Down Under Decisions

Its on like Donkey Kong. I'm just going to go ahead and break an unwritten rule I have by telling you about a trip I'm planning down under.

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Since one of the most oft asked questions I get is about how we decide where to go next, it seemed like a worthy topic.

For someone in the northeast US, Australia tops a short list of far away places that are inticing so of course it occured to me to go there before. But last year is when I started really getting the fever ( you might remember this post where I got a of great suggestions from you). The hubs got looking at tickets and scored us some two roundtrip tickets usings miles. We had to plan WELL in advance to get such a goody but it was worth it. But now the trip is just a few months away, its time to get serious.

So what are the deets? Excluding flight time (which accounts for several days), we'll be on the continent a full 9 days. We've sorted out internal flights to spend 3 days in Melbourne, 3 days in Cairns and 3 days in Sydney. And thats about all I have right now. Not sure where to stay, what to do, where to shop, what to see. If you a regular reader of this blog you already know what I like to do: photograph interesting things, eat yummy food, shop in junk markets, see adorable animals, have unique experiences. I know Australia has way more than I can possibly do in just 9 days but I hope you'll help us narrow it down.

So if you know about amazing Australia, please chime in.

70 comments:

  1. Jill Stigs10:01 AM

    Oh, how cool!!

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  2. Kate {domestikatedlife}10:07 AM

    You will have an awesome time, I spent a summer in Australia and it was one the most amazing experiences of my life.
    Hit up the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, it's a photographers/foodie dream! And the Museum of Contemeporary Art in Sydney was really great, it's right by the water so you can get some good views of the harbour bridge and opera house.

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  3. Melissa10:07 AM

    I for one, cannot wait to see what pictures you take in Australia! Your idea of a good trip sounds like mine. Take pictures is always my number one priority when taking trips. Thankfully my husband is a great sport about it. :)

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  4. i lived in australia for a year and it is my favorite place in the world. have TONS of recommendations for you, send me an email and i can give you "the guide" :) jacin {at} lovelylittledetails {dot} com

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  5. Rachel A10:13 AM

    I was fortunate to spend 3 weeks in Australia with my family the summer before I started college - trip of a lifetime. We went to Kuranda, surrounded by the rainforest and not too far from Cairns, and it was amazing. My all time favorite picture is of my little sister laughing hysterically because a bird had landed on her head - you are surrounded by birds that come land on you, and I believe you can do the same thing with butterflies. It was beautiful. We also went to the Great Barrier Reef on a day trip - it was some kind of boat trip for the day - and we did an introductory scuba diving lesson - also amazing! You must see the Sydney harbor and visit the Sydney Opera House.

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  6. i went to australia years ago with a student travel program. i loved every minute of it! we traveled around so much that i no longer remember all of the specifics of where we went, but some of my favorite things were walking around the bay in sydney, going to a zoo, snorkeling at the great barrier reef (we took a day cruise out to the reef), and visiting this island for a few days where we went sand toboganning and saw a lot of dolphines (i think the island was called tangalooma?). i'd love to go back, i'm sure you'll have a great time!

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  7. Msheiny10:38 AM

    Wow, lucky girl. I will ask my hubby who has been there., but speaking of travel. Where has been your favorite place you visited. We are trying to plan something for 2013. Next year, it's off to the Galapagos islands. ( happy face)! Thanks.

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  8. Definitely check out my blog - we lived in Sydney from early September 2008 - late December 2008. We lived in Coogee Beach (very popular with American backpackers, which we weren't), and you'll want to do the Coogee to Bondi Walk. We ate at quite a few amazing places in the months we were there. Especially look at December for my birthday! Enjoy! http://courtneycraig.blogspot.com

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  9. Jennifer B.11:14 AM

    I just know that you need to check your shoes in Sydney before you put them on! Funnel web spiders like to hide in shoes, and they only live in Sydney!
    This trip sounds awesome. If you're ever planning a trip to New Zealand, I'm your girl!
    Jennifer B.

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  10. Sarah Flynn11:20 AM

    I was in Sydney last Christmas and my husband and I had a wonderful meal at Cafe Sydney - I couldn't recommend it more! The view is stunning and a really great meal. I would recommend booking in advance - http://www.cafesydney.com/

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  11. Anonymous11:45 AM

    Sydney:
    Definitely check out Cafe Sydney and ask for a table out on the balcony.
    Sydney Seaplanes for seaplane tour - we did the fly & dine to Cottage Point - fabulous food, gorgeous and a great opportunity for photos. http://www.seaplanes.com.au/content_common/pg-Fly-and-Dine.seo
    Take the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly (and back). You can wander around lovely Manly and get a great experience of the harbour.
    Taronga Zoo
    The Queen Victoria Building (QVB) for shopping http://www.qvb.com.au/ and check out the Tea Room there for delicious afternoon tea https://www.thetearoom.com.au/

    Melbourne
    You have to check out the laneways and arcades for quirky shops and cafes - so much fun to wander and get lost http://www.thatsmelbourne.com.au/PLACESTOGO/LANEWAYSANDARCADES/Pages/LanewaysandArcades.aspx

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  12. Okay, so I'm going to add a few ideas without even reading what anyone else has said... (risky, I know! LOL)...

