Discovery Down Under

Travel Idea:

Discovery Down Under

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Length of trip:

11 days

Approximate price of this trip per person:

from $ 3825 to $ 4025

Best travel dates to go:

May, June, July, August, September, October, November


Detailed Description of this trip:

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.



Trip Itinerary:

  • Day 1 - Sydney

    Upon arrival in Sydney, you will be greeted and escorted to your centrally located hotel.

    Optional
    Sightseeing

    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, a ride on the monorail, 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.)

  • Day 2 - Sydney

    Sightseeing

    Spend the first half of the day with your guide taking in the best of this fantastic city: the harbor, the gardens, the coast, and the rivers. Beginning in the “Rocks” area, learn of the early settlers and convicts of over 200 years ago. Walk through the city, learning the history of the Opera House and other famous buildings.

    National Parks

    From here, cross the world-famous Harbour Bridge and head into the scenic Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

    Food and Dining

    Enjoy a delicious cafe-style lunch at the picturesque Akuna Bay before going to some of the outstanding lookouts in the park.

    Sightseeing

    The fantastic views of Palm Beach, Woy Woy, and Lion Island are stunning. Next, you have the opportunity to take a short bush walk. Trace the history of the Garingai aboriginal people who once inhabited this area and examine their incredible rock art.

    Optional
    Sightseeing

    Return to the city via the northern beaches and enjoy the rest of the day on your own.
    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

  • Day 3 - Ayers Rock

    Sydney/Ayers Rock & the Olgas.
    Commercial Flight

    You will be transferred from your hotel to the airport for your flight to Ayers Rock in Australia's "Red Center."

    Sightseeing

    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.

    Sightseeing

    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. Upon arrival at Olga Gorge, you will see this mystic place 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 brailliant stars.
    Meals: Breakfast

  • Day 4 - Ayers Rock

    Sightseeing

    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.

    Food and Dining

    Enjoy a barbecue dinner that includes kangaroo, emu, chicken, and barramundi, all accompanied by salads, vegetables, and your choice of beverages.

    Sightseeing

    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.

    Hotel

    After stargazing, you will be transferred back to your hotel.
    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

  • Day 5 - Alice Springs

    Ayers Rock/Alice Springs.
    Commercial Flight

    This morning, return to the Ayers Rock Airport for your flight to Alice Springs, the unassuming town that serves as the vital center of the enormous Central Outback.

    Sightseeing

    You will be met at the airport by your guide, who will show you the town of Alice Springs. 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.

    Museums

    Then, experience a colorful journey through the Mbantua, a aboriginal culture museum, which is home to a private collection of incredible aboriginal artifacts.

  • Day 6 - Alice Springs

    The Outback & MacDonnell Ranges.
    National Parks

    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.

    Sightseeing

    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.

    Food and Dining

    Later, enjoy a picnic lunch, complete with traditional billy tea and coffee.

    Sightseeing

    On the return trip into town, your guide will escort you into Desert Park. Here, you will enjoy a fascinating raptor show.

    Hotel

    Afterwards, you will be transferred to your accommodations for the evening.
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

  • Day 7 - Queensland

    Alice Springs/Queensland.
    Commercial Flight

    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.

    Hotel

    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

  • Day 8 - Queensland

    Cape Tribulation Rainforest.
    Sightseeing

    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.

    River or Barge Cruise

    After a short morning tea break, you will board an informative river cruise, where you can relax and enjoy the splendor only the Daintree can offer. Learn about Estuarine crocodiles, mangrove forests, and other forms of wildlife - this is nature at its best!

    Sightseeing

    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.

    National Parks

    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).

    Adventure

    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.

    Hotel

    Later, return to your hotel.
    Meals: Lunch

  • Day 9 - Queensland

    Kuranda Markets and Skyrail.
    Sightseeing

    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.

    Arts, Crafts and Antiques

    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.

    Sightseeing

    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.

    Food and Dining

    A short distance from the Skyrail terminal is the Tjapukai aboriginal culture park, and your first stop here is a wonderful buffet lunch.

    Sightseeing

    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.

    Performing Arts

    The dancers combine traditional dance and music with modern theater techniques to convey their legends in a moving and humorous way.

    Hotel

    Return to your hotel at the end of this amazing day.
    Meals: Lunch

  • Day 10 - Cairns

    Great Barrier Reef Cruise.
    River or Barge Cruise

    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.

    Snorkeling

    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!

    Hotel

    You will return to your hotel late this afternoon.
    Meals: Lunch

  • Day 11 - Cairns

    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.

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