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From the Outback to the Reef: Australia with your Grandchild

Program No. 21942RJ
From koalas to kangaroos, discover amazing Australian wildlife with your grandchild as you camp under the stars, learn about local culture, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and more!

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
Age 10 - 14
The figures below indicate the rooming options available.
Jun 15 - Jul 1, 2024
Per Adult
Per Child
Jun 15 - Jul 1, 2024
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At a Glance

Are you an animal lover? What about a water sports fan? Lucky for you and your grandchild, Australia has something for every type of adventurer. Together, dive right into “the Land Down Under” while snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef or spot crocs as you cruise through a swampy lagoon. Gather around the fire on a campout under the stars and learn the Aboriginal art form of dot painting with some awesome experts. Alongside your grandchild, experience one of the most amazing countries on Earth, filled with two exciting weeks of stunning red desert, tropical rainforests, colorful coral reefs, jumping kangaroos and a cool camel ride!
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Stepping in and out of and paddling a kayak. Walking up to three miles at a time over varied terrain. Standing at least three hours daily; climbing stairs, getting on/off public transport, carrying own luggage. If you believe you require wheelchair assistance to get through an airport you are not fit enough to participate in this program.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Grab your paddle for a kayak adventure through Sydney’s Royal National Park – the second oldest national park in the world.
  • Meet Aboriginal Australians and taste their traditional bush food before exploring Uluru.
  • See how many colorful fish you can spot as you snorkel the amazing Great Barrier Reef.

