Road Scholar : Home
Australia: An Odyssey Down Under

Program Number: 20134RJ
Start and End Dates:
1/13/2014 - 1/29/2014; 3/10/2016 - 3/26/2016; 3/24/2016 - 4/9/2016; 4/14/2016 - 4/30/2016; 4/21/2016 - 5/7/2016; 7/28/2016 - 8/13/2016; 9/8/2016 - 9/24/2016; 9/22/2016 - 10/8/2016; 10/6/2016 - 10/22/2016; 10/20/2016 - 11/5/2016; 11/3/2016 - 11/19/2016; 11/17/2016 - 12/3/2016; 12/1/2016 - 12/17/2016; 1/16/2017 - 2/1/2017; 1/26/2017 - 2/11/2017; 2/9/2017 - 2/25/2017; 2/23/2017 - 3/11/2017; 3/2/2017 - 3/18/2017; 3/9/2017 - 3/25/2017; 3/16/2017 - 4/1/2017; 3/23/2017 - 4/8/2017; 4/6/2017 - 4/22/2017; 4/13/2017 - 4/29/2017; 4/20/2017 - 5/6/2017;
Duration: 16 nights
Location: Australia
Price starting at: $8,355.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 39; 14 Breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

From cosmopolitan cities to impossibly expansive landscapes to the amazing Great Barrier Reef, explore the highlights of Australia on this educational adventure. Examine fragile ecosystems from desert to rainforest to coral reef, compare the personalities of Sydney and Melbourne and learn the often rough-and-tumble story of Australia.


• Enjoy a behind-the-scenes visit to the Sydney Opera House.
• Marvel at the Great Barrier Reef and discuss environmental issues facing it today.
• Discover the giant red rock formation known as Uluru and learn about its sacred meaning to the Aboriginal people.

Activity Particulars

Participants who are energetic, in good health and have a good level of mobility, should have no difficulty participating in this program. People who can walk at normal public walking pace and stand for at least three hours each day for the duration of the program, climb stairs, get on and off buses efficiently and carry their own luggage will be happy participants who have a great time down under. Please review carefully whether you can do all these things before registering for this program.

Please note that participants on this program travel throughout Australia alongside the participants of program 16434 – An Odyssey Down Under: Australia & New Zealand. You will join with these participants upon their arrival in Sydney.

Date Specific Information

3-10-2016, 3-24-2016, 4-14-2016, 4-21-2016, 7-28-2016, 9-8-2016, 9-22-2016, 10-6-2016, 10-20-2016, 11-3-2016, 11-17-2016, 12-1-2016, 1-16-2017, 1-26-2017, 2-9-2017, 2-23-2017, 3-2-2017, 3-9-2017, 3-16-2017, 3-23-2017, 4-6-2017, 4-13-2017, 4-20-2017

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Sydney, 4 nights; flight to Melbourne, 3 nights; flight to Alice Springs, 2 nights; coach to Uluru/Ayers Rock, 1 night; flight to Cairns, 3 nights; flight to Sydney, 1 night; departure.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Cross International Date Line
1 night
Arrival Sydney
4 nights

Learn about Australia’s early settlement and study Sydney’s colonial past. Go inside the iconic Sydney Opera House guided by an expert and also attend a live performance one evening. Be introduced to Australia’s unique wildlife at Taronga Park Zoo and take in the wonderful views. Take a boat excursion on the magnificent Sydney Harbour for a classic look at the city. Visit the famous Bondi beach to gain some understanding of Australia's beach culture and the relationship residents have with the water.

Flight to Melbourne
3 nights

Journey to Phillip Island for its famous Penguin Parade, pausing at a wildlife park en route to meet the wombat and other local critters. Explore Melbourne’s fascinating Queen Victoria Markets. Visit the Australian collection at the National Gallery of Victoria to learn about indigenous Australian art.

Flight to Alice Springs
2 nights
Coach to Uluru/Ayers Rock
1 night

An expert lecture addresses the Aboriginal culture and heritage in Alice Springs, a centre of aboriginal culture for more than 15,000 years. An Aborigine woman teaches you about "bush tucker" and makes a dinner to show how these traditional flavours can be used in contemporary cuisine. Learn how the School of the Air and the Royal Flying Doctor Service deliver vital services to the most remote parts of the Outback. Visit the Alice Springs Desert Park to meet Australian desert wildlife. See the huge monoliths of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park - Ayers Rock (Uluru) and the Olgas (Kata Tjuta) - up close on guided walks.

Flight to Cairns
3 nights
Flight to Sydney
1 night

On a full-day boat excursion exploring the magnificent Great Barrier Reef, choose to snorkel and/or go reef-viewing in a semi-submersible vessel. Observe the North Queensland tropical rainforest from above the canopy on the SkyRail Rainforest Cableway as you "float" down the Kuranda Range. Visit a local cultural park to gain an understanding of coastal Aboriginal culture and lifestyle. Fly to Sydney and overnight in an airport hotel prior to your flight home to the USA.


