How do I dive the best of Australia?

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CAPTAIN SINBAD

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Guys: I was wondering ... If I come to Australia I would be interested in doing a liveaboard somewhere which offers the best diving Australia can offer. But it is a huge country and once the diving is over I would like to drive around from town to town possibly from one end to the other. Can anyone give suggestions about what would be the best way to do this? I understand the best diving is on the GBR coast. Does it make more sense to land there and then move to the East Coast or should it be the other way around?
 

Donnah

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We dove with Mike Ball out of Townsville. Did the Yongala twice, then headed straight out. The reefs were beautiful, teaming with life.

Do you have any concept of just how HUGE Australia is? Most towns are on the coast with large distances of nothing but fences and kangaroos between. they also drive on "the other" side of the road. The highway that goes around the coast is full of "roadtrains," linked together monster trucks that dominate the roads.

Best deal on airfare is to go through a travel agency and get a package. We spent 6 weeks. Our week in Sydney (hotel, breakfast, tours, museum entrance, etc) plus airfare was less than what we would have paid for airfare alone. You don't need a car in Sydney. Great local transportation, lots of tours. You don't want to drive to Ayres Rock by yourself. Take a tour, get there in a big comfy bus where someone else worries about driving in the desert, running out of gas, etc. The interior is lovely, but desolate and dangerous if you don't know what you are doing. Cairns is also awesome with lots of hiking and biking.

It's a wonderful place to visit!
 

CAPTAIN SINBAD

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We dove with Mike Ball out of Townsville. Did the Yongala twice, then headed straight out. The reefs were beautiful, teaming with life.

Do you have any concept of just how HUGE Australia is? Most towns are on the coast with large distances of nothing but fences and kangaroos between. they also drive on "the other" side of the road. The highway that goes around the coast is full of "roadtrains," linked together monster trucks that dominate the roads.

Best deal on airfare is to go through a travel agency and get a package. We spent 6 weeks. Our week in Sydney (hotel, breakfast, tours, museum entrance, etc) plus airfare was less than what we would have paid for airfare alone. You don't need a car in Sydney. Great local transportation, lots of tours. You don't want to drive to Ayres Rock by yourself. Take a tour, get there in a big comfy bus where someone else worries about driving in the desert, running out of gas, etc. The interior is lovely, but desolate and dangerous if you don't know what you are doing. Cairns is also awesome with lots of hiking and biking.

It's a wonderful place to visit!

Thanks. Some very useful info in there.

I have an idea how big Australia is and that is why I am so tempted. I am specially interested in exploring the desolate in-between regions. I have no idea how practical it would be or what kind of infrastructure is there for that purpose.

Travel agent sound good. Thanks.
 

nimoh

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A few years ago, I flew to Sydney rented a caravan (motorhome) and drove from Sydney to Cairns. Whole trip took about two weeks stopping every night in a caravan park, sometimes for a couple of nights. There is a lot of interesting stuff to see.

Some of the trip highlights (at least for me):

- Whale watching in Hervey Bay
- Swimming in Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island
- Diving around the Whitsunday Islands and in Cairns
- being taught to play the diggeridoo by a random neighbor in a caravan park

I think two weeks is about the minimum for a trip like this, and I found that we were a bit rushed at times to stay on schedule...and it was a lot of driving :)
 

Lorenzoid

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. . . I understand the best diving is on the GBR coast. Does it make more sense to land there and then move to the East Coast or should it be the other way around?

The GBR generally considered to be the northern east coast, up around Cairns in North Queensland. Most people fly in to Sydney, then take another flight or rent a car and drive up to the Cairns area. If you drive, you can tour a nice section of the east coast that way. Trying to fit in both the east and west coasts in one trip would be much like doing the same in the US. Of course, you can take internal flights all over the country if there are specific places you want to see, like Uluru/Ayers Rock or whatever--but driving wouldn't really be practical unless you have months of time on your hands.
 

AndrewRawlingson

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I'm about to leave for my second trip on a Mike Ball liveaboard. Mike Ball provides a great service and some excellent diving. I've also heard good things about the Spirit of Freedom boat. Personally, I would avoid day boat diving out of Cairns as most experienced divers (versus the backpacker crowd) seem to come back disappointed.

Seasonal diving with whale sharks at Ningaloo with on the west coast and great white cage diving in South Australia are other spots that come to mind, although I have no experience of either. Also, bear in mind that Australia is an expensive destination.

