Australian Natural Adventures

Wildlife, Nature & Soft Adventure Tours

Custom Australia, New Zealand & Pacific tours and travel





October 5 to 29, 2010


Day 1 – Tuesday, October 5: Denver/ Los Angeles / Lost In Space
Depart Detroit on Qantas flight 4700 (operated by American Airlines) at 6.50pm for Los Angeles, where you arrive at 8.10pm. Take the Qantas shuttle, which keeps you in the secure area, to the next door terminal, the Tom Bradley, for your 10.30pm Qantas flight 12 to Sydney. Australia begins the moment you step aboard your Qantas plane. The Australian style is apparent—easy going, casually efficient and very friendly. Qantas is known for its decent food and in flight service, so sit back and enjoy the hospitality, meals and a movie or two. The seats have individual video screens, and a range of entertainment options with the ability to tivo movies. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a movies and a meal.     (*D)

Day 2 – Wednesday, October 6: Lost In Space
Lose today due to the International Dateline, but regain it on your return journey.


Day 3 – Thursday, October 7: LIS / Sydney
Arrive in Sydney at 7.30am this morning, pass through customs and immigration, then taxi to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to continue to explore Sydney. The Botanic Gardens and the Domain are within walking distance of your hotel, although you may prefer to take sydney a taxi, which are usually waiting across the road from your hotel. The gardens offer good views of the harbor, an abundant bird life, and colony of huge grey fruit-bats, whose wingspans are approximately three feet. You can easily see a dozen life birds here in a couple of hours. The Australian Museum, with its impressive collection of Aboriginal artifacts and art, is also close by. Everything is within walking distance of your hotel. Sydney is a good place to buy opals, and both Art of Opal and Altmann & Cherny have a good range of loose and mounted opals in all price ranges. Both have opal displays, and information about mining. Lunch can be taken on a cruise on the harbor, with views of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and boats and ferries sydney opera house at nightof what is often called the most beautiful city harbor in the world. While there are harbor tours, usually with lunch or morning tea, the cheapest way to do this is to Simply buy a return ticket to Manly. The ferries have a snack/meal bar, and you can just get an easy lunch or snack there, sit back, and enjoy the ride. The ferry to Manly passes the Entrance, where the harbor enters the Pacific, can get interestingly rough at times. This ferry will pass the Opera House and various other landmarks, and is also a good run, especially if you time it to return as the sun sets (6.02pm tonight) behind the Opera House and the Bridge as their lights come on. There is a ferry leaving Manly at 5.15pm that gets into Circular Quay at 5.45pm (take the 4.30 ferry to Manly), a little before sunset but still a nice time of evening. You can walk around to the Opera House to watch the sun set. Alternatively enjoy the late afternoon in the Domain and Botanic Gardens, and settle in at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair which has views west towards the Opera House and Bridge.      (*B)


Day 4 – Friday, October 8: Sydney/ Southern Highlands/ Sydney
You are picked up from your hotel and travel to the Southern Highlands, first stopping at Fitzroy Falls, in Morton National Park. Lying in the path of Yarrunga Creek, the Falls drop 80 metres into the Kangaroo River below, and on through the vast Morton National Park. We'll travel for a short distance along a 4WD fire trail before getting out to explore the bush and the spectacular views. The vegetation here ranges from Sclerophyll (gum tree) forest to light scrub, with pockets of temperate rainforest amidst sandstone plateaux. It's a great place to become initiated with the Australian bush, while taking the chance to look and listen for the distinctive 'mimic' calls of the Lyrebird. You may even catch a glimpse of a Platypus in the river here - though we'll have better chances for that later in the afternoon. After lunch we hop back in our 4WD and venture on to the rural community Canyonleigh. This region of the Southern Highlands is still very undeveloped, with no actual towns to speak of - just thousands of acres of farms, uncleared bush and natural hills and canyons. Perfect for experiencing wildlife! Driving along the ridge of a dirt trail we'll venture by foot into the bush to search amongst the forest for Koalas. Arguably one of Australia's most iconic animals, Koalas are elusive and well-hidden from most bushwalkers. With the help of our experienced Guides however, you have a very good chance of seeing them on our bushwalks. You'll easily find evidence of koalas, including their distinctive 2-thumbed scratch marks on towering Grey Gums (one of their favourite food sources), scats (droppings) and perhaps the low growling roar of a male koala. We find that we see koalas on average about half the time - patience and a keen eye are the key! Descending by 4WD into the valleys we head off in search of other wildlife. The afternoon is getting on now, so our chances of seeing the wildlife is getting better. Here we're likely to come across kangaroos and wallabies feeding in the paddocks or amongst the lightly wooded clearings. Emus are a common sight in small groups, and at certain times of the year we'll find Dad tending for his brood of chicks. Wombats predominantly feed in the evening and night, but we'll often see them here during the day, particularly in rainy weather or during leaner times. Other animals like wild deer and foxes are also around, or hopefully we may chance upon an echidna burrowing into the ground. On an authentic wildlife tour we can never guarantee what we'll see, but you're sure not to be disappointed. Continuing on we head to the river in search of one of the world's most paradoxical animals - the platypus. When word first reached London of this strange creature, it was assumed to be a hoax devised by the explorer/scientists of the New World. The time just before dusk is the perfect time to spot this very shy, elusive creature and we know just the spot! We see platypus most tours on our river walk, and it's a thrill every time. For dinner, we call in to a typical Australian inn for - a cosy, fun spot to enjoy a hearty country-style meal in casual surroundings, a definitely rural Australian experience. The dinner menu includes a range of hot meals, with vegetarian options available. Dinner is included in your tour, with drinks of your choice an additional charge. After dinner we head a short distance north in search of nocturnal life. At night, the Australian Bush is alive with activity. Wombats roam the grasslands, kangaroos and wallabies feed amongst the trees, and in the treetops possums, gliders and bats are foraging for food. With the aid of vehicle-mounted spotlights, as well as hand-held spotlights we'll drive and walk the bush tracks looking for the night creatures. A glowing pair of eyes are easily spotted in the spotlight's shine - an exciting find in the tree canopy. Following our night-spotting adventure we return to our vehicle for the 60 minute drive back to Sydney, where you return to your hotel approximately 10pm (varies depending on season).       (B,L,D)