From expansive desert to the 1,616 mile Great Barrier Reef, the planet’s smallest continent is also one of the most diverse. Native Aboriginal culture dates back nearly 30,000 years, and with the arrival of Europeans colonists followed by a Gold Rush, Australia evolved into a true amalgam of ethnicities and cultures. Its cities, outbacks and beaches harbor tales of pirates and penal colonies, marine wonderlands and a modern, multi-national citizenry.

Sydney: Hotel on Darling Harbour. Melbourne: Central hotel. Alice Springs: Resort hotel. Ayers Rock: Outback lodge. Cairns: Resort with lagoon-style pool. Sydney: Airport hotel.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Peter Burns

A native of Melbourne, Peter Burns is a civil engineer by training – with a master’s degree in natural resources – but he went on to work as a teacher and environmentalist in addition to engineering. His work brought him remote Aboriginal communities in central Australia. Peter also worked for 18 years as a ranger in charge of the Great Otway National Park, and he is actively involved in the community as a voluteer ambulance officer.
Brian Clarke

Sydney native Brian Clarke set off from a young age to explore Australia. He found work as a diver, fisherman, and yachtsman on the Great Barrier Reef before eventually working as one of the last professional crocodile hunters. His travels have taken him to the remarkable wildernesses of Australia, Sri Lanka, India, Southeast Asia and Central America. He’s been running his own educational travel business for the past 17 years and has been living in a remote cabin in Kuranda for the past 40 years.
Sue Grebenschikoff

Sue Grebenschikoff is an instructor and site coordinator in Cairns. Originally from Sydney, Sue moved to Cairns 20 years ago after she fell in love with the tropical region and took so many holidays there that she may as well have been living there. Sue has a bachelor’s degree in commerce with a concentration in marketing, is a keen gardener, and loves to travel and meet people. She has worked in various capacities for many years on award-winning wilderness adventure programs around tropical North Queensland.
Brian Kirkham

Brian Kirkham is an Australian transplant by way of England. He spent 32 years in sales and marketing for an Australian airline and, when he retired early in 1995, held a position with the Sydney Olympic Organizing Committee in the lead-up to the 2000 Summer Olympics. Brian has since volunteered with Australia’s Olympic Youth Camp, the Rugby World Cup, Wheelchair Sports Australia and the Sydney Marathon. He relishes introducing visitors to the Land Down Under.
Robert Lee

Robert Lee is a history professor at the University of Western Sydney, where he is especially interested in the transport history of Australia and Asia. He has published five major books about railways. The Institution of Engineers Australia awarded its 1991 Engineering Excellence Award to “The Greatest Public Work,” and “The Railways of Victoria” was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s History Prize for 2007. Robert has accepted three missions to assess successful applications for three mountain railways to be inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Ruth Pullin

Dr. Ruth Pullin wrote her Ph.D. thesis on the Australian colonial artist Eugene von Guérar and was guest curator of a major exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2011, "Eugene von Guérard: Nature Revealed." She is the principal author and commissioning editor of the book of the same title. Ruth has held research fellowships at the State Library of New South Wales and the State Library of Victoria, where she is undertaking research for a book on von Guérard’s drawings and sketchbooks. Her research has been published in numerous Australian and international journals. She enjoys lecturing and speaking about Australian art and for many years taught at the National Gallery of Victoria. Ruth derives great joy in discussing with Road Scholar participants Australians’ relationship to the land as a key way in which Australian artists have established a sense of our cultural identity.
Andrew Fitzgerald

Andrew Fitzgerald is a keen astronomer with considerable experience presenting information on stars, planets, our solar system and the galaxy to large groups. He regularly presents a session on the local radio station informing locals and visitors of current astronomical features and events. Andrew’s wealth of knowledge enhances sessions exploring the features of Southern Hemisphere skies.
Rayleen Brown

Rayleen Brown is an Aboriginal who worked as a project officer to help Aboriginals secure their traditional land. She now owns and operates a successful catering business that’s been specializing in traditional bush products and foods for the past 10 years. In addition, Rayleen is a member of the national Bush Foods Council, an educator for schools across Central Australia and a mentor with the local Desert Leadership Program. She continues to be a strong advocate for the Aboriginal people to this day.
Barry Skipsey

Barry Skipsey has two passions in life: photography and bush music. Originally from King Island, Tasmania, he set out way back when on a 10-week working holiday that has now become 40 years of living in the Northern Territory, most of it in Alice Springs. His photographic skills have earned him Australian Geographic’s Photographer of the Year Award. As an Aussie folk singer and songwriter, Barry’s songs incorporate his love of the Outback, as well as classic Australian bush songs.
Richard De Gille

