Melbourne, Phillip Island, Port Douglas, Sydney, Great Barrier Reef, Mossman Gorge
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
You will discover the renowned splendor of captivating landscapes, welcoming culture, and distinctive wildlife during your two-week Australia highlights tour. The grandeur of Down Under will emerge from limestone karts and colorful coral along the Great Barrier reef. From the Sydney Opera House to penguins nesting on a Melbourne beach, you will learn about Dreamtime and explore the oldest rainforest on earth while enjoying the best of Australia.
Sydney – Arrive in Sydney
Sydney is Australia’s oldest city, and it is incredibly seductive. The Sydney Harbour shimmers beneath the archway of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the celebrated Sydney Opera House stands on an outcrop paved with brick. Its ceiling rises into the air like endless sails catching the sea breeze while numerous gold sand beaches glisten against the crashing waves. You will arrive at Sydney Airport, where your transfer waits to greet you. Then, make your way to the heart of the city and settle into a luxurious accommodation with a spectacular view that overlooks downtown where the historic buildings of the Rocks line narrow, cobbled lanes.
Spend your first day in Australia exploring Sydney at your leisure. Once you settle into your hotel, explore the small park, which overlooks the boulders that jut out from the landscape while the ocean laps against the rugged coastline. It was on this shoreline that the Aboriginals first saw the British ships sailing into the natural harbor which would become Sydney. Today, boutique shops fill the antique warehouse facades and the aroma of Bavarian pretzels and microbrewery beers emanate from a specialty restaurant. You will unhurriedly stroll through quaint shops where handmade crafts, candies, and baked macaroons fill the display windows and admire ho luxury blends effortlessly with the beauty and history of Sydney.
Sydney – Half-Day Sightseeing Tour of Sydney
On your first full day in Australia, the sunrise will layer the horizon with overlapping hues of red, orange, yellow, and pink before the clear blue overtakes the skyline. Boats venture out onto the azure surface of the Pacific Ocean then they cast their sails in the breeze and traverse the harbor. You can see the connection between the rooftop of the Sydney Opera House and the ships that pass the designer building daily. After breakfast, you will join a small group for a tour of the unforgettable sights of the city, which takes you from the neighborhood of Paddington with its terrace houses to the trendy sidewalks of Oxford Street.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge was erected in the 1930s and remains the largest steel arch bridge in the world. The iconic curve of the structure rises nearly 440 feet above the water’s surface, and locals refer to the bridge as the “Coat Hanger.” Adventurers enjoy climbing the bridge, which takes people along the crisscrossing rafters for an unparalleled panorama of the city and harbor. Near the end of your guided tour, you will journey to the historic corner of Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, a sandstone bench hand carved by settlers in the early 19th century. The lookout point is part of The Domain, an 84-acre open space adjoining the Royal Botanic Gardens. The chair faces northeast and provides a breathtaking view of Sydney Harbour, the opera house, and the Harbour Bridge that frame the horizon.
Sydney – Explore Sydney Harbour on a Half-Day Cruise
In the morning, young and hip Sydney dwellers set out along the neighborhood of Glebe, which is situated between two of the city’s universities. On Saturday, the Rocks Market boasts vintage clothing, records, hand-carved furniture and handcrafted jewelry. After breakfast, you will make your way to Sydney Harbour and step aboard an exhilarating seafaring vessel, known as a Rocket Ferry. The remainder of the day will be yours to explore the wonders of the city at your preferred pace. You can take in the leafy streets, Victorian terraces, and secluded boutique shops in suburban neighborhoods or visit the impressive collection of Australian art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
The boat is 82 feet long from stern to bow. As the wind picks up and carries speckles of sea mist in the air, the harbor radiates with color in the early morning. Ships cast their sails and glide across the tranquil surface of the Pacific. Then, your captain will take you around the various waterfronts of Sydney that lend credence to the city’s nickname “The Harbor City.” Waterways wrap around various suburbs of the city, connecting Sydney Harbour like roadways. You can see the nearly three miles of walkways that stretch from Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay. Locals skate, skateboard, and jog along the waterside path while the Opera House adorns the harbor like a crown.
