12 days in Australia over Xmas/NYE

Old Oct 31, 17, 12:16 am
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12 days in Australia over Xmas/NYE

It all started with finding a QF F award seat from NYC for peak holiday season back in March.... now I'm making the trip and have added on a +1, making this some big trip now suddenly a bit last minute.

I've never been to Oz and couldn't be more excited. That said, as you will all know, it's a heck of a time to plan a trip! I originally was thinking three destinations in Oz and a quick hop over to NZ. Once I started planning, NZ went out the window. Then it was SYD, MEL, and Whitsundays. Well, Whitsundays is booked solid and I'm seeing how flying everywhere eats up the days.

So now, I'm thinking: arrive in SYD and spend 5 nights in Sydney (Marriott Harbour) then up to Port Douglas for 5 nights (stay at the Sheraton on points through Jan 1), then back to SYD for a night and then..... a flight to Abu Dhabi (Etihad J or F awards) with 24 hours in AUH before a flight back to NYC.

I really wanted to see Melbourne but it feels like I may short change the whole trip to cram it in. So, my questions are:

- I know Australia is MASSIVE and I know this is like hitting NYC and the Hamptons and being all pleased I "saw" Australia. That said, we can't extend the trip (MAYBE by 2 days if Etihad opened availability). Will 5 days in and around Sydney and 5 days up by the GBR give us a nice sampling of the East Coast? We'll happily take long day trips from both areas; we just are hesitant to fly around so much that we spend the trip in planes exhausted.

- Hamilton Island looked really amazing. Is there any way to get there by boat/ferry from Port Douglas? Or is it just too far north? Would just hate to note get to see it but understand it may not happen.

- We wanted to spend NYE in Sydney, but the hotel situation is dire. Nothing on points anywhere good and rates around $1k. Thus the thought to spend it in Port Douglas. But maybe we could shorten PD and fly to Melbourne? Or in a dive in SYD? Trying to understand how amazing/unmissable Sydney is for NYE (I mean, I've sure heard it is!).

- Any other thoughts how you'd tweak this?
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Old Oct 31, 17, 1:44 am
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There are 2 marriotts by the bridge one is a pier one that is right under the bridge the other is between the bridge and the opera house on circle quay

The circle quay is better located for ferries to bindi, manly and the train

$16 from the airport via train and it is 1 block from Marriott circle quay

Also mr Wong’s Chinese food is a couple blocks from marriot circle quay

Yes the fireworks are amazing , bucket list to see them once

The penthouse at the park Hyatt is Rumoured at $25000 for New Year’s Eve, go big!
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Old Oct 31, 17, 12:50 pm
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Originally Posted by daveland View Post
- We wanted to spend NYE in Sydney, but the hotel situation is dire. Nothing on points anywhere good and rates around $1k. Thus the thought to spend it in Port Douglas. But maybe we could shorten PD and fly to Melbourne? Or in a dive in SYD? Trying to understand how amazing/unmissable Sydney is for NYE (I mean, I've sure heard it is!).
Horribly blurry, but:


(Personal collection )

I'm not a big fireworks person, but Sydney NYE is on the short list of the best things I've ever done in my entire life. I know it's expensive, I lucked out and got a hotel on points that was otherwise US$750 plus taxes per night, but still paid $$$ to get a seat on a boat out on the harbour for the actual displays. But, it is completely and totally worth it IMO.

Also, in January, Port Douglas will likely be very humid and very rainy, just to note. Monsoon season. If you're planning to snorkel or dive on the GBR, then definitely go for a few days. Don't forget to leave plenty of time if diving before flying, but honestly much of the best of the GBR can be seen just snorkeling.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old Oct 31, 17, 1:22 pm
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Looks amazing.

Didn't realize about Monsoon season up north!! That's interesting.

Is there somewhere else we should consider for the second part of our trip?

UPDATE: I just lucked into the Pier One Autograph over NYE on points So SYD for New Years it is!!

(But still not sure not about the rest of the trip...)

Last edited by MilesTalk; Oct 31, 17 at 2:31 pm
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Old Oct 31, 17, 4:16 pm
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Originally Posted by daveland View Post
Looks amazing.

Didn't realize about Monsoon season up north!! That's interesting.
Yeah...monsoon aka cyclone.

http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/

Check out the historical stuff, just to get a sense of your risks.

