Enchanting Australia Tour: From Great Barrier Reef to Historical Red Centre

A 12 day trip to Australia 
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Australia embodies luxury from the emerald-like rainforest draping northeast Queensland to the crowning jewel of New South Wales at the Sydney Opera House. Your custom-tailored luxury tour will immerse you in the charm and wonderment in highlighting the undeniable pleasures found in the confluence of cultures. Dive deep into the shallow waters of the Coral Sea to discover the iridescence of the Great Barrier Reef and then wander the walkways of Phillip Island to find waddling Little Penguins returning to shore. From secluded island resorts to a private view of the expansive Red Desert, beauty and unforgettable adventure are yours as you embark on this journey.

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General Information

Photos
Flinders Street Station on a busy day.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Melbourne, Phillip Island, Ayers Rock, Daintree Rainforest, Cairns, Kuranda, Lizard Island, the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Melbourne – Land in Australia’s Cultural Capital with an Introductory Tour

Melbourne is often referred to as Australia’s “Cultural Capital,” located on the banks of the Yarra River edging the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. The dynamic and cosmopolitan streets showcase the evolution of the city from its booming population in the 1850s Gold Rush to the multicultural street art that now drapes the walls of celebrated alleyways. Visitors and locals tour alike tour the city with just as much interest as visitors, always stopping to appreciate the central neighborhoods set between Fitzroy and St. Kilda. Your flight will land at Melbourne Airport where your private transfer will meet you upon your arrival.

Your hotel is situated in a spacious structure that brings a grand elegance to the atmosphere. You can see the House of Parliament from your window, a lavish 19th-century edifice decorated with graceful gold leaf, remarkable chandeliers, and a stunning mosaic floor. Your guide will meet you in your lobby ready to take you on an introductory tour of the expansive city. Locals refer to the end of Collins Street as the “Paris End,” due to tree-lined streets and marvelous buildings full of lavish displays in the boutique windows.

The Block Arcade connects Collins and Elizabeth Streets and was erected in the late 19th century.  Glass ceilings allow light to pour over the mosaic floors as the aroma of rich melting chocolate emanates from the nearby chocolate cafe. Restaurants set out small tables to allow patrons to watch passersby as they sip their cappuccinos or afternoon teas. You will quickly find the luxury in Melbourne’s café scene, and the joy in watching the city move around you.  

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour

Day 2: Melbourne – Enjoy a Full Day Wine and Wildlife Excursion to Phillip Island

In the morning, the sunlight will shine over the stained glass ceiling of the Great Hall inside the National Gallery of Victoria. When the museum opens for the day, it is common to see visitors lying on the floor to bask in the gorgeous light as it spreads across the gallery. The neighborhood of East Brunswick fills with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee drifting from the warehouse style cafes located inside the facades of the original historical structures. After breakfast, your private driver will whisk you across Port Phillip Bay to the Phillip Island.

Your scenic drive will highlight the skyline of Melbourne, including the soaring figure of the Eureka Tower, a 91-story high-rise crowned with gold-plated windows. The water splashes against the bordering rocks of Phillip Island and fills the air with the scent of fresh, briny sea. Sheep and cattle graze on the grassland with a large portion of the island protected as a conservation area to conserve the birdlife, including short-tailed shearwaters, Pacific gulls, and little penguins. Fur seals lounge in the sun on the smooth boulders of the coast.

Killer and humpback whales often pass the island during migration season. You will make your way to the Nobbies, a series of boardwalks that traverse the headland and stretch for nearly a mile. The southern coast has a rugged topography with waves crashing against the rocks as the indigo water fills a blowhole on the rocky promontory and erupts like lava from a volcano. You will soon find little penguins, known for the small stature and blue plumage, resting on the grassy shoreline before returning to the water to hunt.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Ayers Rock – Transfer to a Resort in Australia’s Famous Red Center

In the morning, the more than 600 shops of Victoria Market will open their doors to the city. The shopping center remains the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere, offering locals fresh produce, a deli hall with art deco character, the aroma of frying Polish sausages amidst fragrant truffle oil, and freshly caught fish sold by the very people who spent their morning at sea in search of the perfect catch. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to Melbourne Airport for your flight to Ayers Rock.

