Melbourne, Uluru, Alice Springs, Cairns, Kuranda, Port Douglas, Great Barrier Reef, Sydney, Blue Mountains
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Culture, wildlife, and wilderness immerse you in splendor during your 14-day Australia highlights tour for seniors. Koalas will cling to eucalyptus trees and kangaroos will bounce past your view. The Red Centre will glow at sunrise while the alleys of Melbourne brim with lively cafes. Your customizable tour will travel at your preferred pace as you discover the diverse and unparalleled highlights of Australia.
Melbourne - A Cultural Welcome Along the Beach
It is impossible not to feel a little jet-lagged when flying into Australia. For most travelers, this giant cut-off island is as far as you can fly. Melbourne is a relaxed and easy-going city for getting over the switch in time zones. There is life at all hours of the day, from people strolling the beach at sunrise to enclaves of shops and restaurants staying open into the night. Scattered over a vast area, Melbourne is Australia’s most artistic and cultural city, with treasures to find in dozens of contrasting neighborhoods. Most visitors quickly feel at home and dive right into exploring it all. This is also a city with many miles of open beaches, so there is something to suit every mood. On your airport transfer, you will be taken to the southern suburbs, and your hotel will look out over the ocean waves with a long promenade for space to stretch your legs after the flight.
Melbourne - Settling Into the Australian Experience
A half-day city tour is planned today, with the timing flexible as you wake up and adjust to the time zone. Take the tram into central Melbourne, and a juxtaposition of style unfolds with narrow and squat colonial leftovers meeting with gleaming futuristic buildings. Grand old marketplaces are stuffed with multicultural stalls, and you will continually switch from the late 19thcentury to tomorrow’s world. The Royal Arcade and Flinders Street Station are essential sights, along with Queen Victoria Market. But mostly the experience is the contrasts as the old and the new mingle seamlessly along each street. Most of the tour is done by tram, a leisurely means of getting around and getting a sense of the city. Just hop off to important sights and settle into the Australian way of doing things.
Melbourne - Seeing Kangaroos and Koalas in the Wild
On open plains the kangaroo sit and wait. There can be over a dozen of them, and you will approach slowly, a few steps forward before waiting for any reaction. Springing happily, they move with great hopping movements across green pastures. These are wild kangaroos, such iconicity to their frames, and such intimacy to the experience. While these marsupials move, those nearby are still, clinging to eucalyptus branches with a sleepy look in their eye. Koalas. Not bears as some may think, just koalas in a drowsy state, so quiet and still you can come to within just a few meters. Stand beneath these trees, and you will have a prime view onto a wild species that has become increasingly vulnerable and endangered. You will not touch or interact with these animals today as it will be an authentic wild experience in a nature reserve one hour from the city.
Uluru - The Great Monolith and the Desert Stars
Now the adventure really begins as you fly westward to three days in Australia’s red center. Uluru glows red from the plane window, and it is enormous beyond boundaries and changing color on a whim, so it is easy to see why Uluru so hypnotized for many thousands of years. Tour the base to see Aboriginal paintings, and then sip on sundowners as Uluru goes through its most dramatic daily color change. After dusk the southern sky unfolds, an astronomer your guide to a Milky Way of sparkles and shimmers. Uluru is one of the world’s most isolated travel destinations and almost every night is clear, bringing a wonderful experience each time the sun goes down.
Uluru to Kings Canyon - Exploring Kata Tjuta and Bush Camping
Sunrise and you will be at the other monoliths, the domes of Kata Tjuta. They rise from shadow and glow effortlessly, enticing you forward. This site is incredibly important to local Aboriginal people, with just a small section accessible by visitors. You can choose from two hikes of differing length, or you can opt for an easy walk. After breakfast, you will continue with your desert adventure as you bump across the red rock to Kings Canyon, another surreal feat of nature in the middle of nowhere. Tonight you will stay inside this strange place for a luxurious outback glamping experience that will bring a deep connection with the outback. Your tent is more like a contemporary hotel room, with a private bathroom and running hot water. Yet the canvas walls and simple exterior mean you can stay within the landscape, rather than on the edge.
