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AUSTRALIA
Old 05-18-2006, 01:01 PM   #1
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AUSTRALIA

My DH and I are going to Australia for a few weeks late July/early August - the original two week trip consists of lots of hiking and exploring, starting n Brisbane and up the coast to spend three days on the Barrier Reef (husband scuba dives, I'll be snorkleing). We were going to then hop over to New Zealand for a few weeks, but DH now can't get away for that long, so we've decided to extend our stay in Australia.

My question for the board is, we will have about 4-5 days - what would you recommend?? We were thinking of going down to Sydney and on to Ayers Rock, but are open to suggestions. We'd be flying out of Mackay Airport to begin with, and will get a Quantas Pass that gives us options for our flights.

DH thinks New Zealand would be a grand place to retire (he has been there). Anybody have opinions on that one?? THANKS!!!!!!!!!
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-18-2006, 01:21 PM   #2
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Re: AUSTRALIA

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolidA
My DH and I are going to Australia for a few weeks late July/early August - the original two week trip consists of lots of hiking and exploring, starting n Brisbane and up the coast to spend three days on the Barrier Reef (husband scuba dives, I'll be snorkleing).
I'm sorry that I don't have anything to contribute, SolidA, but I have a favor to ask. The Reef has been on our "Empty-nester To Do" list for a long time. Could you take notes on the dive sites & businesses and give us a critique when you get back? We still haven't made up our mind among shore dives, boat dives from shore resorts, or liveaboards.

Maybe I do have one contribution, if you haven't already done so-- DAN insurance. Don't get wet without it. The best feeling in the world is having it and not needing it, the worst feeling in the world is needing it and not having it.
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-18-2006, 01:53 PM   #3
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Re: AUSTRALIA

As to retiring in New Zealand:
A friend who lived in NZ said there is a saying that it is so safe there that the Kiwis had to invent things with which to kill themselves, as there were no natural predators! (Bungee jumping was started there).*
I went 2 years ago and stayed with a friend who was posted in Auckland with McKinsey. She had a baby there and said the health services were incredible.* The North Island is more cosmopolitan and Asian, especially Auckland.* I stayed with another family in Queenstown (South Island) that were native Kiwis (not Maori) and really loved the area, but GOD IT WAS COLD (October--which is Spring there).* The lambs were adorable, the sheep dogs proficient, the snow-capped mountains spectacular.* Very friendly to Americans, very progressive views (from the local pub). Their son lived across the island in Otago (Dunedin) area, which is a huge college town and full of energy.* *
If you can stand the weather, go for it!* I would love to go back and spend more time on a sheep farm, but with lots more warm clothing. Brrrrrr
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-18-2006, 02:22 PM   #4
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Re: AUSTRALIA

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolidA
My question for the board is, we will have about 4-5 days - what would you recommend?? We were thinking of going down to Sydney and on to Ayers Rock, but are open to suggestions. We'd be flying out of Mackay Airport to begin with, and will get a Quantas Pass that gives us options for our flights.
Reef is awsome - and in July the water should be too cold for the poisonous jellyfish. But if you might wantto pack (or rent) a thin wetsuit.
As far as where to go - depends what do you like to do. Some thoughts below:

You can either fly to Alice or Uluru from Mackay (although you'll need to connect somewhere). If flying to Alice, make a visit to the telegraph station (it's a nice stroll from downtown with the July weather)
An alternative to Quantas Pass is Virgin Blue (a low cost airline, something like Airtran in US) - for us it was cheaper (and we did 11 local segments in Australia)
If you are around Uluru you might also like to visit Kata Tjuta (Olgas)
Maybe skip Sydney and for example fly from Uluru (Ayers Rock) to Darwin and visit Kakadu and Katherine Gorge?
If you do go to Sydney and want to go outside of the city, head 50 miles west to Blue Mountains (just don't plan to do it on weekend, when many locals also go there)

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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-18-2006, 03:34 PM   #5
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Re: AUSTRALIA

I think it is very smart to wait to go to NZ until you have more time. We are planning an 11 day trip right now and it doesn't seem like enough time, plus its winter there soon, spring/fall would be better.

Great to go to the GB reef and/or Outback in wintertime though! If your pass allows you to travel to Melbourne I would go there, its really a cool city and south of the city there is a drive on the coast (to the 7 Apostles - rock formation, etc) that is really beautiful.

If your DH really likes NZ I think he will like Melbourne more than Sydney, it seems more laid back. But Sydney is great too. (BTW, they pronounce it Melbun, also the city Cairns is pronounced Cans)
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-18-2006, 05:40 PM   #6
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Re: AUSTRALIA

My family and I spent 1978 just south of Melbourne when I was on a teacher exchange. We lived in Inverloch 100m from the beach and I taught in Wonthaggi.

Winters are cool windy and wet in the Australian winter so you might want to stay north.

I climbed Ayers Rock in August and it was warm and dry during the day but can be chilly at night. The Olga Rock formation is closeby so see them too.

The Gold Coast is a bit like Miami - Ft. Lauderdale

We travelled north to the Barrier Reef in September and got as far as Mackay. Fraser Island is mandatory. See if the Big Banana is still at Coff's Harbour in northern NSW.

