Mumsnet Logo
Please
or
to access all these features

Welcome to Mumsnet's holiday forum. Discuss all international travel here, including both shorthaul and longhaul trips. Related topics: UK holidays & day trips, skiing, camping & campervans.

Holidays

Australia east coast

39 replies

CATTY15 · 18/01/2020 08:45

Hi,
We are planning to go to the east coast of Australia in 2021.
Due to school holidays etc, we are thinking the best time to go would be easter for 3 weeks.
We will have 3 teenagers with us and were thinking it may be better to stay in self catering holiday homes with a pool.
We want to go to Sydney for a few days, to the Great barrier reef, rain forest, Australia zoo and koala sanctuary and are open to other suggestions.
I'm just after advice on the best way to do it as only just starting to plan.
Is it better to fly to different destinations or drive? Where would be the best area to stay?
Any advice would be great thank you!

OP posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

SJaneS48 · 18/01/2020 09:05

I’m sure it’s not going to be a huge surprise to you if I say it takes a long time to get anywhere driving! Flying will save lots of time (if not being the more environmentally friendly option!). Having said that, you’ll miss out on the scenery flying which particularly in Queensland was worth seeing.

It’s been a long time since I went but I travelled from Sydney to Cairns. For me the high points were Sydney, Townsville, Magnetic Island and Cairns. I didn’t particularly like the Gold Coast ( we stayed in Surfers Paradise, basically shopping malls, casino’s and beach from memory - it might be nicer than I remember it though!) or Brisbane (a bit dull) or Rockhampton (duller yet). It could be I was a bit tired out from travelling to really appreciate those places though!

Please
or
to access all these features

CATTY15 · 18/01/2020 09:33

Thank you for replying!
Yes the distance between locations and vastness of the country is dawning on me!
We don't really want to spend ages driving but as you say we'll see more of the country itself en route.

What sort of accommodation did you stay in? We're thinking villa type places with a pool as theres 7 of us going altogether and think itll be more relaxed than hotels.

OP posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

SJaneS48 · 18/01/2020 09:47

I was on a working holiday with a friend and frankly we stayed in whatever rathole was cheapest so have nothing hotel wise to recommend I’d inflict on you! I’m sure other people will have sensible and more recent options. If it was me, I’d probably Air BnB it. Another option you could look at is driving up and then flying back down?

Please
or
to access all these features

CATTY15 · 18/01/2020 10:25

Haha ok!
Yes Airbnb is probably a good option, I'll look at fly & drive which h sounds like a good option.
Thank you.

OP posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

KoalasandRabbit · 18/01/2020 23:23

We went in August a year ago and flew into Sydney then up to Cairns and back - no way would you want to drive that distance. We did hire cars and the drive along the coast in Queensland is lovely via Port Douglas to Daintree rainforest. We didn't do Australia zoo, did breakfast with koalas at Featherdale and then tried to see as much as possible in the wild in Queensland though did koala place at Kuranda which is small.

Have a feeling our summer is better than our easter for Great Barrier Reef / rainforest but depends what the main bit of your holiday is. Sydney / Blue Mountains were on the cold and windy side when we went but were just doing them briefly so fine and we got lucky the few days we spent in Port Stephens were 22 and sunny.

We stayed in variety of places - hotels, B&Bs and one AirBNB - first was Port Stephens Treescape (did dolphin and whale watching and saw loads), sandboarding and looking for koalas but none but great meal in Poyers. Then AirBNB Billabong Island in Holloways Beach by Cairns good base for GBR tour - used Seastar, was great, then Lumholtz Lodge and Canopy Treehouses - both had loads of wildlife, tree kangaroos, cassowary, possums, wallabies, pademelon, bettong, saw platypus nearby. Then Sofitel in Blue Mountains and Watsons Bay in Sydney. Everywhere was great we stayed and made so welcome, must have had about 20 people come up to me and say Welcome to Australia.

Please
or
to access all these features

KoalasandRabbit · 18/01/2020 23:24

We also did Daintree but as a day trip - saw crocs in river enroute.

Please
or
to access all these features

HoppingPavlova · 18/01/2020 23:37

East coast Aussie here. Don’t drive, you will waste half your trip and you will spend a few days on the road with no scenery other than cane fields or push paddock for the entire day. From memory Rockhampton to Townsville was like that or maybe it was Bundaberg to Rockhampton. Not a lot of different scenery going up the coast from Sydney to the far north, cane fields get pretty fucking old after several hours of staring at them out the window.

I’d fly Sydney to Cairns. Up to you whether to hire a car at Cairns and fly to Port Douglas which is nicer to stay or stay in Cairns for convenience. Make sure you do a full day at Kuranda. I’d do that as a tour from Cairns - it will include cable car up through rainforest and steam train back down or vice versa. They have a mini zoo focussing in Australian animals. I’d do Hartley’s crocodile farm on the way from Cairns to Port Douglas, only need a few hours, it’s great and again, they have a couple of Australian animals, not as good as little zoo at Karunda though. Do the reef from Port Douglas, we use Quicksilver when we go. I’d recommend the pontoon day. We do it every two years or so, we fly up just for that really.

