G’day and welcome to your Outback Adventure with Topdeck! Departing Melbourne we first travel through the iconic coast town of Torquay where a number of iconic surf companies were started and home to the worlds longest running surfing competition. We then continue onwards along the scenic roads passing through the town of Lorne and then on to the Kennett River. We’ll take a short walk here to spot Koalas in their natural habitat so have your cameras ready! A series of cliff-top boardwalks allow us to witness the rugged splendour of the famous Twelve Apostles - the magnificent limestone stacks that rise from the Southern Ocean on this rugged coastline. We learn about the shipwreck history that gives Loch Ard Gorge its name as we round out our day. Our home for the night is the friendly town of Port Campbell, nestled amongst the cliffs and pines.
Day 2:Halls Gap
Before leaving the Great Ocean Road we’ll explore even more natural wonders of the region including The Arch, London Bridge and the Bay of Martyrs - again, have your camera finger ready! We wave goodbye to the coast and head inland through the farming regions of western Victoria to our next destination, the national heritage listed Grampians National Park. Our visit to the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre gives us an insight to the great significance the Grampians holds for the Indigenous population. You’ll even get to create a unique memento of your visit in the boomerang painting workshop. Tonight your champion Topdeck driver/guide will cook up a storm with an authentic Aussie barbeque as the local Kangaroo population look on.
We pull on the hiking boots today and head to the base of McKenzie Falls, the highest waterfall in the Grampians Range. As we pass through the always stunning rugged beauty on offer we’ll discover an ancient aboriginal rock art site before it’s off to a lookout for one last spectacular 360 degree view of the Northern Grampians. Leaving the mountains behind this afternoon, our journey takes us through the wheat fields of far western Victoria before entering the state of South Australia. We cross the mighty Murray River - the longest river in the country - before arriving in the Festival City of Adelaide. Tonight, head out and see the sights of the capital and enjoy one of the numerous dinner choices on offer*.
With world class dining and shopping options, not to mention beautiful architecture and parks, today's free day is your chance to discover exactly why Adelaide's been crowned one of the world's most livable cities. Perhaps visit the nearby Barossa Valley, famed for its world class wines. Maybe you'd prefer to catch a tram down to beautiful Glenelg and relax by the beach or even take the ferry to the pristine Kangaroo Island - the options are endless. Tonight, why not enjoy a bite to eat and enjoy some live music at one of the many local venues.
It’s an early start this morning as we depart Adelaide and travel to the Barossa Reservoir Whispering Wall, a fascinating accident of design with surprising results. Continuing through the picturesque Clare Valley, we stop for morning tea at Sevenhill Cellars with time to sample the award-winning wines at the oldest winery in the valley. We lunch in the historic town of Melrose then enjoy a walk to stretch out the legs - a little practice for what’s in store tomorrow! End the day with a spectacular sunset across the western plains highlighting the breathtaking Central Flinders Ranges. Relax with a drink this evening at the welcoming Prairie Hotel, our home for the night nestled in one of the smallest towns in Australia, Parachilna.
Today we experience all that the majestic Flinders Ranges have to offer. We spot emu and kangaroo early on while enjoying a scenic drive through Parachilna Gorge, one of Australia’s most attractive and iconic natural landscapes. Upon entering the Flinders Ranges National Park, we take in the views from Stokes Hill Lookout then hike into the natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound. After this morning’s exploring you’ll no doubt have worked up an appetite so it’s off to Wilepana Pound Resort for lunch - this is real outback hospitality! This afternoon we immerse ourselves in the history of the area with a hike to the fascinating Aboriginal art site of Arkaroo Rock followed by a visit to Kanyaka Ruins - a modern day reminder of the hardship European settlers endured in this harsh environment. Enjoy a feast in a local pub tonight then settle into this evening’s accommodation in the historic town of Quorn.
Day 7:Coober Pedy
Departing the Flinders Ranges early we continue north with Port Augusta, known as the‘Crossroads of Australia’, today marking the beginning of our true desert adventure. Marvel at the enormous salt lakes and flat, saltbush plains of the Woomera Area where we learn the interesting history of Australia’s military weapons testing before exploring the surface of a salt lake for some excellent photo opportunities. We make a brief stop in the sheep-farming township of Glendambo - with a population of just 30 - before arriving in the Opal mining town of Coober Pedy. Known as the Opal Capital of the World, this afternoon we’ll check out the unique sights of this remarkable underground town - it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before! It’s off to the multi award winning outback eatery, John’s Pizza Bar, for dinner this evening before our visit to meet some local wildlife and learn about rescued Joey’s at a local Kangaroo Orphanage.
