Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific

Discussions regarding holidays in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific region.
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Pretty much of a sameness about the airlines, everyone has their favourite. I believe there are only 3 who have premium economy and will fly you to Oz directly. BA, Virgin and Qantas, Air New Zealand are excellent but you would have to fly via New Zealand. You might be better to look at a site such as http://www.skytrax.com for reviews about flights or check out http://www.seatguru.com for seat dimensions. If you decide to travel economy both Singapore and Malaysia airlines provide a good service as do Cathay. Most of the airlines will have special offers available at different times of the year so it's hard to say who offers the cheapest flights.

Depending on your airline the major stopover places are Singapore or Hong Kong, both are worth a visit, Hong Kong has a much more exotic feel to it but Singapore is a safe, clean city and very easy to get around.

I would think 7days in Melbourne would be enough, do try and take a trip out to the Great Ocean Road even if it's just for the day. Sydney is a place you can spend as little or as much time as you want, it's a city you can't really get tired of, loads to do and see.

On my last trip down under I spent 5 nights in Cairns, which was fine, depends what you want to see and do. Part of this was chill out time and I enjoyed wandering around the town or just relaxing by the hotel pool as well as taking in a couple of excursions. I must admit I preferred Port Douglas to Cairns but I don't know whether PD would have had enough to interest me if I had stayed for any length of time (I just visited for the day) though I believe the same excursions can be obtained in both places.

I finished up the trip in Brisbane as the choice of airlines was better than from Cairns and enjoyed the 3 nights that I spent there, it's quite a laid back city but with plenty of things to do.
One other possibility is a visit to Fraser Island north of Brisbane, I haven't been there but friends that have say it's not to be missed. I believe you can take trips there for a couple of days.
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Sue

Just to add we spent the 5 nights in Cairns in the Colonial Club Hotel, which is about 3miles outside Cairns there are some reviews in the hotel review section. I think if I visited again though I would stay in Cairns itself, but the hotel is a perfect place to chill out.

Judith
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Sue, for hotels around Aus have a look at HotelClub.com
It costs nothing to register and you can get decent deals in Sydney for between £80 and £150 a night per room. Yes! it's so expensive and makes London look cheap at times. Darling Harbour is a good place to start looking for a hotel with easy access to all areas.
For Fraser Island stop in Hervey Bay and take the 2 day trip to Fraser. You get back from there at about 6p.m. on the second day so it's not advisable to travel the second night.
For flights around Aus, look at Jetstar for the internal flights and Austravel for internal tours.

One word of caution - RAIN! You'll be heading into FNQ during the rainy season, but enjoy your rest.
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Forgive my ignorance but what is FNQ? I thought sep/oct was a good month for most of Australia in terms of weather? I had no idea it would be rainy.
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Far Northern Queensland or something similar ?

On my last visit down under I spent 4-5weeks from the middle of September to the middle of October travelling from the south to the far north. The weather in the south was warm and sunny and as we travelled further north it got hotter until we reached Darwin where it was 40°+ and very sticky. The only rain we had was in Cairns where we had a short shower and Port Douglas when we had a heavy shower that lasted for about an hour. Northern Queensland does get extremely heavy rainfall in their summer months and vast areas are flooded but areas in the south and west such as Sydney, Melbourne, Perth etc should have lovely weather in Sept/Oct.
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Thanks for your response about FNQ.

I, too, am considering a visit of 4-5 weeks next Sept/Oct. From the research I have already done about the weather from guide books I think these months could be a good time to visit as it will be spring time. We want to start off in Perth and visit both north and south of Perth city. We then want to spend no more than 1 day inland and then make our way across to the east coast. Like the original poster, any advice is welcome re: length of time in certain places. (We plan to fly between places.)
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Sue, I've just received this e-shot from Austravel and you may find it worth enquiring.

"We have teamed up with award winning Cathay Pacific and the beautiful Cairns & Great Barrier Reef region to help you discover more of Australia for less.

When you book a minimum of return flights for two adults to Australia with Cathay Pacific and 5 nights' twin share accommodation or touring, we'll give you up to 2 FREE flights in Australia to help you discover more of this spectacular country.

There are lots of destinations to choose from including Cairns & Great Barrier Reef, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. What's more, this offer is only available when you book with Austravel. "

Regards,

Parky
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Looking at travelling to Oz next Oct/Nov.

Recommendations for airlines in economy (budget means we can't really go posher) although we might consider premium on the return.

