Where you'll be going.........
Day 1 - Melbourne
- Welcome to stylish and elegant Melbourne! (Flights to arrive prior to 12pm). You'll be transferred to your hotel located on the banks of the Yarra River before starting your travels on a high note, getting to know your Travel Director and fellow travellers over a Welcome Reception at The General Assembly. Set on Yarra River’s South Wharf, this modern pub will have you feast on specialties such as Fisherman’s bend pie, schnitzel, and mac & cheese croquettes, washed down with your choice of beverage including local wine or your choice of the 15 beers on tap. The General Assembly’s waterfront setting is a picturesque welcome to your Australia highlights tour.
- Accommodation - Crowne Plaza
Day 2 - Melbourne
- Start your first full day seeing the best of Melbourne on a private walking tour with your Travel Director sharing their in-depth knowledge of the city. You’ll stroll past postcard-worthy Victorian architecture, arcades, and eclectic little laneways filled with colourful street art. As Melbourne’s signature coffee aroma wafts through the air, head to grand Federation Square, filled with shops, galleries, and exhibits and home to many cultural events. Have a look at the nearby neighbouring 19-century neo-gothic cathedral, St Pauls and see the famous Hosier Lane full of more unique street art. After a big morning getting acquainted with the city, you have the rest of the day free to explore more tempting haunts and eateries or join an Optional Experience such as a trip to Phillip Island to see the famous penguin parade. Here you’ll watch the Little Penguins make their daily trip from the sea to their onshore burrows. It’s a once in a lifetime wildlife viewing experience. Don’t miss it!
Day 3 - Melbourne
- You have a free day in Melbourne to explore as you like. Stroll this stylish city browsing antique shops, checking out Brunswick Street’s quirky boutiques, and taking in the town at one of the many cafes or world class eateries. Foodies will want to be sure to visit the historic Queen Victoria Market stopping for nibbles at one of the many stalls. If you’d rather venture outside of the city, join an Optional Experience taking the ultimate road trip on the Great Ocean Road. Driving along this stunning coastline, you’ll be in awe of breathtaking scenery from one moment to the next. Admire the famous Twelve Apostles towering limestone formations jutting out of the sea against jagged cliffs. From sea-hugging structures to seaside towns, you’ll also stop in the quaint towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay. Whether you adventure in the city or along the sea, there’s so much to experience in Melbourne and its surroundings.
Day 4 - Alice Springs
- Go from city to desert today as you fly into the heart of the continent to Alice Springs. Here in the red desert against the distant McDonnell Ranges, you’ll visit the School of the Air with a Local Specialist. Learn how this remote school provides educational support to children in the surrounding communities as you tour the school and see teachers in action. Then enjoy a history lesson at the birthplace of the Alice Springs township, the historic Telegraph Station. Travel in time to its beginnings in 1871 relaying messages between Darwin and Adelaide with a single wire - a monumental step in connecting Australia's north and south. After learning so much about the area, soak in the natural surroundings and Connect With Locals on an immersive Outback experience and Be My Guest dinner at the Earth Sanctuary World Nature Centre. You’ll meet the Outback Paramedic brothers Tom and Danny Falzon who’ll share their insights of ecology, culture, and the realities of life in the Outback living with wind and solar energy. After a tour of their farm, sit down to a starlit gourmet Aussie BBQ, complete with white tablecloths atop the bright red sand underfoot. Close your evening with a star talk and a fireside sing-a-long led by the entertaining Falzon brothers.
