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Apr 02, 2002: @ 3 Weeks in Australia

WARNING: narcissism ahead

After the NN/g seminars are done, Mary Jean and I will take our belated honeymoon in Australia. We'd thought about spending most of the time in New Zealand, but it seems that it will just be too cold in late June/early July, so maybe we'll save that trip for our tenth anniversary.

We'll spend most of the first week in Sydney, where the seminars take place. But then what? So my question: if you had about 18 days to kill in Australia that time of year, split roughly 50-50 between city and country, what would you do?

What do we like? The regular stuff I guess; cities (good food, galleries, concerts, museums, cafes), countryside (especially memorable vistas; road trips are right up our alley), outdoor activities (day hikes, wine tasting, snorkeling, maybe a couple days of skiing, naked bungee jumping, dwarf tossing), meeting locals. We don't like touristy places and crowds, souvenirs, Hard Rock Cafes, and long lines.

I'm a big fan of Bruce Chatwin's writing, and it would be wonderful to do something that involved learning more about songlines. I've heard that Darwin is an interesting pace; pan-Asian and still warm that time of the year, if a bit out of the way. And Margaret Hanley is always going on about her home town of Melbourne.

OK, I'll shut up now; any ideas?

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Comment: Shane Winegard (Apr 2, 2002)

I spent 8 months in Australia with my fiancee'(living in , an seaside eastern suburb of Sydney) in 1999. We were actually in the midst of a 2 month road trip holiday at about the same relative time you and your wife are planning on venturing about. Here's a summary of what I'd suggest, based upon your description above and the assumption that you're already planning on taking in the more obvious choices (Opera House, museums, Botanical Gardens, etc.)

== In and around Sydney ==

The Blue Mountains are about 90 minutes west of the city. Breathtaking views, good hiking. Could be a day trip, an overnighter or a weekend jaunt. We day tripped it, but should have overnighted it to have had time to enjoy a few of the longer hikes.

Hunter Valley is beautiful wine country in New South Wales. It's about a 2.5 hour drive north east of the city and home to Pepper Tree, Lindemans, Hermitage Road and many, many more fantastic wineries. We spent the equivalent of a weekend in a charming bed and breakfast at a boutique winery, kangaroos included. Bus tours to the wineries are fun, non-touristy and allow you to partake without worrying about having to drive.

Manly is another suburb of Sydney. A 30 minute ride aboard the Manly ferry across the Sydney harbor will get you there. An excellent day trip for shopping, dining, beaching, etc. If you have time, try to check into a tour of the Quarantine Station just outside of manly. Very interesting.

Sydney beaches. Lots of them. Bondi, Coogee, Tamarama. Bondi is the most 'famous'. Coogee was my backyard. Tamarama had excellent boutique shopping in and around. Hit some, hit them all - at least hit one.

Watson's Bay. Excellent vantage point of the city from the east. Nice outdoor cafe, perfect for a long afternoon.

Sydney Zoo. Among the best zoo's I've been to, although I hardly consider myself a zoo critic. The giraffe's have one of the best views of the Opera House and bridge.

== Out and nowhere near Sydney ==

If you're going to leave Sydney, here are your choices. (Most require a flight to a nearby airport, but all are worth seeing)

1) Great Barrier Reef. Many places to access it from. We ventured to it twice - once from Airlie Beach/Whitsunday Islands (flights into Proserpine daily from all major airports), once from Cape Tribulation (flights into Cairns every hour on the hour from all major airports). Check with the locals to find out when low tide is and try to plan your trip accordingly - the reef protrudes out of the ocean during extremely low tides. We got lucky and witnessed it, snorkeled around it, etc. Absolutely amazing.

2) Fraser Island/Hervey Bay - An all sand island northeast of Brisbane - beautiful beaches. Take a chartered tour through the island, and plane ride overtop of the island from one of the beaches. Incredible. One of the most favorite things I did.

3) Uluru (The Red Rock). Another breathtaking sight I'm glad I had the opportunity to experience. Uluru is in the center of the continent - all the outback you can handle. Flights into Alice Springs from all major airports daily.

I could go on and on... If you'd like any more info on these or have questions about anything else, don't hesitate to ask. I travelled around the entire eastern half of the Australian continent and left few stones unturned.

Comment: Andrew (Apr 3, 2002)

Lou, you should read Bill Bryson's hilarious book about travel in Australia: In a Sunburned Country. It won't tell you where to eat dinner, but it's one of the funniest things I've read in the last year.

Comment: Lou (Apr 3, 2002)

I loved Mother Tongue, so I'm sure I'll love this one too; thanks for the comments guys!

Comment: Ken (Apr 3, 2002)

Lou,

Head south to Melbourne, wine country, penguins, and the Great Ocean Road. The Great Ocean Road -- roughly, from Geelong to Warrnambool along the southern border of the country -- is one of the most spectacular roads I've ever driven. It's like the Pacific Coast Highway compressed into a few hundred kilometers and accentuated. Nearer Melbourne is Phillip Island, where the Little Blue penguin makes its home -- definitely worth visiting. And the wine country around Melbourne is fantastic. (My traveling companions put together a travelog of our trip in 11/99 -- see http://www.virtualdesert.com/oztour/ .)

We stayed at several nice B&B's, particuarly the one in Townsville (north of Sydney) -- let me know, and I can dig up the contact info.

Comment: Eric Scheid (Apr 3, 2002)

Before you leave old Sydney town, I insist you drop in to sample the fare at Harry's Cafe de Wheels.

http://www.harryscafedewheels.com.au/

Matt Jones will back me up on this :-)

Comment: Mathew (Apr 8, 2002)

I second the motions for the Great Ocean Road, and for Phillip Island. Great fun!

The coastal roads down the south coast of NSW have some awesome views too, Huskisson has the whitest sand I have ever seen.

We stayed in the Blue Mountains during our honeymoon, at Studio Cottages, which is right near the Norman Lindsay gallery, which is well worth a visit. (Particularly if you don't mind a lot of paintings of underdressed women :)

Day trips around greater Sydney are many; wine tasting, dolphin watching, perhaps dwarf tossing if it is the right season.

Enjoy!

Comment: Mathew (Apr 8, 2002)

I second the motions for the Great Ocean Road, and for Phillip Island. Great fun!

The coastal roads down the south coast of NSW have some awesome views too, Huskisson has the whitest sand I have ever seen.

We stayed in the Blue Mountains during our honeymoon, at Studio Cottages, which is right near the Norman Lindsay gallery, which is well worth a visit. (Particularly if you don't mind a lot of paintings of underdressed women :)

Day trips around greater Sydney are many; wine tasting, dolphin watching, perhaps dwarf tossing if it is the right season.

Enjoy!

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