Australia: East Coast, Ayers Rock & Melbourne

September 1 – 17, 2006

Trip Details




This adventure begins in Sydney, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, where we cruise the harbor on a luxury boat, climb the Harbor Bridge, kayak in the harbor, relax on Bondi Beach, and attend a performance at the Opera House. We then fly north to Cairns on the tropical northeast coast, and lodge at the renowned Turtle Cove gay resort where we explore the Great Barrier Reef, hike in a rainforest, and relax on the beach. We then fly to Alice Springs in the outback, a region of vast horizons, red sands and mysterious monoliths, for a three day camping safari. We climb Ayers Rock, hike in Kings Canyon and the Valley of the Wind, and see Aboriginal paintings, unusual geologic formations, and desert wildlife. Next, we fly to Melbourne, a cosmopolitan city with stately European architecture, and visit wildlife sanctuaries to see koalas, penguins, wallabies, kangaroos, and others in the wild. On our last day we travel by a steam train to the picturesque wine area of the Yarra Valley to sample some of Australia’s best wines.
Day 1. Friday, Sept. 1 – Depart USA
Day 3. Sunday, Sept. 3 – Arrive in Sydney, Harbor
Cruise & Lunch
Early morning arrival in Sydney. Make your way through customs and catch a shuttle bus to the Sullivans Hotel located on Oxford Street in fashionable Paddington near the gay area of Sydney. After a long Pacific flight its time for some fresh air. We will depart from Circular Quay on a Sydney Harbor luncheon cruise. We will see all the sights of beautiful Sydney Harbor, including the Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge from the comfort of a luxury tour boat, while dining on the delicious seafood buffet freshly prepared on board. In the evening we dine together for our traditional get acquainted dinner.
Day 4. Monday, Sept. 4 – Sydney Harbor Sea
Kayak Tour, Night at the Theater
In the morning we depart from Lavendar Bay on a half
day sea kayak tour. On the tour we explore the south shores of the harbor
west of Sydney Harbor Bridge, then cross to the north shore to Berry
Island. We take a bushwalk tour of Berry Island reserve, where we will
see aboriginal rock engravings and stop for a picnic brunch. We then
continue on our kayak tour to Balls Head and take a bushwalk to one of
the highest natural points on the harbor for spectacular views. The afternoon
is free to explore Sydney. 

In the evening we attend a theater performance at the
Opera House of “I Am My Own Wife”. This 2004
Pulitzer and Tony Award Winning Drama tells the astounding
true story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, who survived Nazi
Germany, Soviet oppression and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Charlotte was a transgendered man who lived her defiant,
distinctive life adamantly on her own terms. Starring Jefferson
Mays, winner of the 2004 Best Actor Tony Award for his
stunning portrayal of Charlotte.


Day 5. Tuesday, Sept. 5 – BridgeClimb and Flight
to Cairns
In the morning we climb the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge. BridgeClimb is a 3½ hour guided adventure and an experience that will never be forgotten on one of the world’s modern wonders, the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The exhilaration and personal satisfaction achieved by reaching the top of the Bridge is rewarded by the breathtaking view that lies before you as you scale up the Sydney Harbor Bridge. 

Later in the afternoon we fly to Cairns and make our way to Turtle Cove Resort, one of the world’s premier gay and lesbian resorts, located on its own private beach in fabulous Tropical North Queensland. The resort is located between two of the natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. This 29 room luxury resort has a spa, gym, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and bar.

Day 6. Wednesday, Sept. 6 – Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling/Diving Trip
In the morning we depart on a fast luxury boat for our all day trip to the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef on earth and one of the wonders of the world. Its enormous and unique variety of colorful tropical fish and coral are unforgettable. We will snorkel at two different reef locations, and scuba diving for novice and experienced divers is available. Morning and afternoon tea and a delicious tropical seafood lunch are provided.
Day 7. Thursday, Sept. 7 – Rainforest Hike
The rainforests of Queensland are part of the wet tropics World Heritage areas. They are protected in a patchwork of National Parks. These 100 million year old forests, the oldest in the world have the highest diversity of local endemic species in the world. Fully one-fifth of Australia’s bird species, a quarter of its reptiles, a third of its marsupials, a third of its frogs, and two-fifths of its plants are here in a mere thousandth of the Australian landmass. 

Today we take an all day 12 mile, guided hike through World Heritage Rainforest in Wooroonooran National Park, where some species of wildlife and plant life have existed unchanged for millions of years. On this moderate hike we will visit remote locations and have the opportunity to view colorful parrots, butterflies, wild pigs, and the king of the rainforest, the Southern Cassowary, as well as the myriad species of rainforest plants and trees. We can swim in crystal clear freshwater swimming holes and view spectacular scenery every step of the way.

