|Subject: Re: Escape From Winter: Australia|
G'day Ziners, especially Sue,
I have to concur with most of the advice from others so far on this one. This country is big and sparsely populated, a bit like Canada, but unlike you our poulation is almost all along the coastal fringes, with enormous gaps in between. Therefore it doesn't lend itself to "wandering", although that method works in some areas, such as the Southern coastline of Queensland, through NSW and Victoria and part of South Australia. Also the bottom corner of Western Australia can give you an enjoyable fortnight in a car. The rest of it has for the most part, no roads and enormous distances containing practically nothing.
My suggestion is to make a few headquarters bookings and do some hub trips. One would need to be Cairns, where you could hire a car for a few days and mooch up the coast to the Daintree, stopping at all the beaches on the way, and taking Quicksilver out to Agincourt Reef for a day from Port Douglas. The Whitsundays further south probably would be best treated as a package trip - see your travel agent or research the web.
You could well rent a car in Brisbane, and take a week to travel down to Sydney, hand the car in there and explore NSW, fly out to Uluru, etc staying for a week or three in an apartment. Look up The Carrington Apartments (Google will find it) which is VERY central, near the Harbour and bridge etc, and comes at about $110 a night for one bedroom long-term rental. It is an ordinary apartment building, with Kitchen, laundry etc, just like some of us live in.
Continueing in the same way, you could see a lot of our country in your six (?) months. Don't even think about driving the long hops, such as Cairns to Brisbane - its thousands of miles of same-stuff country, very boring, and very tiring, unless you wanted to explore every village (few and far between) on the way.
And Tasmania is a special place - in several ways. it is extremely pretty in places, grandly rugged in others, and you can easily cover most of its roads and towns in about a week, with hardly any traffic to worry about (only 1/2 million people there). If you buy a car here (try www.drive.com.au) it is cheaper to take it over from Melbourne on the ferry, otherwise fly and hire.
One other thing I should point out - in the tropical areas (North of Townsville) we have a wet season which usually starts in January and can go for two-three months. There may or may not by a cyclone or two, which can be no fun at all. Its best to stay South in that period.
Whilst I agree with comments already made in that Narooma is right in the middle of a very picturesque and worthy part of our country, you couldn't really as much spend six months there, when there is so much else to see.
Anyway, keep planning, I have more ideas if you need them, and enjoy it when you get here.
Paul in Sydney