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Grand Tour of Australia

20days from
£6,399*per person

Overview

20 Days - Classic Escorted Tours

What comes to mind when somebody mentions Australia? Beautiful beaches, bustling cities, endless sunshine and a laid-back lifestyle? Well, you won’t be disappointed. This diverse, continent-sized country is a perfect mix of cities, natural beauty and vast open spaces, and you can experience it for yourself on this tour of Australia. Take in the highlights of modern Sydney, with its iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge, then escape to the nearby Blue Mountains; explore chic Melbourne’s winding alleys and cosy cafes, then drive the epic Great Ocean Road; escape to sunny Brisbane and meet some local wildlife; travel north to remote city of Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.  To top it all off, we’ll visit the heart of Australia – Uluru – to experience the real Outback and learn about the history and culture of the Aboriginal people. This tour is ideal for travel-enthusiasts looking for a taster of Australia that includes a little bit of everything that the Land Down Under has to offer. 

Itinerary

  • Your adventure begins with an overnight flight from the UK to Sydney, which will include a change of plane and a chance to stretch your legs.
  • Your flight may arrive in Sydney quite late, so we'll transfer you directly to the hotel where you can check in and enjoy a rest after a day of travelling. Try to get a good night’s sleep, as tomorrow you have a free day to get to know Sydney.
  • Today is a completely free day for you to relax and adjust to your new time zone. You can either rise early to get the most of your time or enjoy a leisurely start to the first proper day of your holiday. Either way, once you’ve had a spot of breakfast, Sydney is your oyster. You can choose to join your Tour Manager on an orientation tour of the local area. They will point out places of interest, restaurants, and museums which you can visit in your own time. Alternatively, there are plenty of options if you’re happy to explore alone - you may choose to take a Sydney Harbour cruise, enjoy a cocktail overlooking the water, venture out to one of Sydney’s many beaches, or – if you’re feeling especially adventurous – book in to brave the heights of the famous Harbour Bridge where you’ll get a unique view of the city. This evening is the perfect opportunity to delve into Sydney’s gastronomic scene. Whether it’s cheap and cheerful (but delicious) dumplings in Chinatown, a Micheli-star tasting menu in the city, or fresh seafood with a nice glass of wine overlooking the water of Sydney Harbour, you’re in for a treat. 
  • After breakfast at your hotel, your day begins in earnest with a visit to The Rocks. This historic area is where the First Fleet – made up of 11 ships from Great Britain - landed in 1788. The people onboard these ships made up Australia's first European colonies, and their arrival shaped the future of the country. Your day of exploration also includes a visit to Bondi Beach, one of Australia’s most iconic beaches – and for good reason! This long crescent of sand is popular with early-rising surfers and active families, as well as tourists and locals looking for a sunny spot to rest. We’ll have some free time here to enjoy the beautiful scenery that has made this stretch of coast so popular, and to buy some lunch. Next, we’ll return to Sydney CBD – Central Business District - and stop for a great photo opportunity at Mrs Macquaries Chair, a carved sandstone rock, where you’ll be in the perfect position to see the spectacular views of the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Fort Denison.  Our final visit for the day is to the Sydney Opera House. We’ll get the opportunity to join a guided tour that takes us beyond the famous white exterior, to really get to know this iconic building that was built over 60 years ago by Danish architect Jorn Utzon.
  • Today, we’ll leave behind the bright lights of Sydney and head out to discover the beauty of the Blue Mountains. Although just 40 miles from central Sydney, the Blue Mountains feel a million miles away from city life. With gentle, green peaks giving way to the seemingly endless Jamison Valley, you can get a moment of serenity as you look out over the pristine landscape that’s full of eucalyptus trees. These trees create the blue haze which gives the mountains their name.  Be sure to stop to view the famous Three Sisters rock formation! Next, we’ll visit nearby Scenic World, where we’ll take a ride on the Scenic Railway, the world’s steepest incline railway. Descend 415 metres down at a gradient of 52 degrees, travelling through the tunnel and ancient rainforest, before disembarking to walk the 300-metre rainforest boardwalk to connect with the Flyway platform. The return trip is just as beautiful, as you ride the cable car 545 metres up through the World Heritage Listed rainforest of the Jamison Valley.  Our final adventure at Scenic World is on the Scenic Skyway cable car – here you’ll take a journey 270 metres above ancient ravines and dazzling waterfalls, which can be admired thanks to the state-of-the-art Electro-Scenic Glass Floor. If you’re nervous about heights, it’s time to brace yourself - at the flip of a switch, breathtaking views are revealed through the cabin floor directly below. The 360-degree birds’ eye view takes in the Three Sisters, Katoomba Falls, Mount Solitary and the seemingly never-ending Jamison Valley. 
  • After breakfast at the hotel, it’s time to say goodbye to Sydney as you transfer to Sydney airport for a direct flight to Brisbane, which only takes around 90 minutes. From Brisbane airport, we’ll make our way to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the world's first and largest koala sanctuary. The sanctuary was opened in 1927 by a local resident who recognised that something had to be done to help protect one of Australia’s most-loved species. Their mission is to protect, respect and conserve their environment, by education and connecting people with nature.   While at the sanctuary, you will have the opportunity to see some of the animals they care for. From birds and amphibians to reptiles and farm animals, you’ll get to see a diverse range of animals and learn how they’re cared for. Wildlife highlights include their endemic species like Tasmanian devils and dingos, as well as the cuddlier looking wombats, koalas and - Australia’s national animal – kangaroos.  This afternoon, enjoy a change of pace as we hop onboard a relaxing cruise on the Brisbane river. This is a great way to get your bearings in this petite city, as you’ll see its iconic sights including Kangaroo Point Cliffs, the city centre and Story Bridge.