Kings Canyon to Alice Springs - Continuing the Wild Desert Adventure
Over time, the wind has shaped incredible boulders, and many of them remain perched precariously in Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve. Deep inside the red canyon, you can hear water bubbling, and on the remote Kings Creek Walk you will see signs of life with small birds and messages inscribed in stone. From Uluru to Alice Springs is around eight hours of driving, and this will be the second day of a private four-wheel drive adventure that leads you across the desert to the most remote outpost town of them all. Not much happens in Alice Springs, yet it is an interesting little town that feels like a frontier and builds a broader picture of life in Australia, both now and back in history. You will spend the night in the town’s best hotel, and leave refreshed and relaxed.
Cairns to Port Douglas - Between the Rainforest and the Ocean
From Alice Springs you will fly back east, touching down on the Pacific coast at Cairns. From here, it will be a one-hour transfer north that skirts both rainforest and ocean. Port Douglas is a dreamy place for Australian retirees, a slow-moving town with beautiful beaches and beautiful year-round weather, backdropped by rainforest and studded with small cafes and restaurants. Every visitor immediately feels at home here, and you will notice a big change from the desert. Nothing is planned for the day so that you can check out Port Douglas at your leisure, perhaps with some time on the beach.
Port Douglas - Aboriginal Dreaming Day Tour
Many people think of Australia’s Aboriginal people as desert dwellers, yet hundreds of individual tribes once thrived here, each with their own land and specialism. This morning you will be guided by an Aborigine from the rainforest and learn the use of each plant. Then this afternoon, you will be guided by a coastal tribe, on a “hunter-gatherer” walk across open sands. In between these experiences you will be with an artist and learn the meanings behind many Aboriginal paintings, and then create your own cryptic message. This is a tour that will quickly dispel stereotypes about Aboriginal people and add to your understanding of the complexity of their past and future.
Port Douglas - Discovering the Great Barrier Reef
Colors tumble through the water, luminous despite the ocean depth. Small fish whizz around a giant grouper as eels poke their heads from slabs of rock. The Great Barrier Reef is as its name suggests, a barrierconstructed by thousands of individual reefs. On your boat tour, you will cruise to a pontoon perched above a reef. Once at the pontoon, you can choose how you want to explore. Snorkeling and diving are possibilities, as well as a helicopter above it all. There is also the option of a semi-submersible craft which is ideal for many senior travelers as you can explore the different reefs and a magical underwater world, without getting wet or being pulled by ocean currents.
Cairns to Sydney - Cruising the Parramatta River
Fly south and check into your five-star hotel on Darling Harbour, just two stops by Metro to the Opera House and with dozens of good restaurants in very close walking distance. The famous city is compact and easy to get around, especially the old center. Spend some time getting to know the city’s atmosphere before a sunset Parramatta cruise offers a more complete introduction. Beneath the Harbour Bridge you will go, past the Opera House sails before setting course towards the ocean. Returning towards Circular Quay in time for the sunset, you can watch city lights come on as dinner is served and enjoy the beauty of the city.
Sydney - Sydney City Tour and the Famous Opera House
It is in The Rocks where Sydney has an early colonial history, inside an enclave of squat stone buildings and cobbled streets. There are Aboriginal tales nearby, and then stories of Queen Victoria told through grandiose arcades. While Melbourne was spread out, the middle of Sydney is compact, with all of the key sights packed together for a very manageable tour for senior travelers. This evening you will visit the most iconic place of them all, the Sydney Opera House. You will take in a performance and discover what takes place behind the iconic sails.
Sydney - A Day in the Blue Mountains
The haze is blue just an hour outside Sydney, and it hangs low above a eucalyptus forest, with stark orange peaks poking above. Welcome to the Blue Mountains, a surreal and often silent landscape unlike what you would imagine of Australia. Each of the peaks has an Aboriginal name and story as trails weave through the eucalyptus forest below. The world’s steepest train track takes you between mountain and valley floor, and later your guide will drive you to a succession of viewpoints, providing an insight into Australian bush land. Why is the haze blue? How did this landscape come to be? These are questions that can only be answered once you see the Blue Mountains in person, for photos cannot reflect the surreal splendor of this place. It will be a full-day small-group tour from Sydney, stopping at an animal conservation area as you return to the city.
