Australia is an enormous country, and when trying to work out an itinerary it can be difficult to choose between its lively cities, beautiful beaches, or unique wildlife. With this varied 15-day itinerary, you can experience a bit of everything. Starting in Melbourne, travel along the spectacular Great Ocean Road—one of Australia's best short road trips—before heading to Adelaide and wild Kangaroo Island. You'll also visit Australia's dramatic red center, relax at the Great Barrier Reef, and end in Sydney, Australia's largest city.

Highlights

  • Travel one of Australia's best road trips, the Great Ocean Road
  • Check out native Australian wildlife on Kangaroo Island
  • Be amazed by the underwater life of the Great Barrier Reef
  • Watch the sun rise and set at Uluru
  • Experience some of the world's oldest rainforest at the Daintree Rainforest

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Melbourne Melbourne
Day 2 Free Time in Melbourne - Phillip Island Penguin Parade Melbourne
Day 3 Great Ocean Road & the Twelve Apostles Melbourne
Day 4 Free Time in Melbourne Melbourne
Day 5 Fly to Adelaide Adelaide
Day 6 Tour Kangaroo Island Kangaroo Island
Day 7 Tour Kangaroo Island - Return to Adelaide Adelaide
Day 8 Fly to Uluru Uluru
Day 9 Sunrise Camel Tour of Uluru - Fly to Cairns Cairns
Day 10 Visit the Outer Reef Cairns
Day 11 Tour the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation Cairns
Day 12 Fly to Sydney Sydney
Day 13 Big Bus Tour of Sydney Sydney
Day 14 Blue Mountains Tour, Including Hiking Sydney
Day 15 Depart Sydney Sydney

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Melbourne

Melbourne

Upon arrival at Melbourne Airport you'll be transferred to your hotel in the central city.

Depending on your time of arrival, you may have time to choose an optional tour, or to explore Melbourne at your leisure. Melbourne is a cosmopolitan city and a foodie's delight. It's an easy city to explore, with a good tram network and laid out on a grid system, so it's hard to get lost. 

Day 2: Free Time in Melbourne - Phillip Island Penguin Parade

Penguin Parade Phillip Island Victoria
Penguin Parade at Phillip Island

This morning is yours to spend at your leisure, and in the early afternoon, you'll take a tour to Phillip Island to see the "penguin parade", as well as koalas and kangaroos, and the largest colony of fur seals in Australia. But the main attraction are the Little Penguins, who waddle up the sand to their burrow homes on the dunes in the evening, returning from their daily fishing excursion. 

You'll return to your hotel quite late this evening, at around 10 pm.

Day 3: Great Ocean Road & The Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles

This trip along the Great Ocean Road can be organized as a day trip, or an overnight if you'd like to go hiking. Traveling south from Melbourne you'll pass through the popular coastal towns of Apollo Bay and Lorne, a surfer's heaven. Along the way you'll see many fern-filled gullies and river inlets. Travel the length of the Great Ocean Road, passing towering limestone cliffs, sweeping white beaches, and stunning forest scenery. The Great Ocean Road is truly one of the world's greatest scenic coastal drives. The contrasts between the rugged coast and the verdant rainforest are dramatic.

A highlight of the journey is seeing the amazing Twelve Apostles, limestone stacks that rise dramatically from the sea. Walk along the boardwalk and enjoy the scenery from various viewing platforms. See Loch Ard Gorge, and be swept away by the romantic and tragic story of love and lives lost aboard the Loch Ard.

Continue on to the Port Campbell National Park, learning the tragic history of over 50 ships that have been wrecked along this rugged coastline. Continue beyond Port Campbell to the remnants of London Bridge. See the spectacular night lights of Melbourne as you cross the West Gate Bridge on your way back to Melbourne.

Day 4: Free Time in Melbourne

There are many good restaurants in Melbourne

Today you'll have time to explore Melbourne, alone or on an optional guided tour. Recommended optional activities include a trip to the Yarra Valley wine country and a Melbourne city tour.