Sydney – Morning Surf Lesson at Bondi Beach and Stroll the Bronte Wall
Bondi Beach is one of the most famous shorelines in Sydney, known for its pristine waters, gorgeous wave breaks, and the reality television show, Bondi Rescue. After breakfast, you will make your way to Bondi Beach. The name comes from the Aboriginal world “Boondi,” which emulates the sound of the water breaking over the rocks. The beach is more than half a mile long, and during migration season, you can see whale spouts and arching dolphins along the horizon. The water laps lazily at the golden sand while you meet your surf instructor on the shoreline to learn the basics maneuvers, including the elusive art of popping up. When you are ready, you venture out into the ocean.
The water is crisp and refreshing as the sun drifts overhead, sweeping light across the glistening waves. You linger around the smaller wave breaks while your instructor guides you through the movements, telling you when to pop up, moving from flat on your stomach to a crouch. Catching your first wave will be exhilarating, and you quickly adapt to the movement of the ocean’s current and the power of each wave. There will be tranquility in waiting for the wave to come and looking back towards the cafes and restaurants that frame the golden beach and beachgoers of Bondi.
Mossman Gorge – Fly to the City of Cairns and Transfer to Mossman Gorge
The next day, the shops in the Rocks open their stalls with a plethora of designer clothing, organic produce, lavish heels, and unique designs. The cafes open to young professionals, retirees, and artists searching for a morning coffee. The café scene has eclectic patrons and celebrated coffee that blends sweet and savory dishes with the bittersweet concoctions of creative baristas. Your transfer will escort you to Sydney Airport for your flight to Cairns, located in the northeast of Australia, in the state of Queensland.
The city rests between the emerald trees of the rainforest and the azure jewel of the Pacific Ocean. Idyllic beaches stretch both north and south of the city, from Trinity Bay to Port Douglas. The Esplanade provides a friendly seafront to the city, lined with local shops, restaurants, and tropical parks. Metal artwork depicting marine life rises above the swimming lagoon with a view of the serene Pacific. Your transfer will meet you at Cairns Airport and escort you to your luxurious accommodations situated north of Port Douglas, which overlooks the Mossman Gorge River. Once you unwind in your ecolodge room, which blends into the rainforest, you will hear the river brushing against the lush banks.
Mossman Gorge – Experience Mossman Gorge and Aboriginal Culture
Native figs grow on the towering branches of the Ficus hispida while ripe red fruit blossoms on the spindly branches of the Flacourtia jangomas, whose trunk climbs to a total height of 32 feet. More than 1,000 species of trees have been identified in northeast Queensland, from orchids to palms, and the contrast of the leaves, aromas, and branches are as vibrant as the day in the forest. After breakfast, you will venture into Mossman Gorge for a deeper discovery of the landscape and the Aboriginal tribes that continue to live off the land. Streams flow with cool water brought down from the towering mountains nearby. Your guide will lead you on trails traveled by Ngadiku, the Indigenous people.
The captivating landscape has inspired countless legends for millennia. The Mossman River cascades over granite boulders. Water splashes against the bordering banks and pools in pockets made by the rugged surface. Your local guide will lead you through the traditions of the Ngadiku tribe, welcoming you with a traditional “smoking” ceremony to ward off malicious spirits and cleanse your soul. The sounds of the rainforest are striking, filled with the calls of the Jabiru, Australia’s only stork. You will listen to the local myths as you travel through Dreamtime while the sounds of the didgeridoo overtake the birdcalls. The low hum will rattle your bones. Another musician taps two wooden carved batons together to produce an alluring beat and the music echoes beneath the rainforest canopy.
Port Douglas – Transfer to the Coastal City of Port Douglas
The next morning, you will hear the calls of the elusive cassowary, a unique and colorful bird that is similar in size to an ostrich and grows to over six and a half feet tall. Their bright blue neck and face contrast with their bright red eyes and thick black plumage of their body. After breakfast, your private transfer will lead you from your lavish accommodation in the Daintree Rainforest to your opulent coastal retreat in Port Douglas. The secluded setting and luxurious style will allow you to easily melt into the tropical atmosphere nuzzled between the rainforest and the Pacific Ocean. Palm trees and wild mango trees speckle the landscape bordering the gold sand beaches. Turquoise waves lap at the golden sand set along the beach providing a picture-perfect view. The town of Port Douglas was once a fishing village but is now a luxurious resort town with the draw of Four Mile Beach, a strip of white sand fringed with palm trees.
