Ships of the Desert
Activity and Adventure
Are you ready to see Australia at its most scenic? Hop aboard your flight and let the adventure begin! When you arrive in Sydney, you’ll be transferred to your hotel, the Andina Apartments, where you’ll have time to settle in. A little later on, it is time to visit the iconic Sydney Opera House, a true landmark that casts its sails over the harbor, catching the eyes of everyone in its vicinity. Enjoy a tour of the building where you’ll learn more about the history and some of the eclectic performances that have taken place within its walls. As you walk around, listen to how your footsteps sound like a drumbeat thanks to the perfect acoustics on offer here.
The next day it’s off to the World Heritage Region of the Blue Mountains. You visit Calmsley Hill, a working farm and also home to some of Australia’s best wildlife including kangaroos, emus, wombats, and koalas. Enjoy a hike from Evans Lookout to Govett’s leap and take in the view looking out over Australia’s answer to the Grand Canyon – the Grose Valley. Prepare to be wowed - the waterfalls here drop 180m to the base of the cliff! You’ll wrap up with a stop at the Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens where you’ll enjoy a sparkling wine with more sweeping views.
Ayers Rock (Uluru)
Leave city life behind and fly to Uluru, in Australia’s Red Centre, where you'll stay at the Desert Gardens Hotel. You’ll kick off your stay here with an unforgettable ‘Sound of Silence’ experience. Tonight, dine under the canopy of the outback star-studded sky; enjoy canapes, sparkling wine and a buffet inspired by bush tucker and packed full of native ingredients. From a viewing platform, you’ll enjoy a view across Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, as you listen to the sounds of the traditional didgeridoo. Afterward, a local star talker will help you get to grips with the night sky. Sit back and let your eyes be guided to the Southern Cross, Milky Way and signs of the Zodiac. On a clear night, you might also be able to spot planets and other galaxies.
Start the day with an early morning rise, you’ll be rewarded with a glorious color show as the desert wakes up with the sun. From here, head out to Uluru and watch as its mighty shape rises from the sand dunes in the early morning light. With your guide and fellow travelers, you’ll be taken to a special location to watch the sunrise over this staggering monolith and then tuck into an outback picnic. Next, it’s on to visit Mutijulu Waterhole on the Kuniya Walk, during which you’ll learn the Creation stories of Liru (poisonous snake) and Kuniya (python). Afterward, enjoy a drive around the base of Uluru before heading back to your resort.
In the afternoon it’s on to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, to see native flora and fauna. Your guide will go into detail about this diverse environment and describe the cultural significance of Kata Tjuta, a sacred Aboriginal men’s ceremonial site. At Walpa Gorge you walk between the imposing conglomerate domes and learn how these 36 domes have evolved over millions of years. You’ll conclude your tour as darkness descends on Uluru and it is cast into an impressive silhouette. From there the Field of Light display illuminates the feature and as far as the eye can see, color lights up the desert. Covering several football fields worth of desert and using some 50,000 spindles of light, it is a wonderful photo opportunity.
You’ll kick off your last full day in Uluru on a one-hour camel ride around the red sand dunes. From the camel’s back, watch as the sun rises over Uluru and Kata Tjuta and the desert comes to life. At a remote lookout, you’ll have a chance to pause for photographs, before tucking into a light breakfast of freshly baked beer bread damper with Australian jams, tea, and coffee. In the afternoon you’ll partake in a four-wheel-drive experience to Mount Conner. A classic Australian outback experience, it’s the perfect way to soak up the ambiance without the crowds.
It’s on to Port Douglas today, where you’ll have time to explore this lush area at your own pace. Surrounded by rich greenery and the amazing Daintree National Park, this township is a must for any nature fanatics. It’s also home to elegant spas, charming cafes and excellent restaurants, as well as typical Australian pubs, pleasant galleries and smart boutiques. Hit up the Sunday markets and tuck into a fresh coconut milk drink or play on a world-class golf course. There truly is something for everyone here! You'll stay at the Mantra Aqueous, which is right next to the action on Macrossan Street and has a fab swimming pool to cool off in.
The next day will be spent cruising on the jewel in Australia’s crown, the Great Barrier Reef. There is time for lunch on board and plenty of opportunities to so snorkeling, diving or fishing. Following that, kick back and relax as your boat cruises along this world-class reef.
Your final full day in Port Douglas will be spent with a local Aboriginal guide. Together you’ll explore the beautiful Kuku Yalanji country and world heritage listed Daintree rainforest. At the end of the day, you’ll have a greater understanding of the diverse environments of tropical North Queensland as well as a deeper appreciation of the cultural connection the people here have with their land.
On day 12 you'll leave from Cairns, bidding farewell to Australia and head home.