This active two-week Australian trip starts with a hot air balloon flight across Melbourne and finishes on the shores of Sydney. Perfect for active families with older kids, this itinerary ticks the best of Australia's wildlife and outdoor lifestyle boxes. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, climb a mountain in Tasmania, hike in the rugged Blue Mountains, and hit the surf at Bondi Beach.

Highlights

  • Experience a dazzling hot air balloon ride over Melbourne
  • Discover the underwater treasures of the Great Barrier Reef
  • Explore Tasmania's iconic Mount Wellington 
  • Cuddle up to the koalas at Sydney's Taronga Zoo
  • Hang ten on Bondi Beach 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Melbourne Melbourne
Day 2 Morning Balloon Flight, Luna Park & St Kilda Beach Melbourne
Day 3 Great Ocean Road Day Trip Melbourne
Day 4 Fly to Cairns, Free Afternoon Cairns
Day 5 Full-Day Great Barrier Reef Experience with Helicopter Tour Cairns
Day 6 Free Day in Cairns Cairns
Day 7 Fly to Hobart, Free Afternoon Hobart
Day 8 Full-Day Wildlife & Wilderness Tour Hobart
Day 9 Free Day in Hobart Hobart
Day 10 Fly to Sydney Sydney
Day 11 Hike in the Blue Mountains Sydney
Day 12 Visit Taronga Zoo, Explore Bondi Beach Sydney
Day 13 SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Free Afternoon Sydney
Day 14 Depart Australia   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Melbourne

Melbourne City
Welcome to Melbourne!

Welcome to Australia! Upon arrival, you'll be met by your driver and taken to your hotel in Melbourne—the capital of Victoria and heralded for being one of the most liveable cities on earth. After settling in, get your bearings as you head out to immerse yourselves in the vibrant energy of Australia's cultural capital. Older kids will love exploring the European-style cobbled laneways, funky street art, bohemian shops, and numerous cafés that make this such a great city for families. 

The most family-friendly way to experience all Melbourne offers is to hop on the City Circle, a free tram that runs throughout the central districts and the waterfront. Bring a picnic and make your way to the city's green heart at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Stroll among 8,000 plant species across the 94 acres (38 ha) of shaded walks and lush greenery. For music and art-obsessed teens, visit Centre Place—a busy laneway and arcade home to some of Melbourne's infamous street art. 

Day 2: Morning Balloon Flight, Luna Park & St Kilda Beach

Watch the sunrise over Melbourne in style
An unforgettable morning balloon experience over Melbourne

It's an early start today, but one that will create family memories to last a lifetime. As the sun rises, spend a peaceful hour gliding high above Melbourne's sights, one of only a few major cities in the world you can traverse by hot air balloon. Gaze at the Yarra River winding its way through the suburbs below before gently landing and enjoying a hot breakfast.

While still on a high from this morning's experience, spend a leisurely few hours exploring the family-friendly neighborhood of St Kilda at your own pace. You'll find this iconic beachside suburb within a 25-minute tram ride from Flinders Railway Station in central Melbourne. Roller skate down the promenade, play on the beach or cool off with gelato. Stroll the market stalls and boutiques as you soak up the decidedly European ambiance and check out the vast range of beach activities for kids of all ages.

After grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many great cafés and restaurants in St Kilda, earn some major brownie points with a trip to Melbourne's Luna Park. The theme park has many of the same classic attractions and rides as its original counterpart in Sydney, including the world's oldest continually operating rollercoaster—the Great Scenic Railway. Finish your afternoon with a walk along the coastal path to unwind next to the colorful Brighton Beach bathing boxes. The evening is yours to spend as you choose. 

Day 3: Great Ocean Road Day Trip

12 Apostles
Explore the wonders along the Great Ocean Road 

It's another early start today, but worth it. This morning you'll set off on an epic all-day guided road trip down one of the world's most scenic coastal routes: the Great Ocean Road. This stretch of highway runs 150 miles (240 km) along Victoria's southwest coast, passing national parks, limestone rock formations, seaside bluffs, coastal mountain ranges, and incredible beaches.

Along the way, stop at various viewpoints and scenic spots to admire the rolling hills and majestic coastal cliffs. You might even spot dolphins and whales frolicking just offshore. Take a family stroll through a eucalyptus forest and watch the children's faces as they see the country's most adorable marsupial at every turn. Enjoy a leisurely lunch at Apollo Bay, a tranquil seaside town that's the gateway to the famous mountains of the Otway Ranges. Afterward, browse the local shops before embarking on a hike through the rainforests of Otway National Park.

Travel farther west to Port Campbell National Park, where you'll see the world-famous rock formations on the Great Ocean Road. These include the romantic cove at Loch Ard Gorge, the London Bridge Archway, and the 12 Apostles, a group of ancient limestone rock formations rising out of the sea. Relax on the transfer back to Melbourne and spend the evening dining at one of the city's many fantastic eateries. 

