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Selected departures from May to August 2017
Explore Australia’s larger-than-life natural and man-made wonders, from the sun-baked Outback, lush rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef, to some of the world’s most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities.
Australia is big... really big! This vast island continent could swallow up Europe whole, with room to spare. For some 50,000 years, a tiny Aboriginal population lived here in harmony with the untamed primal wilderness, undisturbed by the outside world until European colonisers arrived, spearheaded by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770. Since then Australia has flourished, and now makes her presence felt around the world, thanks in large part to the boundless enthusiasm and resourcefulness of her people, the outgoing, energetic descendants of convicts, gold miners, explorers, traders and adventurous settlers down the centuries.
You’ll travel in style on trains, boats and planes (and luxury coach) on your escorted Australian adventure, where diversity is the watchword at every turn, serving up sights, sounds and exotic experiences to delight all your senses. Our itinerary reads like a roll-call of world-renowned tourist icons, from sunset-reddened Ayers Rock to Sydney Harbour Bridge, ‘the Coathanger’, silhouetted against the evening sky; the wine-rich Barossa Valley; eucalyptus forests of the Blue Mountains; and the 1,400-mile-long underwater paradise teeming with life that is the Great Barrier Reef, the largest living structure on the planet.
Australia’s land-based fauna is extraordinary too; kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, kookaburras and emus are strangely familiar from a thousand wildlife documentaries, but never less than astonishing when you finally meet them in the flesh in their natural habitat.
Our adventure begins in sporting-mad Melbourne, capital of culture, whose 88-storey glass and steel Eureka Skydeck Tower commands spectacular vistas over the city’s Victorian architecture and historic ‘Queen Vic’ street market, the illustrious Cricket
Ground, and the Rod Laver Arena. We’ll head out to the Dandenong Ranges and ride the famous Puffing Billy steam train, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to roam the city at leisure on its free tramcar services, and wander among the boutiques, cafés and bars in the winding ‘laneways’.
We’ll leave Melbourne and head along the Great Ocean Road towards the garden city of Adelaide, enjoying breath-taking scenery, most memorably the Shipwreck Coast’s crumbling limestone stacks, known as the ’Twelve Apostles’, offshore of the Port Campbell National Park. Our route also takes in the stunning Blue Lake at volcanic Mount Gambier, and the wine-growing Coonawarra Region, before arriving in the South Australian capital for some more ‘city time’. Another fine wine region, the Barossa Valley, lies close enough to Adelaide to afford us a wonderful day out, and the chance for you to sample the produce at its oldest winery.
From Adelaide you’ll fly to Alice Springs and the ‘Red Centre’ where the barren outcrop of iconic Uluru (Ayers Rock), shrouded in Dreamtime legends, towers incongruously above the flat vastness of the sun-baked Outback. In ‘the Alice’ you’ll enjoy a wonderful outback dinner around the campfire and under the awe-inspiring southern constellations. Our two night stays in both Alice Springs and Ayers Rock ensure you have plenty of time to enjoy both these amazing places without feeling ‘hurried’.
On selected departures we offer an even more complete Aussie experience when our tour includes an extra three nights in Darwin, Kakadu National Park and the stunning Katherine Gorge - some of Australia’s most memorable landscapes and wildlife,
including the famous saltwater crocs!
Of course, no visit to Australia would be complete without experiencing the astounding Great Barrier Reef, lying sandwiched between white coral sand beaches with turquoise waters and the lush, green tropical rainforest. We have a relaxing four night stay at one of Cairn’s best hotels so that you have plenty of time to enjoy the many experiences on offer. Whether snorkelling or in a glass-bottomed boat, you’ll be astounded at the coral reef’s vividly colourful inhabitants, and with such a teeming abundance of wildlife all around you in forest, ocean and sky, you cannot help but feel a strong connection with the life force of the natural world here.
If you had to choose a spectacular venue for the finale to this holiday experience of a lifetime, surely none could surpass sophisticated, cosmopolitan Sydney, the coastal city ‘par excellence’, with its iconic Opera House, the glorious surfer’s paradise of Bondi Beach, and the soaring Harbour Bridge – climb it, if you dare! Wonderful beaches, harbour cruises, opera, fine dining, excellent shopping, a superb day’s excursion into the glorious Blue Mountains - Sydney is a ‘holiday in a city’ in its own right.
Big, brash and beautiful, Australia serves up a heady cocktail, with extraordinary ingredients: modern cities and ancient folklore, mountains and rainforest, desert and seascapes, culture and the ‘great outdoors’, all mixed to exhilarating effect. It’s unmissable!
