OFFER ID 1310450
On this all-encompassing journey around the Land of Oz you'll experience all the highlights of Australia, hitting Melbourne, Uluru, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, and Sydney - a full circle for a one-of-a kind Aussie adventure. Culture is what makes Melbourne unique; spend your time sampling restaurants, checking out galleries or experiencing a local sports game. Next you're off to Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park. Here you'll watch the sunset over Uluru, Australia's icon of the Outback, and listen to the "sounds of silence" while enjoying a traditional meal set under the stars. Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef are next on deck. A full day excursion to this expansive reef complex allows for snorkeling or diving for the water enthusiasts or just a relaxed day filled with fun in the sun. You'll wrap up your journey with a train ride through Kuranda, a hot air ballooning adventure and a few days in the famed city of Sydney. A perfect trip for a full sampling of Australia, Circle Australia has it all!
Your Itinerary Includes:
12 nights from $7,805 per person
Swain Destinations: Circle Australia
Day 1 Welcome to Melbourne, Australia
Upon arrival into Melbourne, you will need to clear customs and immigration, before making your way into the main arrivals hall.
The Langham, Melbourne
Day 2 Understanding the Real Melbourne
Truly a city like no other, Melbourne boasts an eclectic mix of cultures and history. For Melbournians today, life revolves around food, fashion, the arts and sport. Take some time to really connect with the city, its people and their passions with this ‘local’s look’ at Melbourne. Journey down the Golden Mile and learn how the discovery of gold shaped the city. Take in the grandeur of Melbourne’s sporting precinct to help you truly understand this city’s obsession with sport. Drive through the beachside suburbs stopping in St Kilda – Melbourne’s playground – where you can find people from all walks of life. Of course, no tour would be complete without a stroll through Melbourne’s iconic laneways and arcades, home to world renowned street art, hidden bars and restaurants, independent galleries, eclectic boutiques and bustling cafés which serve this caffeine addicted city. Discover Melbourne´s Soul. Meet the faces behind the produce at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market (closed Monday). This vibrant historic landmark has been at the heart and soul of Melbourne for more than a century, offering everything from gourmet foods to clothing and souvenirs, with stalls passed down through generations. The tour culminates with a delicious two course lunch in one of Melbourne’s hottest restaurants. After you see the 'real' Melbourne, you’ll come to love this city as much as the locals do.
The Langham, Melbourne
Day 3 At leisure, Melbourne
Melbourne is Australia's second largest city (after Sydney), but it is second to none when it comes to fashion, festivals and sport. Set around the shores of Port Phillip Bay, the city itself is laid out in a large rectangle. She boasts a lively, cosmopolitan pulse, sitting on the northern banks of the Yarra River, about three miles from the bay. Visitors come for its shopping, restaurants and nightlife. Residents stay for its cultural diversity, passion for the arts and enviable sports calendar. Melbourne is renowned for playing host to a number of nationally- and internationally-recognized events each year, including the Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam, the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix and the ever-impressive two-mile horse race, The Melbourne Cup. This is a major event that spreads an addictive buzz through the city streets. You can be sure that locals and visitors alike will embrace the energy surrounding it.
Explore the famous lane-ways and arcades of the city, catch a tram to trendy Southgate, rub shoulders with locals at the Queen Victoria Market or take in a show at the ornate Princess Theatre. For a break from the hustle and bustle, cruise along the Yarra River, or head out to one of the many beautiful beaches just outside of the city. Go in search of the unique Australian animals like Koalas, Kangaroos and the Little Penguins, and see them in the wild just an hour or two outside Melbourne. Explore one of the premier wine regions in Australia exporting wines to the U.S. to find your Yarra Valley blend. It is the closest wine region to any major Australian city, just an hour out of the city, but worlds away from the bustling streets of Melbourne.
The Langham, Melbourne
Day 4 Travel to Ayers Rock & A Night at Field of Light
Ahead of your flight, you will be transferred from your accommodation to Melbourne Airport.
