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Australian New Year: Celebrate First in Sydney

Program Number: 21098RJ
Start and End Dates:
12/28/2014 - 1/4/2015; 12/28/2016 - 1/4/2017;
Duration: 7 nights
Location: Australia
Price starting at: $3,649.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Holidays
Meals: 8; 4 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Experience an early and exciting start to the New Year in Sydney, Australia — when January 1 arrives Down Under, it is still the morning of December 31 in the USA. Arriving at the height of the Australian summer, New Year is a major public celebration, a time of great joy and optimism. Share in the festivities and explore the historic and beautiful city of Sydney at this special time of year.


• Celebrate New Year’s Eve on a Sydney Harbour boat excursion that gives you a wonderful view of the spectacular midnight fireworks display.
• Take in magnificent views of the Sydney Heads and the coastline from the Spit Bridge to Manly Scenic Walkway.
• Enjoy abundant free time to explore Sydney’s museums, parks and neighborhoods independently.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles on most days with one longer walk of about six miles. Some uneven, hilly terrain and stairs.

Departures of program # 21035 "New Zealand: An Odyssey Down Under" and program # 16434 "Australia & New Zealand: An Odyssey Down Under" are scheduled so that they can be taken directly following this program.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Sydney, 5 nights; departure.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.

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

After a long flight, stretch your legs by exploring Sydney’s eastern suburbs and beaches on foot. Enjoy lunch overlooking the famous Bondi Beach. Check into your hotel then set out to discover the historic Rocks neighborhood. On your second day in Sydney, New Year’s Eve, visit the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and Wild Life Sydney and take in spectacular views from iconic Sydney Tower. Then, in the evening, board a vessel for a celebratory New Year’s Eve Sydney Harbour excursion including a sumptuous dinner and an incomparable vantage point for Sydney’s spectacular fireworks display. Spend New Year’s Day exploring on your own or join your group leader for a walk in Sydney’s beautiful botanical gardens. The next day, reunite with the full Road Scholar group for a field trip to Art Gallery of New South Wales, boasting outstanding collections of Australian and European art. On your final day in Sydney, walk the spectacular Spit Bridge to Manly Scenic Walkway at an easy pace, absorbing marvelous coastal views all along the way. Toast your completed stroll at lunch then relax on a ferry ride back to the city.


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.

Ideally located hotel in the Central Business District. The Sydney Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens, King Street Wharf, Circular Quay and other city landmarks are just a short stroll away.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
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.
Meals and Lodgings
   Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour
  Sydney, Australia 5 nights
 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: On form in Prep. For additional pre- and post-program accommodation, please contact Road Scholar Travel Services at (800) 241-1404 or via email to
  Additional nights after: On form in Prep. 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 designated group flight - QF108 due to arrive at 9:35am - at Sydney Airport. You will be staying at Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour that night.
  End of Program:
Sydney, Australia. The program concludes after breakfast at the hotel. Those participants flying out today who have booked their flights through Road Scholar will be transferred to the airport. You will be staying at Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour 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.
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: The easiest way to get from the hotel to Sydney Airport to by taxi. The fare will be approximately AU$50. Alternatively, participants can walk or take the light rail to Central Station and take the train to the airport from there.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
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: Depart Los Angeles on overnight flight bound for Sydney.
(Sunday, December 28)
 Evening: Depart Los Angeles on overnight flight bound for Sydney.

Day 2: Cross International Date Line
(Monday, December 29)
 In Transit: Cross the International Date Line.