    1 - Cairns. Y'know those touristy flyer stands that you always see in the hotel lobby for local sites & stuff. Well. Yes, really. In Cairns, check out the scuba expeditions. I've never dived (but maybe you have - awesome!), but I just KNEW that not diving on the Great Barrier Reef would be a real miss and a serious lost opportunity. Lucky for me (and all the non-certified divers out there!), there are companies that will do a simple 1/2 - 1 day dive experience with a complete novice. Reasonable price. Pick you up, take you out to one of the islands, provide a lesson and guide, and then off you go for a guide-assisted dive. TOTALLY awesome. Seeing a giant clam for real? (Um, and maybe even touching it...) The electric eel... the dish plate size fish swimming buy in ginormous schools... ABSOLUTELY PRICELESS.

    2 - Sydney. Loved wandering the district around the Harbour Bridge / down to the Opera House. It's "old town" and full of little streets and sweet little shops & galleries. Totally a great morning or afternoon of wandering and exploring (and maybe a bit of shopping...).

    3 - Sydney #2 - Make time for the Taronga Zoo. Really? YES. A Must! See Koalas, Platypus, Kangaroos, Dingos, Quokas, and all the rest of those special Down Under types... I spent a couple of weeks trekking around Australia and saw more of the famous wildlife in one morning at the zoo than I did in the whole 2 weeks prior. (Because after all, Koalas and Kangas have stuff to do too, so I suppose they can't hang around waiting for us...) Anyway. Take a morning or an afternoon for the Taronga Zoo, and you'll be glad you did. In fact, consider catching the ferry over from the quays by the Opera House. You'll get an awesome bay view AND it's a fun ride. ;-)

    4 - Fish & Chips. Anywhere around the beaches in Sydney. Because it's not just "fish & chips", its what KIND of fish... Yep, you'll actually be choosing the type of fish too -- halibut, barimundi, or whatever else they have freshly caught. Pretty awesome and totally delish.

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  13. Beth A1:37 PM

    I had the fortune to live in Melbourne for about 6 months in 2009, and it was a great place. I highly recommend the Queen Vic Market in Melbourne. Two great day trips from Melbourne are to see the "little" penguins and explore the wineries near Phillips Island, and the send is to take a trip on the Great Ocean Road. It is definitely work taking one of the quick helicopter rides that are offered because it is really the only way to see the Twelve Apostle (a rock formation).

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  14. Beth A1:38 PM

    One last thing, I highly recommend Bill Bryson's "In a Sunburnt Country".

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  15. Have to agree with most of the suggestions. Queen Vic markets in Melbourne, and the laneways are fantastic. Good food is easy to find- its a bit of a foodie mecca. Sydney is beautiful, especially the Harbour. Catch the Ferry from Circular Quay (in town) to Manly. Go to Taronga zoo, the QVB & Newtown- Lots of little shops, cafes and a great vibe. Cairns, go to the Great Barrier Reff and Mossman Gorge. I hope you enjoy your taste of my home.

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  16. I don't know much about Australia, but looks like a fun trip. We are in the beginning stages of planning a trip to New Zealand in mid-December!! :) :) I can't wait!!

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  17. Christie3:07 PM

    Lots of great ideas here. I loved in QLD in 2007 and just loved it! 100% agree with all the recommendations to head to Manly Beach in Sydney. Great Area. In Cairns I would definitely recommend staying in the Port Douglas or Daintree area. That's where you get the real jungle experience. Also if you do head out to the reef I suggest the outer reef. It takes longer to get there but you see much more vibrant Coral and sea life as the inner reef is dying do to tourist over-saturation of the environment. :(

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  18. Actually funnel webs live right up the east coast from Tassie right through to QLD. I'd recommend checking your shoes all the time here, we have redbacks, white tails and funnel webs spiders all of which are poisonous. :)

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  19. I live in Sydney (Born in tassie, but live here now) and you will love your trip here.

    Taronga Zoo is pretty cool with all the wildlife and stuff. Catch the ferry across. Its a great ride with spectacular views.

    In Cairns definitely check out the Great Barrier Reef.

    Both Sydney and Melbourne have cute shops and are awesome to photograph. You'll have an awesome time. My sister just got back from Melbourne, so I can see what she recommends.

    I definitely second the comment about checking your shoes. We have lots of spiders that like to sleep in them and a bite from them is not pretty. More than likely you wont see any, but just in case...