Please
or
to access all these features

HoppingPavlova · 18/01/2020 23:49

Sorry, accidentally posted early.
Make sure you drive from Port Douglas to Cape Tribulation do you can see the Daintree in more detail. Also consider a stop at Mossman Gorge, just beautiful, we always go there when we go up. Pay to be driven to the swimming hole but be careful depending on conditions, even if you just sit there for a bit and don’t swim, it’s fantastic.

April in Sydney is cooler so I wouldn’t bother with a place with a pool in a Sydney. I also wouldn’t swim at the beach. You could go somewhere like Bondi just to say you have been and happily paddle but too cold for swimming at that time of year. I do see people swimming occasionally though at odd times of year and assume they must be from a very cold countryGrin.

I also second Featherdale for a great Australian wildlife peek and book a suitable experience such as koala’s. If you do this and go to Kuranda absolutely no need to go to Australia Zoo, it’s an extra stop that will gain you nothing.

In Sydney make sure to catch a ferry - Circular Quay to Manly would be a good one to get the Harbour sights. Also consider a day trip or overnight to Blue Mountains. You can get the train, there is a Explorer Bus with hop on/off for tourists at the major points. If not staying overnight just leave early so you get there around 9.30 and make a full day of it. You could drive from Sydney but not worth a car hire from one day but also not much scenery as motorway most of the way.

Please
or
to access all these features

CATTY15 · 19/01/2020 07:55

Just woken up and seen these replies, thank you!
I'll have a good read of everything you've told me, very useful stuff in there.
It's a once in a lifetime trip so I want to get it right!
We were wondering if going in August would be better weather wise? I'd rather not take kids out of school for a week as we would have to if going at Easter.
Thank you!

OP posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

StartupRepair · 19/01/2020 07:57

Sydney can be quite chilly in August. Certainly not pool weather.

Please
or
to access all these features

CATTY15 · 19/01/2020 08:09

Would Easter be better do you think?

OP posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

raspberrycordial · 19/01/2020 08:18

Maitland gaol is amazing, far far better than Alcatraz, really eerie.

Please
or
to access all these features

KoalasandRabbit · 19/01/2020 10:19

We went in August and it was around 27C and sunny around Cairns / Daintree / Atherton Tablelands so perfect weather there for us and for Great Barrier Reef.

Sydney was 14C and windy, Blue Mountains was 10C and cold but beautiful and we saw kangaroos and main sites but were glad to have a warm hotel, Port Stephens was 22C and sunny. You can get weather averages online but its a massive country so will vary which part is better in which month.

Please
or
to access all these features

HoppingPavlova · 19/01/2020 11:36

No August is way worse in regards to weather. It’s one month out of winter! It’s cold. Well, for us anyway. Easter is better than August. You can still swim up North at Easter, just not Sydney. The distance between the two means a large temperature disparity so it can still be okay to swim up North but not in Sydney.

To make it quite easy - Sydney is good for swimming in summer and a month either side at most so Nov to March in general but really you are looking at Dec-Feb being main swimming weather. At this time of year the North is hot as fuck, sometimes over 40 depending on where you go and it’s humid as hell and it’s the rainy season and there are stingers. When the North is nice weather, hot enough but not rainy season and no stingers then Sydney is cool. It’s because the distance between them is huge and you have to cross the Tropic of Capricorn. Unless you plan to go Nov/Dec you will not get great weather in both locations. I would trade off and go North in good weather with swimming and have Sydney cooler so you can get out and about without the heat.

Please
or
to access all these features

justilou1 · 19/01/2020 11:50

If you drive, you actually miss a lot because highways are designed to avoid towns and beaches, etc unless you specifically make detours. Most of the drive from Brisbane to Cairns is cane fields. (Zzzzzz) While I would say that Easter is a divine time of year to travel, it is also one of the peak times for Aussies to travel as well. You will be dealing with us on the roads as well. If you drive from Sydney to Brisbane, there are some beautiful seaside towns to stop and visit. (They will be busy because it will be school holidays. Go and see Byron Bay if you must, but it will be VERY crowded, and avoid arriving or entering from the Northern End. There will be traffic jams and it can add hours to your trip. Personally, I think you’d be better off going to other places like Brunswick Heads.) Fly from Brisbane to Cairns. That saves two days of driving with nothing to look at. Then hire a car and drive up to the Daintree and go to Mossman Gorge and make sure to do a day trip to Kuranda and visit the Butterfly farm when you are in Cairns. (Gorgeous.) Visit some islands while you’re there. It’s divine. (Wear sunscreen on your bum and the backs of your legs when you’re snorkelling!!!)
*When in Sydney, book ahead for a dinner and Cocktails with a view (request the view over the pool) at Bondi Icebergs at Sunset!!! It’s gorgeous!!! Dress is naice casual. (Look it up!)

