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itinerary recommendations and thoughts

London, United...
Level Contributor
48 posts
itinerary recommendations and thoughts

Going to Aus for 3 weeks this xmas from the UK.

This is likely to be our itinerary and just wanted to hear folk's thoughts. we are a family with a 16 and 18 year old.

3 nights Melbourne

2 night Ayers Rock / Alice Springs

6 nights Cairns / Port Douglas

7 nights Sydney

all internal travel will be by flights.

Is there anything obvious we are missing out.

will have loads of other questions once booked like recommendations for day trips and tours but just for now need to lock the flights and dates in.

Thank you for any help

9 replies to this topic
Ballarat, Australia
Level Contributor
4,660 posts
92 reviews
1. Re: itinerary recommendations and thoughts

To me, too much time in Sydney and not enough in Melbourne, especially if you want to get out of the cities. For example, the Great Ocean Road needs 3 days and 2 overnight stops. You should also consider 3 nights at Uluru, 2 is a bit rushed.

Weather will be less than ideal in the centre and the far north. It's wet season and stinger season in Cairns with the possibility of a cyclone. Be prepared.

What are your exact dates? The week between Christmas and New Year is the busiest week in Australia. High prices, limited accommodation and often minimum nightbstays. Where are you planning to be for NYE?

It would also help to know your interests and what you plan to do, for instance if you are only going to Cairns for snorkelling, there may be another destination that suits you better.

ON, Canada
Level Contributor
15,028 posts
45 reviews
2. Re: itinerary recommendations and thoughts

The Great Ocean Road is a highlight and worth adding an extra night or two on to the Melbourne portion of your trip ... e.g. two nights on the GOR and two or three nights in Melbourne.

If you are going to the Red Centre for Uluru, fly into and out of Ayers Rock Airport (not Alice Springs) - your time is too limited to fly into Alice Springs and drive to Uluru. I'd be tempted to add another night at Ayers Rock Resort in order to have two full days for exploring, hiking and resort activities.

p.s. didn't see Loki's post before I posted, hence the duplication.

Edited: 12 May 2018, 08:24
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
12,581 posts
34 reviews
3. Re: itinerary recommendations and thoughts

As above, when in December ?

Are you here/where for NYE ?

What are your interests ?

Uluru is 6 hour drive from Alice Springs so 2n is not enough for both and it will be really really hot out there (rangers close walks if too hot so much has to be done early in the morning).

Melbourne plus GOR is the usual visit. Alternative could be Wilsons Promontory but depends on your dates.

Cairns/PD has stinger season so no swimming at beaches but reef and rainforest trips still work (hot and humid weather up there).

Level Contributor
3,908 posts
62 reviews
4. Re: itinerary recommendations and thoughts


Level Contributor
146 posts
33 reviews
5. Re: itinerary recommendations and thoughts

Definitely got the top spots.

Take 2 nights off Sydney and add a night each to Uluru and Melb

I’ve done the great ocean rd in a day and loved it so if struggling for time can definitely do in a day. I got a fair way along then drove straight back to Melbourne at night fall.

Byron, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Noosa and Fraser are fabulous for teens and all within reach of each other. Some of our favourite spots in Australia. And all beautiful beaches without the risk of stinger season

Destination Expert
for Canberra
Level Contributor
18,888 posts
2 reviews
6. Re: itinerary recommendations and thoughts

I agree there's an imbalance between Sydney and Melbourne and for the most useful advice we really need to know what you want to see there, especially any regional trips which can take a whole day or more. You don't want to find your options limited because you have already imposed time limits or booked accommodation. Geography does not shrink to suit. While in Melbourne, if you just want to drive out to the coast for a day, as it sounds like jo_cut did, you have various choices, but if you do want to see the GOR including the highlights at the far end I strongly recommend having 2 different overnight stops along the route and returning via the inland to be back in Melbourne before nightfall.

Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
5,694 posts
207 reviews
7. Re: itinerary recommendations and thoughts

I agree you need to add a night or 2 to Melbourne so you can do the GOR, at least 3 if you want to include the Grampians and all best done as a self drive trip. Long day tours of the GOR are available so you could add just 1 night to Melbourne for one of these 14 hour tours but self drive is much much better. Having done one of these day tours years ago, I’d argue that anyone who’s done the GOR in a day hasn’t seen it or goes there all the time. You could take these days from Sydney and Cairns.

All the best

London, United...
Level Contributor
48 posts
8. Re: itinerary recommendations and thoughts

Thank you so much for your helpful tips. From 17th - 5th. Doing a week at Sydney at the end as have friends and family but looks like I need to find an extra night for Melbourne. Going to cairns and down to port Douglas to go to GBR and for some down time but you’ve worried me that we might not be able to chill by the pool and it might rain the whole time! Will only go snorkelling there.

Thanks again

Ballarat, Australia
Level Contributor
4,660 posts
92 reviews
9. Re: itinerary recommendations and thoughts

You have picked the busiest time on our calendar. You need to finalise your itinerary and book accommodation ASAP.

Are you staying with family in Sydney? If not, be aware that Sydney over NYE is VERY expensive. Be prepared also for minimum night stays.

The GBR is 2000 odd km long. It's wet season, cyclone season and stinger season in the northern parts, approx Bundaberg and north, so definitely Cairns region. Everything still works. It's warm enough to chill by the pool even when it's raining, and it tends to rain in the afternoons, not all day. If this bothers you, check out Lady Elliott Island and Heron Island. Both are in the southern GBR, so no wet, no cyclones and no stingers.

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