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  20. stayday4:10 PM

    I'm Australian so hopefully can offer some useful/ practical advice. You didn't specifically mention when you are coming but it looks to be either autumn or winter. The weather will certainly be a lot different in each of the places you have mentioned travelling to so pack accordingly. I am sure you have already thought about this though as you seem to be super organised.

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  21. stayday4:12 PM

    We get so many white tails in the house- so annoying!

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  22. You should try to go to Black and Spiro. Such beauty. Her blog is called Absolutely Beautiful things and she's right. They are. Have a ball!

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  23. Christine B4:40 PM

    When you're in melbourne, you have to go to the Healesville Sanctuary, about an hour out of the city. It's a zoo dedicated completely to australian wildlife. Brilliant photo opportunities. It's a really beautiful drive there too, you'll be visiting the Yarra Valley, which is a gorgeous area featuring dozens of really fab wineries. Just google Yarra Valley and you'll see what I mean. Foodie's dream. I'm lucky enough to live on the edge of the valley, and I never tire of exploring it. There's some fantastic nature reserves to photograph there too, the Maroondah Dam and gardens are just near the Sanctuary for a start, if you want to go a bit further out again, an hour drive will get you to Marysville, where the bushfires ravaged through a few years ago, seeing the growth coming back is worth a look.

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  24. jennifer4:52 PM

    So I have to ask: moreso than how you decide where to go, the two questions that always pop up in my mind are:
    1. how do you budget for so many trips? i know you get airfare with ff miles and go for short stints, but still - travel is expensive right?? (food and lodging and getting around) do you have a travel savings fund? budget like crazy? moonlight for extra cash? i couldn't even imagine being able to afford one of your fantastic trips. and i'd really really like to. sob. (is it TMI to ask what an average Limestone family trips costs?)
    2. how do you manage all the time off from work?

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  25. MrsLimestone5:15 PM

    Well I think its just a matter of priorities. Travel is a priority for us so we spend a lot of our extra cash on it. Obviously it helps that we don't have other expensive priorities like children or new cars or expensive clothing. Yes, travel is expensive but its something we feel is well worth the money so we put it ahead of other desires. And it helps we are both at a point in our lives where we have disposable cash to begin with. We've only traveled this much over the past few years - before then we would go on average one trip a year because we had other big expenses like saving for a house, etc. As for the time, I get the same amount of vacation as everyone else in my company - we do most trips over weekends so I make my days off last. Lots of people seem to make a decision that unless they have 2+ weeks to explore, they won't go at all. Doesn't really make sense to me but to each their own.

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  26. MrsLimestone5:16 PM

    Eek!! Thanks for the warning. That wasn't in the guide book :)

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  27. Karley5:25 PM

    Oh, goody, i live in Melbourne and very much Second what Christine B has suggested - but would like to add to it........Healesville is one of my favourite places in Victoria it encompasses really good food, wine, bush and even cute shops. When you go you HAVE TO stay at Harvest Farm - http://www.yarravalleyharvest.com.au/index.php?EXP=293 it is just stunning set against a beautiful bush backdrop and it is a working farm so you get fresh eggs and yummy produce and the guys that own it also have the Healesville Hotel which is just gorgeous to eat at ( a bit noisy to stay at) - http://www.yarravalleyharvest.com.au/. Basically it would be a really great trip for you to do from Melbourne city and would encompass quite a bit of what is great about Melbourne - in fact with your 3 days you could have one day in the city and then 2 days 1 night exploring the Yarra Valley/Healesville.

    Ok I'm waffling - if you would like me to give you more info and actually have a proper think about what you could do please email me at karley at iinet dot net dot au - would be more than happy to meet up with you and drive around to a few places in the city if you're up for it (and don't mind Will my currently 4 month old son!).

    Best
    Karley

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  28. Melissa H.5:52 PM

    In Sydney stay near the harbor, I recommend www.sydneymenzieshotel.com.au/. It was walking distance to harbor, shopping, opera house and was a nice clean reasonably priced hotel. Buy a ticket for the blue bus and you can spend all day in different parts of the city. Also get a ticket for the ferry and see the city from the water, stop at different ports, lunch, walk, tea and shop. For shopping go to the http://www.qvb.com.au/ to admire the building and walk through George Street for shopping.

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  29. I live in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. I am an event manager of a living so I have seen a lot of this great country (experiences, destinations and hotels). You have to go out ot the Great Barrier Reef while you are in Cairns!!!! I just came back from Alice Springs and Uluru (Ayers Rock) - that was another awesome expereince I would recommend. I have climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge too (great views) - another great thing to do!!! If you have any questions get in touch with me :-)

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  30. salpickering8:20 PM

    okay.. you've got 3 days in Sydney, so I'll start there. First up do you have a budget for accom etc? And second up would you want to have a little fun shopping for housewares to take home? AND the food is so good here. I'd love to know what sort of foodie are you? Sal

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  31. MrsLimestone8:30 PM

    Well I'm pretty open to splurging on a hotel if it's worth it. The hyatt has been recommended to me but not sold on it. Of course I'd love to shop for housewares - it's pretty rare I bring anything major home bc I pack very light but you never know. As for food, I like to sample the local fare wherever we go. I don't know anything Australian cuisine other than the fish is fresh.

