Australian Natural Adventures

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


Custom Itinerary for Jeff, Kay & Katy Wise


September 2006

Day 1 - Friday, September 15: Birmingham / Los Angeles / Lost In Space

Fly from Birmingham at noon on American flight AA569 via DFW to Los Angeles, arriving at 4.Qantas logo55pm. As your 11.55pm Qantas flight QF150 departs from the American terminal, you do not need to transfer. However, we suggest that you have dinner prior to boarding, despite the offered meal on board – it will be very late. The Tom Bradley International Terminal, a couple of minutes walk to your left when you exit the American teQantas planerminal, has a far better selection of restaurants than the American Terminal. They are located at the back of the terminal, upstairs, There is also a reasonable bookshop near the terminal entrance. Qantas planes are fully equipped with individual seatback TVs, movies etc, but we suggest asking for a Do Not Disturb sticker, and going to sleep.           (*M)

Day 2 - Saturday, September 16: Lost In Space
Lose today due to the International Dateline, but regain it on your return journey.               

Day 3 - Sunday, September 17: LIS / Sydney
You arrive in Sydney at 7.30am this morning, pass through customs and immigration then transfer to your hotel Sydney Harbor Bridge Australia, the Harbour Rocks, located in the RocksSydney Australia restaurant meal, the historical heart of Sydney. As well as a good range of interestings shops, some of Sydney's oldest and most colorful pubs, and best restaurants, are found within a ten minute stroll. Australia has developed its own cuisine, a far cry from the stodgy English-based fare of earlier years. Restaurants featuring a fusion of Asian, European and even native Australian food abound, often featuring the superbly fresh fish abundantly available from Australia's long coastline. Due to your early arrival your hotel room may not be available, however you can leave your bags there, and freshen up. The Rocks Markets are on today, in the streets near your hotel, and offer a variety of things to buy and see, from tack to treasure. Lunch can be taken on a cruise on the harbor, with views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, as well as the boats and ferries of what is often called the most beautiful city harbor in the world. While there are Manly Sydney Australiatours that utilize the ferries, usually with lunch or morning tea, the cheapest way to do this is to simply buy a return ticket to one of the up-harbour places such as Homebush (where the Olympics were held). You’ll see a map of all the places they go at Circular Quay. The ferries have Syndey harbor Ferry Australiaa snack/meal bar, and you can just get an easy lunch or snack there, sit back, and enjoy the ride. The ferry to Manly goes in the other direction, and as it passes the Entrance, where the harbor enters the boomerang AustraliaPacific, can get interestingly rough at times. This ferry will pass the Opera House and various other landmarks, and is also a good run. Return to your hotel for a well-deserved night's rest, but make sure you are not tempted to lie down before about 8pm. You need to stay awake all today, then sleep on Sydney's time, to best adjust to the new time zone.                   (*B)

Day 4 - Monday, September 18: Sydney
Discover Sydney today, a wonderfully cosmopolitan city. Just a short walk from your sydney Opera House & Harbor Bridge Australiahotel (the desk can give you directions) is the office of The Rocks Walking ToursCadmans Cottage The Rocks Sydney Australia, from where you will start your 10.30am easy 90-minute walking tour of this historic and vibrant area. Many of the buildings date from the very first years of the settlement, and are convict-built. You will get a good insight to the history of Sydney, and Australia. The rest of the day is free to explore this vibrant and friendly city. In addition to great shops to buy the needed souvenirs and gifts, just a short walk is the Botanic Gardens and the Domain, which has good views of theflying fox sydney Australia harbour, an abundant bird life, and a colony of huge grey fruit-bats, whose wingspans are approximately three feet. The Australian Museum, with its impressive collection of Aboriginal artefacts and art, is Sydney Opera House Australiaalso close by. The Taronga Zoo is a ferry ride across the harbour, and a lunch or dinner cruise is a good way to truly appreciate this water-side city. During today or tomorrow you may wish to take a guided tour of the Opera House; tours leave on the half hour from 9.30am until 4.45pm. This can be followed by dinner and a show, or just a show, in one of the Opera House theatres, depending on your tastes. A calendar of events can be found here. If you are interested in possibly buying an opal, we recommblack opal Queensland Australiaend Art of Opal. We’ve enclosed a discount brochure. As there is also a good place for this in Cairns, and you will be returning to Sydney, you may wish to look at what’s on offer at Art of Opal, then check Cairns, before making any decisions. The National Opal Collection here also has an interesting display of the geology of opal (the place in Cairns also has a display and short film about opal mining). Everything is within walking distance of your hotel, although the Museum is a little far and you may wish to take the bus or a train - Sydney is extremely well-serviced by buses and the underground.             (B)

Day 5 - Tuesday, September 19: Sydney / Cairns
This morning taxi back to the airport for your 8.05am flight to Cairns, arriving at 11.10am.pelicans Cairns Esplanade Queensland Australia On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel, Rydges Tradewinds Esplanade. You can walk out of the rear of the hotel to the Esplanade, which runs along the bayfront. It is a very short and pleasant walk through the new Esplanade Fogarty Park to the main downtown area, past cafes, shops and restaurants.  After freshening up taxi to Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, a little over ten minutes away. Cairns Esplanade Queensland Australia  - photo courtesy cairnsesplanade.comAlthough designed as a tourist venture, the 16 year old Tjapukai concept began and remains 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 and theatre, and traditional activities including spear and boomerang throwing, food and medicinal plants identification, and shelter construction, there is much to learn here about Aboriginal life. To fit everything in, you should arrive by about 1pm. On arrival reception will give you a timed plan to work with so you don’t miss anything; expect to spend about three hours here. Once again just taxi back to your hotel. There’s a good place to learn about and buy opals at Clifton Beach, a brochure with discounts is enclosed. On the way back from Tjapukai you could go there rather than your hotel; they will be happy to run you back to your hotel (even if you don’t buy anything!) Take your air tickets and passport to buy duty free. Recommended dinner tonight is Barramundi, a delicious Northern Australian fish. (*M)

Day 6 - Wednesday, September 20: Great Barrier Reef
Today you are introduced to 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 coral cay Great Barrier Reef Queensland AustraliaQueensland, nearly to Papua New Guinea. On your 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 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. Immediately offshore in waist-deep water, the first of the corals can be seen. For those not used to snorkelling, 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 us 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 coral reef fish Great Barrier Reef Australiaoccasional sea turtle may be seen. After about an hour at the cay, you continue a little further out on the reef, anchor, and explore a true patch coral reef. There are guided glass-bottom tours led by a marine biologist, who explains the development of this and other reef systems and gives us an introduction to many of the animal species that you see. If you are interested you may take a non-certified introductory scuba dive (additional expense). Lunch is a tropical smorgasbord. In the afternoon you return to Cairns, under sail if the winds are right. Your transport to the reef is a 82 foot motor-sailing catamaran. There is time after your return this evening to visit Cairns, or you may wish to relax poolside at the hotel.                        (L)



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