Australian Natural Adventures

nature travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific


Custom Australia Tour


August 14 to August 29, 2004


Day 1 – Saturday, August 14: Home City/ Los Angeles / In Flight
Fly from your home city to Los Angeles. After arriving at Terminal 4, exit to the street, turn left and walk the short distance to the Tom Bradley International Terminal (see map) to check in for your Qantas flight, where 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 excellent food and in flight service, so sit back and enjoy the hospitality, meal and a movie. I would, however, recommend having dinner at the airport – there are a wide range of options upstairs, at the end of the ticket counters.        (*D)

Day 2 – Sunday, August 15: Lost In Space
Day lost due to the International Dateline, but regained on the return journey.

Day 3 – Monday, August 16: In flight / Sydney / Alice Springs
Arrive in Sydney this morning, pass through customs and immigration and transfer to the domestic terminal. Here you will catch your flight to the center of Australia, Alice Springs, arriving at lunchtime. Transfer to your hotel, and have the afternoon to relax. Although you will be a little tired, you should resist the temptation to lie down, even for a short while. It's important to stay awake until about 8pm tonight, so you cna have a full night's sleep and wake up in tune with the new time zone. There are a number of things to do in Alice Springs, including The Strehlow Aboriginal collection, Flying Doctor Center, Finke River, and Desert Park Zoo are all possibilities.        (*B,*M)

Day 4 – Tuesday, August 17: Alice Springs / Mereenie /Glen Helen
This morning you are picked up at 8am for a two tour to the center of Australia. You first visit the grave of the Rev John Flynn, founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (and on a completely personal note a minister for a while at my own church in Melbourne, Australia), before moving on to Simpsons Gap and then Standley Chasm for morning tea. From there travel to Ellery Bighole, a magnificent waterhole, before continuing on for lunch at Glen Helen Resort, an old station homestead overlooking the ancient Finke River. After checking into your room for the overnight stay you travel to the Ochre Pits where Aboriginal people collected ochre of many different colors. From there visit Ormiston Gorge before returning to Glen Helen and the large permanent water hole in the Finke River. Dinner tonight is an Aussie barbecue in an outback atmosphere at the resort. What a great place - in the middle of nowhere in the center of the continent of Australia - to celebrate a birthday.     (L,D)

Day 5 – Wednesday, August 18: Glen Helen / Gosse Bluff / Alice Springs
After breakfast depart Glen Helen 8:00am, first stopping at Tyler's Pass to admire the view before continuing on to Gosse Bluff, formed by a comet over 140 million years ago. After morning tea here visit the old German Lutheran Mission at Hermannsburg, an Aboriginal settlement where you tour the art gallery before lunching in the tearooms. From there the road takes you along the Finke River through beautiful gorge country past the Amphitheatre and Cycad Gorge to Palm Valley where ancient palms and cycads thrive, holdovers from a wetter period. After a varied, interesting and informative two days you arrive back in Alice Springs and your hotel at approximately 5:30pm.          (B,L)

Day 6 – Thursday, August 19: Alice Springs / Ayers Rock
This morning is free to finish looking around the Alice. Taxi to the airport for your 12.30pm Qantas QF1941 flight to Ayers Rock, arriving at 1.25pm. This flight gives you a wonderful look at the desert landscape from the air. Here you are transferred to your accommodation, Yulara Resort, a few miles from the base of Uluru, as Ayers Rock is known to the local Aboriginal people (although there is a little controversy as to what Uluru really is referring to, and by which group.) You will have a couple of hours to relax, then about one hour before sunset you will be picked up and transferred to a sand dune a little way from Uluru. Hear 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.     (D)

Day 7 – Friday, August 20: Ayers Rock
This morning you are picked up at 6.15am to explore Uluru itself. After witnessing sunrise on Uluru, and event not to be missed, and a picnic breakfast, you will combine a drive and walk around the base, about 6 miles. Short walks will bring you to this wonderful and powerful place, viewing rock art, waterholes and appreciating the unique flora and fauna of Uluru. A special feature is the appreciation of 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 geology of Uluru and describe how plants and wildlife have adapted and survived in such a forbidding environment. The fascinating relationship of the Anangu people to Uluru is also described. The final part of the morning is a visit to the Uluru and Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre, operated by the local people, with displays, artifacts and souvenirs. You will return to the resort about 10.30am. After lunch you will leave this desert marvel, to fly northeast to Cairns, in the tropical north, arriving about 4.30pm. You will transfer straight to your boat, Taka, and relax for the evening aboard.       (B,D)



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