A night at Field of Light combines the award-winning 'Sounds of Silence' buffet BBQ dinner under the outback sky with the once-in-a-lifetime Field of Light art installation. With magnificent views of Uluru at sunset, a special three-course bush tucker menu, premium selection of Australian wines & beers, fascinating star talk and a self-guided walk through the Field of Light art installation, your 'A Night at Field of Light' experience is complete.
Your evening begins with a convenient hotel pick-up and transfer to the remote desert location with majestic views of Uluru. As the sun sets on the horizon to the music of a lone didgeridoo, enjoy gourmet canapés and chilled sparkling wine. As darkness falls and the colored lights of the 50,000 glass spheres gently come to life, join your table of fellow travelers for an exceptional three-course menu infused with bush tucker flavors. As the night ignites with countless stars, settle back and listen to the resident star talker decode the southern night sky.
The host will provide insights to the art installation that awaits you, before you're invited to immerse yourself in the Field of Light, its pathways glistening softly with rhythms of colored light, beckoning you to explore. Take a lasting look back at Field of Light from the dune top viewing area before boarding the return transfer to Yulara Resort.
Long pants and enclosed shoes are strongly recommended for all guests. A moderate level of fitness is required as you are walking up and down a sand dune, and along an unsealed track. Guests are asked to walk solely within the lit pathways and must refrain from touching the art installation. No tripods are allowed within the Field of Light art installation.
Sails In The Desert
Day 5 Kata Tjuta Sunrise Tour & Uluru and Sunset Tour
Revel in the early morning serenity of a truly spiritual place as the sunrise colors change on Kata Tjuta. Enjoy an outback picnic breakfast. Learn about this diverse environment while walking between the mighty conglomerate rock walls and into Walpa Gorge. Hear how the many domes that make up Kata Tjuta have evolved over millions of years. Take time to listen to the wind (Walpa) far above and view the scale of the rock walls that surround you. The spirituality of this amazing location embraces everyone who ventures here.
Later on travel through the landscape to the entrance of Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park. From this point, it is only a matter of minutes before the spectre of Uluru rises from the sand dunes to demonstrate its enormity and presence - the first stop allows you a photographic opportunity of this amazing icon. With Uluru looming in front, walk with your guide to a place of tranquility at the base. The closer you wander, the more you surrender to the realization of the sheer size of this monolith. Driving around the base, immerse yourself in the area. Stops are made for a short walk into Mutitjulu Waterhole. There, you will visit rock-art sites and the local waterhole with your guide to learn of Uluru's significance to the Anangu (local Aboriginal people). As you continue the drive around the rest of the base, experience the Mala walk before adjourning to the Talinguru Nyakunytjaku viewing area where you will observe a sunset from a different perspective over Uluru with Kata Tjuta in the distance. Enjoy sparkling wine and light refreshments.
Sails In The Desert
Day 6 Travel to Cairns
Takeoff to Cairns and continue on the next stage of your adventure.
Shangri-La The Marina, Cairns
Day 7 Reef Magic ? Outer Reef Cruise and Fly
Reef Magic Cruises has exclusive access to a stunning coral reef location selected for its superior water clarity, coral quality and overall diversity of marine life. Benefit from the local knowledge of a small company and the friendly Australian atmosphere for which Reef Magic is renowned. Depart from Cairns on a fast, stable catamaran that provides a smoother ride and reduced travel time. That leaves more of your day to experience the magic of the Great Barrier Reef. The modern, fast catamarans are never filled to capacity, which ensures unmatched space, comfort and attentive service. The all-weather Outer Reef platform caters to all activity levels. Snorkel in the sheltered coral lagoon, go scuba diving (no experience necessary) or join the Marine Biologist on a Guided Snorkel safari. If you are not a confident swimmer, then stay dry and view the reef from the semi-submersible reef viewer, glass-bottom boat or underwater observatory. With 5 hours at the reef, there is time to do it all. Return to Cairns via helicopter flight. Flights are subject to pilot's discretion, weather and air-traffic control. Available at additional cost are wet-suit hire, prescription masks, guided snorkel tours, introductory or certified diving and helmet dives.