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  32. Great to hear you are coming to Australia! I've lived her for almost 12 years and I absolutely love Melbourne. Here are some restaurants I would recommend:

    - Hutong Dumpling Bar http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/71/1435735/restaurant/Victoria/CBD/HuTong-Dumpling-Bar-Melbourne
    - Cumulus Inc http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/71/760535/restaurant/Victoria/CBD/Cumulus-Inc-Melbourne
    - Mamasita (haven't been there but have heard great things) http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/71/1507775/restaurant/Victoria/CBD/Mamasita-Melbourne
    - great Vietnamese food - anywhere on Victoria St
    - Italian - Dimatinas on Lygon St or Cafe Italia, University St, Carlton

    There isn't really a 'typical' Australian cuisine - especially in Melbourne and Sydney, you'll find that there is everything from French, Italian, Greek, Moroccan, Lebanese etc to Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and everything in between!

    As others have recommended, Healesville Sanctuary is a must to see Aussie wildlife. I'd also recommend visiting some wineries at some point if you can - the Mornington Peninsula or Yarra Valley are about an hour from Melbourne and there are some really good value winery tours out there. If you're into your wine, I'd recommend going with http://www.winehouse.com.au although I'm not sure how frequently they have tours (might only be Saturdays).

    Please feel free to email me if you need any advice/tips etc about Melbourne!

    Can't wait to see your photos - I'm sure you will inspire me to take more photos in my home city instead of only getting the camera out for holidays!

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  33. You lot are hillarious! Take it from an Aussie unless you are leaving your shoes in a questionable spot, under pot plants, or in the bush you are reasonably safe. That is of course unless the place you are staying at still has an outdoor toilet............

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  34. mallory12:04 AM

    Totally agree with this rec -- have had many great meals here, and the view and ambience are both awesome as well!

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  35. mallory12:47 AM

    I've consulted all over AU, though not yet to Cairns (husband has, but he's asleep). You've got a lot of good rec's already...

    Sydney:
    ~ we love staying at the Westin in the GPO building. The rooms are very nice, the location can't be beat, the building (esp. if you get in the "heritage wing") has great character. Also, one of our favorite restaurants is down in the basement, Prime (seriously, perhaps my most favorite steak ever, and this is a girl who was raised in Chicago talking: http://www.gposydney.com/Sydneys-Best-Steak-Restaurant-and-Steakhouse---Prime-15.html).
    ~ we have always entertained the idea of staying at The Establishment, but have always either had too much serious work to really enjoy the venue or had our daughter with us (it is not, shall we say, kid-friendly). Having read your blog for a long time, I'm sure you'd be up for it: http://www.merivale.com/#/establishment/hotel And speaking of that same building, we always hit the first dinner here, be sure to try the spicy tuna roll because (if you like spicy) it will knock your socks off: http://www.merivale.com/#/establishment/sushie
    ~ wait, you might also like this place: http://www.thearthousehotel.com.au/ Or one of this, at Woolloomooloo, for a slightly different area: http://www.tajhotels.com/sydney/
    ~ oh man, just remembered an amazing Thai restaurant: http://www.longrain.com.au/ Seriously, the most amazing thai fusion I've ever even imagined, while eating otherwise great thai food. Really, life-changing.
    ~ I agree with rec to go to Toronga Zoo. It is one of the best, and be sure to go to the birds of prey show where hawks and owls and such fly around overhead with the Sydney skyline as the backdrop. Unreal. And the bonus is that if you otherwise haven't yet taken a ferry, you need to take one from the CBD to get to the zoo. And the ferry's are my favorite place in all of Sydney.
    ~ be sure to walk lengths of Oxford Street and explore Paddington/Darlinghurst. They are like the Brooklyn of Sydney. You won't be disappointed. For what is maybe the oldest market in the city, head to Paddington along Oxford Road on Saturday morning market, fresh foods and flowers and crafts. Also, the Sydney Fish Market is a great place to people watch and such, especially early mornings. And like Tsukiji, you can get fresh-caught sushi for breakfast.

