This 19-day highlights tour squeezes in Australia's buzzing cities, vast Red Centre, colorful Great Barrier Reef, and wild Top End. Start in Melbourne with city life and day trips to the Twelve Apostles and Phillip Island, then fly to Adelaide and explore Kangaroo Island. Skip to the outback to witness the beauty of Uluru at sunrise atop a camel, then spot crocodiles on the rivers of Kakadu. Relax at tropical Palm Cove and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef before finishing in Sydney with a sunset cruise.


  • Take an epic guided road trip down the famous Great Ocean Road
  • Experience the sunset over Uluru with an al fresco dinner and lights show
  • Sample local treats and meet artisan producers at the Adelaide Central Market
  • Learn about ancient Aboriginal culture amid the rugged landscapes of Kakadu
  • Float down a rainforest river in the UNESCO-listed Daintree National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Melbourne, Free Time to Explore Melbourne
Day 2 Lanes & Arcades Tour, Best of Melbourne by Bike Melbourne
Day 3 Full-Day Great Ocean Road Trip Melbourne
Day 4 Full-Day Phillip Island Tour Melbourne
Day 5 Fly to Adelaide, Free Time to Explore Adelaide
Day 6 Adelaide Central Market Lunch Tour Adelaide
Day 7 Fly or Cruise to Kangaroo Island, Wildlife Tour & Lunch Kangaroo Island
Day 8 Kangaroo Island Experience, Return to Adelaide Adelaide
Day 9 Fly to Uluru, Dinner at the Field of Light Uluru
Day 10 Full-Day Mount Conner Outback 4WD Adventure Uluru
Day 11 Sunrise Camel Ride, Fly to Darwin Darwin
Day 12 Full-Day Northern Kakadu Experience Darwin
Day 13 Fly to Cairns, Transfer to Palm Cove Palm Cove
Day 14 Full-Day Silverswift Great Barrier Reef Cruise Palm Cove
Day 15 Full-Day Mossman Gorge Adventure Day Palm Cove
Day 16 Fly to Sydney, Evening Dinner Cruise Sydney
Day 17 Sydney Bike Tour, Climb the Harbour Bridge Sydney
Day 18 Full-Day Blue Mountains Hike Sydney
Day 19 Depart Sydney  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Melbourne, Free Time to Explore

Melbourne City
Explore the downtown of Melbourne City this afternoon

G'day and welcome to Melbourne, Australia's buzzing cultural capital. On arrival, collect your luggage and meet a shuttle transfer, which will drop you at your hotel. There's a lot to love about this sophisticated city—just ask the locals! You'll Melbourne is ranked as one of the world's most livable cities. Its vibrant center is filled with world-class restaurants, café-filled laneways, trendy bars, art galleries, and spacious parks, while its village-like inner suburbs each boast their own special character.

You have the rest of the day free to explore as you wish. You could hop on the City Circle, a free tram that runs throughout the central districts and along the waterfront, to explore Melbourne's top sights. On these routes, you can visit highlight attractions like St Paul's Cathedral, Parliament House, and the 19th-century Royal Exhibition Building. Melbourne is home to some of Australia's top fine-dining restaurants, such as Attica, Vue de Monde, and Society, but for something more low-key, you could slip down one of the city's laneways in search of a wine bar like Embla.

Day 2: Lanes & Arcades Tour, Best of Melbourne by Bike

Melbourne's famous laneways
Melbourne's famous laneways are filled with cafés, bars, and street art

Get lost in Melbourne's back streets, laneways, and arcades with a guide who will show you the city's greatest secrets. This city is famous for its laneway culture, and on a three-hour morning walk, you'll discover local designers and specialty retailers, quirky cafés, and cool street art—all while hearing fascinating tales from your local guide. These 19th-century arcades and alleyways have been reinvigorated with world-famous street art, and you'll find hidden gems at every turn.

