Australian Natural Adventures

Custom Australia, New Zealand & Pacific tours and travel




diver and sea fans




Day 1 – Sunday, October 11: Seattle/Los Angeles / Lost In Space
Begin your South Pacific journey by checking your bags to Brisbane and receiving your Qantas boarding passes in Seattle and then flying to Los Angeles on Alaska flight 476 (operated by Alaska qantas planeAirlines) at 6 pm this evening, arriving in Los Angeles at 8.37pm. Exit the Alaska Terminal 3 and walk to the right past the Tom Bradley International Terminal to the American Airlines Terminal 4, the next one along. Australia begins when you step aboard Qantas flight 16 departing at 11.20pm. The Downunder style is apparent—easy going, casually efficient and very friendly. Qantas is known for its food and service, so sit back and enjoy dinner and a movie. However, as this meal will be served about an hour and a half to two hours after take-off, it will be very late, and you may want to eat before boarding -even Qantas food is not something to hang around for. The best variety of restaurants is found at the rear of the Tom Bradley Terminal. You may want to put a prepared Do Not Disturb sign on your seat and go to sleep. If you do want to stay up wine, beer and spirits are included with the meal, and there are over 400 video, movie, tv and game options on the tivo-style entertainment system, linked to the seat-back screen in front of you.        (*D)


Day 2 –Monday, October 12: Lost In Space
Lose today due to the International Dateline, but regain it on your return journey.


Day 3 – Tuesday, October 13: LIS /Brisbane / Cairns
cairns esplanadeArrive in Brisbane, Australia at 6.05am this morning. Pass through customs and immigration then transfer domestic terminal on the train for your 7.45am flight to Sydney (show your international ticket to avoid paying a fare). There is a desk to the right after you exit customs for luggage transfer and re-check. In our experience this can get crowded, so it is strongly suggested that you hustle off the plane to through customs and to the counter as quickly as possible. Once there be pushy if necessary to ensure you get to your next flight, Qantas 926 departing at 1.30pm. You arrive in Cairns at 3.35pm where you are met and transferred to your accommodation, a 2 bedroom apartment on the Cairns foreshore.  The rest of the day is free to look around this small tropical city.  Barnacle Bill's, on the Esplanade, is a good place to try Australian seafood, recommended is barramundi and the off-puttingly named Bugs.       (*B)


Day 4 – Wednesday, October 14: Great Barrier Reef
Today you are introduced to one of the natural wonders of the world—Australia’s outer Great Barrier Reef, a series of reefs extending for about 1,250 miles along the coast of Queensland, nearly to Papua New Guinea. Your boat today is a snorkel and dive catamaran, which will take you to at least two separate places on the reef, including diver with fan coarlaMichaelmas Cay, home to tens of thousands of swirling – and confiding - seabirds. You are picked up from your hotel about 7.30alongnose butterfly fishm, or you can walk, and transferred to the marina to begin your Reef day. Don't forget your towel (the hotel has special reef towels available), hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Most of the Great Barrier Reef, including the parts visited today, is multiple-use Marine Park. Brilliantly colored fish, giant clams, beche de mer and coral outcrops can all be seen. Easy swimming in 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. Lunch is a tropical smorgasbord aboard. There is time after your return to visit Cairns downtown, for souvenirs and perhaps a meal at Ochre Restaurant, specializing in native Australian foods. This unique concept has introduced a whole new range of tastes to the Australian palate.     (L)



king parrotDays 5 -Thursday, October15: Cairns / Atherton Tablelands / Cairns
This morning is free to look around Cairns. At 2pm afternoon you will be picked up for treekangarooan afternoon/evening tour to the rainforest of the Atherton Tablelands. These World Heritage listed rainforests, at an elevation of about 2,500 ft, are home to some of Australia’s rarest and most unusual animals, including four kinds of very restricted possums, gliders, and the definitely weird tree kangaroo, a kangaroo which has adapted to a life in the trees, rather than on the ground. Your guide will take you to a small stream to wait for platypus, the egg-laying mammal unique to Australia, all the time describing the plants and dynamics of the surrounding rainforest. A variety of rainforest birds and other animals, perhaps including the leaf-tailed gecko - eight platypusinches long and colored and shaped like a piece of bark - will be found and seen. After dinner out, a couple of hours will be spent spotlighting for nocturnal animals, always a highlight of the day. The return to Cairns will be late, around midnight, but the long day will remain in your memory for years to come.    (D)