  • Today is yours to spend as you please. You’ll have the entire day to explore Brisbane at your own pace. The city is pretty compact but incredibly friendly and laid back, so you can see most of it in one day. We recommend meandering along the city’s South Bank which is made up of parkland, galleries, cafes and restaurants. You’ll find a nice mix of people here, from families with tiny tots to rollerbladers with ice creams in hands. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to get out of the city, book a visit to Australia Zoo - home to the late Steve Irwin, the “Crocodile Hunter” - where you can see even more Aussie wildlife.
  • Today we’ll take a flight from Brisbane to Cairns, a small city on Australia’s north-east coast.  After the two-and-a-half-hour flight, there will be a short transfer to your hotel. After you’ve checked in, we’ll have a free afternoon to either rest and relax at the hotel – perhaps take a dip in the pool to cool off - or get out and see this colourful city. In stark contrast to Sydney, there’s no glitz and glamour in Cairns. Instead, head to one of the local pubs and get chatting with the friendly locals over a schooner or two of Aussie beer.
  • Today we will visit Kurunda, a mountain village on the outskirts of Cairns. We’ll start with the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, which has gondolas that travel four-and-a-half-miles across the rainforest canopy. The cable car gives you a unique perspective of Australia’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, which has survived against all odds to become the home of the world’s oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest. Glide metres above the pristine jungle canopy, before descending deep into the rainforest to see it closeup. After your cable car experience, we’ll stop off to visit a rainforest interpretative centre. Then we will have some time to explore charming Kuranda village. The next experience of the day is on board the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway. Settle into your vintage timber carriage and get your camera at the ready. This spectacular train ride will take us through the magnificent, World Heritage-listed Barron Falls National Park.  From the comfort of your seat, relax and watch picturesque valleys, jungles, railway bridges and tunnels built over a century ago pass by, and be sure to keep an eye out for the Barron Falls themselves, of course! Listen to the steady rumbling of the heritage-style locomotive journeying through the one of the world's oldest rainforests. The train ride itself is a treat for any rail enthusiasts! 
  • Although we’ve all heard of the Great Barrier Reef, and it’s on top of many people’s bucket lists, there’s nothing you have read or seen that can prepare you for the reality of this astounding natural beauty. This is the largest and most complex expanse of living coral on earth. Extending from north of Cape York to south of the Tropic of Capricorn, its underwater coral gardens, cays and islands and the huge variety of fish, marine mammals, turtles and birds can’t fail to ‘wow’ even the best-travelled nature lover.  Today we’ll sail by catamaran to Michaelmas Cay, a picturesque reef sand island surrounded by coral gardens that are teeming with an incredible diversity of marine life, including over 20,000 migratory seabirds, as the Cay is a protected seabird sanctuary. The surrounding outer reef is a spectacular garden of exotic marine life, magnificent coral and giant clams, boasting more varieties of tropical fish than the entire Atlantic Ocean! You’ll have time to enjoy some snorkelling or take a ride on a glass bottom boat, all topped off with an included buffet lunch.
  • Today is all yours to spend as you wish. If you’re feeling tired and in need of rest, enjoy a guilt-free day relaxing at the hotel. Alternatively, you can use your time to stroll around Cairns, visiting the Botanical Gardens, museums, Josephine Falls swimming hole, Rusty's market and more - our Tour Manager can help you choose where to visit - or book a day trip out of the city. We can recommend a tour to Cape Tribulation which is a remote coastal area within the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Daintree National Park, offering a combination of rainforest and beaches.
  • After some free time this morning to relax or take one last stroll along Cairns’ Esplanade, we’ll make our way to the airport for our flight to Melbourne.   Melbourne – which has been voted most liveable city in the world no less than seven times! - is a diverse city that’s often referred to as Australia’s cultural capital. It is a thriving arts hub with a world-class food scene, and this afternoon and evening are the perfect opportunity to try it for yourself.  Brunch in Melbourne isn’t just a meal, it’s an event, and the café culture goes way beyond good coffee (although that’s a given) and it’s a must-do to fully immerse yourself into Melburnian life. Alternatively, make the most of the Asian influence that can be found across Australia with a visit to Chinatown for delectable dumplings and to Richmond for Vietnamese restaurants serving up hearty Pho. In between amazing meals, there’s a wide selection of museums, art galleries and theatres, as well as sports events and festivals happening all year round.  
