3110
Australia
Great Australian Train Trek
Discover two of the world’s most iconic trains as you immerse yourself in national parks, magnificent wildlife, rugged coasts and aboriginal culture, traversing Australia by rail.
Rating (5)
Program No. 3110UZB
Length
27 days
Starts at
10,599
Flights start at
1,350
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27 days
26 nights
66 meals
24 B 22 L 20 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
In Transit to Program, Crossing International Dateline
In Flight

Activity note: A day is "lost" due to crossing the International Dateline.

DAY
3
Arrival, Sydney's Coast, Orientation, Walk in Central Sydney
Sydney
L,D
Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour

Activity note: Walking a little over 1 mile; predominantly flat surfaces. Hotel check-in from 2:00 p.m. Upon your arrival in Sydney, you will be given a day-use backpack and an aluminium water bottle to use throughout your program. These items are yours to keep.

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 Group Leader and Sydney Site Coordinator and transfer in to our Sydney hotel where you can put your bags in storage until you are able to check in. At 11am, we board our motorcoach at the hotel and head off to 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.

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

Afternoon: After lunch, we return to our hotel to check in. We have some time to freshen up before our Site Coordinator leads on a walking exploration of Central Sydney. We return to our hotel and have some free time before coming together for a welcome meeting and dinner. 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. Some meals will be buffets, others will be plated and served; and some we will order in advance. Beverages typically included coffee, tea, water, with other beverages available for purchase depending on location. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal 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.

Dinner: At our hotel we will have a buffet dinner. We will have "Welcome to Australia" wine with dinner tonight.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Australian History, Harbour Cruise, Sydney Opera House
Sydney
B,L
Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour

Activity note: Getting on/off a harbour cruise vessel. Walking approximately 4 miles this afternoon; predominantly flat surfaces, some stairs and cobbled laneways.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will be joined by a local professor who will lecture on the history and settlement of Australia. We then board our motorcoach and travel to Circular Quay to board a vessel for a cruise on magnificent Sydney Harbour. On our cruise we take in the stunning scenery and learn how the modern Sydney Harbour has evolved. We disembark our vessel and walk the short distance to lunch.

Lunch: In an historic building in The Rocks, we will have pre-ordered, plated meals.

Afternoon: After lunch, 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. We walk across Circular Quay 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 via motorcoach and have the remainder of the day free to explore independently. Those who wish may choose to stay downtown and make their own way back to the hotel.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. Sample what Sydney's restaurant scene has to offer.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Rail System, Taronga Zoo, Sydney Opera House Performance
Sydney
B,L,D
Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour

Activity note: On our feet most of the morning, walking approximately 3 miles at zoo; undulating, paved surfaces. Getting on and off a ferry. Please note that this program was put together well before the Sydney Opera House performance schedule was released. Details of the performance we are attending is included in your final information packet mailed one month prior to the program commencing.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: A local rail engineer will give a lecture introducing us to the Australian rail system. We then take our motorcoach across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Taronga Zoo, located on the north shore, with 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 will have a buffet barbecue lunch.

Afternoon: You are given a travel card 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 independently or to head back across to the city to investigate more there.

Dinner: We will have an early buffet dinner at our hotel allowing us to get to tonight's performance at the Opera House in plenty of time.

Evening: Performance. We will attend a performance in one of the five main performances spaces in the Sydney Opera House, one of the world's great pieces of architectural design. We will return to the hotel via motorcoach. Prepare for hotel check out and transfer tomorrow.

