The Ghan and Australia's highlights by rail
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 vacation of a lifetime.
Meet your group and Tour Manager at the Pullman International Cairns Hotel. Day 2 is spent at leisure.
Today we travel on the wonderful 125-year old Kuranda Scenic Railroad. 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 vacation 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 5 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 Center 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 color 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 either the Desert Gardens Hotel or the Sails in the Desert 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 traveling by coach to Alice Springs, for a night at either the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel or Crowne Plaza Lasseters Hotel. On Day 9 we visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of the Air. We then join The Ghan for our epic rail journey traveling 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, seeing the Government House and Parliament Building. On Day 11, we explore the vineyards of the Barossa Valley on a full day tour, enjoying wine tastings on route. On Day 12 you are free to explore at leisure or take an optional excursion (payable locally) to Kangaroo Island. On Day 13 we leave Adelaide and journey to Melbourne, Australia's 'Garden State', on board The Overland. We check into Melbourne's Crown Promenade Hotel 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 15 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 16 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 Center. 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 today. On Day 18 we enjoy a cruise around Sydney Harbor, seeing some of the most famous sights of Sydney, such as the iconic Opera House and the beautiful Harbor Bridge, from our boat. The rest of the day is at leisure to continue exploring Sydney at your own pace.
On Day 19 we take the train into the Blue Mountains, enjoying a journey on the world's steepest incline railroad, the Katoomba Scenic Railroad. We also visit the iconic Three Sisters Rock Formation in Echo Point. Day 20 is free in Sydney.
Today your tour concludes and you are free to make your way to the aiport for your flight back home.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
For this tour, we recommend arriving into Cairns Airport, which is approximately 4 miles from your first hotel. Our recommended departure airport is the Sydney Airport, which is approximately 7 miles from your final hotel.
It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
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 travel during your tour
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
of travelers would recommend this tour
based on 7 verified reviews
Generally fulfilled the tour description
Well organised. The inevitable hiccups e.g. travel delays were dealt with very professionally. Excellent guides on all trips and excursions. Very good accomodation.
Reasonable good, however it was extremely tiring. The hotels were good, but some could have been a lot better e.g. no charging points, some fridges packed with hotels own drinks and snacks (up to 50 items in two hotels). Many hotels did not give free bottled water and charged A$5 dollars for a small bottle.
It was a great vacation. The only suggestion we have is that in some places you should give people a choice. For example, in wild parks some travelers might want to learn to throw a boomerang while the others would like to interact more with the unique animals of the area. You shouldn't make everybody do everything together. Coral Reef snorkelling was a huge disappointment, move it to the Hamilton Island. Hundreds of people were kicking each other in the water.
The best experience. We'll managed
Overall it was a great experience , the accommodation at Ayers Rock disappointing, it could have been cleaner. A vacation you won’t forget in a hurry, even though at times it was very tiring.
Always searching for meals.. felt like I ate junk food for a month
Organisation and itinerary excellent but extremely disappointed on the Ghan company. Train too long, obviously for commercial gain which inhibited program and the lack of commentary and information somewhat unprofessional. The Overlander in comparison was excellent
The vacation was exactly what I wanted.
Excellent vacation but hectic
The Ghan and Australia's highlights by rail