|Finish in:||Alice Springs|
|Type of trip:||Heritage, landscapes, wildlife, vineyards, Great Ocean Road, Barrier Reef|
|Trip Length:||21 days, 20 nights (three weeks)|
2 road trip:
1 train trip:
One of the original European areas of settlement Sydney has a rich history of occupation dating back thousands of years. Originally a penal colony, now a bustling multicultural city Sydney is an internationally recognised visitor and conference destination. Your journey starts in the historic district, The Rocks.
Vibrant, colourful street markets jostle for attention against a backdrop of sandstone heritage buildings.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
For the adventurous join a guided bridge climbing tour. If a bridge climb is not feasible there is a Sydney harbour bridge walk across the pedestrian path. Walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge with children is safe with secure fencing and a walking platform. There are two access points to get onto the pedestrian walkway. From The Rocks, Cumberland Street or near Milsons Point train station in the north. If the younger members have an issue with heights then test out the walk and you can always turn around and go back to where you entered the Bridge.
A harbour cruise is a must do activity. Check out our detailed guide to the harbour.
Sydney’s relationship with the water embraces its harbour. Sydney ticks all the boxes. Your guided tour is onboard Sydney’s harbour Ferry hop on, and hop off service. Departing from Circular Quay with nine destinations to choose from, such as Fort Denison is the site of Australia’s only Martello Tower. You guided tour will explore the heritage artefacts of this former military site, including the Fort Denison’s museum and canons and gunpowder store. You will be interested in the fully operational tide gauge room where Sydney’ s tidal benchmark is recorded.
Dinner harbour cruise
Sail past the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Luna Park, Opera House and more, be part of the bustle of one of the world’s great natural harbours and soak up the night sky atmosphere of Sydney lights. This is often a special highlight for couples, it is quintessentially romantic to be part of the harbour with a dinner served under the night lights
A day trip to the Blue Mountains where your senses are stimulated by the scent of eucalyptus trees. Quirky villages nestled among the sights and sounds of the Australian bush will provide a change of scene from the urban bustle of Sydney. You could simply use your day in the Blue Mountains to wander the villages, window shopping, browsing and admiring the views that are all around the area.
Chill out on a tropical beach, explore the vibrant hub that is Cairns with its laid personality. The Esplanade, with over 2km of shoreline provides a public space for visitors to walk, cycle and relax by the lagoon. As a focal point for entertainment and cultural activities cafes and bars have gravitated to the area.
Stepping back from the Esplanade is a contemporary public arena, known as City Place. Any events on the Esplanade spill from the waterfront into the City Place precinct. Scattered throughout, especially along historic Wharf Street are a number of Cairns heritage buildings. The characteristic sign of a tropical Cairns building is a wooden frame, elevated off the ground with wide verandas and porches as protection from the tropical mid day.
Tour of tropical Cairns
Afternoon guided orientation tour of tropical Cairns.
TJAPUKAI is well known, while it is definitely part of the large bus tour circuit it has continued to maintain its personality and culture as a custodian of Aboriginal beliefs of the rainforest clans of the far North Queensland. Using contemporary interpretations of traditional theatre, boomerang and spear dances the narrative of an ancient people is showcased for visitors in a performance that is not to be missed.
Sustainable tour activity.
Great Barrier Reef is a Unesco world heritage marine site where tropical fish swim among coral reefs. Currently under threat from climate change the reef is a must do activity for Australians and visitors alike. Tropical Green Island is a unique part of the Great Barrier Reef, making it a perfect spot for a half-day or full day tour. There are plenty of options to snorkel, parasail, dive and swim in the clear ocean waters. Or why not explore the Green Island National Park? Or just simply relax on the white sandy beach.
Your coastal road trip, from Cairns to Port Douglas includes stopping for a swim at a secluded beach and time to wander around coastal heritage settlements. On arriving at Port Douglas you will relax and explore the village atmosphere. Port Douglas is a tropical getaway. Located on the Coral Sea in the tropical far north of Queensland, Australia it is known for its beach resorts and as a base for visits to both the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest reef system, and Daintree National Park.
You will explore the Daintree Forest and meet the traditional guardians of the area, the local aborginal people who for thousands of years have called this place home. Then an opportunity to meet Australia’s wildlife.
Check out weekend experience in Port Douglas for tips on what to see and do.
Your day could include snorkeling in a rainforest pool, or perhaps a tour to Hartley’s wildlife sanctuary where you are going to meet Australia’s tropical inhabitants, the crocodile, the cassowary, a giant flightless bird and the numerous tropical butterflies. Family friendly Wildlife Habitat gives all age groups a chance to come face to face with a cassowary or surround yourself with tropical brilliant butterflies. If family members are demanding that you locate and find a crocodile for viewing then this is the place for you to spend the afternoon.