DAY
6
Fly to Perth, Kings Park Botanical Gardens, WA Introduction
Perth
B,L,D
Hotel Ibis Perth

Activity note: We will walk over a mile in Kings Park on well-maintained, undulating surfaces. The flight from Sydney to Perth takes about 5 hours 10 minutes. Qantas typically uses a mix of Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 aircraft on this route.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning we check out of our Sydney hotel and coach to Sydney Domestic Airport for our flight to Perth. Perth, the capital city of Australia's most vast, desolate and expansive state, Western Australia, has a growing population and is truly a modern, scenic and multicultural city. With a Mediterranean climate, Perth is Australia's sunniest capital and has an atmosphere particularly conducive to an al fresco lifestyle. The city is 20 kilometres upstream from the port of Fremantle, where Australia strove unsuccessfully to retain the America's Cup in 1987. Delightfully dissected by the Swan River, the city enjoys many scenic surf beaches and well-kept parklands including centrally located Kings Park where native wildflowers flourish.

Lunch: On board our Sydney to Perth flight.

Afternoon: Upon our arrival in Perth we are met by our local Site Coordinator. We have a course overview as we transfer on our motorcoach to Kings Park. Here we have an expert-led exploration of the gardens that offer wonderful views over the city. We carry on to our hotel and check in. Before dinner we have a lecture on the history and growth of Western Australia looking at the impact of the mining boom and agriculture.

Dinner: In the hotel, we will have plated meals.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Field Trip to Rottnest Island by Ferry, Fremantle Discovery
Perth
B,L,D
Hotel Ibis Perth

Activity note: Walking 2 miles on well-kept, undulating surfaces. Getting on and off ferries. The ferry from Perth to Rottnest Island via Fremantle takes 2 hours 15 minutes. The ferry from Rottnest Island back to Fremantle takes 45 minutes.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We transfer by motorcoach to Perth's Barrack Street Jetty and board a ferry to Rottnest Island via Fremantle. En route to Fremantle we shall cruise up the Swan River taking in the lovely views of Perth that the ferry offers. Once on Rottnest we have an expert-led nature walk on Oliver Hill to learn about the natural history of the island.

Lunch: At a café on Rottnest Island we have a buffet lunch.

Afternoon: After lunch we try to meet Rottnest Island's unique marsupial, the quokka, from our motorcoach as we have an expert-led exploration of the Island. We board our ferry back to the mainland, disembarking in Fremantle. We then have a stroll with our Site Coordinator introducing us to the history and lifestyle of this sought-after beachside suburb.

Dinner: At a Fremantle hotel restaurant, we have a buffet dinner, featuring much local seafood.

Evening: We board our motorcoach for the 30-minute journey back to our hotel in Perth.

DAY
8
Perth Mint, Swan Bells, Free Time
Perth
B
Hotel Ibis Perth

Activity note: Walking about a mile on flat, paved surfaces.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We visit Perth Mint to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of gold on the State's history. While we are at the mint, we will have the opportunity to view a gold pour. We then visit the Bell Tower set in parkland beside the Swan River. Here we learn about the history of this historic Ring of Bells and the techniques required to make them ring.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Free time.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. Sample what Perth's restaurant scene has to offer.

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

DAY
9
Indian Pacific Train to Adelaide
Train - "Indian Pacific"
B,L,D
Indian Pacific Train

Activity note: Getting on and off a train. The journey from Perth to Adelaide takes about 43 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We check out of our hotel and transfer via motorcoach to Perth Railway Station to board the Indian Pacific.

Lunch: On board the Indian Pacific, we have plated meals.

Afternoon: We roll east out of Perth and start heading across the West Australian countryside. Expert commentary is given as we travel.

Dinner: On board the Indian Pacific, we have plated meals.

Evening: On board the Indian Pacific. Late tonight we will arrive in the mining town of Kalgoorlie. The train company runs a short excursion to view this rugged town that those participants who are still awake are most welcome to join.

DAY
10
Indian Pacific Across The Nullarbor
Train - "Indian Pacific"
B,L,D
Indian Pacific Train

Activity note: Getting on and off a train. The journey from Perth to Adelaide takes about 43 hours.

Breakfast: On board the Indian Pacific, we have plated meals.

