Covering four states, this perfectly curated itinerary features Australia's top attractions in 12 days, providing visitors with a well-rounded experience. Beginning in cool and trendy Melbourne, you'll work your way around the country to the cosmopolitan cities of Adelaide and Sydney, ending the trip in Cairns. Along the way, you'll drive the scenic Great Ocean Road, hang out with kangaroos and seals on Kangaroo Island, climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and explore the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland.

Highlights

  • Explore the streets and alleyways in Melbourne's coolest neighborhoods
  • Drive the Great Ocean Road for views of the coast and stellar rock formations
  • Go wine tasting in world-famous Hunter Valley 
  • Discover Aboriginal culture at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
  • Explore the Great Barrier Reef on a catamaran tour

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Melbourne Melbourne
Day 2 Melbourne city tour Melbourne
Day 3 Melbourne - Great Ocean Road Melbourne
Day 4 Melbourne - Adelaide Adelaide
Day 5 Day trip to Kangaroo Island Adelaide
Day 6 Fly to Sydney - City tour Sydney
Day 7 Day trip to Blue Mountains National Park Sydney
Day 8 Free day Sydney
Day 9 Fly to Cairns Cairns
Day 10 Free day Cairns
Day 11 Day trip to the Great Barrier Reef Cairns
Day 12 Depart Cairns  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia
Visit Flinders Railway Station

Welcome to Melbourne! Arrive in the Melbourne airport, then proceed to the designated shuttle area for your transfer to your accommodation. You'll be met by a tour representative who will go through the upcoming itinerary and answer any questions you may have.

The remainder of the day is free. Head out to explore the city or rest after the international flight. 

Day 2: Melbourne city tour

Australia - Melbourne - Hardware lane
Explore the streets and alleyways in Melbourne's coolest neighborhoods

Often called Australia's most European city, and known as the cultural capital of the country, there's plenty to see and experience. Meet your guide this morning for a half-day tour of some of Melbourne's highlights, including Flinders Street Station, Federation Square, Queen Victoria Market, and the Royal Botanical Gardens. Along the way, you'll stop to check out important monuments, green parks, and cool neighborhoods with interesting streets and laneways. Return to your hotel in the early afternoon and spend the rest of the day as you please.

Day 3: Tour the Great Ocean Road

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Stop to snap pics of the Twelve Apostles

Today you'll set out west along the famed Great Ocean Road, admiring Victoria's dramatic southern coastline. During the journey, you'll pass surf beaches, whale lookouts, lush rainforests, and majestic mountain ranges punctuated by stops in delightful seaside towns.

You'll also drive to Port Campbell National Park, site of the Twelve Apostles, for towering limestone stacks formed over the centuries by the pounding surf. Just a few minutes west of here is Loch Ard, a gorge so scenic and primeval that it has served as the setting for numerous movies and TV shows. From this point, you'll head back to Melbourne taking in the panoramic vistas along the way.

Day 4: Fly to Adelaide

Australia - Adelaide - Adelaide city centre
Adelaide city center viewed from the north side of Torrens river in Elder Park

Transfer to the Melbourne domestic airport for your morning flight to Adelaide (1.5 hours) and onward to your accommodation. South Australia's coastal capital, you'll have the rest of the day to explore the renowned museums and art galleries along the River Torrens, including the Art Gallery of South Australia for an extensive collection of indigenous art and the South Australian Museum devoted to natural history.

Day 5: Day trip to Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island's inhabitants
Hang out with Kangaroo Island's inhabitants

Board a coach bus in Adelaide this morning and ferry to Kangaroo Island, KI as it is commonly referred to, for a full day observing animals. Start with a visit to Seal Bay accompanied by a local park ranger to see a colony of rare Australian sea lions. Explore Flinders Chase National Park, a sanctuary for Australian animals including kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas and stop at the Remarkable Rocks for a stunning view of the sea. And finally, cross a boardwalk to the Admirals Arch stone formation to see a colony of New Zealand fur seals.