The vintage tram circuit of the heart of Melbourne provides a snapshot of lanes, street art and heritage sandstone buildings, reflecting Melbourne’s origins as a gold mining town. There are seventeen stops where you can hop on and hop off.
Melbourne is the second-largest city in Australia and is known to be Australia’s most cultured city – although some Sydney-siders would debate this. Melbourne, founded on the 19th century gold rush is a vibrant multicultural city with the Yarra River as its heart and soul.
Melbourne begins with an orientation walking tour of 2 hours. You will have an opportunity to view street art. Laneway street art is part of Melbourne’s cultural identity. Your tour will stop for a coffee and finish in the vicinity of the Old Melbourne Gaol, where you learn about Australia’s most infamous bushranger. Perhaps you might want to pop into the Old Melbourne Gaol. An interactive museum which engages all age groups.
Departs every 12 minutes from Flinders Street Station and other designated stops. The tram has stops along its route. Information leaflets are available when boarding the tram. The tram is a heritage W class tram decorated in special maroon and green with yellow and gold trimmings.The tram tour passes lanes, alleyway street art, heritage sandstone buildings.Enjoy people watching while the tram circles the city.
Tram stops include
Your afternoon is getting acquainted with Australian wildlife.
You will travel through the Victorian countryside to the world renowned wildlife sanctuary Healesville. Parrots with vivid plumage, kangaroos lolling in the sun, the iconic koala and the native dog, the dingo are part of the conservation programme. The sanctuary is surrounded by native plantings and gives visitors a sense of the outback.
Sustainable tour activity
Your visit supports the efforts of the sanctuary to support Australian wildlife through the tensions of climate change and bushfires.
A journey exploring the immigrant experience at Portsea with glimpses of beach culture and the town of Sorrento. Perhaps a photo moment against the quirky beach huts located along Port Phillip Bay coast. You will return to Melbourne via ferry, travelling through the historic town of Queenscliff. Portsea and Sorrento are local favourites.
Mornington Peninsula is a local favourite. Seaside communities and holiday villages dot the coast. Sorrento, with its limestone cliffs and buildings is a heritage town that is now a favourite destination for Melbourne weekend getaways. Delve into Port Nepean National Park (Portsea) history and explore Nepean Historical Museum precinct, Pioneer Cottage and Collins Settlement historic site.
Port Phillip Bay
A chance for a instagram photo moment against the multi-coloured rainbow bathing boxes dotted all along the coast of Port Phillip Bay. The boxes have no water or electricity and many boxes are part of a family history. They are a symbol of the beach, of summer picnics and a visitor attraction in their own right.
You will have an opportunity to wander among Sorrento’s galleries and boutique shops. There will be a guided tour of the Sorrento-Portsea Artists Trail where the views that inspired the artists will be part of the experience.
Port Nepean National Park
For heritage buffs an opportunity to visit the Point Nepean National Park with its precinct of heritage buildings will be a highlight. Immigration and quarantine regulations led to individuals being housed at Portsea while their health was evaluated. Personal stories are narrated through interactive, emotive exhibits. The peninsula has played an important role in shaping the early settlement and defence of Australia. You will explore military forts and tunnels and learn about the life of soldiers who were stationed in the stark chill underground bunkers.
You will have glimpses of historic Queenscliff to view heritage homes reflecting Queenscliff’s role as a seafaring community. Queenscliff’s strategic location at the entrance to Port Phillip was vital to the defence of Geelong and Melbourne port. You will pass Queenscliff’s legacy to maritime history building, Fort Queenscliff, now a museum.
Ballarat Victorian goldfields are much closer, only an hour away. Ballarat, with its Sovereign Hill stagecoaches, 19th century main street and gold panning… is a popular day trip from Melbourne. Ballart has numerous heritage buildings…
However Bendigo has an authentic gold mine, with a tour that is definitely ‘real’, a vintage talking tram and a personality that is Bendigo. Bendigo is not a theme park, rather it is heritage Victorian goldfields and is a place that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
The iconic Great Ocean Road made personal. Local gems and local stories make this a special part of our road journey. The Great Ocean Road was born out of the idea of linking towns of the Victorian southwest coast. The terrain was rugged cliffs, with steep drops to the sea. Forests, hinterlands of waterfalls compounded the construction challenges that faced the World War I returned servicemen, who, with pick and shovel, created the road we all know today.
The road is a world class iconic road trip that is rightly a bucket list destination. Romantic sunsets, contrasts between towering limestone headlands and land carved out by the sea to create evotive sculptural rock structures, combined with a backdrop of temperate rainforest is one photo moment after another.