Day 8. Friday, Sept. 8 – Turtle Cove Resort Free Day
Enjoy this free day to hike, bicycle, bungee jump, take
a second snorkel or scuba diving trip on the Great Barrier Reef, explore
Cairns, or just relax on the beach.
Day 9. Saturday, Sept. 9 – Cairns to Alice Springs
We take a late morning flight to Alice Springs, near Ayers Rock (Ululu), where we stay at Alice Springs Resort on the banks of the Todd River. This award winning modern and comfortable hotel has a bar, restaurant, and outdoor pool. The afternoon is free to explore Alice Springs. In the evening we attend an Aboriginal cultural performance and dine on kangaroo and barramundi fish.
Day 10. Sunday, Sept. 10 – Ayers Rock & Kings Canyon Camping Safari
We depart in the early morning on our camping safari to Ayers Rock. On the way we stop at the Outback Camel Farm before arriving at Ayers Rock Resort Safari Camp where we have lunch and settle in at camp. In the afternoon we travel to the Olgas and hike through the Valley of the Winds. We return to camp in time to watch the sunset over Ayers Rock, then have a traditional Aussie dinner and sleep in tents on camp beds.
Day 11. Monday, Sept. 11 – Ayers Rock Climb & Kings Creek Cattle Station
After watching the sunrise on Ayers Rock, we will tackle the challenge of the climb and marvel at the spectacular scenery and the surrounding landscape. Later, we will tour the base of the rock, exploring ancient caves where Aboriginal paintings and unusual rock formations can be seen. After lunch we depart for Kings Creek Station Camp, where we can enjoy a range of activities before our hearty bush dinner around the campfire.
Day 12. Tuesday, Sept. 12 – Kings Canyon
In the morning we travel to breathtaking Kings Canyon, a geological jewel nestled at the western end of the George Gill Ranges. With our guide we hike around the canyon rim to view formations such as “The Ampitheatre”, the “Lost City”, the beautiful “Garden of Eden”, and the striking North and South Walls. We lunch at Kings Creek Station before traveling back to Alice Springs through sand dunes and majestic oaks country.
Day 13. Wednesday, Sept. 13 – Alice Springs to Melbourne
We take a late morning flight from Alice Springs to Melbourne, where we have the remainder of the afternoon free to explore the city. We lodge at the Georgian Court Bed & Breakfast in historic East Melbourne and close to restaurants, art galleries, boutique shops, the city center, and the Botanical Garden.
Day 14. Thursday, Sept. 14 – Savannah Walkabout
Today we take an all-day guided ecotour of the “real Australia”, including the open range grasslands of Serendip Sanctuary and the bushlands of Brisbane Ranges National Park. We will see a variety of the wildlife found only in Australia, including emus, wallabies, and koalas in the wild, walk among kangaroos, and learn about Australia’s rich aboriginal heritage. A delicious and hearty bush lunch is provided.
Day 15. Friday, Sept. 15 – Phillip Island Tour
Today we tour Phillip Island, famous for its large colony of Little Penguins, the smallest penguin in the world, which come ashore in a delightful “parade” each evening at dusk. We will visit the Koala Conservation Centre where we can get up close to captive koalas that are part of an important study program. We also stop at the Nobbies and view the spectacular rugged coastline and the largest population of fur seals in the world. At dusk we will join a select, small group of people on a guided ecotour using night vision technology to get up close and personal with the famous Little Penguins as they parade up a secluded beach from the sea to their burrows.
Day 16. Saturday, Sept. 16 – Yarra Valley Winery Tour
We journey into the prosperous heart of the picturesque wine country of Yarra Valley aboard Australia’s oldest steam train, the Puffing Billy. After meandering through scenic mountains and valleys, we arrive at Fergusson’s Winery where we will tour the vineyard, sample award winning wines and enjoy a succulent spit roast lunch. After lunch we tour the Yarra Valley, stopping at Rochford’s Eyton for more premium wine tasting, before heading to Domaine Chandon to sample one of Australia’s best sparkling wines and enjoy local cheeses.
Day 17. Sunday, Sept. 18 – Depart Melbourne
and Arrive USA
Land Cost: $3,500 per person double occupancy
Cost Includes: All lodging, airport transfers for internal
flights, meals as noted, American tour director, Australian guides, all
land transportation, kayak rental, and scuba and snorkel equipment rental.
The single supplement is $600. A single supplement may not be available
for the camping safari.
Land Cost Does Not Include: International airfare, domestic airfares, transfer for international flights, travel insurance, alcoholic or other beverages with meals, telephone calls, excess baggage fees, and gratuities for local guides.
If you would like additional information, e-mail us at, or call us locally at 303-449-0990 or toll free at 1-877-440-0990. Our office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) Monday through Friday. 

You may also download our registration form, and mail it in to us.

This trip is rated moderate in terms of difficulty. We climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge, hike for 12 miles in a tropical forest, and have shorter day hikes for three days in the outback, sea kayak for several hours, and snorkel on another day.