Essential Australia itinerary
19-day Essential Australia, from £3,995
If you would like more information about a particular hotel or destination, please click on the orange text.
Day 1: Depart UK
Fly with Qantas or Emirates at the most convenient UK airport for you, for no extra cost. Our tours currently depart from these UK airports: Birmingham, Glasgow, London Heathrow, Manchester and Newcastle.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 2: Melbourne, 3 nights
All ﬂights with Qantas/Emirates to Melbourne travel via Dubai. After clearing customs and collecting our luggage we board our waiting coach and transfer to either the four-star Clarion Suites or the four-star View Hotel Melbourne.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 3: Melbourne
Our first day in Melbourne starts with a sightseeing tour, taking in the city’s most notable sights and places of interest. Among the places our tour visits are Federation Square, the Victoria Markets, Captain Cook’s Cottage, the Rod Laver Arena and the Melbourne Cricket Ground. After exploring the heart of the city, we also head to the scenic waterside suburbs of Port Melbourne and St Kilda.
Day 4: Melbourne Freedom Day
This is the first Freedom Day of our tour, where you’re free to do as you please and discover Melbourne at your own pace. If you need any advice, our Distant Journeys Tour Manager will be there to recommend the best things to do and places to eat in Melbourne, as well as to help book excursions and make any other arrangements you may need. Alternatively, why not take advantage of our Freedom Days optional tours, to experience even more of Victoria. The first is a tour along the Great Ocean Road, one of the most spectacular road trips in the road. This tour sets off from Torquay, where you’ll find the iconic surfing beach of Bells Beach, following the road along the stunning coastline to the end destination of the Twelve Apostles. Or, why not visit the world’s largest colony of little penguins? They can be found on Philip Island, where you can watch the Penguin Parade.
Day 5: Sydney, 3 nights
This morning we say goodbye to Melbourne, heading to the airport to fly to Sydney. Once we’ve arrived, we start our tour of Sydney in style with a luncheon cruise around the city’s beautiful harbour. The cruise offers some truly magnificent views over to the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge, as well as to the many gorgeous waterside houses. Following the cruise, our tour takes us around many of the city’s trendy suburbs, taking in Bondi Beach, Double Bay and Rushcutters Bay before returning to the city centre. As we head into the heart of the city, we’ll see Hyde Park, Parliament House and the unique Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. A sandstone rock carved into a bench by convicts in 1810 as a gift to Governor Macquarie’s wife, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is not only an incredible sight, but also offers the perfect photo opportunity for Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. Our first day in Sydney ends at either the Novotel Darling Square or the View Hotel Sydney, where we will stay for the next three nights.
Breakfast and lunch included
Day 6: Sydney Freedom Day
This is your first of two Freedom Days in Sydney, where you’re free to enjoy Sydney as you wish, or join us on our optional excursion to the Blue Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This rugged National Park west of Sydney is a perfect example of native Australian bushland, characterised by its towering peaks, dramatic cliffs, eucalyptus forests and stunning waterfalls. During our tour you’ll be able to soak up the scenery from a variety of vantage points, including Echo Point, the best place from which you can see the Three Sisters, an unusual rock formation. Among the other landmarks you’ll get to visit are Wentworth Falls, an incredible three-tiered waterfall, and the pretty village of Leura, a hub for local art and culture, famous for its annual garden festivals.
Day 7: Sydney Freedom Day
A second Freedom Day in Sydney to further explore this wonderful city. Sydney is a city that takes full advantage of its natural setting – its sparkling harbour is host to the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and the spectacular Sydney Opera House. Sydney’s suburbs are blessed with lush native bushland and pristine sandy beaches. Add to this the excellent restaurants and cafes, endless shopping opportunities and vibrant culture and it’s very easy to understand why Sydney is one of the world’s favourite cities. Enjoy!
Day 8: Cairns, 4 nights
Sadly, we must say goodbye to Sydney, but our sadness is short-lived as we know the beauty of tropical Queensland awaits. We return to Sydney Airport in time for our ﬂight to Cairns. Upon arrival we shall transfer to one of two centrally located hotels, the Hilton Cairns or the DoubleTree by Hilton, which will be our home for the next four nights.
Breakfast and in-ﬂight drinks included
Day 9: The Great Barrier Reef
A holiday to Australia would not be complete without a visit to the Great Barrier Reef. Its vibrantly coloured marine life and breathtakingly beautiful coral make this World Heritage site a must see for all visitors. During our full-day Great Barrier Reef excursion, we board our high-speed catamaran and journey out to the Marine World platform located on the Outer Reef. Snorkel in the sheltered coral lagoon, or if you prefer to stay dry, view the reef from the semi-submersible reef viewer, glass-bottomed boat or underwater observatory. With ﬁve hours at the reef, there is plenty of time to do it all. For the more adventurous, there are a number of activities available at an additional cost, including scuba diving (no experience necessary), joining the marine biologist on a guided snorkel safari, or soaring above the reef on a spectacular scenic helicopter ﬂight.