Wine enthusiasts should visit the Yarra Valley, a picturesque region of vineyards. En route, visit beautiful Sherbrooke Forest, home to lyrebirds, crimson rosellas, cockatoos and kookaburras. Ride the restored Puffing Billy Steam Train through the towering mountain ash and lush fern gullies of Sherbrooke Forest. Stop for a lunch break at a Yarra Valley winery, and spend the afternoon touring vineyards and sampling fine wines. 

If you'd prefer to stay in the city, we recommend a Melbourne city tour. Find out why Melbourne has been named the world's most livable city so many times. Visit sites like Parliament House, Princess Theatre, Melbourne University, Fitzroy Gardens, Queen Victoria Arcade, and Lygon Street. Take a walking tour through the heart of Melbourne, including some of its arcades and shopping streets like Royal Arcade, Block Arcade, Centre Place, and Degraves Street. Stop for a good cup of coffee, of course. At the end of the main tour, hop on board a Yarra River Cruise.

Day 5: Fly to Adelaide

Adelaide is the capital of South Australia

This morning, fly to Adelaide, about 1.5 hours in duration. Upon arrival you'll be transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to spend at your leisure. If you're up for a bit of exploration, we recommend a twilight Adelaide Oval roof climb (in summer) for great views over the cricket ground and the city; an excursion to the upmarket Adelaide Hills area where wine is produced; or a trip to the Adelaide Zoo, where you can meet koalas, kangaroos, emus, echidnas, wombats, Tasmanian devils, cockatoos, and more.

Day 6: Tour Kangaroo Island

Seal on a beach on Kangaroo Island

Leave Adelaide this morning and travel by coach to Cape Jervis, taking in the picturesque Fleurieu Peninsula, to board a ferry over to Kangaroo Island.

Once on the island, your first stop will be the Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery, where you can sample some eucalyptus products. Continue to Vivonne Bay Bistro, on a huge bush property, where you'll enjoy a two-course lunch.

Afterwards, visit Seal Bay Conservation Park. Here you'll go on a guided beach walk with a national park ranger, among a breeding colony of wild and rare Australian sea lions. Then, travel to the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, where you can join a guided tour and hand feed the friendly kangaroos.

Day 7: Tour Kangaroo Island - Return to Adelaide

The dramatic coastline of Kangaroo Island

After breakfast, stop into the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary for a walk among eucalyptus trees, in search of lazing koalas. Continue on to Flinders Chase National Park, arriving at the iconic Remarkable Rocks ahead of the daily crowds. Ramble across its craggy coastline, marvel at its dramatic seascapes, and then stop in at Admirals Arch on Cape Du Couedic to see the resident fur seals frolicking in the ocean or basking on the rocks.

Later, return to Adelaide on the ferry and coach.

Day 8: Fly to Uluru

Iconic Uluru

This morning, catch a flight from Adelaide to Uluru, in Australia's red center.

Many tour options are available at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Ride a camel across the desert dunes, hop on a Harley Davidson, or take a walk around the base of Uluru. From your accommodation it's only a short stroll to the numerous lookouts, where you can view one of the best sunsets in Australia, with the spectacular play of colors across the face of Uluru. 

Day 9: Sunrise Camel Tour of Uluru - Fly to Cairns

Experience the colors of the desert early in the morning

Start early this morning and ride a camel to Uluru in time for sunrise. Breathe the crisp morning desert air as you ride your friendly camel for one hour through the changing colors of the desert landscape, as dawn breaks over Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Watch the desert come to life and learn about the flora and fauna of the area from your knowledgeable cameleer. Enjoy a breakfast of bush tucker and freshly baked beer bread within sight of Uluru.

In the afternoon, learn more about desert reptiles at the Reptile Encounter, an educational and entertaining experience for the whole family. The desert of Australia is home to 73 species of reptile. Learn about some of these and how they survive in the harsh desert environment. While they may be hard to spot in the wild due to their ability to camouflage and rapidly change color, you'll have the opportunity to get up close to some of these reptiles.