The distinctive characteristics of Australia’s Red Center will be visible from your plane with the rusty-red sand caused from oxidization glowing against the powder blue sky. Dry desert brush decorates the red hues with occasional boulders that rise out of the otherwise empty landscape. Your flight will land at Ayers Rock Airport where your private transfer will escort you to a luxurious resort in view of the unique monolith of Uluru. As the sun sets over the desert, the light hits the rock to change the colors of the monolith from bright red to glowing orange.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Ayers Rock – Find Culture and Grandeur at Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park

In the morning, the sunlight will spread back over the monolith, streaking a flamboyant orange over the rocks and sand before the landscape turns red. At breakfast, the aroma of sweet jams will accompany the scent of your rich coffee. You will meet your guide in your hotel lobby and set out on a journey through the culture of Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park, home to the Anangu Aboriginal tribe, one of the oldest living cultures on earth. Your guide will lead you around the base of Uluru and one up close, you can see the true magnitude of the nearly 1,000-foot high monolith. Crevices and hidden caves continue to preserve the Anangu culture, housing ceremonies, and rituals off limits to those outside of the tribe.

Your guide will point out the rock art that adorns a small indentation of the monolith and share the importance of the symbols. The concentric circles mean a waterhole or camping place with the horseshoe shape beside the outer circle representing a person. The formation of the monolith began more than 550 million years ago, and the great sea once filling the region receded around 400 million years ago. Throughout the region, onions and raisins grow wild, along with honey ants and native fig. You will make your way to the still reflective waters of the Mutitjulu Waterhole to hear the story of the ancestral watersnake that called the perpetual wetland his home.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Daintree – Fly to Cairns and Transfer to a Resort in Daintree Rainforest

In the morning, the sunlight will shine across the Anangu land. The elevated space offers a perfect viewpoint to see the shifting colors of the domes of Kata Tjuta and the monolith of Uluru before the aroma of the sunbaked earth fills the air. After breakfast, your private transfer will escort you to the airport where you will board your flight to the tropical northeast. The rusty hues of the Red Center shift to the emerald greenery of the trees that drape over the Great Dividing Range, one of the largest continuous land-dwelling mountain ranges in the world.

Your flight will arrive in Cairns Airport where your private transfer will greet you. Make your way north into the dense tropical landscape of Daintree Rainforest to find your luxurious eco-friendly resort on the banks of the Mossman Gorge River. From your private terrace, you can hear the water rushing along the reeds and dangling vines as double-eyed fig parrots perch on the tree branches over the river and twitter against the background noise of the trickling water. You will easily settle into the luxuries of your resort located in the oldest continuous living rainforest in the world. 

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Daintree – Relish a Half-Day Guided Tour with Remaining Day at Leisure

The tales of the Kuku Yalanji people explain the creation of the world, from the desert plains to the glistening treetops. The forest banks near the edge of the resort beneath the cacophonous call of the Southern Cassowary. The bird can grow to more than six feet tall with an iridescent blue neck and powder blue face-framing the black bill, resembling a dinosaur more than a tropical, flightless bird. After breakfast, you will meet your guide and set out into the wilds of the jungle terrain under the direction of a local naturalist to explore it all. Walk along the Marrdja Botanical Boardwalk to find the native plants used in the Kuku Yalanji medicines, a practice continued in contemporary times.

