The Very Best of Australia itinerary
Get ready to discover Australia on Distant Journeys’ The Very Best of Australia Tour. This 29-day escorted holiday to Australia includes so many highlights and visits all the country’s must-see attractions. We explore the country’s breath-taking scenery, vibrant cities and rich local culture – and experience an unforgettable overnight train journey aboard the legendary Ghan.
Our unhurried itinerary generally includes two or three night stops in each destination, allowing plenty of Freedom Days to fully explore each area at your own pace and discover the very best of Australia for yourself.
29-day Very Best of Australia, from only £5,995pp
To find out more information about a particular hotel or destination, please click on any orange text.
Day 1: Depart UK
Fly with Qantas or Emirates from the airport most convenient to you. Depart from Birmingham, Glasgow, London Heathrow, Manchester or Newcastle – whichever you depart from, there is no extra cost.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 2: Singapore, 2 nights
The next two days of our itinerary are based on a stopover in Singapore. Upon arriving into this wonderful modern city, you’ll be staying close to the banks of the scenic Singapore River at the four-star Copthorne Kings Hotel, in a perfect location for exploring the city.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Alternative stopovers: Singapore, Dubai or Perth
We have based days 2-4 of this itinerary on a stopover in Singapore. If you prefer, you may choose to stop in Dubai or spend an extra two nights in Perth for the same price. Your stopover includes transfers, accommodation, daily breakfast, and if choosing Dubai a city sightseeing tour. Flight timings will vary. Please speak with one of our personal travel experts for more details.
Day 3: Singapore
Singapore is one of the most exciting destinations in all of Asia, a real melting pot where Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures have merged with Western influences to create a vibrant and city. This morning you’ll embark on a tour to take in the main highlights of the city, such as the ethnic quarters that have helped make the city what it is today; the waterfront Merlion Park, home to the famous Merlion Statue, a national symbol of Singapore; and the beautiful botanical gardens. Your tour will return you to your hotel, from where you can enjoy the rest of your day as you wish.
Day 4: Perth, 3 nights
Spend the rest of your time in Singapore as you please until it’s time for us to head to the airport, ready for our evening flight to our first stop in Australia, Perth. We can recommend a few suggestions for your second day in Singapore, such as high tea at Raffles, or perhaps a visit to nearby Sentosa Island, with its myriad of attractions including wildlife parks, cable cars and light shows. Once we arrive in Perth, we will clear customs and then head to the five-star Pan Pacific Hotel.
Breakfast, in-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 5: Perth
Our first day in Perth, the capital of Western Australia and the world’s most isolated city, begins with a sightseeing tour of the city and the surrounding area. First of all, we’ll visit King’s Park, a landscape of bushland and pretty wildflowers, offering astounding views out over the city’s skyline. We will then take a small excursion to the nearby port town of Fremantle to pay a visit to the fascinating Shipwreck Galleries. The tour will end with a relaxing cruise along the Swan River back to our hotel, passing the Millionaire Mansions on the way.
Day 6: Perth Freedom Day
Day 6 is the first of our Freedom Days in Australia, where you can spend the day however you please. If you need a little guidance, our Distant Journeys Tour Manager will be there for you to offer expert advice and recommendations on things to do and places to eat, and they can also help to make any arrangements you may need or book additional excursions for you. On this first Freedom Day we also offer two optional excursions to some spectacular natural landscapes close to the city. The first is the Nambung National Park, home to hundreds of striking limestone towers known as the Pinnacles. Alternatively, you can take a trip to Rottnest Island, a protected nature reserve with a coastline of hidden coves and white sandy beaches. Rich in wildlife, here you can spot the quokka, a wallaby-like marsupial. However you choose to spend your first Freedom Day, enjoy!
Day 7: Kangaroo Island, 2 nights
Following breakfast this morning, we board our ﬂight to Adelaide, capital of South Australia. Upon arrival, meet our waiting coach and continue to the Fleurieu Peninsula, where we board a ferry to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island. We make our way to the Aurora Ozone Hotel or the Mercure Kangaroo Island, situated in a prime position on Kangaroo Island, where we spend two nights.