Shangri-La The Marina, Cairns
Day 8 Half Day Daintree Rainforest Tour
Enjoy a privately guided tour with a professional guide traveling over the top of the Daintree Rainforest to the very edge of the 'Outback' to observe the native wildlife. The ecosystems experienced are from the Lowland Wet Tropics of the coastal strip through the upper forests and out to the very edge of the wonderful Eucalypt Savannah Outback. Odyssey Bound is able to take you into the wilderness of Cape York with a unique look at local culture and history. It offers an insight into the many creatures generally unseen. The early departure allows for encounters with creatures that would otherwise be missed. Traveling off the beaten track in areas not visited by the mainstream, this safari is ideal for people that simply seek to explore a little more than the normal day tours. The itinerary is always flexible to enable full enjoyment of 'life's little surprises.'
Shangri-La The Marina, Cairns
Day 9 Cairns At Leisure
Built on Trinity Inlet, the Coral Sea calls from the east while the rain-forest-clad Atherton Tablelands serenade from the west, making Cairns a nature lover's nirvana. The warmth of the tropical climate has fostered a vigorous outdoor lifestyle that's reflected in the architectural styles of open verandas and balconies, and extending to the most traditional of Australian cuisine - the barbecue. Dining is a high point of any vacation, and the cosmopolitan local restaurants, cafes and eateries offer an eclectic fare of Australian and international cuisine, the highlight of most menus being the region's mouth-watering fresh seafood and unusual tropical fruits. Head to the heart of the city, the Esplanade, and enjoy a cafe latte before contemplating an abundance of tour options.
Shangri-La The Marina, Cairns
Day 10 Travel to Sydney
Takeoff to Sydney and continue on the next stage of your adventure.
Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney
Day 11 Sydney Opera House Backstage Tour & Sydney In Style Tour
Venture behind the scenes in one of the world's truly great performing arts complexes and see where the magic is made! The Backstage Tour departs early each morning to ensure visitors access to the 'inner sanctum areas' which are restricted during the day due to rehearsals and crews at work. The 90-minute tours are conducted by experienced guides who share some of the secrets of 'The House' and real-life dramas behind the curtain. Visitors may have the unique opportunity to stand on stage, where superstars have previously performed, stride the orchestra pit like a maestro, or relax in a star's dressing room. Explore the less glamorous parts too of the precincts of the stage hands and crew, such as scenery dock.
Later discover the fabulous city of Sydney. You will travel through the business district and shopping areas, see Darling Harbour and the vibrant China Town and drive along Oxford Street with its trendy terrace houses and boutique fashion shops. See Centennial Park, a 220-hectare urban parkland in Eastern Sydney. Reaching the coastline, see Bronte and Tamarama, then go on to explore the famous Bondi Beach. Spend 30 minutes walking the promenade or enjoying a coffee overlooking the beach.
From here, continue along the coastal drive past Macquarie Lighthouse to the Southern Headland of Sydney Harbour. Visit Watsons Bay before following the harbor foreshore towards Sydney City. You pass some of Australia's most exclusive waterfront suburbs where harbor mansions may be seen. Drive through Vaucluse, Double Bay before reaching the colorful Kings Cross. Head through Woolloomooloo and see the famous Harry's Cafe De Wheels. Visit Sydney's Botanical Gardens and enjoy some spectacular Harbour Bridge and Opera House views. Return to Sydney's CBD via Saint Mary's Cathedral, historic convict buildings, State Parliament House and the historical quarter of the 'Rocks.' Visit Sydney's Observatory Hill for amazing views over Sydney Harbour to the Blue Mountains. Drop off back at your Sydney hotel, restaurant or other city location.
Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney
Day 12 Sydney At Leisure & Cruise Like a Local Luncheon Cruise
It is no surprise that when the British first arrived in Sydney they named the area Botany Bay. Even today, with a population of over 4 million people and a reputation for fun rather than flora, one is still surrounded by bush land in this bustling city. Native Waratah wind their way through the historic Rocks area, palm trees frame long stretches of pristine beach, and Eucalyptus embrace the endless and beckoning bays of Sydney Harbour.