Richard De Gille has been a practicing lawyer for the past 30 years, and has been a partner of a large suburban legal practice in outer Melbourne for the past 20 years. He holds degrees from Monash University in economics and politics, education, and law. He recently retired from management of the practice, and in his spare time he enjoys cycling, bushwalking, gardening and reading.
Meals and Lodgings
   Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour
  Sydney, Australia 4 nights
   The Swanston Hotel Melbourne, Grand Mercure
  Melbourne, Australia 3 nights
   Chifley Alice Springs Resort
  Alice Springs, Australia 2 nights
   Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge
  Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia 1 night
   Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort
  Cairns, Australia 3 nights
   Mercure Hotel Sydney Airport
  Sydney, Australia 1 night
 Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour
Type: Hotel
  Description: Overlooking Darling Harbour, the hotel is located beside Chinatown and the Entertainment & Convention Centres. It is a five-minute walk of the heart of the city.
  Contact info: 17 Little Pier Street
Sydney NSW 2000,   Australia
phone: +61 2 8217 4000
  Room amenities: Room facilities include tea/coffee making facilities, television, telephone, hairdryer, refrigerator and internet access.
  Facility amenities: Hotel facilities include a safety deposit box, gymnasium, indoor heated lap pool and foreign exchange facilities. Valet laundry service is available or a commercial laundry is located nearby.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Upon request. For additional pre- and post-program accommodation, please contact Road Scholar Travel Services at (800) 241-1404 or via email to

 The Swanston Hotel Melbourne, Grand Mercure
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Located in the heart of Melbourne, close to major attractions and adjacent to major tram routes.
  Contact info: 195 Swanston Street
Melbourne, VIC, NA 3000 Australia
phone: +61 3 9663 4711
  Room amenities: Room facilities include tea/coffee making facilities, cable television, telephone, refrigerator, hairdryer and iron/ironing board.
  Facility amenities: Hotel facilities include laundry, gymnasium, heated indoor swimming pool, foreign exchange, safety deposit box facilities and internet access.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Chifley Alice Springs Resort
Type: Hotel
  Description: Situated on the banks of the famous Todd River, with its magnificent river red gums, the hotel is only a five minute walk from the town centre.
  Contact info: 34 Stott Terrace
Alice Springs NT 0870,   Australia
phone: +61 8 8951 4545
  Room amenities: Room facilities include air-conditioning, tea/coffee making facilities, refrigerator, television, in-house movies, telephone, radio, internest access, iron/ironing board hairdryer.
  Facility amenities: Hotel facilities include a swimming pool, guest laundry, dry cleaning service, internet kiosk, foreign currency exchange and safety deposit box facility.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge
Type: Hotel
  Description: The hotel is located as a part of the Ayers Rock Resort.
  Contact info: Yulara Drive
Yulara NT,  0872 Australia
phone: +61 -8-8957-7605
  Room amenities: Room facilities include tea/coffee facilities, telephone, television, refrigerator, iron/ironing board and hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: Hotel facilities include a guest laundry, swimming pool and safety deposit box facility.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort
Type: Hotel
  Description: The resort-style hotel is located within easy walking distance of the stunning waterfront esplanade and the compact city centre.
  Contact info: 122 Lake Street
Cairns QLD 4870,   Australia
phone: +61 7 4080 1888
  Room amenities: Room facilities include tea/coffee making facilities, television, telephone, refrigerator, hairdryer, iron/ironing board, in-room safe and internet connection.
  Facility amenities: Hotel facilities include lagoon-style pool with a sand-beach entrance, gymnasium, valet laundry/dry cleaning and guest laundry.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Mercure Hotel Sydney Airport
Type: Hotel
  Description: Situated next to riverfront parkland and overlooking an 18 hole golf course, the hotel is located only 1.2 miles from Sydney’s International and Domestic Airports but is away from the direct flight path.
  Contact info: 20 Levey Street
Wolli Creek, Sydney NSW 2205,   Australia
phone: +61 2 9518 2000
  Room amenities: Room facilities include air-conditioning, tea/coffee making facilities, refrigerator, television, pay-to-view movies, telephone, iron/ironing board and hairdryer.
  Facility amenities: Hotel facilities include a laundry/valet service, computer centre, outdoor swimming pool, gymnasium, tennis courts and squash courts.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: Upon request. For additional pre- and post-program accommodation, please contact Road Scholar Travel Services at (800) 241-1404 or via email to