Day 8: TOUR HIGHLIGHT Kangaroo Island
Our day on the amazing Kangaroo Island starts with a drive through breath-taking scenery to the Seal Bay Conservation Park, where a National Park Ranger will guide us amongst the colony of rare Australian sea lions who live on the beach. We’ll then get to wander among the gumtrees of the Hanson Bay Sanctuary, the next stop on our tour, to look for cuddly koalas. The afternoon will be spent at the Flinders Chase National Park, home to some of Australia’s best-known native wildlife. During your tour of this park, you’ll be able to spot wallabies, echidnas, koalas and the kangaroos which give the island its name. We’ll also take in some incredible scenery, travelling along the island’s southern coastline to the Remarkable Rocks, offering spectacular sea views and photo opportunities. Another natural landmark we will visit is the Admirals Arch boardwalk, where we will head down the rugged cliff face to the unique rock archway, natural nursery and the happy Long-Nosed Fur Seals which call this part of the island home. After a truly unforgettable day on Kangaroo Island, packed with incredible wildlife and scenery, it’s time to head back to our hotel for a second night.
Breakfast and lunch included
Day 9: Adelaide, 2 nights
After meeting a variety of Australia’s wildlife up close and personal, it’s time to make our way back to the mainland by ferry. En route to Adelaide, we visit Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement in the quaint village of Hahndorf, with its tree-lined streets and original ‘Fachwerk’ buildings. Surrounded by grassy parkland, picturesque hills and the Mount Lofty Range, Adelaide could scarcely present a more captivating aspect. During this afternoon’s sightseeing tour we will be introduced to Adelaide’s streets, ﬁne Victorian buildings and the attractive parks and gardens that surround the city. Later, we arrive at the Peppers Waymouth Hotel for our next two nights.
Day 10: Adelaide Freedom Day
Day A Freedom Day to spend as you please. Take a look around Adelaide on foot or perhaps take an optional tour to the famous wine-growing region of the Barossa Valley. Alternatively, a lunch cruise along the Murray River is a lovely way to spend a few hours.
Day 11: Melbourne, 2 nights
This morning we head to the airport for our first internal flight to Melbourne, the second-largest city in Australia. It’s also one of the most historic, as seen in the stunning and extremely well-preserved Victorian architecture of its public buildings and grand houses. Once we arrive, you’ll get to witness the gorgeous architecture and much more with a sightseeing tour of the city. Among the places we will visit are the Victoria Markets, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Captain Cook’s Cottage (which you can also enter at your own expense), the Rod Laver Arena and Federation Square. After soaking up these sights, we also head out of the city centre to see two lovely waterside suburbs: Port Melbourne and St Kilda. For the next three nights, you’ll be staying at the four-star Clarion Suites Hotel, if departing prior to September 2020, or the Stamford Plaza if your departure date is from September 2020 onwards.
Day 12: Melbourne Freedom Day
A Freedom Day in Melbourne, where we have the opportunity to take a trip to Phillip Island, home to the world’s largest colony of little penguins, to view the ‘Penguin Parade’. Alternatively, take the Puﬃng Billy steam train through the Blue Dandenong Ranges or you can also join us for a tour along one of the most spectacular coastal drives in the world, the Great Ocean Road. Departing from Torquay, home to the world-famous Bells Beach, our tour will take us along Victoria’s dramatic coastline to our end destination, the iconic Twelve Apostles.
Day 13: Uluru, 2 nights
Following breakfast this morning, we board our flight to Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia’s Red Centre. Before landing, we may have the opportunity to view the world’s largest monolith from our aircraft. Rising from the flat surrounding scrubland, Uluru is a site of deep cultural significance to the Aboriginal communities of the Northern Territory. Upon arrival we make our way to the four-star Desert Gardens Hotel. Later, we depart for a rock base tour enabling us to discover more about its historical and cultural importance. Enjoy a glass of sparkling wine with your travelling companions whilst witnessing the changing colours of Uluru as the sun begins to set. It’s truly a photographer’s delight.
Day 14: Uluru
This morning, we have the option of viewing Uluru at sunrise. After breakfast, we leave for a tour of the impressive series of rounded sandstone domes known as the Olgas. Your afternoon is at leisure to enjoy one of the many activities on offer. On your second evening in Ayers Rock Resort, watching the sunset at the Sounds of Silence dinner is highly recommended.
Day 15: Alice Springs, 2 nights
After a leisurely morning, we travel along the Lasseter and Stuart Highways to Alice Springs. Upon arrival we make our way to the Crowne Plaza Lasseters Hotel (for departures from Sept 2020) or, for earlier departures, the DoubleTree by Hilton.
