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22 days to see Eastern Australia


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I posted on this board a while back about my wife and I planning our dream trip to Australia in 2014. We are from Tucson, Arizona and my wife is retiring in a few months so we thought this was a good time to take this trip. We will be doing the Radiance of the Seas B2B cruise from Feb. 14 - March 19 that will circumnavigate Australia and also spend some time in New Zealand. We then have 22 days to spend in Australia (starting and ending in Sydney). Then we jump on Celebrity Solstice on April 11 and sail back to Vancouver via Hawaii. Altogether we will will be at sea for over 60 days and away from home for nearly 3 months. Needless to say this is truly the trip of a lifetime!

 

We have all the cruises booked as well as flights to Sydney and home from Vancouver. We are now attempting to formulate a plan for the 22 days we have for land tours from March 19 - April 11. We have sort of come up with a plan and I was looking for some comments:

 

  1. Disembark Radiance and spend a few days in Sydney, maybe do the Blue Mountains one day (3 days)
  2. Fly to Melbourne. Rent a car and drive the Great Ocean Road and continue on to Adelaide. (2 days)
  3. Fly from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island and stay a few days there. (3 days)
  4. Fly back to Adelaide and then on to Cairns (1 day)
  5. Spend some time in Cairns including a 3 day 2 night "liveaboard" boat to the Great Barrier Reef for snorkeling. (6 days)
  6. Fly to Brisbane and rent a car. (1 day)
  7. Drive the Gold Coast and continue on to Sydney. (2 days)
  8. Spend a few more days in Sydney before boarding the Solstice. (3 days)

 

We are in our mid-50s and in decent shape but not into more extreme activities. We are trying to keep a budget of about $425 a day total including transportation, lodging, food, tours, entertainment and other expenses.

 

Does this itinerary seem reasonable or are we trying to do too much? Any thoughts or suggestions? The Great Barrier Reef is a must do in our book so that is not negotiable! We have thought about doing Tasmania instead of Kangaroo Island. If you could only pick one of those, which would you choose?

 

Suggestions for reasonably priced lodging along the way or car rentals are very much appreciated! Australia is pretty expensive so we need to try to keep our budget.

 

Any recommendations for a liveaboard boat trip to the GBR are much appreciated. We already looked into the Coral Princess but that was just unaffordable.

 

Thanks in advance. Any help is very much appreciated!

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Sounds like a good plan. On your question of Kangaroo Island or Tasmania, I prefer Tasmania. The main attractions of Kangaroo Island are a sea lion colony and you might see koalas in the wild (there are lots of other places where you can see them). Tasmania has fantastic scenery and historic Port Arthur convict colony. Tasmania is small so there aren't the long distances between attractions that there are on the mainland.

 

The other suggestion if you want to have more time for Tasmania (or somewhere else) would be to skip Adelaide. Do the Great Ocean Road as a day trip from Melbourne.

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I think you're trying to cram too much in. It would be a very rushed itinerary on a group tour but doing it yourself adds an extra layer of complexity.

 

For example, driving from Melbourne to Adelaide is about an 8-hour drive via the direct inland route on the A8 and sections of the trip are very boring. It's about the same distance as New York to Columbus, Ohio. You could drive as far as, say, Warrnambool on the first day via the Great Ocean Road, but that is going to be a VERY long, tiring day to then back up with another 7-hour drive from Warrnambool to Adelaide.

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Sounds good, but being limited to 22 days, perhaps 6 days in Cairns is a bit much ? Perhaps drop a couple of days off that and do the Queensland Gold and Sunshine Coast, inc Noosa and Fraser Island. Just my thoughts.

 

Above all, Enjoy !!!

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My two cents...in RED.. Hope I can help in some way..:)

........................................................

We have all the cruises booked as well as flights to Sydney and home from Vancouver. We are now attempting to formulate a plan for the 22 days we have for land tours from March 19 - April 11. We have sort of come up with a plan and I was looking for some comments:

Disembark Radiance and spend a few days in Sydney, maybe do the Blue Mountains one day (3 days)

 

That sounds ok

 

Fly to Melbourne. Rent a car and drive the Great Ocean Road and continue on to Adelaide. (2 days)

 

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Melbourne – Lorne – Port Fairy – Robe – Victor Harbor – Adelaide

= about? 1,000km without stopping...

http://www.distancesfrom.com/au/distance-from-Adelaide-to-Melbourne-via-great-ocean-road/DistanceHistory/1208368.aspx

That doesn't give you much time in Adelaide, which is beautiful too.

You should allow about 4 days minimum for the Melbourne and Adelaide bit, maybe more if you want to see Melbourne too..it has the best shopping , restaurants etc in Oz.