I would echo what has already been said about distances. We did a 4 week road trip in southern Western Australia and only covered a fraction of it!

It's a wonderful country, enjoy!
 

Aquapro Dive Services

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When are you looking to come?

Most have already outlined some great suggestions, but if its the Reef you want to see then you can't go past Mike Ball or Spirit of Freedom. Similar vessels (SOF bit newer) and same sites and itineraries.

There are some good live aboards out of Cairns that go to the Outer Ref but the ones going to the Ribbon Reef area are by far the best. Taka is a budget version of MB and SOF as it motors up and back , whilst MB and SOF fly you one way and motor back the other (less travel time and more dive time).

If you go during June to September up here you are in the Minke whale migration and get to dive with the whales.

April on the West coast (Ningaloo) you get the whale sharks (usually snorkelling with them not diving).

November is coral spawning on the GBR and it the one time of the year when the Reef sexually spawns and if you are lucky enough to catch the right night its spectacular.

Great shore diving in Victoria around Portsea and the peninsula where you can dive with leafy sea dragons and sea horses., Seal lions off of Phillip Island.

Grey Nurse sharks off of NSW and loads of great wrecks (The Yongala out of Ayr is the best trip) and HMAS Brisbane off of Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
 

Darnold9999

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Would echo what others have said. Australia is HUGE.

We spent almost 5 weeks travelling from Cairns to Sydney. Flew into Syndey, hopped a flight to Cairns and spent almost two weeks based in Palm Cove doing day trips around the area. One of the "day" trips was a 4 day liveaboard out to Cod Hole and then down the Ribbon Reefs with Mike Ball. Excellent trip and the area around Cairns has lots to see and do. Flew to Brisban and then drove to Sydney stopping anywhere that looked interesting. Byron Bay, Blue Mountians, Hunter Valley and Sydney were the highlights of that part of the trip.

5 weeks was almost enough time for that small portion of the country.

Something to be aware of - Australia is very sparsely populated. More similar to Canada than the US. Most people live in a very small portion of the country (the coastal cities and towns - whereas in Canada it is close to the US border). Once you get out of these areas there is nobody and nothing for miles and miles and miles. Which is great if that is what you are looking for.
 

clownfishsydney

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How long is a piece of string? The answer to your question is also really not readily available without knowing what sort of time you have available and how much money you want to spend. As others have stated, Australia is huge. A few years ago I drove from Sydney to Central Australia and back, camping as we went. It took four weeks and even that was a bit rushed. To go from Sydney to Cairns and the top (Cape York) also takes about four weeks.

As to diving, I reckon stick to NSW coast, drive from Sydney to Brisbane, visiting all the great spots on the way (Nelson Bay, Forster, South West Rocks, North and South Solitary Islands, Byron Bay) then flying to another location that you might want to visit (say Alice Springs and hire a car to tour out there for at least a week).
 

Wobbegong wannabe

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I am specially interested in exploring the desolate in-between regions. I have no idea how practical it would be or what kind of infrastructure is there for that purpose.
Do; it's a lot of fun and there's some great stuff to see. However, if you're off the beaten track you need to be totally self sufficient. This isn't impossible (I've done a few remote trips) but you'll need some gear. You should also have off road driving experience; the middle of Australia is a bad place to learn things the hard way because medical care may be many hours away, and that's after waiting until someone finds your upturned vehicle and calls out the cavalry.

Also, general hire car companies get very snaky if you take their vehicles off-road, even if you've hired an off-road vehicle.
shakehead.gif
There are specialist mobs around who'll hire you a fully kitted up off road 4WD, but they are quite expensive. Anyway, this is a good forum with lots of information about driving in Australia.
ExplorOz - 4WDing, Camping & Caravanning around Australia

A nice trip if you'd like to see some of the Outback (without having to spend too much on survival gear and car spares) is the drive from Townsville to Winton in Queensland, which is a fully sealed road. The drive from Brisbane is also good but it takes longer, and you may already be in Townsville to dive the Yongala (it's a great dive). You can do that drive in a standard car (though you can see more stuff on the way if you have a 4WD) and it's a reasonably well populated road so you shouldn't need a sat-phone and a three day supply of food and water. However, you'll still see kangaroos, red dirt and all the other Outbacky stuff. The Stockman's Hall of Fame in Longreach is on the way and it's great.
Likewise Sydney to Broken Hill if you're staying in NSW; very similar.

Anyway, all the best with your trip!
 
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