General Notes

This program is for grandchildren ages 10-14.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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David O'Brien
Originally from the island state of Tasmania, Dave O’Brien has lived in North Queensland for more than 30 years. Working as a biologist almost his entire career, Dave has been involved in reptile research, aquaculture, government organizations, private enterprise and owning his own business. Outside of work, Dave’s interests include birding, photography and long-distance running. He has been married since 1986 and has two adult children, presently living in Melbourne, Australia and Alberta, Canada.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of David O'Brien
David O'Brien View biography
Originally from the island state of Tasmania, Dave O’Brien has lived in North Queensland for more than 30 years. Working as a biologist almost his entire career, Dave has been involved in reptile research, aquaculture, government organizations, private enterprise and owning his own business. Outside of work, Dave’s interests include birding, photography and long-distance running. He has been married since 1986 and has two adult children, presently living in Melbourne, Australia and Alberta, Canada.
Profile Image of Sue Grebenschikoff
Sue Grebenschikoff View biography
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. 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.
Profile Image of Andrew Fitzgerald
Andrew Fitzgerald View biography
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.
Profile Image of Rayleen Brown
Rayleen Brown View biography
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.
Profile Image of Michael Kidd
Michael Kidd View biography
Michael Kidd is a retired secondary school principal and teacher. After teaching mathematics at four Sydney high schools, he was appointed the principal of Hurlstone Agricultural High School, a school on 200 acres of farmland with 300 boarders, mostly from the country in New South Wales. He and his wife Robyn (also a retired secondary school principal and Road Scholar group leader) have traveled extensively with their two daughters. As group leader, Michael loves to share his passion for his homeland with Road Scholars.
Profile Image of Martin Ludgate
Martin Ludgate View biography
Martin Ludgate was a lecturer at Charles Darwin University in Alice Springs, where he lectured and managed the educational travel program. Now semi-retired (although still doing some lecturing and leading educational excursions), Martin has a keen interest in local history and culture as well as the landscapes, flora and fauna of the Northern Territory. “The great pleasure of enabling Road Scholar participants to bring alive their desire to experience a sense of Outback Australia, which they have heard so much about, makes my involvement so rewarding,” Martin says.
Profile Image of Russell Boswell
Russell Boswell View biography
Russell Boswell is the manager of savannah guides and savannah way limited. A long-term Cairns resident, Russell’s background is in education and marketing. His tourism career has included group and safari operation, magazine publishing and training local experts. Russell sits on several industry committees and has been the proud recipient of a Cassowary Award for services to Wet Tropics nature-based tourism.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
True History of the Kelly Gang
by Peter Carey
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.
Tirra Lirra By The River
by Jessica Anderson
One of Australia's most celebrated novels: one woman's journey from Australia to London and back again. A book about the sweetness of escape, and the mix of pain and acceptance that comes with returning home. Winner of the 1978 Miles Franklin Award.
The Tears of Strangers
by Stan Grant
A family memoir charting the political and social changes of Aboriginal Australians over the past 40 years.
A Fortunate Life
by A. B. Facey
The is the extraordinary life of an ordinary man. The autobiography of Albert Barnett (Bert) Facey - farmer, labourer, jackaroo, WWI veteran - lived from 1894 to 1982, predominantly in Western Australia's frontier territory. Facey's story, published at the age of 87, brings to life his experiences as a child labourer, itinerant rural worker, soldier and Depression-era farmer. Despite the trials faced, he always considered he led "a fortunate life". It is considered a classic of Australian literature. It is one of Australia's favourite books.
My Place
by Sally Morgan
In 1982 Sally Morgan travelled to her grandmother's birthplace, Corunna Downs Station in Western Australia. She wants to trace the experiences of her childhood andolescence in Perth in the 1950's. Through memories and images, hints and echoes begin to emerge and another story unfolds - the mystery of her aboriginal identity. Gradually her whole family is drawn in to the saga and her great-uncle, her mother and finally her grandmother tell their stories in turn. My Place is a work of great humour, humanity and courage.
Playing Beatie Bow
by Ruth Park
An Australian children's/young adult's novel. The game is called Beatie Bow and the children play it for the thrill of scaring themselves. But when Abigail is drawn in, the game is quickly transformed into an extraordinary, sometimes horrifying, adventure as she finds herself transported to a place that is foreign yet strangely familiar . . .
Position Doubtful
by Kim Mahood
Since the publication of her prize-winning memoir Craft for a Dry Lake, in 2000, writer and artist Kim Mahood has been returning to the Tanami desert country in far north-western Australia where, as a child, she lived with her family on a remote cattle station. The land is timeless, but much has changed- the station has been handed back to its traditional owners; the mining companies have arrived; and Aboriginal art has flourished. Comedy and tragedy, familiarity and uncertainty are Mahood's constant companions as she immerses herself in the life of a small community and in groundbreaking mapping projects. What emerges in Position Doubtful is a revelation of the significance of the land to its people - and of the burden of history.
Young Dark Emu: A Truer History
by Bruce Pascoe
The highly-anticipated junior version of Bruce Pascoe's multi award-winning book. Bruce Pascoe has collected a swathe of literary awards for Dark Emu and now he has brought together the research and compelling first person accounts in a book for younger readers. Using the accounts of early European explorers, colonists and farmers, Bruce Pascoe compellingly argues for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer label for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. He allows the reader to see Australia as it was before Europeans arrived - a land of cultivated farming areas, productive fisheries, permanent homes, and an understanding of the environment and its natural resources that supported thriving villages across the continent.
Chasing Kangaroo
by Tim Flannery
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 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples.
by Tim Winton
A bewitching fable sure to delight readers of all ages. A wise exploration of the difference between the acquisition of information and the quest for knowledge, Blueback is an achingly beautiful story about family, belonging, and living a life in tune with the environment, from Tim Winton, one of Australia's best-loved authors.
The Nargun and The Stars
by Patricia Wrightson
After a millennial sleep, the stone-like Nargun awakes to roam the land again - unless a recently orphaned little boy and his new family can somehow halt the mythic creature's deadly advance. A children's fantasy novel set in Australia, it was one of the first Australian children's books to draw on Aboriginal Australian mythology. The novel was the winner of the 1974 Children's Book Council of Australia Children's Book of the Year for Older Readers.
A Commonwealth of Thieves, The Improbable Birth of Australia
by Thomas Keneally
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 Phillip, 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".
A Town Like Alice
by Nevil Shute
Nevil Shute's most beloved novel, a tale of love and war, follows its enterprising heroine from the Malayan jungle during World War II to the rugged Australian outback.
Dark Emu : Aboriginal Australia and the birth of agriculture
by Bruce Pascoe
History has portrayed Australia's First Peoples, the Aboriginals, as hunter-gatherers who lived on an empty, uncultivated land. History is wrong. Using compelling evidence from the records and diaries of early Australian explorers and colonists, Bruce Pascoe reveals that Aboriginal systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history, and that a new look at Australia's past is required - for the benefit of us all. Dark Emu, a bestseller in Australia, won both the Book of the Year Award and the Indigenous Writer's Prize in the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards.
Field Guide to the Birds of Australia
by Ken Simpson • Nicholas Day
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.
A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia
by Steve Wilson
A comprehensive account of the 800 species of Australian reptiles, grouped by family. Each entry includes a distribution map, notes on habitat, range and conservation status. Covering crocodiles, sea turtles, freshwater turtles, geckos, flat-footed lizards, skinks, dragons, goannas, blind snakes, pythons, file snakes, colubrid snakes, terrestrial elapids, sea snakes, and, sea kraits.
Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia
by Peter Menkhorst • Frank Knight (Illustrator)
A comprehensive guide to 376 species of kangaroos, koalas, bandicoots, wombats, deer, seals, whales and other mammals of Australia featuring full color illustrations by Frank Knight. Third edition
My Brother Jack
by George Johnston
The Miles Franklin award-winning classic. Through the story of the two brothers, George Johnston created an enduring exploration of two Australian myths: that of the man who loses his soul as he gains worldly success, and that of the tough, honest Aussie battler, whose greatest ambition is to serve his country during the war. Acknowledged as one of the true Australian classics, My Brother Jack is a deeply satisfying, complex and moving literary masterpiece.
by Bruce Chatwin
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.
Fishwatcher’s Field Guide: Great Barrier Reef
by Idaz Greenberg
A double-sided, laminated card covering the reef fish of Australia, Papua New Guinea and the tropical Pacific.
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17 days
16 nights
38 meals
14 B 12 L 12 D
In Transit to Program
In Flight
In Transit to Program, Crossing International Date Line
In Flight

