In nine days, you can hit the highlights of Australia, from the cities to the outback to the rainforests of the northern tropics. Start the journey in style with the city sights and culture of Sydney before embarking on the nearby Blue Mountains for nature hikes around this Grand Canyon of the south. Then, jet off to Northern Territory for spiritual stargazing near the iconic Uluru (Ayers Rock) before finishing the trip on the Great Barrier Reef and in the rainforests of tropical Queensland.


  • Climb Sydney's landmark bridge and tour its scenic harbor by boat
  • Take a trip to the Blue Mountains and marvel at its gorges and rock formations
  • Dine under the stars at Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia's most famous landmark
  • Go snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef and explore the rainforests of Daintree

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Sydney, Hike the Harbour Bridge Sydney
Day 2 Opera House Tour & Sydney Harbour Lunch Cruise Sydney
Day 3 Day Trip to the Blue Mountains Sydney
Day 4 Transfer to Uluru, Sounds of Silence Dinner Uluru
Day 5 Sunrise Kata Tjuta Tour Uluru
Day 6 Uluru to Port Douglas, Optional Activities Port Douglas
Day 7 Barrier Reef & Coral Cays Boat Tour Port Douglas
Day 8 First Nations Fishing & Daintree Rainforest Tour Port Douglas
Day 9 Port Douglas to Cairns & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Sydney, Hike the Harbour Bridge

See Sydney from atop Harbour Bridge

Welcome to Sydney! The capital of New South Wales ticks all the boxes of a great global metropolis: prime waterfront location, iconic landmarks, copious beaches, and great shopping, nightlife, and culinary scenes. Upon arrival at the airport, a personal driver will transfer you to your hotel. After settling in, you'll head out for a special excursion to view Sydney Harbour from an elevated perspective.

Today's three-hour tour is organized by BridgeClimb Sydney, which has been leading guests on climbs up the city's, iconic Harbour Bridge since 1998. After a safety demonstration, you'll strap on your gear and harness, then embark on a guided climb that takes you 439 feet (134 m) above sea level. Along the way, you'll be treated to 360-degree views of the city, including east to the Opera House and west of the Blue Mountains. At the end of the climb, you'll have the rest of the day free to explore or return to your hotel.

Day 2: Opera House Tour & Sydney Harbour Lunch Cruise

Go inside the iconic Sydney Opera House on a tour

After breakfast, you'll head to the most famous building in the country: the Sydney Opera House. Construction on this masterpiece of 20th-century architecture (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) began in 1959 and took over 20 years to complete. Today, it's a multi-venue performing arts center that presents more than 2,000 shows to over 1.5 million audience members each year. On an hour-long guided tour, you'll go inside to learn about the building's history and design, plus visit the main public spaces.

In the early afternoon, experience the majesty of Sydney Harbour on a leisurely, four-hour lunch cruise. Embark from the marina on a comfortable ship and relax at your table as you pass famous landmarks such as the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. As you go, you'll enjoy a multi-course Australian barbecue lunch (beer and wine included). This small-group tour also includes a host who will provide insightful commentary on the history of Sydney Harbour and its foreshore. Plus, you can enjoy activities like fishing, kayaking, and swimming.

Day 3: Day Trip to the Blue Mountains

The Three Sisters rock formations, in the Blue Mountains
The Three Sisters rock formations in the Blue Mountains

About a two-hour drive inland from the urban jungle of Sydney are the dramatic Blue Mountains, a region known for rugged cliffs, eucalyptus forests, and cascading waterfalls. Lace up your hiking boots for a full-day, small-group excursion to see the best of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. After transferring here, you'll visit a working farm and meet local wildlife like kangaroos, emus, wombats, and koalas. Then, hike across valleys and sandstone ridges to viewpoints of the towering Three Sisters rock formations.

As you reach Govett's Leap, one of the country's most famous lookouts, marvel at the sweeping vistas across Grose Valley, Australia's answer to the Grand Canyon. Your final stop is 3,280 feet (1,000 m) above sea level at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden. Here, you'll see hundreds of international plant species as well as the exotic critters that call this sanctuary home, including various birds, reptiles, and insects.

Day 4: Transfer to Uluru, Sounds of Silence Dinner

Take a sunset trip to Uluru (Ayers Rock)

A car will take you to the Sydney Airport in the morning, where you'll catch a 3.5-hour flight deep into the Australian Outback and Uluru (Ayers Rock). This massive sandstone monolith is perhaps the most famous natural landmark in the country. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel, where you can relax for the remainder of the afternoon. When the sun goes down, get ready for an extraordinary dining experience. Sounds of Silence is more than just a dinner; it's a spiritual discovery of the outback desert.

