10 to a truck trip too.
posted by dripped at 4:27 AM on May 30, 2009

Sporting event? One of the big events for motorsport people is the 1000kms touring (sedan) car race, held early in October at Bathurst 200-odd kms west of Sydney. This is one of the world's great races, held on a circuit that is one of the greatest challenges on the planet for a racing driver. If you have the slightest interest in motor sport, don't miss this one.
posted by GeeEmm at 1:16 AM on May 31, 2009

If you do head West, Broome is really amazing. As is the Ningaloo Reef (off Exmouth). The West Coast is a totally different experience but well worth it.
posted by sconbie at 8:53 PM on June 1, 2009

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