Thoughts on My Upcoming Trip to Australia: I Need Your Input

As I briefly mentioned yesterday, I’m planning a trip to Australia for next May, since I absolutely fell in love with the country on my previous trip there this past May. I’m really looking forward to this.

So, part of my excitement stems from finding what I consider to be some great seats going down and coming back. From Washington DC, I’ll fly up to New York JFK to catch the cross-country Qantas 747 to Los Angeles (Business Class), then a Qantas A380 to Sydney (First Class), and onward to Perth in Qantas Business Class. Returning home, I’ll depart Sydney in Qantas Business Class to San Fransisco, then head onto an American A321T in Business Class to JFK, before I fly back down to Washington DC. All in, this will be 72,500 AAdvantage miles on the outbound and 62,500 on the return. Not a bad deal.

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So, once I get to Australia, I’m fairly open to visiting whatever and wherever, and so far have this plan in mind:

  • 2 Nights in Perth, staying at the Hyatt Regency Perth
  • 2 Nights in Adelaide, staying at the Intercontinental
  • 2 Nights in Canberra, staying at the Park Hyatt Canberra
  • 2 Nights in Port Douglas, staying at the Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas
  • 3 Nights in Sydney, staying at the Park Hyatt Sydney

2015-05-25 15.40.08

In planning this schedule, there’s a few things I knew I wanted to do:

  • I’ve heard good things about Perth, so I wanted to make a visit there. By visiting this first, I was able to tack this onto my outward journey at no additional cost or miles.
  • I want to visit the Great Barrier Reef, so Port Douglas seems like a good jumping off point.
  • I want to go back to Sydney to see Vivid Sydney, which will be occurring during the dates I’ll be there.
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Outside of that, I’m flexible. I also want to visit Alice Springs and Uluru, but the logistics of getting there are a bit on the complicated side. While flying to Alice Springs or Ayer’s Rock isn’t an issue, with daily flights to both sides of the country, getting to Uluru is a bit of an issue, outside of an organized tour. Since Australia drives on the left side of the road, I can’t rent a car, so that option is out the window. I want to do it, but somehow fitting it in and making it work is a bit of a problem. Perhaps next time?

I’m certainly not dead-set on any of my hotels, outside of the Park Hyatt Sydney, so am open on suggestions. Having visited Melbourne extensively the last trip, I’m avoiding going there this time, and am trying to see some other locations. While I know I won’t be able to do everything in this trip, my goal is to hit some of the major other sites that aren’t just in the Sydney to Melbourne corridor.

You have given me plenty of helpful hints and pointed me in the right direction before, so I’m opening this up to you guys…

So, what should I do? Is this itinerary one worthwile for those that have visited these destinations? Am I staying too long or too short in any one place? 

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  1. Brant jackson says

    We stayed at the sheraton mirage in port douglas for a week about a year and a half ago. I would spend more than two nights there if you have the time. A lot of nice country to see out that way. We then spent 6 nights at the park hyatt in sydney. We are country people and not city people so while it was nice seeing sydney i would have preferred (in hindsight) to have stayed longer in port douglas. Hartleys crocodile farm near there is a must see if you like animals, nature, etc. we spent the entire day there from open to close and didnt even want to leave when they were closing. Have a fun trip.

  2. COSPILOT says

    Just curious, why is the rental car not an option? My family and I had a rental for our New Years trip this past Dec.-Jan, and while driving on the “other side” took some concentration, I felt pretty comfortable after the first day. My biggest issue was remembering which side of the car to enter.:)

  3. Brant jackson says

    I missed the no rental car part of your post. You definitely need a rental car in the port douglas area. You will be limited and miserable without it. I was very nervous about driving on the left side as well but i can tell you it is no issue at all in australia. Very easy to understand. After an hour it will be like second nature. I was very surprised how easy it was to pick up. Pro tip from the rental car company and basically all you have to remember: (just like here at home): the driver is always sitting near the middle of the road. Rent a car. Dont sweat it.

  4. Nick S. says

    3 nights minimum in Port Douglas. At the very least you want a day for the reef, and a day for the Daintree Rainforest/Cape Tribulation. We would live there if we could.

  5. Brian says

    Hey, I did Uluru by myself and it was quite easy. There is a free airport shuttle to the resorts and to get to the rocks from the resorts you can either hire a shuttle which is overpriced at like $70 US, or you can do what I did and just hitch out to the rock and back. It was pretty easy to catch rides with people honestly. Just go stand by the highway and someone will stop eventually… it’s all tourists out there.