Morning: Today we continue the epic journey across the Nullarbor Plain including the famous “long straight” – 299 miles of gun-barrel straight track. We watch the changing colours of the desert environment from our cabins or the comfort of the lounge car where we may well get the opportunity to mix with local travellers.

Lunch: On board the Indian Pacific, we have plated meals.

Afternoon: We carry on across the Nullarbor Plain and into South Australia.

Dinner: On board the Indian Pacific, we have plated meals.

Evening: At leisure on board the Indian Pacific.

DAY
11
Adelaide Central Markets, Botanic Gardens, Wildlife Park
Adelaide
B,L,D
Sage Hotel Adelaide

Activity note: Walking approximately 3 miles this afternoon and evening; flat, maintained tracks; some walking by torchlight.

Breakfast: We have a snack on board the Indian Pacific as we arrive into Adelaide, the capital of South Australia.

Morning: Adelaide is a solid, gracious city: when the early colonists built, they generally built with stone. The city is bordered by the Mount Lofty Ranges to the east, and by gulf waters and long sandy beaches to the west. The Torrens River runs through the North Parkland and there are port facilities at Port Adelaide. The city was named for Queen Adelaide, at the command of her husband, King William IV and is the only freely-settled colony of Australia. Its people have embraced multiculturalism, providing a cohesive society on which to build the State. The draft of the Australian Constitution was prepared in South Australia, in the ballroom of St. Mark’s College’s Downer House. We disembark our train and are met by our local Site Coordinator. We board our motorcoach and head to Adelaide Central Markets for a breakfast visit, soaking up a melting pot of multi-national food and cultures. We reboard our coach and have an orientation to Adelaide, its layout & distinctive architecture.

Lunch: At a restaurant close to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, we have plated meals.

Afternoon: After lunch a local expert, from the Friends of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, will lead us through the gardens, taking in the native flora. We reboard our motorcoach to our hotel where we check in. This evening we visit a wildlife sanctuary set in the Adelaide Hills.

Dinner: At the wildlife sanctuary we have a BBQ buffet.

Evening: After dinner we have an expert-led wander amongst the kangaroos, wallabies and emus as darkness falls. Here we will gain insight into the nocturnal animals abundant in Australia. We return on the motorcoach to our hotel. Prepare for hotel check out and transfer tomorrow.

DAY
12
Kangaroo Island, Local Cottage Industries; Island Wildlife
Kangaroo Island
B,L,D
Aurora Ozone Hotel

Activity note: We leave our large bags in storage at the hotel today. There is a strict 33 pound (15 kilogram) weight limit imposed on our flight back from Kangaroo Island tomorrow evening. The drive from Adelaide to Cape Jervis is about 65 miles (105 kilometres), approximately 2 hours. The ferry from Cape Jervis to the Island takes around 45 minutes. Walking approximately 2 miles on a series of short walks from our motorcoach.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We check out and transfer to Cape Jervis for our ferry across to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island. Kangaroo Island, Australia’s third-largest island, is a unique, unspoiled wilderness 91 miles (146 kilometres) long and 25 miles (40 kilometres) wide. It is located 9 miles (14 kilometres) south of the South Australian mainland. Its coastal scenery is spectacular with rugged high cliffs and long, white, sandy beaches. The island is known for its abundant wildlife including its resident sea lion colonies. Over a third of the island is protected in nature reserves, home to native wildlife such as koalas, a range of marsupials and abundant bird species. Kangaroo Island is also home to some verdant farmland. We first visit a local farm for an expert-led exploration and insights into the training and usage of farmers' working dogs. From here we visit the Parndana Campus of the Kangaroo Island Community Education facility. Here we learn from the students about the agriculture research and training being undertaken. We visit the Centre's “re-circulating aquaculture system” in which Barramundi are farmed.

Lunch: At the Parndana Campus, we have lunch provided by the students, sampling some of the products of their agricultural and aquacultural work.

