Ok, seriously @Roux – Melbourne is rubbish 🙂
I am from Sydney and my suggestion for a short trip (2 weeks):
– arrive in Sydney, stay in the Centre of the City (about a $30 taxi ride from the airport) and do:
1 day cruising around the city – go do the walk across the bridge, around to the opera house etc, you will probably be pretty jet-lagged so good to wander around. There is also Wildlife world and Sydney Aquarium walking distance from the city in Darling Harbour – you can see Kangaroos, Koala’s,
1 day at Taronga Zoo (if you are animal people) this also has GREAT views of the harbour. OR
1 day at either Bondi or Manly Beach – Manly is where i grew up and it is beautiful, but Bondi is more iconic…
When you go to Taronga or Manly Beach be sure to catch the ferry, it takes you out into the harbour between the Opera House and Harbour Bridge – and of course wave as you go past my house 🙂 and also wave at our Prime Minister who the ferry conductor will point out his house to you if you ask… everyone calls him K Rudd.
I would not bother to go out to Homebush (Sydney Olympics), it will take you all day to get out there and there is nothing much out there, except a few empty stadiums that we use for sporting matches and concerts! No offence @ccrane!!!
Then i would fly straight into Cairns. I wouldnt bother with Brisbane and the Gold Coast, because you would have to do either a couple hours of driving between Brisbane and the Gold Coast or a train. Then head to Port Douglas and stay at the Sheraton or a similar resort (you can get good deals on lastminute.com.au) and spend 5-6 days enjoying the beach and relaxing and go to the Daintree Rainforest one day and the Great Barrier Reef for one day. The Reef Tours are EXPENSIVE but it is absolutely AMAZING! Also, i wouldnt bother scuba diving, because almost all of the fish are within 5-8m of the surface and further down all the coral has started to die so it is Super boring!
Important note: the stinger season is around November to about March (google it, i could be off on my dates) so you wont be able to swim at the beaches unless in the nets (very small nets, not ideal) but it is warm in Northern QLD most of the year, so October will be lovely.
@CCrane – When were you last in the Gold Coast? Pacific Fair is outstripped by almost every Westfield in Sydney these days! I think it is actually getting smaller?
Then you will likely have to fly back out of Sydney, so you can come back down and fly straight out or spend another few days.
Another tip – Look RIGHT when stepping off the curb – the cars come from the other direction here 🙂
Miss Sydney (You can call me Miss Tour Guide Australia)
P.S Melbourne is crap (he he he)
P.P.S. For all non-Australians – Sydney and Melbourne have a long held rivalry, stemming from when the country was founded and the two cities were fighting over who should be the capital of Australia, and like a responsible parent, they put it in the middle of the two cities – Canberra.