Four Days in Melbourne

 

Melbourne is a younger city than Sydney. It was settled in the 1830’s by John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner. They traveled from Launceston (in Tasmania) to establish a colony on the Yarra River, at the head of Port Phillip Bay on the southern tip of Mainland Australia. The Gold rushes of the 1850’s gave impetus to the growth of the city and it quickly became the commercial centre of the southeast.

Today it is a commercial centre, while enjoying a vibrant downtown revival with the development of Docklands at the mouth of the Yarra River.

As a suggested itinerary for 4 days, be sure to concentrate on the wonderful Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary and exploring the Yarra Valley Wineries on any one of the tours that leave downtown daily. The nightly return of the Fairy Penguins at Phillip Island is not to be missed if you are a nature lover, but be aware that it takes about 2 hours to drive down to the viewing point.  Then there is the Great Ocean Road to the west of Melbourne. Take a full day tour to fully appreciate the area.

If you have more time, the old mining Town of Ballarat is worth a visit and the Grampians National Park just to the East of Ballarat provides a dramatic backdrop to the flatter, sheep and wine growing areas around the township of Ararat.

Melbourne is considered the shopping capital of Australia (especially if you are from Melbourne) and you can enjoy time exploring the arcades and alleyways of the downtown area. There are a lot of weekend craft markets in the St Kilda Area and very good shopping at Prahran and South Yarra, just to the east of the City.

The Trams (streetcars) provide the backbone of the public transport system and there is a good suburban railway system hubbing out of the Flinders Street Railway Station.

Melbourne is a great city to explore on foot, so put aside some time to discover it at your own pace.

Exploring Sydney Harbour and Manly Beach by Ferry

Exploring Sydney Harbour
and Manly Beach by Ferry

Exploring Sydney Harbour and Manly Beach by Ferry. Sydney Harbour stretches for many kilometers, radiating outwards from North and South Head, the two sides of the entrance to the Harbour itself.

The Sydney commuter ferries run an extensive network of ferry options from Circular Quay throughout the various bays, inlets and stretches of open water that make up the Harbour area.  It is very easy to catch a ferry that stops off at a number of the small suburb docking points on a regular basis.  Perhaps appreciation of just how big Sydney Harbour is, is provided by taking the Manly ferry from Circular Quay to Manly and back.  This journey crosses the entrance from the ocean and lands at Manly, a bayside suburb that has frontage to the Harbour as well  as to the ocean.  Manly is known for its beach culture, from surfing, surf life saving and swimming to the marine zoos showing the sealife of both the Harbour and the nearby ocean.

Catch the Manly Ferry from Circular Quay.  As a tip, if making a day trip of it, take the slower conventional ferry for a relaxed look on the way over to Manly and then the fast catamaran back to the city.

When you get off the ferry at Manly, it is a short walk through the Corso, a mall connecting the ferry terminal on the harbourside with the Pacific Ocean and Manly surf beach.  There are loads of specialty shops, restaurants, pubs and interesting characters all along the esplanade north and south of the Corso.  

A particularly good walk is one up and over North Head.  The trail is easy to pick up from the north end of the Esplanade at Manly Beach

If you like exploring cities on your own and to get a feel for the way the locals live, this is a good day’s introduction to Sydney Harbour and its beach culture.
For further Information, go to Australian.com

10 Days in Australia … Splitting up your Time

10 Days in Australia…Splitting up your time.

You really want to go to experience all that wonderful wildlife, but you only have 10 days to do it.  You can stretch an extra day or two to cover the travel time and give you 10 days on the ground Downunder, but that’s about it.

So…how do you decide where to go, and for how long.  You see the packaged tours and they are usually too long and miss something that you really want to do.  Custom your Trip instead.

It is usually a bit rushed to try and spend less than 3 days in a particular location, so saying you want to visit Sydney, the Reef, Tasmania and Kangaroo Island in the 10 day span is pretty counter productive.  You will get to know a lot about Australian airports. Remember, Australia is about the same size as the continental U.S.A. Splitting your time up too much results in flitting from point to point without getting to really see it.

Work with a Travel Planner on www.Australian.com   There are two levels of of trips – Deluxe and Budget.  The real different between the two is the level of the hotel and the offerings of small group trips vs seat in coach day tours.  In the deluxe arena, there are private driver/guides for a few 4 Wheel Drive trips to get you away from the coaches.  So, you can stay at a lower level hotel, and put the money in going off the beaten track.  You can stay in better hotels and take the coach trips.

It is a good idea for a first trip to include Sydney and the Reef – your third place to visit can be decided by whether your interests are in wildlife, cities, wilderness walking or zip lining in the wilderness type activities.  The experiences are in different locations and a Travel Planner knows how to mix them in to your final trip so you’ve included everything what you want.  This is how you do not waste time unnecessarily.

Australia Day Tours – Help to know what’s better

Day Tours, Half Day Tours, Multi Day Tours.  Where to start?  And what tour do you choose so you know you are on the ‘better’ tour?

To take the confusion out of choosing Tours, get a large piece of paper and write out each area, such as Sydney, Cairns Barrier Reef, Melbourne, Kangaroo Island, for instance.

If you have 3 days in Sydney, block in a Half Day Tour on arrival.  How about a Sydney Harbour Cruise?   On Day 2, write in a morning Bridge Climb Tour of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  In the afternoon on Day 2, write in a Sydney Sailing Trip.  On Day 3, choose from the Blue Mountains or Bondi Beach.

You now have Sydney ready to go.  Go to www.Australian.com and click on Tours and you’ll see Sydney.  You can now choose your tours, book online, and you’re in great shape!

