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one month australia itinerary - oct 8 to nov 8

so i want to go in a month, i have a visa but did not book anything yet so i might be cutting it close. I'll be coming from Bali. I don't know the order of the trip yet since that will depend on flights and prices. Here are the segments I'd like to do, let me know if it's possible:


day 1 arrive in sydney (flight from somewhere)

day 2 sydney

day 3 sydney

day 4 sydney to blue mountains (katoomba, take early train)

day 5 blue mountains to sydney

day 6 leave sydney (flight to somewhere)


day 1 arrive in cairns (flight from somewhere)

day 2 cairns - atherton tablelands

day 3 cairns - GBR day trip

day 4 cairns - Daintree

day 5 cairns - kuranda

day 6 leave cairns


day 1 arrive in uluru

day 2 kings canyon day trip

day 3 kata tjuta sunrise (using hop on hop off)/uluru sunset

day 4 leave uluru


day 1 arrive in melbourne

day 2 melbourne

day 3 melbourne

day 4 phillips island day trip

day 5 day 1 of 3 day GOR /grampians tour

day 6 day 2 of tour

day 7 day 3 of tour

day 8 leave melbourne


day 1 arrive in Hobart

8 full days in tasmania

day 10 leave hobart

altogether the days above add up to 30 days (if you add the days listed it's 34 but note that the arrival day on one region is the same day as the departure day of another region.

How does this look overall?

  1. GIven how i'm coming from Bali, how do you suggest organizing the itinerary (what region to do first, second, etc)

  2. I was thinking of including Darwin area also, either by removing Tasmania or finding things to cut (for instance, i could cut the 3 day GOR tour, Daintree and atherton tablelands, a day or two from tasmania, and that could give me 4-5 full days in Darwin to do a tour to kakadu and a day at litchfield). Is October a good time to even consider such a move? I know it's the buildup

Any advice is appreciated. It's my first time in Australia and it might be my only time since I live in US. Budget wise, I am fine with splurging since I may not be back so let's ignore that aspect for now.

Any help is appreciated, i want to buy flights within the next couple of days (as I said, I'm already cutting it short since i want to be there in a month.

Posted by
2680 posts

In general it looks like a pretty good itinerary to me.
Some general thoughts: the Qantas low-cost affiliate JetStar offers cheap fares connecting the various places on your list. Can recommend the airline as an cost-effective way to get around the country. They service Bali as well - might be cheapest to fly into Melbourne rather than Sydney. It's worth checking anyway.
Ensure that you fly directly into the airport at Uluru rather than Alice Springs. Many people make the mistake of flying into Alice believing that it's a short drive between the two, when in actuality it's about 6 hours by car.
The first thing I'd check is the availability of accommodations at Uluru - things can sell out early there, especially if you're looking for a room at one of the cheap(er) places near the rock. They book very quickly indeed - and sometimes far in advance.
Personal opinion only, but we've always thought Melbourne was a nothingburger destination as cities in Australia go. My suggestion would be to collect your rental car at the airport there to commence a meandering drive along the GOR and finishing in Adelaide - one of our favorite places in the country and, frankly, a much prettier little place than Melbourne.
I wouldn't sacrifice time in Tasmania in favor of time in Darwin. I'd suggest a check of the historical weather in the two places however to ensure that you won't be going during the rainy season in either place - that might help cement your choice.

Posted by
502 posts

This is funny (not the statement - I respect the poster and his opinion, but what the statement reminded me of): "we've always thought Melbourne was a nothingburger destination".

My Australian colleagues once told me that people tend to have a favorite, either Sydney or Melbourne, but whichever, they didn't particularly like the other city!

I am more a fan of Melbourne than Sydney. Phillips Island is a "must see" in my book. There are various tours, half day and full. I took a full day tour that included several stops. This was the company, the exact tour I took seems not offered currently. (I visited in 2019) There are other tour groups as well. My sense back then was that all did a fine job of transport and different tour options.

Continuing Melbourne options (not that you asked) - if you can get to Healesville Sanctuary, it is my favorite of many small (and large) zoos I have visited in Australia. In researching, you are likely to run across Puffing Billy, a stream train. I hiked in that area which I found as or more interesting than the train. (Or it is included in some of the tours to Phillips Island if the train appeals to you. I did it as kind of an after thought following hiking. I wasn't disappointed, but wouldn't rush out to return.) The area was easy to reach by public transport from Melbourne. I also took day trips to Ballarat and Sovereign Hill (a bit touristy, but I enjoyed) and to Bendigo - again both are easy by train. Melbourne itself has a great Botanical Garden and interesting museums.