Day 4: Fly to Cairns, Free Afternoon

Cairns
Relax after your flight at the Cairns Lagoon Swimming Pool

This morning you'll be picked up from your hotel and whisked to the airport for your flight to Cairns. Lying at the center of a tropical paradise on the shores of Trinity Bay and known as the city "where the rainforest meets the reef," Cairns is the gateway to the 100-million-year-old Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

After an energetic few days, enjoy some family downtime before heading out to get your bearings. Take a stroll along the central esplanade, where you'll find bustling weekend markets, great food options, and the Cairns Lagoon Swimming Pool. Relax on the grassy knoll as you watch the kids splash in the shallows and take a dip to cool off before making your way to the City Botanic Gardens. Stroll along the Rainforest Boardwalk and meander through Centenary Lakes before dining at one of the numerous international cafés and restaurants.

Day 5: Full-Day Great Barrier Reef Experience with Helicopter Tour

Explore the Great Barrier Reef
Explore the Great Barrier Reef

Today it's time to explore one of Australia's most remarkable natural gifts—the Great Barrier Reef. This morning, you and your family will travel to Port Douglas to board your catamaran. Depart from the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina and relax on deck as you sail to the pristine white sands of Mackay Coral Cay and the epic snorkeling spots at Undine Reef. Enjoy the stunning coastline and soaring peaks of the Daintree Mountains before reaching the coral reefs for a guided snorkel led by a qualified marine biologist.

After a tropical buffet lunch, spend some time either relaxing on the spacious sundeck or snorkeling to your heart's content. Afterward, you and your family will return to Cairns on a scenic twenty-five-minute helicopter ride. Fly over four different reefs, learning about each one from your pilot as you enjoy the unique views of this spectacular natural wonder. After a refresh at your hotel, head out along the esplanade and enjoy an al fresco dinner overlooking the sea. 

Day 6: Free Day in Cairns

Cairns
Make the most of Cairns' stunning beaches and crystal clear waters

Spend a day exploring Cairns at your own pace after yesterday's excursion. Head back to the Swimming Lagoon for a day of unrivaled relaxation, or take a trip to the award-winning winning white sandy beaches and turquoise waters of nearby Fitzroy Island. A 45-minute ferry ride from Cairns, kids will love the ocean trampoline and wide variety of watersports available. 

In the afternoon, head to the Cairns Aquarium, the only place in the world dedicated exclusively to the marine animals of the tropical Queensland region. Curious minds will love the fascinating reef exhibits, animal presentations, live diver feeds, and touch-tank shows. Discover some of the underwater world's most fascinating, elusive, and deadly creatures, including sharks, sea turtles, rays, and eels, among the Aquarium's 16,000 aquatic species. Afterward, dine at one of the numerous cafés and restaurants and take one last walk along the esplanade as the sun dips.

Plan your trip to Australia
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 7: Fly to Hobart, Free Afternoon

Tasmania
Welcome to stunning Tasmania 

It's a change of scenery today as you and your family are transported to the airport to board a flight to Hobart in Tasmania. Lying 150 miles (240 km) south of the Australian mainland and separated by the Bass Strait, the island state is famous for its captivating scenery, unique wildlife, and the cleanest air in the world.

After settling in at your hotel, step out and explore your new surroundings in the island's harbor capital and Australia's second-oldest capital city. Discover Hobart's colonial architecture and relaxed island vibe as you check out the numerous family-friendly eateries along the harbor. Sit back and enjoy the stunning views of Mount Wellington, known as kunanyi by the island's First Nations people, before taking a stroll along the buzzy waterfront precinct. 

Day 8: Full-Day Wildlife & Wilderness Tour

Full Day Private Tasmania's Wilderness & Wildlife
Oh, hi there, Tasmanian Devil!

After breakfast, it's time to kick off your city shoes and lace up your hiking boots for a full-day wildlife and wilderness tour. A thirty-minute drive north of Hobart takes you to the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Discover Tasmania's native animals, including the improbably cute sugar gliders (tiny marsupials and distant cousins to the kangaroo) and the tawny owl-like frogmouths. The whole family is in for a treat with a guided tour of the sanctuary and opportunities to hand-feed the delightfully gentle Forester kangaroos and, last but not least, the small but mighty Tasmanian devil. 

Continue your journey through the picturesque Derwent Valley and admire the landscape dotted with orchards and hop fields. Stop for lunch before making your way to Mount Field National Park—the state's oldest national park and part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Explore the lush green rainforest as you stroll toward Russell Falls—a stunning tiered waterfall featured on one of Australia's first postage stamps. Return to Hobart ready to fill your belly and head toward trendy Elizabeth Street in North Hobart, where you'll be spoiled for choice with places to eat.

Day 9: Free Day in Hobart

Mount Wellington
Don't miss the views from Mount Wellington 
Today is yours to do as you wish. Stay local and head to award-winning Salamanca Market—Tasmania's most visited tourist attraction and one of the largest outdoor markets in Australia. It's a perfect spot for older kids and teens, with eclectic market stalls and numerous independent shops. Pop into the warehouse art galleries, pick up boutique jewelry and head to one of the countless cafés or bars for refreshments.
 
