This 10-day journey takes you to Australia's tropical north, where the ocean meets the rainforest. All the highlights are included, from sightseeing in Cairns to snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef. But that's not all—you'll continue to Darwin for off-the-beaten-path adventures in Kakadu National Park, Katherine Gorge, and Edith Falls before winding the trip down on the stunning beaches of Perth.


  • Go snorkeling along the legendary Great Barrier Reef
  • Explore the billabong wetlands at Kakadu National Park
  • Tour the stunning Katherine Gorge and swim at Edith Falls
  • Visit highlight beaches and reefs on Australia's west coast

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cairns, Optional Activities Cairns
Day 2 Day Trip to the Great Barrier Reef Cairns
Day 3 Fly to Darwin, Optional Activities Darwin
Day 4 Day Trip to Kakadu National Park Darwin
Day 5 Katherine Gorge Cruise & Edith Falls Darwin
Day 6 Fly to Broome, Pearl Farm Visit Broome
Day 7 Day Trip to Cape Leveque & Horizontal Falls Broome
Day 8 Sunrise Camel Tour, Fly to Perth Perth
Day 9 Transfer to Coral Bay, Optional Activities Coral Bay
Day 10 Day Trip to Shark Bay, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairns, Optional Activities

While in Queensland, take a dip in the famous Cairns Lagoon

Welcome to Australia! This 10-day adventure kicks off in the northernmost state of Queensland, famous for its dramatic coast, unspoiled rainforests, and the star of the show: the Great Barrier Reef. You'll arrive in the coastal city of Cairns, which is the gateway to that legendary reef system. At the airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel.

The rest of the day is yours to explore in and around Cairns. If you'd like to take advantage of the tropical climate, head to the beach or the Cairns Lagoon, the city's famous public pool. Or you can hop aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway, a train that runs from Cairns up into the Eastern Highlands to the town of Kuranda, where there are animal sanctuaries and an art and craft market. For dinner, consider the restaurant at the Cairns Aquarium, where you can enjoy a delicious meal amid the stunning sight of a 46-foot (14 m) marine exhibit.

Day 2: Day Trip to the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef
Explore the vibrant coral gardens at the famous Great Barrier Reef

You're in for a treat, as this morning, you'll head to the harbor and board a high-speed catamaran for a full-day cruise to one of the globe's top tourist destinations: the Great Barrier Reef. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts more than 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays, making it the largest in the world. It's home to a wide array of marine life, including around 1,500 species of fish and 400 species of coral—and you'll get to see quite a few of them during snorkeling stops. Also, morning tea and a buffet lunch will be served onboard. At the end of the afternoon, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 3: Fly to Darwin, Optional Activities

Enjoy a self-guided tour around Darwin's Waterfront and Central Business District

Wake up early for one last stroll on the beach in Cairns. Then, after a leisurely breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport for the 2.5-hour flight west to Darwin. Located in the Northern Territory on the Timor Sea, this port city is a cultural melting pot home to over 100 nationalities. It's also the gateway to the famous Kakadu National Park. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up for the transfer to your hotel in the city. After checking in, you'll have the rest of the day free.

If you fancy a self-guided tour, a good place to start is Darwin's Waterfront. From here, it's a quick walk to the Parliament House and historic wharf precinct, where Japanese bombs fell during World War II. Follow the Heritage Trail scenic walk to retrace the steps of 19th-century settlers, then stop at a museum or gallery to learn about Darwin's maritime history or admire Aboriginal art.

You can also visit Indigenous sites like Mindil Beach, which holds spiritual significance to the land's traditional owners, the Larrakia people. Next to the beach are the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, which feature more than 100 acres (40 ha) of native and tropical flora, plus an orchid house and a café.

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Day 4: Day Trip to Kakadu National Park

Cruise Kakadu National Park
Cruise the billabongs (wetlands) of Kakadu National Park and search for crocs

Wake up early and hop in a vehicle for the 1.5-hour drive southeast along Stuart Highway, one of the longest roads in the country, to Kakadu National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers 7,651 square miles (19,816 sq km) and is home to some 2,000 plant species. It's also home to exotic wildlife like saltwater crocodiles, wild horses, and tropical birds. During the scenic drive, you'll pass rugged cliffs, plunging waterfalls, and Aboriginal rock art.

Upon arrival in the park, you'll meet a local guide for 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. At the end of the day, you'll transfer back to Darwin. 

Day 5: Katherine Gorge Cruise & Edith Falls

Cruise between the massive sandstone walls of Katherine Gorge

Leave in the morning on another epic journey into the outback. The first stop is south of Darwin at the Adelaide River War Cemetery, dedicated to those who lost their lives in the Darwin air raids during the 1940s. Then, head west into Nitmiluk National Park and Edith Falls. Take a break at this series of pools and cascading waterfalls to enjoy a refreshing swim. 