Your meal is served on a dune with views looking out to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and the fabled Uluru monolith. As the sun sets, the experience kicks off with sparkling wine and delectable canapés, followed by a feast of gourmet "bush food" featuring native ingredients. After dinner, gather around the fire for some stargazing with commentary from your Indigenous host that reveals the significance these constellations have to the First Nations people. Afterward, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 5: Sunrise Kata Tjuta Tour

Take a hike into Walpa Gorge
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Wake up before dawn for a trip to one of the Northern Territory's natural highlights: Kata Tjuta. Also known as the Olgas, this collection of otherworldly sandstone rock domes is not only beautiful, but it's also a sacred site to the First Nations people. The five-hour tour starts with a transfer from your hotel to the entrance of Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park. From there, it's a 25-mile (40-km) drive through the scenic desert landscapes to the incredible rock formation. 

You'll arrive at sunrise and watch as the morning sun gilds the 36 domes that comprise Kata Tjuta, causing them to glow. Afterward, enjoy a gourmet picnic breakfast. Then you're off to Walpa Gorge, another natural highlight and refuge for plants and animals of the desert. Take a stroll along a natural creek and through deep gullies between the mighty cliff faces. As you go, your guide will explain how the area's geology has evolved over millions of years. At the end of the tour, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 6: Uluru to Port Douglas, Optional Activities

Four Mile Beach, in Port Douglas
Four Mile Beach, in Port Douglas

In the morning, transfer from your hotel in Uluru to the airport to catch a 2.5-hour flight to Cairns on Australia's northeast coast. Upon arrival, a private car will transfer you to the coastal town of Port Douglas. Located just north of Cairns, Port Douglas is a resort town on the Coral Sea and base for excursions to Australia's famous Great Barrier Reef. It's also perfect for travelers who want a tropical escape in a relaxed environment.

After checking in to your hotel, you can spend the day browsing Port Douglas' boutiques, dining in its exquisite al fresco restaurants, and taking excursions to coral cays (islets) along the nearby Barrier Reef. A visit to Four Mile Beach is essential, as you can laze on the golden sands of this palm-fringed crescent beach without a care in the world. Port Douglas is also a popular base to explore the Wet Tropics national parks, Daintree Rainforest, and the scenic coastal headland of Cape Tribulation.

Day 7: Barrier Reef & Coral Cays Boat Tour

Sail the Great Barrier Reef

Your full-day Great Barrier Reef adventure starts with an early departure from the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina in Port Douglas. Kick back and relax on the deck of a beautiful yacht as you sail to the white sands of Mackay Coral Cay and epic snorkeling spots at Undine Reef. Getting there is half the fun, as this sailing trip follows the stunning coastline and features views of the Daintree Mountains' soaring peaks. Once at the protected sites, you'll hit the water and explore the reef system on a guided snorkeling tour led by a qualified marine biologist.

You can also enjoy a coral-viewing tour on a glass-bottom boat. Pass premium reef sites that showcase abundant marine life living among the beautiful corals. These include tropical fish, turtles, and even giant clam gardens. The tour includes a buffet lunch, teas and coffees, and first-class service from the helpful, friendly crew.

Day 8: First Nations Fishing & Daintree Rainforest Tour

The jade rivers of Mossman Gorge, near Daintree

After breakfast, embark on a full-day tour that will take you just north of Port Douglas to Cooya Beach (Kuyu Kuyu), a traditional fishing ground of the Kuku Yalanji people. Here, you'll join one of the Kubirri Warra brothers on their beach for a walk among the mudflats and mangroves. Following this is an introduction to the traditional fishing techniques of these First Nations Australians, after which you'll join them to try and catch your own "tucker" (food).

Then, travel inland to nearby Mossman Gorge, the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park. After a traditional First Nations welcoming ceremony, you'll enter the rainforests of Daintree, which are the oldest in the world. Enjoy an easy hike across boardwalks and bridges that offer spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and waterfalls. As you go, your guide will point out the various flora and fauna you pass. Afterward, you'll return to Port Douglas and your hotel.

Day 9: Port Douglas to Cairns & Depart

Goodbye, Australia
In the morning, your driver will take you one hour south from Port Douglas to Cairns and the airport. Here, you'll catch a connecting flight home or onward to the next adventure. See you soon!

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Map of Sydney, Uluru & Port Douglas - 9 Days
Map of Sydney, Uluru & Port Douglas - 9 Days
Written by Liz Neal, updated Sep 8, 2022