>Regarding Australia and New Zealand, I> meant 17 days, not 17 weeks! Sorry
RO LOL. I should have read the rest of the messages before I wrote. Too funny, Jonathan. With 17 days, you will barely be able to *really* see the Southern part of Australia. If you want to see all of Australis in 17 days, you could plane hop, seeing the major cities of Adelaide, Perth, Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Hobart. The order will depend on your tickets.
Too bad: 17 weeks would have been better to see the Land of Oz. You will still enjoy your trip, Jonathan. You will probably want to come back again.
For help with the big cities, we hope you hear from our Aussie Mates who live in them. We know Brisbane quite well, having rested there after our around-the-world-trip; we stayed there last October-January. It is a lovely river city, with several types of public conveyance on the river. The River-Cats are fast and fun; the City-Ferries will get you to the smaller landings. Lots of parks, zoos and botanical gardens in the Brisbane area.
Again, ocean and diving, well, for us, it is Queensland. Cairns has an International Airport. Bundaberg has an airport, as does Gladstone. These towns are all close to the ocean. You would fly into Proserpine to get to the Whitsundays. This is a wonderful group of islands right off the coast from Airlie Beach (there is no beach there, though - ha ha). But from Airlie Beach you can get to the islands (Hamilton is gorgeous, but also Hayman, Daydrean, Hook and Lindeman Islands are great for fishing/sailing/snorkeling/skiing, diving, etc.), just off the coast.
Enjoy your trip. Marghe and Marty.