Travel

** Australia Vacation ** Mega Thread - Places you must see, Things to do, Visa, Pets etc.

Sr. Member
Nov 23, 2015
525 posts
248 upvotes
Winnipeg
mikek33 wrote:
Sep 18th, 2018 11:33 pm
So we leave for Sydney on Monday! Getting pretty excited.

Wondering what people did for directions when travelling by rental car? Renting the GPS from the rental car company seemed cost prohibitive but not sure what other options we have. Could inquire about a data plan through my phone but I anticipate that won’t be cheap. Suggestions welcome!
Just go to any supermarket (Coles, IGA, etc.) on the day of arrival, and at the checkstands they will have sim cards with very cheap voice/data.

For driving directions I downloaded Google Maps. Except for a bit of driving in Brisbane I didn't use the car much in any big cities, but if I was going to I suppose I'd be more inclined to pony up for GPS. I wonder if it might be cheaper to just buy a unit there as opposed to renting? It can be quite expensive to rent one for a week or more.
Sr. Member
Dec 19, 2009
688 posts
104 upvotes
Ottawa
Pete_Coach wrote:
Sep 19th, 2018 8:35 am
You will really need a GPS, especially if driving in cities. I strongly suggest you go and buy one and upload Australian maps. It will cost you about $100 but I truly believe it is necessary.
You can certainly get a data plan and use the maps off the phone but, a GPS can be mounted right on the windshield and is eye level soyou can see the map as well as voice guided.
Enjoy yourself. It is a rat place to visit and so much to see. Not exactly beach weather yet but not too bad.
We are definitely going to use GPS it’s just a matter of how. Thought about buying but then you pay to download Australia maps as any GPS we buy here would be North America. For the cost of that we might as well rent one and limit the hassle.

Thanks! A few decisions left to make in terms of tours etc but mostly just excited to get down there.
fuzzy2k3 wrote:
Sep 19th, 2018 9:02 am
Mobile data plans in Australia are cheap. I think I paid $15 for 30 GB of data on some promotion Optus had but there are other options as well (Vodaphone,
Telstra).

Brisbane Airport has a Optus stand and I am pretty sure Sydney Airport will have same providers as well. Just need to show your passport to get SIM. You can download offline Google Maps for free .

Don't know your situation but highly recommend take public transit while there. Taking the ferry/train might be much faster than driving. Uber is an option as well.
This is very helpful. Thank you!

I think this is probably the route we will go - Australian sim and data plan. Nice to be able to use your phone anyways so for $30-40 we will have a functioning phone that gives us access to GPS. We are not renting the car for the whole trip. We are doing Sydney and Melbourne with no car. Then once we go further north (by plane) we will pick up the car at that point to begin our drive towards Brisbane. Once we arrive in Brisbane we will immediately return the car before enjoying the city for a couple days before we fly back home.
Sr. Member
Dec 19, 2009
688 posts
104 upvotes
Ottawa
56kbps wrote:
Sep 19th, 2018 9:16 am
Just go to any supermarket (Coles, IGA, etc.) on the day of arrival, and at the checkstands they will have sim cards with very cheap voice/data.

For driving directions I downloaded Google Maps. Except for a bit of driving in Brisbane I didn't use the car much in any big cities, but if I was going to I suppose I'd be more inclined to pony up for GPS. I wonder if it might be cheaper to just buy a unit there as opposed to renting? It can be quite expensive to rent one for a week or more.
Thanks!
We won’t be driving much in big cities. Mostly to get us from Rockhampton region down to Brisbane...visiting some smaller areas along the way. Once we arrive in Brisbane we will return the car so won’t have the hassle of parking it etc.
Sr. Member
Dec 19, 2009
688 posts
104 upvotes
Ottawa
One last question for people.

Our current itinerary would only allow for EITHER a Lady Elliot Island excursion or Fraser Island visit. However, we could tweak our schedule (cancel/rearrange our Airbnb’s etc) if seeing both is recommended by most people. The internet seems to give glowing reviews to both spots (for different reasons). Did notice that Lady Elliot trip is quite pricey given you fly in and out of there.

Anyways, opinions please!


Btw - this thread has been VERY helpful to this point so thanks again for anyone who has chimed in with their insights. Much appreciated!
Deal Expert
User avatar
May 10, 2005
31386 posts
6057 upvotes
Ottawa
mikek33 wrote:
Sep 20th, 2018 4:25 pm
One last question for people.

Our current itinerary would only allow for EITHER a Lady Elliot Island excursion or Fraser Island visit. However, we could tweak our schedule (cancel/rearrange our Airbnb’s etc) if seeing both is recommended by most people. The internet seems to give glowing reviews to both spots (for different reasons). Did notice that Lady Elliot trip is quite pricey given you fly in and out of there.

