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Australia: Wildlife Tour (20 days)

Baby koalaJoin our annual Australia Natural History Adventure. Australia, a country that is a continent, offers visitors a wealth of natural, cultural and adventure activities.

This great land mass has vegetation and wildlife shaped by millions of years of isolation. Strange survivors are found nowhere else on earth. Nearly one-half of Australia's 750 species of birds are endemic as are most of the mammals. From Eucalyptus forest to tropical rainforest, from mountains to deserts, from rugged coastlines to turquoise seas brimming with corals and marine life equally unique and plentiful.

We will experience cosmopolitan centres like Melbourne and Adelaide and journey back in time to the realm of the Aborigines who migrated to Australia from Southeast Asia 40,000 years ago.

Each region will have its own specialist local guide. The Queensland portion will be escorted by Australian Naturalist Kelvin Marshall. A wildlife guide with more than 20 years of experience, Kelvin is knowledgeable, personable and enthusiastic about all aspects of nature, travel and photography.

Alice Springs resident and experienced escort Jim Lawrence will guide the Ayers Rock/Kings Canyon/desert areas. Local specialists have been set up for Kangaroo Island and the South Australia/Victoria journeys.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Tropical North with the wildlife rich Atherton Tablelands, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef
  • Australian Outback with Ayers rock, Alice Springs, Kings Canyon
  • Legendary Ghan luxury train journey through the outback to Adelaide
  • South Australia's wine, culture and the unique wildlife of Kangaroo Island
  • Great Ocean Road - 550 km of spectacular coastline
  • Grampian Mountains
  • Gardens and culture in Melbourne

EXTENSIONS

  • Tasmania
  • Sydney
  • New Zealand
  • South Pacific Islands

2017 Departure Dates & Cost

October 24 - November 12, 2017
$ 7,425 CAD/$ 6,575  USD per person

Single supplement: $ 1,750 CAD
Does not include domestic flight Carins/Ayers Rock which is usually booked in conjunction with International tickets
We can quote International airfare from major cities in North America - please inquire.

DAILY DEPARTURES:  We are also able to assist with Australian tour modules in all areas of the country or book Australia/New Zealand, or Australia/South Pacific packages.  Ask us for details.


Itinerary

TRAVEL TIME: DEPARTURE TO CAIRNS: CROSSING THE INTERNATIONAL DATELINE
Pre-tours available

START OF TOUR
DAY 1 ARRIVE CAIRNS (Inflight meals,D)
Arrive Cairns after crossing the International dateline. Transfer to the hotel. Balance of the day at leisure. A welcome dinner is included at the hotel. Accommodation: CAIRNS COLONIAL CLUB (1 night)

DAY 2 CAIRNS/ATHERTON TABLELANDS (B,L,D)
Departure to the the Atherton tablelands, a relatively flat area with deep gorges, tropical rainforests, waterfalls and crater lakes. As well as a scenic wonder, the region is rich in flora and fauna. We travel the scenic Gilles Highway making stops enroute at points of interest including Cathedral Fig Forest. A myriad of plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals are found in the region including green ring-tailed possum, long-nosed bandicoots, leaf-tailed geckos, bioluminescent mushrooms and various tree frogs.  Accommodation: ATHERTON BLUE GUM B & B/SUMMIT RAINFOREST RETREAT (3 Nights)

DAY 3 ATHERTON TABLELANDS (B,L,D)
An early morning excursion to look for wild platypus in the tableland creeks. This unique egg-laying endemic mammal has a duck-bill, beaver like tail and webbed feet. Breakfast followed by morning ecology/wildlife walks learning and witnessing some of Australia's unique flora and fauna.

DAY 4 GRANITE GORGE (B,L)
Departure to the Mareeba Wetlands. After lunch, we depart for Granite Gorge where we will likely encounter wallabies and kangaroos.