Afternoon: From Parndana we board our motorcoach and transfer to the Australian Sea Lion colony at Seal Bay where a local expert will teach us something about these intriguing creatures. There are approximately 1,000 sea lions in the local colony. We then visit a local honey producer who will teach us of the long history of bee-keeping on the Island. The Island is home to the only remaining pure strain of Ligurian bees anywhere in the world. En route to our hotel we pause at the Kangaroo Island Penguin Centre where a local expert will talk to us about the Island's abundant sea bird life, all the while feeding some of the local pelicans.

Dinner: At the hotel we will have pre-ordered, plated meals.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for hotel check out and transfer tomorrow. You may wish to independently take the short walk to the local penguin rookery in an attempt to view some of the extremely elusive local population of little penguins.

DAY
13
Kelly Hills Caves, Koala Walk, Flinders Chase National Park
Adelaide
B,L,D
Sage Hotel Adelaide

Activity note: Walking 3 - 4 miles on a series of short walks from our motorcoach. Please note that there is a strict 15kg luggage limit per person on this evening's flight from Kangaroo Island to Adelaide. The flight takes 35 minutes. Regional Express uses Saab 340 aircraft on the route.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We check out of our hotel and head for the Kelly Hill Conservation Park. Here we have an expert-led, interpretive exploration of the limestone caves - a magical underground world, full of spectacular formations. We carry on to Hanson Bay Sanctuary where we partake in the Koala Walk. As well as abundant koalas, we could also possibly see kangaroos, tamar wallabies, possums and echidnas.

Lunch: In Flinders Chase National Park, at the western end of the Island, a local chef will prepare a picnic lunch making use of local produce.

Afternoon: We spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Flinders Chase National Park under the leadership of our local Site Coordinator. We visit the impressive Remarkable Rocks, one of Kangaroo Island's most iconic landscapes. We will also visit Admirals Arch, one of 27 officially-designated geological monuments situated throughout Kangaroo Island. We then make a dash across the Island to Kingscote Airport for our flight to Adelaide. We transfer back to our Adelaide hotel to check in and have dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel we will have pre-ordered, plated meals.

Evening: At leisure

DAY
14
Eden & Barossa Valley Wine Regions, Cooperage, Wine Tasting
Adelaide
B,L,D
Sage Hotel Adelaide

Activity note: Walking 1 - 2 miles on a series of short walks from our motorcoach. The drive from Adelaide to Cape Jervis is about 50 miles (80 kilometres), approximately 1.5 hours each way.

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Today we learn something of South Australia's premium wine regions and its history of German settlement. A local expert will join us on our motorcoach today to educate us on the local wine industry. We travel through the Eden and Barossa Valleys where we gain an understanding of the history of German settlement and traditions in the area. We will pause at the Menglers Hill lookout to look across the scenery of the valley. At Yalumba Winery, we will have a expert-led exploration of Australia's only working cooperage. We will also have an instructed wine tasting before lunch.

Lunch: At Yalumba we will have plated meals..

Afternoon: After lunch we will visit a premium red-wine producer, Charles Melton winery. Here we have an expert-led tasting and a talk with the winemaker. After our relaxing time at Charles Melton, we will take the scenic route back to Adelaide and have some time to relax before heading out for dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant we have plated meals.

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

DAY
15
Fly to Darwin, Kakadu National Park, Wetlands Orientation
Kakadu National Park
B,L,D
Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

Activity note: The flight from Adelaide to Darwin takes about 3 hours 40 minutes. Qantas typically uses Boeing 737 aircraft on this route. The drive from Darwin to Jabiru is about 160 miles (255 kilometres), and will take about 4 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We check out of our hotel this morning and coach to Adelaide Domestic Airport for our flight to Darwin. We are met at Darwin Airport by our Northern Territory Site Coordinator.

Lunch: At a café in the airport, we have a light lunch.