Later on, experience Melbourne on two wheels with a bike tour. Across 4.5 hours, you'll delve into the beating heart of this vibrant city with a special cycling experience tailored to your unique interests and pace. Along with a local guide, you'll roll through quaint, leafy neighborhoods and zip through urban back streets while hearing tales of local icons and intriguing characters. Feel the wind in your hair as you cruise along the picturesque Yarra River and past the glitzy Crown Casino & Hotel, Flinders Street Station, Federation Square, and the National Gallery of Victoria.

Day 3: Full-Day Great Ocean Road Trip

Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is considered one of the world's most spectacular drives

Wake up early and embark on an epic guided day trip—this time, you're traveling along one of the most scenic coastal routes in the world: the Great Ocean Road. This stretch of highway runs 150 miles (240 km) down Victoria's southwest coast, passing national parks, limestone rock formations, seaside bluffs, coastal mountain ranges, and incredible beaches. This is a full-day, 11-hour trip in which you'll have ample time to stop and enjoy the highlights. 

Keep an eye toward the coast throughout the drive, as you're likely to spot whales and dolphins; on the inland side, you might even see echidnas and bandicoots. Stop for lunch at Apollo Bay, a tranquil seaside town set among the rolling coastal hills. You can also stretch your legs on a forest hike through the mountains of the famous Otway Ranges. You'll also visit the romantic cove at Loch Ard Gorge, then cap the adventure at the most incredible natural landmarks on the route: the Twelve Apostles, a group of ancient limestone rock formations rising out of the sea. 

Day 4: Full-Day Phillip Island Tour

Head to Phillip Island to witness adorable little penguins (Eudyptula minor) waddling to their burrows

Phillip Island is famous for its nightly Penguin Parade. This full-day tour takes you from the city center to this small island off the southern coast of Australia to witness the evening ritual. On the way, stop at the Moonlit Sanctuary Conservation Park to meet kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas, plus plenty of colorful birds and reptiles. Then it's on to Phillip Island to meet the famous little penguins.

Depending on the time of year, once you reach the island, you might visit Woolamai Beach to see surfers riding the waves. Then visit the western corner of the island for magnificent views of Bass Strait and the Nobbies, home to Australia's largest colony of fur seals. Finally, witness the natural phenomena of the Penguin Parade on floodlit Summerland Beach. From the special Penguin Plus viewing platform, you can admire the little penguins coming ashore, decked out in their tuxedos as they hurry off to find their burrows. 

Day 5: Fly to Adelaide, Free Time to Explore

Adelaide is a small and green city, surrounded by amazing wine regions

Today you'll catch a 90-minute flight to Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. This former British colonial hub was named after 19th-century Queen Adelaide. A small, progressive city, Adelaide is only a square mile yet boasts many distinctive attractions and is famous for its many festivals, fine food, and wine. The city is surrounded by lush green parklands and is set on the Torrens River.

The rest of the day is yours to enjoy the relaxed capital. Adelaide is famous for its huge cultural festivals, such as Adelaide Fringe and WOMADelaide, and the nearby wine regions. Explore the city's rich history and architecture at the Adelaide Oval, Victoria Square, and the State Library of South Australia. Drop into a wine bar or city cellar door to taste Adelaide's world-class wines from the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. Alternatively, cruise over to the coast and enjoy the beaches of Glenelg or Henley.

Day 6: Adelaide Central Market Lunch Tour

Morning Adelaide Central Market Delicious Lunch Tour
Adelaide Central Market is a delicious place to explore with every sense

Food lovers will love today's tour of South Australia's culinary icon: the Adelaide Central Market, open since 1869. This morning a local will lead you around the famous 150-year-old fresh produce market ahead of lunch. Taste and dine your way through South Australia's multicultural and culinary history, and meet artisan food producers and stallholders whose families have traded in the market for generations. This experience is serious fun for those passionate about great food and the people who grow it.

After, sit down for a relaxed lunch at a delicious market café. You can stay here as long as you like and watch the world go by. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore the city.

Day 7: Fly or Cruise to Kangaroo Island, Wildlife Tour & Lunch 

Sunset on Kangaroo Island
Yes, you can actually see wild kangaroos on Kangaroo Island

Head back to the airport for a 40-minute flight to Kangaroo Island and meet your guide for a quick overnight adventure. Embark on a bush walk together and learn about the Australian landscape as well as the animals that reside there. Seek out small wallabies, a kangaroo found only on Kangaroo Island, and see a variety of other birds, plants, and animals.

