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  1. #1

    First Timer to Australia-Jan. 2016

    I am going to Australia for the first time. Going to start in Melborne as we have tickets to the Australian Open. Have a total of 3 weeks and need to depart to come home out of Sydney. I am just overwhelmed with where to start to plan...which places to go, how long to stay, what to see, restaurants to see...I need help, big time...so, I am reaching out to all you great slow travelers...TIA Nancy

  2. #2


    Slow Traveler

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    Well, You've picked the hottest time of the year. You will need hats and sunscreen. The Australian Open can be a bit of an endurance test.

    Are your interests?:
    • Nature
    • Sport (participate) /adventure
    • Art/architecture (My nephew has an entry in the prestigious Archibalds at the NSW Art Gallery) http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/exh...n-prizes-2015/
    • History - Europeans have only recently arrived, but Aborigines from around 50,000 years ago.
    • Wine - perhaps a trip to the Hunter Valley
    • ??


    Your three weeks could be mostly Melbourne and Sydney.

    Are you going to hire a car and drive on the left side of the road?

    Here is a picture to give you an idea of the size of where you are coming to.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Australia-USA_superimposition.jpg  
    John
    "There are two types of problems: those that solve themselves, and those which you can do nothing about"
    Isabel Allende's grandmother

  3. #3
    Hi John,

    Well congrats on your son's entry in the Gallery! You must be so proud. :-)

    I know we are going in the hottest time of year - yikes! Tennis is the first driver for us going as I am an avid fan and going to all 4 Majors is on the bucket list...the Australian Open being the last on our list (we live in NY so it's a far trip)

    We are in our late-early 50/60's...very fit, love to walk a city and explore....love to see the sights but also like going the non-tourist and bus load of people places. I know Australia is huge, so staying within a reasonable traveling distance makes sense. Once we plot out the cities/places to go and for how long, we'd figure out if it makes sense to drive or fly. Any and all advice is welcome!

    We know some of your beaches are fantastic. We like to snorkel...sail...love seeing historic sites, buildings, locations...any funky, fun areas that are not to be missed...love food/wine and would enjoy 'foodie' meals that are special as much as a hole in the wall with fantastic food. (love seafood). Not that interested in visiting wineries as we have so many at home, I'd rather do things unique to Australia.

    Nancy

  4. #4


    Slow Traveler

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    It's my nephew, not my son, but we're still pretty proud.

    I'll start with some OTTOMH pointers, and come back when I have thought a bit more. I lived in Sydney from 1998-2003 and know it better than Melbourne, though I did live there 1972-73.

    I assume you are not going to the Open for all of the 18-31 Jan 2016, and that you have three weeks outside the tennis.

    Jan 26 is Australia Day so there will be all sorts of parties and celebrations going on, and lots of things get booked early. I tend to keep away from that sort of thing but its an excuse for overindulgence.

    I recommend the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb. I did it in 2001.
    I would avoid the Darling Harbour tourist trap with its expensive average restaurants.

    If you like an Italian flavour, then Leichardt's Little Italy is badly on the decline, but I think Haberfield is still good. We like to go to Papa Pasticerria for coffee and pastries. There will still be left-over Pannetone from Christmas, but I think it is over-rated even though it seems we have to buy one each year.

    If you like Vietnamese or Lebanese food I can give you some hints on another post. We have a wide range of international cuisine.

    Everyone should take the Manly Ferry from (semi)Circular Quay. Sit outside and enjoy the sea-breeze and the occasional sea-spray. The ferry does not arrive at the Manly Beach as some mistake, but you have to take a short walk across the Manly Peninsula to the beach and the shorefront restaurants. My BIL lives there and swims most mornings about 6am with a group known locally as the Old and Bold, and then gets a coffee and joins the Sheddites in the shelters along the foreshore.

    If you do go swimming at Australian beaches, then for expletives sake always swim where it is patrolled and swim Between the Flags. Rips can take you out to sea before you know it. That calm patch of water between the places where the waves are thundering in can be dangerously deceptive.

    Australians love coffee. You are never far from an espresso machine and barrista. We don't do filter coffee, except at conferences and such-like. Starbucks has closed down half their outlets because we think their coffee is Ho-Hum and we prefer to risk the odd bad coffee in exchange for the individuality of a small business. I am told that Maccas (McDonalds) do an OK coffee, but I haven't been to one in recent decades. You may need to learn the coffee lingo. Long blacks are closest to the commonly found US coffee and are sometimes called cafe americano. Short blacks are espressos, and there are lattes, machiatos, doppio etc.

    Hope this is enough to get started.
    Last edited by JohnFromAus; 07-13-2015 at 07:19 PM. Reason: typo
    John
    "There are two types of problems: those that solve themselves, and those which you can do nothing about"
    Isabel Allende's grandmother

  5. #5
    We spent 5 weeks in Australia a few years ago and loved it! Other thoughts as you start planning:

    - West of Melbourne is the Great Ocean Road which is a lovely drive. You can do (parts of) it in a day but you can spend longer and there are some great restaurants along the way. We stayed near Apollo Bay for 4 nights

    http://www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au/

    - It's easy to visit Tasmania from Melbourne - a quick flight. We loved Tasmania - and it's cooler in the summer! We found the heritage sights in Port Arthur very interesting (the convict history). Also enjoyed Hobart very much.