Afternoon: We board our motorcoach bound for our hotel in Jabiru in the heart of Kakadu National Park. Kakadu National Park is a unique archaeological and ethnological reserve. Located in the Northern Territory, it covers an area of almost 5 million acres and has been inhabited continuously for more than 40,000 years. It is a unique example of a complex of ecosystems including tidal flats, floodplains, lowlands and plateaux, providing habitat for a wide range of endemic and rare species of plants and animals. This magnificent world heritage national park has breathtaking escarpments that give way to open wetlands and rainforest pockets. Prolific bird life, diverse plant life, ancient Aboriginal rock art, boat cruises through wetlands, bushwalking, photography and four wheel drive tracks collectively add to the attributes of this wonderful park. En route to Kakadu, our local Site Coordinator will introduce us to this spectacular part of Australia. We will pause at the "Window on the Wetlands" visitor centre, located on Beatrice Hill, one of the highest points on the Adelaide River floodplain. Here we will view the interactive displays introducing us to the complex ecology of the wetlands. We arrive at our hotel and check in. We have some time at leisure before dinner.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
16
Kakadu Aboriginal Heritage, Yellow Waters Wildlife Cruise
Kakadu National Park
B,L,D
Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

Activity note: Getting on and off a boat.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We begin today with a lecture in the hotel giving us an introduction to Kakadu National Park and the Aboriginal heritage of Arnhem Land. We then visit the Kakadu National Park Visitors' Centre where we gain further understanding of this World Heritage-listed National Park.

Lunch: At Cooinda Lodge, we have shared platters.

Afternoon: After lunch we embark on a cruise on the Yellow Waters flood plains. On our cruise, under our local expert's guidance, we shall view Kakadu's abundant birdlife. We should also be able to spot the crocodiles that call the wetlands home. After disembarking from our vessel, we visit the Warradjan Cultural Centre. Here we gain an insight in to local Aboriginal life. We return to our hotel and have some free time before dinner.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

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

DAY
17
Kakadu Rock Art, Aboriginal Sacred Sites, Coach to Darwin
Darwin
B,L,D
Novotel Atrium Darwin

Activity note: The drive from Jabiru to Darwin is about 160 miles (255 kilometres), and will take about 4 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning we focus on Aboriginal rock art. We travel by motorcoach out to Ubirr Rock. Here we view some rock art sites of great cultural significance to the local Aboriginal people.

Lunch: We return to our accommodation for lunch before we depart for Darwin.

Afternoon: Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, is located on the Timor Sea. With a population of around 130,000 it is Australia’s least populous capital. Initially a pioneer outpost, in many ways Darwin is among Australia’s most modern and multicultural cities. It has close links to southern Asia, in particular countries such as Indonesia and East Timor, and is physically closer to a number of Asian capitals than it is to Canberra. Darwin has been rebuilt twice; initially following Japanese bombing raids during WWII and then again following the devastation wrought by Cyclone Tracy which hit the city on Christmas Eve, 1974. Darwin has a typical tropical climate with the wet season running from October to March bringing tropical monsoons and occasional cyclones. Traditionally the home of the Larrakia group, Darwin was given its name by the crew of the survey ship HMS Beagle on 9 September 1839 in honour of famed scientist Charles Darwin, a former shipmate. Upon arriving in Darwin, we have an orientation to the city en route to our hotel. After checking in to our hotel, we have some free time to relax in our room or partake in some independent exploration of the city. We transfer to Darwin's Stokes Hill wharf area for dinner overlooking the harbour.

Dinner: At a local restaurant we have plated meals.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
18
Defence of Darwin Experience, Museum, Art Gallery
Darwin
B,L
Novotel Atrium Darwin

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles on flat, paved surfaces.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning we visit the Defence of Darwin Experience to learn about Darwin’s role in WWII. Opened in 2012 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin, the Defence of Darwin Experience provides an opportunity for visitors to understand the impact of the war on Darwin and its inhabitants, both civilian and military. We transfer to the Museum & Art Gallery where we have the opportunity to explore on our own.

Lunch: At the museum café we have a light lunch.