Break for lunch at a private bush camp and enjoy a delicious meal with local fish, fresh salads, and fine South Australian wines. At Seal Bay Conservation Park, venture off on a private tour to see Australian sea lions on a wide sandy beach. Watch pups nurse or play in the surf, see old bulls, and learn about their unique breeding biology. In the late afternoon, arrive at your accommodation to check in, relax, and enjoy dinner on-site.

Day 8: Kangaroo Island Experience, Return to Adelaide

Sunset on Kangaroo Island
Sit on the edge at the Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island
Plan your trip to Australia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Wake up on Kangaroo Island and enjoy a second day immersed in nature. Venture northwest to an important private wildlife refuge, where you'll learn about native wildlife surveys that target tiny endangered mammals. Break for a picnic lunch in the bush featuring salads, cheese, and local wines.

After lunch, travel into Flinders Chase National Park and explore the massive shapes of Remarkable Rocks, a natural sculpture perched precariously on top of a granite dome rising out of the ocean. You'll witness more of the power of the Southern Ocean's waves as you continue to Admirals Arch—a grotto that's home to a large colony of long-nosed fur seals. At the end of the trip, your guide will drop you back at the airport or cruise terminal for your return to Adelaide.

Day 9: Fly to Uluru, Dinner at the Field of Light

Sunset over Uluru
Witness an incredible sunset over Uluru, then watch the desert stars light up

Uluru (Ayers Rock) is an unmissable experience and the spiritual heart of Australia's outback and desert plains. Today you'll catch a flight to Ayers Rock Airport, dropping you close to the country's most recognized natural wonder and into the home of the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara tribes, the traditional landowners of the area. At this spectacular World Heritage Site, there are many natural springs, waterholes, rock caves, and ancient paintings to discover. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel.

This evening, experience the al fresco Sounds of Silence dinner and the once-in-a-lifetime Field of Light art installation. Sitting on a remote dune beneath the star-studded outback sky with breathtaking views of the iconic monolith, you'll watch the sun fade behind the dunes while enjoying a glass of sparkling wine and canapés. Then savor mouthwatering "bush food" made with native ingredients while enjoying the quiet of the desert. Afterward, take a self-guided visit through the special installation, which features 50,000 sparkling globes by artist Bruce Monroe. End the night with stargazing.

Day 10: Full-Day Mount Conner Outback 4WD Adventure

Full Day Mt. Conner Outback 4WD Adventure
Discover the real spirit of the outback on a working cattle station

This afternoon, you'll set off for a unique and exclusive experience at Mount Conner, located 60 miles (100 km) east of Uluru. Here lies a vast, privately owned cattle station called Curtin Springs Station, and upon arrival, you'll jump in a luxe 4WD vehicle and set off to explore. See how the dams built for cattle have created the perfect natural habitat for red kangaroos, wallabies, and a vast array of birds and reptiles that call the Australian Red Centre home. You'll also discover an ancient inland salt lake and learn about the Indigenous and European history of the region.

As it gets closer to dusk, relax and sip a glass of sparkling wine while watching the spectacular changing colors of sunset splashed across Mount Conner. Then it's time for a three-course outback feast, prepared by the cook at Curtin Springs Station. After eight hours of exploration, you'll return to your accommodation near Uluru. 

Day 11: Sunrise Camel Ride, Fly to Darwin

Morning Camel to Sunrise
Enjoy the rhythmic sway of a camel as you take in sunrise at Uluru

Start the day with a peaceful one-hour camel ride across the outback's rugged red dunes. From atop your dromedary, you can watch the sunrise over Uluru and the nearby rocks of Kata Tjuta and see how the desert comes to life before tucking into a light breakfast of fresh damper (beer bread) with local jams, tea, and coffee. After, return to your accommodation where a driver will collect for the transfer back to the airport. Today, you're swapping the Red Centre for the Top End.

