Explore the natural beauty and diverse wildlife of the northern half of Australia, making your way from tropical Cairns to lively Perth on this 9-day trip. You'll see the Great Barrier Reef, cruise through the wetlands of Kakadu National Park and fly over the magnificent Horizontal Falls. Along the way, you'll learn about aboriginal culture, explore the dramatic Katherine Gorge, and end your journey with a sunrise camel tour on the beach as you gaze out over the Indian Ocean.

Highlights

  • Go on a catamaran cruise to the Great Barrier Reef
  • See crocodiles in Kakadu National Park
  • Learn about aboriginal culture and history
  • Fly over the unforgettable Horizontal Falls
  • Ride a camel on the beach in Broome as you watch the sunrise 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cairns Cairns
Day 2 The Great Barrier Reef Cairns
Day 3 Cairns - Darwin Darwin
Day 4 Kakadu National Park Darwin
Day 5 Katherine Gorge Cruise & Edith Falls Darwin
Day 6 Darwin - Broome Broome
Day 7 Horizontal Falls Broome
Day 8 Broome - Perth Perth
Day 9 Depart Perth   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairns

Butterfly
Make new friends at the butterfly sanctuary in Cairns

Welcome to tropical Queensland, where the rainforest meets the sea! Take the rest of the day to relax after your international flight. If you're up to exploring, visit the pools at the Cairns Lagoon, tuck into a homestyle meal at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, or hang out with the butterflies at the Kuranda Butterfly Sanctuary.

Day 2: The Great Barrier Reef

Reef
Explore the beautiful Great Barrier Reef

Today you'll board a high-speed catamaran for a full-day outing to the Great Barrier Reef. This breathtaking coral reef is the world's largest and is home to over 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays. There are hundreds of tropical islands dotted throughout, as well as sun-soaked golden beaches. 

Take a dip in the water, explore your surroundings and keep your camera ready as you admire the abundant marine life. A morning tea and buffet lunch will be served on board. Return to Cairns in the late afternoon, and spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Day 3: Cairns - Darwin

Darwin
Wander through the Darwin Botanic Gardens

Spend the morning exploring at your own pace before heading to the airport for your short domestic flight to Darwin in the Northern Territory. You'll have the afternoon free to wander around town. 

This tropical city provides the perfect backdrop to explore some of Australia's unique flora and fauna. Meet some crocodiles with a visit to Crocosaurus Cove, roam around the lush George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, or take a stroll through the Darwin Waterfront Precinct, where you'll find tons of restaurants, bars, and a man-made beach. Head down to Mindil Beach at sunset to browse the food and crafts markets.

Day 4: Kakadu National Park

Take a river cruise in Kakadu National Park
Take a river cruise in Kakadu National Park

Wake up early for an hour-and-a-half drive along Stuart Highway, one of the longest roads in the country, to get to Kakadu National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to 2,000 plant species and animals like saltwater crocodiles, wild horses, and tropical birds. You'll see rugged cliffs, striking waterfalls, and aboriginal rock art as you explore.

You'll join a local guide on a river cruise through the wetlands of the Yellow Water Billabong in the heart of Kakadu to search for crocs — don't forget your camera! Next, you'll visit the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Center, where you'll meet the indigenous Bininj people and learn about their lives in Kakadu.

Return to Darwin in the evening.

Day 5: Katherine Gorge Cruise & Edith Falls

Enjoy a cruise through Katherine Gorge in the Outback
Enjoy a cruise through Katherine Gorge in the Outback

You'll head into the Outback today, stopping first at the Adelaide River War Cemetary, dedicated to those lost in the air raids in Darwin in the 1940s. Then continue on to the pools of the cascading Edith Falls in Nitmiluk National Park for a refreshing swim.

After lunch, hop on a two-hour cruise through Katherine Gorge, which is actually a network of 13 gorges carved out of billion-year-old sandstone. Along the way, you'll spot aboriginal rock art sites dotted throughout the park. Relax and take in the rugged landscapes and dramatic waterfalls around you before heading back to Darwin in the late evening.

Day 6: Darwin - Broome

Broome
Admire the red ochre cliffs set against the aquamarine sea in Broome

Today you will fly from Darwin to Broome. This remote coastal town in northwestern Australia's Kimberley region sits right on the Indian Ocean and is home to the famous Cable Beach. It has a history of pearl farming, and you'll spend the afternoon discovering the town's pearling legacy with a visit to Australia's oldest pearl farm. Make sure to stop by Gantheaume Point to see 130 million-year-old dinosaur footprints before heading to the beach to watch a magnificent sunset.

Day 7: Horizontal Falls

Horizontal Falls
An aerial view of Horizontal Falls

Get ready to explore Kimberley's natural beauty with a visit to the Kooljaman wilderness camp at Cape Leveque. Owned and run by indigenous Bardi Jawi community, the camp is known for its jaw-dropping landscape and astonishing diversity of wildlife. Take part in activities like swimming, snorkeling, fishing, whale watching, or simply combing the shore for seashells.

After lunch, take a stroll along the white-sand beaches and marvel at the striking contrast between the ancient red cliffs and the rich blue of the Indian Ocean. Then head to the Aquaculture Hatchery at One Arm Point, where you'll learn about the Bardi Jawi community's sustainable aquaculture traditions, passed down by generations of ancestors who inhabited this sensitive coastal area. You'll also have the opportunity to peruse locally-crafted souvenirs.

Then board a scenic flight for a trip to Horizontal Falls, one of the Kimberley coast's most stunning natural wonders. Gaps in the cliffs cause seawater to build up on one side than the other, and the falls move horizontally, switching directions with each changing of the tide.

Day 8: Broome - Perth

Perth
Perth's Cottesloe Beach

Before departing Broome, take part a sunrise camel tour along Cable Beach. Then make your way to the airport for your flight to Perth.

This capital of Western Australia offers an inviting blend of tranquil beaches and cosmopolitan sophistication. You'll have the rest of the day free to explore at your own pace. If you haven't had enough wildlife yet, head to Caversham Wildlife Park for up-close animal encounters. Visit Cottesloe or Leighton Beaches for fun in the sun, or take the ferry to nearby Rottnest Island for a more quiet beach experience.

Perhaps discover the city's art galleries and wander around the shops of Murray Street and Hey Street. In the evening, make sure to check out Perth's lively bar scene. 

Day 9: Depart Perth

Sunset in Perth
Sunset in Perth

Take your last morning to unwind and reflect before heading for the airport for your onward flight.

Map

Map of Exploring Northern Australia - 9 Days
Map of Exploring Northern Australia - 9 Days