Anyways, opinions please!


Btw - this thread has been VERY helpful to this point so thanks again for anyone who has chimed in with their insights. Much appreciated!
Personally, Fraser Island is something that you will never see anywhere. Lady Elliott is an ecologically beautiful place but Fraser Island has some things that are unlike anything anywhere. The sand is so fine the vehicles have huge tires and even then, they have difficulty getting through. Lake Mackenzie is a wonder, fed only by rainwater and so clear. Dingos, crocodiles and sharks as well.
In the 21st Century deleting history has become far more important than making it. Anonymous
Member
Jun 28, 2011
308 posts
56 upvotes
VANCOUVER
Has there been a thread about pre-paid SIM cards when visiting Australia?
If so, I apologize for asking here.
I'll be in Australia in November for about 3 weeks and it looks like getting a pre-paid SIM card is the best choice for me. (FIDO's travel package of $12 per day is a rip off and a pocket wifi in Oz will cost me the same)
I'll be in Sydney for a few days, then onto Adelaide, Kangaroo Island and Tasmania.
Which carrier is the best choice?
thanks!
Sr. Member
Nov 23, 2015
525 posts
248 upvotes
Winnipeg
travelandshoppingwoman77 wrote:
Oct 2nd, 2018 12:19 am
Has there been a thread about pre-paid SIM cards when visiting Australia?
If so, I apologize for asking here.
I'll be in Australia in November for about 3 weeks and it looks like getting a pre-paid SIM card is the best choice for me. (FIDO's travel package of $12 per day is a rip off and a pocket wifi in Oz will cost me the same)
I'll be in Sydney for a few days, then onto Adelaide, Kangaroo Island and Tasmania.
Which carrier is the best choice?
thanks!
https://www.coles.com.au/customer-service/coles-mobile

Is this hands down the greatest deal you can find? I don't know.

Is it simple and convenient? Absolutely.
Deal Addict
Aug 31, 2017
1116 posts
259 upvotes
What an absolutely beautiful country.

Pros:
Sydney - yea its a “big” city but I loved it. The vibe and the food were delicious. Pleasantly surprised with the amount of Asian food selection. Also loved the opera house and bar downstairs. It had a good mix of business locals and tourists. Walk out for the feisty seagulls though!
Flying within country - security was surprisingly easy and straightforward. The agents were all nice to deal with. You can tell Australia is serious about pleasing travellers for the most part
Gold Coast/Byron Bay - Fabulous / Byron Bay is more hipster (about one hour drive from surfer paradise, and there’s also a one hour time difference lol) and if you had a chance to see “schoolies” just wow LOL
Reef - sad to see that much of it is dead. Best to go out of Port Douglas to see the reef. I would recommend bringing 1) underwater camera 2) NOT doing any of the reef excursions except the free ones. Not worth it IMO
Uluru - absolutely gorgeous and extremely hot (dry heat) I would recommend 2 full days if anything. BRING A HAT WITH A BUG NET. The bush flies are relentless and will kill your enjoyment without one
Transit - very user friendly
Beaches - Enjoyed Bondi and Manly beach. Bondi Beach is definitely not for the insecure. The beach bods there are out in full force

Cons:
Pricey - coffee is good and strong (basically an Americano but they call it long black which made me chuckle inside at first), but expensive. Overall food is delicious but pricey. Looking at least $20 a meal.
General attitude in some parts - might sound like a weird one, but I found it to be a bit uptight at times with the locals. Human interaction was very limited amongst locals and very little diversity. I think NYC does it better when it comes to the social aspect
Jet star airlines - the no coffee on flight policy for the budget airlines (includes tiger) is dumb. If you can,try to book Virgin Australia for in country flights. They offer free wifi as well on-board


Indifferent:
Melbourne wasn’t feeling it. Reminded me of Toronto. Did have some absolutely gorgeous scenery.
Whitsundays - it is stunning, but I do feel a bit overhyped this one
Tjapukai Cultural Park I was a bit let down by this one, which is unfortunate. The show was fine but afterwards there wasn’t much to do, and the town and rainforest were major letdowns because a) most shops didn’t accept cards and b) shops closed early and c) couldn’t explore the rainforest, was a small guided walk. Would definitely NOT spend a whole day here, if anything maybe a half day or skip altogether.

