fbpx
Toll Free: 1.800.690.7887 
t: 604.886.7300
info@toursexplore.com
Contact Us

australia ghan train goway

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
  • The unique wildlife of Kangaroo Island
  • Great Ocean Road - 550 km of spectacular coastline

Read our Australia blog


2019 Departure Dates & Cost

Departure date: October 27 - November 16, 2019 (21 days)
Daily departures are also available on a customized basis for short modules, or full length trips anywhere in Australia.
Let our 30 years of working here, help make your trip here exceptional. 

Tour cost: $ 8,150 CAD/$ 6,575 USD per person
Single supplement: $ 1,750 CAD
Includes domestic flight Cairns/Ayers Rock which is usually booked in conjunction with International tickets

We can quote International airfare from major cities in North America
We can assist with Australian tour modules in all areas of the country or book Australia/New Zealand, or Australia/South Pacific packages.

Extensions available to Tasmania ~ Sydney ~ New Zealand ~ South Pacific Islands

Read our Australia Wildlife Blog


Itinerary

October 26: Departure

australia koala gowayWe will work with you to book air that makes use of best route, and any pre or post tour stops that are requests.

October 27: Arrive Cairn

Arrive Cairns after crossing the International dateline. Transfer to the hotel. Balance of the day at leisure. Accommodation: CAIRNS PLAZA HOTEL or similar (2 nights)

October 28: 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 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. This trip will either be on the Ocean Spirit (out of Cairns) or the Wave Dancer (out of Port Douglas).

Includes: Morning and afternoon tea, tropical smorgasbord lunch, snorkel equipment, use of lycra suit, glass bottom boat coral viewing, marine biologist presentation and guided beach walk. Please bring your camera, Swimming costume and beach towel, Hat, sunscreen and shirt for sun protection, Cash for drinks at the bar, Credit cards for souvenirs, Underwater cameras available for purchase, Underwater digital cameras available to hire at additional charge. You might wish to leave your main luggage behind at the hotel and travel light toAtherton for the 3 nights you are there.

October 29: Cairns - Atherton Tablelands (B,L)

7:30 am pick up from the hotel to travel up the panoramic Gilles highway while witnessing the dramatic changes in habitats as we gain altitude. Enjoy beautiful views of Goldsborough Valley from the Heales lookout. We will arrive at Lake Barrine. We will end the walk at the pier where we board a small boat for a cruise around the lake with a local guide. Learn about the history, flora and fauna of the region. During our 1 hour cruise – look out for birds, eels, reptiles and other unique wildlife. 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.

11:30 am. Arrive at Tarali Lakes for Platypus searching and lunch. The park is a perfect place to spot platypus ~ they are under conservation in the area. After lunch we depart for Lake Eacham. This is a chance to have a swim (pack your bathing suit). Surrounded by rainforest, the lake is in a beautiful setting. There is a change room here. We will then head to Cathedral Fig tree, another interested ecozone. One of the highlights is the ancient fig boardwalk, a nice leisurely stroll to see an epic rainforest survivor and the unique wildlife that is here. Look out for birds and reptiles and tree kangaroos. Continue to Atherton with a stop at the Gilles lookout with panoramic views towards the mountains and rainforest. Arrive in Atherton, 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.

Atherton Blue Gum Bed and Breakfast/Summit Rainforest Retreat is a home-away-from home. Spacious, clean, rustic rooms makes it a great place to base yourself. Wake to a chorus of native bird life and enjoy breakfast served on the upper deck. The views are magnificent, looking down on Atherton Township, which is nestled in an emerald valley. The mist-enshrouded mountains, with tropical sunlight glistening on their exposed peaks in the morning, are a delight to behold. The hotel caters for singles, couples and small groups who are travelling and exploring this beautiful part of the world. Owned and operated as a friendly – family business. Accommodation: The Summit Rainforest Retreat / Majestic room twin – 3 nights www.summitrr.com.au

October 30: Atherton Tablelands (B,L)

Day at leisure in Atherton. Enjoy the conservation area that surround the summit lodging. Unwind with a good book. Visit the town and pick up wine or supplies for cooking dinner or using the BBQ. Or there are several local walks that can be done. There are many restaurants in the town of Atherton.