Afternoon: After lunch we have a Site Coordinator-led field trip around the city of Darwin to explore Darwin's relationship with Asia, both historically and in the contemporary context. Free time. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure allowing you to relax or explore as you see fit.

Dinner: On your own.

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

DAY
19
The Ghan Train to Alice Springs, Katherine Gorge Cruise
Train - "The Ghan"
B,L,D
The Ghan

Activity note: Getting on and off a train. The journey from Darwin to Alice Springs is approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) and takes about 23 hours. Getting on and off a boat.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We check out of our hotel and coach to Darwin Railway Station to board The Ghan train for our overnight journey to Alice Springs.

Lunch: On board The Ghan, we have plated meals.

Afternoon: The train will pause in Katherine. While in Katherine, we will travel into Nitmiluk National Park to join a cruise in Katherine Gorge. We will learn of the geology, plant life and wildlife in the gorges along with being able to view some Aboriginal rock paintings. We re-board The Ghan to continue our journey to Alice Springs.

Dinner: On board The Ghan, we have plated meals.

Evening: At leisure on board The Ghan.

DAY
20
School of the Air, BBQ, Bush Ballads, Southern Stars
Alice Springs
B,L,D
Chifley Alice Springs Resort

Activity note: Getting on and off a train. The journey from Darwin to Alice Springs is approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) and takes about 23 hours. Walking 1 - 2 miles on flat, paved surfaces.

Breakfast: On board The Ghan, we have plated meals.

Morning: We disembark The Ghan upon our arrival into 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 once again meet our Northern Territory Site Coordinator who leads us to ANZAC Hill to give us an overview of Alice Springs. Our field trip this afternoon is to the School of the Air. In Australia’s vast territories, most people live near the coast. Those in the Outback — remote, rural, sparsely populated interior regions — often suffered from a lack of educational opportunities. The School of the Air was established in 1951 as a radio network for two-way teaching and learning broadcasts. New technology and the Internet have since made things much easier. We will visit the School of the Air Visitor Centre to gain an understanding of the techniques employed to provide education across the isolated and remote expanse of the Outback. We head to our hotel for a course overview before lunch.

Lunch: At the hotel, we will have a platter lunch before we check in to our rooms.

Afternoon: We have some free time after we check in to our rooms. We are free to wander downtown and explore independently. Before dinner we come together for a lecture with our local Site Coordinator introducing the culture, art, and heritage of the Aborigines of the Red Centre.

Dinner: At the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, we will have a BBQ dinner. As we dine a local musician will entertain us with ballads and yarns 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: 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 our hotel on our motorcoach.

DAY
21
Desert Wildlife, Flying Doctors, Aboriginal Bush Tucker
Alice Springs
B,L,D
Chifley 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, walking approximately 1 mile; fairly even surfaces, some sand.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

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 Alice Springs Desert Park, we will have a buffet lunch.

Afternoon: Next, we will we travel to Simpson’s Gap in the Western McDonnell Ranges and view the permanent waterhole in its stunning location under the towering cliffs of the Simpson Range. Returning to Alice Springs, we will visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and learn how aircraft and technology are used to deliver medical services in the huge distances of central Australia. Founded in 1928, the RFDS is now one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world, providing primary health care and 24-hour emergency service to people over an area of nearly 3 million square miles (7.3 million square kilometres).

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. We will have dinner at the restaurant where our taste buds will discover for themselves just how contemporary Australian cuisine is utilising traditional Aboriginal flavourings.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening at leisure. Prepare for hotel check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
22
Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park, Sunset at Ayers Rock
Uluru (Ayers Rock)
B,L,D
Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge

Activity note: The drive from Alice Springs to Uluru is about 310 miles (500 kilometres), approximately 6.5 hours. Walking approximately 2 miles in a series of short walks; flat surfaces.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel and board our motorcoach for the journey to Uluru with an excursion to a camel farm en route. We will also 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, we will have a buffet lunch.