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Sydney, Australia. The program commences with the arrival of the group flight - QF12 due at 8:20am - at Sydney Airport. You will be staying at Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour that night.
  End of Program:
Sydney, Australia. The program ends after breakfast on Day 17. Participants on the designated group flight - QF107 departing at 11:55am - are then transferred to Sydney Airport. You will be staying at Mercure Hotel Sydney Airport the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. All US passport holders travelling to Australia must obtain an electronic visa prior to entering the country. You will not receive a visa stamp inside your passport, nor will you receive anything in writing. Instead you will be registered with the Australian Government as valid to enter/exit Australia. Road Scholar Travel Services will process the visa electronically and will send the visa confirmation to participants three to four weeks before departure. There is no charge for this service.
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Sydney
  Nearest airport:  Sydney International and Domestic Airports
  Transportation to site: The easiest and most direct way to get from Sydney Airport to the first hotel is by taxi. Each terminal has its own sheltered taxi rank with supervisors on hand in peak hours to ensure a smooth flow of taxis for travelers. The signage in the airport will direct you to the taxi rank. The fare to the hotel will be approximately AU$50. If taking a taxi to the hotel, please be sure to ask for the "Novotel ROCKFORD Darling Harbour" as there is also a Novotel Darling Harbour in a completely different location. Alternatively, participants can take the train from the airport stations into Central Station. The signage in the Airport will direct you to the station for your terminal. The fare to Central is approximately AU$16 per person. From Central Station take the light rail and get off at the Paddys Markets stop. The fare for the light rail is around AU$3.50 per person. Once disembarking from the light rail, carefully cross the tracks and walk up past the Entertainment Centre (keeping it on your left). Across the grassy square past the Entertainment Centre is your hotel.
  From End of Program
  Location: Sydney
  Transportation from site: For participants making their own way to Sydney Airport at the conclusion of the program, there is a scheduled airport hotel shuttle service that runs from the final hotel to the airport. It can be booked at hotel reception when you arrive at the hotel for your final night. The cost is currently AU$6 per person.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Equipment Requirements: Your bathing suit is a must! A long-sleeve sun-protection cover-up are highly recommended for your day out on the Great Barrier Reef.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departure
(Monday, January 13)
 Evening: Depart the USA on overnight flight to Australia.

Day 2: In Flight
(Tuesday, January 14)
 In Transit: Cross International Dateline.