Day 3: Bondi & Sydney's eastern beach suburbs / Walking exploration of Sydney's harbourside area
(Tuesday, December 30)
 Morning: After arriving off your flight from Los Angeles you will be met by your Group Leader and have an excursion to Sydney's eastern suburbs including the chance to stretch your legs on one of Sydney's pristine beaches.
 Lunch: Lunch is at a restaurant overlooking Sydney's famous Bondi beach.
 Afternoon: Following lunch, we will transfer to the central city and check in to our hotel. We will have a lecture introducing us to our program and to Sydney. We will then embark on a walking field trip to explore the historic Rocks area and Circular Quay.
 Dinner: We will come together for time to get to know each other and have dinner at our accommodation. The remainder of the evening is free.
Accommodations: Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Sydney Aquarium / Wildlife World / Sydney Tower / NEW YEARS EVE ON SYDNEY HARBOUR
(Wednesday, December 31)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at accommodation.
 Morning: This morning you will be issued with a pass allowing entry to Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Wildlife World (famed for its collection of unique Australian fauna) and Sydney Tower. With your leader's guidance you will be able to explore these three attractions at your own pace throughout the day.
 Lunch: Lunch is at own arrangements.
 Afternoon: The afternoon is unscheduled allowing you to maximise the use of your attraction pass as you see fit.
 Dinner: We come together in the early evening and walk the short distance to King Street Wharf where we board our vessel for the evening. We will have a sumptuous dinner on board as we wait for the New Year to come around.
 Evening: We continue cruising Sydney soaking up the atmosphere among the flotilla enjoying one of the most special dates on Sydney's social calendar. We will have a wonderful view of both the mid-evening fireworks and the amazing display that heralds the arrival of our New Year. At the end of our cruise, we will disembark our vessel at King Street Wharf for the short stroll back to our hotel.
Accommodations: Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Free Morning / Botanical Gardens walk
(Thursday, January 1)
 Breakfast: At accommodation.
 Morning: Today is a free day to allow you to recover from your late night and explore Sydney at your leisure. You can utilise your transport pass to explore at your own pace.
 Lunch: At own arrangements.
 Afternoon: Today is a free day to allow you to recover from your late night and explore Sydney at your leisure. You can utilise your transport pass to explore at your own pace. Those who wish can meet up with our leader this afternoon for a walk around the harbourside and through Sydney's beautiful botanical gardens.
 Dinner: At own arrangements.
 Evening: Today is a free day to allow you to recover from your late night and explore Sydney at your leisure.
Accommodations: Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 6: Art Gallery of New South Wales
(Friday, January 2)
 Morning: The Art Gallery of NSW is one of Australia’s leading art museums. Over one million visitors a year enjoy the Gallery’s collection of Australian, Aboriginal, European, Asian and contemporary art. It is located within beautiful parklands overlooking Sydney Harbour and only 15 minutes walk from the city centre. We will walk to the Art Gallery from our hotel and explore the main collections.
 Lunch: At own arrangements.
 Afternoon: The remainder of the day is free to allow you to explore at leisure.
 Dinner: At own arrangements.
Accommodations: Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour

Day 7: Sydney harbourside walk to Manly
(Saturday, January 3)
 Breakfast: At accommodation.
 Morning: This morning we will hop on a public bus and journey to the Spit Bridge crossing Sydney's Middle Harbour. From here we will embark on the Spit Bridge to Manly walk, a walk of approximately 6 miles that will take around 4 hours. The walk follows a well-maintained track and provides beautiful views over Middle Harbour, the main Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Heads. Along the way we will see historic Aboriginal rock art and must stay alert for sightings of local flora and fauna.
 Lunch: We will have a farewell lunch together at a restaurant overlooking Manly beach or Harbour.
 Afternoon: The rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore at leisure. You will be given a ferry ticket to allow you to travel back to Circular Quay when you see fit. The 30-minute ride back to the centre of the city provides stunning views of the Heads and Sydney's eastern suburbs.
 Dinner: At own arrangements.
Accommodations: Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Fly home to the USA or across to Auckland in New Zealand to join 16434-010215 or 20135-010215.
(Sunday, January 4)
 Breakfast: At accommodation.
 Morning: After breakfast you will be transferred to Sydney Airport for your flights home or across to Auckland.
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.

Aboriginal Australians

Author: Stephen Muecke

Description: A lively illustrated overview of the culture and history of the Aborigines. The authors explore how the Aborigines came to be in Australia, their rituals and Dreamings, and the importance of kin in their social structures. With a chapter on the atrocious treatment at the hands of white settlers and the pervasive racial prejudice that remained enshrined in the Australian constitution until 1967. The final section deals with the massive indigenous cultural renaissance over the past four decades, and discusses how Aboriginal art - whether Central Desert acrylic art, batik, contemporary urban painting, sculpture or traditional bark painting - has become a flagship for Australian culture.

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.

Australia, A Traveler's Literary Companion

Author: Robert Ross

Description: Arranged geographically, this collection of mostly local writers is an excellent overview of the cultures, geography and mindset of Australia. It includes stories by Patrick White, Peter Carey and other luminaries, as well as transcriptions of several aboriginal myths.

Australia, An Ecotraveler's Guide

Author: Hannah Robinson

Description: A handbook and guide to wildlife, habitats and travel in Australia with 400 color photographs and excellent descriptive information on birds, mammals and other creatures. Organized geographically, each section includes suggested places to visit, national parks and reserves, maps and sidebars on habitats, flora and fauna.

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.

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.

Culture Smart! Australia

Author: Barry Penney

Description: A concise, no-nonsense guide to local customs, etiquette and culture with a short overview of the land and people along with practical travel advice.

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.

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 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.

Travellers’ Tales Australia: True Stories of Life Down Under

Author: Larry Habegger & Amy G. Carlson

Description: An excellent introduction to the people, culture and traditions of Australia as seen through the eyes of mostly contemporary writers, including Pico Iyer, Paul Theroux, Bruce Chatwin, and D.H. Lawrence. Organized thematically, it includes articles and excerpts on the Great Barrier Reef, the outback, the Nullarbor Plateau and Bondi Beach.

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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