Sydney, Blue Mountains, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Cairns, Port Douglas, Daintree Rainforest, Great Barrier Reef
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Kangaroos hop across sun-scorched plains as children play on golden beaches. The mountains are blue, and there is a rainbow beneath the water, making it all feel as magical as you always imagined. Welcome to an iconic family vacation down under with ten days combining three signature elements of the Australian experience. Explore the city with three days in Sydney and its surroundings, and then escape to Kangaroo Island for intimate wildlife encounters. Lounge around the coast in Port Douglas,...
Sydney – Relaxing around the Rocks and Darling Harbour
Sydney’s size surprises many visitors, as this is not a big city, especially the city center. In just one hour, you can comfortably look around the famous postcard sights as Sydney Harbour Bridge arches over the Parramatta, the sails of Sydney Opera House, and Victorian buildings that stretch out from beside The Rocks. It is an easy city to gain your bearings, and you can walk around as a family, even when a little jet-lagged. After a private airport transfer, your guide will provide a map and offer some suggestions on where you might go. A comfortable afternoon can be spent walking from Circular Quays, where the most famous sights are located, through The Rocks to the waterfront restaurants at Darling Harbour. Travel back by public ferry, passing under Sydney Harbour Bridge at night.
Sydney – Guided Sydney Bike Tour and Afternoon at Bondi Beach
On a bicycle tour, you can cover more ground compared to yesterday. Peddle past the iconic sails and out along the river, and then loop into the old city center where Victorian arcades juxtapose with contemporary towers. Continue to The Rocks, where brownstone buildings paint a story on Sydney’s earliest history. Then end at Darling Harbour, an expression of modern Sydney. Here you will find a spacious park and dozens of family-friendly restaurants, along with the colorful sculptures of a changing outdoor art gallery. Your privately-guided cycling tour is suitable for all ages and avoids major roads, sticking to protected cycle routes and vehicle-free areas around the promenade.
Travel east this afternoon, heading out to Sydney’s famous surf beach. Bondi is backdropped by cafe-clad hills, a broad cove of golden sand lapped by continual barrel waves. It is one of the most famous places in Australia to surf, certainly as a beginner. While locals ride the breaking green waves, beginners can learn in the frothy surf closer to the sand. Lessons are lighthearted and use large foam boards, so almost everyone achieves the experience of standing and riding a wave. After a two-hour surf lesson for the kids, and perhaps the adults, settle in at a cafe and watch the waves, the ocean’s salt still gathered around your faces.
Sydney – Blue Mountains and Cruising the River
An hour outside Sydney and you will be in the bush. Ragged mountain peaks climb above a eucalyptus-clad valley. Gaze across the scene, and a peculiar blue haze fills the air, subtle and surreal as it attaches itself to the mountains. These are the UNESCO World Heritage Blue Mountains, a strange landscape that provides easy family adventures in the Australian bush. The world’s steepest railway takes you down to the valley floor, where wooden boardwalks provide access to the forest, and these are great if you have a child in a stroller. Wandering around, you can encounter inspiringly tall trees and raucous birds. There are many trails, and you can choose one or more based on your energy levels.
On this private Blue Mountains trip, you will first hit the forest. Explore by road during the afternoon, visiting Katoomba, Wentworth Falls, and the King’s Tableland. Make a stop at Featherdale Wildlife Park on the way back to Sydney, giving the children some very personal encounters with Australia’s wildlife. The park is home to rescued animals, including kangaroos, wallabies, and tiny koalas, a note to the kids, they are not bears! In New South Wales, you are permitted to hand-feed and touch some of these animals, so Featherdale is a good place for family wildlife photos before more wilder experiences on Kangaroo Island. You will return to Sydney by ferry, such a leisurely journey, and far more enjoyable than the road.
Kangaroo Island – Koala in the Eucalyptus Forests
Two domestic flights bring you to Kangaroo Island, where wildlife writes the script for the next two days. While indigenous wildlife is becoming increasingly scarce on the mainland, this island in South Australia provides a mostly untouched refuge. Alien species were not introduced en masse, and most of the island is gazetted as either national park or conservation area. After landing on the island, you will check into your hotel along the coast in an area loved by wallabies and koalas. You will see the marsupials hopping around the property, sometimes entire wallaby mobs roaming just ten meters from your suite.