Day 3: Arrive in Sydney / Orientation to Beachside Suburbs / Course Overview / Orientation to Sydney
(Wednesday, January 15)
 Morning: Welcome to Sydney! Sydney’s stunning natural harbour forms the centrepiece of a dynamic city that has grown dramatically since its beginnings as a prison colony. Situated in the temperate area of Australia, Sydney is surrounded by National Parks and has a beautiful range of flora and fauna. It is Australia’s largest city with nearly 5 million citizens thriving in a multi-cultural society in a congenial climate. Sydney is dominated by Sydney Harbour, of which Port Jackson is only a small part. The city covers a large area, twice the size of London with half the population, and has large parks and sparkling sandy Pacific Ocean beaches, such as the well-known and very popular Bondi and Manly. Upon our arrival in Sydney we are met by our Sydney Site Coordinator. En route to our hotel we visit Sydney's eastern suburbs, including a chance to stretch our legs at Sydney's famous Bondi beach. We will visit South Head to get a perspective of the city and harbour. We arrive at our hotel in time for lunch.
 Lunch: We have lunch at our hotel.
 Afternoon: After some time to relax into our hotel room, we go on a walking tour of the central business district with our local Site Coordinator.
 Dinner: In the hotel.
 Evening: After dinner we have an overview of our Australian course and a brief introduction to Sydney.
Accommodations: Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Introduction to Australia / Sydney's Colonial History / Sydney Opera House tour
(Thursday, January 16)
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: This morning a local professor gives us a lecture introducing us to the history of Sydney and, by extension, Australia.
 Lunch: In the hotel.
 Afternoon: This afternoon we have a walking tour of The Rocks area giving us an insight to Sydney’s colonial past. The Rocks was the area of Sydney first settled by the British and it has a fascinating history and wonderful Sydney sandstone buildings. We walk across Circular Quay to the magnificent World Heritage-listed Sydney Opera House. Here we have a guided tour of this truly wonderful, iconic building, a masterpiece of late modern architecture. We return to our hotel and have some free time before dinner.
 Dinner: This evening we take a short walk along the western fringe of Darling Harbour where we have dinner at a local restaurant in the Darling Harbour precinct.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Cruise on Sydney Harbour
(Friday, January 17)
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: We have a leisurely start this morning before we transfer to Circular Quay. Here we board a vessel for a cruise on magnificent Sydney Harbour. On our coffee cruise we take in the stunning scenery and learn how the modern Sydney Harbour has evolved.
 Lunch: We disembark our cruise vessel and walk to a restaurant in The Rocks for lunch.
 Afternoon: The afternoon and evening is free to allow you to explore this wonderful city at your leisure.
 Dinner: Dinner is at own arrangements this evening allowing you to taste what Sydney's restaurant scene has to offer.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6: Taronga Park Zoo / Performance at the Sydney Opera House
(Saturday, January 18)
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: This morning we coach across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Taronga Zoo, located on the north shore with delightful views across the harbour to the city. Here we begin our study of Australian fauna. As well as meeting kangaroos, koalas & wallabies and hoping for a glimpse of the rather more elusive wombat, echidna and platypus, we will have a lecture introducing us to some of Australia’s more dangerous inhabitants – its spiders and snakes.
 Lunch: We have lunch at Taronga Park Zoo.
 Afternoon: You are given a ferry ticket for the journey back across the harbour to the city centre. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure allowing you to perhaps linger and explore the zoo further or to head back across to the city to investigate more there.
 Dinner: We come together back at the hotel for an early dinner allowing us to get to tonight's performance at the Opera House in plenty of time.
 Evening: This evening we enjoy Opera Australia's performance of The Magic Flute at the Sydney Opera House - one of the world's great pieces of architectural design. Definitely something to tell the folks back home about!
Accommodations: Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Flight to Melbourne / Course Overview / Introduction & Orientation to Melbourne / Eureka SkyDeck 88 / Shrine of Rememberance / Evening Video
(Sunday, January 19)
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: This morning we check out of our Sydney hotel and coach to Sydney Domestic Airport for our flight to Melbourne. Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, is the capital of Victoria, a state in the south-eastern corner of Australia. During the gold era Melbourne possessed great wealth and many of the city’s fine buildings were built during this period of prosperity. Its magnificent streetscapes and extensive parks and gardens provide an ideal setting for its many elegant buildings. In the past Melbourne was a larger business centre and city than Sydney and today the two cities continue a friendly rivalry. Both are cosmopolitan and multi-cultural and Melbourne has many strong ethnic communities from three major periods of migration including: Chinese and German (after the gold rushes), Italian, Greek, southern European (1939 – 1945) and, more recently, Asian. Melbourne is reputed to have the largest Greek population outside Athens. We will be met by our local Site Coordinator and transferred into the city.
 Lunch: We have lunch in a cafe set in one of Melbourne’s parks.
 Afternoon: After lunch, we visit the Shrine of Remembrance. We then head up to the top of the Eureka 88 Skydeck offering panoramic views over the city, giving us an understanding of the layout of Melbourne. We then head to our hotel and check in. We come together again for a lecture introducing us to Melbourne and the State of Victoria before dinner.
 Dinner: In the hotel.
 Evening: This evening we can watch a video - "Australia: The Big Country" - educating us on Australia's unique environment.
Accommodations: The Swanston Hotel Melbourne, Grand Mercure
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Australia's Economy and Health System / Melbourne's famous Queen Victoria Markets / local wildlife park - meet the wombat & friends / Phillip Island Penguin Parade
(Monday, January 20)
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: This morning we have a lecture introducing us to Australia’s Economy and Health System. We then hop aboard Melbourne’s famous tram system and visit Melbourne's well-known and quirky Queen Victoria Market, where we soak up the vibrant, cosmopolitan atmosphere.
 Lunch: At Queen Victoria Markets
 Afternoon: We return to our hotel to board our coach bound for Phillip Island. En route we pause for a comfort stop at a local wildlife conservatory where we again have the opportunity to meet some of Australia’s most recognisable residents – kangaroos, koalas and maybe a wombat or two. We continue on to Phillip Island Nature Park in time for the Penguin Parade. Our Site Coordinator will get us an ideal location, from which we can watch the gorgeous little penguins come ashore at dusk after their day out fishing.
 Dinner: We will have dinner at a quintessential Australian local country pub bistro in San Remo near Phillip Island. Please note that, depending on when dusk is due to fall, we may have dinner before or after our Phillip Island penguin experience.
 Evening: At the conclusion of our Phillip Island penguin experience we board our coach and return to Melbourne.
Accommodations: The Swanston Hotel Melbourne, Grand Mercure
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Introduction to Australian Art at the National Gallery of Victoria / Remainder of day at leisure
(Tuesday, January 21)
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: This morning we can walk or take the tram to the National Gallery of Victoria for an introduction to Australian art. A local art historian will give us a lecture and a guided tour of the Aboriginal art exhibition.
 Lunch: Lunch today is at leisure in the city.
 Afternoon: The afternoon is free to explore this cosmopolitan city.
 Dinner: Dinner is at own arrangements giving participants an opportunity to explore and sample Melbourne's renowned restaurant scene.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: The Swanston Hotel Melbourne, Grand Mercure
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 10: Fly to Alice Springs / Course Overview / School of the Air / Aboriginal Culture / Olive Pink Botanical Garden BBQ / Stars of the Southern Hemisphere
(Wednesday, January 22)