Activity note: En route to Sydney, a day will be “lost” due to crossing the International Date Line.

Arrive Sydney, Orientation, Beach & Harbour, Welcome Dinner
Novotel Sydney Darling Square

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Getting on/off a ferry. Walking a little over 1 mile; predominantly flat surfaces. Hotel check-in available from 2:00 p.m. Remember to bring your nametag (sent previously).

Morning: Welcome to Sydney! Our Sydney team will meet the two arrival flights at Sydney airport. We will then transfer to our hotel where bags can be put in storage until we return and check-in this afternoon. At 10:00 a.m., after storing our luggage, we will come together to discuss our program. Orientation. The Group Leader and Site Coordinator will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. This program will be staffed with both a Group Leader and a local Site Coordinator at most study sites providing information and leading field trips. While traveling, particularly in Central Australia and Cairns, it is essential to stay hydrated. As tap water in Australia is drinkable, we will provide Road Scholar water bottles to use throughout the program. Your water bottle is yours to keep. Free time is reserved for your personal exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through independent exploration, attending performances or other events on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader and local Site Coordinators will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Following orientation, we will set out on a field trip by motorcoach to Sydney’s eastern suburbs. We head first to Sydney’s famous Bondi beach. Here we will have an opportunity to stretch our legs and dip our toes in the ocean.

Lunch: At a typical, local Australian RSL (Returned Services League) club in Bondi, we will have pre-ordered, plated meals.

Afternoon: After exploring Bondi, we transfer to South Head and the area known as The Gap, a reference to the relatively narrow opening to Sydney Harbour. From here we get a fabulous perspective of the city and its magnificent harbour. The Gap is also known as one of Sydney's great whale-sighting spots so keep your eyes peeled. From South Head, we drop down into Watsons Bay, one of Sydney's favourite harbour-side beach areas. Here we board a ferry to cruise Sydney Harbour back to Circular Quay in downtown Sydney. The Watsons Bay ferry offers great views of the harbour and gives us an understanding of how the locals interact with their ocean playground. From Circular Quay we hop on the light rail back to our hotel. We have some time to check in and relax prior to dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Australia History, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House
Novotel Sydney Darling Square

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Getting on/off a ferry. Walking about 4 miles; predominantly flat surfaces, some stairs and cobbled laneways. Depending on the theatres available to visit, the Opera House guided visit involves between 150 and 200 stairs.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will be joined by a local educator who will give us a lecture introducing the history of Sydney and, by extension, Australia. We will then take a short walk through Darling Harbour and catch a ferry to North Sydney. Disembarking our vessel, we take the short walk to the Sydney Harbour Bridge footpath for our crossing back into the city. From the walkway, we have wonderful vistas of the harbour, Opera House and central business district. We come down off the Sydney Harbour Bridge and find ourselves in the historic Sydney area known as The Rocks. Led by our Site Coordinator, we will have a walking exploration of The Rocks area giving us insights into Sydney’s colonial past. The Rocks was the area of Sydney first settled by the British and it has a fascinating history and wonderful sandstone buildings.

Lunch: From a local café, we will have a picnic lunch.

