This 10-day journey begins in Tropical North Queensland, where the ocean meets the rainforest. Go sightseeing in Cairns, before embarking on a day trip to snorkel through the spectacular Great Barrier Reef. Then, head to Darwin to explore the outdoor landmarks—Kakadu National Park, Katherine Gorge, and Edith Falls. Next, venture to Broome to visit an indigenous wilderness camp and discover the Horizontal Falls phenomenon. The tour ends in Perth, with a free day to stroll or adventure, along with beach excursions to Coral Bay and Shark Bay.

Highlights

  • Go on a snorkeling tour of the world-renowned Great Barrier Reef
  • Learn about wildlife and cruise around the billabong at Kakadu National Park
  • Explore the stunning Katherine Gorge and go for a swim in Edith Falls
  • Take in the mesmerizing scenery at the coastal Horizontal Falls

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Cairns Cairns
Day 2 Cairns - Great Barrier Reef Day Trip Cairns
Day 3 Travel to Darwin Darwin
Day 4 Darwin - Kakadu National Park Day Trip Darwin
Day 5 Darwin - Katherine Gorge Cruise and Edith Falls Day Trip Darwin
Day 6 Travel to Broome Broome
Day 7 Broome - Horizontal Falls Day Trip Broome
Day 8 Travel to Perth Perth
Day 9 Travel to Coral Bay  Coral Bay
Day 10 Travel to Shark Bay Monkey Mia

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Cairns

Explore the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary
Explore the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

Welcome to Australia! Arrive in tropical Queensland, where the rainforest meets the sea. 

Then, travel to Cairns, and the day will be at your leisure. You can rest after your international flight or do some exploration. Bookmark some of the following destinations: 

  • Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park: Enjoy a meal at this sprawling eatery in an indigenous cultural center, which delivers homestyle meals and a buffet
  • Australian Butterfly Sanctuary: Located in Kuranda,  this locale is listed by the Guinness Book of Records as Australia’s largest butterfly flight aviary and exhibit
  • Cairns Lagoon: Visit this iconic swimming pool, which is located in the business district, and then relax on the grassy knoll 

Following your self-guided tour of Cairns, the evening will be yours to enjoy.

Day 2: Cairns - Great Barrier Reef day trip

The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef

Board a high-speed catamaran for a full-day cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. One of Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef. The reef contains an abundance of marine life and is home to more than 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays. Surrounding the reef are hundreds of picturesque tropical islands that contain some of the best golden beaches. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world's most sought-after tourist destinations.

Enjoy morning tea and a lunch buffet aboard the catamaran. Following the reef tour and some snorkeling, return to your hotel in the late afternoon, and enjoy the evening at your leisure.

Day 3: Travel to Darwin

Darwin
Darwin

Enjoy the morning at leisure before transferring to the airport for your onward flight to Darwin.  Upon arrival, collect your bags and proceed to the transfer area for your ride into Darwin and to your hotel.

Explore Darwin on your own this afternoon. Here are some activities to consider: 

  • Mindil Beach: Visit this sandy shoreline featuring sunset markets with vendors selling food and crafts
  • Crocosaurus Cove: Explore wildlife exhibits with reptiles, turtles, and a saltwater crocodile in a viewing cage
  • George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens: Stroll this nature preserve featuring more than 100 acres of native and tropical flora, plus an orchid house and a café 
  • Darwin Waterfront Precinct: Stop by this tourist area in Northern Territory, Australia, complete with restaurants, bars, a wave pool, and a man-made beach—it is a 5-minute walk from the Darwin Central Business District

Day 4: Darwin - Kakadu National Park day trip

Cruise Kakadu National Park
Cruise Kakadu National Park

Depart early in the morning for your day trip to Kakadu National Park. Start off on Stuart Highway, which is one of the longest roads in the country. Next, arrive at Kakadu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that spans more than 11,800 miles. The park is home to thousands of plant species and wildlife, including saltwater crocodiles, flatback turtles, and birds.

Join a local guide on the Yellow Water Billabong to cruise around looking for saltwater crocodiles. Have your camera ready, in case you spot a croc or two. The chances are high, as there are more than 1,000 crocodiles living in these waters.