 

 

Fly from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island and stay a few days there. (3 days)

 

Go to Tassie instead, you need a week in Tassie..nothing to do in Kangaroo island.

 

Fly back to Adelaide and then on to Cairns (1 day)

 

That would take 3/4 of a day to fly to Adelaide, and another day to fly to Cairns with Airports swaps etc..

 

Spend some time in Cairns including a 3 day 2 night "liveaboard" boat to the Great Barrier Reef for snorkeling. (6 days)

 

I didnt know about the liveaboards..sounds good!

 

Fly to Brisbane and rent a car. (1 day)

 

Aussie Zoo on the Sunshine coast is ok for a day, nothing else in Brisbane comes to mind, we live 100 kms north, and only go to Bris. To go to the Airpirt, its just a city...unless you go to Southbank..

Drive the Gold Coast and continue on to Sydney. (2 days)

 

Gold Coast is just 1 hr past Brisbane..

Sydney is a minimum 12 hr drve non stop..

Spend a few more days in Sydney before boarding the Solstice. (3 days)

 

We are in our mid-50s and in decent shape but not into more extreme activities. We are trying to keep a budget of about $425 a day total including transportation, lodging, food, tours, entertainment and other expenses.

 

Does this itinerary seem reasonable or are we trying to do too much?

 

You are not allowing enough time in each place , or enough time to get to them..;):)

 

Remember Aus. Is the same size as the States, if you compare the areas and the distances, would you do that in The US..

it makes it easier to consider your options.

 

Any thoughts or suggestions? The Great Barrier Reef is a must do in our book so that is not negotiable! We have thought about doing Tasmania instead of Kangaroo Island. If you could only pick one of those, which would you choose?

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Sounds good, but being limited to 22 days, perhaps 6 days in Cairns is a bit much ? Perhaps drop a couple of days off that and do the Queensland Gold and Sunshine Coast, inc Noosa and Fraser Island. Just my thoughts.

 

Above all, Enjoy !!!

I agree with that idea. Three days or maximum four would be enough for Cairns.

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I think you're trying to cram too much in. It would be a very rushed itinerary on a group tour but doing it yourself adds an extra layer of complexity.

 

It depends how you like to travel. We are accustomed to fitting a lot into a touring holiday, and we have done many.

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Firstly, sounds like a fantastic holiday you have planned.

 

Just wanted to echo the other posters re Adelaide. IMO unless you have friends or family to visit in Adelaide, I would give it a miss. It;s a lovely city but its not a "must-see", especially given the amount of travelling time required to get there. You would be better off spending that time elsewhere.

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If you really want to drive from Brisbane to Sydney I wouldn't recommend the Pacific Highway. There are a number of inland routes which are slower and often only 2-lanes but the scenery and towns are much more interesting.

 

If you really must visit the Gold Coast then make it a quick visit. It's a nice place to stay but not much to see if you are just driving through and the traffic is often terrible. I would instead head straight up to Mt Tamborine then choose one of the alternate routes South, perhaps the New England Highway which would take you through Armidale and Tamworth.

 

If you do choose the Pacific Highway just keep in mind that you will see very little of the Pacific. These days it's a fast trip but very dull.

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If you really want to drive from Brisbane to Sydney I wouldn't recommend the Pacific Highway. There are a number of inland routes which are slower and often only 2-lanes but the scenery and towns are much more interesting.

 

If you really must visit the Gold Coast then make it a quick visit. It's a nice place to stay but not much to see if you are just driving through and the traffic is often terrible. I would instead head straight up to Mt Tamborine then choose one of the alternate routes South, perhaps the New England Highway which would take you through Armidale and Tamworth.

 

If you do choose the Pacific Highway just keep in mind that you will see very little of the Pacific. These days it's a fast trip but very dull.

I agree. The Pacific Highway is very boring. I would spend those two days elsewhere.

Elaine.

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I would consider dropping Adelaide and Kangaroo island and spending 2 days driving the GOR to Port Campbell and back to Melbourne. This will give you more time to stop and see things. Then get back to Melbourne and catch the ferry to Tassie and spend 4 days travelling the east coast. Then ferry back to Melbourne and fly up to Cairns. Otherwise you can rent car for Melbourne, drop back at airport, fly to Tassie and rent a new car. Depends on pricing for the time you want to go, 2nd option will prob be cheaper actually.

 

Have you considered visiting Ayers Rock at all? shame to come all this way and not see it. You could drop Brisbane and spend 2 days there instead, plus a day travelling there and back on plane.

