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Ultimate Australia

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202420252026
21 days From £6,295 per person
4.6 stars(23 reviews)
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Embark on the Australian holiday of a lifetime

Mobility Rating 2

2024 Tour code: AUJ24

About the tour

Take an epic rail adventure and experience Australia's stunning natural wonders, from tropical Cairns and the kaleidoscopic hues of the Great Barrier Reef to the burnished red tones of Uluru. Explore Adelaide and its acclaimed wine region and enjoy time in Melbourne and Sydney to complete this holiday of a lifetime.

Unforgettable experiences

Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef
Discover the beautiful Great Barrier Reef from the Frankland Islands.
Kuranda Scenic Railway
Kuranda Scenic Railway
Experience the World Heritage Rainforest of Cairns from aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway.
Katoomba Scenic Railway
Katoomba Scenic Railway
Take a trip into the Blue Mountains on the Katoomba Scenic Railway.
Uluru
Uluru
See the sunset over iconic Uluru, watching the iconic rock change from fiery orange to deep red, enjoying dinner under the stars.
Sydney
Sydney
Take a tour of Sydney, including a visit to Bondi Beach for a special fish and chip lunch Australian style.
The Ghan
The Ghan
Optional upgrade* to take an overnight journey on the iconic Ghan train, from Alice Springs to Adelaide, travelling in Gold Service. *on selected dates in 2024.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - London to Cairns

Our Australian adventure begins as we meet at London Heathrow and board our flight to Singapore.

Day 2 - Cairns

In Singapore, we join our flight to Cairns in Queensland. Our flight arrives in the city in the evening, and we transfer to our hotel for the next four nights.

Day 3 - Cairns

Today, you're free to relax and get to know the area at your own pace. Cairns is a vibrant tropical city. Known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, the city is surrounded by mountainous rainforest and pristine beaches. You might like to relax at the hotel swimming pool or beach, or walk along the waterfront boardwalk next to the hotel. The nearby Cairns Esplanade was once a huge grassy park and is now a world-class facility with an outdoor amphitheatre, a large sandy swimming lagoon, picnic areas, walking tracks, and several shops and restaurants.

Day 4 - Kuranda Scenic Railway

We take the coach to Rainforestation Nature Park, a beautiful tropical rainforest with World Heritage status. We take a unique trip on a World War II amphibious military transport unit, or 'Army Duck', seeing the local flora. Next, we take a guided Dreamtime Walk. We learn how Aborigines understand the world and its creation, before experiencing a 'pamagirri' dance performance. After a BBQ lunch, we travel to Kuranda village and visit the local market before transferring to the station. Here, we take a journey along the 125-year old Kuranda Scenic Railway, soaking up breathtaking scenery as we travel through the rainforest and across the stunning Barron River Gorge.

Day 5 - Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

A highlight of our holiday is today's explorations of the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef system. We begin with a cruise along the Mulgrave River - enjoying lunch on board as we make our way to the Frankland Islands, a remote archipelago whose waters are filled with unique wildlife and coral reefs. During a guided snorkelling session, we may see tropical fish, giant clams, sea turtles, and even octopus. If you prefer to stay dry, however, you can catch a glimpse into this underwater world from a semi-submersible or glass-bottomed boat.

Day 6 - To Uluru

We leave Cairns today and fly to Uluru, the world's largest monolith which rises more than 1,142 feet out of the flat desert floor. We begin exploring this iconic area at the Aboriginal Cultural Centre, where we take a guided tour around this sacred site which holds great spiritual significance to the local Anangu people.

As the sun sets, we watch this giant rock change colour and enjoy a magical dinner under the stars. Our incredible 'Sounds of Silence' experience includes canapés and sparkling wine as the sun sets over Uluru, followed by a 3-course dinner with a bush-inspired menu. After dinner, a 'star talker' will decode the southern night sky, pointing out signs of the zodiac and the planets and galaxies, visible here due to the clarity of the atmosphere.

Day 7 - Uluru

Today is a full day of exploring the spectacular natural beauty of the Uluru area. We begin our day with a sunrise visit to Uluru, watching as the sun's rising rays dance across the vivid orange rock. We then head back to our hotel for a leisurely breakfast. Our adventures continue with a guided tour of the fascinating Mutijulu waterhole, then a visit to the Uluru Cultural Centre - where you have time to look around the gallery and have lunch. After lunch we visit an ancient landscape of large rock formations, known as 'Olgas', which cover an area around Uluru. We end our day back at Uluru, where there's free time at the hotel before an evening sunset experience which we enjoy with a glass of sparkling wine and refreshments.

Day 8 - Alice Springs

Today we travel by coach through the vast and rugged Outback to Alice Springs, a remote town in the Northern Territory, surrounded by mountains. We stop for lunch enroute at a typical Australian roadhouse, Erldunda. This afternoon we continue towards Alice Springs, stopping for a tour, talk and afternoon tea at a camel farm. On arrival, we check into our hotel for two nights.