It is Sydney's man-made wonders, however, that draw most visitors. The Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are the most photographed icons on the continent. Choose a Seaplane Safari experience and enjoy a bird's eye view of the Opera House's signature sails. See the Harbour Bridge up close and personal by climbing the metal monolith to enjoy stunning 360-degree views of the glittering vista below with BridgeClimb as you climb to the top. Whether it is an early morning visit to the largest fish market in the southern hemisphere, or your very first surfing lesson on Bondi Beach, in this vibrant metropolis you will find no lack of energetic escapes and dynamic distractions.
There are many ways to enjoy the harbor: on a small luxury motor cruiser or sailing yacht, or ferries that take you to Taronga Park Zoo or Manly and the harbor suburbs. Take the Darling Harbour Rocket that connects Circular Quay to Darling Harbour where there are many restaurants and attractions such as The Sydney Aquarium, Wildlife World, The IMAX Theater and the Naval Museum. For a more leisurely afternoon, take a walk through the Royal Botanical Gardens and Hyde Park, or learn about Australia's National Gemstone, the Opal, at Altmann; Cherny or The National Opal Collection, right in the heart of the city on Pitt Street.
Spoil yourself to Sydney Harbour's most sensational Cruise Like a Local Luncheon Cruise. Step aboard a 52-foot motor yacht. This is a unique, private, four-hour cruise experience. Your personal captain and host will share the rich history of Sydney Harbour and its foreshore as you take in the sites of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and the bays and coves of Sydney Harbour. Enjoy a three-course BBQ lunch with regional wines, local beers and five-star service. Immerse yourself in all the activities that a private vessel offers, including swimming, fishing and kayaking/rowing the tender - or sit back and relax on the expansive sunbed and do nothing at all.
Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney
Day 13 Depart Sydney
Ahead of your flight, you will be transferred from your accommodation to Sydney International Airport.
Melbourne is a maze of hidden laneways, opulent bars, exclusive restaurants and off-the-beaten-track boutiques. Here you can soak up culture, hit the sporting grounds, taste the dynamic food and wine scene, dance til dawn or wander the parks and leafy boulevards. Visit Federation Square, the city's landmark cultural space, and enjoy a sunset beer on the St Kilda promenade. Shop till you drop on funky Brunswick Street or upmarket Chapel Street. Wander Southbank's cafes, bistros and bars and get a world tour of cuisines in Carlton, Richmond and Fitzroy. Take an Aboriginal Heritage Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens and cheer with a capacity crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Five Must-Have Melbourne Experiences:
1. Shop till you drop
Bag a bargain at the Rose Street Artist's Market and browse the funky boutiques on Brunswick Street. Buy designer labels such as Akira Isogawa and Zimmerman on Chapel Street in Prahran or in the historic Melbourne General Post Office, which covers an entire city block. For everything from fashion to furnishings at fantastic value, visit Bridge Road in Richmond. Melbourne is a shopper's haven, offering eclectic boutiques, high-end fashion, funky homeware stores and European style piazzas in the city's arcades and hidden laneways.
2. Bar hop and dance till dawn
Sip a cocktail in a converted sea container in Chinatown, enjoy a sunset beer in a St Kilda pub or listen to cabaret in lush retro surroundings in jazz bars in the city. Linger over exquisite tapas and exotic wine in a Little Collins Street bar and mingle in a pink parlour with fake grass in Bourke Street. You can party from dusk in the bars of Brunswick Street. Or dance till dawn in bars in the city's lantern-lit laneways, secret apart from the spill of coloured light under heavy brass doors.
3. Get into the gourmet goodness
Let the aroma of good coffee waft over you in Melbourne's gothic European laneways. The city is famous for its coffee and old-world café culture but there's so much more to explore. Once you've downed a 'short black' or taken an afternoon aperitif, try tea in a nineteenth-century hotel or salivate over your silver spoon in acclaimed restaurants like Nobu, Botanical and Becco. Pick up fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood at the Queen Victoria Market on a Saturday, known for its bustling crowds and buskers. Try out the restaurants, cafes, bistros and bars in Southbank or Federation Square. Make your way around Melbourne's multicultural cosmos of cuisines: Carlton for Italian classics, Richmond for budget-friendly Vietnamese and Fitzroy for Spanish tapas.