The scents of fern and eucalyptus blend with the aroma of Idiot Fruit, a plant that contains a primitive flower that dates back 110 million years as the large trees produce the brown, poisonous fruit. King Ferns grow upwards of 16 feet tall and these stinging trees have heart-shaped leaves that can cause a long lasting tingle. Your guide will explain which plants to stay away from and which plants the Kuku Yalanji gravitate towards, each rich with meaning and tradition. As you journey through, an Australian brush turkey will linger in the underbrush grazing on the seedlings as a small silvereye, known for the unique plumage around their black eye, chomps on the nuts in the canopy. Your guide will explain how the rainforest gradually reveals itself in the tranquility of the cool mornings and afternoon.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Lizard Island – Savor the Scenic Kuranda Skyrail and Fly to Lizard Island

The famous and infamous crocodiles of the Queensland tropical rainforest bask in the morning light around Cape Tribulation. Their gray and brown scales blend into the soil beneath the tall grasses and trees as a kingfisher stands on the muddy banks of the wetlands eyeing a resting crocodile. The rare blue-winged kookaburra calls into the morning light with twittering laughter. Your private transfer will meet you in your hotel lobby after breakfast and escort you to Cairns, where you will board the scenic Kuranda Skyrail for an unparalleled view of the rainforest canopy, floodplains, and indigo colored shoreline. Enjoy a visit to the jungle town of Kuranda before heading to the airport for your scenic flight to Lizard Island.

The conservation area contains an eco-friendly resort that works to sustain the stunning island landscape, the endangered wildlife, and the surrounding reef system. During your flight, your pilot will point out the dark patches of water that are actually coral reefs connected to the Great Barrier Reef. The entire reef system encompasses 133,000 square miles off the Australian coastline, and you will begin your descent onto Lizard Island to find powdery white beaches encircling the nearly 2,500 acres of landscape. The reef fringing the beaches reach a depth of 328 feet at the Blue Lagoon and your resort provides a breathtaking view of the indigo water lapping at the shore. For dinner, your private chef will emphasize the succulence of the local seafood and the lushness of the tropical fruit.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast, dinner

Day 8: Lizard Island – Explore the Stunning Coral Reef Systems at your Leisure

In the morning, the sunlight washes over the indigo colors of the water and heats the white sand of the shoreline. You can dig your toes into the beach, with the powdery consistency of the sand clinging to your ankles. The water splashes around your feet with refreshing coolness in contrast to the sand’s warmth. At breakfast, the aroma of mangoes and pineapple overtake the scent of blossoming wildflowers, and as you finish your meal, you will meet your skipper to board your catamaran to visit the coral gardens of the celebrated Outer Reef, one of the many systems connected to the Great Barrier Reef.

Your boat will take you to the ribbon reefs that form a broken barrier along the continental shelf for a view of the breakwater. Beyond the barrier, the ocean shines deep cobalt while closer to Lizard Island, the water begins to glow translucent indigo. The catamaran weighs anchor, and you can jump into the water and let the warmth wrap around your skin. In an Australian winter, the water cools to 70 degrees Fahrenheit so year-round, you can put on your mask, position your snorkel, and glide over the surface water in view of the vibrant colors that ascend out of the seafloor.

Hard coral resembling popcorn, known as porites, forms puffs beside brain coral, known for the outlying ridges that resemble the human brain. Favia coral glows green and purple with rounded pores as colorful pavona twists like a cactus. Sinularia soft coral resembles a multi-layered tree rustling in the breeze beside the waving, dusk-colored, latticework of a gorgonia ventalina sea fan. In the distance, you may spot a green sea turtle gliding through the water.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 9: Lizard Island – Delight in Activities and Relaxation at your Preferred Pace

In the morning, the enticing sweet aroma of lychee blends with the fragrant sea. Sailboats weigh anchor from the dock and set out onto the sea, catching the breeze and cruising around the reefs. At breakfast, you will savor your rich cappuccino and enjoy the lingering aromas of the mangrove trees and grasslands that decorate the island landscape. After breakfast, the day is yours to indulge in the splendor in and around Lizard Island. Return to the Great Barrier Reef for a continued look at the wondrous subaquatic ecosystem or indulge in the pleasures of a private spa treatment at your resort. You could also step out onto the trails of the island to wander along the manicured grass and sandy soils.