  6. marc says

    Just got back from 4 weeks in the land down under. 2 days is not enough in northern queensland, we spent 4 and felt that wasn’t enough. I guess if you don’t want to go to Daintree or the Great Barrier Reef then 2 is enough, but why else would you be up there? Uluru is a must and you can fly from Cairns to there direct on Qantas. Going to Alice Springs is not really worth it since it’s not really an outback city and is 5 hours from Uluru. Canberra is a bore and can be easily skipped. The forgotten state of Tasmania is awesome, and I would recommend going there; kind of like a mini New Zealand

      • Stephan says

        Would agree with Canberra – visit the Parliament and walk a round a bit, but that’s about it. It is a government city with little elseof note. One night is plenty there. Spend the extra night somewhere else.

      • marc says

        by the way, do you plan on diving or snorkeling? We snorkeled with Wavelength which is snorkel only and only about 45 people on the boat. I thought it was a great deal.

  7. says

    My 2c, I would spend more time in Perth. Flying from SYD to PER is nearly as long as a US transcon.

    I don’t have any specific recommendations on what to do in Perth but like you have heard great things! I will be heading down Australia for my first time in March/April. Melbourne

  8. Cheap Pete says

    In SYD you should do the Bridge Climb at night, fantastic views of the city! Depending on when you are there – a Sunday seafood brunch at Doyles in Watson Bay is really a spectacular way to enjoy all that is great about Sydney. In addition I would recommend Cafe Sydney if you can get a table outside overlooking the Bay with the Bridge in background – the food is really outstanding and the vibe is spot on for a great night. A perfect night cap is the bar at the top of the Shangrila – I think its called Blu – again great views for the price of a drink its hard to beat.

  9. Stephan says

    Go to Fremantle and Rottnest Island if in Perth. If you have more time – I would take more time – head to Margaret River and surrounding area for wine and surfing.

  10. Rob Cummings says


    I live in Sydney and have been to most places in Australia.

    11 days is an incredibly short time to explore a continent which is what your planning to do.

    If I was in your position I would stick to the east coast – I wouldn’t spend 5+ hours flying plus airport time each way to visit Perth. It’s a nice city with Fremantle being the Gem and as others have suggested Rottnest is worth a visit but it’s such a long way for two days.

    Forget Canberra and unless your into wine forget Adelaide, spend more time in Sydney, visit Melbourne and perhaps visit Fraser Island before flying up to Port Douglas.

    You can bus it from Fraser up to Port Douglas or take an internal flight.

    If you need any Sydney tips I’m happy to help.

  11. John Clements says

    You’ll love Qantas first class on the A380 it’s brilliant, but why not fly to Dallas/Fort Worth then direct to Sydney? Less hassle than DC to New York then change in LA, I’m flying from Adelaide to Sydney business then onto DFW First Class in November.

    Driving is no hassle, I was worried about the US but successfully managed a couple of hundred miles in Minneapolis – no worries at all.

    Like the others said, you need more time in Perth and surroundings, especially due to the distance you’re flying, it’s around 5 hours from DC to LA then 15 to Sydney, then 5 to Perth. You could stay at the Airport hotel for a night and onto Perth, to break it up.

    Regardless, you’ll have a great time and the US dollar is worth more here.

  12. says

    I agree with some of the others: Adjusting to driving on the other side is almost automatic, getting into the car on the correct side is the hard part!
    And you do have a lot of places – I’d drop a few and spend more time in fewer places, my recommendation would be Sydney and PD. I love Sydney and you can do some nice side trips to the Blue Mountains or wine country there, too. And if seeing the Great Barrier Reef involves scuba diving (which is awesome!), you’ll need a lot more than 2 nights – you shouldn’t fly within 24h of diving.

  13. Martin says

    Having lived in Australia and the US here are my thoughts. Forget Perth – it’s nice but not worth the long trip. Hobart is small but v nice and has a must see museum worth the trip alone. It’s the Mona and they have amazing accommodations there as well in the Pavilions. Canberra is certainly worth a day and is actually quite trendy now with excellent restaurants and some great museums. Hotel Hotel Canberra is one of the best design hotels in the world. From Sydney consider a side trip to the Blue Mountains or Palm Beach. Be aware that Sheraton Port Douglas is not walking distance to the township so you will need a car. Also you may want to consider Byron Bay – it’s the hippest beach town, or Longreach and the Qantas Founders Museum.

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