Day 6 - Friday, October 16: Cairns /Kuranda /Cairns
Today learn about Aboriginal culture at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, and visit Kuranda. You are picked up to kuranda scenic railstart with a scenic train ride up the range behind Cairns to Kuranda, where you visit the excellenttjapukai Butterfly Sanctuary. Return from Kuranda by the Skyway cablecar, brushing the top of the rainforest trees and stopping for a boardwalk along the way. Adjacent to the cablecar base is Tjapukai, a tourist concept begun and remaining today a means of introducing non-aboriginal people to the world’s oldest living culture, while at the same time showing by example to the Aboriginal people themselves that their culture, often ignored and looked down upon by its own people, is of great value and interest to others throughout Australia and the world. Through dance, theatre, and traditional activities including spear and boomerang throwing, food and medicinal plants identification, and shelter construction, there is much to learn about Aboriginal life. At the end of the day you will be returned to your hotel.     (L)


potato codDay 7 – Saturday, October 17: Great Barrier Reef
Another day out on the Great Barrier Reef, this time to the outer reef with Tusa. Although there is considerable overlap between the middle reef and the outer reef, there is also a noticeable difference in the animals seen, including more larger fish. Watching the low surf pound on the very edge of the reef is also a memorable sight to take home. Once again a seafood lunch is provided, and a couple of different sites will be visited.        (L)


yarra river melbourne victoriaDay 8– Sunday, October 18: Cairns /Melbourne
After a free morning in Cairns fly to Melbourne on Qantas at 12.45pm, arriving at 4.50pm. You are met and transferred into the city and your apartment style hotel for the next two nights, Mantra on Russell. The hotel is centrally lcoated, and tehre are many dining opportunities within a few minutes walk.       (*M)


echidna guides victoria Day 9 – Monday, October 19: Brisbane Ranges
This morning you are picked up at 9.15am by Echidna Walkabout for a full day outing to the hills and plains wgrey kangaroosest of Melbourne to see wild kangaroos and koalas, abundant birdlife and discover a rich Aboriginal heritage. You’ll learn about native animals and plants both in the open-range grasslands of Serendip Sanctuary on the Western Plains and in the bush lands of Brisbane Ranges National Park. Within easy reach from the centre of tbruiser the koalahe city of Melbourne, these environments provide the perfect introduction to Australia's unique wildlife and indigenous culture. You’ll see and walk amongst Grey Kangaroos in large free ranging groups, and find emus, wallabies, koalas and other unique Australian wildlife. A delicious bush lunch is provided. The Brisbane Ranges are home to a large and healthy population of wild koalas and we rarely miss out on multiple sightings of these delightful creatures. In additional to the wildlife of the region during your journey your guide will share with you the great significance of the Western Plains to Aboriginal people. Your guide is familiar with the Great Ocean Road, and you can pick her brains for your drive on Wednesday.      (L)


Day 10– Tuesday, October 20: Melbourne

captain cooks cottage Fitzroy Gardens A free morning to discover Melbourne’s charms, possibly including Fitzroy Gardens, where Captain Cook’s Cottage now stands. This is the actual home Captain James Cook grew up in England; early in the 20C it was carefully takflinders st station and tram melbourneen apart, shipped to Melbourne and reassembles in the park. The National Gallery of Victoria’s Federation Square Ian Potter Gallery of Australian Art is well worth visiting. Everywhere is just a few minutes away by the upenguins at Philip Islandbiquitous Melbourne trams, including the free city loop tram. About lunchtime pick up your rental car and park it at the hotel. This afternoon be at Federation Square at 2.45pm to meet the coach for your penguin tour to Phillip Island. The drive to the island takes about 1.5 hours, where you'll first have time to look around the interpretive center. A little before dusk you'll walk down to the Penguins Plus area on the beach, where a ranger awaits to anwer any questions. over the next hour or so watch as the Fairy Penguins, the world's smallest, come out of the waves, cross the beach and into the dunes to their nest burrows. many will walk right by the low fence you are looking over. Return to your hotel tonight.


