QUOTE(robynhar @ Jan 15 2010, 02:34 PM)
I am overwhelmed by the info on the web. My first question, is there anyone in the 50s that is into a bit of backpacking? Everyone i know has every excuse in the book for not going anywhere. I lost my husband, travel buddy and its been 2 yrs since I have done anything fun. So I am planning a trip fall or summer to Austrailia, just starting to do research. I will probably end up going alone rather than waiting. I have done enough of that. I want to travel light, go where I want when I want. But I do need an Idea, any help will be appreciated. Plan on a month. When is the best time of season, where to fly into and why, all that. I have no doubt once there I wont be bored !! Thanks robyn
I'm Australian, so thought I'd give you my few tips!
First of all don't worry about your age. There are all sorts of travellers here, and let's face it you're going to go anyway, so don't worry about it. (not worrying is something you'll learn here hopfully
best time to go: please avoid winter (june-aug). Depending on where you go to, early sept can be a little cold if you head south. if you're at the very north it will be hot no matter when you go! december it's starting to get pretty hot, but we can have unpredictable summers...this year it started and finished early
it's probably best to fly into sydney and head upwards along the east coast...it's the most popular area to travel, but it's the most popular for a reason.
Sydney obviously has a few things to offer.
A 2-3 hr drive from Sydney is Port Stephens (eg Nelson Bay) which is lovely! it's small and quiet, but has a lovely walk up Mount Tomaree which has AMAZING views, and there's a selection of beaches. Not much of a nightlife.
Going up, you should drop in at Byron Bay (about a 1 hr flight from sydney or 8-10 hr drive). Amazing beaches and food, just check it out on google if you havent already. Also has countryside, rainforests, waterfalls, famous for "alternative" lifestyle. Extremely popular and highly recommended.
The Gold Coast is the next up from Byron, good for shopping and casinos, but it's very touristy and lots of clubs means lots of young people.
Going up further you'll find sunshine coast, noosa, hamilton island, the whitsundays (islands)....all of these are worth a look for wonderful views,beaches and pics sure to make your friends jealous.
Great Barrier Reef for snorkelling/diving obviously.
Furthest north is Cairns which is good for beaches and skydiving etc. Watch out for jellyfish and crocs! haha
From Sydney, you might also want to check out Melbourne (South, about a 1.5 hr flight). It's a really great city. Colder, amazingly unpredicatable weather, it changes every 15 minutes, but excellent shopping, food, art.
A couple of hours on the train will get you to the Blue mountains.
Also if you want more "adventure" if you head inland to the centre of Australia, you should try to see Uluru. There would be lots of outback driving and hiking tours to/from there i'm sure.
Or...there's a large island at the south of Aus, a state called Tasmania. It's cold, windy, has lots of bushland, but is really pretty and has a chocolate factory
(you'd need to fly into Hobart)
Another popular option is to fly into one end of the east coast eg Bris north, Syd central/south, Melb south, and travel up/down east coast by rail/bus and then fly out of the other end.
Now New Zealand is certainly worth a look but it is seriously cold. It'd be great for skiing and great mountain views, but as for water sports, you could maybe do white water rafting.
Cost estimates (in Australian dollars)
Well accommodation at hostels can range from $20 to $60 depending on room and inclusions. While travelling in between the cities you should look for smaller establishments to stay at, if you're travelling before december you should be able to get an ok hotel room for $60-$80 if you search around.
Food..the same as everywhere else i should imagine. Cafe lunch for $10-$15, Dinner $15-30 depending on where you go and what you order. Takeaway pizza $11 from a chain. Obviously if you go to a supermarket you can get things cheap, or a bakery...a bread roll will be like 40c
Alcohol: in a bottle shop (liquor store) you can get bottles of wine from $8 (gross) and as much as you want to spend. Spirits generally range from $30 per 700mL. If you're out, drinks are around $6.50-$9 depending what sort of place you're at.
Attractions: Well one good thing is the main attractions in Australia are usually free because they're beaches and rainforsts etc. You'll only really see big museums and things in the cities and entry is probably around $15. Smaller places may have cultural sites, monuments and guides and these are more likely to operate on a donation basis, or small fee eg $5.
Transport: In the cities they will have their own rail (eg Cityrail in sydney) and bus system. Train ticket to/from your destination usually well less than $10, so you'd be best to buy an all day pass.
Rail up/down the coast is usually by a company called Countrylink and you can get pretty far on $60 or so.
Flights: if you keep looking you'l be able to get some insanely cheap flights eg Sydney to Byron $69....you can get cheaper if they have a sale, but you should be able to get $119 or so without too much effort. The discount airlines in Aus are Virgin Blue, Jetstar and Tiger airways, but Tiger has less destinations. Just check out their sites to see if they have any offers for the time you're there and take whatever interests you!
Of course I'm not sure if this is exactly what you're after, if you have any questions let me know!
Thanks so much for all the info ! I have made a few decisions, a month in October, the latest I can go......maybe Oct and first of Nov to hit the better season. I am still unsure where to fly in to , coming from the Us , western Washington State. I am reading a lot, studying and asking so many questions from everyone I can. A tour to the outback is high on the list, as well as one or 2 of the small islands. Good island weather is a must. We have always travelled with an attitude of "we will know when we get there" but now that I am planning this alone I do want a bit of structure. Big cities and culture, not my thing. We are small town horse people here, but again it can be a bunch of "firsts". Anyone know how you find a good outback tour, I hear they are all different. Also, which island or chain does one recommend and why? I have checked some and the stay can be really expensive with high end accomodations. I can stand a bit of that, but I also would like to not be pampered as much as going a doing and seeing things. I want an Oz experience without all the tourist stuff. Thanks for any info......robyn