 

You could do Sydney direct to Ayers Rock, then Melbourne via connecting flight in Alice Springs, then Adelaide or Tassie option, then Cairns, then Sydney.

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Well, coffs is a nice stopover.

 

But for an international tourist, I'd suggest it might be less stressful, and probably more time efficient to fly from Brisbane to Sydney, if you didn't have any particular intent to see any places along the way. Especially if you're only planning to rent the car from Brisbane to Sydney.

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I would consider dropping Adelaide and Kangaroo island and spending 2 days driving the GOR to Port Campbell and back to Melbourne. This will give you more time to stop and see things. Then get back to Melbourne and catch the ferry to Tassie and spend 4 days travelling the east coast. Then ferry back to Melbourne and fly up to Cairns. Otherwise you can rent car for Melbourne, drop back at airport, fly to Tassie and rent a new car. Depends on pricing for the time you want to go, 2nd option will prob be cheaper actually.

 

Have you considered visiting Ayers Rock at all? shame to come all this way and not see it. You could drop Brisbane and spend 2 days there instead, plus a day travelling there and back on plane.

 

You could do Sydney direct to Ayers Rock, then Melbourne via connecting flight in Alice Springs, then Adelaide or Tassie option, then Cairns, then Sydney.

 

I would definitely second this suggestion. Your trip sounds great and I'm sure you'll have a fantastic time no matter what you decide.:)

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From Cairns you can go on a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef on a large catamaran for around $125 pp. this fare includes transfers to the reef pontoon, snorkeling ( flippers& snorkel included) ride on a glass bottom boat, underwater viewing platform, 'submarine style' boat ride and a buffet lunch.

You can hire a stinger suit for about $10 to protect from stingers and sunburn. On board the catamaran there will be marine biologists who give talks on marine life and show a movie or power point presentation. It's a a great way to,see a lot in one day. There are a few different companies and you can select which part of the reef you want to visit.

 

 

Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app

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Tasmania is a must see IMO.

 

It has wildlife everywhere & some unique creatures like the Tasmanian Devil you can see in the wild at the beautiful Cradle Mountain resort where just walking from your cabin to the main resort building in the evening is wildlife central.

 

Don't miss Port Arthur historical convict site, try to do the night time ghost tour, very eerie place you won't forget.

 

Loads of other great historical places like Richmond & Strahan.

 

It's a real wilderness island & actually considered to have some of the cleanest air in the world.

 

 

I also agree you should try & see Uluru (Ayers Rock) & Alice Springs, maybe even take the Ghan train from Adelaide or Alice Springs to Darwin to get a taste of the outback.

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Tasmania is a must see IMO.

 

It has wildlife everywhere & some unique creatures like the Tasmanian Devil you can see in the wild at the beautiful Cradle Mountain resort where just walking from your cabin to the main resort building in the evening is wildlife central.

 

Don't miss Port Arthur historical convict site, try to do the night time ghost tour, very eerie place you won't forget.

 

Loads of other great historical places like Richmond & Strahan.

 

It's a real wilderness island & actually considered to have some of the cleanest air in the world.

 

I also agree you should try & see Uluru (Ayers Rock) & Alice Springs, maybe even take the Ghan train from Adelaide or Alice Springs to Darwin to get a taste of the outback.

 

I agree that Tasmania is great, but in the time available they can't get see all of the state. Strahan is too far out of the way, and although I love Cradle Mountain, it is also.

 

Highlights of Tassie to see on a short trip -

1. Hobart

2. Port Arthur

3. Historic Richmond (on the way to Freycinet)

4. Historic Campbell Town (also on the way to Freycinet)

5. Freycinet National Park

6. Bruny Island for his cruise (do as a day trip from Hobart)

7. Maybe Mt Field National Park if there is time.

 

I would love to add Cradle Mountain into the above list but it would add a couple of days. The historic towns (Richmond and Campbell Town) only require a short stop to see and admire the amazing old buildings/bridge with their carved stonework.

 

To the original poster - Congratulations on doing your research. I could suggest an Australian guidebook that would help you. I think it is available from Amazon. It is "Around Australia". The publisher is Hema.

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I agree that Tasmania is great, but in the time available they can't get see all of the state. Strahan is too far out of the way, and although I love Cradle Mountain, it is also.

 

Highlights of Tassie to see on a short trip -

1. Hobart

2. Port Arthur

3. Historic Richmond (on the way to Freycinet)

4. Historic Campbell Town (also on the way to Freycinet)

5. Freycinet National Park

6. Bruny Island for his cruise (do as a day trip from Hobart)

7. Maybe Mt Field National Park if there is time.

 

I would love to add Cradle Mountain into the above list but it would add a couple of days. The historic towns (Richmond and Campbell Town) only require a short stop to see and admire the amazing old buildings/bridge with their carved stonework.