In the evening, take a sunset tour of Uluru. Visit waterholes and rock art sites and learn of Uluru’s cultural significance to the local Anangu Aboriginal people. You will also learn about the Tjukurpa (creation stories) of Liru (poisonous snake) and Kuniya (python), and about the Mala people. Then relax and witness a spectacular sunset, absorbing the majesty of this powerful place. Sparkling wine and light snacks will be provided.

After your tour you'll be transferred to the airport for an evening flight to Cairns. In north-east Queensland, this coastal city couldn't be much more different from Uluru!

Day 10: Visit the Outer Reef

Take a boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef
Take a boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef

From the desert to the sea, today you'll experience the best of the Great Barrier Reef

Head out onto the water, to the outer reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. If you choose to snorkel (equipment will be provided) you'll see an amazing array of colorful fish and corals beneath the surface of the sea. If you'd prefer not to get wet, you can still enjoy a lot from the comfort of your boat. See below the sea's surface through a semi-submersible boat and observation deck.

Day 11: Tour the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation

Daintree Rainforest

Today, enjoy a full day tour of the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation. Drive along the coast to Port Douglas, where you'll visit a wildlife center and see kangaroos, wallabies, endangered cassowaries and other animals and birds.

Cross the Daintree River on a cable-driven ferry, and along the rainforest-fringed Cape Tribulation Road through Daintree National Park, a magnificent wilderness region. Arrive at Cape Tribulation Beach, where you can relax or walk along the boardwalk to the lookout, as well as participate in a guided rainforest walk.

On your return journey back to Port Douglas and Cairns, stop at Alexandra Lookout for magnificent views of the Daintree River and Coral Sea. Search for crocodiles, birds and other wildlife as your guide takes you through the mangroves on a Daintree River cruise.

Day 12: Fly to Sydney

Central Sydney

Fly south today, from tropical norther Queensland to Sydney. After your arrival you'll be transferred to your hotel.

Depending on your time of arrival, you may have time to enjoy an afternoon or evening Sydney Harbour cruise, a great way to get acquainted with Australia's largest city.

Day 13: Big Bus Tour of Sydney

Tour the city by Big Bus

See the highlights of Sydney on a hop-on hop-off bus tour, the Big Bus, which combines the convenience and information of a guided tour with the freedom to choose what you want to see. The open-air double-decker buses go past the Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens, many famous beaches, the Rocks, Taronga Zoo, as well as Bondi Beach. Get off the bus at any of the designated stops and spend more time exploring the places that interest you most.

Day 14: Blue Mountains Tour, Including Hiking

The Three Sisters

Travel west of Sydney today to the UNESCO-listed Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains area is an inspiring mix of rainforest, canyons, tall forests and heathlands; it's truly one of Australia’s natural wonders. Discover this wonderland of sandstone outcrops, deep ravines, pristine bushland and dramatic cliffs. 

Arrive at Evans Lookout, where you'll be issued a lunch pack, map, and hiking instructions. Hike from Evans Lookout to Govett’s Leap, all the while looking out across Australia’s answer to the Grand Canyon, the Grose Valley. The magnificent waterfalls here drop a whopping 590 feet (180 m) to the base of the cliff. The last stop is the delightful Mt. Tomah Botanic Gardens, where you can enjoy the sweeping views and enjoy a glass of sparkling wine or orange juice before travelling back to Sydney.

Day 15: Depart Sydney

Farewell Sydney

It's time to say goodbye to Australia. Transfer to Sydney's Kingsford Smith International Airport in good time for your flight.

Map

Map of Australia Grand Tour: Sydney, Melbourne, Uluru, Great Barrier Reef - 15 Days
Map of Australia Grand Tour: Sydney, Melbourne, Uluru, Great Barrier Reef - 15 Days