4. Fill up on culture
See a performance by the Australian Ballet, which is based here in Australia's cultural capital. Or enjoy a dazzling musical at the Princess Theatre. Browse the Southern Hemisphere's best collection of international art at the National Gallery of Victoria. Or visit the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Federation Square, a landmark cultural 'space' for Melbournians. Challenge yourself with the creative collections in the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Southbank. To learn more about Melbourne's Aboriginal cultural heritage, see contemporary and dreamtime art or take an Aboriginal Heritage Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens.
5. Go sports mad
Cheer for an Australian Rules Football game with a capacity crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground over winter. Go cricket mad in summer, when the city hosts the Ashes and one day internationals. Or join the huge crowds watching the Australian Tennis Open at Melbourne Park. Rev heads head to Melbourne in March for the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Albert Park. And whether you are a racing fan or just a casual punter, you won't want to miss the Melbourne Cup - the world's richest horse race on the first Tuesday in November.
The world's largest monolith, located 280 mi/450 km southwest of Alice Springs, is a truly stunning sight, especially at sunset when its burnt-orange glow seems to set the desert on fire. Called Uluru by the Aborigines, the sandstone rock is huge (1,140 ft/350 m high, 9 mi/13 km around) and reddish brown most of the time, taking its color from iron oxide, or rust. Its presence is made more powerful by the mostly barren plain that surrounds it and disappears into the horizon. In 1985, ownership of the rock was returned to its traditional owners. It is rarely referred to as Ayers Rock anymore.
Considered sacred by the Aborigines for thousands of years, the rock is now part of the expansive Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, one of the country's biggest tourist attractions. The park includes the Olgas/Kata Tjuta, a cluster of 36 giant domelike rock formations about 20 mi/35 km west. If you want to visit both, plan to spend at least one night. You'll want to see Uluru at both sunset and sunrise. The Olgas are equally magnificent at both times of day. (But be prepared to jockey for position at either place; tour buses disgorge hundreds of visitors laden with binoculars, cameras and video equipment.)
Start your visit to the park with a stop at the cultural center. Run by the Anangu (a local Aboriginal clan), the center is a wonderful introduction to the unusual rock formations and to the people who lived in their harsh shadows for centuries. Aboriginal artwork and artifacts are on display. You can also see re-enactments of life in the bush and watch informative videos. Most visitors explore the rock as part of a tour led by park rangers, Anangu guides or private tour companies. But you can also pick up a printed walking guide at the cultural center and set off on your own.
Only one trail leads to the top of the rock, and it's fairly steep—those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, asthma, fear of heights or the like should remain earthbound. The Anangu prefer you walk around—not on—the rock because of its spiritual importance. If you do decide to climb it, allow two to three hours and take along a snack and plenty of water. The view from the top is spectacular, but hiking around the base is more educational and less strenuous. We suggest taking one or more of the shorter walks that pass water holes and rock paintings, allowing you to observe the rock's many faces at a leisurely pace. (Walking around the entire base of the rock takes about three hours.)
Allow at least an afternoon to visit the Olgas/Kata Tjuta. A frequent debate among visitors is whether the Olgas outshine the rock. It's a close call—the Olgas are taller, reaching 1,790 ft/545 m at the highest point. Made of conglomerate (pebbles and boulders cemented together by mud and sand), they are off-limits to climbers, but you can explore some of the valleys and chasms between the rocks.
Most visitors fly to Uluru or drive from Alice Springs. About the only place to stay in the area is the Ayers Rock Resort, or Yulara, whose five hotels and a campground can accommodate visitors in all price ranges. Longitude 131 is a magnificent safari camp with 15 luxury tents. Dozens of tours leave from Ayers Rock Resort, including sunrise camel rides around the rock, sunset champagne dinners in the desert, Aboriginal culture tours and stargazing. You can also rent a car there and explore on your own.
Because of the excessive heat in summer, the best time to visit is April-November (winter in Australia). Always take along plenty of drinking water. If you are flying to the Outback, we suggest going overland one way from Alice Springs (four to five hours) but flying the other way—the desert drive is scenic, but it can be tedious the second time around. http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru.