After a bite to eat, get the kids to burn off some excess energy with a hike to Mount Wellington. There are several family-friendly walking paths, or the more challenging Myrtle Gully Track. Uncover waterfalls and towering eucalyptus trees, and traverse the bush tracks of Wellington Park until you reach the summit. At 4,173 feet (1,272 m), the peak provides sweeping panoramic views overlooking Hobart, the wilderness to the west, and over toward the south of the island. 

Day 10: Fly to Sydney

Welcome to Sydney!

Today you'll head to the airport and fly 645 miles (1,037 km) northeast to Sydney. The capital of New South Wales, this once penal colony for British convicts is now a perfect destination for families. With its dizzying array of beaches, famous harbor, zoo, and watersports, there are numerous fun-filled activities for all ages—adults included! After a transfer to your hotel, the rest of the day is yours to soak up Sydney's outdoor lifestyle and natural beauty.

Ride the ferry across the harbor to Manly and wave at the Sydney Opera House as you pass, check out the surfers at Bondi Beach, or go swimming in the tranquil waters of Coogee. Stroll the cobblestone laneways of The Rocks before trying out the cafés and pubs of upscale Paddington, whose distinctive terrace houses date back to the Victorian era. Finally, meander back to your hotel in anticipation of tomorrow's adventure.

Day 11: Hike in the Blue Mountains

Hike the breathtaking Blue Mountains 

Just west of Sydney, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed site of the Blue Mountains is known for staggering cliffs, secluded lookouts, cascading waterfalls, and eucalyptus forests. After an early pick-up from your hotel and two-hour drive west, it's time to visit a working farm. Have fun feeding the kangaroos and getting acquainted with the emus and wombats. Enjoy some morning tea before lacing up your hiking boots to walk across valleys and sandstone ridges until you approach the viewpoints of the towering Three Sisters rock formations.

After a well-deserved lunch, it's time to head to Govett's Leap, one of the country's most famous lookouts with stunning views across the Grose Valley. Your final stop is 3,280 feet (1,000 m) above sea level at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden. Here, you'll also find hundreds of international plant species and the lizards and possums that call the park home. As the day draws to a close, travel back to Sydney and try out one of the many excellent restaurants along the harbor.

Day 12: Visit Taronga Zoo, Explore Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach
Surfs up! Enjoy some leisure time on Bondi Beach

After a leisurely start to the day, it's time to head to the city's famous Taronga Zoo. A quick ferry ride from the harbor, the zoo cares for over 5,000 animals from more than 350 species. During your guided tour, encounter some of the country's most recognizable marsupials alongside African lion cubs, Sumatran tigers, giraffes, gorillas, and Asian elephants. Curious minds will enjoy learning about these fascinating creatures and how the zoo is working to protect them.

Kids of all ages will love the African Savannah experience. With only a water boundary between you and some of Africa's most awe-inspiring animals, meet the zoo's resident giraffes, Jimiyu and Zarafa, and adorable new arrivals, Kito and her calf Ebo. Wave at the zebras before heading off to meet Lwazi and Ato, two male lions who have called Taronga home since 2015. Your visit concludes with a ride on the zoo's Sky Safari—Sydney's only cable car. Soak up the breathtaking views while the kids try to spot the squirrel monkeys as they explore their home.

No trip to Sydney is complete without a trip to the famous Bondi Beach. Here, golden sands and crystal waters continue to capture hearts, big and little. If energy levels are high, create unforgettable memories with a family surf lesson. Learn the basics from warm-up to paddling, catching waves, and standing—you'll be safely up onto your first wave before you've had time to worry about falling off! If spectating is more your thing, browse the boutique shops along Gould Street, grab a coffee, and indulge in the ancient art of people-watching.

Day 13: SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Free AfternoonSydney Aquarium

Don't miss Sydney's SEA LIFE Aquarium

This morning it's time to discover the city's SEA LIFE Aquarium, home to the world's most extensive collection of Australian aquatic life, displaying more than 13,000 fish and sea creatures from over 700 species. Explore the 14 themed zones, including Shark Walk, Jurassic Seas, and Discovery Rockpool. Get up close and personal with animals unique to each habitat, including one of only four dugongs (sea cows) on display in the world.

Walk through the oceanarium tunnels, hop aboard the Penguin Expedition boat ride, and spot sea turtles as you explore the world's largest Great Barrier Reef display. For particularly adventurous teens and adults, the Shark Reef Snorkel Tour offers a thrilling underwater experience close to these infamous predators!

Afterward, take a picnic in the peace and tranquility of the Royal Botanic Garden. Stroll among 8,000 plant species across the 94 acres (38 ha) of shaded walks and lush greenery. Spend your last night dining in style at one of the many fantastic eateries, and recount your favorite family memories of the trip.

Day 14: Depart Australia

Depart Australia
Until the next time, Australia
Your epic family trip to Australia draws to a close today as you transfer to the airport to catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map

Map of Australia Cities & Wildlife Adventure for Families - 14 Days
Map of Australia Cities & Wildlife Adventure for Families - 14 Days