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Australia/where to start trip in Queensland

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G'day Frank
we are coming in mid-September for 40 days.  We are flying into Sydney and then plan a connecting flight to either Brisbane or Cairns where we will rent a car and slowly work our way down to Melbourne bypassing Sydney on the way but spending time at Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands, Canberra, Snowy Mountains and Melbourne area doing the Great Ocean Road one of the "B" gold rush towns such as Ballarat and the penguin parade. We're planning on seeing if we can use Airbnb accommodations as that site has rooms/homes that the owners rent for short term of one to a few days.  we plan to leave the car at Melbourne and fly back to Sydney where we'll spend a few days before flying back home.  Trying to decide whether to fly into and start out trip in Brisbane or Cairns is the main issue for us!
If Brisbane we would stay in Brisbane and the surrounding area for awhile and see the South side, both botanical gardens (Mt Coot and in town) as my wife is a gardener) Take a bicycle tour of Melbourne as well as other sights, see the Australia zoo, Koalas sanctuary  go up to Maleny and see a garden/aviary there we've heard about as well as the Glass Mountains and then Lady Elliot Island either a day trip or a day or two on the island.  I checked and the flights also leave from Brisbane so I wouldn't have to drive to Bundaberg or Hervey Bay to get a flight to lady Elliot
If we fly into Cairns we would still do all the above but also the Whitsudays.   However, IF we start in Cairns that adds 1711 kms almost as much as the route from Brisbane to Melbourne (1780kms)   What would you do if you had 40 days to see an Australia you've never seen and you already planned to go from Brisbane to Melbourne by car would you start in Brisbane or would you feel the Whitsundays and additional sights on the drive from Cairns south would be worth the 1711kms and start in Cairns???

Answer
Hi Rod,
       Your trip will be amazing. I have driven Brisbane Cairns and also Brisbane Melbourne. It is an interesting dilemma, but I would fly into Brisbane.

Cairns has the Great Barrier Reef, and you mentioned Lady Elliot, which is the gateway to the Great barrier Reef. You donít have to go all the way to cairns for the GBR.

The other option is to fly to Brisbane / Proserpine / Brisbane, hire a car, drive to Airlie Beach and see the Whitsundays. The islands are beautiful, but I feel the highlight is Whitehaven Beach.

In my opinion, the drive Cairns - Brisbane is not that spectacular.

The main items you would miss by not driving Cairns Brisbane are:-

Kuranda Sky Rail
Whitsundayís and Whitehaven Beach
Fraser Island & Coast

We have stayed in quite a few Airbnbís here and around the world, and they are great. It really gives you flexibility.

If you want to catch up with some locals when in Brisbane, our email is franksued@gmail.com We have lived in Brisbane all our lives, so we know the area very well.

In summary,  I donít think the additional 1700kmís are worth it. If you really want to see Whitehaven / Whitsundays, a flight from Brisbane would be the best option. In 3 hours you are in the Whitsundays, have 3 or 4 days there, fly back to Brisbane.

If you are staying in Brisbane, the CBD or surrounds will give you the best options for visiting the sites you mentioned. If you have some accommodation choices, I can help you decide which one is best.

If you need any other assistance, please contact me again. I am happy to help.

Regards,
Frank

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Frank Denison

Expertise

I have lived in Brisbane all my life (53 years). I am very proud of our city and the Sunshine State of Queensland. I am happy to help in any way possible. Queensland is a very humid and hot place in Summer, which makes it great for outdoor fun.

Experience

I have a great love and knowledge of Brisbane and the surrounding areas. I holiday on the Sunshine Coast every year, and visit the Gold Coast numerous times during the year for work. We love to dine out, and can recommend many places to try in Brisbane and the Coasts.

Education/Credentials
Year 12 Secondary School

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