Upon arrival in Melbourne this morning you will be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel. A little later on, meet your guide for this afternoon’s city tour. On your tour, you will discover the diversity of this multi-cultural city. See historical buildings, beautiful gardens, and shopping areas famous for their restaurants and fashions. Melbourne is the sporting city, and Melbourians are passionate about their Aussie Rules footy and almost all sports known to mankind. Travel past the sporting precinct that became famous in the 1956 Olympic Games and now roars to the cheers of Aussie Rules crowds each weekend. Visit the nearby Rod Laver Tennis Center, which hosts the Australian Tennis Open each year. Melbourne is home to people from all over the world and this cultural diversity is expressed in the food and fashion centers. Walk along the shopping strips of traditional Toorak, funky Chapel Street Prahran, or Vietnamese Bridge Street Richmond. Visit the Melbourne Botanical Gardens for afternoon tea near the banks of the Yarra River. Then, enjoy a drive to the Italian precinct of Lygon Street Carlton and see the historic Exhibition Buildings alongside the ultramodern Melbourne Museum. Return to your hotel where the rest of the day is at your leisure. Discover one of the many great restaurants in Melbourne for dinner this evening. Stay overnight for the next three nights.
Lodging: Novotel Melbourne on Collins or similar
Day 2 Melbourne Wildlife Sanctuary Safari
This morning, you will depart Melbourne for the Serendip Open Range Sanctuary, where you will immediately be among wild kangaroos and native birds. Your entrance may be heralded by the screeching of cockatoos or the chattering of honeyeaters. After a short walk to meet the kangaroos, you will begin your special Safari Drive around the Sanctuary to see emus and huge mobs of kangaroos. You can stop often to enjoy the antics of the animals, and you are allowed to disembark for short walks to the lake (home to large populations of water birds) and through the gum trees. You will also visit a protected population of wallabies and get close to some strange Australian birds. Your picnic lunch is served in an open-air setting at the Sanctuary and includes fruit and cakes, coffee, and delicious Australian Billy tea. Your guide will explain the history and recipe for the traditional tea of the Swagmen. Leaving Serendip, travel just a little further west to the bush land of Brisbane Ranges National Park. The park is home to a large and healthy population of wild koalas, which are researched and monitored to ensure the best possible sightings. Take a very easy walk through the gum trees and search for koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, and birds in their natural setting. Your guide will point out plants and features of interest, explain some of the history of the area, and, where possible, introduce you to known, named koalas that are part of their research project. Return to your hotel late this afternoon.
Welcome to the home of the 'roos
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Lodging: Novotel Melbourne on Collins or similar
Day 3 Great Ocean Road
After breakfast this morning, you will leave the city by way of the magnificent Westgate Bridge. This bridge offers awesome views of the Docklands, as well as a panoramic view of the city skyline. You will soon arrive at Geelong and travel down to Corio Bay, a wonderful mix of old wharves, wool stores, and a fully restored 1930s sea bathing complex. Here, you will see wonderful examples of century-old housing and the 100 brightly-painted bollards dotted around the bay depicting some of Geelong's local historic characters. Continue on to Torquay where the Great Ocean Road starts. Known as the world’s most inspiring coastal drive, you will follow its winding trail through the lush Otway rainforests to the breathtaking, windswept drama of the Shipwreck Coast. Enjoy morning tea at Teddy’s Lookout in Lorne, perched high on the hillside. Another highlight of the day is a stop at Kennett River where high in the trees, you will find a colony of wild koalas. Observe these creatures in their natural habitat, hanging from trees and looking after their young, oblivious to their human onlookers. A sumptuous lunch is served at Apollo Bay before continuing on to the Shipwreck Coast area. The first stop after lunch will be the mighty Twelve Apostles, recognized icons of the Great Ocean Road. These giant rock stacks soar from the swirling waters of the Southern Ocean and are a central feature of the spectacular Port Campbell National Park. The dramatic and imposing limestone cliffs that are the backdrop to the Apostles tower up to 229 feet, while the tallest of the rock stacks is around 147 feet high. Venturing further west, you arrive at Loch Ard Gorge. Your first view will be of towering cliffs, a sparkling blue-green sea, and a small, sandy beach. It’s hard to imagine that the drama of one of Victoria’s most tragic shipwrecks was played out at this very spot more than 120 years ago, a tragic tale that your guide will surely share with you. If time permits, you will get to see other amazing rock formations that dot this coastline. Later, head back to Melbourne for your overnight stay.
Visit Koalas at Kennett River
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Lodging: Novotel Melbourne on Collins or similar
Day 4 Fly to Ayers Rock & The Olgas
You will be transferred from your hotel to the airport this morning for your flight to Ayers Rock in Australia's "Red Center.” On arrival, please utilize the courtesy airport/resort shuttle service for the transfer to your hotel. You will be picked up at your hotel this afternoon to begin your tour of Ayers Rock. 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. Later this afternoon, enjoy an Olgas and Dunes tour, where your guide will explain the nature of the desert and its development. A short walk to the dune lookout puts you in touch with your environment and lets you delight in the spectacular panoramic view of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), a very sacred place to the aboriginal people. You will see the mysterious Olga Gorge and learn how it has evolved over millions of years. The scale of the walls and the wind far above add a sense of mystery here, which profoundly affects all that participate. The blue sky deepens and the great domes of the Olgas flush red as the tour retires to the viewing area to celebrate the fantastic color changes wrought by the sunset. Sit back and absorb the solitude of the desert or relax and chat with your guide about Australia's “Red Center.” The spectacle fades as you return to Yulara beneath a sky of brilliant stars.