 

To the original poster - Congratulations on doing your research. I could suggest an Australian guidebook that would help you. I think it is available from Amazon. It is "Around Australia". The publisher is Hema.

 

 

We drove around Tasmania & felt Cradle Mountain was a must see.

You can get from the Hobart to Cradle Mountain in about 4.5 hours if you drive North toward Launceston first, then cut across.

 

I agree missing out Strahan but would choose Cradle Mountain over Freycinet, plus Cradle Mountain Lodge where we stayed is at the hot spot for Tasmanian Devil Conservation etc.

 

If you flew in to Launceston, Tasmania it is only a 2 hour drive to Cradle, then you could stay 2 days, & drive down to Hobart via the longer scenic route, see the town, see Richmond etc & Port Arthur in a few days.

Fly back out of Hobart.

 

It's hard choosing were to go in such a big country, but Tasmania if you like wilderness & history is so much more interesting than Brisbane or the Gold Coast for example.

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We drove around Tasmania & felt Cradle Mountain was a must see.

You can get from the Hobart to Cradle Mountain in about 4.5 hours if you drive North toward Launceston first, then cut across.

 

I agree missing out Strahan but would choose Cradle Mountain over Freycinet, plus Cradle Mountain Lodge where we stayed is at the hot spot for Tasmanian Devil Conservation etc.

 

If you flew in to Launceston, Tasmania it is only a 2 hour drive to Cradle, then you could stay 2 days, & drive down to Hobart via the longer scenic route, see the town, see Richmond etc & Port Arthur in a few days.

Fly back out of Hobart.

 

It's hard choosing were to go in such a big country, but Tasmania if you like wilderness & history is so much more interesting than Brisbane or the Gold Coast for example.

Probably getting a hire car from Launceston, going to Cradle Mountain and continuing south to Hobart via Campbell Town, Port Arthur and Richmond is a good idea. Fly out of Hobart at the end.

 

I agree it is much more interesting than Brisbane (where I live) and the Gold Coast. In Tasmania there is both stunning scenery and beautiful historical buildings.

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Clearly there is a need to prioritize, and everyone has good suggestions about "must see" (or at least "should try to see") places. However, I am surprised at the number of negative or lukewarm comments concerning Brisbane in the preceding posts. We have visited Brisbane four times over the past 20+ years, for 2-4 days per visit -- not counting considerable additional time visiting "nearby" locations -- Sunshine Coast, Fraser Isl., Lamington Nat. Park, etc. We find that there is a great deal of interest (at least to us) in both the city and surroundings. I suggest that the OPs should not drop BNE from their itinerary without first checking on the things of interest in the area relative their personal interests. I say this recognizing the vast number of other attractions throughout Australia, many of which we have also visited.

 

John

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Clearly there is a need to prioritize, and everyone has good suggestions about "must see" (or at least "should try to see") places. However, I am surprised at the number of negative or lukewarm comments concerning Brisbane in the preceding posts. We have visited Brisbane four times over the past 20+ years, for 2-4 days per visit -- not counting considerable additional time visiting "nearby" locations -- Sunshine Coast, Fraser Isl., Lamington Nat. Park, etc. We find that there is a great deal of interest (at least to us) in both the city and surroundings. I suggest that the OPs should not drop BNE from their itinerary without first checking on the things of interest in the area relative their personal interests. I say this recognizing the vast number of other attractions throughout Australia, many of which we have also visited.

 

John

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Clearly there is a need to prioritize, and everyone has good suggestions about "must see" (or at least "should try to see") places. However, I am surprised at the number of negative or lukewarm comments concerning Brisbane in the preceding posts. We have visited Brisbane four times over the past 20+ years, for 2-4 days per visit -- not counting considerable additional time visiting "nearby" locations -- Sunshine Coast, Fraser Isl., Lamington Nat. Park, etc. We find that there is a great deal of interest (at least to us) in both the city and surroundings. I suggest that the OPs should not drop BNE from their itinerary without first checking on the things of interest in the area relative their personal interests. I say this recognizing the vast number of other attractions throughout Australia, many of which we have also visited.

 

John

 

I agree that there is a fair bit to see in Brisbane and the surrounding areas, but the key point is they have to prioritize. What would you recommend for someone with the limited time that the OP has?

 

1. Sydney is a 'must see' and they are boarding their cruise there.

2. Great Barrier Reef, but of course there are several places to see this. The OP is looking at a 'stay-aboard' reef experience.

