Eastern Standard Time GMT +10 NSW, ACT, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania
Central Time GMT +9.5 Northern Territory and South Australia
Western Time GMT +8 Western Australia
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Australia Destination Guide (Download)
About Australia Travel
Sydney: Radiocarbon dating suggests that the Sydney region has been inhabited for at least 30,000 years. The city is the capital of the state of New South Wales. It was established in 1788 with the arrival of the first British settlers, mostly convicts. The city is known for its distinct skyline, which includes the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the waterfront. The metropolitan area is surrounded by national parks, and has many bays, rivers and inlets as well as a number of excellent beaches. The historic area known as The Rocks takes in the oldest quarter of Sydney, where early convict settlements began. Cobblestone lanes, old neighborhoods, shops, pubs, and charming churches weave a rich tapestry of life, both past and present. Sydney has a wide range of shops, restaurants, cultural attractions and so much more.
Uluru (Ayers Rock): This giant rock is famous for its theatrical sunrises and sunsets, when the rock glows a dozen shades of red and orange. One can understand why this place and the nearby Olgas are considered sacred by aboriginal people. During a tour, an aboriginal guide takes travelers on a short ‘walkabout,’ retelling creation stories from a culture that harks back uncounted generations.
Cairns, Great Barrier Reef & North Queensland: The area was first sighted by Captain James Cook in 1770, and settled in 1876 to serve as a stop for miners heading to the Hodgkinson River goldfields. Two of Australia’s prized natural treasures, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, are here: Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, which is the largest unbroken tract of rainforest left in Australia. More than 110 million years old, it is likely the oldest rainforest in the world. Some 430 species of birds nest here, including 13 species found nowhere else. The forest contains one third of the frog, reptile, and marsupial species; and 65 percent of bat and butterfly species in the country. The Great Barrier Reef is the most acclaimed scuba diving site in the world. It is the largest coral reef system on the planet, with over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for 1,600 miles. It is the world’s biggest single structure composed of living organisms. Like reefs throughout the world, it faces serious challenges due to overfishing, runoff, pollution and other problems. Yet, exploring this marine world remains a rare privilege.
Melbourne: About 47 years after the first European settlement in Australia, Melbourne was founded by free settlers in 1835 as a pastoral settlement around the Yarra River. By the 1850s gold rush, it was already a major metropolis, becoming the second largest in the entire British Empire. It remains a major center of commerce, industry and cultural activity. It is home to many of the nation’s most significant cultural and sporting events. Melbourne is noted for its mix of Victorian and contemporary architecture, an extensive tram network, gardens, museums, galleries and shops. Built in 1878, Queen Victoria Market is a vibrant crossroads of cultures, housed in several historic buildings. Phillip Island is great fun at dusk when a parade of penguins return to burrows on the island.
Adelaide, Barossa Valley & Kangaroo Island: Adelaide is the coastal capital of the state of South Australia. Founded in 1836, it is close to the River Torrens, traditionally inhabited by the Kaurna peoples. Adelaide is known for its festivals as well as for its wine region, arts and sports. Barossa Valley has the world’s oldest Shiraz vineyards, some dating back to the 1840s. More than 600 grape growers, some fifth and sixth generation Barossa families, supply more than 20 percent of Australia’s wine. Just off the coast, Kangaroo Island encompasses alluring beaches, forests, desert dunes and farmland. Local farmers produce wine, sheep’s milk, cheese and Liguran honey. The west side of the island provides habitat for penguins and protects a rare species of seals.
Alice Springs: Alice Springs is the second largest town in the Northern Territory, close to the geographic center of Australia. It was once the land of the Arrernte people, who inhabited this part of the central desert for more than 50,000 years. The town was originally developed as a station on the overland telegraph line, linking Adelaide to Darwin and Great Britain. Alice Springs’ desert lifestyle has inspired some unique events such as the Camel Cup and the Henley-on-Todd Regatta, featuring ‘boat’ races on a waterless riverbed.
Blue Mountains National Park: Part of the Greater Blue Mountains UNESCO World Heritage Area, the park protects rare plants and isolated animal populations tucked away in its gorges. Deep in bush country, it is home to kangaroos, kookaburras and parrots. Leura village thrives in the heart of the park. Spectacular Grose Valley is Australia’s answer to the Grand Canyon. The area offers nature walks, spa treatments, shops and galleries, and a scenic railway ride.