Majestic Ayers Rock
Meals: Breakfast Lodging: Outback Pioneer Hotel or similar
Day 5 Ayers Rock
Early this morning, you will be picked up at your hotel before sunrise. As you travel towards Uluru (Ayers Rock), its vast shape rises from the sand dunes in the early dawn highlighting its presence in this country. Your guide will take you to a special location to watch the sun rise over this amazing monolith. You will learn the Creation stoires of Liru (poisonous snake) and Kuniya (python) and hear about the Mala people. After breakfast you will visit Mutijulu Waterhole and then drive around the base of Uluru beofre returning to your hotel. Tonight, dine under a million stars at the award-winning Sounds of Silence dinner. Travel out to a secluded dining setting in the middle of the desert with the sound of a lone didgeridoo filling the air as the sun slowly sets over the Kata Tjuta (Olgas) and Uluru. After dining on a gourmet feast of Australian delicacies such as kangaroo, barramundi, and buffalo, sit back and take in the wonder of the desert at night as an astronomer reveals to you the mysteries of the clear southern night skies.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner Lodging: Outback Pioneer Hotel or similar
Day 6 Alice Springs
This morning, please utilize the courtesy airport shuttle for your transfer from your hotel to the Ayers Rock Airport. At the airport, you will catch your flight to Alice Springs, the unassuming town that serves as the vital center of the enormous Central Outback. Upon arrival in Alice Springs, you will be met and transferred to the hotel. This afternoon, see the sights of "The Alice", and learn how the town got its name. Stop at the historic Alice Springs Telegraph Station, the original site of the first European settlement in Alice Springs. The stone buildings have been restored, and give an idea of the harsh pioneering lifestyle of the first settlers in the early 1900s. Visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service to learn how this facility operates to provide a medical care and education to the people of the isolated outback. Later, tour the Alice Springs Reptile Center, where you can see unique Central Australian reptiles such as the Perentie Lizard and the Thorny Devil. End your tour of Alice Springs with a panoramic view from Anzac Hill, which overlooks Alice Springs and the West MacDonnell Ranges.
Explore the rock
Meals: Breakfast Lodging: Chifley Resort Alice Springs or similar
Day 7 The Outback
After breakfast this morning, you will begin a full day of touring the West MacDonnell Ranges and Desert Park. First, explore Simpsons Gap, known for its elusive rock wallabies and beautiful river red gum trees. Take a short nature walk on a path lined with cycads, ghost gum trees, acacias trees, and cypress pines to the majestic Angkerle, also known as Standley Chasm. Enjoy a light picnic lunch before continuing on to Desert Park, where you will discover the desert in its entirety - the landscapes, the wildlife, and the traditional use and management of animals and plants by the aboriginal people. Visit the Nocturnal House and witness free-flying birds at the Birds of Prey Presentaion. At the end of your tour, return to your Alice Springs hotel.
Learn about the outback
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Lodging: Chifley Resort Alice Springs or similar
Day 8 Alice Springs/Cairns/Port Douglas
Later this morning, you will be transferred to the airport in Alice Springs for your flight to Cairns, located in tropical Queensland. From here, you will be transferred to Port Douglas, about one hour north of the city, spending three nights in this area.
Meals: Breakfast Lodging: Mercure Treetops or similar
Day 9 Kuranda Markets & 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, spend some time exploring on your own - 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 will 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 resort at the end of this amazing day.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Lodging: Mercure Treetops or similar
Day 10 Cape Tribulation Rainforest
Your naturalist guide will meet you at your hotel and take you north along the scenic route to Mossman. Lush farmland contrasts with seascape as you approach the majestic Daintree River. After a short morning tea break, you will board an informative river cruise where you can relax and enjoy the splendor that only the Daintree can offer. Learn about Estuarine crocodiles, mangrove forests, and other forms of wildlife - this is nature at its best! Then, ascend the Alexandra Range and pause for a panoramic view of the World Heritage Tropical Rainforest merging with the Coral Sea. A delicious BBQ with homemade salads, tropical fruits, and Australian wine is prepared while you take the opportunity to swim in a tranquil freshwater stream. All around you, there are fish and turtles in the creek, butterflies and exotic birds in the trees, and often Goannas on the forest floor. Enjoy elevated walks through the Cape Tribulation National Park with experienced guides who allow ample time for questions and photographs. You will also go beyond Cape Tribulation along the 4WD-vehicle-only “Bloomfield Track,” with time for a swim in the Coral Sea at Cape Tribulation (seasonal). On a short afternoon stop, you can pat a kangaroo, scratch a cockatoo, have a cold beer, or sip a cup of the local tea. Later, return to your resort.
See birds and other wildlife
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Lodging: Mercure Treetops or similar
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.
JOURNEYS International has specialized in ecotourism since 1978. We offer you the best nature tours, safaris, treks, adventure travel, family and cultural trips on earth. Whether you call it an eco vacation, adventure travel, ecotravel, ecotour, sustainable travel or responsible travel, for nearly 30 years we have been creating ecologically sensitive and culturally responsible travel to exotic destinations around the world. Specialty ecotrips include women's tours, Kilimanjaro climbs, exploration cruises, festival trips, student group trips and cross cultural and wildlife safaris. Read more about JOURNEYS International.