DAY 5 ATHERTON/CAIRNS (B)
After breakfast we head to Kuranda "The Village in the Rainforest" and visit the butterfly sanctuary. In the afternoon we take a scenic rail journey back to the coast. We begin in the highlands and descend past waterfalls and cane fields to end the train trip in Cairns. Accommodation: CAIRNS COLONIAL CLUB (2 nights)

DAY 6 GREAT BARRIER REEF (B,L)
Today we will be taken to the wharf to spend the day on the Great Barrier Reef. One of the world's largest sailing catamaran takes us to Michaelmas Cay on the Outer Great Barrier Reef. On the way out there will be on-board educational presentations by trained biologists. Once at the reef, there is a coral cay to wander about and a choice of ways to explore the reef, guided snorkelling, optional scuba diving, or a semi-submersible for fish and coral viewing. A wonderful seafood lunch is provided before returning to Cairns under sail. Do not forget to bring your bathers, towel, sun hat, and sun screen.

DAY 7 CAIRNS/AYERS ROCK (B)
Transfer to the airport this morning, for your flight from Cairns to Ayers Rock for a 4 night Outback and desert experience.

This afternoon we travel into the harsh outback on a visit to the massive series of domes known as Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). Photographic stops are made on the way to the awesome Olga Gorge. The walking trail through Olga Gorge follows the natural creek between the two domes of Kata Tjuta. The rock face shows the conglomerate formation, different to that of Ayers Rock. Spend some time exploring the gorge and the unusual rock formations. In the late afternoon, arrive at the sunset viewing area to witness the colour changes as the sun sets on Ayers Rock. Accommodation: OUTBACK PIONEER HOTEL (1 night)

DAY 8 AYERS ROCK TO KINGS CANYON (B,L)
Learn the real meaning and history of Uluru directly from local Aboriginal Guides. No visit to Uluru (Ayers Rock) is complete without sharing in the knowledge held by local Aboriginal people (Anangu). Anangu believe their ancestors have lived at Uluru since the beginning of time. They have developed an intricate understanding of the environment, flora, fauna and desert survival. Tours are conducted in comfortable air-conditioned vehicles with a dedicated driver, Aboriginal guides, and Aboriginal language interpreter ensuring you have the best in information and comfort available.

This unique cultural experience begins with sunrise. Tour around the base of Uluru, enjoy a restaurant breakfast with a panoramic view of Uluru from the magnificent Uluru Cultural Centre restaurant. Browse the art galleries, shops and interpretive displays, before joining Aboriginal guides on the Liru Tour. Watch as the ancient skills such as making Kiti (glue), starting a fire without matches and carving wooden implements with only a sharpened stone. Hold a spear and spear-thrower and imagine you are on the hunt; learn an intriguing trick for catching emus and hear the tragic fate of Lungkata, the emu thief, whose body we see laying at the base of Uluru.

Lunch will be included at the Outback Pioneer hotel before we continue to Watarrka National Park, featuring the spectacular Kings Canyon. With over 600 species of plant, Kings Canyon is botanically the richest region in all of arid Australia. Accommodation: KINGS CANYON RESORT (1 night)

DAY 9 KINGS CANYON (B)
Enjoy a guided walk to the rim of Kings Canyon and through the remarkable formations of the lush 'Garden of Eden'. For those wishing an easier hike, a walk along the canyon floor. Depart for our 5 hour drive to Alice Springs. Accommodation: AURORA ALICE SPRINGS 2 nights

DAY 10 WESTERN MACDONALD RANGES/ORMISTON GORGE (B,L)
Today, enjoy a full day of touring through the Western MacDonnell Ranges stopping at the spectacular rock formations of Simpsons Gap & Standley Chasm. Continue westward to Ellery Creek Gorge before arriving at Ormiston Gorge, known for its colourful stone. Time at the picturesque waterhole. Lunch will be at Glen Helen Homestead. Return to Alice Springs

