Wonders of Sydney, Ayers Rock & The Great Barrier Reef Tour

australia great barrier reef sailing boats
A 10 day trip to Australia 
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Diverse landscape and culture in Australia share an alluring mystique that is cast by the shimmering waters, the bright coral, the shining red desert sand, and the elegant architecture. Your custom tailored tour will immerse you in the majesty of traditions as framed by the land and the sea. Surfers carve the waves of Bondi Beach beneath rising coastal cliffs as Aboriginal art adorns the ancient walls of Uluru, adding to the glorious colors of the rocky surface as clownfish hide between the swaying tendrils of a dazzling anemone. From desert plains to the Great Dividing Range, you will find comfort and inspiration in the welcoming wonders of Australia. 

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General Information

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Highlights of Iconic Australia and Tropical Bora Bora Vacation
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Sydney, Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock, Cairns, Kuranda 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Sydney – Arrive in Sydney with an Introductory Private Tour

Sydney is a city of cosmopolitan allure with a veil of luster that emanates from the iconic images of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The beaches glitter with golden sand as gardens blossom with elegant roses. Your flight will land at Sydney Airport where your private transfer will greet you at baggage claim. Your hotel offers a view of Darling Harbour and the graceful sails of the Opera House’s ceiling catch the sea breeze. Pedestrians wander along the waterfront of Darling Harbour to enjoy the treasure trove of restaurants, shops, and museums.

High-rises decorate the sky in the near distance, rising from the Central Business District. The music from the nearby antique carousel brings a youthful soundtrack to your day as your eyes are drawn to the stunning mast of a replica of Captain Cook’s ship, adding to the many highlights of the Australian National Maritime Museum. You will enjoy your introductory tour to Sydney as you visit the various neighborhoods of the city to see its seaside beauty, relaxed ambiance, and sophisticated tastes.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour

Day 2: Sydney – Enjoy an In-Depth Tour of Sydney’s Districts and the Opera House

In the morning, the sunlight will spread across the sapphire waters that surround the Sydney Opera House. Beachgoers have already set out to the many beaches of golden sand found around the city, including one of Sydney’s most famous, Bondi Beach. After breakfast, your guide will meet you in your hotel lobby and escort you on a private, in-depth tour of Sydney, beginning at its most historical point of The Rocks, where the historically renowned British convicts sent to the “Land Down Under” built the first settlement. When you reach Bondi Beach, you will discover the coastal paradise of the beautiful bay lined with scenic walkways and a laid-back beachside promenade.

The aroma of fresh-made fish and chips will blend with the briny scent of the sea. The water lulls against the shoreline and then crashes against the rocky borders at the edges of the bay. Surfers carve the waves and paddle boarders propel themselves across the calmer waters of the ocean. Sunbathers lay out towels along the strand as locals jog along the footpaths that navigate the beach, the boulders, and the cliffs. Cafes overlook the water, filled with locals enjoying a cup of tea or lazy lunch, with swimmers doing laps in the seaside pool connected to the Icebergs. You will then return to the heart of the city eager to enter into the lavish grounds of the Sydney Opera House, which features a stunning open-air forecourt that looks out to the harbor and the breadth of Sydney.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Sydney – Relish a Private Sailing Excursion around Sydney Harbor

At breakfast, the aroma of fresh tropical fruit harvested in Australia’s northeast fills the dining room. Bright yellow mango and the red outer layer of rambutan contrast the white hues of the plates. After breakfast, you will venture to the marina to board a boat bound for the outskirts of Sydney Harbour. Your catamaran will set sail and pass the illustrious Opera House. The sea breeze will brush against your cheeks and carry sporadic mist that rises from the ship’s hull. The skyline will come into view, spotlighting the stunning gilded height of Sydney Tower that soars over the streets at more than 1,000 feet.