opera house and bridge

Day 5 –Saturday, October 9: Sydney
A free day to continue your exploration of Sydney. The Rocks Market is on today, with a wide range of home-made, commercial goods, food, produce and of course tacky rubbish. The Sydney Aquarium is at Darling Harbour, and can be reached via the free bus that runs up and down George St, a couple of minutes walk from your hotel. If you didn't get to the Botanic Gardens, Domain and Mrs Macquaries chair this is recommended for today. Your hotel can give directions and it's within walking distance.     (B)

Day 6 – Sunday, October 10: Sydney/Ayers Rock
This morning fly to Ayers Rock at 9.30am on Qantas flight 728, arriving at 11.40am, and transfer on the resort shuttle to your hotel, the Outback Pioneer. The flight gives you a wonderful look at the desert landscape from the air. This afternoon see Uluru ansounds of silence dinnerd surrounding desert in a most spectacular way, by helicopter. About one hour before sunset you are picked up and transferred to a sand dune a little way from Uluru. Here a didgeridoo’s sounds greet you, and you watch the sun set on Uluru, one of the most inspiring sights possible. As the colors change, you will be sipping on canapés and champagne. Afterwards sit down, under the southern stars, for a truly memorable dinner. Once dinner is over you have the opportunity to observe the constellations and stars through a telescope, while your guide explains which is which. Don’t forget to ask how to find south, and tell the time, by the stars. You are transferred back to your hotel at about 9.30p.        (B,*M,D)


Day 7 – Monday, October 11: Ayers Rock
This morning you are picked up at 5.45am to explore Uluru itself. After a breakfast witnessing sunrise on Uluru, and event not to be missed, and a picnic breakfast, you walk around the base of Uluru with your naturalist guide. By walking you gain a greater understanding of this wonderful and powerful place, viewing rock art, waterholes and the flora and fauna of Uluru. An added feature of walking is that have more time and opportunity to appreciate the exquisite as well as the dramatic sculpturing of Uluru. There is time to amble, to absorb images and to gain an insight into Uluru's remarkable presence, while your guide will introduce you to the stories of Uluru and the medicines and foods the desert provides. You are returned to the hotel at about 11.30am. At 4pm you are picked up to explore a fascinating and significant formation, Kata Tjuta, or The Olgas. Kata Tjuta is a series of huge rounded rocks hills, and once again an important Aboriginal area. Your guide will show you the area, and describe stories of the Dreamtime relevant to Kata Tjuta (not in full as the stories are only fully available to tribal members), as well as geology and history. The day ends with a sunset some say equal to that on Uluru itself. You return to the resort at about 7.30pm, in time for dinner.       (B)