There will not be too much time for a wildlife safari this afternoon, so searching for koalas is a great option. It will be like a treasure hunt, scanning the eucalyptus forests for signs of life. Clinging to their branches with sleepy eyes, the koalas barely move more than a few trees each day. They are somniferous creatures, sometimes spotted high in a tree, other times barely two meters from the ground. Watch how their eyes open slowly, soporifically, before their claws grab on and they drift asleep once more. Okay, they are not the most exciting creatures once you actually find them, but the koala treasure hunt is safe and fun for every age.
Kangaroo Island – Seals and Kangaroos, All Day Long
On a full-day safari, the wildlife adventure is more eclectic. Ride around in a four-wheel-drive through Flinders Chase National Park on the lookout for kangaroos. Great mobs cover grass plains, hopping, and boxing the morning away. Out in Seal Bay Conservation Park, you will be guided by smells, a pungent aroma provided by a vast colony of seals. They bask in the sun as you wander the beach, amazed by how few other people are around. Deep on the island interior, you might see platypus as well, with wallabies providing the beachside enchantment when you return to your hotel.
Adelaide – More Wildlife and a Day at the Beach
This morning is flexible, and you could choose another wildlife activity in Flinders Chase National Park or some free time on the nearby beach. Spending tonight in Adelaide is essential due to the flight schedule. It is an extremely relaxed city along the coast, famous for its beaches and laid-back atmosphere. Your hotel is on the beach, and you can spend the rest of the day on the sand, dipping your toes in cool ocean waters, perhaps throwing a rugby ball in the shallows. Adelaide feels more like a village than a city, and you can take a comfortable family stroll in the center, admiring the late 19th-century architecture that has survived.
Port Douglas – Another Day Along the Coast
With the early flight departure, you can be in Port Douglas by midday. The town lies an hour north of Cairns at a spot where tropical rainforest tumbles down into the Pacific. Great broad-leaved trees create shade on the beach as the waves lap gently and the warm waters are usually safe for children to swim in. Port Douglas is quieter and more family orientated compared to Cairns, a larger town that is firmly fixed on the backpacker trail. Plus, it has nicer restaurants and a much better beach. After a private airport transfer, you will check into your waterfront apartment that is within a rainforest nature reserve. There will be a large elevated terrace overlooking the ocean, and lots of space for the kids to run around.
Port Douglas – Exploring Daintree Rainforest and Aboriginal Culture
In a four-wheel-drive vehicle you will bump up the coastline, crossing epic tree roots and dusty trails. Saltwater crocodiles sunbathe along the Daintree River on the route, peering at you from a statuesque form. Pacific waves crash onto mangroves while ancient trees mark the sand on seemingly endless beaches. Continue the adventure and ascend to the Cape Tribulation lookout. From here, you can witness the rainforest meeting the Great Barrier Reef, a stirring sight to impress the power of nature. This is a day of raw adventure, and one that reminisces of Crocodile Dundee or any fictional traveler your kids may follow.
But while nature writes the script, there is a wonderful cultural lesson to learn as well. Your guide is an Aborigine, and his tribe call Daintree home. He will show you how to ask the rainforest for safe passage, with a harmonic voice that calls to the trees. Then he shows you around to explore how one plant is for making rope, another for curing fever, others for buildings, medicine, eating, washing. Rub certain leaves with water, and you can make soap. Rub others together, and you have toothpaste. And if any of you are feeling brave, it is possible to harvest a few bugs for a cold lunch, with a proper lunch included later on. It will be a privilege to explore with the rainforest’s gatekeeper, and the full-day tour should create a new appreciation for nature.
Port Douglas – Full Day Cruise to the Outer Barrier Reef
A grouper swims past, with rainbow colors across its skin, and two reef sharks swim off, darting with impressive precision. A myriad of fish swarm around coral sponges and some have flamboyant stripes as one inflates its yellow body. A school of ribbonfish cruise past as an eel pokes its head from beneath a rock. This is the Great Barrier Reef, a kaleidoscope of marine life and bright colors, a structure so immense it can be seen from space. It is a barrier, a collection of individual reefs that form a chain along Australia’s northeastern coast. Each of these reefs is a little different, and some are in better condition than others.
It is well worth the additional travel time required to visit the Outer Barrier Reef, where the reefs are better protected against storms and human impact. Having fewer visitors and boats also adds to the authenticity of the experience. After a 90-minute boat ride, you can spend most of the day around a pontoon above a reef. This provides dry land and food in between your activities. The snorkeling is superb, and there are special zones for less confident or able swimmers. Scuba diving is a possibility, even if you have never done it before, and a semisubmersible craft roams above the reefs as well, so you can enjoy the reefs without getting wet.