After lunch, you'll hop on a boat for a two-hour cruise down the Katherine River and through the massive Katherine Gorge. This awe-inspiring natural wonder is actually a network of 13 river gorges carved out of billion-year-old sandstone with soaring walls that rise 230 feet (70 m) in some places. During the ride, you'll also spot Aboriginal rock art sites, which are estimated to be thousands of years old. Continue to relax and enjoy the riverine scenery before returning to Darwin in the evening.

Day 6: Fly to Broome, Pearl Farm Visit

Cable Beach is one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in Australia

After breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport for the three-hour flight southwest to Broome. This remote coastal resort town in northwestern Australia's Kimberley region sits on the Indian Ocean and is home to the wide and inviting Cable Beach. Upon arrival, a driver will pick you up for the ride to your hotel.

In the afternoon, you'll head out for a very special activity. Believe it or not, Broome has a history of pearl farming, and you'll discover this legacy on a visit to Australia's oldest pearl farm. Later, you can stop by Gantheaume Point to see 130 million-year-old dinosaur footprints before heading to the beach to watch a magnificent sunset.

Day 7: Day Trip to Cape Leveque & Horizontal Falls

Take a scenic flight over Horizontal Falls, one of Australia's most remarkable natural wonders

Get ready to enjoy even more of Kimberley's natural beauty with a visit to the Kooljaman wilderness camp at Cape Leveque. Owned and run by the Indigenous Bardi Jawi community, the camp is known for its jaw-dropping location on the tip of the Dampier Peninsula, where red coastal cliffs meet the Indian Ocean. Here, you can take part in activities like swimming, snorkeling, fishing, whale watching, or simply combing the shore for seashells.

After lunch, take a stroll along the peninsula's white-sand beaches and marvel at the striking contrast between the ancient red cliffs and the azure blue waters of the ocean. Then head to the Aquaculture Hatchery at One Arm Point. Here, you'll learn about the Bardi Jawi community's sustainable aquaculture traditions, which have been passed down over generations. You can also browse locally-made handicrafts and 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 here cause seawater to build up on one side more than the other, and the falls move horizontally, switching directions with each change of the tide. Natural historian David Attenborough has described this phenomenon as "one of the greatest natural wonders of the world."

Day 8: Sunrise Camel Tour, Fly to Perth

One of Perth's most iconic landmarks is the Swan Bells bell tower

Before departing Broome, wake up early for one of the most popular activities in the region: a sunrise camel tour along Cable Beach. Afterward, you'll transfer to the airport for the 2.5-hour flight to Perth. The capital of Western Australia is an enticing mix of tranquil beaches and cosmopolitan sophistication. You can see for yourself when, after transferring to your hotel from the airport, you'll have the rest of the day free to hit the highlights.

One must-visit landmark is Swan Bells. This set of 18 historic bells is housed in a hyper-modern glass and copper bell tower that rises 269 feet (82 m) on the banks of the Swan River. You can also tour the vault at the Perth Mint, the government money-printing facility. And if you haven't seen enough wildlife yet, head to Caversham Wildlife Park for up-close animal encounters (the park hosts over 200 species).

Another fun theme park is Adventure World, which features waterslides and roller coasters. Visit Cottesloeor Leighton Beaches for fun in the sun, or take the ferry to nearby Rottnest Island for a quieter beach experience. For culture, you can discover the city's art galleries and wander around Murray Street and Hey Street shops. In the evening, be sure to check out Perth's lively bar scene. 

Day 9: Transfer to Coral Bay, Optional Activities

Coral Bay
The clear waters and reefs at Coral Bay are great for snorkeling and scuba diving

It's another early start as you hit the road for the all-day ride north to Coral Bay. Located on the pristine Ningaloo Reef, this remote coastal town is a famous snorkeling/scuba destination and features beautiful beaches fronting crystalline waters. After checking into your hotel, you can take advantage of the water activities in the region by booking a glass-bottom boat tour or reef charter. You can also embark on a dive or snorkeling trip to swim with manta rays and whale sharks. 

Day 10: Day Trip to Shark Bay, Depart

Shark Bay
Enjoy the peaceful solitude, panoramic viewpoints, and sweeping beaches around Shark Bay

This morning, your driver will pick you up for the ride to Shark Bay. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, a few hours north of Perth, is known for its extensive seagrass beds, which are a haven for unique marine life like dugongs (a type of sea cow). Upon arrival, you'll visit the coastal lookout of Eagle Bluff, which offers panoramic views over the vast waters of the Indian Ocean.

Another optional activity while you're here is a stop at the Shark Bay Discovery Centre, which features interactive exhibits detailing the area's history and heritage (both European and Indigenous). In the afternoon, you'll transfer back to Perth and the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Australia? Check out these other Australia itineraries, explore different ways to spend 10 days in Australia, or discover the best time to visit Australia.


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Map of Best of Northern Australia: Cairns, Darwin, Broome & Perth - 10 Days
Map of Best of Northern Australia: Cairns, Darwin, Broome & Perth - 10 Days