Your flight will land in Darwin, a vibrant and multicultural city home to more than 100 nationalities. This capital of the Northern Territory has a rich and varied culture, food, and lifestyle shaped by its Indigenous population. On arrival, a private driver will take you to your accommodation. Check in, then set out to explore. If it's a Thursday or Sunday evening, you can dive into Southeast Asian flavors at the bustling Mindil Beach Sunset Market. Otherwise, you could enjoy the sunset at the waterfront Darwin Ski Club or at a local microbrewery. 

Day 12: Full-Day Northern Kakadu Experience

Full Day Flood Country - Northern Kakadu Experience
Wake up before dawn to explore the floodplains of Kakadu National Park

Kakadu isn't merely a national park—it's a living piece of cultural heritage that has been home to Aboriginal Australians for over 65,000 years. The ancient rock art strewn across the park tells tales dating back 20,000 years, offering a unique window into the rich history and spirituality of the Indigenous locals. Today you'll explore the best of Kakadu National Park on a full-day, 12-hour adventure. A local guide will lead you into "Flood Country," the northern Alligator River region and a living landscape for the local Bininj people.

Your early start means you'll greet the sunrise on the dynamic Adelaide River floodplains. Enjoy a breakfast snack as you head to the East Alligator River for a thrilling cruise alongside some of the largest crocodiles in the Top End! After, enjoy lunch by the infamous Cahills Crossing before wandering through the rock art galleries of Ubirr, where you'll learn about Aboriginal customs and culture. Next, drop into Jabiru town to visit the Murrawadi Art Centre. Finally, make your way back to Darwin.

Day 13: Fly to Cairns, Transfer to Palm Cove

Palm Cove
Spend your afternoon lazing beneath the palms at Palm Cove

This morning you'll fly to Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, where a private driver will meet you for the 25-minute transfer to your hotel in Palm Cove. This luxurious but laid-back tropical beachside village sits between the ancient Daintree Rainforest and the sparkling waters of the Coral Sea and is known for its pristine stretch of sand, winding pathways, colorful boutiques, and award-winning spas and restaurants. Check into your resort, then set out to spend the afternoon at the beach or unwind with a spa treatment.

Later, head for a waterfront sundowner along the melaleuca-lined esplanade and take in ocean vistas out to Double Island. Then, dine on freshly caught seafood at a beachfront restaurant, or go more casual with takeaway fish and chips under a pine tree. Go for a walk along the jetty and watch locals fish for their catch of the day to end your first day in paradise.

Day 14: Full-Day Silverswift Great Barrier Reef Cruise

Boat to a pristine reef location for an exciting snorkeling adventure of the Great Barrier Reef

The UNESCO-protected Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef and one of Earth's most complex natural ecosystems. The reef comprises more than 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays and supports abundant marine life—which you'll get to explore today. A transfer will take you from the hotel to the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal, where you'll board a vessel for this full-day tour. One of the world's most sought-after destinations, this bucket list reef experience is one you'll remember forever!

Your boat will visit up to three different snorkeling sites, each offering a different experience. Enjoy floating above spectacular coral formations and underwater gardens awash with vibrant and colorful marine creatures. You'll sit down for lunch on board between sites. When you return to the mainland, another transfer will take you back to Palm Cove. 

Day 15: Full-Day Mossman Gorge Adventure Tour

Mossman Gorge
78 of Australia's 190 species of freshwater fish can be found in the Mossman River

Immerse yourself in the rainforest when you travel inland to Mossman River for a one-of-a-kind private experience today. Mossman Gorge is the gateway to the UNESCO-listed Daintree National Park, which is estimated to be 135 million years old. First, you'll meet members of the Kuku Yalanji people and participate in a traditional smoking ceremony. Enjoy a morning tea with freshly baked damper (a rustic Australian bread), then set off on a 90-minute walk through the beautiful rainforest, where you can pause to take a swim in tranquil waterholes or the gorge. 