I think the itinerary looks good. Caveat - I have not bee to Uluru or Tasmania and I have had multiple trips to different areas, not a single trip. But, within your itinerary for Sydney, Melbourne, and Cairns, I think my itineraries were quite similar and worked very well for me. I have not done GOR - I stuck with Melbourne as a base for exploring the area. I did Blue Mountains as a one day trip from Sydney. An overnight would have been nice and I explored it, but decided I could accomplish all I wanted (hiking mainly) in one day and didn't have to change hotels.

I have also not been to Darwin. That is for another trip. I think it comes down to personal preference. Australia is fascinating with so many options and wonderful places. Daintree I wouldn't want to give up, Atherton Tablelands was great as I stumbled onto a personal driver, but it was maybe one of the places I wouldn't make an effort to return to despite an enjoyable day - similar to the US Midwest where I grew up in some regards. Others enjoy some of the food tours, but that isn't my interest. I honestly don't think you can make a mistake if you go with your interests and inclinations and intuition!

Posted by
502 posts

I forgot to mention, if you like aquariums, I thought the one in Cairns was very good. It focuses on the waterways of the region. I visited before going to the GBR and was glad I'd had the reminder of the tropical fish in the region as well as the freshwater species. You might include that in your arrival day. You could comfortably see it in 90 minutes or so. Also, the Cairns Botanic Garden is very good. Mentioning these as they may not be obvious as you research.

Posted by
38 posts

Hi Michael,
Your trip plans look good. Where will you be flying out off for your trip home? I am guessing that it is most likely Sydney or Melbourne, so I would make that city last. Where is the most convenient city to fly to from Bali (price, schedule etc), make that first. Fit everything else in as logically as possible given flight schedule limitations.

Posted by
38 posts

Hi Michael, apologies managed to post without completing or reviewing my thoughts!
There are direct flights from Bali to Darwin, which might work for you if you decide to spend some time there. If you decide to do this I would put serious consideration to cutting out Tasmania. It is a lovely place but it might be too much of a push to fit it in. I would not expect that the monsoon build up would be too bad at the beginning of October but it will be humid.
For Cairns, check with the tour groups about the conditions out on the reef before booking so that you get the best out of your visit. We always book the day before and given that your other activities can be very flexible there shouldn't be any problems. We enjoy visiting the Atherton Tablelands but if I was going to cut something out it would be that. The Skyrail and train combo to get to and from Kuranda is great, not sure how pricey it is these days.
Everything else looks good. is good for working out what might be available for flights, we usually fly Jetstar or Virgin depending on who has the direct flights on our travel day.
Happy travels

Posted by
66 posts

I think you might be able to fly from Bali to Darwin on Jetstar - you could check that out. Then you could make your way to Cairns, Uluṟu, Sydney, Hobart and back to Melbourne if that’s where you are flying home from. Would avoid too much backtracking. If it was me, and I needed to trim, I would reduce time in the larger cities, but then I prefer the natural environment to cities. Sydney and Hobart both have scenic harbour areas but a day in each could be enough, and 1 day for Melbourne would IMO definitely be enough. I wouldn’t skip Tasmania if you like wildlife spotting, it’s great.

Posted by
92 posts

thanks for the replies everyone. I've heard from many people that the appeal of Australia is not in the cities, with many saying to pick one of Sydney or Melbourne. They often disagree on which to pick but most pick Sydney because of the opera house and harbor whereas Melbourne doesnt seem to have that iconic sight.

Maybe I'll take a day or two off Tasmania, a day off Cairns (atherton tablelands), a day off melbourne and a day off Sydney and add Darwin. I heard Darwin/Kakadu is at the end of the dry season in October and though it's very hot and humid, it doesn't rain.

I'll check Uluru lodging and flight times and that'll give me an idea of what is possible.

Posted by
7209 posts

Some tips from someone who visited Australia twice.

1) Don't miss the Great Ocean Highway southwest of Melbourne.
2) Your plans do not include Perth, consider a few days in Perth, also Darwin.

We visited Perth, Darwin and Bali on a cruise that started in Perth and ended in Sydney..

Posted by
363 posts

Logical sequence is Denpasar to Darwin to Cairns to Uluru to Sydney to Hobart to Melbourne.

Are you planning on self driving or using organised tours?
I would think an organised tour is best for Kakadu, Lichfield, the Reef, Daintree and Uluru. Kings Canyon is a long way from Uluru by the way.

What do you want to see in Sydney? Do you want to climb the bridge? Seeing the bridge and the Opera House is pretty quick and easy. There are nice beaches (not Bondi). Personally don't like big cities too much. I prefer to keep a visit to Sydney brief and usually head to somewhere quieter. I was a regular runner of the Six Foot Track Marathon fom Katoomba to Jenolan Caves. I love the Blue Mountains.
Katoomba can be easily reached by train. It is an easy drive too. If you were to hire a car you would be able to enjoy a wider variety of the areas wonders. I used to stay in a cabin at the Blackheath Caravan Park, love that part of the Blue Mountains.