- Accommodation - Mercure Alice Springs Resort
Day 5 - Uluru
- Get excited for a bucket list experience today as you depart Alice Springs to the sacred, ancient site of Uluru. Journey past dry salt lakes and Outback Roadhouses through red desert before your MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience on your first of many visits to Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park over the next two days. In Aussie’s cultural heartland amidst the rusty red landscape, you’re treated to a classic Uluru sundowner of nibbles and sparkling wine. Sit back and watch the sky ignite in red, yellow, and purple gazing at massive and powerful Uluru. At 348 metres high, ‘The Rock’ is taller than the Eiffel Tower and a magnificent site to behold. Take it in and connect to the land as the sun sets and the spinifex grasses blow in the red dirt. You’ll conclude your epic day at the Desert Gardens Hotel for a Stays With Stories experience. This indigenous-owned hotel surrounded by desert trees and distant Uluru showcases the natural beauty of the landscape and is a beautiful spot to stay in and relax or join an Uluru BBQ Dinner Optional Experience, watching the changing desert colours and enjoying an informative star talk of the southern night sky.
- Accommodation - Desert Gardens
Day 6 - Uluru - Kata Tjuta
- Experience Uluru in a different light with magical sunrise. Savour every second as, hot cocoa in hand, the dawn makes its way across the desert and illuminates Uluru. After a grand start to the day, tour the base of Uluru with your Travel Director to learn about its ancient rock and art hear stories of the Anangu people, caretakers of this remote arid landscape. After history and natural beauty are interwoven in this memorable morning, you’ll then have a bit of free time to go for a dip in the pool or browse the shops and galleries of Town Square shopping village before continuing your journey through the desert plains to Kata Tjuta. Explore on a walk amidst its towering, mindboggling domes through Walpa (“wind”) Gorge to a lookout. You're then treated to another stellar sunset from a different vantage point at Kata Tjuta. Without many of the crowds at Uluru, you may have the beauty of this Hidden Gem to yourself. A glass of sparkling wine with new travel mates in a beautiful setting is the perfect way to end your day.
Day 7 - Cairns
- Your last day at Uluru is off to another gorgeous start with an exclusive, private visit to the kaleidoscopic Field of Light art installation of artist Bruce Munro. Experience the darkness of night change to a rainbow-coloured dawn lit up from a field of changing colours with Uluru in the distance. You’ll feel like you're walking through flowers in this totally unique Uluru sunrise experience, then as dawn continues to creep across the land, you’ll end the experience watching the desert awaken over Uluru from the top of a sand dune, coffee or tea in hand You’ve already seen so much beauty this morning and now it’s time to make some of your own as you Dive Into Culture with a Local Specialist Aboriginal artist at Maruku Arts Dot Art Experience. You’ll learn about Western Desert Art from Indigenous artists before painting your own piece of Australian aboriginal art as a memento. This MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience of creating personalized art that tells your story is an insightful and hands on way to gain a better understanding of Aboriginal culture. End your day heading to Cairns for a change of scenery and more beautiful sites.
- Accommodation - Shangri-La
Day 8 - Cairns
- Today you get to experience Cairns your way with a full day to explore this tropical city or head out on an Optional Experience. Why not take in the view with a balloon flight over the Atherton Tablelands, the hot air ballooning capital of the southern hemisphere? Or, explore the Daintree Rainforest diving into nature on a guided, interpretive walk learning traditional hunting and gathering skills as you search for bush tucker of mud crabs, fish, and mussels and feast on your catch. You could also see the rainforest on a historic rail journey winding across bridges and through tunnels to Kuranda village where you’ll explore its colourful and interesting arts and crafts. Enjoy a different view soaring through the trees on your return trip on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Looking for a bit of wildlife on your adventure? Pair your trip to Kuranda with a visit to Hartley’s Crocodile for a wetlands cruise through the ecologically significant Melaleuca wetlands, the home of the saltwater crocodile. After another incredible day exploring, day, share your stories and photos of the day over an optional dinner at Ochre Restaurant enjoying local fare using native ingredients.
Day 9 - The Great Barrier Reef
- Experience the beauty of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Great Barrier Reef over a day of play on the water. The day begins as you board a high-speed catamaran and then it’s up to you how you’d like to explore this underwater wonderland: Don your mask and fins (equipment provided) for an immersive look at this kaleidoscope of fishes and reef. Or, stay dry and explore the world’s largest living reef system from the comfort of a semi-submersible craft. However you adventure, the whole way you’re surrounded by beauty and insights on the local ecology and environment from your local guide. Be sure to just kick back, too. Your cruise includes an onboard tropical lunch and plenty of time to soak up the glorious Aussie sunshine. Sure to be a bucket list day, relive the highlights with your travel mates over dinner on the Cairns’ waterfront at Salt House. Here you’ll indulge in regional seafood highlighting fresh, local ingredients and prepared on their custom-built Argentinian wood fired grill.