Port Douglas – Experience a Full-Day Cruise to the Great Barrier Reef
This morning, the sunlight will wash over the Pacific and cast a glow on the turquoise surface. After breakfast, you will venture to Marina Mirage to board the comforts of your luxurious cruise around the world famous Great Barrier Reef. The catamaran is nearly 100 feet long and the perfect luxury vessel to escort you around the Low Isles, an islet made up of the uninhabited coral, mangrove Woody Island, and the sandy coral cay of Low Island. In total, the reef stretches over 1,400 miles and is visible from outer space.
The breeze will brush through your hair as it carries the semi-sweet aroma of the sea while the marina fades behind the horizon and is replaced by the crystal clear turquoise hues of the Pacific. The islands are set in a lagoon on the Great Barrier Reef, where you jump into the water with a snorkel and goggles at the ready. The current will move you back and forth as you float above the coral reef in search of the exquisite marine life while the coral shines a rainbow spectrum of color in the piercing sunlight.
A marine biologist will accompany you during your snorkeling excursion and point out the various types of fish and species that swim around the hard and soft coral. The calcite formations grow like mountains out of the ocean floor and the soft coral waves in the push and pull of the water, like small trees. Your guide points into the forest of soft coral, where you find the gentle eyes of a flatback sea turtle looking back at you, which can grow up to 35 inches long.
Port Douglas – Enjoy the Beauty of North Queensland at Leisure
Today will be your opportunity to relish the splendor of Queensland. Venture out into the edges of the Great Barrier Reef for another day of swimming with flamboyant fish, or journey into the rainforest for an unparalleled exploration of the rainforest canopy. After breakfast, your guide will meet you at your hotel and take you into the Daintree Rainforest to experience a day of jungle surfing. Calls from the wompoo fruit dove carry through the trees while the green tree frog croaks against the backdrop of rustling leaves.
Your guide will lead you 65 feet into the treetops for an unparalleled view of the oldest rainforest in the world as they explain the surrounding ecology at every step. You step onto the canopy platform and soar through the trees while the emerald leaves fade into a swirl of greenery and the wind brushes against your face. Over the trees, you can see the coral fringes of the Great Barrier Reef radiating from the water and then from the next platform you can hear the trickle of freshwater streams below.
Port Douglas – Delight in the Luxuries of North Queensland at Leisure
The following day will be another opportunity to discover the majesty of Queensland. You can relax on the beautiful white sand of Four Mile Beach or stroll along the quaint paths of Port Douglas. Venture into Kuranda on a historical, scenic railway and enjoy the panoramic view of where the ocean meets the rainforest from the privacy of a Skyrail gondola. After breakfast, you will make your way to the Wildlife Habitat, an award-winning environmental habitat that provides visitors with the chance to observe local wildlife. The reserve was erected in the 1980s on eight acres dedicated to preserving the natural environment.
You can stroll through the grounds on a tour with your guide, which will offer you insight into the behavior, characteristics, and variety of species located in the park. Inside the presentation hut, you and your guide get up close to a koala. This marsupial, which is native to Queensland, is one of the smallest of several subspecies. They sleep for up to 20 hours a day and spend a majority of the time that they are awake eating. Your guide picks up the koala, and it nestles its nose into your guide’s neck as she explains their behavior, from foraging to social tendencies. Your guide will then pull the koala away from her and let you hold the charismatic animal for a moment.
Melbourne – Transfer to the Vibrant City of Melbourne
In the morning, you listen to the water in the distance as it laps at the shores of Port Douglas. Boats venture out into the Pacific and cast their sails while the sunlight drapes over the canopy of the palm trees that surround your resort. After breakfast, your private transfer will take you to Cairns Airport for your flight to Melbourne. The city, which was founded in the 19th century, spreads from the banks of the Yarra River. Victorian architecture continues to fill the city center, and historical trams travel along the rails through the streets. Gardens blossom in the spring and summer while hidden lanes provide bohemian ambiance and artistic expression through pop-up galleries and the city’s famous street art.