Repeat this for Cairns Barrier Reef.  Be sure to include the Full Day Tour on a Reef Trip, and book easily online a Half Day Hot Air Balloon, or Rafting on the Tully River.

Multi Day Tours are available on the Reef in the Whitsundays.  You can sleep onboard a sailing boat and have the most time to snorkel and dive.  Even if you do not wish to get in the water, the cruises are available with glass bottom boats and ample beach time to just relax.

Full Day trips to the Daintree Rainforest  from Cairns are a must and you should always book this ahead online at www.Australian.com    Easy to book, immediate confirmation, and at the best prices.

Kangaroo Island has a few options and you will fly into Adelaide before flying on to K.I. as the locals call it.  Your best option is to not self drive on Kangaroo Island and to join any one of the Day Trips that you can book online at www.Australian.com   The 4 Wheel Drive guides will pick you up at your hotel, and drop you back after seeing all of the wildlife in the wild.

Fly to Australia – Sometimes cheap is not the least expensive.

You’re ready to fly Downunder and you start looking at websites and see some pretty good prices.  The fine print will tell you the date period and you then type in the dates you can actually go, and the price almost doubles.  Ouch.

There is a trick to this, and the answer is routing.  While flights generally fly to Australia from Los Angeles to Sydney, you do have options from and into other cities!  You must be careful grabbing what looks to be the cheapest flight online as you may end up routing through New Zealand or even Korea!  Your time is valuable and you want to land and start seeing those kangaroos as soon as possible.

Have a look on www.Australian.com and click on Air Travel to get some help on how you might fly Downunder.  You can depart from Dallas and even Vancouver BC if you live in the northwest U.S, and, starting Dec. 15, you can fly into Sydney nonstop from San Francisco!

You need not land into Sydney – you might want to fly into Brisbane and start your trip enjoying the Great Barrier Reef.  You can exit Sydney back to the U.S.  The options are there and if you check out www.Australian.com you will find our fairly quickly if there are air specials and what routing works for you on the dates you wish to travel.

If you’re into Tennis, you can fly directly into Melbourne You can enjoy the Reef on your way out and maybe fly Brisbane back to the U.S.  To customise your Vacation to include Tennis, be sure to visit www.Australian.com and get help from an Aussie Travel Planner.

Great Barrier Reef. Why not go now?

Australian Vacation Package.

Great Barrier Reef.  Why not go now?

You may or may not have what is called a “bucket list,” but if you do, you more than likely have places in the world that you need to see.  Most everyone knows that the continent of Australia is sitting there, just waiting, with it’s Downunder appeal:- Kangaroos, Shrimp on the Barbie, The Opera House, topless beaches, and one of the magic places in all of the world, The Great Barrier Reef. 

Even if you are not an avid swimmer, you are still drawn to the crystal blue waters and the vivid tropical sealife.  The Reef is truly amazing!  It stretches 1800 kms (1200 miles) from the northern tip of Australia to just north of Brisbane.  Imagine this:  You are 50 kms (30 miles) offshore, the hills behind Cairns are a smudge on the western horizon, 20 Continental Shelf.  The Reef itself is 5 to 10 metres (15 to 30 feet) below the bottom of your boat.

There are several boat trips leaving from Cairns and Port Douglas and you want to be sure to prebook your Reef Trip well before you arrive so you do not miss out.  There are some for the younger crowd and others that are more deluxe and private.

If you visit Hamilton Island, and want more luxury, be sure to arrange your Australian Vacation with a CustomTravel Planner on www.Australian.com    You may also want to scuba dive.  If you are a beginner, you can take a ‘resort dive” and actually dive one on one with an instructor.  The Reef boats for snorkeling and diving have knowledgeable and licensed guides.

Also available off Hamilton Island are sailing boats that you can actually sleep on.  Some have facilities for private charters, small parties of up to 6 couples.  You can snorkel, swim, sleep and dine on your own private sailing boat while the crew look after you.

Australian Wildlife in the Wild

Australian Wildlife in the Wild.  What’s not to like?

No matter where you go in Australia, it’s possible to see wildlife in the wild. Not in the big cities mind you, though a crocodile came up out of the drains in Cairns one time to give the tourists (and a few locals) a bit of a scare.  A bit too close to wildlife in the wild!

You can book tours online at Australian.com  Any of the full day tours out of the city will show you some sort of wildlife in the wild.

What you see in various locations around Australia will depend a bit on where you are.  Kangaroos are just about everywhere and if you are self driving for any part of your trip, then you will likely spend some of your time avoiding hitting them on the roads.  As an aside, what is referred to as a “bull bar” on the front of the truck or SUV in the U.S. and Europe, is called a “Roo Bar” in Australia.

While a kangaroo is not quite as large as a cow,  the damage in being hit by a 350 pound (175 Kg) kangaroo in full flight is a matter of the speed in which it is traveling.  Kangaroos can make a good 30mph when pushed and if they are panicked into crossing the road, can make a heck of a mess in front of the car.  Hence, the term “Roo Bar.”

There are many other forms of wildlife you can see in the wild though since most wildlife is nocturnal, you are most likely to see it at sunrise and sundown.

The smaller animals such as the echidna (ant eater) wallabies, and in Tasmania, Tasmanian Devils, are often candidates for road kill after dark.

Any of the good wildlife tours, say to the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, or the Atherton Tableland behind Cairns, will show you kangaroos, crocodiles and if you’re lucky,  a cassowary or emu (large flightless bird that resemble the ostrich).

If you miss the chance to see wildlife in the wild, book tours on Australian.com to include the wildlife parks in Melbourne, Sydney, Tasmania, Brisbane and Cairns.