15 Day Discover Australia Vacation Tour

A 15 day trip to Australia 
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Australia is a land of glaring contrasts: vast red deserts, tropical rainforests, turquoise oceans alive with coral, and pulsating cities replete with art and cutting-edge design. Discover them all as you meet endangered species, partake in indigenous culture, explore UNESCO World Heritage sights, and learn of the nation’s history over 15 unforgettable days. If you've ever thought about visiting Australia, this is the way to experience her.

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General Information

Photos
Australia Great Barrier Reef two snorkelers
australia orange sandstone rock with lone traveller
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Nights at Destinations: Melbourne (3), Adelaide (2), Kangaroo Island (1), Ayers Rock (2), Cairns (3), Sydney (3)

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Welcome to the World’s Most Livable City (Melbourne)

Melbourne is an overachiever. Not only is this vibrant city renowned for its cuisine, artisan coffee culture, fashion boutiques and art galleries, but the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has deemed it the world’s most livable city three years in a row. 

Spend the first day of your trip finding out what earned Melbourne this distinct honor. If the weather is good, head for the southeastern beachside suburb of St Kilda. Walk barefoot along its beach, sip an iced coffee in one its many cafes or venture into Luna Park — a historic amusement park dating back to 1912. Stop by Toorak on the way back and see what one of Australia’s richest suburbs looks like. 

Alternatively, meander through the city. Stroll past Flinders Street Station whose magnificent Victorian façade earned it a place on the Victorian Heritage Register, admire the decorative spire of St Paul’s Cathedral then consider the unusual “shard” architectural design of Federation Square. It was and remains a point of controversy among Melbournians. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, take advantage of Melbourne’s famous shopping: peruse its arcades, browse the luxury stores on Chapel Street or hunt for bargains at the factory outlets lining Bridge Road in Richmond. Finish with a sunset view of the city from the Eureka Skydeck 88 — Southern Hemisphere’s highest viewing platform. 

What’s included: private transfer, accommodation: Swanston Hotel Grand Mercure, Novotel Melbourne on Collins or Sofitel Melbourne

Day 2: Discover Melbourne Old and New (Melbourne) 

A distinct element of Melbourne is the way new and old intertwine in its streets. Day two will allow you to better explore this dichotomy with a full-day tour of the city. You’ll get to wander along the Yarra River, passing artists and street performers, then set your sights on Fitzroy Gardens and Captain Cook’s Cottage – the original homestead of Captain Cook’s parents which was transported from England to Australia in the 20th century. 

Once you’ve peeked into the life of the famous explorer, you’ll head to the 19th century Queen Victoria Market and peruse its stalls of gourmet cheeses, cured meats, local honey, arts and crafts. Try local specialties, pick up a souvenir or treat yourself to a Queen Victoria Market staple — a hot jam doughnut. 

Next on the agenda will be a stroll through Albert Park, which hosted the Australian Grand Prix from 1953 to 1958 and then again from 1996, before finishing with dinner aboard a colonial tram.

What’s included: city sights tour, dinner at The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant, accommodation: Swanston Hotel Grand Mercure, Novotel Melbourne on Collins or Sofitel Melbourne

Day 3: See the Iconic Penguin Parade (Phillip Island)

Begin your day with a scenic drive from Melbourne to Phillip Island; a natural haven located 135km southeast of the city. Your first stop will be the Koala Conservation Centre, where a treetop boardwalk will give you the rare opportunity to see the endangered marsupials in their natural environment. Next you’ll head to The Nobbies, a headland which offers sweeping views over Bass Strait and the Mornington Peninsula. It is also home to Seal Rocks where you’ll find Australia’s largest fur seal colony. 

Finally, as the sun begins to dip behind the horizon, you’ll get to experience Phillip Island’s iconic natural attraction – the penguin parade. Take your place at a viewing platform and watch as hundreds of little (fairy) penguins ride the waves onto the beach and waddle up to their nests. Finish the day with dinner before heading back to Melbourne for your final night in the city.

