Our small group Australia tour with like-minded travelers and engaging Down Under guides will show you the amazing diversity of their native land – from the Queensland rainforest, Great Barrier Reef and Ayers Rock to its alluring cities, cuisine and wine!
Welcome to Melbourne, Australia
On arrival, you’ll be warmly greeted and escorted to the sophisticated 5-star Sofitel on Collins. This evening, you’re invited to gather with your fellow travelers for a welcome drink and some light hors d’oeuvres. Afterwards, you can dine on your own here at the Sofitel or at one of the many fine restaurants that are located within a few blocks of the Sofitel; of course, our in-the-know guide will be happy to offer assistance recommendations.
After breakfast, join our engaging Australian Trip Leader for a guided city tour. See important landmarks like the Victorian Arts Center and Captain Cook’s cottage - and delight in a stroll through the lovely Royal Botanic Gardens. At the Shrine of Remembrance, you can learn about Australia’s wartime history as you explore on your own. Then delight in the light-filled elegance of the Royal Arcade that opened in 1870, and stop by a local patisserie to sample their delicate French-style macarons. End your sightseeing in the charming coastal enclave of St. Kilda where you’ll have time on your own to stroll along its inviting beachside promenade. Back at your hotel, the rest of your afternoon is at leisure.
Tonight, a magical evening begins with a glass of Australian wine, beer or cider - and the breathtaking views from the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. Then stroll along the harbor to Berth. Here in this casually elegant, waterfront setting, your wonderful 3-course meal offers a chance to sample their modern presentation of traditional fare including just-caught seafood, locally-sourced meats and farm-fresh produce, all accompanied by some fine Australian wine. Meals B+D
The Beautiful Mornington Peninsula
Today’s full-day excursion takes you outside the city to explore the dramatic coastal scenery, quiet fishing hamlets, picturesque farms, and award-winning vineyards of the Mornington Peninsula. Discover the friendly town of Mornington and then continue to Green Olive, a 27-acre family farm. After a tour of the property including its olive groves, vineyards and kitchen gardens, you’ll sit down to a delightful farm-to-table lunch featuring fresh produce, quality meats and fine wines – all produced on the property!
After lunch, we’ll take you up to Arthurs Seat; from the top of this 1,000-foot summit, you’ll have spectacular views of Port Phillip Bay and the Peninsula’s coastal towns and golden beaches. On a clear day, you can even see the Melbourne skyline in the distance! The return drive usually takes just over an hour, so back at the Sofitel on Collins in Melbourne, you’ll have time to refresh and relax for a bit before dining on your own tonight. Our in-the-know guide will be happy to make personal recommendations for dining and evening entertainment. Meals B+L
Onward to Cairns, the Queensland Rainforest + Palm Cove
Check out after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your included flight to Cairns. On arrival, your adventures in North Queensland begin in Kuranda, a mountain village surrounded by the vast expanse of pristine rainforests that extend for more than 300 miles along the tropical coast of North Queensland. Next up is the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, a 4.5-mile adventure that takes gliding just a few yards above the treetops before descending through the lush canopy layers and deep into the heart of the forest at Skyrail’s two rainforest mid-stations for the ultimate tropical rainforest experience. At the conclusion of your 1.5-hour cableway adventure, our motorcoach will take you to Palm Cove, a charming beach community just north of Cairns, where you’ll enjoy a 3-night stay at Peppers Beach Club & Spa; A+R guests will stay in spacious 1-bedroom accommodations with a private balcony overlooking the unique lagoon-style swimming pool or lush tropical gardens. The restaurants, boutiques and galleries of Palm Cove are just a short stroll away along the town’s shaded beachfront esplanade. Meals B
The Great Barrier Reef
After breakfast, you’ll be escorted to the Cairns Marina to embark your full-day cruise adventure to Michaelmas Cay on the Great Barrier Reef. Situated nearly 25 miles off the coast and close to the pristine outer reef systems, Michaelmas is the largest of the uninhabited coral cays in the Cairns region. It’s home to 35 unique species of sea birds and its gently sloping beach offers comfortable entry into the sheltered waters that surround the cay. With complimentary snorkeling equipment, you’ll discover a colorful undersea realm teeming with colorful marine life – including sea turtles, hundreds of species of tropical reef fish, mollusks, and other invertebrates. The reef surrounding Michaelmas Cay is particularly renowned for its abundance of giant clams! Throughout the day, our engaging and knowledgeable marine biologists are on hand to answer questions and enrich your exploration. In addition to snorkeling, the reef lagoon offers excellent swimming and you can always take some time to explore the flora and fauna of the Cay. You can also join an available guided snorkeling tour - or stay dry as you explore the reef world from a semi-submersible vessel! A smorgasbord luncheon and roundtrip transfers between our resort and the Cairns marina complete this unforgettable Great Barrier Reef adventure. Meals B+L
A Free Day in Paradise
This entire day is yours to enjoy the amenities and beachfront setting of our tropical resort. You can also wander into Pam Cove to shop, dine, explore and just enjoy its inviting ambience. Throughout the morning, our in-the-know guide will be in the hotel lobby to answer questions, suggest activities and provide assistance. Meals B
Fly to Ayers Rock + Discover Kata Tjutu
After an early breakfast and check-out, we’ll take you to the airport for your included flight into the Outback. On arrival in Ayers Rock, you’ll begin your exploration of these captivating landscapes as our knowledgeable Trip Leader offers insight into the flora, fauna and unique geology of the region. Arriving in Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, a guided walk in Walpa Gorge promises spectacular views of the 36 towering red-rock domes that comprise Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). You’ll learn about the importance of Kata Tjuta as a sacred Aboriginal ceremonial site and gaze in wonder upon the scale of the rock walls that surround you.