3. Uluru and Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock and the Olgas) are superb as is nearby Kings Canyon. Unfortunately these are a long way out of the way, but they give a totally different perspective on Australia.

4. As I said previously I would put Tasmania ahead of Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. I would also put Tasmania ahead of Brisbane.

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I agree that there is a fair bit to see in Brisbane and the surrounding areas,

4. As I said previously I would put Tasmania ahead of Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. I would also put Tasmania ahead of Brisbane.

 

ditto:D,

we live on the Sunshine coast, if it was out of Brissy and the Sunny Coast.

.it would have to be the latter.

 

but Tassie wins with me.

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I agree that there is a fair bit to see in Brisbane and the surrounding areas, but the key point is they have to prioritize. What would you recommend for someone with the limited time that the OP has?

 

1. Sydney is a 'must see' and they are boarding their cruise there.

2. Great Barrier Reef, but of course there are several places to see this. The OP is looking at a 'stay-aboard' reef experience.

3. Uluru and Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock and the Olgas) are superb as is nearby Kings Canyon. Unfortunately these are a long way out of the way, but they give a totally different perspective on Australia.

4. As I said previously I would put Tasmania ahead of Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. I would also put Tasmania ahead of Brisbane.

 

How about this itinery:

 

Start in Sydney:

DAYS 1, 2, 3 (Sydney) - Sydney local sights, HOHO bus, Blue Mountains, Manly Ferry etc

DAYS 4, 5, 6 (Tasmania) - Fly Sydney to Hobart, Hobart local sights, Port Arthur, Cradle Mountain

DAYS 7, 8 (Melbourne) - Fly Hobart to Melbourne - local sight-seeing

DAYS 9, 10 (Uluru) - Fly Melbourne to Uluru - spectacular inland sight-seeing

DAYS 11, 12, 13 (Cairns) - Fly Uluru to Cairns - Great Barrier Reef, Karunda train-skyway return, crocodile farm on way to Port Douglas

DAYS 14, 15 (Brisbane) - Fly Cairns to Brisbane - local sight-seeing

DAYS 16 (Gold Coast) - Hire car in Brisbane and drive east coast to Sydney - 7 days driving via the Pacific Highway and visiting well-known north coast scenic areas each day.

DAYS 17 (Byron Bay) - local sight-seeing

DAYS 18 (Coffs Harbour) - local sight-seeing

DAYS 19 (Port Macquarie) - local sight-seeing

DAYS 20 (Foster/Tuncurry) - local sight-seeing

DAYS 21 (Port Stephens) - local sight-seeing

DAYS 22 - Return to Sydney

 

This would be fairly hectic but completely do-able in my opinion! Not sure about the cost as there would be a fair amount of flying for the 2 of them to make it workable.

 

Any budding TA's out there to put some prices on such a trip? :confused:

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How about this itinery:

 

Start in Sydney:

DAYS 1, 2, 3 (Sydney) - Sydney local sights, HOHO bus, Blue Mountains, Manly Ferry etc

DAYS 4, 5, 6 (Tasmania) - Fly Sydney to Hobart, Hobart local sights, Port Arthur, Cradle Mountain

DAYS 7, 8 (Melbourne) - Fly Hobart to Melbourne - local sight-seeing

DAYS 9, 10 (Uluru) - Fly Melbourne to Uluru - spectacular inland sight-seeing

DAYS 11, 12, 13 (Cairns) - Fly Uluru to Cairns - Great Barrier Reef, Karunda train-skyway return, crocodile farm on way to Port Douglas

DAYS 14, 15 (Brisbane) - Fly Cairns to Brisbane - local sight-seeing

DAYS 16 (Gold Coast) - Hire car in Brisbane and drive east coast to Sydney - 7 days driving via the Pacific Highway and visiting well-known north coast scenic areas each day.

DAYS 17 (Byron Bay) - local sight-seeing

DAYS 18 (Coffs Harbour) - local sight-seeing

DAYS 19 (Port Macquarie) - local sight-seeing

DAYS 20 (Foster/Tuncurry) - local sight-seeing

DAYS 21 (Port Stephens) - local sight-seeing

DAYS 22 - Return to Sydney

 

This would be fairly hectic but completely do-able in my opinion! Not sure about the cost as there would be a fair amount of flying for the 2 of them to make it workable.

 

Any budding TA's out there to put some prices on such a trip? :confused:

 

The only significant change I would suggest is to fly from Brisbane to Sydney and spend an extra three or four days in Tasmania and the others wherever - maybe one in Cairns because of the sleep-aboard option for the reef. I don't think it is worth spending a week to get from Brisbane to Sydney.:D

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