I want to show a friend some of Australia but can only do the non-Sydney areas by weekend - we want to fly for 2-4 days to see the best parts of Melbourne and the great barrier reef (or general Queensland)... but don't have an enormous budget (maybe a few hundred dollars each per trip).
Does anyone have any recommendations for where to start looking? I am thinking package deals including flights and accommodation, has anyone had experience with them and where do I start?
You might be able to arrange your own cheap packages by looking at some of the backpacker accommodations in the region which can offer great packages on accommodation and local tours. By finding your own cheap flights packaging on your own might actually save you some money. Plus staying at a backpacker hostel isn't quite as basic as you might think as some hostels now specialize in flashpacker accommodation including ensuite rooms. It will be a more social atmosphere, which could be the perfect place for a great weekend away. For instance, here in Cairns you can do a 3 night stay at Nomads Cairns in a double room with ensuite and including free breakfast, a reef trip for 2, and 2 day car hire look at only paying $420 per couple. Just go to http://nomadscairns.com to check out that type of facilities. Contacting hostels direct for packages also gives you a bit more flexibility as you can then package together tours that best suit your needs rather than just getting a set package that might not be everything you want. almost 9 years ago
A good way to start gathering info is to buy the Sunday paper, the travel guide section in the paper usually has some good info on great fly/accommodation deals to wet your appetite and give you some good leads. Then the rest would be searching the internet for more research from the leads. Trust you have a great time. almost 9 years ago