Day 8:Alice Springs
Departing Coober Pedy we cross the Moon Plain, where we discover the spectacular scenery used in the filming of many Hollywood movie blockbusters such as‘Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome’,‘Pitch Black’ and riotous Australian comedy‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’! Passing the Dingo Fence, the longest fence in the world, we take in the awe-inspiring Breakaways Scenic Reserve on route to the real heart of central Australia, Alice Springs. We will pass some very remote roadhouses before crossing the border into the Northern Territory where our resort pool is calling and a very comfy night is guaranteed!
Your Red Centre component begins with a visit to an outback camel farm before arriving at Yulara (the gateway resort to Uluru) for lunch. This afternoon you will marvel at the natural wonder that is Uluru (Ayres Rock) as we enjoy an informative walk around a section of its base. You will then get an insight to the local Aboriginal culture from your guide before watching in awe as the desert sunset, as if by magic, changes the colour of Uluru right before your eyes. With a glass of bubbles in hand and new mates to chat with– this is sure to make the best cover photo ever! After such a jam-packed first day on our NT travels it is time for a filling feast and maybe even a‘coldie’ at the local bar.
It's an early start today as we make our way back to the natural wonder and famous Australian Icon that is Ayres Rock to witness a magical Uluru sunrise - we challenge you to find a more stunning way to start the day! The morning allows time for a full base walk of the rock or perhaps the view from a Harley Ride or Scenic Flight is more your style. After we break for lunch back in the village, there's an opportunity to wander through the local Aboriginal Art markets. You may even choose to try your hand at a dot painting class to create that perfect take home souvenir. This afternoon take in a performance from the Cultural Dance group for an authentic insight into this important part of Aboriginal culture. Grab a bite to eat from a choice of menus on offer in the Resort. Out here in the Red Centre is the perfect place for a little star gazing! Once the night sky is upon us you can venture not too far from your room to experience the glory on offer peeping into the far outer layers of the Southern night sky. Crank your neck back and check out what is all on display right above your head, finding some famous star formations and you may even spot some of the nearby planets; some are visible with the naked eye.
Day 11:Kings Canyon
After a hearty breakfast, we spend a few hours back in the National Park this time bound for Kata-Tjuta (The Olgas). Here we explore the magnificent and very different features of this ancient geological formation on a hike through the“Valley of the Winds”. Take some time out with lunch before we make our journey across the dessert plains and into the Watarrka National Park, the home of the mighty Kings Canyon. Afterwards, an evening dinner under the stars and around the campfire with some special treats is the perfect way to end the day. Bed down tonight in a great Aussie Swag and drift off to sleep, and perhaps even spot a shooting star or that favourite constellation you found last night! Rest up, for the morning hike into the magic Kings Canyon is certainly worth the effort.
Day 12:Alice Springs
We start today by exploring the spectacular landscape that is Kings Canyon– this will certainly be a highlight of your central Australia adventure. The Rim Walk skirts the edge of the canyon, allowing you to peer over into the sandstone gorge below. Also we come across age-old cycads, a mini version of the Bungle Bungles of eroded dome shapes and an oasis as we reach the Garden of Eden, which has the all important shade, a permanent waterhole. Up some more stairs and across to the south edge, views taking in the breathtaking North Walls and the many sandstone colours are on offer. You will soon discover exactly why Kings Canyon is a favourite among Topdeck guides! We call back in to the Kings Creek Station for a lunch with a chance to grab some lunch (maybe even try a Camel Burger) before tracking our afternoon drive, returning to the central Australian metropolis of Alice Springs.
Day 13:Alice Springs
We slow down the pace today, it's your chance to regroup before we continue our adventure North through to the Top End. Enjoy the tranquil setting of this remote city, affectionately known as"Alice". There is heaps to check out, from the Royal Flying Doctor Museum to the Desert Park Gardens or perhaps you'd prefer to get up close and cuddly with the residents at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre - maybe catch up on emails, laze by the pool, or indulge in a spot of shopping for that special souvenir - it's entirely up to you! Refreshed from your free day, why not take the opportunity to meet the locals over a drink this evening at one of the infamous Alice bars?