Day 10 - Sydney
- It’s ‘farewell, Cairns’ and ‘hello, Sydney!’ on the last leg of your Australia highlights tour. Check into your centrally located hotel in Darling Harbour and the rest of the day is yours to explore this walkable harbour city. Why not begin in the famous Rocks District dating back to before the arrival of British settlers in the late 1700s for a look at the historic buildings and pubs? Or, take in culture viewing aboriginal artefacts at of one of the city’s many museums. For a peaceful break among the flowers, check out the tucked away Royal Botanic Gardens. And if you’re looking for more of a local scene lined with boutiques and cafes, the hot spot neighbourhoods of Paddington and Surry Hills call. Wherever you venture, there’s dining options aplenty from the waterfront Circular Quay to Chinatown’s famous yum cha to a rooftop bar for dazzling views of the harbour.
- Accommodation - InterContinental
Day 11 - Sydney
- Enjoy a full free day to explore Sydney or consider joining an Optional Experience to discover even more further afield. Take a day trip to the spectacular Blue Mountains, whose eucalypt haze you’ll see looming in the distance, for fresh mountain air and stunning natural scenery. You’ll see the famous Three Sisters rock formation - each of which stands over 900 metres high - and hear the Aboriginal legend behind these massive structures. Animal lovers will not want to miss a visit to the Sydney Zoo to see some of Australia’s unique native animals including the wombat, Tasmanian devil, and yes, the koala. You can even sign up for a special encounter to get up close to visit with some of the animals. This evening, spend some time getting to know this spectacular city. Keep it close to the hotel and dine overlooking the sparkling harbour, or ask your TD for something else, depending on how you’re craving. Love a good view? Head to SkyFeast at Sydney Tower. On this sky-high dining experience, you’ll indulge in international cuisine while seeing the city from 82-floors up with rotating, 360-degree views.
Day 12 - Sydney
- There's plenty to discover in Sydney today and you’ll kick it off on a behind-the-scenes guided tour of the iconic Sydney Opera House. Entering through the stage door, you’ll hear the story of a building 'that changed the image of an entire country' as you learn the history of this iconic structure and appreciate its beauty from another perspective. Then see the city from the water on a Sydney Harbour Lunch Cruise enjoying a menu focusing on local food and wine as you’re rewarded with stellar views around the harbour. Next up is another iconic Sydney site: Bondi Beach to see the Bondi Icebergs ocean pools and, toes in the sand, soak up the surfer life. The afternoon is yours to see the sights or take an Optional Experience climbing the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. If you love adventure and views, this climb up 134 metres above Sydney Harbour is a great way to spend the afternoon. This evening, gather with your Travel Director for a celebratory Farewell Dinner at Portside Restaurant at the Sydney Opera House.
Day 13 - Sydney
- It’s been an incredible trip of wildlife, wild places, and stellar city sites but sadly your journey comes to a close today. Enjoy one last breakfast with your travel mates before saying goodbye before your transfer to the Sydney airport (flights anytime).
- 12 Nights accommodation
- 18 Meals - 1 Be my guest dinner, 1 Farewell dinner, 1 Regional dinner, 1 Welcome reception, 12 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches
- On-Trip Transport
- Discover Melbourne, Alice Springs, Cairns, and Sydney
- Scenic Cruise on Sydney Harbour, and on the Great Barrier Reef
- Visit the School of the Air and Telegraph Station in Alice Springs, Maruku Arts in Uluru, and Bondi Beach in Sydney
- Explore Sydney Opera House with a Local Specialist
- View outback sunsets at Uluru and Kata Tjuta, and the Field of Light installation in Uluru