Day 9 - Alice Springs

Today we visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum. Here, we learn about the history of the life-saving work of the service - an air medical service created to serve those living in remote areas. In the afternoon we visit Alice Springs' Old Telegraph Station and Anzac Hill, a look out point and war memorial to all those who have served in the wars in which Australia has participated.

Day 10 - To Adelaide

After a leisurely morning we transfer to the airport to fly to Adelaide this afternoon.

We arrive in laid-back Adelaide for three nights (if upgrading to travel by rail, you'll arrive on Day 11 for two nights). Australia's fifth-largest city, Adelaide is known for its food and wine, and relaxed way of life.

Optional Upgrade - on selected dates only, it is possible to travel to Adelaide on the iconic Ghan train instead of by air, taking an epic overnight journey in Gold Service, with exceptional cuisine and an inclusive drinks service in the Gold Lounge. Please call us to discuss details.

Day 11 - Adelaide

You have a morning free in Adelaide and you may like to visit the Central Market, close to our hotel. You could also explore the city's fabulous Botanic Gardens, take a walk along the river, or visit the Art Gallery of South Australia, where you'll find impressive displays housed within a beautiful heritage building. This afternoon we take a guided tour of the city's attractions, including the historic Government House and Parliament Building.

If you chose to travel to Adelaide overnight on the Ghan, you arrive around lunchtime today. On arrival, enjoy the sightseeing tour of the city before checking into your hotel for two nights.

Day 12 - Barossa Valley

We take a dive into Adelaide's wonderful wine heritage as we explore the famous vineyards that surround the city. We travel to the lush Barossa Valley, where our day includes wine tastings and pairings at celebrated wineries, including the lovely Seppeltsfield estate, and Jacob's Creek where we have lunch. On our return this afternoon we visit Hahndorf, the, the oldest German settlement in Australia, in the Mount Lofty Ranges, where you have time to look around.

Day 13 - Overland train to Melbourne

We take the morning Overland train to Melbourne. Breakfast and lunch are served on board as we travel into Victoria, Australia's 'Garden State'. On arrival into Melbourne this evening we walk across the road from the station to check into our central hotel for three nights, Batman's Hill on Collins.

Please Note: For departure 23/01/2024 you will stay at the The Savoy Hotel on Little Collins in Melbourne.

Day 14 - Melbourne guided tour and Puffing Billy

We begin exploring Melbourne, the cosmopolitan capital of Victoria. Our city tour includes the Melbourne Cricket Ground - Australia's largest stadium, and Parliament House. We join the nostalgic Puffing Billy steam train for a journey through the rainforest and fern gullies of the Dandenong Ranges. Our route takes us to the Lakeside Visitor Centre where we enjoy lunch.

This vibrant city is known as Australia's cultural capital. In the downtown area, besides dazzling skyscrapers, you'll find many museums, galleries and elegant Victorian-era buildings. Just beyond, and well worth the walk along the Yarra River, are lush gardens including the Queen Victoria Gardens, and the stunning Royal Botanic Gardens.

Day 15 - The Great Ocean Road

We travel by coach along one of the world's most scenic roads today, the Great Ocean Road. Travelling along the south-east coast of Australia, the route takes us past verdant forest, rushing waterfalls, and glittering ocean. We make a short stop in Lorne enroute, then in Kennet River where we hope to see koalas in their natural habitat. At Apollo Bay we break for lunch then continue to Loch Ard Gorge along the coast and pass the Twelve Apostles, a collection of dramatic limestone rocks. At Loch Ard Gorge we have some free time before we return to Melbourne.

Day 16 - To Sydney

We cross the road to the Southern Cross rail station this morning to join the cross country train to Sydney today. Sydney is a vibrant city with a buzzing atmosphere, home to one of the world's most beautiful harbours and fringed by sandy beaches. Our train arrives into Sydney in the early evening and we are transferred to our hotel in Darling Harbour, close to the CBD and surrounded by restaurants, cafés and bars.

Day 17 - Sydney

After a morning at leisure to explore your surroundings, we embark on a cruise from Darling Harbour for an exhilarating trip around Sydney Harbour, seeing some of the city's most iconic sights as we enjoy a buffet lunch on board. From our boat, we see the stunning Opera House, the jewel in the city's crown and a masterpiece of late modern architecture, and the Harbour Bridge, the largest steel arched bridge in the world. The rest of your afternoon is free and there's plenty to see and do in this exciting city - you might like to wander down to the Rocks, one of the first settlements of Sydney, which has traces of its 18th and 19th century heritage in the form of old pubs and warehouses, now converted into modern buildings. You might enjoy a walk along the waterfront from Sydney Harbour to the Opera House and continue to the 200 year old Royal Botanic Gardens with its wonderful trees - including some massive Moreton Bay fig trees and vibrant jacarandas - exotic flowers and birdlife. There are museums, art galleries and many historic buildings to discover in the harbour area.

Day 18 - Katoomba Scenic Railway

We journey into the Blue Mountains. Just 30 miles outside of Sydney, the area has UNESCO World Heritage status and is named due to its dense eucalyptus forests which give the illusion of a blue haze when the sunlight hits.