October 31: Atherton Tablelands (B,L)

An early start from the Summit to Hasties Swamp for birdwatching. Hasties swamp is a large seasonal wetland renowned for its diverse range of resident and migrant birds. Over 220 species have been identified and a large bird hide is present on the site. Hasties includes an aquatic environment of open water, reeds, muddy edges (dress accordingly) and sedge land. The open eucalypt forest surrounding the swamp is a striking contrast to the lush rainforest found elsewhere on the tablelands. Return to the Summit for breakfast (or you may wish to bring breakfast to eat in the field. Talk to your guide).

After a short rest – we will head to Wongable State forest which protects an endangered type of forest known as Mabi forest. Here, in 1903, red cedar seedlings were planted in the forest to replace mature trees that had been logged. Commercial planting of hoop, kauri and Caribbean pine now grow beside the native forest. Wongabel is a great opportunity to enjoy the regions birdlife. We often see endemic birds such as the grey-headed robin, tooth-billed bowerbirds and bowers shrike-thrush. We will have lunch a Jacques Coffee situated at the centre of the coffee plantation with 85000 Arabica trees on rich soils. Enjoy lunch. There is a small gift shop here. After lunch head to a secret location (on private property) known to local wildlife guides and birdwatchers. Return to your accommodation.

November 1: Atherton - Cairns (B)

After breakfast transfer provided to the bus stop for the local bus 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. The train departs at 2:00 pm. Begin in the highlands and descend past waterfalls and cane fields to end the train trip in Cairns. Walk back to your hotel. Accommodation: CAIRNS PLAZA HOTEL (1 night)

November 2: Cairns - Ayers Rock (B)

After breakfast transfer provided to the bus stop for the local bus 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. The train departs at 2:00 pm. Begin in the highlands and descend past waterfalls and cane fields to end the train trip in Cairns. Walk back to your hotel. Accommodation: CAIRNS PLAZA HOTEL (1 night)

Transfer to the airport this morning, for your flight (6:50 am departure / 9:05 arrival) from Cairns to Ayers Rock for a 5 night Outback and desert experience. On arrival transfer to the Desert Gardens Hotel. (Your room may not be ready for check-in however you will be able to leave your luggage at the front desk, use the facilities and explore.) Ayers Rock/Uluru rises 348 metres from the desert and has a girth of 9.4 kilometres. These statistics alone assure its star role as the world’s most famous monolith, yet it is estimated that at least two-thirds of the Rock lies beneath the surface. This afternoon join a group tour 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: AYERS DESERT GARDEN (1 night)

November 3: Ayers Rock - Kings Canyon (B)

australia alice frilled necked lizard kelvin marshall Sunrise at Uluru. 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. As you travel towards Uluru its vast shape rises from the sand dunes in the early dawn light highlighting its presence in this country. Your guide will take you to a special location to watch the sun rise over this amazing monolith. You will learn the Creation stories of Liru (poisonous snake) and Kuniya (python) and hear about the Mala people. After breakfast you will visit Mutitjulu Waterhole and then drive around the base of Uluru before returning to the resort. Lunch on your own.

In the afternoon a coach tour / transfer to Kings Canyon. Travel through spectacular desert scenery from Ayers Rock Resort to Kings Canyon Resort by luxury coach. Pass through Curtin Springs and view Atila (Mt. Conner). After turning off the Lasseter Highway and onto Luritja Road your Driver/Guide will provide informative commentary about the history of the surrounding cattle stations. Arrive at Kings Canyon Resort before dusk. You may have time to view the sun set behind Carmichaels Crag to finish off the day.

November 4: Kings Canyon (B)

With over 600 species of plant, Kings Canyon is botanically the richest region in all of arid Australia. This day is at leisure, and walks may be added. Note – If preferred, this day could also be at Ayers Rock – we can talk about that. Accommodation: KINGS CANYON RESORT (2 nights) Kings Canyon Resort is an oasis in the outback for travellers looking to explore the Red Centre from a well-appointed base, complete with pampering amenities and activities for everyone to enjoy. After exciting, fun-filled days hiking and sightseeing in the rugged terrain of Watarrka National Park, enjoy outstanding hotel facilities and relax in the comfort and convenience of your Kings Canyon hotel room.