Afternoon: We will explore Uluru by motorcoach and on foot. This sacred Aboriginal site is truly awe-inspiring. Our Northern Territory Site Coordinator will explain something of the significance of the Rock to the local Aborigines. We will then transfer to our hotel and check in, leaving our large bags locked on the coach for the night. 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: In the hotel, we will have pre-ordered plated meals.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for hotel check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
23
Kata-Tjuta, Fly to Cairns, Great Barrier Reef Introduction
Cairns
B,L,D
Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Activity note: Walking approximately 2 miles, 1 hour; gently climbing surface. The flight from Uluru to Cairns is approximately 2.5 hours. Qantas typically utilises Boeing 717 aircraft on this route.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We check out of the hotel and travel out 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.

Lunch: Returning to the hotel, we will have pre-ordered plated meals.

Afternoon: Next, we will transfer 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 UNESCO World Heritage listed areas: the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest.

Dinner: On board our flight.

Evening: Upon our arrival, we will be met by our Cairns Site Coordinator and transfer to our hotel, with an introduction to Cairns and our program en route. After check in, we will be joined by a local marine biologist for a lecture on the Great Barrier Reef. He will give us insights into what we might see tomorrow on our study cruise out to this World Heritage listed icon.

DAY
24
Great Barrier Reef Cruise & Snorkel
Cairns
B,L
Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off a large catamaran and on/off a small tender shuttling between the boat and the cay. Walking on a sandy cay, snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkels, masks, flippers provided.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Sure to be one of the highlights of our program, we will have a full day cruise on the Great Barrier Reef where we can view the World Heritage listed coral reefs. We will be able to snorkel among the spectacular coral reef and/or view the reef from a semi-submersible vessel. As UNESCO notes, “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.”

Lunch: Aboard our cruise vessel, we will have a buffet lunch.

Afternoon: Our cruise continues this afternoon. We return to Cairns in the late afternoon.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Esplanade's wide range of restaurants is only a block or two from our hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
25
Kuranda Scenic Railway, Butterflies, Skyrail, Rainforest
Cairns
B,L,D
Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Activity note: Getting on and off a train. Getting on and off gondolas; walking approximately 2 miles; flat surfaces, some stairs at cable car.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will have a lecture by a local expert introducing the second 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 then take our motorcoach to Cairns Railway Station where we board the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway bound for the village of Kuranda, a mountain retreat surrounded by rainforest. Upon our arrival we have an expert-led visit to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, the largest butterfly aviary in Australia, home to many local tropical species including Kuranda's iconic, electric-blue Ulysses Butterfly.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Kuranda, we will have pre-ordered plated meals.

Afternoon: After some time to explore Kuranda independently, we walk to the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to take the stunning cableway journey sweeping above the canopy of the World Heritage-listed 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 reboard our motorcoach and transfer the short distance back to our hotel.

Dinner: In our hotel, we will have our farewell dinner. We will have "farewell to Australia" wine with dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for hotel check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
26
Free Time, Fly to Sydney
Sydney
B,D
Mercure Hotel Sydney Airport

Activity note: The flight from Cairns to Sydney is approximately 3 hours. Qantas typically uses Qantas 737 aircraft on this route.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Free Time. Take this opportunity to see and do more of what interests you most, whether exploring Cairns or final packing. We come together at the hotel and transfer to the airport for our flight to Sydney.

Lunch: On your own, although we will get a light meal on board our flight.

Afternoon: We fly to Sydney this afternoon. Upon our arrival in Sydney, we transfer in our motorcoach to our Sydney Airport hotel in the safe hands of our Group Leader.

Dinner: We have dinner tonight in our Sydney Airport hotel.

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

DAY
27
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check out is by 10:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers. If you are an independent traveler (POP status), see the information “For participants NOT taking the group transfer”.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of our hotel and transfer to Sydney Airport. This concludes our program. 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. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!