  • Today we’ll have an introductory tour of the vibrant city of Melbourne and its surrounding parks and attractions. While the rectangular city centre is full of high-rise buildings, stately old buildings and boutique-filled alleyways, just a short journey out of the city you’ll find parks and gardens and many classic buildings, such as the Old Treasury Building and the Exhibition Building, built for the Great Exhibition of 1880.   On this tour, we’ll also take a drive past the MCG - the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground - and Rod Laver Arena, where the Australian Open Tennis is played each year. We’ll also see the parklands and the War Memorial, and the city’s meeting point - Federation Square. This afternoon is free for you to explore Melbourne for yourself. Why not take a stroll along the Southbank promenade, which follows along the Yarra river? Or find a little nook for a coffee and cake? Or even dip into one of the city’s galleries to see local, national and international artworks.   
  • It’s an early start this morning as we set off early from the hotel to drive to the Great Ocean Road. Often hailed as Australia’s most spectacular coastal highway, it has been listed as an Australian National Heritage site. The 150-mile stretch of road has some of the best coastal scenery this country has to offer.   The coastal route is popular with tourists and Melburnians alike. The road hugs the Surf Coast between Torquay and Cape Otway, and, a little further west, the Shipwreck Coast, providing views of the Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean. The road traverses rainforests and beaches, as well as sandstone and limestone cliffs, and there are lots of quaint towns and villages to along the way. We will stop for some great photos of the famous Twelve Apostles, huge limestone pillars which just out of the surf or sand, carved over time by the Southern Ocean.   We will have some free time for lunch before returning to Melbourne for the evening, where you’ll have some free time to relax.  
  • This morning, we’ll travel through Melbourne eastern suburbs to The Dandenong Ranges. Arguably one of the best ways to explore these rolling hills is on Puffing Billy – a traditional steam train that chugs its way through lush mountainside from Belgrave. We’ll disembark at Lakeside Visitor Centre & Museum, where our coach will be waiting for us.   From here, we’ll make our way to Phillip Island, where we’ll visit the Phillip Island Koala Centre, where you can wander tree-top boardwalks to watch koalas up close in their natural habitat. Next is the Nobbies Centre. Overlooking the waters of Bass Strait, the Nobbies Centre showcases marine life of the southern oceans, including Australian fur seals.   After this, we’ll have the privilege to witness the Penguin Parade! This unique experience takes part in the Phillip Island Nature Park, an area is a reserve designed to protect and promote awareness of the Little Penguin species.  Once we’re settled at environmentally friendly observation boardwalks and viewing stands, it’s time for the magic to begin. As the sun sets, you’ll be waiting in silent anticipation to see one penguin emerge from the water, followed by another, until dozens of Little Penguins have emerged from the ocean to take their daily journey back to their sand-dune burrows. To see them come out of the surf in small groups and waddle up the beach is a fascinating experience that is cute enough to warm even the hardiest heart.  This is our last experience of the day, and afterwards we’ll make our way back to the hotel. It will be quite late by the time we return to Melbourne, but the day will have been worth it.
  • This morning you’ll head to the airport for your flight to Uluru.   On arrival to Uluru – also known as Ayers Rock – you’ll check into your hotel then get ready to head into The Outback.  This afternoon, we’ll travel to the mystical Kata Tjuta, also known as The Olgas. Thanks to the unusual, rotund shape of these rock formations, they received the Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal name of Kata Tjuta, which means 'many heads'. We'll stop at a lookout for panoramic views of the eastern side of Kata Tjuta then spend some time exploring the Walpa Gorge, which are all within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. This evening we head to “Sunset Strip” to admire Uluru at sunset.  Enjoy a drink and nibbles as the sun makes its way over the rock, transforming it to sizzling red and back to orange again. 
  • Uluru famously changes hue depending on the time of day. You got to see part of this last night at sunset, and this morning you’ll get to watch it wake up at sunrise. It’s an early start, but it’s more than worth it as you get to experience the majesty of this natural beauty. Next, it’s back to the resort for breakfast. After fuelling up for the day, we’ll don our walking shoes and head back to the rock for the Mala Walk. This is a lovely stroll to the edge of the Kantju Gorge, where you can fully appreciate the mammoth size of this monolith that rises 348 yards above the ground and has a girth of almost six miles.  Gaze up and marvel at the orange-red rock, but be sure to look down too... at least two-thirds of the rock lies underground! As you walk, you’ll learn about Aboriginal perceptions of Uluru, its powerful spiritual significance and how Anangu traditional owners and ranges are looking after the park together. There are also many fine examples of Anangu art to see along the way.   Our next walk is along a short track to the Mutitjulu Waterhole. According to the Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal people, this is the home of Wanampi, an ancestral water snake or rainbow serpent. We’ll learn how Kuniya and Liru (the python woman and poisonous snake man) helped create Uluru. This is a living cultural landscape, as Kuniya is still here in spirit, and this experience provides a respectful understanding of the Dreamtime Stories that give the area such significance. The art caves are still used by Anangu today.   After a morning full of learning, you’ll have an afternoon free to spend at your leisure. This evening you can choose from one of our optional dinner experiences or dine at one of the hotel’s bars or restaurants.
  • This morning we’ll return to the airport for our flight back to either Sydney or Melbourne, where we spend one last night before returning home.
  • Transfer to the airport for your overnight flight back to the UK.
  • Arrive back in the UK after an incredible once-in-a-lifetime tour.