Please
or
to access all these features

justilou1 · 19/01/2020 11:51

Please
or
to access all these features

CATTY15 · 19/01/2020 15:02

Brilliant advice, thank you all so much, I think we're going to go at easter .
I'm going to do lots of googling of all the places mentioned.
Another question..with the GBR trips, are you better to book before or just go and see what's available when we get there?

OP posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

StartupRepair · 19/01/2020 21:26

I was in Cairns in July and we booked a GBR trip with 2 days notice. There wasn't much choice and we ended up on a big boat rather that the smaller eco -focused one we were hoping for. Still was amazing, but maybe better to book in advance.

Please
or
to access all these features

KoalasandRabbit · 19/01/2020 21:36

When we did GBR trip with Seastar from Cairns we did book in advance for August but there are lots of tour operators. We have an ASD child and wanted the small tours and also ones with lots of choice like stay on boat, snorkel, scuba, glass bottom boat and Seastar was perfect. Whatever you decide it's worth researching before you go - there's a health questionnaire for scuba which DH and I both fail so we have to stick to snorkelling. Would also recommend sea sickness tablets - none of our family were sick but another family were all sick and it seemed crew were used to it. They sell them on board Seastar quite cheaply.

DD (12) did scuba by herself and she was the only person they allowed on the second dive - 4 people did first dive. She came right up to a giant turtle and loved it. We all saw the reef and giant turtles, fish etc. Lovely staff and would recommend that company, it was recommended to me by locals on Tripadviser. They also recommended one in Port Douglas, maybe Quicksilver, Quick something anyway. Lots of great help on that forum if you need more help. They planned my whole holiday and did a great job. Grin

Please
or
to access all these features

mumoftwodc · 19/01/2020 21:52

Some great ideas on here - thanks all. We're doing Sydney/Uluru/Cairns/Brisbane/Hamilton Island this August so following with interest.

Please
or
to access all these features

justilou1 · 20/01/2020 02:41

Don’t wait to book. It’s school holidays here in Aus at Easter. You won’t get into anything. August is pretty much the coldest month of the year. (Like in Europe, it’s the hottest. Just dont.)

Please
or
to access all these features

stellabelle · 20/01/2020 03:34

Book ahead - Easter is high season in Aust.

Please
or
to access all these features

SnowsInWater · 20/01/2020 03:35

I would definitely choose Easter over August for Sydney. We had family to stay in August a few years back who spent the whole time moaning about the cold and the fact that Australian houses are so poorly insulated (true) despite us telling them clearly what to expect. They also expected to swim in the pool 😂 The Easter Show is a great day out if you are here, cheapest to buy tickets online and they include transport. Travelling by ferry is fun, my sister comes most years and books an Airbnb near a ferry wharf (usually North Sydney or Kirribilli) so she has more of a local experience but can get the ferry across to the city, or walk across the Harbour Bridge.

Please
or
to access all these features

Wombatstew · 20/01/2020 04:11

April is still classed as wet season in Cairns so there is the possibility of rainy weather, August would be better for Cairns but then it's colder further south. August is also term time so everything will be slightly cheaper and less crowded. With 3 weeks and teenagers I would spend 1 week in Cairns, hire a car, go to the reef & rainforest, there are so many different tourist attractions there. I would spend a week or 5 days around the Gold Coast if your kids would be interested in the theme parks and the same in Sydney. I would definitely fly between places.
In the Gold Coast I would stay in a high rise apartment, you can get air BnB ones as the views are part of a GC holiday for me. Also factor in car rental to get around and to the 5 theme parks.
The Sunshine coast (north of Brisbane) is also really nice with lots to do and that is where the glass house mountains and Australia zoo are. I think you could drive between GC and SC (maybe 3 hrs).
Flight wise I would probably fly into Sydney (5 days), fly up to Cairns (7 days), fly Cairns to GC (5 days ) drive GC to SC (5 days) and then fly out of Brisbane leaving the car at the airport.

Please
or
to access all these features

Elouera · 20/01/2020 04:56

How long in total do you have? I also agree on flying, either Syd to Cairns, or to Brisbane (if you really want to go there) then fly onto Cairns. The Gold coast is very touristy, nightclubs and tacky IMO. In Sydney, Doyles seafood restaurant is devine and worth seeking out.

Easter is also school holidays for Aussie kids, and many families book a year in advance for their coastal, Easter holiday! Another option other than AirBNB is a caravan park. Many have static cabins with private bathroom, but also pools and other facilities. Some are affiliated and if you join for a nominal fee, get a discount when staying at their companion sites in other towns. They are also rated with some being called 5 star resorts, with slides into the pools, activities, immaculate gardens and fantastic cooking facilities and on-site restaurant options. Some have very basic facilities, so check reviews beforehand. Once in a town, you might want to hire a car/van though, because public transport isn't always the easiest.

For a cheap snack, nearly every Vietnamese hot bread shop sells Vietnamese rolls (bahn mi) which is a french bagette with meat and vegetables inside, with a splash of soy sauce. Delicious and very cheap. A fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisine.

Please
or
to access all these features
Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?