Newbie Aussie questions

Old Jan 2, 14, 7:54 pm
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Newbie Aussie questions

Thinking of a trip to Australia at the end of 2014 - flying out of TPA. I looked at The domestic carries and the coach prices are "ok" but FC prices are really steep.

What do you recommend ? When I think about sitting in coach for 16 hours makes me cringe, but surely a flight that long it couldn't be that bad...

Also looking at going to Melbourne then driving the coast to Sydney - any thought on that as well?

How are rental car rates? What hotel chains do you recommend? I'm trying to do all the stays with points...

Thanks
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Old Jan 2, 14, 8:28 pm
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Originally Posted by irockfm2 View Post
Thinking of a trip to Australia at the end of 2014 - flying out of TPA. I looked at The domestic carries and the coach prices are "ok" but FC prices are really steep.

What do you recommend ? When I think about sitting in coach for 16 hours makes me cringe, but surely a flight that long it couldn't be that bad...
Define "really steep".
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Old Jan 3, 14, 12:24 pm
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Flight prices

Originally Posted by bensyd View Post
Define "really steep".
$16k FC
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Old Jan 3, 14, 3:14 pm
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Your questions are very generic and appear unresearched - help us to help you, by asking specific questions after you've done some basic research.

As to which airline to fly, based on your profile, presumably either QF (though take the AA codeshare so that you get more miles) or DL.

As for driving from Melbourne to Sydney, I would fly. I've never done the drive but I don't think it's particularly interesting, though it can probably be made so if you meander about and take your time. If you want to go to Canberra on the way, it may be worth it but then again you can just fly. Most of the route will not be along the coast. If you want a coastal drive for a day or two, drive down the Great Ocean Road when you're in Melbourne.

Rental car rates are what they are - what did you find when you looked? You don't need a car in Melbourne or Sydney unless you want to do a day trip somewhere - otherwise they're just a costly liability.

As for hotels, I recommend those chains for which you have sufficient points and which have hotels in the places you want to go. That would appear to be Starwood, Marriott and Hyatt. They will work in Melbourne and Sydney but may not elsewhere (if they have no properties in whatever other locations you plan to visit).

How long do you plan to visit? Where else do you want to go - the Great Barrier Reef? Uluru? Tasmania? Woop Woop? Beyond The Black Stump?

Do some research and come back with specific questions and we can be much more helpful.
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Old Jan 3, 14, 4:04 pm
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Originally Posted by irockfm2 View Post
$16k FC
You do realise that there are two classes in between economy and first class on that route, ie premium economy and business class? US domestic first class <> international first class. International is an infinitely better product. FWIW, I bought two J flights over to LAX a couple of days ago for March and June on Qantas that priced out at about $7800 each.
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Old Jan 5, 14, 7:41 am
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Originally Posted by tt7 View Post
Most of the route will not be along the coast
News to me, since I'm right now sitting in a house by the coast, just south of batemans bay, one of the towns along the coastal route between Melbourne and Sydney, better go tell people this place is a figment of our imagination...


On a more serious note, the drive from Mel to Syd along the coast, is a very senic but much slower drive, but it's one I've done a few times. Allow a good few days to do it.

I'm more familiar with the new south wales side of the border, that said lakes entrance on the victorian side is certainly a nice place to stay, as is tathra (kianini cabins is where we have stayed many times), just near bega.

When are you exactly planning to come here? (you say end of 2014 without being specific). Just keep in mind that over our summer, lots of places will be booked out, so I'd recommend getting your reservations in as early as you can if your planning on doing the trip in december.
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Old Jan 6, 14, 5:23 am
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"Business class" on most non-US airlines is much better than "First class" in the US, in my experience.
E.g almost all business class from north of the equator to Australia has lie-flat beds.

You should be able to get a business class return to Australia for less than $16k though.
Nevertheless it will still be at least 3x the economy price, probably 4x or more . It's a serious step-up in quality on a proper long haul flight.

The peak period to Australia starts about Dec 14th so try to travel before then.
that said lakes entrance on the victorian side is certainly a nice place to stay, as is tathra
After Merimbula/Tathra, Lakes Entrance is the only place that the main road touches or comes anywhere near the coast before Melbourne, but there are plenty of nice detours to the coast in the Victoria section - Mallacoota, Marlo, Paynesville/Metung on the Lakes, Port Albert, The Prom, Inverloch, Phillip Island ... not to mention the hill and mountain detours you could take.
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Old Jan 7, 14, 2:44 am
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Originally Posted by tt7 View Post
Your questions are very generic and appear unresearched - help us to help you, by asking specific questions after you've done some basic research.