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  36. mallory1:03 AM

    Melbourne:
    ~ we stayed here and it was worth the hype. Very cool, and the pool (on the rooftop deck, a portion suspended over the street below) was really totally awesome. But if you're there a few months from now, uh, you won't want to be swimming! Anyway... http://www.adelphi.com.au/
    ~ we have also stayed here, which is outside the CBD and a totally different vibe, but really relaxing and serene: http://www.thelyall.com/ The South Yarra area has *gorgeous* boutiques, running up and down Toorak Road.
    ~ my favorite day trip in Melbourne is to head down to Portsea (the end of the peninsula) along the bay through St. Kilda, Beaumaris, Mordialloc, etc. There is something about standing on that beach that makes you feel like you are literally at the end of the world.
    ~ eat Greek in Melbourne, it had the second largest emigration next to NYC. There are a couple right in Fitzroy that are worth the trip alone.
    ~ Melbourne has always reminded me a lot of Chicago (my home town) -- it's a working class city with a lot of immigrants, that also has a lot of self-bred culture. The live music was astonishing, we went to see something amazing just about every night just by checking fliers in hotel lobbies. And fantastic art galleries, lots of art in public places. It is my favorite AU city, bar none.

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  37. Im an Aussie, I live in the beautiful Hunter Vally which is a 2hr drive from sydney, we are surrounded by wineries, beaches & national parks. I highly recomend whilst in sydney doing a twilight climb of the Harbour bridge, you go up when its daylight & come down when its dark so you see the city lights as well as the day views, not to mention an incredible sunset, it costs around $250 aussie dollars per person, but will be the highlight of your trip http://www.bridgeclimb.com/
    Happy travels!

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  38. Belle5:51 AM

    There is a place just out of Cairns called Paronella Park, it's an old spanish castle in the rainforest and it was voted the top tourist attraction in the state. The night markets in Cairns are great too.

    I hope you enjoy our wonderful country.

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  39. Mandi6:04 AM

    A few Sydney options...
    *The Harbour is a must: if you don't do the BridgeClimb, at least walk over the bridge; hang out in The Rocks (check out Lord Nelsons Pub for pretty good food and that Australian pub visit); Opera House; walk through the Botanical Gardens and over to Mrs. Macquarie's Chair. Echo the recommendation for Sydney Cafe--try the Balmain or Moreton Bay Bugs (seafood).
    *I love the Sydney Fish Market, perfect for lunch and close to Darling Harbour.
    *Enjoy the little villages of Sydney. Check out Surry Hills or Mosman for a couple of options.
    *Taking the Manly Ferry is a must. Only half an hour, but beautiful! While you are there go to Adriano Zumbo (fantastic bakery, worth looking up before hand) and then head to the beach.
    *Zoo!

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  40. Hi. I live in Rozelle, one of Sydney city's inner suburbs. You have a lot of great suggestions here already, so I won't add too much.

    I recommend this site (http://www.urbanwalkabout.com/sydney/) for great little guides to fashion, design, food and lifestyle in Sydney and its inner suburbs. You can pick up free paper versions (with maps) of the online guides when you arrive.

    Also, as you are into interior design, I recommend a visit to the lavishly decorated Ivy Complex on George Street, Sydney. You can see some teaser images on their site (http://merivale.com.au/).

    Any questions, please feel free to ask. All the best for your trip.

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  41. Hi. I live in Rozelle, one of Sydney's inner villages. You have a lot of great recommendations here already, so I won't add too much.

    I recommend this site ( http://www.urbanwalkabout.com/sydney/ ) for great little guides to fashion, design, food and lifestyle in Sydney and its inner villages. You can pick up free paper versions of the guides (with maps) when you arrive.

    Also, you are into interior design, so I would recommend a visit to the lavishly decorated Ivy Complex on George Street, Sydney. See some teaser images on their site ( http://www.merivale.com/ ).

    Any questions, please feel free to ask. I wish you all the best for your trip.

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  42. I'm sure you'll have a great time...but as a West Australian I'm always slightly disappointed that no one bothers to come over our side. Understandable since the flight is so long but we really have a lot to offer I promise!

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  43. Exciting!! I live in the Dallas area and Qantas is about to start flying down under direct in the next few months. Now to talk my hubby into it... My cousins live there and say the Gold Coast is a def must-see.

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  44. Msheiny12:30 PM

    Where is your favorite place you've been so far????

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  45. I am going to Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane) next month and I am loving all the suggestions here! Can't wait!

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  46. Sarah6:23 PM

    http://www.thatsmelbourne.com.au/Gettingaroundthecity/Pages/Podcasts.aspx

    On the above link you can download some podcasts that give you commentry as you complete various walking tours of Melbourne. You might like "Cosmopolitan Melbourne" and "Arcades and Laneways" for some good picture opportunities. You can listen to the podcasts direct from the site, without having to download them, if you would like a preview.

    There is also a free City Circle tram, Im not sure of the route, that could give you a quick overview of Melbourne. You can jump on and off as many times as you want.