Uluru to Alice Springs: 5hrs 30min
Day 16: Alice Springs Freedom Day
Our day is free to relax or explore the outback. 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 17: The Ghan, Overnight
Nestled within the MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs is an iconic town made famous by its rich pioneering history and ancient indigenous culture. This morning you may wish to take an adventure in slow motion on an optional hot air balloon trip over the outback landscapes. Later, we board our coach and enjoy a sightseeing tour. 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.
Later in the afternoon, it’s time to make our way to Alice Springs Rail Terminal ready for our magniﬁcent overland rail journey to Darwin, on Australia’s northern coastline. Known for being one of the world’s iconic rail journeys, The Ghan was named after the Afghan cameleers who once traversed this route. Our twin accommodation is in Gold Service cabins, air-conditioned, private sleepers, all with upper and lower bunk beds, en-suite shower, wash basin and toilet. Single travellers will be accommodated in Gold Service single cabins, which are conﬁgured as a lounge chair by day, converting into a bed at night, with shared bathroom facilities at the end of each carriage. Whilst onboard, all our meals are included, as are a wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Following dinner in the Queen Adelaide Restaurant, enjoy drinks with your travelling companions in the Outback Explorer Lounge.
Breakfast and dinner PLUS selected onboard drinks included
Day 18: Darwin, 2 nights
After a leisurely on-board breakfast, The Ghan arrives into Katherine, where we have the opportunity to visit the awe-inspiring Katherine Gorge and the surrounding Nitmiluk National Park. Katherine Gorge is one of a series of thirteen sandstone gorges the Katherine River has carved into the landscape over time, and during your visit, you’ll learn all about how the gorge was named, as well as the local flora and fauna. After our stop, we once again board The Ghan for lunch and the final leg of the train journey to Darwin. Here we’ll be staying at a quality hotel on Darwin’s esplanade: the Mantra Esplanade.
Breakfast and lunch included
Day 19: Darwin Freedom Day
Darwin is the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory and is known for its laid-back fusion of frontier outpost and modern city. Your day has been left totally free to spend in your own particular way. Perhaps visit the Defence of Darwin Experience, an immersive, interactive multimedia experience telling the story of Darwin’s role in World War II – a very important time in Northern Territory history. Alternatively visit the thundering waterfalls, rainforest pockets and sacred sites of Litchﬁeld National Park. For those wishing to venture further aﬁeld, a full day overland or ﬂightseeing excursion to Kakadu National Park can be arranged.
Day 20: Cairns, 4 nights
We rise early to make our way to the airport for our one-stop flight to Cairns. Once we arrive in this coastal city, we will be transferred to our home for the next four nights, either the Hilton Cairns (for departures from September 2020) or the DoubleTree by Hilton, for departures prior to this date – ready for our adventures to the Great Barrier Reef and beyond.
Day 21: Great Barrier Reef
No holiday to Australia is complete without a visit to the Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Site and one of the world’s most famous natural wonders. It’s a truly once in a lifetime experience, with its stunningly beautiful coral and colourful marine life making this a place like no other. Our full-day excursion to the Great Barrier Reef begins with a journey aboard a high-speed catamaran to the Marine World platform on the Outer Reef. We have five hours here at the Outer Reef for you to enjoy as you wish, and you don’t even need to get wet to see the wonders of the Reef with a glass-bottomed boat, underwater observatory and semi-submersible reef viewer all offering the chance to see the array of life and colour beneath the water. For the more active, you can snorkel in the sheltered coral lagoon, or, for an additional cost, join the marine biologist on a snorkel safari or perhaps have a go at scuba diving. There is also the option to see the reef from above on a scenic helicopter flight.
Breakfast and lunch included
Day 22: Cairns Freedom Day
Today is another of our Freedom Days to spend how you wish in Cairns, although we are also offering an optional excursion to the rainforest village of Kuranda. Our visit begins with a performance by the local Tjapukai people of dance, music and storytelling, before we take the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to Kuranda village, ascending above the treetops with far-reaching views over the rainforest. Once in Kuranda, there are several pleasant ways to spend the next few hours, including perusing the markets, visiting the butterfly sanctuary or exploring the Koala Gardens. We will then make our way back to Cairns on the unique Kuranda Scenic Railway. Passing over 40 bridges and through 15 tunnels, along one narrow part the track even has to cling to the rock face: a railway journey to remember.