Day 11– Wednesday, October 21: Melbourne/ Portland
gray kangaroo anglesea golf course Melbourne is very difficult to drive in thanks to their infamous "hook turns", so follow the map provided to get to the Southeastern Freeway without encountering any. Drive to Geelong, then down to the coast at Torquay. At Torquay you'll start the Great Ocean Road (although the cliff-hugging parts are further along), stopping at the Otway Ranges atwelve apostles, great ocean roadnd many other interesting places. A short while after leaving Torquay you'll reach Anglesea, where you begin the photogenic GOR proper as it winds its way around the cliffs overlooking the Southern Ocean. However, make a detour at Anglesea to the golf course, where Grey Kangaroos laze about on the fairways. Aotway fallsbout two-thirds of the way along you'll reach the Otway National Park, where you can take some excellent short walks in the forest, and may seen a variety of wildlife including wallabies and koalas (this is a place you shold ask your echinda guide for tips about). At the end of the road, or at least your journey today, are the offshore sandstone stacks know at London Bridge – fallen down now, just like in the nursery rhyme – and the Twelve Apostles, again due to erosion and possibly original poor arithmetic, just the seven apostles. Portland is your stop tonight, at Victoria House, an 1855 bluestone mansion and now a comfortable B&B.      (B)


Day 12 – Thursday, October 22: Portland / Padthaway
n aracoorte caves fossil Continue this morning towards Adelaide. You continue along the coast, then swing inland through Mt Gambier and the Coonawarra wine district to Padthaway, a well-known winery and your accommodation tonight. There are very interesting caves near Naracoorte along the way. Today is an easy day, to allow you to enjoy the countryside, perhaps a stroll on the beach, and asouth australian wine visit to a winery other than your hotel - there are a number around Coonawarra and Wrattonbully, most producing award-winning and sought after wines. The non-stop sheep on roaddriving time is only about 3 to 4 hours - it's only 150 miles - so you won't feel rushed. Although New Zealand is known for its sheep - as you'll see later in your trip - Australia has plenty too, and you'll be seeing them on your journey today. On smaller back roads they may be mustered along the road itself, in which case your only choice is to sit and wait for them to pass. If you approach from behind the mob, slowly come up and inch your way through them. Padthaway is not close to any restaurants, and we suggest dining there - it is well priced for quality and interesting food. Dinner does have to be pre-ordered to allow them to get your ingredients in fresh. The food is very good. The menu can be seen on website, and as it does change through the year ordering should be left until shortly before you leave. Although the site says all guests have to take the same items, we've found this not to be the case if a request is made.     (B)

Day 13 – Friday, October 23: Padthaway / Adelaide
A free day of exploring the region, finally arriving in Adelaide. Your drive today can be either more direct, heading north to the main highway and on to Adelaide, with perhaps a stop in the Adelaide Hills wine district. The the coorong south australianon-cafe cottage adelaidestop drive should take about 3.5 hours. A more scenic route crosses to the coast to the Coorong, a long spit of sandy barrier island and sheltered inshore area, often rich with birdlife. This will add an hour, perhaps a bit more, to the journey. Your hosts at Padthaway can also make suggestions as to places of interest. Your accommodation tonight is in a heritage house in North Adelaide; the Chapel and Champagne suites which comprise one cottage. This is just a few minutes from downtown, with a free bus that rotates through the day between North Adelaide and the city proper. Within a close stroll of your cottage are a number of restaurants and cafes, including some of Adelaide's best. This leafy suburb is a more pleasant area to stay than the typical city street of other Adelaide hotels.      (B)


Day 14 – Saturday, October 24: Adelaide
aboriginal bag and bark art After a probable easy lie-in after your driving, and hotel changing of the last three days you spend today getting to know Adelaide. At some time today you need to drop your car off at the Avis city office, so today would be the best day to look further afield. This charming small city has numerous galleries and interesting sandstone architecture. Recommended is Tandanya, the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, with work space, meeting area south australia museum aboriginal boomerangsand gallery. There are often Aboriginal craftspeople working here, and at noon today there is a cultural performance. The South Australian Museum, next to the Art Gallery, has a Tom Roberts Breakawayfine collection of Aboriginal artifacts and art considered to be the best in Australia; free guided tours are available that explain the artifacts seen. The adjacent Art Gallery has a nice, though small, collection of Australian art. The small size of the collection allows comparisons of the same artists’ work as the sense of color and light of Australia overtakes the preconceived European style learned in England. Virtually everything in Adelaide city is close enough to walk to in the city, but there is also a good public transport system, including the new city tram.      (B)



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(B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner; M: Meal; S: Snack; * In flight meal)


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