What's Included

Holiday Highlights

  • Stay in some of Australia’s greatest cities – Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns and Melbourne 
  • Experience the country’s natural beauty in the Blue Mountains, on the Great Ocean Road coastal drive and on the Puffing Billy steam train 
  • Get up close with local wildlife with a visit to a koala sanctuary, and to Phillip Island to watch the famous penguin parade 
  • Discover the amazing rainforests around Cairns on the Karunda Scenic Railway 
  • Enjoy a full day catamaran cruise to the Great Barrier Reef 
  • Experience sunset and sunrise at Uluri and explore Kata Tjuta National Park 

Our Price Includes

  • The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room with single rooms available at the relevant supplement. The price includes: 
  • 17 nights’ accommodation 
  • Daily breakfast & 1 Lunch on the Great Barrier Reef cruise plus sunset drinks
  • Scheduled flights to Sydney, returning from Melbourne 
  • All touring and transfers as mentioned 
  • All local accommodation and airport/flight taxes 
  • The services of a Riviera Travel Tour Manager 
  • Hotel porterage of one item of luggage per person 
  • Your included excursions are: 
  • Sightseeing tours in Sydney and Melbourne 
  • The Blue Mountains 
  • Phillip Island 
  • Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary 
  • Kuranda, including a ride on the Scenic Railway 
  • The Great Ocean Road 
  • A River Cruise in Brisbane  
  • A cruise to the Great Barrier Reef 
  • Sunrise and sunset at Uluru  
  • Guided walks of Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park 
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Dates and Prices

 
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Departure Airport:
London Heathrow (LHR)

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Price from:£6,399
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Accommodation

Desert Gardens Hotel Ayers Rock Resort -

★★★

Perched in an oasis of native gardens, the hotel provides a relaxing retreat from our days adventure with air-conditioned rooms – your room includes a safe, fridge, tea and coffee making facilities and a hairdryers, along with an en suite bathroom. You can enjoy dinner in any one of the restaurants within the resort – and there are a lot to choose from – from relaxed dining under the desert sky to a barramundi streak on the BBQ. And unwind poolside with drinks and snacks from Bunya Bar.     Location: Ayers Rock, Petermann NT, Australia  Desert Gardens Hotel is located in the Ayers Rock Resort – at the heart of Australia’s Red Centre - close to one of the country’s most recognised and respected landmarks, Uluru. The hotel within walking distance of the resort’s town square and tourist centre and just a 5-minute stroll to the lookout, where you can enjoy views of the desert sunset and Uluru.

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Other Information

Holiday code

R583

Holiday provided by Riviera Travel

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: change your booking for free, Covid-19 cancellation protection included as standard and 100% protection with ABTA & ATOL. This holiday is sold and operated by Riviera Travel (ABTA V4744, ATOL 3430). These ABTA and ATOL bonds mean that, when you book a Riviera Travel holiday, you can be 100% sure that your money is safe.

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