Day 14:Alice Springs
Leaving Alice behind, we pass over the Tropic of Capricorn before arriving at the Barrow Creek Pub, home to a telegraph station, where you can catch a glimpse of what outback telecommunication used to be like - how did they live without Facebook! Some crazy outback places out here and we will stop off at a classic Aussie Roadhouse for a bite to eat before an afternoon stroll in a fascinating location. Precariously balanced on their rocky perch the Rainbow Serpent's eggs fossilised and became what Aborigines now call Karlu Karlu (Devils Marbles), a site sacred to its traditional owners. These rocks of volcanic origin have eroded over thousands of years to the form the shapes they are today, some of the boulders are up to 7 meters in diameters. From here we are onto our welcoming hotel at Tennant Creek, where yet another great meal awaits.
No visit towards the Top End would be complete without a stop at the famed Daly Waters Pub, one of Australia’s best known Pubs. The classic construction of corrugated iron dates from 1934 and began as a service to Qantas customers on the nearby runway and terminal loved by travellers from around the globe. What a perfect place for that brilliant Pub lunch*– maybe even a swim in the pub’s pool. Mataranka lies in the heart of the Never-Never and you’ll feel a million miles from anywhere as you soak in the steamy thermal springs. As the day draws to a close, we reach our Oasis Hotel in the town of Katherine, home base for the next 2 nights.
Paddling on a river is without doubt one of the best environmentally low-impact activities, and it is so quiet and unobtrusive that you can often see wildlife that would otherwise flee. Katherine Gorge is well known as a superb canoeing spot, and that is exactly what we have lined up for you this morning. With its dramatic cliffs plunging down to the pandanus-lined Katherine River, the gorge is all yours to explore. Paddling not your game - then you may wish to upgrade to a 3 gorge cruise (seasonal) to venture even further. Pick up some lunch in town as we head to one of the NT's best picnic spots and swimming places, the magic Edith Falls. Take a short walk around the falls for some secret spots then follow up with a swim in the fresh sweet waters, a great place to clear out the red dirt from the Centre and gain our swimming legs ready for the Top End.
Our morning drive takes us into the World Heritage area of Kakadu National Park. A perfect place for a swim is Gunlom Falls– the world’s most picturesque natural infinity pools. We have a steep walk to the top of the waterfall, but it is all very well worth it, with sweeping views of the southern end of Kakadu you will enjoy a relaxing dip in the crystal clear waters. We will set up a picnic lunch to refuel us ready for our afternoon journey which takes us through the heart of Kakadu. Our afternoon drive allows us to check out the interesting info and facts on the local area as we visit the Bowali Visitor Centre or even a chance for a scenic flight* over the Escarpment which borders Kakadu and Arnhemland. From here we check into our accommodation and with its very tropical setting, our evening BBQ really highlights the way people live up here in the tropics. **Wet season itineraries Nov– May : will vary on this day with an exclusion of Gunlom Falls, replaced with other Kakadu sites (written in for Day 10) which are accessible in the Tropical wet season.
Aboriginal Rock Art sites are high on the list for today, as our Kakadu National Park exploring continues. This morning we venture to Nourlangie Rock, where you are sure to recognize some of the most famous Australian Indigenous art works. Then we head north to the border of the National Park and Arnhemland for our East Alligator River cruise. We actually are privileged to step into Arnhem Land for a look into the Aboriginal lifestyles and have the opportunity to practice our spear throwing. All the while keeping our eyes peeled on the water to see how many crocs we can spot. With our local Indigenous guide hosting our trip we delve into the culture, local mythology, the river’s abundant food chain, and learn traditional uses for many of the plants and animals. Topdeck have gained special permission from the local custodians allowing us to disembark on the Arnhem Land side of the river for a walk into Arnhem Land. Enjoy the unique opportunity to immerse yourself in ancient Aboriginal culture during a display of traditional hunting and gathering techniques before heading downstream, this cruise will certainly ensure an intimate and personalised cultural experience.
Discover ancient Aboriginal rock art at Ubirr before you climb to the top of a rocky lookout for beautiful views over the Nardab floodplain, enjoying the sunset with the camera’s working overtime! You’ll be asleep in no time once we arrive back at our lodge. **Wet season itineraries Nov– May :will vary on this day with most of today’s content visited on the day prior. Today the trip will journey out of Kakadu National Park towards Litchfield where we have Accommodation at Batchelor Motel. Wet Season OVERNIGHT Batchelor Resort Litchfield (shared facilities)