Acacia trees grow in the rich silica landscape as flying foxes rest in the trees, looking for shelter against the sun’s heat. Monitor lizards absorb the heat, enjoying the sunlight by basking on a hot rock as their gray and yellow scales stand out from the smoothed boulder. You will follow the trail upwards to Cooks Look, a lookout point following in the steps of Sir Captain Cook who charted the island in the 18th century. The sea breeze will sweep across the promontory so can see the maze of the reef surrounding the island and extending into the horizon.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Sydney – Fly from Cairns to the Bustling Cosmopolitan Districts of Sydney

The sunlight will spread across the eastern waters of the Coral Sea, a branch of the Pacific Ocean as the indigo sheen of the waters reach the horizon. The aroma of eucalyptus blossoms emanates from the forest around the island as the iridescent plumage of yellow-bellied sunbirds stands out against the lush grasses. The beauty of the Great Barrier Reef and the white sands of Lizard Island have enchanted you, blending perfectly with the eco-friendly luxury of your resort.

After breakfast, you will take your private transfer to the airstrip for a scenic flight to Cairns to board your connecting flight at Cairns Airport to reach the jewel of New South Wales, the city of Sydney.  Your flight will arrive, and your private transfer will collect you at baggage claim. Sandstone cliffs, rugged boulders, popular cafes, and turquoise water decorate the edges of the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, and you will take time to enjoy it all. Eager swimmers venture to the pools at the Bondi Baths, located at the Icebergs where the more than 160-foot long Olympic pool overlooks the crashing waves of the Pacific at Bondi Beach. Your luxurious hotel puts you at the heart of the bustling cityscape and in view of the graceful sails that rise along the rooftop of the Sydney Opera House.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 11: Sydney – Enjoy a Half-Day City Exploration and Private Opera House Tour

Wake in the morning as sailboats weigh anchor in the marina and set out along Sydney Harbour as their sails catch the breeze, imitating the grace and grandeur of the iconic opera house. Tranquil waterfalls cascade like beaded veils into glittering pools inside the serene Chinese Garden of Friendship. The 19th-century architecture of Queen Victoria Building features lavish boutique shops that overlook the sweeping mosaic floors set beneath the natural light of the adorning glass domes. After breakfast, you will meet your guide in your hotel lobby to begin your tour of Sydney’s captivating cityscape, from the Royal Botanic Gardens to George Street, the oldest avenue in the city.

The day will continue along the brick esplanade that frames the celebrated Sydney Opera House. Turquoise water surrounds the structure on three sides with the green trees and colorful blossoming flowers of the Royal Botanic Garden touching the fourth edge of the Opera House’s borders. Large windows and glass doors open to the foyers, allowing visitors to relish the view of the water and passing boats. Your guide will take you into the Concert Hall as organ pipes adorn the far wall beneath the decorative recesses in the ceiling. The arching design accounts for the stunning acoustic, allowing a whisper from the stage to carry through the gallery. You cannot help but think of a decorative clamshell while exploring the embellishments of the interior, which keeps with the nautical theme of the overall design.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 12: Sydney – Depart for Home

As the morning rises, you will drift to breakfast to find tropical fruit adorning the tables with the aroma of mango, pineapple, and rambutan blending deliciously together. The scent of macaroons emanates from a patisserie on the cobblestone walkway of the Rocks, the oldest district in Australia as cafes in the neighborhood of Glebe open their doors and set out small tables and chairs along the sidewalk for patrons to enjoy the view of passersby. After one last leisurely morning, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to Sydney Airport for your flight home. As your plane ascends, you enjoy the view of the shimmering metal arch of Sydney Harbour Bridge, a majestic gateway to and from the city, fading beneath the clouds as your begin your journey home.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer 

Price

Starting Price 

$2,995
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.