Day 23: Cairns Freedom Day
This is the second of our Freedom Days during your stay in tropical northern Queensland. If you prefer to stay in Cairns today, there’s much to see and do, including numerous museums and art galleries, as well as over 200 walking tracks, each leading somewhere different. Today you can also come with us the nearby Daintree Rainforest, the world’s oldest rainforest. It’s also home to the World Heritage Site Cape Tribulation, an isolated headland where the rainforest meets the reef. During our rainforest tour, you’ll see the rainforest’s dazzling variety of flora and fauna, taking a walk with an Aboriginal guide as well as embarking on a cruise to spot saltwater crocodiles.
Day 24: Sydney, 4 nights
This morning we leave Cairns, heading to the airport ready for our flight to Sydney. Our transfer will then take us to our new home for the next four nights, the View Hotel Sydney, offering incredible views over Sydney Harbour Bridge. The sparkling harbour is of course also home to the world-famous Sydney Opera House. Sydney has plenty to discover outside of the harbour however; for instance, its suburbs promise a real change of scenery with their pristine sandy beaches and native bushland. The heart of the city itself is also bursting with excellent shopping opportunities, world-class eateries and a lively arts culture.
Day 25: Sydney – sightseeing and luncheon cruise
This morning we will see Sydney in all its glory with an extensive sightseeing tour and luncheon cruise. We start by travelling through some of the city’s trendiest inner-city areas to the iconic Bondi Beach, before passing the beautiful Rushcutters Bay and Double Bay on our way back to the city centre. Our tour will then bring us to Hyde Park, Parliament House and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. This unique ‘chair’ and landmark is in fact an exposed sandstone rock, cut into a bench shape in 1810 by convicts as a gift to Governor Macquarie’s wife. It’s not only a fascinating landmark but also the perfect spot for a photo of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The sightseeing tour will then lead us on to a relaxing luncheon cruise around the stunning Sydney Harbour – the perfect way to end our first morning in Sydney.
Breakfast and lunch included
Day 26: Sydney Freedom Day
Today is the first of our Freedom Days in Sydney, though you are also welcome to join us on our optional trip to the Blue Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This National Park is home to an expansive area of Australia’s iconic bushland carpeted with gum trees, with deep gorges and towering peaks making this a simply spectacular place not to be missed. During our excursion, we will visit a series of lookouts where you can take in some of the best views of the Blue Mountains, including Echo Point, the prime viewing point for the striking Three Sisters rock formation. We will also take in the beautiful Wentworth Falls and the village of Leura, which showcases many of the region’s local artists and hosts several garden festivals.
Day 27: Sydney Freedom Day
Explore Sydney at your own pace with this second Freedom Day. Today there’s the opportunity to take an optional behind the scenes tour of Sydney Opera House, otherwise, the choice is completely yours. Our Tour Manager will be happy to help and lend their recommendations – you could do anything from visiting the Kuringai National Park to climbing the Harbour Bridge! Sydney is home to some amazing experiences and our Tour Manager will do their best to suggest the best for you.
Day 28: Depart Sydney
Our last day in Sydney is yours to enjoy as you like until we depart for the airport: the end of an amazing adventure in Australia. Flights to our chosen UK airport all stop in Dubai for a change of aircraft before the second leg back to the UK.
Breakfast, in-ﬂight meals and drinks included
SPECIAL OFFER: To celebrate the launch of our new 2020/ 2021 season, any guests booking the Very Best of Australia tour (departing from October 2020) can enjoy a two-night homebound stopover in either Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore or Dubai, for the incredible price of only £49pp (£98 for single occupancy). Alternatively, choose a three-night stopover in Bali for just £229pp (£448 for single occupancy). To take advantage of this offer, all you need to do is book by 29 February 2020. See the Offers tab for more details.
Day 29: Arrive UK
This morning our unforgettable journey comes to an end back in the UK at your chosen airport: either Birmingham, Glasgow, London Heathrow, Manchester or Newcastle.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Why not combine with a tour of New Zealand?
For an experience of a lifetime exploring both Australia and New Zealand, we offer the chance to embark on the ultimate Australasian adventure with our Australia and New Zealand combination tours. These tours combine The Very Best of Australia with our excellent Magnificent New Zealand or Very Best of New Zealand tours.
Take a look at our Australia and New Zealand combination tours for more details.