Discovery Down Under

Tropical Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, the Outback, and Sydney
Overview

overview

Australia is enormous and presents a tremendous number of choices to make in planning a two-week trip. JOURNEYS’ Australia Discovery Down Under covers the basics: the drama of modern Sydney, the desert Outback, and tropical Queensland where the rainforest meets the reef. You have the opportunity to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, explore the famous Ayers Rock, cruise and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, and search the rainforest for the elusive platypus. An unforgettable experience!

We cannot overstate the attraction of Australia for family adventure. It is nothing short of pure delight for adults and kids alike to experience the topsy-turviness of it all: the funny animals, the inverted seasons, the strange colors of the land, and the silly way that folks talk. This trip is perfect for small groups and families of all ages, and can also be arranged for individual travelers.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Sydney
    Sydney's beautiful harbor

    Upon arrival in Sydney, you will be greeted and escorted to your centrally located hotel. The rest of the day you are free to explore on your own. If your arrival is early in the morning, you’ll have many options including a ferry ride to Taronga Park Zoo, a visit to the beaches, a guided tour or performance at the Opera House, bike riding in Centennial Park, visits to the Art Museum and the Aquarium, climbing the famous Harbour Bridge, and more. (Options are not included in costs. Please ask us for more information; we recommend making reservations ahead of time for the Bridge Climb or an Opera House performance.)

    Lodging
    Grace Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: City Tour & Beaches
    Aboriginal art

    Welcome to Sydney, one of the most vibrant and panoramic cities in the world. Begin your tour at the hotel lobby where your friendly guide will meet you before showing you through the historic Rocks precinct. Witness the birth place of Sydney and explore the convict built cottages, pubs and the first church in Australia. Climb Observatory Hill for views of Anzac Bridge and Darling Harbour. Then cross the magnificent Sydney Harbour Bridge, one of Australia’s most recognised landmarks. Travel through the leafy northern suburbs before arriving at Manly, a beautiful seaside town. Take a secluded walk along the rugged sandstone cliffs; it will take your breath away.
    Next make our way to the stunning botanical gardens situated right in the heart of Sydney. En route pass through Macquarie Street, named after the first Governor of Sydney, Lachlan Macquarie. Here you will see Australia’s first Parliament House, Mint, Hyde Park Barracks and St Mary’s Cathedral. After lunch at the botanical gardens, your tour continues down to Mrs Macquarie’s chair, situated on the water’s edge. Continue through Woolloomooloo, Kings Cross and onto Darling Point, one of Sydney’s most affluent suburbs and see some of Sydney’s most sought after addresses. Continuing on pass by Double Bay, Rose Bay, Vaucluse and Watsons Bay, before traversing along the coastline to Sydney’s most famous beach, Bondi. Here you will have some time to soak up the atmosphere of the beachside mecca. Stroll down the esplanade with the locals and maybe enjoy an ice cream.
    Make your way back to Sydney via the vibrant Oxford Street and the suburb of Paddington. Admire this boutique shopping precinct and the charming Georgian and Victorian architecture of the homes.

    Other options may include a full day tour to the Blue Mountains to spot kangaroos in the wild and see Australia’s “Grand Canyon,” a trip to a winery and wine-tasting tour in Hunter Valley, or a ride on a Port Stevens dolphin spotting cruise. Please inquire for more details; options may be at additional cost.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Grace Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Fly to Ayers Rock & the Olgas
    The Olgas are considered great wonders

    You will be transferred from your hotel to the airport for your flight to Ayers Rock in Australia's "Red Center." Ayers Rock (Uluru), sacred to the Anangi aborigines, is an enormous monolith, rising 1,100 feet above the surrounding flat desert. The Olgas, also in Uluru National Park, are 36 individual rock domes, which may once have been a single dome many times the size of Ayers Rock. Upon arrival transfer by hotel shuttle to your accommodations. This afternoon, travel to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to a place where unique flora and fauna thrive, Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). Here your guide will reveal the many attributes of this diverse environment and describe the cultural significance of Kata Tjuta as a sacred Aboriginal men’s ceremonial site.