Sydney - Relaxing on Legendary Beaches
Your final day will be left free, and Sydney’s eastern beaches are a good choice for a self-guided day trip. Using the city’s excellent transport systems you can easily reach Bondi, the most famous beach of all. From here, there are coastal walkways up and down the coastal cliffs that lead you to different bays and beaches. An alternative is to take the ferry to Manly, a longer beach with a far flatter promenade to walk upon. Of course, you may choose to ignore the beach, Sydney also being a place of excellent museums and shopping arcades.
Sydney - Departure
After breakfast you are transferred to Sydney’s international airport for your outbound flight.
- Find wild kangaroos and koalas in the forests outside Melbourne
- Experience luxury bush camping with a night beneath the southern stars at Kings Canyon
- Explore the opulent and old architecture of Sydney, then end your day tour at the famous opera house
- Spend three nights in Port Douglas, backdropped by thick rainforest and gazing out towards the Great Barrier Reef
- Gain an intimate connection with local culture, the trip including Aboriginal bush-tucker and painting day as well as the sacred sites of Uluru and Kata Tjuta
- Cruise the Parramatta River through Sydney and cruise to a day on the Great Barrier Reef
- Escape to the Blue Mountains for a day of surreal landscapes and stories
- Melbourne is an artistic and relaxed city, perfect for easing into the vacation
- Experience Australia’s wild red center, including the Devils Marbles and Kings Creek
Australia’s grandest highlight is its diversity in that it is as much a continent as a country with a narrative of nature meeting urban life. Kangaroos still roam in their thousands and stars shimmer evocatively in a desert wilderness far grander than the imagination. Cities delight with their famous highlights, from beaches to the opera house and the iconic harbor bridge. There is thick rainforest to the northeast, tumbling down mountain slopes towards the Great Barrier Reef. Many of the mountains shine with tucked-in secrets, cast in a hazy glow as koala cling onto eucalyptus in the valley below. It seems improbable that all this can be combined in a single vacation, yet this is Australia’s greatest trick. For while there is unbounded wilderness and distant destinations, this is a country with superb transport connections and you can see it all in the time frame that you have.
Handcrafted for senior travelers, this two-week tour is split between four contrasting destinations for the four corners of the Australian experience. Melbourne is the cultural enclave for easing into the tour and overcoming jet lag. You will be based close to water for a quick trip from both the beach and the central city. Wild kangaroos and koalas are found in bucolic parks just beyond the city boundaries and one day is dedicated to these marsupials. By day four, you should be ready for an adventure so you will fly directly to the great red monolith that is Uluru.
Watch how sunset changes everything at the giant rock, before a night of guided stargazing from Ayers Rock Town. It will then be pure adventure as you spend two days and one night driving to Alice Springs, through Kings Canyon and other remarkable feats of nature. That one night is spent glamping with a comfortable and safe experience that connects you to the Australian outback. Alice Springs is a peculiar little town which will more than hold your interest for a night. The next morning you will fly to Cairns, swapping the red center for tropical rainforest and reef.
The next two nights will be spent in Port Douglas, a classic destination an hour north of Cairns. Rainforest provides a surreal backdrop to charming streets and small, quiet beaches, and you can spend the next day exploring local Aboriginal culture, including painting with natural hues, searching for bushtucker, or food, and respecting spirits deep in the forest. There will be a big contrast the following day when you take a cruise onto the Great Barrier Reef and explore the natural feat from a variety of angles. You will not need to be a swimmer or a snorkeler as there is a semi-submersible boat for witnessing all the vivid color.
End your private tour with four nights in Sydney, a cruise along Parramatta River providing an excellent city orientation. With your local guide, you can follow historical stories from Aboriginal past to the colonial arrivals, royal dignitaries and grand period architecture. Much like in Melbourne, wild nature is just an hour from Sydney so you can escape to the Blue Mountains, where the mist swirls and the haze is blue from eucalyptus. The final day is left free, and Sydney is a shopping paradise if that is your thing, or perhaps the final day is best spent on the beaches.
$3,495 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.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
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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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