As to which airline to fly, based on your profile, presumably either QF (though take the AA codeshare so that you get more miles) or DL.

As for driving from Melbourne to Sydney, I would fly. I've never done the drive but I don't think it's particularly interesting, though it can probably be made so if you meander about and take your time. If you want to go to Canberra on the way, it may be worth it but then again you can just fly. Most of the route will not be along the coast. If you want a coastal drive for a day or two, drive down the Great Ocean Road when you're in Melbourne.

Rental car rates are what they are - what did you find when you looked? You don't need a car in Melbourne or Sydney unless you want to do a day trip somewhere - otherwise they're just a costly liability.
Going with tt7, I do agree Qantas (QF) is great. Economy was decent compared to United, which by the way, made me want to cry. You did forget Air New Zealand for an option that does have 1-2 stops, depending on location. Well Air New Zealand if you live in California, where it's easier since Auckland is a good stopover. Never went on Delta. I fly from SFO.

It is about 8 hours driving (I think) from Melbourne to Sydney. While the coastlines seem great (I haven't made the drives myself), a plane would be better. And tt7 is right, you don't need a car to go around Sydney (never been to Melbourne). I don't know what people are saying when they say the infrastructure sucks! It's pretty good! (I'm from San Francisco Bay Area... I have to drive EVERYWHERE.) Besides the train stations are well placed and there is one in nearly every suburb and if going to Manly, a ferry ride is ok too.
_
Originally Posted by manolino
"Business class" on most non-US airlines is much better than "First class" in the US, in my experience.
E.g almost all business class from north of the equator to Australia has lie-flat beds.

You should be able to get a business class return to Australia for less than $16k though.
Nevertheless it will still be at least 3x the economy price, probably 4x or more . It's a serious step-up in quality on a proper long haul flight.
Via ANA Mileage Club, it can be around 125,000 miles and $890 for a flight from SFO to Sydney via United Airlines (non-stop). I don't have my details if it was an United non-stop then an Air New Zealand one stop.
My dad had said retail for the latter was about $8,000. (Not sure... I did book the flight 1 week in advance.) $10,000 for the former (as I looked it up. This was during the summer. December 16-28)
I can't recommend hotels! I have family in Australia so I save money that way! (You would think with the money saved on hotels, it would go to airfare... HAHAHA NO. Happened once where my dad spent $900 on an upgrade for me, mom and my bro one way, nothing on my Qantas flight and... well then my flghts became all award bookings)
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Old Jan 7, 14, 3:23 am
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Originally Posted by irockfm2 View Post
How are rental car rates?
Generally speaking, more expensive than the US, except for NYC! Especially at the time of year you're talking about, which is peak holiday season (school holidays, summer, Christmas, New Year).

Indicative prices:

Smallest car - min. $40-50 per day
Large car - min. $50-60 per day
Wagon - min $80-90 per day
4WD - min. $120-150 per day
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Old Jan 7, 14, 7:36 pm
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Originally Posted by irockfm2 View Post
....Also looking at going to Melbourne then driving the coast to Sydney - any thought on that as well?

How are rental car rates? What hotel chains do you recommend? I'm trying to do all the stays with points...
Coast road is a great drive, but requires an overnight stay. It is a single lane very windy road for the most part, and in view of the ocean about half the time; goes through a variety of climatic zones and temperatures About 16 hours total drive time. The direct road MEL-SYD is the Hume highway which is very boring and entirely inland and takes 10 hours at speed limit (which is often strictly enforced) and 8 hours if you judiciously speed. Hence the comments about flying instead.

Car rental rates vary with supply and demand (thin market compared to US); for example over Christmas it was $150/day for the cheapest car! I can usually get a Camry from Europcar for $220/week so just over $30/day. Hertz/Avis will be more. Petrol will cost you more than the car rental (typically $15 per 100km or about $200 for driving sydney to melbourne).

For hotel chains using points, Hyatt is best as there are great PHs in SYD and MEL (maybe best PHs in the world) but SPG and Marriott also have good hotels here. Even 4Points in Australia is more like a luxury hotel, strangely enough.
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Old Jan 8, 14, 12:10 am
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Originally Posted by harvyk View Post
News to me, since I'm right now sitting in a house by the coast, just south of batemans bay, one of the towns along the coastal route between Melbourne and Sydney, better go tell people this place is a figment of our imagination...
Thanks for the sarcasm - very witty.

