My daughter and I went for the first trip we had ever been on. She wanted to see Australia, so that is where we decided to make our first trip. It was actually our first time on an airplane ever, so it was quite the experience for the both of us. As a mom with 6 kids who does daycare it was also an amazing mother daughter trip. My husband and kids held down the fort for 2 week while we were gone. Needless to say they were all very glad for mom to come home…
After viewing the amazing beauty of Australia it has put the travel bug in the both my daughter and myself. Since then with a van full of 11 people we have visited Niagara Falls, stayed on Cape Cod for a week, visited the Statue of Liberty. My husband and I visited my mother in law in Arizona and we went to the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Antelope Canyon. That is all in less then a year. The next year we have many more travel adventures planned as well.
While we were there, there were a few places we wanted to see. Alright, maybe there was a couple more then a few lol. We were able to visit every single one of these places we planned, added in a few more, and had an absolutely amazing time. Our only regret was we wished we had a little more time. Probably about 3 weeks would have been ideal instead of 2, well really we could have spent a couple months exploring, but that would never have been anything my husband would have ever went for lol.`
Day 1 Fly Into Australia
We had about 30 hours worth of flying to do from Michigan all the way to Melbourne. Now it may not make sense to fly from Melbourne to Cairns when Cairns is closer to Melbourne. However, for some weird reason is was cheaper to fly into Sydney and then go to Melbourne versus just flying into Sydney. Due to the time change and the amount of time spent on the plane, we left Michigan on the 11th and arrived on the 13th.
Day 2-4 Cairns
Early in the morning we took a flight from Melbourne to Cairns.
The view from the airplane window coming into Cairns was amazing. Boy is the Coral sea an amazing turquoise color.
Things we did in Cairns
Day 2 – Check into our hotel which was the Doubletree By Hilton. This was an amazing place to stay. The rooms were clean and beautiful. We made sure to get a room with the ocean view and were lucky enough to get an ocean and mountain view so beautiful. To top it off any of the workers we talked to were amazing. I highly recommend this as a place to stay. After we checked in we just spent time sitting, relaxing, and exploring Cairns. With the terrible jet lag we had from a 14 hour time difference this was very much needed.
Day 3 – Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef with Supersonic. This is a huge company that goes out to the Agincourt Reef in the outer ribbon reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. This is said to offer clearer water from less pollution and more colorful reefs. They will pick you up from your hotel in Cairns, or Port Douglas, provide you with snacks, drinks, lunch, and your diving suit. With their tours you can snorkel or scuba dive. Other tours you can book from their website include other area attractions.
Day 3 night – Spend time in the night markets. The night markets are the perfect spot to find some souvenirs, dinner, snacks, produce, etc. they are also pretty busy. We had a great time enjoying a couple hours down here exploring.
Day 4 – Tour the Daintree Rainforest. This included Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation, an amazing lunch right in the rain forest, and a trip down the river to see the crocodiles. There a quite a few tour companies to choose from the will bring your through the rain forest. We choose to use Daintree Discovery Tours, mainly because they keep the tours smaller. We were in a group with only a couple and ourselves. It was a wonderful time, and our tour guide was unbelievably amazing. To top it off he had a lot of knowledge of the best places to visit in the area made the day unforgettable.
Other things to do in Cairns
- Kuranda Scenic Railway.
- Taken a helicopter ride above the Great Barrier Reef.
- Cairns botanical garden
- Swimming in Crystal Cascades. There are few waters in Cairns you can swim in due to crocodiles, this is one of the safe places.
- Spend time learning about the Aboriginal culture of the area.
- Watch whales and dolphins. July-September the whales migrate to the area to birth and nurse their calves what a beautiful thing to see! We watched this is Brisbane.
- Spend a couple days on Green Island.
- Sky rail Cable way through the rain forest.
- Visit the Undara Volcanic National Park, where you can see the lava tunels. This is something that can only be seen in 23 countries.
Day 5-7 Airlie Beach
When we arrived in Airlie Beach very late at night we learned something. That checking into hotels or motels after 8/9pm is not a good thing. Since they are usually smaller places like the one we stayed in because these people are likely in bed for the night. So we had to wake up the owner to get us checked into our room. Needless to say he was NOT happy one bit. Never had to deal with anything like that in America, even for very small hotels. Lesson learned.
What We Did while In Airlie Beach
Day 5 – Driving from Cairns To Airlie Beach – The following day we drove our rental car from Cairns to Airlie Beach. We were originally going to take the train for this trip, but there was rail work being done and we decided to drive instead. The airfare from Cairns to Prosterpine was astronomical. On the way there we stopped at Babina Boulder area climbed the mountain and was able to see the beautiful falls that the locals swim in. It was a beautiful area I am very glad we stopped to see.
