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.
This morning you will fly (flight not included, Topdeck recommend Qantas flight QF1948) from the outback climate of Alice Springs to the tropical surrounds of Cairns where you will be met by your East Coast Topdeck Crew. After you are checked in to your accommodation, the night is yours.
If it’s time out you’re after whilst here in Cairns, there are cafes, plenty of shopping opportunities and of course the famous Cairns Esplanade, contemporary art pieces scattered amongst the lagoon style pools and lush grass sun bathing areas right in the heart of town.
Known as the adventure capital of Australia, today's the perfect opportunity to go wild with optional activities and day trips, from white water rafting on the Tully River to a full day tour of the World Heritage listed Daintree region. Why not get up close and personal with a cuddly Koala or even zip line over a Saltwater Crocodile! There's also horse riding, quad biking, bungy jumping, tandem skydiving, hot air ballooning - you name it, Cairns has it! A very popular option and a Topdeck favourite is of course a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef with our friends at Passions of Paradise. This is certainly an incredible, almost unbelievable day - one that we guarantee you'll remember forever. Setting sail for the outer reef onboard this multi award winning catamaran; we'll stop at two unique locations - Michaelmans Cay and the exclusive Paradise Reef. All snorkeling equipment is included and if you're keen to dive, optional introductory and certified scuba diving is available too. Michaelmans Cay National Park is a world-famous bird sanctuary featuring a beautiful sandy beach that provides the rare opportunity to snorkel and dive straight off the edge in calm, protected waters. Sea turtles are abundant here and you're likely to see giant trevally, small black tip reef sharks and bat fish among many other species. Paradise Reef is an exclusive mooring just for Passions of Paradise so there are no crowds as you snorkel the hard coral reef with depths of up to 25 metres. There's also a tasty buffet lunch included on this day trip, freshly prepared by our onboard chef and including prawns and fresh tropical fruit.
Day 16:The Whitsundays
Who’s up for sailing the Whitsundays? Today we’ll do just that as we make our way to Airlie Beach. This buzzing party town is your gateway to the beautiful Whitsunday Passage and the 74 nearby tropical islands, and by far the best way to experience the islands is onboard our own private yacht! This will be our home for the night and the experienced sailing crew will provide us with a feast of freshly prepared meals along the way. You’ll be able to learn the basics of sailing by lending a hand with hoisting and trimming the sails and there is plenty of time for swimming and snorkelling the reefs at your leisure too. By night we’ll stargaze at the Milky Way without a worry in the world– it’s a tough life, but someone has to do it! Prepare for nothing but azure waters, good times and star-lit skies. Bliss.
Day 17:Long Island
Wake up to pure paradise in one of the many sheltered coves that make up the Whitsundays. Today we’ll set sail for golden sandy beaches, snorkel over coral reefs and soak up the sun. A visit to the famous blinding white sands of Whitehaven Beach and Blue Pearl Bay will also be an option if the weather behaves - fingers crossed! If you’re a budding captain, you can even help set the sails and have a turn at the helm whilst further exploring the islands. Later this afternoon set course for land where we’ll spend the next two nights at the stunning Long Island Resort.
Day 18:Long Island
Today's itinerary: a free day to explore the island's unspoilt beaches and azure waters. Live the Island life and relax over an indulgent buffet breakfast as the day unfolds on this little slice of paradise. You will soon discover the many sides to Long Island, it's all yours to explore at your own pace. Be submersed in the endless array of activities this idyllic resort has on offer. You have access to hectares of unspoilt National Park featuring over 20 kilometres of walking trails and many secluded beaches to explore. You might choose to get the blood pumping with a Zumba class or if you're feeling adventurous, enjoy the numerous water sports on offer. Even challenge your trip leader to a game of mini golf or tennis, but be warned - they can get quite competitive! Of course, if a slower pace is more your thing you can always relax in a hammock in the shade of the coconut palms, feed the fish from the jetty, take a leisurely paddle in a kayak or simply watch the sunset by the pool bar, cocktail in hand.
Day 19:Emu Park
Our short morning ferry lands us back in Shute Harbour where it’s time to jump back aboard the coach and continue south along the coast. We journey through the beef capital of Queensland - Rockhampton, or"Rocky" to the locals - before arriving at Emu Park. This casual coastal town is the perfect place to sit back and‘chillax’. Take a walk along the unspoilt beach, dip in the resort pool or join your crew for a game of beach cricket - one of Australia’s favourite sports! Tonight you’ll enjoy some local hospitality as we sit down together to enjoy a delicious combination of local beef and seafood.
Day 20:Kroombit Park
Today we go from the beach to the bush as we head into Central Queensland for some real Outback hospitality. You’ll be welcomed by the local Sandilands family and into the tranquil bush lifestyle on their 10,000 acre cattle station. Think dusty plains, kangaroos, wide-open spaces - this is the Australia many dream of. In fact, this afternoon we even catch a glimpse of Kroombit Park’s famous"Goat Rodeo"! Feel free to take a swim in the pool before enjoying Kroombit's renowned camp oven cuisine, followed by steaming billy tea and an evening around the campfire. Before heading to your purpose built bush cabin for a well deserved rest, we dare you to don your Akubra and test your skills on the station’s Mechanical Bull!