    Sarah xx

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  47. Wow, you have received some brilliant suggestions here! I really agree with all of them and don't have much else to add. Just spend as much time as you can on the waterfront in Sydney. Not sure if anyone suggested it yet but I would catch a ferry to Doyles at Watsons bay and have fresh seafood there. It's amazing! http://www.doyles.com.au/12199+0+doyles-on-the-beach.htm My Favourite restaurant in Sydney is Aria. It has amazing views and the food is to die for! I would also go to the Queen Victoria building in Sydney for tea and the Victoria Markets in Melbourne. The Melbourne Zoo is great too and you get there via the tram. The casino in Melbourne is gaudy but at night it is incredible and the restaurants along the river are great. there are some great day trips to do from cairns so I would ask the hotel concierge to help you with that. I am sure you already use Trip Advisor and their suggestions for hotels are pretty spot on. The Pullman Reef Hotel Casino is definitely the place to stay in Cairns if that will work with your budget. The Park Hyatt in Sydney is in an excellent location but is very expensive. My favourite hotel in Sydney is the The Observatory Hotel but we also like the shangri-La. When Oprah came the guests were all booked into the Intercontinental but I wouldn't stay there. Oprah herself booked out of there and stayed at the Bennelong Apartments. I really don't know much about Melbourne hotels. Last time we were there we stayed at the casino which was gorgeous but I think the Intercontinental has a good name.

    If I think of anything else I will let you know.

    Best wishes,
    Natasha.

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  48. salpickering6:39 PM

    these places are worth having a look at and are some of my favourite places from around my neighbourhood. Also have a poke around on http://urbanwalkabout.com/sydney/ as it gives you a great round up of each suburb and much more. Love Melbourne too. We stay at the Prince http://www.theprince.com.au/

    Hotels:
    Any of the hotels in the city are just as good as the next.
    This one is right on the harbour and a short walk through the botanical gardens to the city.
    Blue: at Wooloomooloo http://www.tajhotels.com/sydney/

    City
    Food
    Aria: the view onto the harbour and Oprah house : http://www.ariarestaurant.com/
    Prime: http://www.gposydney.com/Sydneys-Best-Steak-Restaurant-and-Steakhouse---Prime-15.html
    Rockpool : http://www.rockpool.com/sydney/

    Surry Hills
    Food
    Bills: has an amazing breakfast menu : http://www.bills.com.au/
    Longrain: fantastic Thai with a twist. Gorgeous cocktails.. yum http://www.longrain.com.au/
    Bodega : tapas & bar http://www.bodegatapas.com/
    Cotton Duck : http://www.danksstreetdepot.com.au/page/cotton_duck.html

    Shopping
    ici et la : http://www.icietla.com.au/mainTemplate.php?GroupID=3&CategoryID=0 and pop into the bourke street bakery http://www.bourkestreetbakery.com.au/ for a strawberry creme brulee tart.
    so many shops along Crown street, surry hills. I couldn't list them all.

    Paddington/Woolahra
    Bistro Moncur: in Woolahra. It's up in the Paddington/woolahra area. Also great for a browse around the shops on oxford street : http://www.woollahrahotel.com.au/
    Buzo: (Stephen Fry's favourite) http://www.buzorestaurant.com.au/

    Shopping
    Little William Street off Oxford street. Lovely terrace houses converted into shops.
    Akira

    I love Icebergs down at Bondi Beach. http://www.idrb.com/

    For and unforgettable experience: Seaplane http://www.seaplanes.com.au/content_common/pg-Fly-and-Dine.seo from Rose Bay to Berowra Waters Restaurant http://www.berowrawatersinn.com/berowrawatersinn/Home.html
    We do this every year.. the scenery is beautiful!

    Then of course the sights : everything around the city harbour foreshore.
    Taronga zoo
    Watson's bay - you can get the ferry or harbour taxi
    Bridge Climb
    Manly by Ferry then walk along the coast line to fairy bower.

    phew.. okay that's my tips for Sydney with only 3 days.

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  49. salpickering7:51 PM

    Tips for Cairns in 3 days. I have done these before. it was all I needed. either a day trip or 2 day trip to the Daintree from Cairns : http://www.daintree-tours.com/
    and a must is a day via boat snorkelling or diving on the Great Barrier Reef - you can also do a one of 'introduction dive' if you don't need to have a dive licence to do that. small groups great fun!! : http://www.reefmagiccruises.com/
    not sure about accom in Cairns as I've only stayed a stones throw away from Port Douglas.

    Tips for Melbourne:
    The Art Gallery Sydney or Melbourne. I forgot the art gallery of sydney in my previous post.
    Also you might want to check out The Adelphi Hotel (in the city) for accom http://www.adelphi.com.au/

    The Laneways and Arcades in the city centre are beautiful. lots to see, do and buy http://www.tigertales.sg/features/2008/09/life-in-the-fab-lanes

    well Melbourne is a foodies paradise!! Some of my favourite food memories of all time have been with Melbourne. Don't forget to visit a market.. We like the South Melbourne Markets (via tram) on the St Kilda line. it's also got some lovely shops and cafes just outside.