Included internal flights would be a bonus.

Would you recommend a stopover on the way there, or bite the bullet and go straight through?

Route will be Heathrow to Sydney, but are flexible on the via bit. Return also from Sydney, but we would look to route back via Hong Kong or Singapore.

We have been told that BA and Qantas are among the cheapest, but after a transatlantic trip on BA in the most cramped and ancient 747 ever, I wouldn't be keen to repeat the experience..

Is the A380 all its cracked up to be, as that is an option on Qantas.

Sorry for banging on, all info gratefully received.

:tup
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IainB99, see above for my recommendation for Austravel. I've used them twice now. I would agree with you on BA flights being uncomfortable, but they now share flights with QUANTAS, and they can be just as bad.
Landing in Aus with an A380 is a massive PITA, as you get problems with Immigration and Customs halls with all the queueing and lack of organisation, especially if you get four or five flights landing at roughly the same time.

A stop-over is definitely the way to go, but with 2/3 days, not overnight.

If you're thinking of visiting Gold Coast, look out for the "Schoolies" period. It's the cheapest time for some of the hotels as they like to fill up space before the kids arrive and there are bargains to be had.

For internal flights, have a look at Friday Frenzy and you can also find reasonably priced hotels.

Hotelclub.com is another place to look.

Enjoy the research.

Parky
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Have just returned from Oz and travelled with BA then Qantas an honestly did not have a problem with either of them. Travelled on the A380 for the second time and hopefully will travel on it many more. The wait at customs was worth the flight.
Booked internat flights with Virgin and trains on Queensland Railway on the internet - no problems with either.
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All sorted now for next year. Flights, hotels and trips booked in about an hour and a half.

All very painless apart from the coughing up of the deposit.

Turned out we are going with Qantas as the internal flights are included in the overall deal with the big Airbus out and inbound.

Can't wait now until next October. :tup
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I hope you have a lovely holiday. Australia is a great place to visit, hopefully I'll return in the not too distant future.

Did you decide to have stopovers on the journeys out and return Iain or are you biting the bullet and doing the whole journey in one fell swoop?
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We elected to get there in a oner. Stopover would have been nice, but SWMBO has less leave to play with than me, so we decided to just get off at the refuelling stops for a leg stretch.
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Where will you be visiting Iain? There's such a lot to see in Queensland alone. You don't realise how big it is till you've flown or driven over it. Three or four hours from Darwin to Brisbane is like flying from UK to Cyprus, but it's just a short hop compared to Brisbane to Perth.
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Have a great time Iain. We went with Qantas, but the flights with various airlines including JAP. We got a good deal which included 2 stopovers and 3 internal flights.

luci :wave
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Fly into Sydney, do a harbour tour ater a couple of days, bridge climb, combined with more sightseeing, then fly to Melbourne.

Couple of trips in Melbourne plus (at SWMBO insistence) the Neighbours experience. Then fly to Alice Springs for a 3 day tour culminating in sunrise at Uluru. Fly off to Cairns and drive up to Port Douglas to stay for just under a week with a barrier reef cruise and some touring/chill out time.

Finally, back to Sydney for a couple of nights before the slog home.

22 days all told.

We would have liked longer, but leave issues were uppermost in our thoughts.

One humungous return and four internal flights each for a total cost inc taxes of about £2800. (£1700 for the flights and £1100 for ALL taxes and APD costs - not sure of the exact breakdown)
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We did a cruise on the Bounty in Sydney harbour which was a highlight as I love tall ships and took the ferry to Manly. We did a tour of the Opera House which was very interesting then went to a show there at night. It was a musical by Stephen Sondheim and we really enjoyed it.

How are you getting from Alice Springs to Uluru? We flew from Alice Springs to Uluru and stayed there a couple of nights. There are some local walks organised by the native Aborigines which I think were free, but we were too late to book. I climbed Uluru, but I don't know if you can still do that although you can walk round it. We also got up early for the sunrise. The Olgas are worth visiting and not far from Uluru.

From Cairns we went to Port Douglas and went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef with Quicksilver. We also took the train to Kuranda which is a lovely scenic trip.

Just a few more things to consider.

luci :wave
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You will be in Sydney during whale watching season - not to be missed. This is what we recently did and it was amazing.
The Neighbours experience is fine - make sure you go to the pub night where some of the cast play in a band (Dr Karl and Toady) it is a good night out.
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