DAY 11 THE GHAN TRAIN TO ADELAIDE (B)
A morning visit to the impressive Alice Springs Desert Park. On arrival at the Desert Park, you will be taken on a guided walk to experience the main features of the Park, including the nocturnal house, raptor feeding, bird aviaries and a spectacular video presentation. Early this afternoon, we board the legendary "Ghan" train to Adelaide, one of the world's great trains with first class, comfortable sleeping accommodation, dining, lounge and entertainment cars. After a relaxing dinner, the rhythm of the rails lulls us to sleep as we race overland through the vast Australian outback. Accommodation: GHAN TRAIN - Sleeper (1 night)

DAY 12 ARRIVE ADELAIDE
As the sun rises the "Ghan" arrives in Adelaide. We will be met at the train station and taken to the McClarenvale winery region for a tasting and visit. Founded in 1836 by English settlers, this beautiful city on the Torrens River is known for its festivals, churches and was well-designed to ensure parks and greenery were never far away. The entire metropolitan area is book-ended by the rolling hills of the Mt Lofty Ranges and the deep blue waters of Gulf St. Vincent. Accommodation: SAVILLE PARK SUITES (2 nights)

DAY 13 ARRIVE ADELAIDE (B)
Morning city tour. Visit the botanical gardens. See stunning views over the city from Montefiore Hill. Visit Victoria Square, the heart of the city and the grand boulevard of King William Street. View Parliament House, the Casino and the State Library with the Bradman collection. Admire Trinity Church, which is Adelaide's oldest church, St Peters Cathedral and so much more. Your afternoon is at leisure.

DAY 14 KANGAROO ISLAND (B,L,)
This morning we are transferred from Adelaide to Cape Jervis where you will board the Sealink ferry to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island. Upon arrival, you will be met by your knowledgeable local guide for your full day tour. Kangaroo island is sparsely populated and offers superb scenery, beautiful sheltered beaches along the north coast and a rugged, wave-swept south coast. There is an abundance of wildlife on the island and the two animals who have become synonymous with Kangaroo Island are Seals, and of course Kangaroos. With over 215 resident birds species and many seasonal visitors it is also a haven for bird watchers and ornithologists. The island is also one of the few places in Australia, where you have the chance to spot koalas in the wild.

Today's highlights include a walk among the seals at Seal Bay. Famed World-wide, this beach is the home of the 2nd largest breeding colony of Australian sealions in the country. Visit Parndana Wildlife Park. Reeves Point is the historic site of South Australia's first official European settlement on 27 July 1836. The first colonists planted a mulberry tree, which to this day, bears edible fruit. Visit the Island Pure Sheep Dairy for a short video explaining the processing of the various types of cheeses followed by a taste sampling. Tonight, enjoy a nocturnal tour to see the rare fairy penguins. Accommodation: OZONE HOTEL (2 nights)

DAY 15 Today we explore some more unique small/cottage industries on Kangaroo Island as well as enjoying some spectacular scenery in the national park. Visit Clifford's Honey Farm - Operated by Dave & Jenny Clifford, a demonstration shows the process of obtaining honey from the hives and maintaining the complex bee colony. The Kangaroo Island Ligurian honey bees are the only pure strain of honey bees in the world today and are protected by Government legislation. Continue to Flinders Chase National Park, Remarkable Rocks and the lighthouse and New Zealand Fur Seal colony at Cape Du Couedic and Admiral's Arch. Up to 500 seals have been counted just after pupping season. Bring your binoculars to watch the antics of the pups playing in the sheltered waters below the cave, known as the nursery. A BBQ lunch is included at Beckwiths Farm.

