Experience Australia's diverse landscapes on this 17-day tour, which takes you from cities to deserts, rainforests, and reefs. Along the way, you'll discover urban wonders, from the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Melbourne's graffitied laneways, as well as penguin-spotted Phillip Island and the UNESCO-listed rock formation Uluru. End in sun-soaked Queensland, where you'll snorkel the world-famous Great Barrier Reef, explore lush rainforests, and laze on the tropical sands of Palm Cove.


  • Soak up sunrise and sunset views of UNESCO-listed Uluru
  • Drive the famous Great Ocean Road
  • Watch Phillip Island's daily penguin parade
  • Discover Sydney and Melbourne's cuisine and top landmarks
  • Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and enjoy beach time in Palm Cove

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Sydney Sydney
Day 2 Fly to Uluru, Sunset Tour Uluru
Day 3 Uluru Sunrise, Kata Tjuta Tour & Field of Light Dinner Experience Uluru
Day 4 Field of Light Sunrise Viewing, Fly to Melbourne Melbourne
Day 5 Morning Lanes & Arcades Tour, Evening Food Walk Melbourne
Day 6 Phillip Island's Penguin Parade Melbourne
Day 7 Pick Up Rental Car & Drive the Great Ocean Road Port Campbell
Day 8 Drive Back to Melbourne, Explore Melbourne
Day 9 Fly to Cairns, Pick Up Rental Car & Drive to Palm Cove Palm Cove
Day 10 Great Barrier Reef Day Trip Palm Cove
Day 11 Kuranda Scenic Railway & Rainforest Tour Palm Cove
Day 12 Atherton Tablelands Day Trip Palm Cove
Day 13 Explore Palm Cove & Fly to Sydney Sydney
Day 14 Sydney Harbour Scenic Flight & Lunch at Cottage Point Inn Sydney
Day 15 Taste of Sydney Food Tour Sydney
Day 16 Panoramic Sydney Sights & The Rocks Walking Tour Sydney
Day 17 Depart Sydney  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Sydney

Check into your hotel and take some time to explore Sydney

Welcome to Australia! Touch down in Sydney, a city famed for its prime waterfront location, harbor, and iconic Opera House. The city also has a world-class culinary and nightlife scene and is surrounded by dozens of pristine beaches, including the famous Bondi Beach. Check into your hotel and then head out to explore Sydney independently.

Enjoy a drink at a waterfront bar in Sydney Harbour to soak up skyline views, or wander cobblestone laneways in the historic neighborhood of The Rocks. You can also browse the markets, boutiques, and pubs of upscale Paddington, whose terrace houses date back to the Victorian era. And when the sun goes down, book a table at one of Sydney's delectable five-star restaurants before taking on the city's legendary nightlife.

Day 2: Fly to Uluru, Sunset Tour

Fly to Uluru and catch the sunset as it transforms the sky

Bid farewell to Sydney today and fly west to Uluru, deep in the heart of Australia's Red Centre desert plains in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Uluru is the country's most recognized natural wonder, home to the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara tribes, the area's traditional landowners. This UNESCO World Heritage Site features natural springs, waterholes, rock caves, and ancient paintings.

Take advantage of some of the resort's activities, which range from guided walks to didgeridoo workshops, before your sunset tour of Uluru. You'll head to a viewing area where the sunset stains the sky pinks and purples, transforming Uluru's rocks with shades of red and gold. During this epic sunset, you'll enjoy a glass of sparkling wine and some appetizers as you take incredible photographs of desert scenery wholly unique to this corner of the world.

Day 3: Uluru Sunrise, Kata Tjuta Tour & Field of Light Dinner Experience

Follow a walking trail through two of Kata Tjuta's largest domes 

Rise early to visit two of the most prominent landmarks in Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park. Start with sunrise at the Talinguru Nyakunytjaku viewing area as you take in the first rays of the sun alighting the Red Centre while sipping a steaming cup of tea or coffee.