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: This morning we check out of our hotel and coach to Melbourne Domestic Airport for our flight to Alice Springs. Alice Springs is located almost exactly at the geographic centre of Australia and has been a home for Aborigines for 30,000 years. Many of the physical features of the land have great cultural significance. Originally established in 1888 as Stuart, the town developed through the need for an overland telegraph line to assist Australia with its communications to the world. Today, “The Alice” is a pleasurable, modern town and is a major access point for the many tourist attractions of central Australia. On arrival we are met by our Red Centre Site Coordinator and are given an overview of Alice Springs and the Red Centre.
 Lunch: We transfer to our hotel and check in in time for lunch in the restaurant.
 Afternoon: This afternoon we visit the School of the Air to gain an understanding of the techniques of delivering education across the vast isolated and remote expanse of the Australian outback. We return to our hotel and have a lecture introducing us to the culture, art and heritage of the Aborigines of the Red Centre.
 Dinner: This evening we have dinner at the local botanical garden. As we dine we are entertained with ballads and yarns of the Australian bush.
 Evening: After dinner a local astronomer will introduce us to the stars of the southern sky – we can look for the Southern Cross and other southern constellations in the clear air of Australia's Red Centre, free of the lights of the big city.
Accommodations: Chifley Alice Springs Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Alice Springs Desert Park / Western MacDonnell Ranges / Royal Flying Doctor Service / Aboriginal Bush Foods
(Thursday, January 23)
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: This morning we visit Alice Springs Desert Park where we gain an understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Australian desert and the life that exists there.
 Lunch: At Alice Springs Desert Park.
 Afternoon: After lunch we travel to Simpson’s Gap in the Western McDonnell Ranges where we view the permanent waterhole in its stunning location under the towering cliffs of the Simpson Range. We return back into Alice Springs where we visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service and learn how aircraft and the radio are used to deliver medical services in the huge distances of central Australia.
 Dinner: We then head to a local restaurant where a local indigenous caterer introduces us to native Aboriginal bush foods, their traditional use and how they are being incorporated into contemporary cuisine. We have dinner at the local restaurant where our taste buds get to discover for themselves just how contemporary Australian cuisine is utilising traditional Aboriginal flavourings.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Chifley Alice Springs Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Uluru - Ayers Rock / Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Cultural Centre / Sunset viewing
(Friday, January 24)
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: This morning we check out and board our coach for the journey to Uluru with an excursion to a camel farm en route. We will pause for morning tea at a typical Outback roadhouse. Rising from the arid heartland of Australia are the haunting geological marvels of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). They lie within Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, which is owned by the local Aborigines. Uluru is a red sandstone monolith, the world’s second largest at 5.5 miles around, with smooth slopes rising to 1,098 feet. For thousands of years this rock has been the focus for religious, cultural, territorial and economic inter-relations among the Aboriginal peoples of the Western Desert. Caves around the base of the rock were used by Aboriginal people for shelter and were decorated with their paintings. Kata Tjuta is a collection of smaller, more rounded rocks that are very captivating. The tallest rock, Mt Olga, is nearly 656 feet higher than Uluru.
 Lunch: At Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Cultural Centre.
 Afternoon: This afternoon we explore Uluru by coach and on foot. This sacred Aboriginal site is truly awe-inspiring. Our leader will explain something of the significance of the Rock to the local Aborigines. In the late afternoon we will take in a sunset viewing of Uluru, watching the amazing colours of the Rock as the sun sets.
 Dinner: We have a typical Australian BBQ at our hotel tonight where we have the opportunity to sample some of Australia's more "interesting" native foods.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) / Fly to Cairns / Orientation to City / Course Overview / Great Barrier Reef lecture
(Saturday, January 25)
 Breakfast: This morning we check out and head across for breakfast at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Cultural Centre.
 Morning: After breakfast we travel out to Kata Tjuta, the spectacular formation of 36 rounded domes. Kata Tjuta means "many heads" in a local language. Here we will take the short walk in Walpa Gorge, affording us wonderful views across the Outback.
 Lunch: We return to Yulara for lunch at the Outback Pioneer.
 Afternoon: We coach to Ayers Rock airport for our flight to Cairns. Cairns, on the east coast of Australia, is the most northerly city in the state of Queensland. It is always green and lush with abundant tropical plants and flowers. It is also one of Australia’s fastest-growing cities and, in addition to its role as a regional centre for dairy, timber and sugar production, it is an important tourist destination. Cairns is uniquely situated between two World Heritage-Listed areas – the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest.
 Dinner: On board flight to Cairns.
 Evening: Upon our arrival we we are met by our Cairns Site Coordinator and transfer to our hotel in Cairns. We will have an introduction to Cairns and our program en route to the hotel. A local marine biologist will give us a lecture this evening on the Great Barrier Reef and the issues endangering its existence. He will give us an insight into what we might see tomorrow on our cruise out to this World Heritage-listed icon.
Accommodations: Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Cruise on Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia's most remarkable natural gifts
(Sunday, January 26)
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: Today we have a full-day cruise on the Great Barrier Reef where we can view the World Heritage-listed coral reefs in the company of our dedicated marine biologist. We will be able to snorkel among the spectacular coral reef and/or view the reef from a semi-submersible vessel.
 Lunch: Seafood buffet on board cruise.
 Afternoon: Our cruise continues this afternoon. We return to Cairns in the late afternoon and the rest of the day is free.
 Dinner: Own arrangements.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 15: Wet Tropical Rainforests / Kuranda / SkyRail / Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park / Program Review
(Monday, January 27)
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: This morning we have a lecture introducing us to the second of Cairns’ World Heritage-listed features – the Wet Tropical Rainforests of North Queensland. We gain an understanding of the abundance of life in the tropical rainforest. We then coach to the village of Kuranda, a mountain retreat surrounded by rainforest. We have time to explore before lunch.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant in Kuranda.
 Afternoon: We then walk to the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to take the stunning cableway journey sweeping above the canopy of World Heritage-listed rainforest. En route to the cableway terminus at Caravonica, we stop at the Rainforest Interpretive Station where our guide will lead us on a rainforest walk teaching us more about this special environment. From the teminus we then walk to Tjapukai Aboriginal Park where we learn about the lifestyle of the northern coastal Aborigines. Here we will have the opportunity to see if we can make our boomerang come back.
 Dinner: We have our farewell dinner tonight in our hotel.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: Flight to Sydney via Brisbane.
(Tuesday, January 28)
 Breakfast: At accommodation.
 Morning: We will check out of our hotel after breakfast and transfer to Cairns airport for our flight to Sydney via Brisbane.
 Lunch: We will be given cash to get lunch at Brisbane airport.
 Afternoon: Upon our arrival in Sydney we transfer to our airport hotel for our overnight stay.
 Dinner: We will have dinner at our hotel.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Mercure Hotel Sydney Airport
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 17: Departure for the USA.
(Wednesday, January 29)
 Breakfast: At accommodation.
 Morning: After breakfast, we check out of our hotel and transfer to Sydney Airport. We check in to our flight to Los Angeles and home.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Commonwealth of Thieves, The Improbable Birth of Australia