    Vue de Monde : is my to die for treat yourself to something amazing kind of meal: http://www.vuedemonde.com.au/
    The Stokehouse : at St Kilda beach http://www.stokehouse.com.au/
    Circa the Prince : the Prince which is where we stay when we're in Melbourne
    MoVida : http://www.movida.com.au/
    what I love about Melbourne is the Trams.. easy to get around. If you had a bit longer you could explore the suburbs a little more as there are different treats in every one of them.

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  50. Aussietasker8:08 AM

    I wasn't surprised you didn't have Perth on your list of places to visit as everything thinks its 'so far away' from everything else in Aus, but it really is the best city!!! That bias aside, Sydney is pretty darn awesome to visit.

    If you're going to be in Sydney on a weekend, there are some amazing weekend markets to check out. On Sunday is the Rocks Market, which is down in the Rocks area of Circular Quay, and its great market stalls set up under the Bridge. Really neat stuff sold there, most by local artists and artisans. My most favorite, favourite (lets get that spelt both ways for ya) is the Paddington Market that is on Saturdays - this is NOT to be confused with Paddy's Market.

    Paddington Market is local-artists wares set up in outside stalls, just off Oxford street (which is totally worth your while walking down for browsing not only the shops but also the clientele). Paddy's Market, on the other hand, is by Chinatown and is huge indoor junk market - so if you're asking people about Paddington Market and where to go and they mention Chinatown - RUN!!!

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  51. NCLakeHouse9:39 AM

    Two words: LIZARD ISLAND

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  52. MrsLimestone9:59 AM

    I would have loved to visit a lot more cities if we had more time but it just seemed crazy to go to Australia and not go to the GBR. Im not even a sun worshipper (I burn!) so maybe we are making the wrong choice but I do hope to return one day.

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  53. MrsLimestone8:06 PM

    A very good question but Im afraid I don't have an answer. Nine times out of ten I fall in love with whatever location Im visiting, dream of returning, love to languish over the memories there. You get the point. So there isn't really one place that stands out so much. If I had to pick a single trip, it would probably be South Africa for lots of reasons but its only by a hair.

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  54. yay! i hope you love it. I've travelled a bit and always love coming home to beautiful australia, in particular melbourne - my home state!
    get along to the queen vic market - you'll love it. good photo ops!
    wander the laneways & arcades - they're full of life.
    how about somewhere off the beaten track, so to speak...
    I live on the mornington peninsula (1.5 hour south of melbourne) and its so beautiful. I recommend a day trip down this way. if you're wanting beachy - sorrento & portsea are the towns you'll like. if you're wanting more rural countryside, red hill, merricks, & main ridge have some great wineries & restaurants. there is also a little town nearby (tyabb) that has some pretty great antique stores - totally recommend the vintage shed - many a bargain to be found there. i'd also so check out flinders, there are some great little shops there & some good places to eat. it's very popular over summer but the crowds disappear during winter and that's when it comes into its own.
    anyway, i've waffled enough. I'm sure you'll have a great time where ever you go because, well, australia is freaking awesome!!
    jo in oz

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  55. My First Little Place Blog7:03 AM

    Wow, so many comments regarding your trip to Australia. Firstly thank you for choosing to visit Australia, it will be well worth the travel time. I currently live in Cairns, have lived in Melbourne before and am in Sydney often. I can definitely recommend some great places for you to visit, SHOP and of course photograph. So much to suggest, I might send you an email and give you more details. I'm so excited for you.

    ps. comments on spiders - not true, I mean we have them but as another aussie has said unless it's under a pot plant or out far in the bush, you don't need to worry :)

    Let the countdown begin....

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  56. Janell Beals12:14 AM

    Oh Fabulous! We are hoping to get back there in the next year and can't wait to see where you go! LOVE Austrialia, you will have a wonderful time! Janell

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  57. I have lived in Melbourne for 3 years and just recently moved back to Berlin. Melbourne is every foodies dream! I would strongly recommend that you book a table at Movida (the most amazing tapas!) in Melbourne and at The Red Lantern (incredible Vietnamese food) in Sydney. I haven't had any great food in Cairns, but make sure to go to Daintree NP. Please give me a shout if you need more recommendations and have the best time!