We drove around Tasmania for a week in early December. It was like spring here in Southern Ontario but much hillier. And it would be cold in August. Drive up to the top of Mt. Wellington next to Hobart for a magnificent view.

The Great Ocean Road IS gorgeous. Fantastic scenery along a winding cliffside vista. You might even see some whales like we did.

We continued on to Adelaide and the Barrossa Valley wine country and then back through Mildura south to Melbourne. Aussie wine is superior but Canadian Beer is better.

Our final week in December was at Bondi Beach in Sydney. ALL beaches in Oz are great but that one is superior.

New Zealand would be cool when you go. Probably like the Pacific Northwest in January with snow on higher elevations, especially on the South Island.

Would I go back?

You bet, in a heartbeat! A great country and absolutely the friendliest people around.
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-18-2006, 05:40 PM   #7
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Re: AUSTRALIA

i like that new zealand doesn't allow nuclear vessels into it's harbors but it does have greenpeace & lots of nuke free sail boats.

though requirements have eased a little, immigration seems still a bit expensive. also they work it on a point system and you lose points just for getting older. (as if someone had to remind me.) seems they mostly want either just the very rich or young people who want to work for contribute to society. what's up with that?

www.immigration.govt.nz/

info on new (2005) investor category: http://tinyurl.com/frwws
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-19-2006, 06:06 AM   #8
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Re: AUSTRALIA

I spent a month in Austrailia right after 9/11. One of my kids was doing a semester abroad, the rest of us went over and traveled up the coast.
We did not go to Ayers rock. It is considered sacred by some and did not feel we wanted to climb it.

The great barrier reef is outstanding. There are lots of day trips. It is far so you travel for hours by boat to get there. I second the wetsuit or skinsuit. Jellyfish stings are painful, and there are some deadly ones near the shores, but it will be well marked.

Here is what I loved. The kids in uniforms with hats for sun protection, how safe and friendly it was, the beaches (surfers paradise area), kangaroos in the fields like we see deer here, crocodile warning signs. We traveled up the coast as well and stayed in campgrounds. They have little cabins to rent.

The opera house in Sydney is much smaller than what you think, and also Cockatiels and parrots just fly around. While in Sydney check out the giant fruit bats in the big park. It has to be the place Baum got the idea for the flying Monkeys in Oz.

The plane ride is a killer but it was worth it.
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-19-2006, 09:19 AM   #9
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Re: AUSTRALIA

From what I've gathered, both Au and Nz have placed alot of road blocks to
immigration. I guess its still possible if your wealthy enough. Its interesting to
note that home prices are expensive, quality is far below the US...At least that's
what I've seen on real estate sites.....Still, its on my list to visit....
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-19-2006, 09:39 AM   #10
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Re: AUSTRALIA

Wow. Just WOW. Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to help me out - I really appreciate it!!! Nords - yes, I will for sure take notes (keep a journal) and tell you all about it when we get back! Sarah - thanks for the head's up about the cold. I live in Minnesota, so maybe I'll feel right at home . Sailor - hooray about the jellyfish. I am also scared of sea snakes. and sharks. Did I mention I am staying close to the boat while my DH dives to his heart's content??!! Also, thanks for the heads up on Virgin Blue - hadn't thought of them! Cut-Throat - GREAT PICS!!! Thanks for sharing. I am hoping we can get in some fishing too. Zipper - When we get back, we can debate the Aussie wine vs. Canadian beer. LG4NB- thanks for the link - I emailed it to my husband to check out. Shortimer - We wouldn't climb Uluru, as it is sacred, but would visit and also hopefully get to the Olgas. Appreciate the reminder about the wetsuit! (did I mention I am not into jellyfish and other stinging/biting things??). Katifish - I'll let you know how it was!

If anyone else wants to chime in, go for it!!! I can hardly wait until July.
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-19-2006, 10:35 AM   #11
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Re: AUSTRALIA

Quote:
Originally Posted by katfish
From what I've gathered, both Au and Nz have placed alot of road blocks to
immigration. I guess its still possible if your wealthy enough. Its interesting to
note that home prices are expensive, quality is far below the US...At least that's
what I've seen on real estate sites.....Still, its on my list to visit....
australia seems easier than new zealand. they have what they call an "investor retirement visa" http://tinyurl.com/h68hm
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-19-2006, 10:43 AM   #12
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Re: AUSTRALIA

Thanks LG4NB- I'll send the link to DH to check out today!
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-19-2006, 10:50 AM   #13
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Re: AUSTRALIA

There is a wild life park near Alice that is well worth the visit.
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-19-2006, 03:58 PM   #14
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Re: AUSTRALIA

I was in Australia about a decade ago and spent a few days each in Brisbane and Cairns. While in Cairns, I spent a day out on the Barrier Reef (awsome), and spent another day fishing. The one thing that I really wanted to do, but didn't have time, was take a white water rafting trip down the Johnstone River. I think it was a four or five day trip. I was really into rafting at the time, and the photos of the Johnstone looked incredible.
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-19-2006, 05:21 PM   #15
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Re: AUSTRALIA

From what I understand, you can live in either country for up to 6 months without a visa... my plan (when I retire) is to rent a place for a few months to 6 months, then move back home.... or maybe between the two with a vacation in another country...
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-19-2006, 10:00 PM   #16
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Re: AUSTRALIA

Hi SolidA,

The family and I lived in Sydney for nearly two years about 7 years ago. I have been to a lot of cities in the world and Sydney is one of the nicest around. Lots of things to do, people are very friendly, crime is low, and the area is just gorgeous. The Sydney harbour is the most beautiful harbor in the world!