Next on the tour is a trip to the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Visit with the Bininj People, the traditional locals of the park, as they welcome and introduce you to their lives in Kakadu National Park.

Return back to Darwin in the evening, and enjoy the night on your own.

Day 5: Darwin - Katherine Gorge cruise and Edith Falls day trip

Katherine Gorge
Katherine Gorge

This morning, depart early from Darwin to visit Katherine Gorge, with a short stop at the Adelaide River War Cemetery, a site dedicated to those lost in the Darwin air raids dating back to the 1940s.

Make your way to Edith Falls for a refreshing swim. After lunch, join a 2-hour cruise through Katherine Gorge, a network of 13 gorges carved from a billion-year-old sandstone country by the Katherine River in Nitmiluk National Park. Witness the many Aboriginal rock art sites dotted throughout the park.

The rugged landscapes, dramatic waterfalls, and lush gorges provide an abundance of flora and fauna to appreciate. 

In the evening, head back to Darwin, and enjoy the night at your leisure.

Day 6: Travel to Broome

Sunset in Broome
Sunset in Broome

Today, fly from Darwin to Broome.

Travel to the Kimberly region and the world-famous Cable Beach in Broome, the town that was shaped by the illustrious pearls of the region. Enjoy an afternoon discovering the history of the pearls in the Broome region at Australia's oldest pearl farm.

Following the farm tour, enjoy the evening at your leisure.

Day 7: Broome - Horizontal Falls day trip

Horizontal Falls
Horizontal Falls

This option is a rare opportunity to visit the world-renowned wilderness camp, Kooljaman, at Cape Leveque.

The camp is owned and run by the Indigenous Bardi Jawi Communities, and is famous for its diversity, wilderness accessibility, and unique landscape. 

After enjoying a meal, stroll along the pristine white beaches and absorb nature’s contrasts where ancient, red cliffs meet the crystal-blue Indian Ocean.

Then, visit the Aquaculture Hatchery at One Arm Point for an informative tour. Receive insights into the Bardi Jawi Community’s age-old saltwater culture, the hatchery’s sustainable aquaculture production, and the spectacular marine life in the area. Peruse the special, locally crafted souvenirs and take in the stunning views.

Next, a scenic flight awaits as you experience Horizontal Falls, a natural phenomenon on the coast of the Kimberly region. The waterfall phenomenon has been described by historian David Attenborough as "one of the greatest natural wonders of the world."

Day 8: Travel to Perth

Perth
Perth

Experience a sunrise camel tour along Cable Beach this morning before departing from Broome—a must-do while in town. After the sunrise tour, you will be transferred to the airport to fly from Broome to Perth.

The evening is at your leisure. Perth, the capital of Western Australia, sits where the Swan River meets the southwest coast. Some places to bookmark include the below:

  • Swan Bells: This is a set of 18 bells hanging in a specially built 270-foot-high copper and glass campanile
  • Caversham Wildlife Park: A family-run wildlife park featuring around 200 species, attend farm shows and up-close animal encounters, too 
  • Adventure World: This theme park has adventurous rides, including a huge roller coaster and a waterslide, plus plenty of eateries
  • Perth Mint: This is the government moneymaking facility with gold history displays, tours of vaults, and an 1899 melting house

Day 9: Travel to Coral Bay

Coral Bay
Coral Bay

On your way to Coral Bay, consider visiting Bullara Station for homemade scones and barista coffee in an outback setting.

Leaving Perth early, you can enjoy all of the watersports Coral Bay has to offer.  You can Swim with manta rays (year-round), learn to dive, sail away on a Ningaloo Reef charter, or join a glass-bottom boat tour to see the reef without getting wet.

Following a day on the water, enjoy the evening at your leisure.

Day 10: Travel to Shark Bay

Shark Bay
Shark Bay

In the morning,  travel to Shark Bay. Upon arrival, stop at Eagle Bluff for views over the Indian Ocean. Consider stopping at the Shark Bay Discovery Centre, complete with interactive exhibits detailing the area’s history (both European and indigenous) and heritage.

The rest of the day and evening are on your own. Be sure to enjoy a delicious farewell dinner on your last night in Australia, before departure from Perth tomorrow.

Map

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