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. It includes scheduled flights to Melbourne and returning from Sydney and all domestic flights within Australia; all transfers; 18 nights nights accommodation on the 21-day tours and 21 nights accommodation on the 24-day tours in three, four and five-star hotels; daily breakfast and three meals (or four meals on 24-day tour); city sightseeing in Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice Springs and Sydney; Puffing Billy train trip; wine tasting in the Barossa Valley; walk at The MacDonnell Ranges and at the base of Uluru; visit to the Olgas; trip on the Kuranda Railway and Skyrail; Ocean Spirit catamaran trip to Michaelmas Cay; trip to Blue Mountains and Sydney Harbour cruise; tours extending to Darwin include Jumping Croc, Yellow Waters and Katherine Gorge river cruises, Aboriginal cultural experience & visit to Litchfield National Park; hotel porterage of one item of luggage per person; the services of a Riviera tour manager.
VISAS & HEALTH
All British passport holders need to obtain an Australian eVisitor visa prior to departure. By using the eVisitor system you will not need to send your passport away for a visa stamp or label. The eVisitor visa is free of charge and valid for a three-month stay within a twelve month period from the date the eVisitor visa is granted. It may be applied for only online at http://www.border.gov.au. Click on to ‘ImmiAccount’ and follow the instructions; once you have successfully completed the online application form, your approval should be received by email within 24 hours. You should print this and take it with you. When you check-in for your flight to Australia at the airport, airline staff will use your passport to electronically confirm that you have authority to travel to Australia prior to boarding.
There are no current health requirements for Dubai or Australia. However, whilst the travelling schedule shall pose no problems for people of any age in normal physical health, we would point out that we often enjoy walking tours (sometimes over unmade paths) so this holiday may not be suitable for clients of greatly impaired mobility. Please bear this in mind when considering this holiday. Whilst care has been taken to ensure that the information provided relating to visa requirements is true and correct at time of publication, changes in requirements after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information. Therefore, whilst we strive to provide the most up-to-date information, we strongly suggest that you re-confirm requirements with the relevant embassy prior to travel.
You should arrive at the airport for your flight to Melbourne, via Dubai
A morning city sightseeing tour includes Federation Square, the Victoria National Gallery, the Old Melbourne Gaol and the Exhibition Building built for the 1880 Great Exhibition. Our first stop is the spectacular Eureka Skydeck Tower with its sensational 88th floor viewing platform (the highest in the Southern Hemisphere) and ‘Edge Experience’ (at extra charge) – a glass cube sliding out from the building, with you inside! Our included lunch is on Melbourne’s famous Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure – stroll along the Southbank Promenade or join your Tour Manager and discover some of Melbourne’s famed ‘laneways’.
The morning is free to relax or explore, with one option the bustling Queen Victoria Market that has served Melbourne for over a century. Early afternoon we drive into the Dandenong Ranges overlooking the city, riding on the historic ‘Puffing Billy’ steam train through lush mountainside from Belgrave to Emerald Lakeside. The evening is at leisure – why not take in one of Melbourne’s many theatrical productions.
We set off early on the Great Ocean Road, Australia’s most spectacular coastal highway. We join the "Shipwreck Coast" that stretches through Port Campbell National Park and stop for photos of the Twelve Apostles - huge rock pillars shaped by the Southern Ocean - before continuing to the seaside town of Warrnambool. Our hotel for the night is the three-star superior Quality Suites Deep Blue Hotel & Spa.
Today we head to the South Australian town of Mt. Gambier. Built on the slopes of an extinct volcano, it’s famous for its spectacular Blue Lake whose waters inexplicably change to a brilliant blue in summer. Back on the road, we pass through the wine growing region of Coonawarra and typical south Australian bush country (look out for kangaroos & emus!) before our afternoon arrival in Adelaide. We stay for two nights at the centrally located five-star Intercontinental.
A morning tour of Adelaide includes the location where Colonel William Light planned the city in 1836. His simple blueprint – a one square mile centre surrounded by parks and open spaces – is still in evidence today. Leaving Adelaide mid-morning, we head to one of Australia’s most renowned wine regions – the Barossa Valley. We visit the historic Seppeltsfield winery, where you will enjoy a private tasting.
We transfer to the airport for our flight to Alice Springs, capital of Australia’s ‘Red Centre’. A short drive includes ANZAC Hill for panoramic views of the town. This afternoon we visit the Old Telegraph Station, established in 1871 to relay messages between Darwin and Adelaide. Our hotel for two nights is the four-star Lasseters, with a pool and spa. Our authentic Outback dinner is at The Earth Sanctuary at the Quandong Homestead – enjoy a bush BBQ with music and entertainment, hear stories of the Aboriginal Dreamtime and relax around the camp fire before returning to the hotel.