What’s included: transfer to and tour of Phillip Island, dinner, accommodation: Swanston Hotel Grand Mercure, Novotel Melbourne on Collins or Sofitel Melbourne

Day 4: Visit Australia’s Oldest German settlement (Melbourne - Adelaide - Hahndorf)

Your first taste of South Australia will be of its capital city, where you’ll be taken on a quick tour of some of Adelaide’s most famous landmarks. From here you’ll continue to Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement, Hahndorf. Embrace its heritage by admiring historic buildings like the Hahndorf Academy, St Michael’s Lutheran Church, Old Mill Restaurant and the Hahndorf Inn Hotel. Pop into one of its many galleries, try German sausages and don’t miss the Leathersmith and Bush Gallery. The quirky store offers everything from plaited kangaroo belts to traditional akubra hats to hand-embossed diary covers. 

You’ll also get to stop at Hillstowe Wines (renowned for award-winning cool-climate wines) and the Beerenberg Strawberry Farm, which has been run by the Paech family since 1839, and offers some of the country’s best jams, preserves and relishes. Lastly you’ll be treated to afternoon tea at the Muggletons General Store before returning to Adelaide. 

What’s included: private transfers, Adelaide city and Hahndorf tours, afternoon tea at Muggletons General Store, accommodation: Mercure Grosvenor Hotel, North Adelaide Heritage Apartments or Hyatt Regency Adelaide

Day 5: Frolic with Kangaroos (Kangaroo Island, South Australia) 

Hop onto a coach and head to Cape Jervis, from where you’ll take a ferry to Kangaroo Island. Upon arrival, stroll through a rock tunnel to secluded Stokes Bay and check out its pristine beach and natural rock pool. 

Naturally a visit to Kangaroo Island wouldn’t be complete without seeing the bouncy marsupials responsible for its name. Tick this off the list at natural sanctuary, Parndana Wildlife Park, where you’ll get to hand-feed a kangaroo or two. The park also has a selection of other Australian critters such as sugar gliders, koalas and wombats, as well as orphaned baby animals.  

Continue your wildlife adventure with a visit to Seal Bay, home to a colony of Australian sea lions, and walk among the endangered species in its natural habitat. Then pop into a local honey farm for a taste before visiting Emu Ridge — the only eucalyptus oil distillery in South Australia. Take a tour of the historic distillery and purchase a bottle of its famous oil; the only of its kind in the world. 

As darkness sets over Kangaroo Island, finish your day with one final wildlife adventure — a guided penguin walk. Watch as the island’s little penguins waddle back to their nests after a day of fishing. 

What’s included: coach and ferry transfer, Kangaroo Island tour, lunch, accommodation

Day 6: Caves, Remarkable Rocks and 1200 Ewes (Kangaroo Island - Adelaide)

Prepare for a day of quintessentially local experiences. Begin with a visit to the Kelly Hill Caves, named after a local legend involving a man and his horse. Walk past glistening cave formations like stalactites, stalagmites and helictites, while glimpsing the remnants of the first candlelight tours. 

In the afternoon, set your sights on one of the island’s best-known flora and fauna sanctuaries; Flinders Chase National Park. Keep a lookout for kangaroos, wallabies, goannas, koalas and echidnas as you wander along its winding pathways. Then head up to Remarkable Rocks, curious formations resembling abstract pieces of art, and Admiral’s Arch, a commanding jagged rock gateway sculpted over thousands of years, under which you’re likely to see a lively colony of New Zealand fur seals. Your next stop will be the Island Pure Sheep Dairy farm, which is home to some 1200 well-tempered milking ewes and world-class cheeses, yoghurts and milk. See how a sheep is milked, learn about the production and taste the premium result. At the close of the day catch a ferry and coach back to Adelaide.

What’s included: coach and ferry transfer, tours of Flinder Chase National Park, Kelly Hill Caves and Pure Sheep Dairy farm, breakfast, lunch, accommodation: Mercure Grosvenor Hotel, North Adelaide Heritage Apartments or Hyatt Regency Adelaide

Day 7: Dine with the World’s Biggest Monolith (Uluru, Northern Territory)

The outback can wait no longer! Arrive at Ayers Rock Resort and get your first glimpse of the red center. Spend the afternoon as you wish — call on the visitors’ center to see if anything catches your eye, comb the galleries for indigenous art or indulge in a spa treatment — but don’t exert yourself. Tonight you have a date with Uluru and the stars. 