November 5: Kings Canyon - Alice Springs (B)

November 6: Western MacDonald Ranges - Ormiston Gorge (B,L)

Morning at leisure. Optional walks are available. In the afternoon transfer by coach to Alice Springs (5 hours). Stop at Mt. Ebenezer Roadhouse for the opportunity to purchase afternoon tea (own expense). Take a wander through the Aboriginal Art Gallery to see some locally made craft. Continue on to Alice Springs along the Stuart Highway, as the sun sets in the west over the rugged plains. Accommodation: MERCURE ALICE SPRINGS 2 nights. Evening optional camel Safari. Should be booked in advance.

Spectacular outback scenery and photo opportunities as we travel along the magnificent West. MacDonnell Ranges, stopping at historic sites. Enjoy beautiful walks at Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm (for morning tea), the Ochre Pits and Ormiston Gorge for lunch. Our next stop is at Glen Helen, then on our way back to Alice Springs we stop for afternoon time at Ellery Creek Big Hole. This waterhole is one of Central Australia’s most pristine, so don’t forget your swimmers in the warmer months! The panoramic landscapes of the West MacDonnell Ranges are extraordinary for their immensity and the spectacular array of sunburnt oranges, maroons and purples on display. These mighty ranges light up in brilliant oranges and reds at sunset on the return trip to Alice Springs.

November 7: The Ghan Train - Adelaide (B,D)

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)

The Ghan and Indian Pacific check-in opens 2.5 hours prior to departure and check-in closes 1 hour prior to departure. The Overland check-in time opens 1 hour prior to departure and check-in closes 30 minutes prior to departure. Approximate time 24 hours.

Cabin Luggage Reminder: For the comfort and safety of guests, it is recommended that an overnight bag (airline cabin bag or rollaboard carry-on luggage size) is packed for use on train and while enjoying the Off Train Experiences. Guests need to ensure personal belongings such as medicines, camera, hat, sunscreen, toiletries, enclosed footwear, etc. are packed in their overnight bag and that the contents are suitable for the number of days onboard. Checked Luggage allowance per person: Gold Service: 60kg (2 x 30kg0. Please note the above is in addition to your carry-on luggage allowance. The legendary Ghan train was named after the hardy Afghans and their camel trains which provided the only means of transport into “The Red Centre” in the early days. The journey is now a comfortable world class train trip!

Travel by rail between Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin and you are embarking on one of the great train journeys of the world. Named after the Afghan cameleers who once traversed this route, The Ghan will take you from one edge of this continent to the other, through the very centre of Australia. A journey on The Ghan is an incomparable way to travel to the two jewels of Australia’s Northern Territory - the Red Centre and the tropical Top End. No journey aboard The Ghan is complete without taking in both of these must-see destinations. The Ghan’s timetable makes the most of the daylight hours to offer unsurpassed views of the passing landscape. Each new day begins with a fresh panorama of this changing landscape. Red earth and cobalt blue skies - the essence of Central Australia takes on a character of its own with every passing hour. Enjoy private cabin accommodation together with all-inclusive dining, beverages and a range of fascinating Off Train Excursions at key stops. Single Sleeper Cabins features a bed that converts to a seat during the day and shared washroom/facilities.

November 8: Arrive Adelaide (B)

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: MAJESTIC ROOF GARDEN HOTEL (2 nights)

November 9: Adelaide (B)

australia reef gowaThe Majestic Roof Garden Hotel is the award winning flagship property of Majestic Hotels. This Adelaide hotel is only 50 metres from the ever-vibrant Rundle Street with its huge variety of bars, restaurants and eclectic shopping. Walk 5 minutes to Rundle Mall or 10 minutes to the Art Gallery, Adelaide University and Museum. 20 minutes will find you at the Adelaide Convention Centre, Adelaide Oval, Central Markets or Adelaide Zoo.

