Feedback Australia-Trip Annette and Michael
Sep 27 - Oct 11, 2023
Feedback Australia-Trip Annette and Michael Sereny
Breaking the long journey from Germany to Australia in Singapore (3 days/2 nights) to get used to the time difference was very helpful and extremely interesting.
Sydney offers the arriving traveller a wide range of sights and attractions to explore daily for more than a week if necessary.
After our one-week stay in Sydney (congress and on our own) our organised trip took us first by plane to Cairns, where we were already expected upon arrival. The arrival instructions in our travel description were helpful and accurate. The driver was extremely friendly and communicative and the drive to Port Douglas (1 hour) flew by, with the driver also making a short stop for some photos at our request. The car was spacious and clean and the driving style very pleasant.
We found the accommodation Villa San Michele very pleasant, the flat was clean and spacious and also very quiet at night. On arrival we were given very friendly and competent information. Due to the weather conditions, the receptionist also tried to reschedule our excursion to the Reef (a lot of wind, stormy sea) for another day, but this was not possible due to the travel time (holiday season Australia). There are many good restaurants and shops within walking distance.
The trip to the Reef was great and gave a lasting impression of the diversity and benefits of the Reef. However, with the stormy seas and lots of wind, the crossing was relatively long and sensitive people would probably be more comfortable with a shorter crossing from a port closer to the Reef (bus transfer).
The subsequent day of rest could easily be filled with sightseeing in and around the town on foot.
The small group excursion with "river drift snorkelling" and the guided tour through Mosman Gorge was also great and the guide was able to competently answer our every question and also give us an insight into the diversity and importance of the rainforest.
After another day of rest, we were again transferred on time and in an equally pleasant drive to the airport in Cairns for our onward flight to Brisbane. The pick-up at Brisbane airport also worked out very well and the driver took us to our hotel, the Crystalbrook Vincent. We were delighted with both the location and the design and facilities of the hotel room and could not imagine a more suitable one in Brisbane. We spent the day with rental bikes from the hotel on a tour along the river, which gave us a first, very good impression of this lively and interesting city. On the second day, we took public transport to the Koala Sanctuary, a slightly further but wonderful excursion, as well as more walking and sightseeing within the city.
Picking up the rental car at the Avis station in town was quite easy, the staff friendly and competent. However, the planned schedule: car pick-up, drive to Byron Bay and afternoon kayak tour, would not have been manageable, if only because of the time difference and the distance.
However, the communication with the organiser regarding the kayak tour turned out to be less than happy. The kayak tour was cancelled two days before it was due to take place due to the bad weather (waves/storm), which is completely okay, but we then received further emails with details about the tour, which were probably generated automatically and gave us the impression that the event was taking place after all. The organiser would have to improve his communication.
The accommodation in Byron Bay was well located and had the advantage of free parking in the underground car park. After the good accommodation in Port Douglas and the outstanding one in Brisbane, the flat in Byron Bay was much easier. It was clean and quiet, but there are other rooms there clearly affected by the kitchen smell of the pub below. The town of Byron Bay is very (too?) touristy; if we were to do another tour, we would personally prefer much smaller and more pleasant places on the coast. The Byron Bay Hinterland Tour was unfortunately cancelled at short notice due to cancellations of other participants, but our rental car gave us the opportunity to drive into the national park ourselves and do the hike to Minyon Falls on our own.
The accommodation in Coffs Harbour at the Pacific Bay Resort was okay, but clearly outside the town. If you are not playing golf, a smaller accommodation closer to the town would be more pleasant. Again, for a future trip or for other travellers with less need for tourist attractions, we would prefer smaller places in the area by the beach.
The Afternoon Giingan Cultural Walking Tour took place even though we were the only two participants, but this gave us an exclusive tour with a lot of information that was new to us and our excellent guide was able to answer all our questions competently. This also resulted in very interesting and further discussions.
The drive to the Hunter Valley, as we preferred roads close to the coast, was much longer than expected, but with beautiful views and wonderful stretches of road.
The accommodation at the Chateau Elan was fantastically located overlooking the golf course, clean, spacious, well-furnished and quiet. Unfortunately, however, the hotel's restaurant was closed for kitchen renovations and we had to settle for a rather mediocre bistro nearby. Breakfast, however, could be had on a very good scale.
The group tour to visit various wineries was very pleasant, entertaining, informative and also culinary. Our tour guide was able to accommodate our wine preferences for the tour at short notice in the morning, as we were the only guests with a full-day programme, the lunch package for midday was plentiful and delicious, and the afternoon part of the tour with other guests on board was also very worthwhile. We spent the second day cycling in the Hunter Valley. Unfortunately, the number of rental bikes at the hotel was limited, so we had to drive a short distance to the nearest bike rental. On the second evening, we were able to enjoy an excellent dinner in the restaurant of another, nearby hotel, but the final enjoyment of a local red wine we made in our hotel room due to the strict and reasonable alcohol restrictions when driving.
For the final drive back to Sydney and especially for the drop-off of the rental car, we would have wished for more detailed information from the car rental company (by email?). On the one hand, we did not realise that the car could only be dropped off until 4:30 p.m. (we had 5:00 p.m. on the schedule) and that the catastrophic traffic conditions in the one-way maze of Sydney, combined with the extremely poor signage of the Avis parking spaces to and in the car park, cost us so much time that we only found the Avis employee locking up the offices, but were able to hand in the keys and parking ticket at an adjacent hotel on his advice. Furthermore, it would have been very pleasant to be informed that there is no petrol station in the immediate vicinity of the drop-off point and that one should therefore fill up the tank in good time. We were therefore unable to return the car with a full tank. It was very positive that the car, a VW Tiguan, was almost new and that the road traffic in Australia is generally very pleasant and considerate. However, we have not yet received any feedback from the car rental company with the final invoice.
Overall, however, we did not regret spending the money for the trip. We saw and experienced a lot, which has a lasting and very positive impact on our image of Australia. It was clear to us that we could only travel part of Australia in the time available to us, and our progress so far has encouraged us to make further plans for Australia. The people are mostly friendly and sociable. However, we could not get used to the loudness in many pubs.
All we need now, as mentioned above, is the rental car bill, the refunds for the two cancelled activities (kayak tour and backcountry tour) have been advised in the meantime.