Port Douglas to Cairns – Departure
Late check-out has been arranged so you can take the kids to the beach and use up lots of energy before the flight. You will be transferred to Cairns in the late afternoon for your evening departure.
- Safely experience the Australian bush together, encountering hopping kangaroos and wallabies
- Explore Sydney on a bicycle tour and learn to surf at Bondi Beach
- Escape to the beach with a three-night stay in Port Douglas
- Discover the colors and marine life of the Great Barrier Reef on a day tour that includes semisubmersible and snorkeling activities
- Learn about Aboriginal culture on an intimate tour of Daintree Rainforest
- Encounter hundreds of seals and koalas, just some of the wildlife spotted during your two days on Kangaroo Island
- Spend a day in Adelaide, playing on the beaches of South Australia
- Cruise along the Parramatta River after a day in the surreal Blue Mountains
Australia is home to both iconic colors and extraordinary experiences. It is also a destination for connecting with both culture and nature as a land where there is an incredible amount of space for families to be together. Of all its famous appeal, there are three elements of the Australian experience that truly standout for those visiting as a family. An energetic city draped along the water, all of the weird and wonderful wildlife and then beach escapism with Australia’s endless coastline. Douse in some Aboriginal culture and the Great Barrier Reef, and you have a near complete Australia tour in just ten days of travel.
This family tour is designed around these experiences, a three-center vacation with Sydney, Kangaroo Island, and Port Douglas. Fly between these destinations and you will also get to explore three Australian regions, comparing New South Wales with South Australia and Queensland. Accommodation is handpicked to keep you central, while still providing the space that Australia invariably provides. Many of your tours will be private and can be adjusted to your children’s ages and interests, notably the wildlife safaris on Kangaroo Island.
Sydney is an iconic place to start, and every visitor is surprised by how compact the city is, and how easy it is to get around. Gain some initial impressions on your first day before a cycling tour of the city on day two. Then ride the tram to Bondi Beach and take a surfing lesson. A private guide will take you to the Blue Mountains on day three, where you can hike through eucalyptus forest and admire the dramatically carved peaks. It will be a great destination for all ages, including boardwalks that work with strollers. Your three days in Sydney also include a stop at Featherdale Wildlife Park and a cruise down the Parramatta River beneath the famous bridge and past the opera house.
Fly to Kangaroo Island via Adelaide, and you will have 48 hours on a wildlife safari. Nowhere else in Australia has so many indigenous animals in such a relatively small space, and wallabies and kangaroos hop around your accommodation. Koalas are seen in abundance as this is their final refuge, while seals bask on some of the beaches and even a platypus may make an appearance. You will explore Flinders Chase and Seal Bay with your local guide, with walks in the wild and lots of intimate first-hand encounters. On day six, you will fly to Adelaide and have an afternoon on the beach, a necessary overlay as the only direct flight to Cairns leaves early in the morning.
From Cairns, you will travel an hour north to Port Douglas, a quieter beach town with a very relaxing atmosphere. These final three days provide downtime, the kids running on wide open beaches as Queensland’s sultry atmosphere takes hold. On day eight, you can visit Daintree Rainforest nearby, with your Aboriginal guide teaching you about different plants with a chance to learn how to make soap and toothpaste by squashing certain leaves, which is always eye-opening for kids. Cruise to an outer reef on day nine, with snorkeling and a semisubmersible craft showcasing the kaleidoscopic color of the Great Barrier Reef. Day ten provides leisurely time around the beach before your evening departure. See what else our top Australia travel specialists can do for you on your custom vacation.
$2,495 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
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
Reviews of Zicasso's Referral Service
4.84 stars based on 1865 reviews
"All in all the trip was quite amazing and well put together."
Reviewed By Susan P.
"Working with our planner was fun, easy, and totally enjoyable...
Reviewed By Chuck H.
"Our travel agent was wonderful."
Reviewed By Susan M.
"The trip planning was essential to enjoying our stay in...
Reviewed By Robert S.
"The trip planner worked hand and hand with us."
Reviewed By sue w.
"The travel agent listened to what we were interested in...
Reviewed By Beth L.
Get Weekly Inspiration and Expert Advice on Travel
during the COVID and post-COVID era