Short (4-5 Day) July Road Trip From SYD

Old Apr 3, 17, 12:37 pm
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Short (4-5 Day) July Road Trip From SYD

I've got 15 days on the ground in Oceania to see as much of AUS and NZ as I can. Yes I know it is not nearly enough time to see everything, but vacation time and J award availability is what it is so I'm going to try to cram as much in as I can.

I arrive in SYD very early on July 3. I'm planning on spending that night downtown, but am really not a fan of big city vacations so plan on renting a car to hit the countryside the next day. I would also like to do a week on the south island of NZ, probably flying to ZQN on July 8. I depart AKL on July 17 so will just get a flight up on the 16th and stay by the airport, saving the north island for another trip.

In AUS I'm mainly looking to experience scenic drives, wildlife (preferably natural habitat, but sanctuaries are also OK), wander small towns and spend the evenings at friendly, non-touristy pubs. I actually enjoy driving and am well versed in left side driving with many trips to Ireland/UK. Being from Michigan I also understand winter driving.

First I thought of trying to see the Great Ocean Road west of MEL, but that seems like too much driving for my short time. I've also considered heading north to BNE. The third I option I see is a loop back to SYD - this would be the most cost effective on the car rental.

Thanks for any opinions on the best direction to head and towns to hit.
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Old Apr 3, 17, 12:44 pm
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Review how big Australia is by checking driving times. You may be surprised.

The Blue Mountains are an easy drive from SYD, and worth a visit. Spend a night in Katoomba. I can recc a decent little motel there if you like.

The Royal National Park near Sydney is worth a day with beautiful drives and nice hikes.

Getting all the way to Brisbane and back will require a lot of driving, but is doable in your time frame, I suppose, but you'll be in the car a lot. I enjoyed the Gold Coast along the way. It would be much better to drive only one way, with either a flight from Brisbane to Queenstown or fly back to SYD to catch your flight if it's already booked. The drive from Brisbane to SYD is 11hours +.

Be aware that driving on NZ South Island in winter may involve a fair amount of snow and narrow, winding mountain roads, FWIW.

Have a great trip!

Last edited by Doc Savage; Apr 3, 17 at 1:52 pm
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Old Apr 3, 17, 4:39 pm
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Driving to the NSW south coast, then inland to Canberra area and back up via inland would be OK.
If not interested in Sydney city better to stay at an airport hotel and drive south.
http://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/south-coast
http://www.southcoast.com.au/maps/

With 4-5 days you do not have time to (leisurely) drive to Brisbane or Melbourne. For example driving SYD to MEL is a full day on the (boring) freeway.

A few months ago there was a good thread on this, with many good suggestions of interesting places on the way south. Unfortunately that thread is now trashed / lost.
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Old Apr 3, 17, 7:48 pm
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I like the southern loop idea as you can get some coastal town and inland highlands as well as a couple of days in canberra for the big museums (maybe one in this case) to give a nice variety of some real australian life. One thing that popped up last week which I thought looked really good and I suspect would be right up the OP's is this option for staying more off the beaten track

http://unyoked.co/

Both of those locations are between canberra and sydney in the southern highlands and look to me to me a really great way to experience the (coastal) australian outback
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Old Apr 5, 17, 8:49 am
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I've been 90% leaning to the SYD loop, so the advice so far helps to confirm that I will have plenty to see in the region. The Unyoked thing looks interesting, but is booked for my dates. Not sure I want to go that far off grid - I do like to be walking distance to a pub.

I am at the Holiday Inn Old Sydney for the first night. I arrive at 5 AM so figure that is my best hope for an early check in since I am IHG Platinum. It is also a Chase anniversary night that is now expired, so I can't change it. I'll just take the train from the airport.

As for rental car logistics, would I be better off taking the train out of downtown to a local office? Looks like Avis in Wollongong is $25/day less than the Circular Quay location near my hotel and only a 10 minute walk from the North Wollongong station. I'm not overly concerned about the price, but if it saves me hours stuck in Sydney traffic it is worth it. I also see a Hertz in Katoomba but don't see any availability. Any other spots to consider for a pickup other than downtown and the airport? Thanks.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 4:20 pm
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Good idea to take the train out to the 'gong for rental car. Though the drive there also has some nice parts. South coast is pretty sparsely inhabited esp. in winter; will be cold-ish but warm by Detroit standards. You might get frost on the roads in the mountains if you do go up to Canberra (worth doing btw). I'd drive down to Bega as the coast is really nice. Also has some championship golf courses that rival Monterrey (not quite but surprising). It's definitely an under-visited area that is a hidden gem.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 10:04 pm
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Originally Posted by tev9999 View Post
As for rental car logistics, would I be better off taking the train out of downtown to a local office? Looks like Avis in Wollongong is $25/day less than the Circular Quay location near my hotel and only a 10 minute walk from the North Wollongong station.
Campbelltown is another option for rail & Avis. 10 minutes walk to Avis. Then you can drive down to coast, missing the Sydney traffic

Rail link Sydney Central to Campbelltown. Click the train icon

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Old Apr 26, 17, 1:53 pm
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OK - decided to go with a loop back to SYD. I also decided to splurge on business class to NZ and booked Emirates to CHC on the A380 - came to about $400 USD. I then saw I could upgrade to first for miles, so transferred 17K Amex MR points to Emirates and will get to check out their suites, even if it is only for three hours. The flight leaves at 07:50 Saturday.

Back to the car... I see a few scenarios. Looking at a full size for four days, all prices in AUD.

Avis Circular Quay (7 minute walk from hotel) PU & Return: $369 - could possibly shorten to three days if I wanted to do the last night downtown.

Avis Circular Quay >> Airport Return: $398

Avis Wollongong (2 hour train ride) >> Airport: $344

Avis Airport (18 km taxi) PU & Return: $339

East Coast Downtown (3 km taxi) PU & Return: $215 (Could possibly make 3 days again)

East Coast DT >> Airport: $282

Questions:
1. Is avoiding traffic and saving $55 (minus train ticket) a smart trade vs. just renting Downtown?

2. Is going with a low cost outfit like East Coast worth $100?

Thanks again.
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Old Apr 29, 17, 3:56 am
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Dont forget EK F also includes showers on-board which are pretty impressive as an experience. No opinion what East Coast is like but in general the 2nd tier (cheaper) car rental outfits in Oz often wind up more expensive as they check for damage with a fine tooth comb when you return the car and charge thousands for a chipped windscreen and hundreds for a scratch on the bumper. Your trip is likely to gather some road kill (insect hits and stone chips). I generally use Europcar which seems better for this. As for traffic to get out of Sydney, it isn't that bad if you take the toll road (stop and go if you avoid the toll). I'd go with Avis circular quay, and dropping at the airport is very convenient.
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Old May 1, 17, 4:25 am
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To see some native wildlife on the loop along the coast road, take the short detour to Durras North (just north of Bateman's Bay). The roos tend to laze around the holiday park lawns or in the local forest. There are also a lot of parakeets and kookaburras about in the morning when the residents are making breakfast. And there is a lovely beach to stroll along, although it might be cool in July.

The other 'guaranteed' spot for kangaroos that are habituated and happy to have you around is Euroka camp site, Glenbrook, at the eastern edge of the Blue Mountains. The camp site gates are locked from 6pm to 8:30am but at other times the roos sometimes hang around the lawn areas.
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