In the morning, board your coach for the City Highlights Tour. Your guide will introduce you to this delightful city, which is surrounded by parklands with a blend of historic buildings, wide streets, cafes and restaurants. Drive past Adelaide’s cultural precinct - North Terrace, the National Wine Centre, Adelaide Botanic Gardens and the beautiful Botanic Park, home to the Bicentennial Conservatory and the Adelaide Zoo. Continue through historic North Adelaide, where you’ll see tree-lined streets, mansions and historic buildings. Stop and visit the iconic St Peters Cathedral or the newly developed Adelaide Oval then travel through the city’s east on the way to the Haigh’s Chocolates for a factory tour and tastings of this famous South Australian chocolate. Return to the city via the South Parklands, West Terrace and North Terrace.

November 10: Kangaroo Island (B,L)

Today’s highlights include a walk among the seals at Seal Bay. Famed worldwide, 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). 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.

November 11: Kangaroo Island (B)

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.

November 12 Kangaroo Island - Adelaide (B)

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

November 13: Adelaide - Mount Gambier (B,D)

Travel to the Adelaide hills, explore Hahndorf a traditional German town in the hills and Mt Loft summit with sweeping views of Adelaide. Next, the journey then takes us through grain and stock lands towards the town of Keith for lunch. We then turn south towards wine country. Travel through a relatively new wine region of Padthaway towards the World Heritage listed Naracoorte Caves to learn of the fossil discoveries of Mega fauna that make this site so internationally important. Next travel into the scenic Coonawara wine region recognized as one of the best Cabernet Sauvignon regions of the world. After sampling some local wines from the highly awarded region we continue to Mt Gambier for the night. Accommodation: COMMODORE ON THE PARK (1 night)

November 14: Mount Gambier - Apollo Bay (B,D)

After breakfast travel on toward the Shipwreck coast. Start with a visit to the ‘blue’ crater lake in Mt Gambier then drive on to Port Fairy before visiting Tower Hill Reserve where it is likely to see Emus, Koalas, Kangaroos and Echidnas. The journey then takes us through Warrnambool and Allansford in the heart of diary country and home of Australia’s oldest diary processing plant.

Today we will see some of the most spectacular and breath-taking 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. We start the Great Ocean Road with the impressive limestone stacks of the Bay of Martyrs and Bay of Islands, visit London Bridge and ‘Loch Ard Gorge’, the site of the most famous 19th century Australian shipwreck. Discover one of Australia’s icons, the Twelve Apostles. Learn the creation of these limestone stacks and the constant wearing away of this coastline. There is also the opportunity to fly high above the coastline, viewing the apostles from a helicopter (own expense). Continue in to the Otway National Park and through to Apollo Bay for dinner at the Apollo Bay Hotel. Accommodation: BEACOM POINT OCEAN VIEW VILLAS (1 night)

November 15: Great Ocean Road - Melbourne (B,L)

Today we will see some of the most spectacular and breathtaking coastal scenery found in Australia. After breakfast, the first stop is within the Otway National Park at “Maits Rest”. This is a 1km walk through a cool temperate rainforest gully discovering trees and ferns that date back millions of years to times when dinosaurs roamed this part of the world. Turn towards Melbourne and travel along a very scenic section of the Great Ocean Road en-route to Kennitt River for a fantastic viewing of Koalas in their native setting. Stop for lunch at the largest of the seaside villages, Lorne. After lunch drive along the surf coast and take in the surf culture of the region with a visit to Torquay and Bells Beah plus a visit to Anglesea Golf Course where we hopefully with see kangaroos that often come to the grasses of the golf course for dining and resting. Enjoy afternoon tea along the re-designed waterfront of Geelong before arriving in Melbourne (approximately 5:00 pm). 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 where the infamous game of Aussie Rules Football began. Accommodation: HOLIDAY INN AIRPORT 1 Night

November 16: 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...

australia patric wilma uluru

“I was on the Australia trip you describe so accurately in your current blog. What a wonderful and unforgettable trip that was. Remember the night Tiger snake we saw in the bathroom? I do. So many new things to experience…I thought Australia would be hard to beat until I went on your Cuba trip. Cuba was fascinating and very well done by you as usual.” J. Ellis, Huntington Beach CA 2018

“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 MA 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.” S. & P. Smith, Markham ON 2006

Contact Us

Toll Free: 1.800.690.7887
or 604.886.7300

BC Registration 3401

1114 Cartwright Road
Gibsons BC, V0N 1V1, Canada

Contact Us

Stay Connected!

Get our latest specials,
tour ideas, and travellers tales