Author: Thomas Keneally

Description: With drama and flair, novelist Keneally illuminates the birth of New South Wales in 1788, richly evoking the social conditions in London, the miserable sea voyage and the desperate conditions of the new colony. His tale revolves around Arthur Phillips, the ambitious (and bland) captain in the Royal Navy who would become the first governor of New South Wales. You may be familiar with Keneally as the author of the acclaimed work (made into an equally-renowned film) "Schindler's List".

Aboriginal Art

Author: Wally Caruana

Description: This well illustrated survey of Aboriginal art, ancient and modern, focuses on the spiritual and geographic sources of art and ritual traditions in Australia. It covers the range of art from all parts of the continent, including a chapter on the Wandjina rock art of the Kimberley region. The concise text is augmented by 187 well produced black-and-white and color illustrations.

Australia Map

Author: ITMB

Description: This large folded map of Australia, at a scale of 1:3,500,000, includes national parks, reserves and roads, all clearly marked. Two Sides. 34x40 inches.

Australian Birds

Author: Pocket Naturalist

Description: A fold-up, laminated card featuring color drawings and short descriptions of commonly encountered Australian birds.

Australian Wildlife

Author: James Kavanaugh • Raymond Leung (Illustrator)

Description: This illustrated fold-out guide features almost 150 species of Australian animals. Laminated for durability; pocket-size for quick reference in the field.

Bradt Australian Wildlife

Author: Stella Martin

Description: A guide not just to kangaroo and koala, this compact, illustrated survey, featuring 250 color photographs, takes in habitats, parks and conservation, marsupials, birds and bats.

Captain James Cook

Author: Richard Hough

Description: A vividly written narrative of the life and three great voyages of Captain Cook. This fine book includes a gripping account of his discoveries throughout the Pacific and his demise in the Sandwich Islands.

Chasing Kangaroo

Author: Tim Flannery

Description: An ode to the kangaroo in all their splendid diversity and oddity. Revisiting his early love of kangaroo fossils, Flannery weaves engaging tales of his adventures on the trails of marsupials past and present with his travels and encounters with eccentric scientists and Aborigines.