Your private transfer escorts you to your stunning hotel located in a historical building in the hip neighborhood of St. Kilda. The area has the highest concentration of restaurants in the city, including trendy cake shops and rustic delis. On Sundays, a live arts and crafts market opens near the vintage pier. Locals display their unique brooches and bohemian jewelry, artisan vests and handmade hats. The top end of Collins Street is known as Paris end, where trees shade the street, and grand buildings contrast with lavish boutiques. The Block Arcade, erected in the late 1800s, consists of mosaic floors and etched-glass ceilings that provide a semblance of an open-air art museum, fashioned in the 19th century to promote a beautiful place for locals to visit. In the past, walking around this neighborhood was once a pastime meant for shopping and being seen.
Melbourne – Enjoy the Day at Leisure and an Evening Cruise on the Yarra River
This morning, Melbourne will come to life with tramcars that traverse the city while locals fill the streets, cafes, and restaurants before they commute to work. The aroma of freshly pressed coffee fills the dining room of Market Lane, a coffeehouse known for its rich espresso and artistic barista classes. The morning will be yours to discover the many pleasures and infinite majesty of the city. Federation Square is a unique artistic structure opened in 2002 to commemorate the centennial of the federation. Its ultra-modern design juxtaposes the use of open and closed spaces across the rooftop, along with setting the building apart from the Victorian architecture of downtown Melbourne. In the evening, you will make your way to the banks of the Yarra River for a charming cruise along the waterway.
The river flows for 150 miles through the Yarra Valley, reaching Hobsons Bay. The back of the boat is open to the sky, and the large glass windows provide ample viewing possibilities of Melbourne’s beautiful cityscape. You will pass the Royal Botanic Gardens that covers nearly 100 acres and contains more than 50,000 plants. Mini-ecosystems, from cacti and succulents to orchids and herb gardens, along with indigenous rainforest, create a vast landscape of both native and exotic species. The Children’s Garden is a whimsical square dedicated to endless possibilities of children discovering the creative and enchanting botanical world.
Melbourne – Discover the Wildlife and Landscape of Phillip Island
The next day, the light shines through the large elegant windows of the National Gallery of Victoria, which is the oldest public art gallery in Australia. In the Great Hall, visitors sit or lie on the floor and stare at the vibrant colors of the stained glass ceiling. After breakfast, you will make your way to Phillip Island for a day on the shores of the conservation area. A heritage farm covers more than 140 acres on Churchill Island. The working farm teaches visitors the cultural values of connecting with the landscape and the historical importance of 19th-century farm work in the state of Victoria. Once on Phillip Island, you will stroll along the network of boardwalks outside the Nobbies Centre.
Waves brush against Seal Rocks, home to approximately 16,000 seals, the largest colony of fur seals in the country. When the sun starts to set, you make your way to Summerland Beach to witness the Penguin Parade, and its tiered seating provides a 180-degree view of the shoreline. Penguins rush onto the beach from the water, waddling across the sand dunes to their nests near the grassy tufts on the hill. The little penguin grows to an average of 13 inches tall while its head and back have a slick blue hue. Their muffled calls rise sporadically across the beach to blend with the sound of the lapping ocean.
Melbourne – Relish a Scenic Drive along the Great Ocean Road
In the neighborhood of Fitzroy, students and artists create a bohemian chic style along Brunswick Street. Busy cafes open their doors next to late-night bookshops. Art galleries hide on small streets representing the beauty and distinctive qualities of the street art painted on the brick walls near the gallery doors. After breakfast, you will leave behind the city for the day to traverse the famous coastline known as the Great Ocean Road. The 151-mile long highway that stretches across the state of Victoria was built between 1919 and 1932. Eucalyptus trees grow along the hillsides and loom over the craggy shoreline base and the Antarctic Ocean.
The elements have shaped the limestone and sandstone along the edges of the country. You will stop at intervals along the road to immerse yourself in the scenery, including the iconic rock formations known as the Twelve Apostles that climb out of the indigo water. These limestone stacks, off the shore of Port Campbell National Park, have layers of color that shine against the surface of the water when waves crash against the towering rocks. Surfers head to Bells Beach, which hosts the Rip Curl Pro Surfing Competition while the high cliffs provide dramatic backdrops and stunning panoramas.