Breakfast and lunch included
Day 10: Cairns Freedom Day
Although today has been left free you may wish to take an optional trip to Kuranda. Our tour begins with traditional Tjapukai aboriginal culture including authentic music, dance and storytelling by the Tjapukai people. We ascend to Kuranda by the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, a beautiful experience gliding over the rainforest canopy. ‘The village in the rainforest’ Kuranda awaits. It’s a lovely place to while away a few hours visiting the markets, butterﬂy sanctuary or the Koala Gardens. Travel back to Cairns along one of the most unique rail journeys in Australia, the Kuranda Scenic Railway. See how the track clings to the rockface along a narrow coastal strip. During our journey we encounter no fewer than 40 bridges and 15 tunnels as we make our way back to Cairns.
Day 11: Cairns Freedom Day
Another Freedom Day to enjoy in tropical northern Queensland. Surrounded by rainforest and mountains, Cairns boasts over 200 walking tracks; there are also numerous interesting museums and art galleries to explore. If you prefer to venture further aﬁeld, we suggest a day trip to the nearby Daintree Rainforest, where the oldest rainforest in the world meets the reef at the World Heritage-listed Cape Tribulation. The tour gives a wonderful insight into rainforest’s unique ﬂora and fauna, including a walk with an aboriginal guide and a cruise spotting saltwater crocodiles.
Day 12: Uluru (Ayers Rock), Overnight
An early start today as we make our way to Cairns Airport in time for our ﬂight to Australia’s Red Centre and the next leg of our exciting journey. Upon arrival, we visit the impressive series of rounded sandstone domes known as the Olgas. Later in the day we travel to Uluru where we can enjoy a glass of sparkling wine whilst witnessing the changing colours as the sun begins to set. It’s truly a photographer’s delight. Overnight at either the Outback Pioneer or Desert Gardens Hotel.
Day 13: Alice Springs, 2 nights
Uluru is the icon of Australia’s outback, and the world’s largest monolith. For early risers, a dawn visit to the rock has been arranged. Seeing Uluru at sunrise, from a diﬀerent position and a diﬀerent light, oﬀers a totally new perspective on the ever-changing colours and character of the rock. This afternoon we travel east through amazing landscapes as we journey along the scenic Lasseter and Stuart Highways and make our way to the outback town of Alice Springs. Upon arrival, we shall transfer to the four-star DoubleTree by Hilton or Mercure Hotel.
Uluru to Alice Springs: 5hrs 30min
Day 14: Alice Springs Freedom Day
Nestled within the MacDonnell Ranges, Alice is the geographical centre of Australia, made famous by its rich pioneering history and ancient indigenous culture. This morning you may wish to take an adventure in slow motion with an optional hot air balloon trip over the outback landscapes. After breakfast, there is a choice of optional tours available. Perhaps join a half-day sightseeing tour of this ‘Town Called Alice’. Visits include the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the School of the Air, and the Old Telegraph Station, now a museum and the site of the old springs from which Alice gets its name. Alternatively, you may wish to take a trip to the Western MacDonnell Ranges; an excellent opportunity to get a real picture of life in the outback. The full-day excursion takes us through the wondrous and picturesque scenery of Simpson’s Gap and the towering granite walls of Standley Chasm.
Day 15: Perth, 3 nights
This morning we make our way to Alice Springs Airport in time for our ﬂight to Perth, the capital of Western Australia. Upon our arrival we shall transfer to the Pan Paciﬁc Hotel, overlooking the beautiful Swan River. This afternoon take a stroll by the river and get yourself acquainted with this stunning city.
Day 16: Perth
Nicknamed the ‘friendly city’, Perth is Australia’s sunniest capital and the world’s most isolated city. Today we take a tour of this coastal city and explore the variety of sights it has to offer. During our tour we will visit King’s Park, where there are wonderful views over the city as well as the park’s own flowers and bushland. We also head to Fremantle, a nearby port town, where we’ll discover more about the many ships that have wrecked off the coast of Western Australia at the Shipwreck Galleries. As we return from Fremantle, we’ll see the Millionaire Mansions before embarking on a cruise along the Swan River, ready for an evening of relaxation at the hotel.
Day 17: Perth Freedom Day
Your final full day in Australia gives you the chance to spend the day as you please. We also offer two optional tours so you can take advantage of the remainder of your time in Perth. The first tour takes you to the nearby Nambung National Park, highly regarded for its beautiful beaches, towering sand dunes and the truly unique Pinnacles Desert, where thousands of limestone pillars known as Pinnacles rise out of the ground. Alternatively, you can take a short trip to the protected nature reserve of Rottnest Island. Here you will find secluded coves, unspoilt white sandy beaches and fascinating wildlife, such as the quokka, a small marsupial.
Day 18: Depart Perth
The day is your own until it’s time to depart for the airport. Our ﬂights to our chosen UK airport operate via Dubai where there will be a change of aircraft. London Heathrow passengers may be able to take advantage of the non-stop Qantas ﬂight from Perth.
Breakfast and in-ﬂight meals & drinks included
SPECIAL OFFER: If you would like to break the long journey home to the UK after your Essential Australia tour, then why not add on a stopover in either Singapore or Dubai? To celebrate the launch of our new 2020/ 2021 season, we are offering any guests travelling in our new season (departing from October 2020) a two-night homebound stopover for only £49pp (£98 for single occupancy). The homebound stopover includes return airport transfers, two nights accommodation in a four-star hotel and a full daily breakfast. To enjoy this special launch offer, simply book by 29 February 2020.
Day 19: Arrive UK
We bring an end to our unforgettable Australian adventure, arriving into the airport of your choice out of Birmingham, Glasgow, London Heathrow, Manchester or Newcastle.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included