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  58. Rcasbeer9:50 PM

    We lived near summer hill village in Sydney for 6 months. Loved our time there. Ashfield village is like chinatown, haberfield village gathered many italians. Favorite beach is bronte beach- small and nestled in the hills. Its A beautiful walk on the sandstone cliffs south of bondi beach down to bronte
    The rocks area is a must see for little shops, pubs, and the neat sandstone buildings built by early convicts. Royal Botanical gardens are beautiful in all seasons. You may take a train ride into the nearby blue mountains for a day -- darling towns and the eucalyptus forests have a beauty all their own. Manly beach and village is a lovely couple hour trip taking the ferry and roaming. The zoo is incredible, and the aquarium is one of the best underwater exhibits I've seen-- all others pale in comparison. Most of all just see a few things then sit back and relax. It's. A very different relaxed vibe compared to most US big cities. Enjoy!

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  59. AlysB6:31 AM

    As an Aussie I have to applaud your trip idea. I may be biased but its a great country.

    If you love animals you must see Taronga Zoo in Sydney - its my favourite touristy thing to do but you have to take the ferry. Great food in The Rocks where you can see some of old Sydney. Don't just go to the obvious places sneak around corners and you will find amazing food.

    Have an amazing trip!

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  60. Megan W2:47 PM

    We went to Australia in October. Didn't go to Sidney or Melbourne, but you can read about the Cairns leg of our trip here if you'd like: http://wadeupdate.blogspot.com/2010/11/australia-chronicles-part-2-cairns.html

    We loved Cairns. I'd definitely recommend the Michaelmas Cay cruise. The rainforest tour was good too if you have time.

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  61. Michelle4:00 AM

    As a fellow Aussie from Perth I'd like to say welcome & glad your taking the time to visit it will be well worth the miles in the sky :)
    Melbourne is full of great shopping and unique boutiques at good prices. Stay in an apartment close to everything so you can shop til you drop.
    Cairns is about the sunshine, fauna and crocodiles. When I was there I hired a limo for half a day which took me to all the places of interest botanical gardens, that kind of thing (with a glass of champange between stops you'll have a fabulous time).
    Sydney indulge in the fancy restaurants along the harbour and eat/drink in the sights and Aussie lifestyle.

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  62. Michelle12:17 AM

    If you're going to be in Melbourne on a Sunday, make sure you check out the Camberwell Market - a flea market with all sorts of super-cool goodies. You'll also love the Chapel Street Bazaar in Prahran (Melbourne). And, of course, the laneways in the city as previously mentioned, especially around Flinders Lane/Centre Way/Degraves Street.

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  63. marika king2:09 AM

    I'm from Melbourne, born and bred ;) There is so much to see here! Definitely go and explore all the laneways, especially around Flinders Lane/Degraves St/Centre Way (great photo ops here). Best to get yourself on the Hidden Secrets Tour, they'll show you all the great little wonders Melbourne has to offer that the general public might not know about, quirky boutiques, doorways that lead to great bars etc. They walk you around the city and show you all the things most tourists would miss. http://www.hiddensecretstours.com/

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  64. Jill Stigs7:11 PM

    Oh, how cool!!

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  65. Kate {domestikatedlife}7:11 PM

    You will have an awesome time, I spent a summer in Australia and it was one the most amazing experiences of my life.
    Hit up the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, it's a photographers/foodie dream! And the Museum of Contemeporary Art in Sydney was really great, it's right by the water so you can get some good views of the harbour bridge and opera house.

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  66. Melissa7:11 PM

    I for one, cannot wait to see what pictures you take in Australia! Your idea of a good trip sounds like mine. Take pictures is always my number one priority when taking trips. Thankfully my husband is a great sport about it. :)

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  67. i lived in australia for a year and it is my favorite place in the world. have TONS of recommendations for you, send me an email and i can give you "the guide" :) jacin {at} lovelylittledetails {dot} com

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  68. Rachel A7:11 PM

    I was fortunate to spend 3 weeks in Australia with my family the summer before I started college - trip of a lifetime. We went to Kuranda, surrounded by the rainforest and not too far from Cairns, and it was amazing. My all time favorite picture is of my little sister laughing hysterically because a bird had landed on her head - you are surrounded by birds that come land on you, and I believe you can do the same thing with butterflies. It was beautiful. We also went to the Great Barrier Reef on a day trip - it was some kind of boat trip for the day - and we did an introductory scuba diving lesson - also amazing! You must see the Sydney harbor and visit the Sydney Opera House.

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  69. katie7:11 PM

    i went to australia years ago with a student travel program. i loved every minute of it! we traveled around so much that i no longer remember all of the specifics of where we went, but some of my favorite things were walking around the bay in sydney, going to a zoo, snorkeling at the great barrier reef (we took a day cruise out to the reef), and visiting this island for a few days where we went sand toboganning and saw a lot of dolphines (i think the island was called tangalooma?). i'd love to go back, i'm sure you'll have a great time!

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  70. Msheiny7:11 PM

    Wow, lucky girl. I will ask my hubby who has been there., but speaking of travel. Where has been your favorite place you visited. We are trying to plan something for 2013. Next year, it's off to the Galapagos islands. ( happy face)! Thanks.

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