This adventure-packed 10-day itinerary features a mix of unmissable UNESCO World Heritage Sights with plenty of family-friendly excursions both inland and on the coast. Soak up the sights of Sydney, spend the day touring the Northern Beaches and nearby National Parks, then venture into the outback to watch the sunrise and sunset over Uluru. Snorkel among the beautiful coral and marine life in the Great Barrier Reef before experiencing the magic of the world's oldest rainforest.


  • Soak up the sights and attractions of Sydney
  • Discover ancient Aboriginal art and tour Sydney's Northern Beaches
  • Ride a camel to see the sunrise over Uluru
  • Swim among the Great Barrier reef's colorful marine life
  • Marvel as you journey through the world's oldest rainforest 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Sydney Sydney
Day 2 Visit Taronga Zoo, Free Afternoon Sydney
Day 3 Sydney's Northern Beaches & Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park Sydney
Day 4 Fly to Uluru, Kata Tjuta Tour & Sunset Over Uluru Uluru
Day 5 Sunrise Camel Ride & Uluru Sacred Sites Tour Uluru
Day 6 Field of Light Uluru Sunrise, Fly to Cairns Cairns
Day 7 Full-Day Outer Great Barrier Reef Tour Cairns
Day 8 Kuranda Scenic Railway & Cable Car Over the Rainforest Cairns
Day 9 Free Day in Cairns Cairns
Day 10 Depart Australia  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Sydney

Kids surfing
Take the kids surfing at one of Sydney's famous beaches

Welcome to Australia! Upon arrival in Sydney, your driver will be waiting to take you to your city accommodations. The capital of New South Wales, this former penal colony for British convicts is now a glittering metropolis and 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 recharge at your hotel, head out for a bite to eat, where you'll be spoiled for choice with the wide variety of multicultural cuisine. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you choose. Ride the ferry across the harbor to Manly and wave at the Sydney Opera House, stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens, or go swimming in the tranquil waters of Coogee. Explore 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.

Day 2: Visit Taronga Zoo, Free Afternoon

Taronga Zoo
Meet the giraffes at Taronga Zoo

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 young 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.

Afterward, enjoy lunch at one of Sydney's many great restaurants, or 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, and if energy levels are still high, head to Bondi Beach for a family surf lesson to burn off some holiday excitement. Alternatively, tour Sydney's iconic Royal Opera House or discover the thrill of the fair at Luna Park—Sydney's world-famous and heritage-listed funfair, located under Harbour Bridge on the northern shore.

Day 3: Sydney's Northern Beaches & Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

A girl admires Palm Beach from atop a rock
A girl admires Palm Beach from atop a rock

Start your day with a scenic minivan drive to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, where you will go on a bush walk to view First Nations cave art and learn about the sacred engraved rocks these ancient indigenous people left behind. Your next stop will be Palm Beach, where Australia's popular television show, "Home and Away," is filmed, to see filming locations and the area's famous mansions.

Your journey continues with stops at several famous beaches, where you can watch surfers, look for whales, and take photographs to your heart's content. Take a coastal stroll on the Curl Curl Boardwalk and view the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the Olympic swimming champion who brought surfing to Australia. End your journey at North Head National Park, where you'll take a bush walk to a viewpoint with a stunning view of Sydney Harbour and then hop on the Manly Ferry for a scenic boat ride back to Sydney.

Day 4: Fly to Uluru, Kata Tjuta Tour & Sunset over Uluru

Sunset over Uluru
Watch the sunset over Uluru 

Today, your driver will transfer you to the airport, where you'll catch a three-hour flight north to Uluru. This sacred part of Australia's Red Centre desert plains is famous for Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara First Nations tribes—the area's traditional landowners. Upon arrival, you'll be transported to your hotel. Take some time to relax before this afternoon's excursion.

After getting settled, your guide will drive you to the mystical 36 domes of Kata-Tjuta (the Olgas), which lie 21 miles (35 km) west of Uluru. Enjoy the scenic views of these rock formations as you learn about the park's history. While First Nations people have lived in this area for at least 30,000 years, it was only in 1872 that the first non-Aboriginal person, the explorer Ernest Giles, first spotted Kata-Tjuta. Re-live his feeling of wonder as you follow the one-hour family-friendly hiking trail through Walpa Gorge, a desert refuge for plants and animals.

As dusk descends, travel with your family to the viewing area. Raise a toast to your adventures, and watch Uluru turn from red and gold to shades of pink and purple as the sun sets over the horizon.