After checking in to our stylish 5-star resort, you’ll have time this afternoon to relax. If you wish, you might be able to catch the hotel’s resident storyteller as they share deeper, personal insight into Aboriginal history and culture. As the sun dips towards the horizon, we’ll take you to a prime vantage point to witness the sun set over Uluru (Ayers Rock). Enjoy a glass of sparkling wine and experience the shifting moods of Uluru as darkness begins to fall. Meals B
Sunrise at Uluru + Sounds of Silence Dinner + Field of Light
Arise early this morning for a delightful picnic breakfast in an al fresco setting that offers dramatic views of Uluru at sunrise – its vast presence seeming to emerge from the desert landscape as the day brightens. Enjoy a morning walk to a nearby waterhole as our guide shares the Creation stories of the region’s indigenous inhabitants and points out the native flora. View Aboriginal rock paintings and then stop by the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Center to learn more. Back at Sails in the Desert, you can take a dip in the pool, relax on your private balcony or patio, or join one of the activities offered by the resort.
This evening you’ll gather for an unforgettable experience – starting with canapés and sparkling wine on a viewing platform overlooking Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. As the sun casts its waning glow over the Outback and the dominating presence of Uluru, the evocative strains of the didgeridoo will summon you to dinner. Featuring locally-sourced ingredients, you’ll savor a wide variety of dishes inspired by the region’s early settlers, enhanced by a free-flowing selection of Australian wines and beer. As the darkness deepen after dinner, settle back and stare up into the star-filled sky as our resident expert helps you to locate the Southern Cross, the signs of the Zodiac, and other constellations of the Southern Sky.
After an introduction to the artist and his work, you’ll be invited to experience the Field of Light - an evocative, mesmerizing open-air work by Bruce Munro, the British-born artist celebrated for his vast site-specific installations. Covering an area the size of seven football fields, this is Munro’s largest work to date. Immerse yourself in this fantasy garden with 50,000 spindles of light that seem to breathe and sway in the sweet desert air. Meals B+D
Onward to Sydney
You’ll be escorted to the airport today for your included flight to Sydney. On arrival, we’ll take you to our deluxe hotel, ideally located close to the waterfront in the heart of this vibrant city. Meals B
Out and About in Sydney
Arise early this morning for our insiders-access tour of the iconic Sydney Opera House, a stunning architectural landmark with a dramatic harbor-front setting. Taking you behind the scenes, you may have the opportunity to stand on the Concert Hall stage, take up the conductor’s baton in the Opera Theater orchestra pit, or even peek inside the stars’ dressing rooms. The Green Room is usually the private domain of performers and crew, but this is where we’ve arranged for you to enjoy a hearty breakfast – a highpoint of our backstage tour!
[Please Note: The Opera House is very much a working center for the performing arts; as such, the specifics of our exclusive behind-the-scenes tour and breakfast will be determined by rehearsal and performance schedules on the day of our visit.]
From the Opera House, you’ll continue your guided tour with some of the city’s other well-known landmarks, including the Harbour Bridge and Botanic Gardens. From Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, you’ll have a breathtaking view of the Bridge and Opera House. A guided walk through the historic Rocks district is enlivened by colorful tales of the convicts, sailors and rogues who were among the city’s earliest settlers! See the Parliament House and St. Mary’s Cathedral and drive through some of Sydney’s most vibrant districts including Kings Cross and Paddington. Strolling along Bondi Beach, you’ll see surfers and world-famous Aussie lifeguards! Then take in the view from Sydney Heads, situated at the mouth of the harbor, before enjoying lunch and a glass of wine at the charming Watson Bay Hotel. After lunch, a private water taxi is a delightful way to make the return journey to Circular Quay where a short stroll brings you back to our hotel. Meals B+L
At Leisure in Sydney
This day is yours to enjoy as you wish! Take advantage of our hotel’s heart-of-it-all location to explore more of this friendly city at your own pace. This evening, make your way down to the Circular Quay Wharf to embark our Captains Dinner Cruise on one of the world’s most beautiful harbors. Our comfortable motor yacht offers panoramic picture windows and an open Top Deck so you can take in the views as you enjoy a selection of complimentary Australian wines, beers and juices. As you make your way past iconic landmarks like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, a 3-course dinner will be served in the air-conditioned dining room. After this delightful experience, you’ll step off our ship and stroll back to your hotel. Meals B+D
After breakfast, you’ll be escorted to the airport for your onward journey.