The legendary “Sounds of Silence” dinner will involve a feast under the naked desert sky. Enjoy canapés, local beverages and views of Uluru as the sun dips below the horizon. When darkness falls and the stars take center stage, find your table and listen to the deep murmurs of a didgeridoo, as you enjoy a sophisticated outback buffet. Once you’re satisfied, turn your gaze to the stars and listen as a local “star talker” points out constellations, planets and galaxies. Finish with dessert and a drink before returning to your hotel.

What’s included: private transfer, “Sounds of Silence” dinner, accommodation: Outback Pioneer, Desert Gardens or Sails in the Desert

Day 8: “The Red Center” (Uluru)

The early bird catches the sunrise tour of Uluru, so prepare for an early start and some spectacular views. Watch as “the red center” comes alive under the rays of the sun, as you walk around the base of the world’s largest monolith. Then admire its fiery countenance over a delicious breakfast.

The imposing formation has particular meaning to the indigenous Anangu people. Learn of its history and significance and listen to the tale of the ancient poisonous snake, Liru, as Aboriginal guides lead you down an ancestral track. Then witness traditional bush skills before returning from your walk. How you spend the rest of the day is up to you. You may like to see the striking Kata Tjuta, a vibrant rounded rock formation that juts out at heights of up to 3,497 feet, peruse the local souvenir shops for one-of-a-kind gifts or take a sunset camel tour. 

What’s included: Liru trek, breakfast, accommodation: Outback Pioneer, Desert Gardens or Sails in the Desert

Day 9: Discover Tropical Paradise (Uluru – Cairns)

With the memories of the outback still swimming in your head, you’ll be transported to Yulara Airport. Catch final glimpses of the magnificent Australian center as you fly northeast to Cairns. 

Once you settle in, you’ll have free time to drink in the laidback atmosphere of the tropical city. Spend the afternoon at one of the many beaches, enjoy a lazy cocktail overlooking the ocean or stroll along the Esplanade — a cultural centerpiece of Cairns that includes a wooden boardwalk, a lagoon and three “nodes” (booths) which provide cultural, historical and environmental information about the area.

If you’d prefer to cast your sights a little further, there are plenty of destinations worthy of your attention. Rent a car and drive to the Crystal Cascades, an idyllic area of rainforest waterfalls that flow into freshwater pools, or the enchanting Paronella Park, a quirky heritage-listed park, filled with waterways, terraces, castles and superb tropical flora. 

What’s included: private transfer, accommodation: Cairns Colonial Club, Novotel Oasis Resort or Cairns International Hotel

Day 10: Explore the Great Barrier Reef (Cairns - Port Douglas)

There’s one big reason why tourists travel to Cairns and leave star struck: the Great Barrier Reef. The world’s largest coral reef system — so vast that you can see it from space — is one of the world’s seven natural wonders. Today you get to experience it for yourself. 

Begin your day with a scenic trip up the Marlin Coast to the town of Port Douglas, then board a luxurious 120-foot catamaran and set off on a full-day cruise to the edge of Australia’s continental shelf. When you reach Agincourt Reef — renowned for its clear waters, effervescent coral and vibrant fish life — hop into the water and see what all the fuss is about. Snorkel through bright underwater gardens, dive to see staggering coral structures or remain dry and explore it all from a semi-sub.

Aboard the catamaran, you’ll be treated to a refreshing hot and cold lunch, while a professional marine biologist tells you about the reef and its inhabitants. Then enjoy the ocean breeze and coastline landscapes as you sail back to shore.

What’s included: private transfer, full-day outer reef cruise with lunch, accommodation: Cairns Colonial Club, Novotel Oasis Resort or Cairns International Hotel

Day 11:  A Day of Cultural Enlightenment (Cairns) 

Cascading waterfalls, verdant tropical flora and rainforest villages await you in Cairns’ hinterland. Board the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway and travel through World Heritage protected rainforest, passing waterfalls, ravines, bridges and handmade tunnels. Disembark in the village of Kuranda and walk its leafy streets, pop into art galleries or take an easy rainforest canopy walk to the Barron Falls lookout for spectacular views. 