You will shift with the sails, feeling the coarse ropes in your hands as you try to change the course of the boat and catch the wind’s shift in direction. The steel frame of the Harbour Bridge glints in the sunlight as the purple petals of Sturt’s Desert Rose burst against the olive hues of the bush’s leaves in the Royal Botanic Garden. Your boat will travel towards Neutral Bay, with your captain pointing to the homes that rise out of the trees on the lush seaside hills. You will even pass Kirribilli House, where a former Prime Minister makes his home. The residence encompasses a full acre of land with a picturesque Gothic-style home that overlooks the water.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Ayers Rock – Transfer to the Famous Red Center in the Heart of Australia

The coastline of New South Wales undulates between golden sand and sheer sandstone walls that drop into the sapphire waters. Ferries glide between the stations at the heart of Sydney to the outlying suburbs, each promoting the beauty of the landscape and the coastal lifestyle treasured by locals. The refreshing sea breeze sweeps through the Darling Harbour and winds along the historical façade of the Queen Victoria Building, a 19th-century mall filled with elegant arcades, high-end boutique shops, and adorned with colorful stained glass windows that shine over mosaic floors. Your private transfer will meet you in your hotel lobby and escort you to the Sydney Airport for your flight.

Your plane will ascend to offer you one last view of the city’s skyline set against the gorgeous Pacific Ocean and sails of the Opera House rooftop. Once over Central Australia, you will see a vast landscape the color of glowing rust for as far as the eye can see, lending credence to the name, the Red Center. Your flight lands at Ayers Rock Airport and your private transfer will lead you to your luxurious resort situated in view of the famous monolith of Uluru. Your eco-sensitive accommodation stands amidst the desert flora, and the mystical and gorgeous image of Uluru towers over the desert plain in the distance as the only protrusion for miles around. In the evening, the rugged hues of the boulders shift to a glowing orange against the expanse of the shadowy Outback. 

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

Day 5: Ayers Rock – Traverse the Desert to View Uluru and Kata-Tjuta

In the morning light, you can watch from your deck as the colors of Uluru shift once more. The cloudless sky swirls with pink and ruby hues and the colors reflect on the sandstone to turn the exterior bright red as if the monolith was engulfed in flames. After breakfast, you will set out with your guide to tour the trails that encircle the treasured landscape that is significant to the traditions, heritage, and legends of the Aboriginal communities. You will realize just how large the monolith stands the closer you travel to the impressive figure, which reaches a height of nearly 1,000 feet above sea level.

Sacred and ceremonial sites are scattered along the base of Uluru, many of which local Anangu law forbids outsiders from visiting. Your guide will explain the geological origins of the region, along with the mystical beginnings of the Red Desert and the surrounding world. A sheltered wall nestled into the base projects a protected rock painting that is mixed with natural elements, from minerals found in the soil to hues taken from tallow. Your guide will explain the symbols of the painting still utilized in the contemporary Aboriginal artwork. The concentric circles represent a watering hole, with the horseshoe shape around the circles depicting a person. Before venturing to the naturally shaped domes of Kata-Tjuta, you will notice the palpable and ineffable majesty that rises from the sacred monolith. 

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

Day 6: Cairns – Fly from Ayers Rock to Northeast Queensland to Arrive in Cairns

You will wake up early this morning to watch the colors shift across the façade of Uluru once more. The dramatic landscape, from the consistent waterholes in the dreaded heat of the desert to the staggering domes that protect the secluded caverns at the Olgas has made an indelible impression. The symbols you saw decorating the canvases of art galleries, as well as the rock walls of Uluru, continue to roll through your mind along with the myths, legends, and stories of the Aboriginal people. After breakfast, your private transfer will escort you to Ayers Rock Airport for your flight to Cairns, located in northeast Queensland. You will look out the plane window to find a world much different than the rusty-red hues of the sweeping desert plains.

Queensland has a tropical climate with dense rainforest to the west, white-sand beaches on the eastern shoreline, and radiant bodies of coral that create the captivating Great Barrier Reef. Your flight will land at Cairns Airport where you will meet your private transfer. Your hotel overlooks the tranquil marina with the backdrop of the verdant mountains framing the azure waters. In the evening, you can explore Cairns with a visit to the Night Markets, a tradition influenced by the evening markets of Southeast Asia. Locals sip refreshingly cold beer inside the dining room as the stalls and galleries fill with the aromas of fresh noodles and organic scented oils.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

Day 7: Cairns – Delight in a Full Day Outing to Visit the Great Barrier Reef

In the morning, the sunlight will rise above the eastern horizon and spread over the Cairns esplanade. Locals jog along the walkway and enjoy a free yoga class on the bordering grassland in view of the rippling Pacific. Families enjoy the calm waters of the wading pool beneath the shade of the decorative mosaic fish made to look as though they are flying through the air. After breakfast, you will make your way to the marina and board a luxurious catamaran to set out to tour the Inner and Outer coral systems of the Great Barrier Reef. The Reef is one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, encompassing nearly 132,819 square miles.