I had a trip up to FNQ (far north queensland) in March 16, and was tracking the weather pretty closely, turned out to be utterly perfect.
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Old Oct 31, 17, 5:19 pm
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Originally Posted by daveland View Post
- Hamilton Island looked really amazing. Is there any way to get there by boat/ferry from Port Douglas? Or is it just too far north? Would just hate to note get to see it but understand it may not happen.
There are no scheduled passenger ships between the two point. It's about 550km (340m), that's a long way to go in a boat if you're only up there for five days.. Really the only scheduled ferry services are between the mainland and adjacent islands or the reef.

As others have said, you'll be heading up there in the wet season. There is a La Nina weather pattern in Pacific this year which means warmer sea temperatures and more frequent cyclones than in a typical year. You'd still be pretty unlucky to be affected by a cyclone, but it's worth remembering.

If you don't want to chance it, but still want some nature, then Kangaroo Island, Fraser Island or Tasmania could be worth looking into.

Now that you have your room, you might want to consider where you will watch the fireworks from. The Pier is in a great spot, but it's on the western side of the harbour bridge, and pretty much underneath it. You won't see the Opera House or the bridge fireworks from there very well.

Last edited by bensyd; Oct 31, 17 at 5:27 pm
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Old Nov 1, 17, 9:52 am
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Originally Posted by bensyd View Post

If you don't want to chance it, but still want some nature, then Kangaroo Island, Fraser Island or Tasmania could be worth looking into.

Now that you have your room, you might want to consider where you will watch the fireworks from. The Pier is in a great spot, but it's on the western side of the harbour bridge, and pretty much underneath it. You won't see the Opera House or the bridge fireworks from there very well.
Thanks for the great info. I'll look into those three destinations. That said PD does seem a really good jump off point for a range of activities if the weather holds. May just do 4 nights there and hope

Very interesting about the fireworks from Pier One as I had assumed we'd have front row seats from there. Will we have a decent view there or none at all? They seem to advertise themselves as an ideal spot for NYE and the room rate that night was $2,250 AUD! Where would you recommend if not in the hotel?
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Old Nov 1, 17, 6:18 pm
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Originally Posted by daveland View Post
Very interesting about the fireworks from Pier One as I had assumed we'd have front row seats from there. Will we have a decent view there or none at all? They seem to advertise themselves as an ideal spot for NYE and the room rate that night was $2,250 AUD! Where would you recommend if not in the hotel?

You'll still get a decent view, but most of the action will be happening behind you and right of you. You won't see the Opera House at all, I don't think.

I've been for a couple of weddings there, and I'm pretty sure they use that area for their NYE dining.



So the view is of North Sydney, not Circular Quay, and the bridge is pretty much right on top of you.

In terms of where is best, you'll need to give us a budget. It runs the full gamut of free by the harbour foreshore, but you need to get there at sunrise, to cruises to more formal evenings at the Opera House.

Have a read of this recent thread.

The OP ended up going with this option...

https://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/nye-picnic

Whatever choice you make, you need to make it quickly.

Last edited by bensyd; Nov 2, 17 at 7:32 am Reason: get my lefts and rights mixed up all the time!
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Old Nov 2, 17, 6:41 am
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Originally Posted by bensyd View Post
Whatever choice you make, you need to make it quickly.
Believe it or not I actually booked my cruise only 3 or 4 days in advance, AFTER I had gotten to Sydney. Remember, I'm not a big fireworks person, so I was balking at the prices because I tend towards cheap . Many were sold out though, particularly the higher end catered/buffet ones and ones where champagne at midnight was included; mine was no food included, bring your own. Think I grabbed a couple of sandwiches, probably some potato chips, some Tim Tams and a couple of Coke Zeros before I headed down to board.

And bring a light jacket if you take a cruise...
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Old Nov 2, 17, 11:14 pm
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Originally Posted by TheBOSman View Post
Believe it or not I actually booked my cruise only 3 or 4 days in advance, AFTER I had gotten to Sydney. Remember, I'm not a big fireworks person, so I was balking at the prices because I tend towards cheap . Many were sold out though, particularly the higher end catered/buffet ones and ones where champagne at midnight was included; mine was no food included, bring your own. Think I grabbed a couple of sandwiches, probably some potato chips, some Tim Tams and a couple of Coke Zeros before I headed down to board.

And bring a light jacket if you take a cruise...
All you needed to add was a couple of snags from Bunnings and you'd be a true blue Aussie.
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