Afternoon: Our Site Coordinator-led walk continues into Hyde Park and down into the Sydney Botanical Gardens. As we pass by, we will check out the recently redeveloped Art Gallery of New South Wales. We walk down to the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage-listed Sydney Opera House, where we will have an expert-led exploration of this truly wonderful, iconic building, a masterpiece of late modern architecture. Exactly which areas of the Opera House we see will depend upon what performances and rehearsals are taking place at the time. There are five main performance spaces at the Sydney Opera House — the Concert Hall, the Dame Joan Sutherland Theatre (formerly the Opera Theatre), the Drama Theatre, the Playhouse and the Studio — and the availability of these spaces open to visits changes from day to day. We will then return to our hotel on the light rail.

Dinner: We will take a short walk along the fringe of Darling Harbour to a restaurant where we have pre-ordered, plated meals.

Evening: At leisure. We will walk back to our hotel. You may wish to stay longer and explore some more of the vibrant Darling Harbour precinct as you wend your way back to the hotel on your own.

Royal National Park, Kayaking, Bushwalk
Novotel Sydney Darling Square

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Getting in and out of tandem kayaks; kayaking approximately two hours; life jackets supplied. Walking up to 4 miles; predominantly flat, well-maintained tracks.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will head out on a field trip to Sydney’s Royal National Park, the world’s second oldest national park after Yellowstone. We head to the National Park's boatshed at Audley Weir where we hop into our tandem kayaks and paddle our way into the Park. During our two-hour expert-led paddle, we will gain an understanding of the Australian bushscape that surrounds us.

Lunch: At Audley Weir in the Royal National Park, we have a BBQ lunch.

Afternoon: After lunch, led by our Group Leader and Site Coordinator, we will have a bushwalk in the Royal National Park. We will have an introduction in to some of the local flora and fauna as we explore. We hop back on our motorcoach and transfer in to our hotel.

Dinner: At accommodation.

Evening: At leisure.

Taronga Zoo, Free Afternoon
Novotel Sydney Darling Square

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Getting on/off a ferry. Walking about 3 miles; undulating, paved surfaces.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will hop aboard the motorcoach and ride across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Taronga Zoo. Located on the north shore, it has delightful views across the harbour to the city. Here we will begin our study of Australian fauna. As well as meeting kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies — and hoping for a glimpse of the rather more elusive wombat, echidna, and platypus — we will have a lecture from one of the keepers introducing some of Australia’s more dangerous inhabitants: spiders and snakes.

Lunch: At Taronga Park Zoo we have a picnic lunch.

Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests each of us most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Please note that the period scheduled for free time is subject to change depending on local circumstances and opportunities for independent exploration. We will have local travel passes provided for the ferry ride back across the harbour to the city centre. Everyone is welcome to linger at the zoo, go and explore the city independently, or return to the hotel and relax.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for hotel check-out and our flight transfer tomorrow.

Fly to Alice Springs, Alice Springs School of the Air
Alice Springs
Mercure Alice Springs Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Getting on/off an aircraft; fliying approximately 3 hours. Qantas typically uses Boeing 737 aircraft on this route. Walking about 1.5 miles; paved surfaces.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of our hotel and take a motorcoach to Sydney domestic airport for our flight to Alice Springs, gateway to the Red Centre. Alice Springs is located almost exactly at the geographic centre of Australia and has been a home for Aboriginal Australians for 30,000 years. Many of the physical features of the land have great cultural significance. The town, originally established in 1888 as Stuart, 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 a major access point for the many attractions of central Australia. On arrival, we are met by our Red Centre Site Coordinator and will have an overview of Alice Springs and the Red Centre on the way to our hotel.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: After lunch 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 will be able to get a feel for what it is like being a student where your nearest "classmate" is hundreds of miles away. We return to our hotel and have some free time to maybe wander into town or catch up on some laundry for the remainder of the afternoon.

Dinner: At the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, we will have a BBQ dinner. As we dine a local musician will entertain us with ballads of the Australian bush. From the official Australian government website: “The bush has an iconic status in Australian life…especially as expressed in Australian literature, painting, popular music, films and foods. The bush was something that was uniquely Australian and very different to the European landscapes familiar to many new immigrants…revered as a source of national ideals.”

Evening: At leisure.

Desert Park, Telegraph Station, Camel Ride, Aboriginal Food
Alice Springs
Mercure Alice Springs Resort

Activity note: On our feet most of the morning, walking approximately 2.5 miles; well-cared-for dirt surfaces. In the afternoon getting on and off a camel, walking approximately 1 mile; fairly even surfaces, some sand.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will visit Alice Springs Desert Park where our local Site Coordinator will help us gain an understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Australian desert and the life that exists there.