Notes:

1. Do Fraser Island. I missed out on that one and everyone I spoke to in Australia said they had an amazing time and it was a huge highlight

2. If you visit Chippendale in Sydney, check out Spice Alley. It’s an alley way of delicious authentic Asian food and the set up is very inviting

3. We are so getting ripped off in Canada for mobile services. Obligatory to say I know. But I think every Canadian who visits is going to feel the same way. I would go with Optus if possible as cellphone carrier. Vodafone had the best deal so went with them, but a bit choppy at times

4. A lot of the service industry appears to get by thanks to young folks on work visas. I appreciate the no tipping culture, but have noticed several tip jars throughout. Overall the service was fast and efficient and very polite.
Last edited by MyNameWasTaken on Dec 3rd, 2018 2:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Deal Addict
Aug 31, 2017
1116 posts
259 upvotes
callernamet wrote:
Nov 30th, 2018 1:26 pm
LOL. I received that email. god prices.
Yeah, it looks like prices are coming down for Australia which is awesome. Yet, here in Canada we are paying stupid prices to travel within our borders. I saw so much of australia and the equivalent I paid would be like flying from Toronto to Montreal. Even buying tickets within Australia on a budget airline last minute wasn’t too bad.

I noticed a lot of Canadians out of the west coast going to Australia when I was there. If possible, DO NOT fly Air Canada to Australia.
Deal Guru
Jun 26, 2011
11440 posts
1752 upvotes
Markham
MyNameWasTaken wrote:
Dec 3rd, 2018 10:13 am
What an absolutely beautiful country.

Pros:
Sydney - yea its a “big” city but I loved it. The vibe and the food were delicious. Pleasantly surprised with the amount of Asian food selection. Also loved the opera house and bar downstairs. It had a good mix of business locals and tourists. Walk out for the feisty seagulls though!
Flying within country - security was surprisingly easy and straightforward. The agents were all nice to deal with. You can tell Australia is serious about pleasing travellers for the most part
Gold Coast/Byron Bay - Fabulous / Byron Bay is more hipster (about one hour drive from surfer paradise, and there’s also a one hour time difference lol) and if you had a chance to see “schoolies” just wow LOL
Reef - sad to see that much of it is dead. Best to go out of Port Douglas to see the reef. I would recommend bringing 1) underwater camera 2) NOT doing any of the reef excursions except the free ones. Not worth it IMO
Uluru - absolutely gorgeous and extremely hot (dry heat) I would recommend 2 full days if anything. BRING A HAT WITH A BUG NET. The bush flies are relentless and will kill your enjoyment without one
Transit - very user friendly
Beaches - Enjoyed Bondi and Manly beach. Bondi Beach is definitely not for the insecure. The beach bods there are out in full force

Cons:
Pricey - coffee is good and strong (basically an Americano but they call it long black which made me chuckle inside at first), but expensive. Overall food is delicious but pricey. Looking at least $20 a meal.
General attitude in some parts - might sound like a weird one, but I found it to be a bit uptight at times with the locals. Human interaction was very limited amongst locals and very little diversity. I think NYC does it better when it comes to the social aspect
Jet star airlines - the no coffee on flight policy for the budget airlines (includes tiger) is dumb. If you can,try to book Virgin Australia for in country flights. They offer free wifi as well on-board


Indifferent:
Melbourne wasn’t feeling it. Reminded me of Toronto. Did have some absolutely gorgeous scenery.
Whitsundays - it is stunning, but I do feel a bit overhyped this one
Tjapukai Cultural Park I was a bit let down by this one, which is unfortunate. The show was fine but afterwards there wasn’t much to do, and the town and rainforest were major letdowns because a) most shops didn’t accept cards and b) shops closed early and c) couldn’t explore the rainforest, was a small guided walk. Would definitely NOT spend a whole day here, if anything maybe a half day or skip altogether.

Notes:

1. Do Fraser Island. I missed out on that one and everyone I spoke to in Australia said they had an amazing time and it was a huge highlight

2. If you visit Chippendale in Sydney, check out Spice Alley. It’s an alley way of delicious authentic Asian food and the set up is very inviting

3. We are so getting ripped off in Canada for mobile services. Obligatory to say I know. But I think every Canadian who visits is going to feel the same way. I would go with Optus if possible as cellphone carrier. Vodafone had the best deal so went with them, but a bit choppy at times

4. A lot of the service industry appears to get by thanks to young folks on work visas. I appreciate the no tipping culture, but have noticed several tip jars throughout. Overall the service was fast and efficient and very polite.
Glad you enjoyed your trip!

I saw that email about the flights the other day too. So wish I could book...
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User avatar
May 10, 2005
31386 posts
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Ottawa
MyNameWasTaken wrote:
Dec 3rd, 2018 10:13 am
What an absolutely beautiful country.

Pros:......

Cons:
....
1. Do Fraser Island. .......

........
Very glad you had a great time.
It is a beautiful County and there is so much to see that you have to make choices.....and you will miss many things.
Hot, you were not even in Urulu during the hot season...LOL. And yes, the bugs are beyond description LOL
Fraser Island was one of the highlights of our trip.
Makes you want to go back Eh?
In the 21st Century deleting history has become far more important than making it. Anonymous

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