Cultural Atlas of Australia, New Zealand & the South Pacific

Author: Richard Nile & Christian Clerk

Description: This handsome volume weaves together history, geography, archaeology, and the arts, covering the Australasian region from prehistory up to the founding of the modern nations. Features hundreds of illustrations.

Dirt Music, A Novel

Author: Tim Winton

Description: Among Australia's finest writers, Tim Winton fashions powerful and elegant tales set within the arid outback of Western Australia. An alcoholic mother and a down-on-his luck poacher are the protagonists of this recent novel, where landscape and nature play just as much a role as the characters themselves.

Eyewitness Guides Australia

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: A compact guide to sites, attractions and places throughout Australia featuring excellent maps and hundreds of full color photographs and site diagrams. With select recommendations on where to eat and stay.

Field Guide to the Birds of Australia

Author: Ken Simpson • Nicholas Day

Description: A handbook and field guide to Australia's birds with 2,000 vivid color illustrations, each accompanied by a brief description and revised range map. This more compact seventh edition features 16 new or revised color plates, new maps and condensed information.

Fishwatcher’s Field Guide: Great Barrier Reef

Author: Idaz Greenberg

Description: A double-sided, laminated card covering the reef fish of Australia, Papua New Guinea and the tropical Pacific.

Great Southern Landings: An Anthology of Antipodean Travel

Author: Jan Bassett

Description: This eclectic and quirky anthology collects nearly 100 excerpts from various writers who have left their impressions of actual visits to the Antipodes in books and journals, while others, travelling only in their minds, left accounts of imaginary voyages to distant utopias. The contributors include Jonathan Swift, Jules Verne, Joseph Conrad, Kenneth Clark, Charles Darwin, Robin Hanbury-Tenison, Herbert Hoover, Anthony Eden, Anthony Trollope, Mark Twain, Bruce Chatwin, Jan Morris, Harold Larwood, Germaine Greer, and Peter Conrad. A helpful introduction is given to each extract and author.

In A Sunburned Country

Author: Bill Bryson

Description: Bill Bryson revels in Australia's eccentric characters, dangerous flora and fauna, and other oddities. As has become his custom, he effortlessly imparts much fact-filled history in this wildly funny book. Included at the end is a short bibliography. This book is published as "Down Under" in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain.


Author: Bruce Chatwin

Description: Rory Stewart provides the introduction to this 25th anniversary edition of Bruce Chatwin's celebrated travelogue, which is as much about its gifted author - and the meaning of travel - as about the Aboriginal people and their ways of life. Chatwin transforms a journey through the Outback into an exhilarating, semi-fictional meditation on our place in the world.

The Fatal Shore

Author: Robert Hughes

Description: A celebrated social history, both scholarly and entertaining. Hughes traces the fate of those who were transported to the penal colonies of Australia between 1787 and 1868 in this engaging popular account, drawn from the experiences of the colonists themselves. A precursor to the gulags and prison camps of the 20th century, the British penal colonies in Australia are an oft-forgotten experiment in 19th century social reform and colonization. While the colonies were concentrated mainly in small coastal sections of New South Wales and Tasmania, the book helps elucidate how this first chapter in their history was the most vital factor in defining the early Australian character.

The Happy Isles of Oceania

Author: Paul Theroux

Description: Here's Theroux at his wickedly funny and open-minded best. The peripatetic author flies off to Australia and New Zealand with a kayak and ends up exploring much of Melanesia and Polynesia, including Tonga, Fiji and the Marquesas.

The Secret River

Author: Kate Grenville

Description: Sweeping, gorgeously written and psychologically astute, The Secret River takes in all the bravado, trickery and conflict that attended the settlement of New South Wales. Grenville draws on the history of her own family in Australia for the elements of the blockbuster plot, in which a Thames boatsman, banished to the penal colony in 1806, must carve out a life for himself.

The Turning, New Stories

Author: Tim Winton

Description: These 17 overlapping stories, steeped in everyday life on western Australia, follow the fates of a handful of characters in a small coastal town outside Perth. Winton, short-listed twice so far for the Booker Prize, has published a string of memorable novels, children's books and stories, all richly set in the working class milieu of the sparsely populated coastal desert.

Treasures of the Great Barrier Reef

Author: WGBH

Description: 60-minute Nova documentary captures the diversity and abundance of the fish and invertebrates of the coral reef in dazzling color.

True History of the Kelly Gang

Author: Peter Carey

Description: A powerful, daring novel, steeped in the colonial history of late 19th-century Australia. Outlaw, folk hero, thief and patriot, the Irish immigrant Ned Kelly and his clan figure large in the Australian mindset. Carey's Booker Prize-winning novel (his second after "Oscar & Lucinda") takes the form of a series of rough, captivating letters by the barely literate gang leader to his young daughter. Kelly was hanged in Melbourne in 1880, where his mother was also imprisoned.

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