The surface water shifts between shades of azure, indigo, and cobalt. You will reach your first spot and jump into the water at Saxon Reef. The water is warm on your skin and gently nudges you along with the current. You will follow a guide eager to show you the best snorkeling spots along the reef, immediately pointing to a whitetip reef shark sleeping in the shallow sand. The grayish hues of the shark blend into the sand, but standout against the rainbow of colors along the reef. Blue corals and sea fans stand beside sponges and stoic starfish as soft coral waves in the current like grass in the wind and a clownfish radiates orange and white hues against the iridescent purple of an anemone’s tentacles.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Cairns – Explore the Rainforest and Ride the Scenic Kuranda Skyrail

In the morning, the bright colors of the murals that decorate a nearby cafe shine amidst the scent the fragrant roasted coffee beans. The sweet fragrance of mangos accompanies the spicy house-made jam, sourced with locally grown chili peppers. After breakfast, you will make your way to the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, which glides above the emerald canopy of Barron Gorge National Park. The gondola provides you with a stunning 360-degree view, along with an intimate portrait of the treetops from the glass-bottom floor. The parceled plains at the edge of the forest lead to the azure waters of the Coral Sea and spread to the horizon. Once in the town of Kuranda, the sunlight pierces through the canopy in splinters, shining over the wide streets full of the traditional crafts of the Kuranda Market.

You will wander the streets before stepping into the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, the largest aviary in the southern hemisphere that contains more than 2,000 tropical butterflies. The iridescent colors of the Ulysses butterfly remind you of the indigo and sapphire hues of a damselfish you saw while snorkeling in along the Great Barrier Reef. Their wingspan stretches to five and a half inches, decorated with elegant crescents of blue and black. While standing in the aviary, a Monarch butterfly lands on your shoulder and rests before taking to the sky once again.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Cairns – Indulge in the Beauty of Tropical Queensland with a Day at Leisure

The splendors of northeast Queensland come from the incredible rainforest and beautiful sea. The mystique is enhanced by the unique connection the indigenous people have maintained over tens of thousands of years. After breakfast, the day is at your leisure to enjoy the wonders of the eastern coast. Stay in Cairns to visit the wildlife dome located in the Reef Hotel Casino or venture north to Palm Cove to stretch out on the tranquil sandy beach and linger in the chic bohemian cafes. You will travel to the Tjapukai Cultural Center for a chance to immerse yourself in a living, breathing heritage that dates back more than 40,000 years. The enticing aroma of cooking meat drifts upward from a Bayngga, a traditional underground oven.

Indigenous artwork is exhibited in the gallery offers insight into the differences of tribal affiliation and symbolism. From the desert dwelling peoples of the Red Center to the tropical forest-dwelling communities of northeast Queensland, you will begin to understand the connections and differences. Your private guide will take you through the village to view the traditional weapons, utensils, and abodes of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In the brush surrounding the village, you will find ancient herbs used for medicinal purposes, along with the specific trees used to make boomerangs and didgeridoos. The locals have their bodies painted in with the traditional lines and dots around their eyes, arms, and torso. They will hold up a handcrafted didgeridoo, filling the village with the deep, humming sound echoing in the hollow wood before spilling out into the air.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Cairns – Depart for Home

The morning light will wash over Cairn’s Trinity Inlet, illuminating the labyrinth of creeks lined with mangrove trees. Saltwater crocodiles relax on the banks and absorb the sunlight before stepping back into the water to cool their body temperatures. In Cairns, locals enjoy the free exercise classes offered on the grass beside the winding esplanade as music plays while the instructor calls out the next move during the nearby open-air Zumba class.  After wandering by or taking part in class, you will take it all in during your last morning in Australia. At breakfast, you will partake in the sweet flavors of fresh mango and creamy jackfruit before meeting your private transfer in your hotel lobby. You will make the brief journey to Cairns Airport where you will board your flight home, taking your majestic memories of your time in Australia with you. 

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer

Price

Starting Price 

$2,495
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.