Hunter Valley: North of Sydney, Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine region and boasts more than 120 wineries, boutique shops, art galleries and excellent restaurants. The first vines were planted here in the 1830s. Its world-class Semillon has been called “Australia’s unique gift to the world.”
Tasmania: Tasmania sits about 150 miles off the southern coast of Australia, separated by Bass Strait. It is home to some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world. A stand of Huon pines at Mount Read is estimated to be more than 10,000 years old. Rugged Freycinet Peninsula possesses one of Australia’s finest stretches of coastal scenery, with stunning views across the long curve of Great Oyster Bay. Freycinet National Park’s jagged pink and grey granite peaks soar straight out of the water. Cradle Mountain National Park is surrounded by stands of beech, rainforest and alpine lands. Icy streams cascade down the mountains. Settled in 1803, Hobart is Australia’s smallest capital city and one of its most charming. Many of its convict-built sandstone buildings have been preserved. Port Arthur has the impressive architecture, delightful gardens and remnants of an old prison to explore.
Western Australia & Perth: Clean and green, superbly situated, Perth embraces both banks of the dramatic Swan River estuary. This is a city of friendly charm and lovely views. The area encompasses Fremantle, a historic seaside town of convict history, modern ocean-racing yachts, terraced houses, museums and galleries set between the Indian Ocean and the Swan River. In contrast, dramatic Pinnacle Desert has strange limestone pillars rising out of the sand. Margaret River wine region has some 60 wineries. The region of Margaret River area has evolved into the ultimate smorgasbord of fine wine, good food and spectacular scenery.
Arnhem Land, Kimberleys & Uluru: This massive region encompasses some of the most dramatic landscapes and aboriginal sites in Australia. Arnhem Land, Northern Territory is set amid a quarter of a million acres of pristine wilderness, and is part of the Aboriginal homeland. Garig Gunak Barlu National Park is one of the most remote and restricted areas. Entry is limited and by permit only. Mt. Borradaile is known for its prehistoric rock art. Cobourg Marine Park is home to an amazing community of marine species. Cobourg Peninsula is fringed with magnificent white sand beaches. The rugged, wild Kimberley lands are rich with wildlife. Chamberlain Gorge waterhole is set against a towering escarpment. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, in the center of Australia, is noted for Uluru (Ayers Rock) and, Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), both sacred aboriginal sites. Our tour in this region was selected as one of 2008 National Geographic Traveler’s “50 Trips of a Lifetime.”
Suggested Australia Tour Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive Sydney, Australia
Day 2: Sydney
Day 3: Sydney
Day 4: Sydney / Ayers Rock
Day 5: Ayers Rock
Day 6: Ayers Rock / Cairns
Day 7: Cairns - Great Barrier Reef
Day 8: Cairns & Kuranda
Day 9: Cairns / Depart
Custom Tour Options
Melbourne (5 days)
This historic city hosts many national cultural and sporting events. Phillip Island protects an established colony of penguins.
Adelaide, Barossa Valley & Kangaroo Island (6 days)
The region is known for its wine, festivals, arts and sports. Kangaroo Island offers a great natural escape.
Alice Springs (2 days)
The red heart of Australia is richly told in its aboriginal sites and pioneer settler towns and ranches.
Blue Mountains & Hunter Valley (4 days)
The mountains’ striking geology and varied habitats protect rare species of plants and isolated animal populations. Hunter Valley has more than 120 established vineyards.
Great Barrier Reef (4 days)
The largest coral reef system on Earth offers some of the most compelling and rewarding scuba and snorkel adventures.
Tasmania (5 days)
Rainforest, alpine heathlands, icy streams, primal pines, glacial lakes and likable towns combine to make this island intriguing.
Western Australia (3 days)
Magnificent seascapes, stark desert terrain, modern ocean-racing yachts, and the lovely town of Perth are just a few of the area’s gems.
Arnhem Land, Kimberleys & Uluru (7 days)
Aboriginal mythologies and sacred sites marry with the rugged landscapes of interior Australia.