Soak up Sydney’s gorgeous harbour, seductive outdoor lifestyle and great natural beauty. Kayak under the Sydney Harbour Bridge or wave at the Opera House as you ride a ferry across the harbour to Manly. Learn to surf at Bondi Beach or swim in the calm waters of Coogee. Lose yourself in the cobblestone cul-de-sacs of The Rocks or in the markets, boutiques, cafes and pubs of Paddington. As well as a world-famous harbour and more than 70 sparkling beaches, Sydney offers fabulous food, festivals and 24-7 fun.
Five Sydney Experiences Not to Miss:
1. Explore the historic Rocks
Discover Sydney’s colorful convict history in the harbourside quarter where it all began. Just five minutes from Circular Quay, you can hear stories of hangings and hauntings on a ghost tour, wander the weekend markets or climb the span of the Harbour Bridge. In amongst the maze of sandstone lanes and courtyards, you’ll find historic workman’s cottages and elegant terraces, art galleries, hotels with harbour views and Sydney’s oldest pubs. See people spill out of them onto a party on the cobblestone streets when The Rocks celebrates Australia Day on January 26th, Anzac Day on April 25th and New Years Eve.
2. Hit the world-famous harbour
Sail past the Opera House on a chartered yacht or paddle from Rose Bay in a kayak. Take a scenic cruise from Circular Quay or Darling Harbour, past waterfront mansions, national parks and Shark, Clark, Rodd and Goat islands. Tour historic Fort Denison or learn about the life of Sydney’s first inhabitants, the Gadigal people, on an Aboriginal cultural cruise. Watch the harbour glitter from the green parklands of the Royal Botanic Gardens, which curves around its edge. Or take in the view from a waterfront restaurant in Mosman, on the northern side of the bridge, or Watsons Bay at South Head. Walk from Rose Bay to Vaucluse or Cremorne Point to Mosman Bay, on just some of the 16 spectacular routes hugging the harbour foreshore.
3. Visit Manly on the ferry
Travel across Sydney Harbour on a ferry to Manly, which sits between beaches of ocean surf and tranquil inner harbour. Wander through native bushland on the scenic Manly to Spit Bridge walk, learn to scuba-dive at Cabbage Tree Bay or ride a bike to Fairy Bower. Picnic at Shelly Beach on the ocean and sail or kayak from Manly Wharf round the harbour. Hire a scooter and do a round trip of northern beaches such as Narrabeen and Palm Beach. Explore the shops, bars and cafes along the bustling pine tree-lined Corso and dine at world-class restaurants with water views.
4. Enjoy café culture and top shopping in Paddington
Meander through the Saturday markets, browse fashion boutiques on bustling Oxford Street or discover the antique shops and art galleries in upmarket Woollahra. Visit the 1840s Victoria Barracks Army base, open to the public once a week, and see restored Victorian terraces on wide, leafy streets. Ride or roller-blade in huge Centennial Park, then stop for coffee and lunch on Oxford St or in the mini-village of Five Ways. Catch a movie at an art-house cinema or leaf through a novel at midnight in one of the huge bookstores. Crawl between the lively, historic pubs. They hum even more after a game at the nearby stadium or a race day, when girls and guys arrive in their crumpled trackside finery.
5. Walk from Bondi to Coogee
Take in breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean as you walk the winding, sea-sculpted sandstone cliffs between Bondi and Coogee. Swim in the famous Bondi Icebergs rock pool or just watch the swimmers with a sunset cocktail from the restaurant above. See wild waves in Tamarama, nicknamed Glamarama for the beautiful people who lie on its golden sand. From mid-October to November, the stretch from here to Bondi is transformed into an outdoor gallery for the Sculptures by the Sea exhibition. You can surf, picnic on the grass or stop for a coffee at family-friendly Bronte. Or swim, snorkel or scuba dive in Clovelly and tranquil Gordon’s Bay. See the graves of poets Henry Lawson, Dorothea Mackellar and aviator Lawrence Hargrave in Waverley Cemetery, on the edge of the cliffs. Finish your tour in the scenic, backpacker haven of Coogee.
All fares are quoted in US Dollars.