World War I veterans built the road which was opened in 1932, effectively making the road the longest war memorial. Don’t forget to read their stories and make it real for you. World War I veterans built the road from 1919 to 1932, effectively making the road the longest war memorial. The road official start is 100km from Melbourne. It was a sombre moment for me with relatives who were in World War one. To return from a battlefield to weld a pickaxe and build a road. It’s a dismal end to the horrors of war. We are enjoying the road because of their hard work.
Photo moment opportunity
Torquay is synonymous with Bells Beach & Rip Curl Pro where world’s best surfers compete, riding the waves at Bells Beach. Your stop will include a peek at Bells Beach and its surf culture. Another place to explore is the Australian National Surf Museum. A celebration of surf culture, the museum has a gift shop. Torquay is the official start of the Great Ocean Road.
Teddy’s lookout has some of the best views along the Great Ocean Road. Panoramic views from its platform high above the coast where the St George River meets the Indian Ocean into a small cove. Yet another instagram photo moment.
Otway National Park and the fern filled forests of the Otway Ranges. There are walks to suit most abilities with a popular destination being Erskine Falls. The falls are spectacular, especially in winter when there is increased water flow. The lower platform walk is 1km. Two lookout points offer scenic views of this well-known, 30-metre waterfall cascading into a gully. Green, shadowed peace of a timeless forest with spectacular falls and panoramic views for that picture perfect moment.
Head into the fern filled forests of the Otway Ranges. An early morning visit to maximise viewing opportunities. Erskine falls can have large visitor numbers so visiting early will make the journey easier and hopefully avoid the crowds. The walk down to the lower viewing platform is steep and involves many steps, allow extra time as small children may need to be carried.
Cape Otway lighthouse
Options include exploration of Cape Otway lighthouse, waterfalls Hopetoun, Beuchamp and Triplet or perhaps stroll among a Californian redwood forest. The numerous walks enables visitors to personalise their experience to match their ability and to savour the ancient rainforest and rewarded with the fresh air of a pristine environment.
Otway FlyTreetop Platform
For the adventurous at heart there is the Otway FlyTreetop Platform Walk to consider. Your birdseye view of the forest is one of the world’s longest and highest at 35m above ground level. The spiral tower is 47m above ground. For the less intrepid there is an adjacent treetop aerial walk. The walk takes 1 hour.
Overnight Otway National Park
This is the day of coastal scenery, rock formations stacked against sea and sky and soaring cliffs where light is reflected from the limestone and rock faces. A classic bucket list moment for visitors. A journey highlight is the iconic twelve apostles and memorable photo moments.
A day to unwind after the Aussie road trip. Your leisurely exploration of Adelaide is about a chance to relax and refresh after your Great Ocean Road road trip.
Markets and shopping
Adelaide in depth exploration for foodie lovers, an opportunity to explore Adelaide local corners for a personal gift. There are museums, art galleries and funky shops to mull over. Adelaide is a cultural binge destination, often overshadowed by its bigger neighbours, Sydney and Melbourne. Adelaide with its city sophistication yet small town vibe is a walkable city.
Adelaide Hills exploration
Barossa Valley is a world class wine region. The Barossa Valley signature wine is Shiraz. Barossa with its proximity to Adelaide is a popular tourist day trip destination. Spring and autumn are peak seasons. Barossa is organised for visitors, consequently it breathes visitor hospitality. I am always discovering a new cafe, an event or walk to explore. A guided tour of cellar doors can be arranged or for cycling fans there is always cycle power to get to the next vineyard.
The Ghan explorer train journey is a magical, luxury experience with the rural Australia gliding past your viewing windows. An outback Australia train overnight journey. The Ghan arrives the next day mid afternoon.
An opportunity to relax and revive for your outback adventures on a rail journey of a lifetime.
Overnight on The Ghan.
The outback, you have arrived at the red centre. A timeless landscape where nature is in charge of the seasons.
Alice Springs came to life in the 1870s, as a telegraph station by a small spring, and it was one of a series of repeater stations on the telegraph line linking Adelaide to Darwin to the rest of the world. Despite its isolated location, it became an important part of the communication network for Australia and the northern terminus of the Ghan Railway line. Today, it is still a communications and service hub for central Australia, with all the establishments you would expect in a modern town, grouped in the blocks surrounding the Todd Mall. Also, Alice is one of the main embarkation points for seeing Uluru, the famed red monolith 500 km away.
A journey into the heart of the outback. Red rocks splashed with the light of the desert. Ancient people whose rock art and stories transcend time and place. Marvel at the narratives embedded in rock art. A must do experience.
Free day to explore the galleries and shops of Alice Springs before your departure.
Araluen Cultural Precinct is a fantastic complex displaying local cultural and natural history, including the Namatjira Gallery, Aviation Museum, Memorial Cemetery and Museum of Central Australia. While there are also sacred sites and trees of significance to Aboriginal people, you will definitely learn a lot about Australian culture and significance.