Day 5: Sunrise Camel Ride & Sacred Sites Tour

Uluru tour
Tour Uluru's sacred sites today

It's a pre-dawn start today to see the sunrise over Uluru and make some unforgettable family memories. Supported by a guide, ride your camels over the dunes in the peaceful first light, and marvel at the incredible sight of the morning sun as it ignites Uluru into a bright fiery red. Stop at a remote lookout en route to capture the stunning views or just appreciate the stillness. After your ride, enjoy a light breakfast of freshly baked dampner (beer bread) with quandong jam and a warming cup of tea or coffee. Spend a well-deserved rest back at your hotel before this afternoon's adventure. 

After a leisurely lunch (and maybe some shut-eye), it's time to venture deep into Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park with a local guide. Learn about Anangu First Nations culture and the area's flora, fauna, and geology. Visit nearby caves where children will be fascinated by the First Nations rock art. Continue to the sacred Mutitjulu Waterhole—a freshwater spring and the site of one of Uluru's most dramatic creation stories. Contemplate and absorb the serenity of this sacred spot while eagle-eyed kids try to spot the wallabies who hop among the tall grasses and river-red gum trees.

Day 6: Field of Light Uluru Sunrise, Fly to Cairns

Field of Light Uluru
Field of Light Uluru

Waking up before sunrise will be amply repaid during your visit to Field of Light Uluru, an art installation featuring 50,000 illuminated frosted glass spheres that shimmer in various colors. The stars overhead and the silhouettes of nearby trees invite contemplation as you wait for sunrise. At the sunrise observation area, you'll watch the sun come up as you enjoy a warm cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate.

In the afternoon, it's time to swap the outback for the tropics, as your driver takes you to the airport for your flight to Cairns. 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. Settle into your hotel and share your Uluru memories with your family during your evening meal.

Plan your trip to Australia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 7: Full-Day Outer Great Barrier Reef Tour

The Great Barrier Reef
Explore the Great Barrier Reef

Get ready for a day exploring the Outer Barrier Reef! This morning, you and your family will be whisked to Port Douglas to board your catamaran. Enjoy breakfast on the deck as you sail to the Agincourt ribbon reefs situated at the very edge of the Great Barrier Reef. Widely regarded as some of the highest quality dive sites, this small chain of ribbon reefs runs parallel to the Continental Shelf. Here the clear outer reef water provides the best possible visibility as you enjoy a guided snorkel led by a qualified marine biologist.  

After a tropical buffet lunch, adults and kids alike will love the coral-viewing tour on a glass-bottom boat. Marvel together at the colorful reef sites that showcase the abundant marine life living among the corals, and see who will be first to spot the various tropical fish and turtles that call the reef home. Relax on the spacious sundeck as you sail back to Port Douglas Marina, where you will be transferred to your Cairns accommodation. The evening is yours to spend as you wish. 

Day 8: Kuranda Scenic Railway & Cable Car Over the Rainforest

Kuranda Rail
Cuddle up to a koala at the Kuranda Koala Gardens

This morning you'll make your way to Cairns Railway Station, situated right in the heart of the city. Board the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway and travel 15 miles (25 km) inland to the picturesque mountain village of Kuranda. Admire the breathtaking views as the train snakes along hillside tracks built by the early settlers and offers stunning views of waterfalls, the cane fields of Cairns, and the Barron Gorge as you rise from sea level to 1,072 feet (327 m). 

Once you reach Kuranda, explore this rainforest village and its heritage markets, known for their colorful and unusual arts and crafts. Head to Kuranda Koala Gardens and cuddle a koala or visit the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, where you'll be surrounded by over 1,500 of these beautiful creatures as they flutter around you. Return to Cairns via a 90-minute trip on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Snap plenty of photos as you glide over the canopy of one of the world's oldest rainforest ecosystems. 

Day 9: Free Day in Cairns

Cairns swimming lagoon
Cool off in Cairns' swimming lagoon
It's your last full day in Australia, and the morning is yours to explore Cairns' many attractions with your family. After a leisurely breakfast, head together to the Cairns Lagoon Swimming Pool, located in the heart of the central business district. Relax on the grassy knoll as you watch the kids splash in the shallows and take a dip to cool off before deciding how to spend the rest of your day. Make your way to the City Botanic Gardens for a stroll or meander along the Rainforest Boardwalk through Centenary lakes.
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 international cafés and restaurants and take one last walk along the esplanade as the sun dips.

Day 10: Depart Cairns

Depart Australia
Depart Australia

It's time to say goodbye as your memorable holiday in Australia concludes today. Your driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Australian Adventure for Families: City, Outback & Reef in 10 Days
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