December trip to Australia
August 24, 2005 5:13 PM   Subscribe

Advice needed for a December trip to Australia from the US.

I’d like to spend at least a month in Australia starting in December. There have been some pervious Australian posts that I’ve reviewed here but I’d still like some more advice.

I’d like to spend maybe half of the time based out of Sydney b/c I really enjoy large cities and being in a place long enough to actually meet some locals. Plus my company has an office in Chatswood New South Wales which appears to be in commuting distance. Maybe I could do some of my work out of that office so I can stay as long as possible.

I’m in Washington DC. Would it be possible to arrange a housing swap for this time period? Does anyone have a site recommendation for finding one?

Then I’d like to see what ever else I can possibly fit in. Can anyone recommend a good tour company for doing some hikes? I’d like the see the wine areas and Melbourne but I really have not researched it all yet.

Finally, I’ve been seeing some flight deals. One of them had what seemed like a good deal for a flight to Australia then 2 or 3 flights once you got there. Besides the obvious like,, etc are there some sites or ticket consolidators that I should be monitoring?

Any help with the above questions or the ones that I did not think to ask are appreciated.
posted by hokie409 to Travel & Transportation around Australia (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have a read of qwip's blog for an insight into moving to Sydney from America. I've been here too long to do the tourist things anymore but email me if you'd like me to check out something specific for you. And yeah, Chatswood is a short drive or train ride from the city centre.
posted by tellurian at 5:36 PM on August 24, 2005

My wife works in Chatswood and we live in the city. It takes about 30 minutes by train to commute and there are a lot of stations in the Sydney downtown area. The cool thing about Chatswood is that it is like a big China Town. If you like Asian cuisine, then you'll love it there.

I also know that the trains go out to the Blue Mountains (outside of Sydney) for tourist. Can't speak to anything else, as we haven't done that kind of thing yet.

I would also recommend that you read Bill Bryson's "In A Sunburned Country". He has a lot of interesting travel and insight to his trip and where he visited. It is also hilarious.

Good luck!
posted by qwip at 5:50 PM on August 24, 2005

Firstly, come prepared for the Australian summer sunshine, don't forget to lube up with sunscreen :)

Secondly, Chatswood is part of sydney proper, it's the CBD of Sydney's north shore, so it's a good base to work from, an easy commute into the city proper by train or bus.

The Hunter Valley is New South Wales' most famous wine district, and it's about 2 hours north of Sydney. The Blue Mountains, about 2 hours west of Sydney, has some great walks through the national parks at Katoomba.

There are many great walks around Sydney proper, like the Bondi to Bronte Coast Walk, and other walks around the harbour.

Don't miss visiting Melbourne, even if it's just for a weekend, it's a very different city to Sydney, much more european and cosmopolitan.
posted by elphTeq at 5:53 PM on August 24, 2005

It is going to be very hot in Sydney in December. Keep this in mind.

If you are flying into Sydney it is about a day's drive to either Melbourne or Brisbane (which will be even hotter than Sydney in December.) I recommend traveling southward. You can also visit Canberra on the way to Melbourne.
posted by wakko at 5:56 PM on August 24, 2005

Sydney ... is about a day's drive to either Melbourne or Brisbane...

That's a very long days drive - Sydney to Brisbane or Melbourne is ~1000 kilometers; 620-odd miles. Brisbane to Sydney takes 12-16hrs driving time, depending on time of year.

Myself? I'd fly. A return flight runs AU$150~300.
posted by Pinback at 8:30 PM on August 24, 2005

I haven't got any Sydney advice except to tell you to have fun which won't be hard. The best trip you can do is to drive to Melbourne along the coast road. This is a beautiful drive for the entire distance and if you take several days doing it you can stop on the south coast of N.S.W. I especially recommend the Murramarang National Park and the coast south of there to Moruya. You can stay in the National Park or base yourself in Bateman's Bay (a bit crowded in December/January). You should sort out accommodation right about now. Melbourne is a gorgeous city and five days to a week there will be very rewarding. Lucky you!
posted by firstdrop at 10:24 PM on August 24, 2005

If you manage to get to Western Australia and are REALLY into hiking, I can recommend the "Bibbulmun Track".

The entire track takes about 4-5 weeks to complete, but you can do some really nice 2-3 day walks that are still relatively close to the city.

Have fun.
posted by sconbie at 6:30 AM on August 25, 2005

Do you like food? I mean, really, seriously like food? Because Tetsuya's, in Sydney, is one of the world's greatest restaurants. Very very spendy, but imo worth every cent for a meal you will remember all your life.
posted by rdc at 9:15 AM on August 25, 2005

Response by poster: Man, that is a lot of warnings about the heat. Are we talking hotter and more humid than being in a city like Atlanta in the summer? Maybe I need to seriously look at more time in the southern part of the country. I get hot easily.
posted by hokie409 at 1:11 PM on August 25, 2005

It gets pretty warm, but not outrageously so. I haven't been to Atlanta, but Sydney in December is still a lot more reasonable that SE Asian or other tropical climates.
That said, air conditioning is usual these days (although you may be surprised at some places where it is still absent).
You should know that Melbourne can be a *lot* hotter than Sydney because of the wind sweeping in from the desert. I'm no meteorologist, but in general:
- Melbourne is hotter in summer and colder in winter
- has more cloudy wet days, but a lower total rainfall
- the only reasonably cool place year round in Oz is Tasmania, which is a great place to visit, but not if you like big cities.
posted by bystander at 9:12 PM on August 25, 2005

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