Return to Adelaide late this evening.

Day 6: Fly to Sydney - City tour

Welcome to Sydney
Discover Sydney's iconic sights

This morning you will board your short flight from Adelaide to Sydney where you'll then proceed to transfer to your hotel. After checking in, you'll join your tour guide and make your way to the historic Rocks area and Mrs. Macquarie's Chair, a charming and historic neighborhood that has a great view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You'll continue past Kings Cross and Double Bay, through to Watson’s Bay and onward to the famous Bondi Beach where you will have free time to explore the area.

The evening is yours to spend as you like. Consider dining in the Sydney Tower Restaurant and enjoy 360-degree views of the city as it lights up at night.

Day 7: Day trip to Blue Mountains National Park

Sydney - Blue Mountains
Explore Blue Mountains National Park

Meet your driver this morning and journey into the heart of the Blue Mountains National Park for an incredible day trip. Your first stop of the day is at Calmsley Hill, a working farm also home to kangaroos, emus, wombats, and koalas, where you'll have some time to enjoy refreshments and see the animals. As you carry on through picturesque villages, you'll pass by waterfalls, eucalyptus forests, and dramatic cliffs—stopping periodically to take in the spectacular views and learn about the endemic Australian forest species.

Enjoy lunch at the Boiler House Café at the Hydro Majestic Hotel for striking views over the valley. Next, you'll set off to visit a selection of scenic lookouts, like Govett’s Leap and enjoy one last stop at Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens for a glass of sparkling wine overlooking sweeping scenery.

Day 8: Free day 

Sydney Bridge Climb
Climb your way to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Today is yours to spend as you like. You may wish to climb to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, spend the day in the Hunter Valley sampling wines, or take a ferry to Manly Beach for a day of sand, sea, and surf.

Day 9: Fly to Cairns

Tjapukai at night
Immerse yourself in Tjapukai culture

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward flight to Cairns (2.5 hours). Check into your hotel and settle in before venturing out in the evening to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park for an evening of performances, food, and dance.

Night Fire is Tjapukai’s signature evening activity. You will meet the indigenous rainforest people, have your face painted, and follow the Tjapukai warriors to a corroboree to celebrate aboriginal Dreamtime stories, before joining the Rainbow Serpent circle to learn traditional songs. Afterward, watch as the ceremonial fire is lit, closing the evening with a spectacular display: shooting a fireball into the night sky.

Day 10: Free day

Australia - Noah Beach - Daintree
Noah Beach where the Daintree Rainforest meets the ocean

Today is yours to explore Cairns at your own pace. For a truly unique experience, you may want to consider a day trip up to Kuranda over the UNESCO-protected, oldest continuously surviving rainforest canopy on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Alternatively, transfer to the Daintree National Park for a 4WD tour of the magical rainforest and discover the only place in the world where rainforest meets reef.

Day 11: Day trip to the Great Barrier Reef

Australia - Great Barrier Reef near Cairns
Cruise aboard a catamaran to explore the Great Barrier Reef

Early this morning you'll board a high-speed catamaran for a full-day cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. Enjoy morning tea aboard the catamaran, stopping to snorkel and explore one of Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts up close. Discover the breathtaking beauty of the world’s largest coral reef, home to abundant marine life comprising over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays as well as hundreds of picturesque tropical islands. Soak in the sun as you enjoy a buffet lunch served on board before continuing your reef exploration.

Return to your hotel in the late afternoon.

Day 12: Depart Cairns

A Final Farewell from Cairns
Take the morning to relax in Cairns

Depending on your travel itinerary, you may have the morning to enjoy the beach one last time or shop for any last minute souvenirs and gifts before transferring to Cairns airport for your onward flight.

Map

Map of Highlights of Australia: Cities, Beaches & Wildlife - 12 Days
Map of Highlights of Australia: Cities, Beaches & Wildlife - 12 Days