Melbourne – Depart for Home
On your last morning in Australia, the vendors of the 19th-century Queen Victoria Market return to their shops. With more than 600 traders, the marketplace bursts with traditional Melbourne life, filling with locals in search of fresh produce, fresher fish, and delicious deli meats. The latter is located in the deli hall, where vendors display soft cheeses, Polish sausages, and traditional Greek dips. Specialty shops line the street, and repurposed shipping containers offer space for artisan workshops and stalls. Melbourne is a city that treasures art, cuisine, culture in every shape and size. After breakfast, your transfer will escort you to Melbourne Airport for your flight home.
- Discover the natural grandeur of the Great Barrier Reef on a luxury tour accompanied by a seasoned marine biologist
- Venture into the oldest rainforest on earth and explore the gorgeous landscape, unique wildlife, and traditional culture of an Aboriginal Tribe
- Witness the beauty and majesty of the Penguin Parade, when the little penguins on Phillips Island cross the beach to return to their nests
- Travel along the stunning scenery of the Great Ocean Road to spend time on immaculate beaches and see the treasured rock formations along the coast
- Enjoy a fabulous cruise along Sydney Harbour for a distinctive panoramic view of the city
- Relish a surf lesson at the famous Bondi Beach to immerse yourself in the seaside culture of Sydney
- Delight in a personal experience with Australian wildlife at the Wildlife Habitat, a conservatory and rescue center for Queensland’s flora and fauna
- Relax in luxurious accommodations known for privacy, comfort, amenities, and luxury during your time in Australia
Australia is filled with majestic natural landscapes and seascapes, brimming with ancient tradition and contemporary culture. Your two-week custom tailored Australia tour will take you through the vibrant cities of Sydney and Melbourne, and into the natural wonders of ancient rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef. Cassowaries, flightless birds that resemble a historical mythical creature, graze beneath the forest canopy. Sea turtles soar over the waving tendrils of soft coral. The didgeridoo pulses in the air with a hum that makes the earth rattle. Australia brims with stories of Dreamtime and lavish architecture, bohemian artists and unique experiences all year round.
Your journey will begin with your arrival in Sydney, Australia. Your private transfer will meet you at the airport upon your arrival and escort you to an opulent hotel located in the heart of Sydney’s downtown. The following morning, you discover the grandeur of Sydney on a half-day sightseeing tour, to take in the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, along with the trendy ambiance of Oxford Street. Then, weigh anchor at the Sydney Harbour for a sensational tour on a Rocket Ferry. The next day, you will make your way to Bondi Beach for a private surfing lesson at one of the most famous surf beaches in the world. Enjoy the opportunity to stroll along the Bronte Walk, a boardwalk that connects Bondi, Tamarama, and Bronte beaches.
Fly to Cairns where your private transfer will lead you to edge of the Daintree Rainforest, where your luxurious eco-friendly lodge is located. You traverse the exquisite rainforest landscape and sensational wildlife of Mossman Gorge on a tour guided by an Aboriginal local who explains the significance of the flora, fauna, and the legends of the forest. Afterward, you will be transferred to an exquisite seaside resort in the quaint town of Port Douglas. You board a lavish catamaran and sail to the Low Isles to discover the majesty of the Great Barrier Reef. A veteran marine biologist on the ship will point out the continuous wonders of the sea. The next couple of days will be at your leisure to enjoy the beauty of northeastern Queensland.
Return to the Great Barrier Reef, where you visit three separate diving and snorkeling locations before you travel to the town of Kuranda by scenic railway located in the rainforest. Here you will visit the conservation site of the Wildlife Habitat. You could even zip line through the Daintree Rainforest for an exhilarating panorama of the canopy and coast. Then, you will fly from Cairns to Melbourne, where your transfer leads you to a magnificent boutique hotel in the bohemian neighborhood of St. Kilda. This morning will be yours to relish the urban beauty of Melbourne.
In the evening, you will step aboard a boat to cruise along the Yarra River. You visit a Churchill Island and the Koala Conservation Center en route to Phillip Island, which is famous for its nightly Penguin Parade when little penguins return from the water to their nests. The next day, traverse the sensational natural scenery that decorates the Great Ocean Road and travel across the state of Victoria. On your final day, your private transfer will meet you at the hotel and escort you to Melbourne Airport for your flight home. Consider extending your stay, and browse some of our other Australia vacations to continue your adventure of a lifetime.
$3,745 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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