    Arriving at Walpa Gorge you will walk between the mighty conglomerate domes and hear how these
    36 domes that make up Kata Tjuta have evolved over millions of years.Take time to listen to the wind (Walpa) far above and view the scale of the rock walls that surround you. The spirituality of this amazing location embraces everyone who ventures here.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Outback Pioneer Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Ayers Rock
    Uluru is a natural icon

    The Aboriginal Uluru Tour is one of the most famous tours of Uluru. After being picked up at your hotel early this morning, view the sunrise and, if time permits, enjoy a short tour around the base of the rock. After breakfast in the magnificent Cultural Center, your aboriginal guide will take you on a stroll through bush land near the base of Uluru. The creation stories shown to you in the scars and features of Uluru are thousands of generations old! You will see how traditional tools, weapons, and implements are made and used in daily life, and you will learn how to make the oldest glue in the world and practice throwing a spear. Journey into the desert this evening where you are welcomed by the haunting sounds of a didgeridoo as you view the sunset behind the Olgas. Enjoy a barbecue dinner that includes kangaroo, emu, chicken, and barramundi, all accompanied by salads, vegetables, and your choice of beverages. After dessert, the lights are dimmed, and you can hear the sounds of the great outback and view the southern skies. You will be introduced to the stars, planets, and constellations by an astronomer, with the opportunity to view through an onsite telescope. After stargazing, you will be transferred back to your hotel.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging
    Outback Pioneer Hotel
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  • Day 5: Fly to Alice Springs

    This morning, return to the Ayers Rock Airport via hotel shuttle for your flight to Alice Springs, the unassuming town that serves as the vital center of the enormous Central Outback. You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel. Your afternoon commences with panoramic views from Anzac Hill, which overlooks Alice Springs and the West MacDonnell Ranges. See the Todd River before visiting the Royal Flying Doctor Base and the School of the Air, two uniquely Australian organizations that provide medical care and education to the people of the isolated outback. Later, visit the Old Telegraph Station and behold the harsh pioneering life of the first settlements. See the development of communications via morse code and find out how Alice Springs received its name. Then, experience a colorful journey through the Mbantua, a aboriginal culture museum, which is home to a private collection of incredible aboriginal artifacts.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Chifley Alice Springs Resort or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: The Outback & MacDonnell Ranges
    Explore the outback

    Depart this morning for a tour in the MacDonnell Ranges National Park, full of enchanting gorges, leafy rivers, spinifex slopes, ancient cycads, and rare plants and animals. Imbued with the culture of a thousand generations of people, these desert mountains are the wettest parts of the central Australian deserts, harboring oases of animals and plants alike. Explore the dramatic Simpsons Gap, which is well-known for its elusive rock wallabies. Then, enjoy a short walk through cycads, ghost gums, acacias, and cypress pine trees until you arrive at the majestic Angkerle, also known as Standley Chasm. As you walk through this 5-meter chasm that runs through the range, notice its towering fiery red walls. Later, enjoy a picnic lunch, complete with traditional billy tea and coffee. On the return trip into town, your guide will escort you into Desert Park. Here, you will enjoy a fascinating raptor show. Afterwards, you will be transferred to your accommodations for the evening.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Chifley Alice Springs Resort or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Alice Springs/Queensland

    On the 4-hour flight from Alice Springs to Cairns, you make the dramatic switch from the red desert, over the Great Dividing Range, to the lush green of Queensland's tropical coast. You will be greeted at the Cairns Airport and transferred just 20 minutes north to your hotel in Palm Cove, located on the spectacular coastline between Cairns and Port Douglas. This will be your home for a full four nights while you explore tropical Queensland.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Grand Mercure Rockford Esplanade or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Cape Tribulation Rainforest
    The tranquil rainforest

    Drive north along the scenic coastal route along the Captain Cook Highway learning about the history of the area and admiring spectacular views of the coast line and Coral Sea. Stop at the Majestic Daintree River for Morning Tea before enjoying an informative guided River Cruise on the Daintree River. Relax and enjoy the splendour only the Daintree can offer as you learn of Estuarine Crocodiles, mangrove forests and endemic wildlife, this is nature at its best!

    From here ascend the Alexandra Range and pause for a panoramic view of World Heritage, Wet Tropics, and Tropical Rainforest merging with the azure colours of the Coral Sea. Enjoy a guided elevated National Park Boardwalks tour and a visit to Lyne Haven, an animal refuge where you have the opportunity to hand feed a kangaroo.
    Then venture beyond the famous Daintree Tea Plantation, past spectacular mountains and through spectacular World Heritage Rainforest as you pass Cape Tribulation and continue along the 4WD Bloomfield Track through to pristine Emmagen Creek. Seek fish and turtles in the creek, butterflies and exotic birds in the trees and indulge in a feast of exotic tropical fruits, a complimentary glass of wine.
    Make your way to Cape Tribulation Beach after most of the crowds are gone, there is a little time to swim in the Coral Sea (seasonal) or stroll along the beach and boardwalk to the photographers' platform overlooking the mountains and coast where the 'Rainforest meets the Reef.
    After a short afternoon refreshment stop,  cross the Daintree River by cable ferry and head back to the hotel.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Grand Mercure Rockford Esplanade or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: Kuranda Markets and Skyrail
    Amazing Views from the Skyrail

    Today will be full of exciting experiences. First, you will be taken to the Freshwater Station, where you will board a train and enjoy spectacular views as you journey through 15 hand-cut tunnels and pass by gorgeous waterfalls. Following this train ride, enjoy some free time to do some of your own exploring - be sure to check out the local markets as Kuranda is home to numerous renowned arts & crafts shops.