Lunch: At own arrangements.

Afternoon: At the Alice Springs Telegraph Station we learn about early settlement in the remote environment. We also start to build an understanding of the relationship between the white authorities and the Aboriginal minority with a look at the Stolen Generations. We then head out of town to visit a local camel farm. Here we hop aboard these "ships of the desert" and embark on a guided camel trek. We return to our hotel and have some downtime before we head out for dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, an indigenous caterer and businesswoman will introduce native Aboriginal bush foods, their traditional use, and how they are being incorporated into contemporary cuisine.

Evening: Weather permitting, a local astronomer will introduce 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. We return to the hotel on our motorcoach.

Western MacDonnell Ranges, Ormiston Gorge, Ochre Pits
Alice Springs
Mercure Alice Springs Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; fairly even surfaces, some sand.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Today we explore the Western MacDonnell Ranges. We head first to Standley Chasm — known traditionally as Angkerle Atwatye, meaning gap of water — on Aboriginal land that is part of the Iwupataka Land Trust. Standley Chasm cuts through the tough quartzite to form a picturesque natural alleyway. Surging flood waters over thousands of years are responsible for this beautiful site, which is at its most impressive on a sunny morning. As the light shifts across the cleft, we will be treated to a magnificent display of colours and forms. We will ride on to Ormiston Gorge, further enlightening us to the spectacular geology and landforms of the MacDonnell Ranges.

Lunch: At Ormiston Gorge.

Afternoon: We will walk into the Gorge where the rugged scenery is complemented by a near-permanent water hole. The water and the shelter of the rocks attract an interesting variety of native fauna and flora, including a number of relict plant species. We then travel and explore the Ochre Pits. This vividly-coloured ochre deposits has been mined for generations by the local Aboriginal people. Ochre is an important part of Aboriginal culture, used in everyday life as the raw material for painting, adorning hunting equipment and for ceremonial body decoration. We return to Alice Springs in time for dinner.

Dinner: At our hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Mereenie Loop, Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon Resort Campground

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; riding on unsealed public road. Walking approximately 3-4 hours.

Breakfast: At accommodation.

Morning: We check out of our hotel and begin the drive to Watarrka National Park at Kings Canyon. En route we will pause at a roadhouse, introducing us to another aspect of life in the Red Centre.

Lunch: At Kings Creek Station.

Afternoon: After lunch, our local Site Coordinator will lead us on a walking field trip on the Kings Canyon Rim. The Rim Walk offers stunning views of the spectacular Kings Canyon. After our educational walk, we transfer to the campground and set up our campsite.

Dinner: At our campsite. While our Group Leader, local Site Coordinator, and driver have overall responsibility, we will all “muck-in” with the preparation and cleaning up afterwards.

Evening: After dinner, we will get the campfire going and relax. You can choose to sleep in your tent tonight or bring your “swag” out to sleep under the stars of the Southern Hemisphere. Prepare for packing and transfer in the morning.

Uluru Cycle & Walks, Sunset at Uluru
Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Outback Hotel & Lodge

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles in a series of short walks; generally flat surfaces. Cycling about 7 miles around Uluru; bicycle helmets provided.

Breakfast: At our campsite.

Morning: We pack up our campsite and drive to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Cultural Centre. En route we will pause briefly at Mt Conner.

Lunch: At the National Park Cultural Centre.

Afternoon: This afternoon we explore Uluru, cycling around its base and taking in both the Mala Walk and the Kuniya and Liru Walk. This sacred Aboriginal site is truly awe-inspiring. Our Site Coordinator will explain the significance of Uluru to the local Aboriginal community. We will then ride to our hotel and check in. 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: At the hotel. We will have a typical Australian BBQ with an opportunity to sample some of Australia’s more “interesting” native foods. Those who wish to can cook their own.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and flight transfer tomorrow.

Kata-Tjuta, Dot Painting, Fly to Cairns
Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Getting on/off an aircraft; flight approximately 2.5 hours. Qantas typically utilises Fokker F100 aircraft on this route. Walking about 2 miles, approximately 1 hour; gently climbing surface.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of our hotel, board our motorcoach and ride to Kata-Tjuta, the spectacular formation of 36 rounded domes. Kata Tjuta means “many heads” in a local language. Here we will walk up Walpa Gorge, affording wonderful views across the Outback. We will return to Uluru and undertake a dot-painting workshop introducing the methods and meanings of this ancient artform.