After a well-earned lunch, it's time for River Drift snorkeling. You'll literally go with the flow as you drift down the crystal-clear river while admiring what lies beneath. Learn about the local history, flora, and fauna from your guide while looking at freshwater fish, turtles, butterflies, birds, and the elusive platypus. After, you'll return to your accommodation at Palm Cove.

Day 16: Fly to Sydney, Evening Dinner Cruise

Welcome to Sydney
Cruise past Sydney's most famous sights on a sunset cruise

Today, you'll fly south to Sydney. This famous Australian city is a bucket-list destination for good reason. Often mistaken as Australia's capital (that would be Canberra), this city feels like the country's central metropolis thanks to its dazzling natural harbor, epic beaches, and world-class restaurant scene. A private transfer will take you from Palm Cove to the airport for your three-hour flight south. On arrival at Sydney airport, a private driver will transfer you to your accommodation in the city center.

Check-in and refresh ahead of this evening's special sunset cruise. Over two hours, you'll watch the bright blue waters of Sydney Harbour turn into a deeper orange and then twilight blue as the sun sets on your first evening in Sydney. Admire iconic sights such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House from the water as you cruise around the expansive bay, tucking into a three-course dinner. Back on dry land, seek out a nightcap at one of the many nightclubs and bars in Darling Harbour or Barangaroo.

Day 17: Sydney Bike Tour, Climb the Harbour Bridge

Get ready for a ride
Get active and make new friends on a fun guided bike excursion

Today, you'll explore the best of Sydney, starting with a guided bike tour. Jump in the saddle and pedal past Circular Quay, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the piers at Walsh Bay, Darling Harbour, the Anzac War Memorial, Chinatown, and Hyde Park with a cycling guide who will share tales of the city as you roll around. Pause for a refreshing drink together, then say your farewells.

Later this afternoon, strap on a harness and climb Sydney's famous "coat hanger"—the Sydney Harbour Bridge. BridgeClimb Sydney offers a three-hour tour where guests can climb 439 feet (134 m) above sea level. The adrenaline-pumping journey provides stunning 360-degree city views, including the iconic Sydney Opera House and the beautiful Blue Mountains. After the climb, spend the rest of the evening exploring or return to your hotel.

Day 18: Full-Day Blue Mountains Hike

The Three Sisters , Blue Mountains
The Three Sisters rock formations in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney

It's your penultimate day in Australia, and this morning, you'll set off on a full-day guided adventure to the Blue Mountains. Your day begins with a trip to a farm called Calmsley Hill, where you'll come in contact with kangaroos, emus, wombats, and koalas. Sip a cup of tea here and wander the tranquil surroundings. The journey continues to the remote Eaglehawk Lookout to experience the Three Sisters rock formation in all its glory. Watch as the sunlight brings out magnificent colors that change throughout the day. You'll then stop at Blackheath for a relaxing two-course lunch.

After lunch, the nature exploration continues. Take in the views from a handful of lookouts and venture to Govetts Leap to admire the scenic waterfall and views across the Grose Valley, which is known as Australia's Grand Canyon. Stop briefly to enjoy a glass of sparkling wine or orange juice at the delightful Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens, where you'll enjoy sweeping views across to Sydney. Then, it's time to return to the city via the Bells Line of Road.

Day 19: Depart Sydney

On your final morning, you could simply stroll around the harbor and enjoy the views

It's your final day in Australia! If you have time before your departing flight, consider joining the traditional owners of this land for an Aboriginal bush tucker tour. You'll follow your Indigenous guide on an hourlong tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens, where you'll learn more about local bush foods and how these foods were traditionally used and adapted to the modern plate and palate—all while tasting some for yourself!

Later, at an agreed time, a private driver will collect you and your bags for your transfer to the airport. Safe travels home or onward!

More Great Australia Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Australia? Check out these other Australia itineraries, explore different ways to spend 19 days in Australia, or discover the best time to visit Australia.


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Map of Ultimate Australia: City, Reef, Outback & Top End - 19 Days
Map of Ultimate Australia: City, Reef, Outback & Top End - 19 Days
Written by Liz Neal, updated Jul 15, 2024