Day 6 – Explore Airlie Beach. The next day we spent just exploring Airlie beach and found one of the best little restaurants that served the absolute best fish and chips. We may or may not have eaten every day after that… It was a beautiful area to just walk around and explore the shops and beaches.
Day 7 – Whitehaven Beach and Hamilton Island. For day 7 we took the tour with Cruise Whitsunday over to Witehaven beach on Whitsunday Island. Just our luck it was a rainy day and wasn’t that great of a day to spend out at the beach. We wished we had taken the hike up to get the view of Hill Inlet. Instead we spent half the day there and half the day over on Hamilton Island. This was a very beautiful island. We ate lunch next to the marina and took the FREE buses around the island. There are a ton of things to do on the island that are no cost, I have never seen or heard of an island like this one in the United States. It would be a perfect island to bring your family to.
Day 8 – Airplane Tour and Flight To Brisbane. The last day we were in Airlie Beach we knew that we weren’t flying out to Brisbane until later in the day but had to check out earlier. So we decided to take a airplane ride over the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. It was one of the best decisions we made. Talk about the flight of a lifetime. To top it off we were the only ones on the plane and they took us to a couple extra spots. This is a MUST do in my opinion, both of us were SO glad we decided to do this. Even if it was last minute.
Other things to do in Airlie Beach
- Take a seaplane to one of the islands.
- Rent jet ski’s and explore the islands.
- Snorkel or scuba dive the local reefs.
- Take an overnight charter boat and explore the area.
- Stay a few days on one of the local islands. They are all amazingly beautiful.
- Go fishing out in the reef.
- Take a Segway sunset and boardwalk tour and enjoy dinner along the trip.
Day 8-9 Brisbane
What We Did In Brisbane
Day 8 – Fly into Brisbane, get dinner and relax for the rest of the night. While we were in Brisbane we stayed at the Watermark Hotel. They decided to upgrade our room for us at no extra cost to us. So we had an amazing room. Not only that, but the service was great there.
Day 9 – Tangalooma Whale watching Tour and Moreton Island. was spent out at Tangalooma. First part of the day we went whale watching, a totally amazing experience they also fed us lunch on the boat. The second part of the day was spent on Morton Island exploring Tangalooma resort. This was the first experience we had seeing a Kookaburra which was so neat. Late at night we watched the dolphin show.
Day 10 – Fly Back To Melbourne. This day we flew back to Melbourne to spend the next few days on the Great Ocean Road.
Day 10-11 Great Ocean Road
The following day we flew back to Melbourne to start our trip on the Great Ocean Road. Now this part we decided to drive and do on our own instead of taking a tour. The locals said we were a little crazy for doing that, because the roads are hard to drive for foreigners and we would miss seeing so much. Well the roads weren’t too bad at all, the view was totally amazing. The only thing I would suggest a tour for would be the fact that the driver cannot see much of the scenery along the drive because they are driving.
What We did On The Great Ocean Road
Day 10 – Fly In From Brisbane Start Great Ocean Road. We flew in early in the day from Brisbane to Melbourne. By the time we flew in, picked up our rental car and finally got out of town it was pretty late in the day. We passed the Great Ocean Road memorial archway. Visited a beach at the start, and stopped to see London Bridge. That night we stayed in a little hotel the Coastal Motel in the town of Apollo Bay. This place was a little bit smarter and rather then us having to wake them up at night they left a key on the door for anyone who hadn’t checked in for the night.
Day 11 – Continue Exploring the Great Ocean Road. So this was the day we planned on getting a bunch of exploring done on the Great Ocean Road. At the end of the day we drove to our hotel room which was in Warrnambool, at the Best Western Olde Maritime. It was a nice hotel, nothing really fancy or anything, but it was clean and the workers were friendly and I would stay there again.
Day 12 – Finish Great Ocean Road and Head Back To Melbourne. Since this was the last day on the Great Ocean Road, fit in any of the last spots you weren’t able to visit the previous days. We drove back to Melbourne a different way since it was quicker.
Day 13-14 Melbourne
Day 13 – Take a Tour to See Fairy Penguins. We spent the day exploring Melbourne area, Phillip Island, a koala sanctuary and were able to view the Nobbies. At the end of the day we were able to see the fairy penguins (the smallest penguins in the world.)
Day 14 – Fly Home. We had to board our flight in Melbourne early in the morning as usual, flew to Sydney then Dallas, and finally home.
I have included a map that I created using Google Maps for our trip of the Great Ocean Road, as well as a map for our complete trip. The map with our complete trip is not the greatest, as I am still trying to figure out how to make your own maps on there. Which I discovered isn’t so easy when you have so many stops to make along the way. Either way I hope they might be useful to someone.
Great Ocean Road 3 Day Trip
I have a great Pinterest board with tons of ideas on places to visit in Australia, head over and check it out!