Day 8 – Tuesday, October 12: Ayers Rock/ Darwin
After perhaps an early walk out to one of the resort viewing points for a last look at Ayers Rock transfer back to the airport to fly to Alice Springs at 10.15am, arriving at 11 am. Change to Qantas flight 1936 for your 12.10pm flight to Darwin, arriving at 2.05pm. On arrival taxi to your hotel and have the afternoon free to explore Darwin. This evening you should watch the sun set at Mindil Beach, throwing light across the Arafura Sea.      (*S)


Day 9 – Wednesday, October 13: Darwin/Kakadu National Park
You are picked up by Denise early this morning and head out Kakadu National Park, stopping along the way at Fogg Dam, wkakadu vistahere although it will be lunchtime can provide excellent birding if the trees are in flower. It’s a wetland area running to flood plains beyond, but with a small forest of Melaleucas and other trees that attract honeyeaters and other smaller birds. Numerous species of egrets and herons are common here, as well as magpie geese and other waterfowl. Rails can also often be seen. Denise has written two wildlife and birding books on Kakadu and the Top End, and no-one has more knowledge of the area. In Kakadu National Park, with your itinerary decided on by Denise’s knowledge of current bird activity. During your time in Kakadu you’ll visit several Aboriginal art sites, such as Nourlangie Rock and Ubirr ; Denise has very close ties with the local Aboriginal people and can give you insight that few others can; you may meet some of here extended family while there (our last guests did).         (B)

Days 10 & 11 –Thursday & Friday, October 14 & 15: Kakadu National Park/ Darwin
Continue to discover Kakadu and nearby areas. At some stage over these days you will take the Yellow Waters boat tour, which is an opportunity to appreciate the wetlands of Kakadu close-up, and see crocodiles and many species of water birds. You return to Darwin Friday evening.        (B)


Day 12 – Saturday, October 16: Darwin/ Cairns
An early start with a return to the airport to fly to Cairns at 6.30am on Qantas flight 1943, arriving at 10.45am. Taxi to your hotel, located right on Cairns Esplanade, with sweeping views across Trinity Harbour and the Coral Sea. Immediately out of the hotel is the part of the Esplanade that first sees the dropping tide, and so the shorebirds for which the Esplanade is famous (it’s one of Australia’s prime shorebirding areas) first gather here, often just a few feet from your position – there’s even benches to sit on. Unfortunately low tide is about 12.30pm today, meaning there will be an expansive mud flat and so most of the birds will be a little distant. However, there should be Australasian Pelicans, egrets and some others nearby, and there are always some friendly birders with scopes willing to share. You can spend a pleasant hour or two picking out the many varieties present, including such US rarities as Curlew Sandpiper and a variety of dotterels. Also look for the large mudskippers, highly adapted fish that wal.k about on the mud, in this same area. Rainbow lorikeets should also make their presence noisily obvious. The rest of the day is free to catch up on laundry and look around this pleasant small city. The excellent Botanic Gardens are a short taxi ride away, and in addition to the tropical plants is excellent for birds.        (*B)


Day 13 –Sunday, October 17: Great Barrier Reef
Today explore one of the natural wonders of the world—Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, a series of reefs extending for about 1,250 miles along the coast of Queensland, nearly to Papua New Guinea. On our trip today you experience two important features—a coral inner-shelf reef, and the sandy vegetated cay formed on one end. Michaelmas Reef lies about 22 miles off the coast just north of Cairns, with Michaelmas Cay on its southern tip. It is an important seabird rookery, which becomes apparent as you approach the mass of birds swirling constantly above the cay. The four primary species are Crested, Lesser-crested and Sooty Terns, and Common Noddy. Lesser Frigatebirds are usually present, occasionally Greater, as are Silver Gulls, Brown Boobies and Ruddy Turnstones. The cay, most of which is off limits, is a National Park within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. However, the birds are very tolerant of visitors and stand thickly along the beach, allowing us to approach them within a few yards and less. Immediately offshore in waist-deep water, the first of the corals can be seen. For those not used to snorkeling, there is no easier introduction—just walk up to your waist, and bend over. Brilliantly colored fish, giant clams, beche de mer and coral outcrops can all be seen. Easy swimming in shallow water brings you over coral “bombies,” heads of coral with their assortment of fishes, and hard and soft corals. Parrot fish glean algae from the coral, and small and medium predators search for food. Schools of fish twist and flash between the outcrops. An occasional sea turtle may be seen. You can also glide around the coral in a glass-bottomed boat, dry and with your ordinary camera, while a marine biologist describes the species seen and some of the processes at work. There are guided snorkel tours. On your trip out, one of the marine biologists explains the development of this and other reef systems and gives us an introduction to many of the animal species that you see. Lunch is a tropical smorgasbord. In the afternoon you return to Cairns, under sail if the winds are right.      (L)



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