We made two trips to the Barrier Reef during our stay there. Both trips were in the winter there, june/july, about the same time you are going. Unfortunately for us, both times we were there it was rather windy and cloudy. It may be like that a lot in the tropics that time of year, I’m not sure. We stayed in Port Douglas (the hotel across the street from where the Clintons stayed at the Sheraton). We went snorkeling twice out on the reef. We ended up going to the outer reef, which is a very long boat ride out there. Due to the wind, the swell was very strong, so most of the dozen tourists on the boat had an hour-long hurling contest!! Whew! Fortunately for me I grew up salt-water fishing off the California coast so I was used to being bounced around on a boat. The swell kicked up the sand enough so that the visibility wasn’t what I really had hoped for. It was still very awesome, but just not quite like the “Jacque Cousteua” experience I had been envisioning. Later, we found out that for good snorkeling/diving you don’t necessarily have to go all the way out to the outer reef, so you can take much shorter trips to the inner reef. Additionally we considered going to a hotel/resort on the many islands out on the reef (Lizard Island, Heron Island, Hamilton Island, Green Island, etc.) so we wouldn’t have to take long boat rides to have fun in the water. But with VERY young kids with us we felt it wasn’t worth the additional cost.

The winter-time up there is not the time for the dreaded and deadly box jellyfish. The beaches all have net enclosures to keep these nasty jellyfish out. However, after having been stung by blue-bottle jellyfish (Blueies) on the Sydney beaches, I really didn’t feel like taking any chances! All it would take is a very small chunk of a dead box jellyfish to come through the nets are you could have a very bad sting! But out on the reefs, there are no box jellyfish so, no worries! The box jellyfish come from the many estuaries along the coastline. On both our snorkeling trips, no one was wearing wet suits. Oh, and they had many posted signs warning about the salt-water crocidiles (Salties) along the beaches. We never saw any.

There are many more adventurous trips you can take out of the Port Douglas area, but since we had young kids with us we had to tame it down a few notches.

If you plan on spending anytime around the Sydney area, you will have plenty to do to keep you busy! A boat tour around the harbour is a must. Just walking around the Royal Botanical gardens is very beautiful, and as another poster pointed out, you can see all the fruit bats hanging from the fig trees! The Sydney Aquirium is awesome if you like that sort of thing. Seeing as you will be there in the winter, consider taking in an Australian Rules Football (Footy) at the Syndey Football stadium. It makes the American football players seem like out-of-shape wimps! And these guys are not wearing any pads or helmets. If you have time, you could visit the Hunter Vally wine region about an hour north of Sydney. South out of Sydney the countryside is stunning (if you have seen the movie “Babe” that was filmed there, the Southern Highlands I think it is called). We took a trip about an hour or two south of Sydney to a beach where the kangaroos “congregate”. It is pretty amazing to see all these Roos hanging out on the beach. Mind you, unlike US coastline, there is nothing else around.

I could go on and on. If you have anything more specific you would like to know, don’t hesitate to ask.

Oh by the way, if you go to Sydney make sure you have an umbrella handy. They get around 45in/year of the wet stuff, and it is pretty evenly distributed throughout the year. And it can get on the very cool side sometimes there in the winter (similar to San Francisco) .

Good luck and have a great trip!
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-20-2006, 01:54 PM   #17
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Re: AUSTRALIA

IBWino. Maybe we could all share "Johnson" photos!
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Old 05-25-2006, 01:28 PM   #18
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Re: AUSTRALIA

THanks Papi!! Sorry it took so long to reply, but I've been out in Boston at my oldest son's graduation (HOORAY!!). I appreciate all your wisdom and insight. Especially happy about the box jellyfish - I wasn't looking forward to any close encounters of that kind!! Hmm... I tend to get seasick. Maybe not a fun thing out there that time of year (my husband is like you - a cast iron stomach). ANy ideas on remedies for seasickness (what actually works) Thanks, Katie
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-25-2006, 01:59 PM   #19
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Re: AUSTRALIA

I also get seasick easily. The product that works best for me are the dime-sized scopolamine patches that you stick behind your ear. I've never been seasick while using one of these, even in rough seas. Although these were taken off the U.S. market for a couple of years, they are now available by prescription. They were available over-the-counter in Australia when I was there a decade ago.
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Re: AUSTRALIA
Old 05-29-2006, 09:17 AM   #20
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Re: AUSTRALIA

thanks!! I will talk to my doctor next week about the patches - being seasick stinks (I even got seasick on the inside passage in Alaska!!) so I am all for whatever works.
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