The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway will take you over the leafy canopy of the McAlister Range and back to Cairns. Once your feet are on firm ground, take a glimpse into one of the world’s oldest living cultures through a stirring dance performance at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park — the largest indigenous cultural park in Australia. Then spend the afternoon exploring more of city’s restaurant and entertainment scene at your own leisure.

What’s included: Kuranda Scenic Railway, Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, performance at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, lunch, accommodation: Cairns Colonial Club, Novotel Oasis Resort or Cairns International Hotel

Day 12: The Sydney of Legends (Cairns—Sydney)

Sydney is legendary. Not only is it the largest city in Australia with some of the world’s most identifiable landmarks, but it’s also appeared in Hollywood movies, hosted the Olympic games and remains one of the most culturally diverse places in the world. Discover some of its magic on day 12 of your adventure.

Walk through the city to the iconic Sydney Tower (locally known as “centrepoint”), darting into shopping arcades and cafes along the way. Ride the elevator to the viewing platform and take the city in from above. Follow your nose to Chinatown and sit down for yum cha (a Chinese meal involving tea and dim sum), before strolling to Darling Harbour for a turn through the Chinese Garden of Friendship — a green sanctuary modeled after the gardens of the Ming Dynasty. Alternatively, head for Sydney’s historic Rocks area; walk its cobblestone streets, peruse its galleries and opal stores or organise to climb the Harbour Bridge for unbeatable vistas of the city.

By night, look to Circular Quay, Cockle Bay Wharf or the Kings Cross red light district and neighboring Darlinghurst and Pott’s Point, for some of the city’s best restaurants and bars.

What’s included: private transfer, accommodation: Hotel Ibis Darling Harbour, The Grace Hotel or Sydney Harbour Marriott

Day 13: Explore Sydney Like a Local (Sydney)

Spend a day becoming chums with Sydney. Admire the famous sails of the Sydney Opera House, wander through the Botanic Gardens up to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair (a sandstone bench carved for the governor’s wife in 1810) and spend a few minutes taking in the panoramic views of Sydney Harbour. Swing past the Conservatorium of Music and continue to Darling Harbour for a coffee at a trendy waterfront cafe.

Next, discover the elegant suburbs of Double Bay and Rose Bay, where cosmopolitan cafes, designer boutiques and stylish restaurants line the leafy streets, before heading to The Gap — a steep cliff on Sydney’s South Head renowned for its sweeping ocean panoramas. Enjoy the serenity before setting your sights on the popular Bondi Beach. As one of Sydney’s iconic city beaches, Bondi is a thrilling mix of locals, tourists, fitness enthusiasts, surfers and — of course — the famous Bondi Lifesavers. Grab some fish and chips and watch the waves roll in. 

Finish your day in Paddington, a trendy area dominated by students and well-to-do residents of the eastern suburbs. Browse its antique stores for vintage treasures, take advantage of the local culinary culture or just stroll the streets.  

What’s included: Sydney city sights tour, accommodation: Hotel Ibis Darling Harbour, The Grace Hotel or Sydney Harbour Marriott

Day 14: Luxurious Blue Mountains 4WD Tour (Sydney - Katoomba)

The Blue Mountains posed great difficulty for Australia’s early explorers. Miles of plateaus, cliffs and valleys thick with rainforests, rivers, lakes and waterfalls made the area hard to navigate. Luckily, you’ll have a qualified guide who’ll introduce you to the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Your mountain adventure will begin with lunch in a wooden hut in the heart of the Blue Mountains. You’ll see the famous Three Sisters rock formation in Katoomba. Legend has it that a man turned his daughters to stone to escape a mythical monster, but lost the item which could reverse the spell and has been searching for it ever since.

Consider the story as you take in the views from Echo Point or climb down 1,000 steps to see the rainforest. Then hop into your luxury car and spend the afternoon looking for herds of kangaroos. When it’s time to head back, swing past the Homebush Olympic Stadium and Village to see where sporting history was made. 

What’s included: private transfer, luxury 4WD Blue Mountains tour, lunch, accommodation: Hotel Ibis Darling Harbour, The Grace Hotel or Sydney Harbour Marriott

Day 15: Depart Sydney (Sydney – US)

Hold back the tears as your Australian journey comes to an end…and begin planning your next holiday.

What’s included: private transfer

Price

Starting Price 

$3,745
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.