Day 21:Fraser Island
Greeted this morning with a campfire breakfast cook up (including the delicious"Cowboy Caviar"), you will be refreshed and ready to take on the day ahead. Horse riding*, quad bike riding* or trap shooting* are just some of the activities you might want to try this morning before we say goodbye to the Sandilands’. Leaving the farm behind, we continue south on our way to Fraser Island. Crossing the Great Sandy Straight on the ferry, you may be lucky enough to catch the sunset before we arrive to a hearty dinner waiting for us at the infamous Dingo Bar. Be sure to fill up as we have an awesome day of exploring planned for tomorrow! Perfectly located at Kingfisher Bay, our Wilderness Lodge accommodation is set in a eucalypt forest, on the western side of the island.
Day 22:Fraser Island
Fraser Island - Great Sandy National Park is World Heritage Listed and the world’s largest sand island. It was home to the Badtjala Aboriginal people for some 5000 years and was known as"K’gari". This special place supports an extraordinarily diverse rainforest, wildflower heath, mangroves, birds and a now small population of dingoes. The island has dunes that reach 240 metres in height and about 40 dune lakes - unbelievably, half the total number of dune lakes in the world. The very best way to explore this vast national park is with an expert local guide on our included 4-wheel drive trip. As we travel along Seventy-Five Mile Beach get your camera finger ready for the iconic Pinnacles Coloured Sands and Maheno Shipwreck, learn about the rich logging history amongst the ancient rainforest at Central Station, and float your troubles away at the picturesque Eli Creek. You’ll even have an opportunity to try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding on the crystal clear waters of Lake McKenzie! The more you learn about Fraser Island, the more you’ll understand how truly a remarkable place it is. At the end of the day, you might like to join your crew for a bite to eat poolside at the always popular Sand Bar*.
Day 23:Gold Coast
From remote wilderness to cosmopolitan charm today as our journey takes us to the Gold Coast’s entertainment hub and our home for the night, Surfers Paradise. First though we we’ll stop off in Brisbane, Queensland’s Capital city. Enjoy a meander around the river city, indulge in a spot of shopping or relax over a coffee before continuing south. Tonight we’ll take you on a short walk to Cavill and Orchid Avenues where we’ll enjoy some of the Coast’s hottest night spots!
Day 24:Byron Bay
Enjoy a buffet breakfast this morning before heading out to enjoy Queensland's fabulous climate - today is yours to explore all the Gold Coast has to offer! From world famous surf beaches, extreme adventure activities and well known Theme Parks, the options are endless. After an action packed stay on the Gold Coast, it's time to jump back aboard our trusty Topdeck coach bound for Springbrook National Park where we'll make a stop at the stunning"Natural Arch" - an unusual geographical feature created over millions of years by water tumbling through the roof of a basalt cave. It's only a short drive from here en route to our home for the next two nights - Australia's most easterly (and most laid-back) point, Byron Bay. Renowned for its surf beaches, rainforests and eclectic lifestyle, Byron oozes a relaxed vibe that will instantly have you hooked.
Day 25:Byron Bay
A whole day to explore the hippy-vibed Byron? Yes please! Beautiful Byron - if this town was a food, it’d be certified organic! From lush hinterland and sparkling beaches to the deliberate exclusion of fast food outlets, it really is a natural wonder. Whether you decide to start early and make a full day of it or choose to relax, you’re guaranteed to fall in love with the lifestyle. It’s a melting pot of surf culture, alternative philosophies, hedonistic indulgence, and the good life. Today is all yours to do with as you please and the activities are endless. Why not try skydiving for spectacular views, go scuba diving at Julian Rocks, jump in a sea kayak for a paddle and hopefully spot a dolphin, show off your new surf skills with another lesson or just chill out with a coffee on the beach! If you’re in the mood for an adventure, make sure you walk up to the lighthouse at Cape Byron for the best easterly views in Oz. Here it’s not uncommon to spot dolphins or whales cruising past so have your camera ready. Tonight is your chance to let your taste buds run wild. Head to that cosy restaurant you spotted today in town, or check with your Trip Leader for suggestions on Byron’s best eats.
Day 26:Crescent Head
As we depart Byron Bay and continue south, the scenery we pass this morning is simply stunning - you’ll be wishing the drive was longer! With the Great Dividing Range to our west and the Pacific Ocean to our east, we pass through the Northern Rivers towns of Ballina and Grafton before reaching the Central Coast. We arrive at our idyllic surf camp in beautiful Crescent Head where a BBQ lunch awaits us - just what you’ll need to boost the energy levels for this afternoon’s surf lesson! With qualified instructors there to watch over your every move, you are sure to be up and on your feet in no time. What better way to celebrate becoming a surfer than to enjoy a hearty meal together this evening before letting your hair down at the surf camp’s legendary live music night.
Surfed out and with full bellies, we leave this remote paradise behind bound for the Hunter Valley, one of Australia’s premier wine regions. Our time in wine country begins with the feeling of grapes between bare toes (seasonal). You guessed it - jump in an oak barrel and experience the age-old tradition of pressing by foot! Afterwards, it’s on to the Hunter Wine Theatre where we learn all about the grape’s fascinating journey from vine to bottle before enjoying an intimate, structured wine tasting. The Hunter Valley’s local produce is mouth-watering and you’ll have plenty of time to sample it as we enjoy a break for lunch*. You might even decide to sit down for a bite to eat at the Blue Tongue Brewery cafe before departing this stunning setting. As we cruise on into the largest city in Australia via its famous Harbour Bridge, Sydney signals the end of our adventure together. With the famous city skyline before us - it’s sadly time to say goodbye this evening. We hope you have enjoyed the past 14 Days travelling with Topdeck and we look forward to seeing you on one of our great trips again soon. If you are looking to travel further afield Down Under, Topdeck also have trips on offer throughout the Northern Territory, Southern States and even across the Tasman in New Zealand!