DAY 16 KANGAROO ISLAND (B,L)
After breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred to the ferry terminal. Take the Sealink ferry back to Cape Jervis, where a coach awaits to take us to the Deep Creek Conservation Park. Comprising approximately four and a half thousand hectares, with 18 kilometres of spectacular coastline, Deep Creek is home to a unique range of flora and fauna. Lunch at picturesque Victor Harbor located 1.5 hours drive from Deep Creek Conservation Park. Accommodation: Ozone Hotel Kingston 1 Night

DAY 17 GRAMPIANS NATIONAL PARK (B)
Travel south along the coast across the mighty Murray River to the Grampians, a national park with an abundance of bird and animal life. These sandstone mountains are home to eastern grey kangaroo, emus, koalas and many species of birds. There are more than 100 species of ferns and flowering plants.

Grampians National Park is the third largest in Victoria. It's spectacular scenery, colourful displays of wildflowers and wide range of opportunities for outdoor recreation have also made it one of the State's most popular holiday destinations. The park is home to almost a third of Victoria's plant species, and a large percentage of it's animals and offers some of the best site seeing opportunities in the State, with a substantial network of roads and a convenient central base in the fully serviced township of Halls Gap. There are excellent short walks, some easy, others more demanding. Away from Halls Gap many camp grounds have been developed in natural bush settings. There are also challenging day and overnight walks. Over two thirds of Aboriginal art sites in Victoria are here, and Aboriginal people continue their strong association with the area. Accommodation: HALLS GAP COLONIAL MOTOR INN (1 Night)

DAY 18 GRAMPIANS/PORT CAMPBELL (B,L)
Enjoy a morning walk in Grampians National Park before traveling by coach to Port Campbell along the great Ocean. Port Campbell is an attractive, almost sleepy, windswept little fishing village, which is set on a natural gorge at the mouth of Campbells Creek. The population of about 200 regulars is inflated with visitors because of its proximity to some of the finest coastal scenery in the state. To stay in Port Campbell is to be half an hour away from London Bridge (what is left of it!), Loch Ard Gorge and the Twelve Apostles. Accommodation: GREAT OCEAN ROAD MOTOR INN

DAY 19 GREAT OCEAN RD/MELBOURNE (B,L)
Today we will see some of the most spectacular and breathtaking coastal scenery found in Australia. An icon of the Australian coastline, The Twelve Apostles are the worlds largest limestone towers. Marvel at Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge, which have been sculptured by millions of years of erosion. Port Campbell National Park boasts a range of natural attractions, including the Blowhole, and the Grotto. Follow the Great Ocean Road as it winds its way hugging the coast through quaint towns passing towering cliffs, sweeping sandy beaches and stunning forest scenery. Group lunch will be in Apollo Bay. Arrive Melbourne and overnight.

Melbourne is often called Australia's most "European city." It is also known as the cultural, culinary and financial centre of the country. With its wide tree-lined boulevards, elegant public buildings and expansive gardens, Melbourne possesses an abundance of classic beauty. Melburnians are sports fanatics and it is here were the infamous game of Aussie Rules Football began.  Accommodation: HOTEL GRAND CHANCELLOR 1 Night

DAY 20 DEPART MELBOURNE
Transfer to the airport for your International flight home or to your extension destinations:
- Tasmania
- Sydney
- New Zealand
- Islands of the South Pacific
Extensions will be booked on an individual basis.


What our clients say...

"The highly publicized attractions, such as the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock (Uluru), traveling on the Ghan train and the Great Ocean Road were awesome but we also thoroughly enjoyed our time exploring the delightful small areas such as the Atherton Tablelands and Kangaroo Island. We saw over 205 species of birds along with most of the other flora and fauna of Australia. The trip was well planned and the accommodations and meals were superb. It was our sixth Tours of Exploration trip and we were so thankful that we were able to go on this adventure of a lifetime to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary with you."  P. & W. Fessenden, Sparks Maryland December 2006

"A truly exceptional trip of a lifetime. New Zealand was lovely and our hosts went out of their way to make sure we were well cared for. I can't believe I actually went scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef and got to see Alice Springs after yearning to visit for so many decades. Thank you to Catherine Evans and Kelvin Marshall." Stewart & Patricia Smith, Markham Ontario Nov. 2006