G’day and welcome to your trip with Topdeck! Your adventure begins with a short drive down the famous Stuart Highway and into Litchfield National Park. Greeted by the picturesque Florence Falls the walk to the swimming holes are certainly worth the rewards. A quick dip here, then venture over to the Buley Rock Hole for another soaking! After some lunch, our day of adventuring the spectacular Northern Territory takes us into the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Kakadu National Park for the next 2 nights. Year round Kakadu is home to phenomenal wildlife, scenery and of course local Indigenous Culture, all of which we will be sure to take in. Our afternoon drive allows us to check out the changing landscape and a couple of interesting yet very cool stops along the way before we check into our accommodation, 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 beginning from Darwin spending a longer amount of time in Litchfield National Park and staying overnight at the Batchelor Motel then moving into Kakadu National Park on Day 2 for 1 night only. Wet Season OVERNIGHT Batchelor Resort Litchfield (shared facilities)
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.
**During the wet season - November through May - the itinerary 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 stay at Batchelor Motel (shared facilities) in Litchfield .
Time this morning to check out the Bowali Visitors Centre or even take in a scenic flight* over the Escarpment that borders Kakadu and Arnhemland. Our afternoon drive allows us access to a perfect place for a swim in Kakadu National Park - Gunlom Falls, the world’s most picturesque natural infinity pools. After a picnic lunch to refuel, 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– what a great cover photo this will be! Cooled off and refreshed we are on the road again and headed for Katherine where a comfy night stay is guaranteed! **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 2) which are accessible in the Tropical wet season.
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.
Day 5:Tennant Creek
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 - this is the last swimming hole in our Top End section of our trip as we prepare for the rusty sand to fill our shoes in the Red Centre. No visit to the Northern Territory 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. From here pretty much straight line to our overnight motel in Tennant Creek (the cross roads of Australia!)
Day 6:Alice Springs
Our morning unfolds with a 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. Next down the highway is 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 we pass over the Tropic of Capricorn destined for our welcoming hotel in the heart of Australia Alice Springs.
Day 7: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?
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 10: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 11: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. We hope you have enjoyed the past 11 Days Northern Territory component of your trip where some travellers will bid their farewells and you will continue on your travels across to the famous“East Coast of Australia”.
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.
Your East Coast sector begins now as you meet up with some new travel mates all bound for Sydney! Renowned for its relaxed vibe and tropical climate, our home for the next two nights is the stylish city of Cairns. Enjoy the oceanfront energy of the Cairns Esplanade and perhaps even take a swim in the lagoon, or simply wander the many cafes, bars and shops this afternoon with your new travel companions. To celebrate the beginning of our amazing east coast trip together, we have arranged a group welcome dinner at one of Topdeck’s favourite Cairns restaurants.
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 15: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 16: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 17: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 18: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 19: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 20: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 21: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 22: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 23: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 24: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 25: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!