Originally Posted by number_6 View Post
Coast road is a great drive, but requires an overnight stay. It is a single lane very windy road for the most part, and in view of the ocean about half the time;
Can you (or someone) explain, perhaps as much for my benefit as the OP's, exactly what road it is that follows the coast from Melbourne to Sydney?

Looking at the map, the 'direct' route is, as you say, the Hume highway (entirely inland). An alternative appears to be the A1 - generally much closer to the coast but for much of its length, nowhere near the coast (or at least, sufficiently far away that you might just as well be 'inland'). There are clearly lots of places where you could get off the A1 and head down some road to the coast - but most of those would seem to have you turning around to then go back to the A1. Mollymook appears to be a prime example - if you want to go north from Mollymook, you have no choice but to go back to the A1. There are obviously some places where you can stay on the coast for a while - come off the A1 at Moruya and drive north to Bateman's Bay, for example (though even that road does not appear to be exactly "on the coast" for much of its length) -- and after Bateman's Bay, you have to get back on the A1. I don't doubt that the drive from Melbourne to Sydney can be very pleasant, particularly if you're able to take your time, with some great places to visit along the way. However, how much of the 1,000 or so km from Melbourne to Sydney is actually "on the coast"?

To me, the Great Ocean Road = on the coast (though some of that drive isn't exactly that close to the ocean). Perhaps I just need a new map.
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Old Jan 8, 14, 4:14 am
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To me, the Great Ocean Road = on the coast (though some of that drive isn't exactly that close to the ocean)
The original GOR from Torquay to Apollo Bay was pretty much right on the coast (though even then the likes of Bells beach required a slight detour) , like hwy 101 in California.

However, since they sealed the road across Cape Otway to join the Princetown- Peterborough road, and then the Tourism people decreed that the GOR extended to Warrnambool or even Port Fairy, you'd be correct - much of it is a few paddocks short of a beach picnic, to mix metaphors.
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Old Jan 8, 14, 3:12 pm
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Originally Posted by tt7 View Post
Thanks for the sarcasm - very witty.

Can you (or someone) explain, perhaps as much for my benefit as the OP's, exactly what road it is that follows the coast from Melbourne to Sydney?

Looking at the map, the 'direct' route is, as you say, the Hume highway (entirely inland). An alternative appears to be the A1 - generally much closer to the coast but for much of its length, nowhere near the coast (or at least, sufficiently far away that you might just as well be 'inland'). There are clearly lots of places where you could get off the A1 and head down some road to the coast - but most of those would seem to have you turning around to then go back to the A1. Mollymook appears to be a prime example - if you want to go north from Mollymook, you have no choice but to go back to the A1. There are obviously some places where you can stay on the coast for a while - come off the A1 at Moruya and drive north to Bateman's Bay, for example (though even that road does not appear to be exactly "on the coast" for much of its length) -- and after Bateman's Bay, you have to get back on the A1. I don't doubt that the drive from Melbourne to Sydney can be very pleasant, particularly if you're able to take your time, with some great places to visit along the way. However, how much of the 1,000 or so km from Melbourne to Sydney is actually "on the coast"?

To me, the Great Ocean Road = on the coast (though some of that drive isn't exactly that close to the ocean). Perhaps I just need a new map.
You are correct the Princes Highway (A1) is generally considered to be the coastal route. These days a lot of the towns along the way are bypassed by the road itself. That said, most of the towns along the way are no more than 5 minutes off the highway, with the highway still going through major towns like Eden and Batemans Bay.

The A1 itself is usually just back from the coastline, however along most of the way there are turnoffs where the road does follow the coastline closely. George Bass Drive between Moruya and Batemans Bay for example. Follow that (and Beech Rd at Malua bay) and you'll see the coast out the right hand window for a good part of the drive. (I should know, I drove along that road on Tuesday).
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Old Jan 9, 14, 12:25 am
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If price is an issue, and you don't have the miles to do an award, then Qantas economy on the A380 is actually OK. It leaves LAX late in the evening, you get a meal, then effectively the cabin goes to sleep, for about 8 hours or so, then "morning starts" , a meal is served and the flight is nearly over. AVOD system is great.
IMHO Fly economy, and use the extra thousands for the trip itself.
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