I am a regular visitor and love Tassie, can't get enough. Hobart is a very small capital city but has a spectacular setting with the towering Mt Wellington above it.
Are you planning an organised tour? What aspects interest you?
Public transport is pretty crap. We usually hire a van from Just Cruisin and stay at caravan parks. Cheapest, most efficient and most enjoyable IMHO.
Port Arthur is perhaps Australia's most significant colonial history site. Just be mindful Australia's worst modern day atrocity also occurred there.
My last trip we visited Bruny Island. Fantastic spot, At The Neck between North and South Bruny fairy penguins nest (and mutton birds).
Some fantastic scenery, Fluted Cape is spectacular from either sea or by foot. Plenty of wildlife.
Freycinet NP is another of my favourites. Not many better beaches than the one at Wineglass Bay.

Back to Melbourne.
You might be hitting Melbourne around the Spring racing carnival. The first Tuesday in November is Melbourne Cup day, a public holiday. The preceding week does get pretty hectic.
I grew up in Melbourne but I would struggle to sell it to you as a tourist destination unless you love sport. The State of Victoria though has a host of amazing attractions.
You mentioned Phillip (there is no S) Island. I am guessing mainly for the fairy penguin parade. It is pretty dam special. Also usually bloody freezing so be well rugged up. It does draw a big crowd. There are some pretty spots around the island to see before you settle in for the penguins.
Further SE is one of Victoria's jewels, the magnificent Wilson's Promontory NP. Well worth visiting.
The Great Ocean Road (not Highway) is an iconic drive with stunning scenery. A 3 day trip as you mentioned would provide a taster.
The Grampians is also a favourite of mine. It is a hiking paradise. Halls Gap is a pretty little town but does get a bit hectic weekends and school holidays. Dunkeld is also a sweet spot with stunning views of the Gramps and that area of the NP is a bit less popular with tourists but offers equally brilliant hiking options.
Every year for the last 50 years I have holidayed in the Victorian High Country. It is a bit of a journey from Melbourne but it is a wonderful region.
One of it's star attractions is Mt Buffalo, pretty special.
Somebody mentioned Healesville Sanctuary. It is not far from where I grew up. Little old Healesville has grown up and is now very much on the tourism trail. It is a stunning area. The Sanctuary is a great place to check out our native fauna. The nearby forests of giant Mountain Ash are impressive. This is also the Yarra Valley a famous wine region.
I will give you a premptive Welcome to Country.
Please be respectful of our land and it's traditions and have a wonderful time.

Posted by
92 posts

Thanks again everyone. For some strange reason, there are almost no direct flights from Bali to Darwin in October. For every other month there are. Just not for October. Anyone have any idea why? All the flights go to one of Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane/Perth first so it makes it a much longer trip than it would be direct and about twice as expensive as a direct flight. Given that, and the buildup, should I just skip Darwin? I posted on a Darwin forum and most locals suggested skipping it because they said the heat and humidity would be unbearable. It's a bummer because i want to go but it seems like perhaps I shouldn't.

Posted by
325 posts

@ Michael

Darwin is a town of about 140,000. Also, NT children are returning from 2-week spring school holidays. Back at school from 9th October. Who knew. Maybe back track to Singapore/Jakarta could be quicker/cheaper.

Weather is tropical savanna and very similar to Bali and Cairns. It is 12 Deg South. Always warm to hot. Cyclone/monsoon season runs circa Nov to Mar.

Domestic Australian carriers are Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia, and newcomer Bonza.

Qantas is a full-service carrier and the most expensive. At present do not weigh personal and under seat items. ASX listed. I am a shareholder and regular flyer. 80 to 100 flight hours yearly, am not price sensitive. I contribute to air pollution. Qantas is currently taking a lot of media and political battering. High airfares, too much profit, overly restrictive policies on using flight credits, that sort of stuff. Mostly 737/717 on shorter domestic routes, transitioning to newer A320 family. A330/787 transcontinental domestic. Safety is a priority and hence recognised as such.

Jetstar is Qantas’s no thrills cheapy, subsidiary. Mostly a320 family. Buy food on board, no inflight entertainment. The airline weighs and tags all carryon bags at check in and a secondary weighing of personal under seat at boarding point, and from my observation, rigorously enforces it rules. Hence cheap ticket price.

Virgin Australia. Owned by Bain Corp USA. 737 aircraft. Anecdotally also enforce bags, personal and under seat items by weight.

Bonza owned by 777 Partners, Miami. 737 aircraft. Anecdotally similar carry-on policy to Jetstar/Virgin.

If you would like to expand on Tasmania, I may be able to direct you to some resources. Tintaldar’s juxtaposition on Sydney and Melbourne is spot on. Apologies on picking up earlier post, I have been in India.

Regards Ron