Our first visit is to the unique Three Sisters rocks at Echo Point. These unusual rock formations inspired an Aboriginal legend, in which three sisters were turned to stone by their father, to protect them from a tribal war. We then visit an attractive Victorian town named Leura where you're free to lunch in one of several quaint cafés or delicatessens and to browse the interesting shops. After lunch we take a short trip on the world's steepest incline railway, the Katoomba Scenic Railway. Our dramatic trip passes sandstone cliffs and through a rock tunnel beside the tree-covered Orphan Rock, before emerging into the ancient rainforest. We have time to walk through the rainforest and to wander through the visitor centre before we return to Sydney where your evening is free.

Day 19 - Bondi Beach

On our penultimate day we visit an Australian institution today, Bondi Beach, frequented by sun-kissed surfers and known for its laid-back vibe. We enjoy a fish and chips lunch with our group at the Bondi Icebergs Club, while admiring the views across the endless turquoise ocean.

Day 20 - To London

We have a leisurely morning in Sydney - for final sightseeing, gift buying or a walk along the harbour - before our afternoon flight via Singapore to London Heathrow.

Day 21 - London

Our flight arrives in London, and your holiday comes to an end.

Additional information

Departure times

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.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Hilton Hotel, Adelaide

Hilton Hotel, Adelaide

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Crowne Plaza Lasseters Hotel

Crowne Plaza Lasseters Hotel, Alice Springs

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Mercure Alice Springs Resort, Alice Springs

Mercure Alice Springs Resort, Alice Springs

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Desert Gardens Hotel, Ayers Rock Resort

Desert Gardens Hotel, Ayers Rock Resort

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Pacific Hotel, Cairns

Pacific Hotel, Cairns

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Batman’s Hill on Collins, Melbourne

Batman’s Hill on Collins, Melbourne

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The Savoy Hotel on Little Collins, Melbourne

The Savoy Hotel on Little Collins, Melbourne

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ParkRoyal Darling Harbour, Sydney

ParkRoyal Darling Harbour, Sydney

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Trains

Katoomba Scenic Railway
Kuranda Scenic Railway
NSW Trainlink XPT
Puffing Billy steam train
The Ghan
The Overland Train

Enhance your holiday

Upgrades

Combine your tour with the Grand Tour of New Zealand
Flight upgrades
London Hotels
UK rail connections

Extend your holiday

Singapore

Reviews

4.6 stars4.6 / 5 · 23 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (15)
  2. 4 stars
    (6)
  3. 3 stars
    (2)
  4. 2 stars
    (0)
  5. 1 star
    (0)

Danny Rodwell

5 stars

Submitted 24/Mar

Saw and learned a lot about Australia and its people and history. Enjoyed the train travel available at the time we toured. Our tour manager was very efficient and fun. Local guides/drivers added to the experience.

from Great Rail Journeys
Dear Danny, Thank you for your review. That is wonderful to hear! I will make sure to pass your lovely praise across to our team for the Tour Manager and guides. Kind regards, Sophie.
1 comment

Collected by Trustpilot

val horsfall

5 stars

Submitted 18/Mar

It was an enjoyable fantastic experience The places visited were varied such a great selection The Tour Manager Kevin ensured everything went extremely smoothly considering the amount of travel involved On the whole it was a good group of people who contributed to making it special

Collected by Trustpilot

Ian Bruce

5 stars

Submitted 18/Mar

Every day was amazing , except for Alice Springs . I am from a city , and know all about any threat or I'll feelings. The atmosphere at Alice Springs was very , very edgy. We should have just gone to the Flying Doctor and Distant Schooling and Telegraph office. That would have been enough. Everything else was amazing . The Guides were knowledgeable and Kevin's management was excellent ??

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Mr Anthony Bayliss

4 stars

Submitted 18/Mar

Fantastic trip made all the better for our superb Tour Guide Kevin. Brilliantly organised with very few issues. Some aspects of the tour will need to be reviewed and improved but all in all a great unforgettable trip. Hotels were all exceptional except for Batman’s in Melbourne which was not up to scratch and the long long long train journey from Melbourne to Sydney needs to be replaced with a flight. Excursions , food and organisation were top notch all controlled brilliantly by our Tour Guide

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Margaret Duncan

5 stars

Submitted 11 Dec 2023

Wonderful itinerary which was everything we could ask for. Australia is a joy offering such diversity which we felt Great Rail journeys introduced us to perfectly.

from Great Rail Journeys
Dear Mrs Duncan, Thank you for your review and those wonderful photos! That is brilliant to hear! Kind regards, Sophie.
1 comment

Collected by Trustpilot

A Swain

3 stars

Submitted 11 Dec 2023

Best holiday ever

from Great Rail Journeys
Dear Mrs Swain, Thank you for your review. I can see that this is a 3 star review, so we would love to hear how we could improve! If you would like to pass over any feedback, feel free to contact us at XXX@XXX. Kind regards, Sophie.
1 comment

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