Early risers have the option of an unforgettable hot-air balloon ride at sunrise. Later this morning we visit the School of the Air and the Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum. This afternoon, we explore the beautiful Western MacDonnell Ranges. We stop at Simpsons Gap, an important spiritual site for the Arrarnta Aboriginal peoples, and finish the day walking the picturesque gorge at Standley Chasm.
We leave Alice Springs and head south, stopping off at some typical Australian ‘roadhouses’ as we enter the barren landscape of the ‘Red Centre’ - a vast desert plain dotted with spinifex and desert oaks. Mid-afternoon we arrive at Yulara, near Ayers Rock (traditional name Uluru), and check into the four-star Desert Gardens, with breakfast. In the evening we drive to ‘Sunset Strip’, pop some bubbly and enjoy Uluru’s remarkable light show as the Rock changes colour … utterly breathtaking.
It’s an early start to reach the viewing area to watch the sun rise above Uluru. A guided ‘Mala’ walk around the Rock’s base reveals its spiritual significance through Dreamtime stories and Anangu rock art before an opportunity to purchase lunch at the Cultural Centre. Early afternoon, we visit the Kata Tjuta rock formations and take a short walk into the beautiful Mount Olga Gorge. Back at the resort you can visit the Yulara Village.
Transfer to Ayers Rock Airport and fly to Darwin, Northern Territory’s capital. Our hotel for the night is the four-star Oaks Elan Darwin. A late-afternoon trip to the Mindil Beach Sunset Market offers 130 craft stalls and 60 stalls selling delicious global food.
We depart early for Kakadu National Park. Local Aboriginal people will show you medicinal plants and techniques for making baskets and spears – you can even blow a digeridoo! Next, we join the Adelaide River Queen for a ‘Jumping Croc Cruise’ to observe saltwater crocodiles (Australia’s most dangerous reptile) leaping out of the water. We lunch at the Bark Hut Inn roadhouse before entering Australia’s largest National Park, World Heritage-listed Kakadu – expect magnificent scenery and unique flora and fauna. At Cooinda we board a sunset cruise to see wildlife including Brolgas, Egrets, Jabiru and – hopefully – crocodiles. Our hotel for the night is the three-star Mercure Crocodile with breakfast.
This morning we head to Nourlangie Rock, which features impressive Aboriginal drawings dating back tens of thousands of years. We continue to Katherine and our hotel, the three-star Knotts Crossing Resort with breakfast. In the evening you’ll travel through the Katherine Gorge on the Nabilil Dreaming Sunset Cruise. Enjoy excellent Australian cuisine, learn about local tribes and watch the cliffs turn gold in the setting sun.
After breakfast we travel north along the Stuart Highway to Litchfield National Park, a 65,000-hectare region of virgin rainforests, hot springs, termite mounds and waterfalls. You’ll visit Florence Falls and can swim in Wangi Falls. We continue back to Darwin for our flight to Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Our home for the next four nights, with breakfast, is the four-star superior Pullman Cairns International.
This morning we join the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway for a trip through tropical rainforest, ravines and spectacular gorges in the magnificent Barron Falls National Park. Surrounded by World Heritage listed rainforest, Kuranda itself brims with arts and crafts shops. We return to the coast via the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, skimming over the top of the rainforest canopy.
After breakfast we head out to Michaelmas Cay with Ocean Spirit Cruises. One of the world’s great natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest expanse of living coral on earth. The sand bar at Michaelmas Cay offers the opportunity to snorkel with parrot fish, giant clams and even sea turtles! The cay is also home to over 20,000 migratory terns and gannets. You will enjoy snorkelling (equipment provided), a semi-submersible tour, a glass-bottom boat trip, and a buffet lunch before returning to Cairns.
Today is at leisure in Cairns. Trips are available on the scenic Cook Highway to Cape Tribulation and the Daintree rainforest; to the Atherton Tablelands; a night-time tour of Cairns zoo or helicopter flights over the Great Barrier Reef.
Our tour of Australia’s largest city takes you through the historic ‘The Rocks’ area followed by a stop at Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair for fantastic views of Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. We continue through Double Bay and on to famous Bondi Beach for a stroll along the promenade. This afternoon will be unforgettable – a cruise in the world’s most picturesque harbour.
We travel inland to the dramatic Blue Mountains that encompass steep cliffs, eucalyptus forests, waterfalls and pretty villages. You’ll see the stunning Three Sisters rock formation and enjoy views of the Jamison Valley below. You can take a short cliff-side walk (or the coach) to the Scenic Skyway cable car 270m above. You then take the world's steepest incline railway to descend 415m at a gradient of 52 degrees. At the bottom, a path takes you through lush eucalyptus forest teeming with plants and birdlife. We return to Sydney in the late afternoon.
The morning is free before transferring to the airport for our flight home, via Dubai.
Arrive back at your selected Airport.
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