|Subject: Re: Escape From Winter: Australia|
Hi Ziners, Sue,
A few comments from a local. If you come here for 5-6 months I imagine it will be October - March. Gt Barrier Reef (including Cairns and Pt Douglas, Daintree etc) will be VERY hot and humid during much of that time and going as early as possible in October would be best. Ditto for Uluru which won't be humid but WILL be hot!
For the southern half of Australia it's just the reverse and February is generally the hottest month. Down south at Narooms it shouldn't be too hot very often, nor in Sydney most of the time. We used to get a lot of rain on the coast in summer but as you probably know we're in the grip of a very bad drought now and it doesn't seem to rain any more - so you may not see much.
Narooma will be busy in January (main school holiday time) and Feb but otherwise relatively quiet although nowadays the population down in that area has increased a lot with retirees, "sea change" new lifestyle seekers etc. It used to be dairy farming/fishing and seasonal tourism area, that's changed a bit and tourism is now much more important. It's a long day's drive from Sydney and an even longer one from Melbourne (whence you can go to Tasmania by air or sea) .
There are, as you say, lots of national parks around Narooma and the mountains (hills by Canadian standards) come down close to the ocean so there's a variety of hiking (= bushwalking in Australia) tracks and lots of pristine beaches. Have a look at the NSW National Parks webpage for more info - www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/ Of course you'll find similar pages for the other states you want to visit.
You might find one of the motoring organisations' webpages useful for travel and accom info - e.g. the NSW one is www.nrma.com.au The distances are vast but you'll have plenty of time and most of the roads are well surfaced nowadays. You can stay quite cheaply self catering in cabins - you'll find that sort of info on the NRMA website above.
Re buying a car - probably OK if it's for as long as 6 months. I suppose you just need a bit of time to sell it before you leave. Have a look at www.tradingpost.com.au for car prices. Japanese and Korean cars are about the most common here except for some bigger 6-8 cylinder Fords and Holdens (General Motors). You should be able to find a Toyota Corolla or Holden Astra (4 cylinder 1.8l with power steering and air conditioning) manufactured about 2001 with 80-100000 km for $11000-$12000 if bought privately and taxes and insurance will cost you another $1000-$1500 depending on what sort of insurance you have.
The NRMA will do a test on the car for you for about $100 so you can check you're not being sold a pup (dud). I'm not sure about campervan prices but the Trading Post should have some examples. Backpackers often sell them on the street in Sydney too I think.
Just now petrol is about $1.08/litre but it varies every week and in different areas. All these prices are in $Australian of course.
Hope this helps a bit. Michael Sydney, Australia