How To Plan Trip From Melbourne to Sydney and Great Barrier Reef

by Grace
(Friendswood, Texas, USA)

How To Plan Trip From Melbourne to Sydney and Great Barrier Reef

I am planning a trip to visit relatives in Melbourne and also see other places in Australia.

I've never been to Australia and would like to visit sydney and the Great Barrier Reef.

What's the best way to plan these trips?

How many days needed to tour these places?

Have 3 teenagers so let me know what's best. Any suggestions or advice?
Thank you,

So many questions to answer! And a few variables. I will cover some generic information here, but I recommend you contact me directly using my contact form so you can fill me in a little and I can make more informed suggestions for you.

It will depend on the time of year you plan to visit, but generally, Sydney and Great Barrier Reef are great places to visit most of the year.

If you visit during our summertime (December to February), you may find the heat and extra humidity in Sydney a bit stifling for sightseeing, so in my opinion if you can choose, then March to November are probably the best times.

During our summers, the Great Barrier Reef also is more prone to marine stingers and box jellyfish, which doesn't make it impossible to visit, but does make a difference. During summer we experience higher rainfall and sometimes tropical cyclones, which can affect the visibility on the reef. I believe (and I have only ever visited the reef myself during winter) that the winter months are best for visbility on the reef.

So, the first part of trip planning is deciding when to visit Australia which may also need to be considered alongside weather and climate information for Australia. The timing of your visit may not be flexible, in which case you have to look for what is the best option during that time.

Secondly, I recommend you decide what you want to see, which it seems you have already got an idea. Sydney is iconic with the harbour, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the historical areas such as The Rocks, Sydney Cove and Botany Bay if you are interested in this history. Check out the map of Australia to get a perspective of where it all is located and the distances involved.

The Great Barrier Reef stretches for nearly 3000 kms or 1600 miles, which means that there is plenty of places to choose to see the Reef. I think this is going to be the area of greatest research for you. There are several mainland destinations that give access to the reef, though most overseas tourist brochures would have you believe there is only one (Cairns) and that is definitely NOT true.

Although Cairns is a good choice for going out to see the reef, and there are plenty of other interesting things to see and do, it is by no means the only place. Drive just an hour north of Cairns to my favourite spot at Port Douglas and you are in a different world. Or visit the reef at The Whitsundays (like Oprah did on her Australian visit) and you will experience another side to it. As, you can see, this may require a bit of extra research to decide HOW you want to see the reef, and WHAT ELSE you might want to see whilst in Queensland.

When you decide the things you want to see and do, you will have your own idea of how long you need to spend in each place. You can visit the Great Barrier Reef on a day trip, or stay on an island within the reef for a few days. By the time you fly in, do the trip and fly out if that is all you did, that is three days!

When you are travelling as a family I think you will want to do a bit more than that, so I would personally choose a minimum of 5 days if I was going to Cairns or Port Douglas, as I would want to see the rainforest at Kuranda, take a day trip on a 4WD up to Cape Tribulation where the reef meets the rainforest, go to Hartleys Crocodile Farm, go to Kuranda, have breakfast with the birds, kick back and enjoy the gourmet restaurants at Port Douglas and all that sort of stuff. So 5 days minimum for me here!

Sydney sightseeing, you could also cram into a couple of days, I know this because we did London in 2½ days this summer! LOL! However, I planned that one to bits and we were on the go from dawn till late! It is possible, but if you have the time, enjoy things like a sail on the harbour, a drive to the Blue Mountains, an adventure climb on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a tour of the Opera House (or a show, if you can get tickets), a night at the theatre, dinner in Centrepoint or a walking tour of The Rocks.

How we planned our London Trip? I asked the family to each write a list of what they wanted to both SEE and DO when we were in London and then prioritized them. Then we negotiated what we could reasonably see and do that would give us a a flavour of London. For example, we had to cut out the Museums, but we went to Madame Tussauds instead! In the end, we had an amazing time, and when people ask us what we saw, they are quite amazed! Our English friends reckoned we saw more of London than they have!

I hope that gives you an idea how to work out how long in each place.

Once you have a rough idea of when you want to visit, where you want to visit and how long to spend in each place, then it is time to start looking at the order in which you will do things, and how you will get to places. Your itinerary may depend upon family commitments, but you can be flexible or creative on your itinerary.

I am not sure if you plan to make your Sydney and Great Barrier Reef trips in one go, at the end of your trip or sandwiched between time in Melbourne with relatives. If you plan to do this at the end of your visit with your relatives, flying out of Sydney back to USA becomes an option, which means you can consider when checking flight options to Australia return flights to either Sydney or Melbourne.

There are so many flight options! I wouldn't know where to start. But you will need to fly from Melbourne to Sydney and to the destination you choose for the Great Barrier Reef. We have several local airlines that can give good prices, some are low cost airlines and our favourites are Virgin Australia and JetStar, I always check them out first for good deals. All the flights are sold in legs, so I may go Virgin one way and Jet Star back depending upon the prices and times of the flights.

Okay, so hopefully that gives you a start! Please do contact me if you want me to be a bit more specific with an answer for you.

Have a fantastic adventure planning your holiday in Australia and I wish you the most amazing time with your family and exploring our wonderful country.

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