KimKim Australia Tours October 2023
Oct 22 - Oct 31, 2023
KimKim Australia Tours October 2023
First of all, Kerrie and Gary were great to work with to make our dream vacation to Australia a reality. My first contact was with Kerrie. Gary took over when Kerrie was not available. Their quick response to our needs and questions was great. Kerrie designed our vacation to encompass all the aspects of Australia we were looking for in a 9-day whirlwind vacation, most of which ended up being totally different from what we had in mind. Kerrie took what we wanted to experience and used a more user-friendly trip itinerary than we had envisioned. We had two hiccups with our transportation but they both worked out ok. The tours were all great, over all the transportation was what we needed, the hotels were great, everyone we encountered was helpful and friendly.
We used Uber to get from the cruise port to our hotel – Rendezvous Hotel Sydney, The Rocks. This was a quaint hotel about 2 blocks from the cruise port. The only bad thing about our first night there was getting to the room. They had us on the first floor – which sounds great except we had to pull our suitcases up 10 steps to the first floor, go down 2 steps in the hallway, up two more steps and immediately down 2 steps to get to the room. Same thing going back to reception at check out the next morning. This would not have been bad except we had 2 big suitcases and 2 carry-ons to get to the room. The room was more of an apartment – with a steep flight of stairs to the bedroom/bath. Since we were just staying the one night, we left our suitcases downstairs in the ‘living room’. – This was something Kerrie/Gary would not have known when booking the hotel and it was a nice change from the ship stateroom and regular hotel rooms.
In the afternoon of our arrival, we had a half day Panoramic Sydney Sights tour with our tour guide, Tom, with AEA Luxury Tours. This was a good overview of the city and Tom was great with the history of the city and what we saw.
Transport to Sydney airport was uneventful and though delayed, the flight from Sydney to Cairns was also uneventful. Our transport to Port Douglas from Cairns airport was uneventful.
Our stay at Meridian Port Douglas was delightful. Mini apartments surrounded the pool with walkouts to the pool. The staff at the Meridian was great, giving us information on the city, and the locations of different shops, restaurants and post office. Amanda was the main person at the Meridian that we talked with during our stay. She even showed us to our room and explained how the a/c worked and where the washer/dryer was. We did not have cell phone service while in Australia. Amanda arranged transportation for one of our excursions as well as helped us with our first mix-up with our scheduled transportation from Port Douglas to Cairns. Amanda contacted Hughes Chauffeured Cars, our scheduled transfer company, to inquire where our driver was. When, after an hour, our driver still had not come, Amanda contacted a transfer company the Meridian advertises to inquire about transportation for us to Cairns. Everyone at the Meridian was gracious and very helpful. The Meridian was very well situated for walking everywhere in Port Douglas and transportation. We were about 2 blocks from town and the beach. Our first tour in Port Douglas was to the Great Barrier Reef. We were picked up in front of the Meridian and driven to the dock. Everything we wanted to do – semi-submersible, mainly – was included in the tour price. The only things we had to pay for were drinks while on the tour and souvenirs. This was one of the highlights of our trip.
Our second tour ‘Ngana Julaymba Dungay’ – We all Going Daintree’ ended up being a full day tour instead of half day (which turned out to be great). We were picked up and dropped off in front of the Meridian. Once again a highlight of our trip. Our tour guide, Juan, a local Aboriginal of the Kuku Yalanji people, was great. He took us to a coastal region near Mossman where members of our group found a sand crab, mud crab, scallops and mud snails in the Mangroves on the beach. Juan cooked what we had found on the beach to go with the wraps and fresh fruit for lunch. He also explained the vegetation in the Mossman Gorge, showing us a tree that had been bent into a directional arrow. We learned a lot about the Kuku Yalanji people from Juan.
Our private tour of the Tropical Animal Rehabilitation Center in Port Douglas was another highlight of our trip as we were able to hold a Koala (for a picture) and feed kangaroos and wallabies. We even had 2 parrots join us for lunch. The information on wildlife and how they rehabilitate them was invaluable.
The Pacific Hotel Cairns was in a good spot for walking around the port area and getting transportation to the Outback for our tour. The hotel staff was good about getting us a taxi to the bus terminal for our tour as well as holding one of our bags until we returned.
We took a coach from the transit station in Cairns to Undara Experience Resort near Mount Surprise. This was a great experience for us as it was a ‘semi-local’ coach from Cairns to Mount Surprise so we were able to see different towns along the way.
The coach driver, Dave, asked if we had transport from the bus stop to the resort as it was a 15 KM road to the resort. Dave was kind enough to contact the resort to verify if we had transportation and arrange it for us. He was also the coach driver on our return to Cairns the next day and inquired about our stay there.
We went on the Wildlife at Sunset tour seeing lots of kangaroos on the property and bats at one of the lava tubes. The next morning, we went on the Archway Explorer tour which took us further into two different lava tubes in the Undara Volcanic National Park. Our accommodation was half of a train sleeper car, and the dining/bar area was made up of antique train cars.
Back to Sydney from Cairns with time to explore the Harbor. Dinner on the pier and another 2 nights at the Rendezvous Hotel Sydney the Rocks.
Our last tour was a day excursion to the Blue Mountains National Park with our guide Paul, with AEA Luxury Tours. Our first stop was at Calmsley Hill, a working farm home to farm animals, Kangaroos, Emus, and Koalas. We were able to pet the Koalas. We had several stops at lookout points of the Blue Mountains, including a beautiful waterfall at Govetts Leap and the last stop at Eaglehawk Lookout for a view of the 3 Sisters. Our final stop of the tour was at the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens.
I can’t thank Kerrie and Gary enough for making our dream vacation to Australia a reality.