This fantastic rail adventure takes in many of Australia's natural wonders, including the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and the Blue Mountains. A wonderful train journey on the legendary Ghan from Alice Springs to Adelaide is a real highlight, and time in Melbourne and Sydney to explore completes this holiday of a lifetime.
We depart London Heathrow for an overnight flight to Hong Kong, continuing via Sydney to Cairns. We arrive early on Day 3 with a leisurely day ahead of us.
Today we travel on the wonderful 125-year old Kuranda Scenic Railway. Our journey takes us into the rainforest and above the Barron River Gorge to Kuranda. On arrival, we take a trip on a World War II amphibious military transport unit, or 'Army Duck', through World Heritage Rainforest, with the Duck Captain pointing out the different flora, fauna, birds and reptiles which we pass on our journey.
After enjoying lunch, we experience an Aboriginal 'corroboree' with songs and dance, following the path of the Dreamtime Walk through traditional legend.
A real highlight of our holiday is today's Quicksilver Cruise to the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef system which is home to thousands of species and stretches over 1,800 miles. A large covered pontoon is our base for the day, where we enjoy lunch and explore the reef. Snorkelling is the best way to view the exquisite coral and vibrant fish close up, but our base also has a semi-submersible vessel to take non-swimmers for a cruise along the reef wall. The underwater observatory is a superb window into this extraordinary world! On Day 6 you are at leisure.
We leave Cairns today and fly to the desert to Uluru. Ayers Rock, the world's largest monolith, rises majestically more than 1,142 feet out of the flat desert floor. We begin at the Aboriginal Cultural Centre with a guided tour around this sacred site, which holds great spiritual significance to local Anangu people.
Later, as the sun sets, we watch this giant rock change colour and enjoy a magical dinner under the stars. The incredible 'Sounds of Silence' experience includes canapés and sparkling wine as the sun sets over Uluru, followed by a three-course dinner with a bush-inspired menu including kangaroo, crocodile, barramundi and quandong.
After dinner, a 'star talker' will decode the southern night sky and point out signs of the zodiac and the planets and galaxies visible due to the clarity of the atmosphere. We spend two nights at the Desert Gardens Hotel in the Ayers Rock Resort.
This morning we enjoy a 'Sunrise & Olgas' tour. This circular group of 36 red rocky domes cover a large area and are as mystical as Uluru. Your afternoon is free to spend at leisure in Ayers Rock Resort, an ideal opportunity to relax by the pool.
Today we enjoy a free morning before travelling by coach to Alice Springs, for a night at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel. On Day 10 we visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of the Air. We then join The Ghan for our epic rail journey travelling from Alice Springs to Adelaide.
The Ghan has long been a tradition for train travel between Alice Springs and Adelaide and is often referred to as the ultimate journey through the heart of this mighty continent, taking passengers on what is undoubtedly one of the world's greatest rail journeys. Named after the Afghan drivers of the camel 'trains', The Ghan is a mode of transport, a sightseeing trip and a hotel all in one.
We travel in Gold Service, with all of our meals included during the journey, which are served in the Restaurant Car. The meals are freshly prepared by the on-board chefs and menus feature a selection of Australian and international cuisine. Gold Service passengers also have access to the onboard Gold Lounge. All drinks for Gold Service passengers, including beers, wines and spirits, are included during your time on The Ghan.
Once in Adelaide, we enjoy a city tour, exploring the vineyards of the Barossa Valley by coach on Day 12.
On Day 13 you are free to explore at leisure or take an optional excursion (payable locally) to Kangaroo Island. On Day 14 we leave Adelaide and journey to Melbourne, Australia's 'Garden State', on board The Overland. We check into Melbourne's Novotel on Collins for a four-night stay.
Our city tour today includes the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Parliament House. In the afternoon we join the Puffing Billy steam train for a journey through the rainforest and fern gullies of the Dandenong Ranges.
On Day 16 we travel along one of the world's most scenic roads, the Great Ocean Road, to the Twelve Apostles, Bells Beach and the Otway Rainforest.
On Day 17 you are free until mid-afternoon, when we head by coach to Phillip Island, named after Governor Arthur Phillip, which forms a natural breakwater for the shallow waters of Western Port Bay. Here we visit the Koala Conservation Centre. At sunset, overlooking the beach from the viewing platforms, you will encounter a wonderful spectacle of the wild fairy penguins emerging from the sea and crossing the sand to their burrows in the dunes (numbers vary depending on the season).
We make our way to Sydney for a cruise around Sydney Harbour today seeing some of the most famous sights of Sydney, such as the iconic Opera House and the beautiful Harbour Bridge, from our boat. On Day 19, enjoy a day at leisure to continue exploring Sydney at your own pace. On Day 20 we take the train into the Blue Mountains, enjoying a journey on the Katoomba Scenic Railway. Day 21 is free.
We catch an afternoon flight via Hong Kong to London Heathrow, arriving early on Day 23.
**Our January 30th and October 23rd 2018 departures lead on to our Grand Tour of New Zealand and can be combined
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
British Citizens require a visa to enter Australia. Please see the Visa section of 'Things You Should Know' for further details.
The Ghan and Australia's highlights by rail