    Next, head to the Skyrail, where your host will be waiting for you with your tickets. Once aboard, you will be amazed as you glide over the rainforest canopy. There are two stations en route where you can stop and enjoy a walk through the rainforest to spectacular look-out points. You can also visit the SCIRO Interpretive Center at Barron Falls Station to discover more about the special plants and animals that inhabit this unique environment. Your Skyrail journey ends at Caravonica Lakes, but the fun has just begun. A short distance from the Skyrail terminal is the Tjapukai aboriginal culture park, and your first stop here is a wonderful buffet lunch. After lunch, you have ample time to explore all the attractions of Tjapukai - movie theaters, stage shows, craft demonstrations, the aboriginal village, and, of course, the famous Tjapukai Dance Troupe. The dancers combine traditional dance and music with modern theater techniques to convey their legends in a moving and humorous way. Return to your hotel at the end of this amazing day.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Grand Mercure Rockford Esplanade or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: Great Barrier Reef Cruise
    Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef

    Exploring the Great Barrier Reef will be one of the most memorable days of your life. Spend four full hours on the reef at Michaelmas Cay - a picturesque reef cay where coral gardens abound with a multitude of marine life. The Cay is also home to a protected seabird sanctuary. Upon departure from Cairns Marina, you will cruise on a high performance catamaran directly to the reef. Enjoy guided snorkeling tours (with equipment provided) and presentations by marine biologists. Be sure to bring your bathing suit, towel, hat, comfortable shoes, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen! You will return to your hotel late this afternoon.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Grand Mercure Rockford Esplanade or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: Cairns/Onward

    You will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. Connect to your flight home, or ask us about other options for extending your stay in Australia, Tasmania, or New Zealand.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Flexible departures joining small groups
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$4,495
International and domestic airfare not included; 2 person rate: $4,795 per person
Single Supplement:
$2200
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Prices may fluctuate based on the exchange rate between the U.S. Dollar and the Australian Dollar.

If you would like to extend your stay in Australia, be sure to consider a stay at one of the Great Barrier Reef Island Resorts.

Duration:
11 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
3
delightful and superior hotels
Group Size:
4-12
joining small, local group tours
Activity Level:
2
easy walking and some optional activities

Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Included in costs: Meals as noted, each night in double occupancy accommodations, land transfers between components, English speaking guides, park or site entry fees, surface transport, equipment other than personal gear, government tax, airport transfer assistance, in-country ticket reconfirmation and check-in assistance (where permitted), complete pre-departure packet, toll-free pre-departure phone assistance.

Not included in costs: Meals not noted as included, gratuities, beverages (except tea or coffee at meals), international or domestic airfare unless specified, airport departure taxes not included with air tickets, visas, itinerary changes after confirmation, any services not included in itinerary, any costs incurred due to canceled or delayed flights, acts of nature or other happenings beyond our control, or other costs as are more fully described in JOURNEYS Terms & Conditions.

Deposit and payment schedule: $500 per person per trip or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. A second deposit of $800 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 60 days prior to departure.  Any applicable permit fees required in advance are non-refundable as well.  Airlines require full payment when tickets are issued. The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card, American Express, or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted by fax, mail, or via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website, and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

Air fares: JOURNEYS can make complete air arrangements applicable to your trip as noted in this itinerary. If you wish to redeem frequent flyer mileage or arrange flights directly with the airline, you may do so on your own at no penalty. If you do, please consult with us on exact arrival and departure dates and times before having your tickets issued to avoid errors.

Insurance: When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee: There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Tasmania Cradle Mountain

Duration: 5 days

Sample Tasmania’s remote wilderness and relaxed lifestyle at Cradle Mountain. This is a wonderful escape with breathtaking scenery, cosy cabins, magnificent meals and days filled with simple pleasures.

Melbourne

Duration: 3 days

Visit the friendly city of Melbourne and enjoy a true Aussie wildlife experience where you will see kangaroos, koalas, and other native animals in the WILD!

Lamington National Park and Fraser Island

Duration: 7 days

Explore Australia's largest subtropical rainforest located in Lamington National Park and discover the amazing array of plant and animal species that inhabit this region. Then it's on to Fraser Island, where you will see beautiful freshwater lakes, o... read more

Australia Top End

Duration: 6 days

This safari visits two of the most popular national parks of the Top End, Kakadu and Arnhemland. Kakadu National Park is home to incredible aboriginal rock art as well as spectacular wildlife and beautiful natural landscapes. In Kakadu, you will expe... read more

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