    - we spent 10 days in Sydney (in two visits) and really loved it. Fantastic seafood restaurants!

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by synergy View Post
    I am going to Australia for the first time. Going to start in Melbourne as we have tickets to the Australian Open. Have a total of 3 weeks and need to depart to come home out of Sydney. I am just overwhelmed with where to start to plan...which places to go, how long to stay, what to see, restaurants to see...I need help, big time...so, I am reaching out to all you great slow travelers...TIA Nancy
    I have driven from Cairns to Dawin, back to Alice Springs, west to Perth and then around the bottom to Melbourne with a few day break in Adelaide. Also flew to Tassie and drove around a bit ending up doing Port Arthur, a must see as well as its forested areas and Hobart.
    Of course not all this in one trip I have been there 4 times. I have also spent a couple weeks in Melbourne on two trips main on horse business i.e. the races. The china town, the public market and the surrounding areas will keep you busy. The ocean road will provide sensational IMHO views on the part that is along the ocean but not of the road is so be aware of that a good part of it is inland, but there is enough close to Melbourne for day trips.

  7. #7
    Thanks, everyone, for the great suggestions.
    Liz, can you share any specific seafood restaurants you loved in Sydney? We love seafood!
    Thanks!

  8. #8
    We were there in 2007 so not sure how relevant these suggestions are - but we enjoyed:

    - Fish Face
    - Flying Fish
    - Tetsuya's (a splurge for my 50th BD)
    - Quay - another splurge
    - Golden Century - Chinese seafood restaurant in the CBD
    - Doyle's on the Beach at Watson's Bay (can't recall it well - good I think)

    Pics from most of the above on these blog links

    http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/2.../sydney_1.html

    http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/2..._2_lunch_.html

    http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/2..._3_more_d.html

  9. #9
    Premium Member

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    Just make sure that your tickets to the Australian Open are in the shade! Even for us locals sitting in the sun at Rod Laver Arena is not do-able on a hot day. Shaded seats are at the ends. There are also excellent shaded seats on Margaret Court Arena (and some great matches as well) and Hisense Arena also has shade - but it's a bit of a walk from the main courts.

    If you have tennis tickets the tram to and from the city is free. There's also a water taxi shuttle that runs to the event from Southgate - where there are some good accommodation options. From memory that costs about A$10 each way, but there are discounts available for multiple trips.

    Happy to help with any queries about the tennis, Melbourne and Victoria!

  10. #10

    Penguins

    Philip island, about a couple of hours. Drive from Melbourne is not to be missed. Fairy penguins come ashore and it's a sight to watch. Book early and rug up as it will be old even in summer due to windchill.

  11. #11

    Slow Traveler

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    Where are you staying in Melbourne? If you haven't already booked you should do it soon as accommodation can get fully booked around the Australian Open.
    Do you want a hotel or self catering apartment?
    I love Melbourne at that time of year with all the international visitors. The vibe is good!

    Melbourne has great restaurants and I am sure you will find very good seafood in most that you go to. Sydney has more specific seafood restaurants but you will find something you like in Melbourne. Depending on where you stay I can give you some recommendations.

    In January The Great Ocean Road is busy until school goes back ( at the end of January ) so you need to book accommodation in advance. You can do a day trip, but staying overnight at Lorne or Apollo Bay gives you more time to stop at a beach along the way and to enjoy the scenery.
    In my opinion the best scenery is between Lorne and Apollo Bay.

    If you want to see Australian animals, Healesville Sanctuary in the Yarra Valley is very good. You can do a day visit from Melbourne.

    I am happy to answer questions. I lived in Melbourne and now live not far from the start of the Great Ocean Rd.

  12. #12


    Slow Traveler

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    The Light Rail (tram) in Sydney is a quiet peaceful ride, partly along an old and elevated freight line. Some of the conductors are characters. You may care to take it to the Fish Market, which has eating places as well as fish stalls. I used to live in Lilyfield and took it to Central station to catch my train to work.
    John
    "There are two types of problems: those that solve themselves, and those which you can do nothing about"
    Isabel Allende's grandmother

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by LizS View Post
    We were there in 2007 so not sure how relevant these suggestions are - but we enjoyed:

    - Fish Face
    - Flying Fish
    - Tetsuya's (a splurge for my 50th BD)
    - Quay - another splurge
    - Golden Century - Chinese seafood restaurant in the CBD
    - Doyle's on the Beach at Watson's Bay (can't recall it well - good I think)

    Pics from most of the above on these blog links

    http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/2.../sydney_1.html

    http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/2..._2_lunch_.html

    http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/2..._3_more_d.html

    Liz, thanks so much for the links! Love the pictures and I drooled over the food. Will check out some of your suggestions...Nancy

  14. #14
    So many great suggestions, everyone! Thanks so much! We are still putting the trip together and figuring it all out. Will be back with more specifics and questions. Thanks again, Nancy

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