Lunch: At a café in the resort.

Afternoon: Next, we will ride to Ayers Rock airport and board 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 UNESCO World Heritage-listed areas: the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest. Upon our arrival, we will be met by our Cairns Site Coordinator and ride to our Cairns hotel for check-in.

Dinner: At the hotel. We will have an introduction to Cairns and our local schedule.

Evening: At leisure.

Rainforest, Kuranda, Butterflies, Skyrail, Snorkel Practice
Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Getting on/off gondolas. Walking about 2 miles; generally flat surfaces, some stairs at cable car.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will be joined by a local expert who will give us a lecture introducing one of Cairns’ World Heritage-listed features, the Wet Tropical Rainforests of North Queensland. We will gain an understanding of the abundance of life in the tropical rainforest. We will then ride to the village of Kuranda, a mountain retreat surrounded by rainforest. Upon our arrival, we will visit the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, the largest butterfly aviary in Australia and home to many local tropical species.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Kuranda.

Afternoon: We will have some “down time” to explore Kuranda independently. We’ll then then walk to the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and take the stunning cableway journey sweeping above the canopy of the rainforest. At the Rainforest Interpretive Station, our lecturer will lead a walk on a circular track of boardwalk as we learn more about this special environment. We will then ride back to our hotel and reconvene in the hotel’s lagoon-style pool where our Site Coordinator and Group Leader will give us some practice on correct snorkeling technique in preparation for our study cruise out to the Reef tomorrow.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

Lecture, Cruise & Snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef
Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off a large catamaran. Entering the water from a floating pontoon. Snorkels, masks, flippers, flotation jackets and lycra sun suits provided.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: A local marine biologist will join us for a lecture on the Great Barrier Reef. We will get insights into what we might see before we head out for our study cruise. We will then ride to the cruise terminal where we’ll board a vessel that will take us out to the reef, one of the true wonders of the natural world and a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. From the UNESCO inscription, “The Great Barrier Reef is a site of remarkable variety and beauty on the north-east coast of Australia. It contains the world’s largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc. It also holds great scientific interest as the habitat of species such as the dugong (“sea cow”) and the large green turtle, which are threatened with extinction.” We will snorkel among the spectacular coral reef and/or view the reef from a semi-submersible vessel.

Lunch: Aboard our vessel.

Afternoon: Our study cruise and snorkeling field trip on the Great Barrier Reef will continue. Situated in the Coral Sea, this is the world’s largest coral reef system and the biggest structure made by living organisms. It stretches more than 1,400 miles and can be seen from space. We will return to Cairns in the late afternoon.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Esplanade’s wide range of restaurants is near our hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

Crocodile Farm, Coastal Frolic, Farewell Dinner
Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Getting on/off a lagoon boat. Walking about 2 miles; undulating pathways.

Breakfast: We will leave the hotel early and ride to a local crocodile farm where we have will have breakfast overlooking the lagoon.

Morning: A local expert will give us an introduction to the crocodile population as we cruise on the lagoon. We then go on an expert-led walking field trip and learn about the evolution of Australian wildlife in a beautiful forest setting surrounded by living descendants of Australia’s ancient past. We will depart the crocodile farm and head to a local beach.

Lunch: At the beach we have a sausage sizzle.

Afternoon: This afternoon with our local Site Coordinator, we will explore the coast en route to Cairns. Returning to our hotel, we have some down time before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel. Share favorite experiences and enjoy camaraderie with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for hotel check-out and flight transfer tomorrow.

Free Time, Fly to Sydney
Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel

Activity note: Walking and other free time activities according to personal choice. Getting on/off a motorcoach. Getting on/off an aircraft; the flight from Cairns to Sydney is approximately 3 hours. Qantas typically uses Qantas 737 aircraft on this route.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Free time. Take this opportunity to see and do more of what interests you most, whether exploring Cairns or final packing. We will regroup together at the hotel in the late morning and ride to the airport for our lunchtime flight to Sydney.

Lunch: On your own although a light snack will be served on your flight.

Afternoon: Upon our arrival in Sydney, we coach to our airport hotel in the safe hands of our Group Leader.

Dinner: At our Sydney airport hotel, we have pre-ordered, plated meals.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for hotel check-out and departure tomorrow.

Program Concludes
In Flight

Activity note: Hotel check out is by 10:00 a.m. Participants can make the two-minute walk to the international terminal independently.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will make our way independently to Sydney Airport international terminal, a walk of two minutes, and check in to our departing flights. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.