Afterward, your driver and guide will transfer 28 miles (45 km) to the 36 domes of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). On the way, take in panoramic views of the southern side of Kata Tjuta while you listen to your guide's historical overview of the national park. Then you'll arrive at the base of Walpa Gorge, known for its unusual rock formations. The walking trail through Walpa Gorge follows the natural creek between two of the Olgas' tallest domes and will take you into a world of rare plant species and evergreen shrubs.

This evening, you'll enjoy an exclusive dining experience combining the award-winning Sounds of Silence dinner under the outback sky with the Field of Light installation. The trip takes place in a remote desert location with views of Uluru, where you'll watch the sunset to the sound of a didgeridoo while savoring gourmet canapés and chilled sparkling wine. As darkness falls and the colored lights of the 50,000 glass spheres come to life, you'll dine on a three-course menu infused with bush tucker flavors. Listen to the resident star talker decode the night sky and introduce the art installation from the dune-top viewing area before returning to your hotel.

Day 4: Field of Light Sunrise Viewing, Fly to Melbourne

Fields of Lights Installation - Uluru
Experience the Field of Light again before the sun rises

This morning, soak up final views of Uluru from a remote desert location. You'll pass through the Field of Light art installation again as the predawn light gives way to an epic sunrise from the viewing area, complete with hot drinks. Afterward, head to the airport for your flight to Melbourne, where your driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel. Settle in and then spend the rest of the day exploring Victoria's trendy capital at your own speed.

Historic landmarks include the 19th-century Flinders State Station and 160-year-old Como House and Gardens. Take some time in Federation Square, surrounded by hip eateries, and stroll along the Southbank to the Melbourne Arts Precinct, where you'll find Australian and Indigenous art at the National Gallery of Victoria. For epic views over Melbourne, head to the 88th floor of the Eureka Skydeck with its glass-bottomed viewing platform.

You can get lost in Melbourne's famed laneways, crammed with artisanal coffee shops and cafés and decorated with world-class street art. Sports fans can head to the Melbourne Cricket Ground for a tour, or if you're interested in some culture, visit one of the city's stellar museums. Top picks include the Old Melbourne Gaol, where notorious criminals like Ned Kelly were incarcerated, and the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Culture Centre at the Melbourne Museum.

Day 5: Morning Lanes & Arcades Tour, Evening Food Walk

Melbourne's famous laneways
Tour Melbourne's famous laneways with its cafés, murals, and specialty retailers

Start the day with a tour of Melbourne's lanes and arcades. A guide will take you through the city's winding back streets, where you can discover everything from local designers to specialty retailers. Visit some of the quirkiest cafés and ever-changing street murals as you visit top locations like Tattersalls Lane, Meyers Place, and Hosier Lane. The trip includes a café stop for a drink and a chocolate tasting.

Spend the afternoon exploring at your leisure before your evening food walk, where you'll learn why Melbourne is considered a world-famous foodie destination. During the tour, you'll visit three unique venues and enjoy tantalizing bites spanning their menus, all paired with carefully curated wine tastings. You'll also have the opportunity to speak with passionate owners and staff who will share the stories behind these eateries and insider tips on the best food and drink pairings.

Day 6: Phillip Island's Penguin Parade

Penguin Parade
Watch the daily Penguin Parade on Phillip Island

Head to Phillip Island today for a dose of nature, complete with a penguin parade. First, stop at the iconic bathing boxes on Brighton Beach on your way out of the city and take a guided wildlife walk at the Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park. Next, head to Phillip Island, a wild haven protected by the Phillip Island Nature Park and home to boardwalks that wind through bird-spotted gardens, golden beaches, and a koala conservation center.

Enjoy views over Seal Rocks, where Australia's largest population of fur seals reside, before the main event, the Phillip Island penguin tour. After spending the day fishing at sea, the world's smallest penguins waddle ashore every night. Return to your Melbourne hotel after admiring the cute fairy penguins on their daily pilgrimage.

Day 7: Pick Up Rental Car & Drive the Great Ocean Road

Drive the Great Ocean Road for views of stunning rock formations like the Twelve Apostles
Plan your trip to Australia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Pick up your rental car today to begin your Great Ocean Road adventure. This iconic Australian road trip covers 150 miles (243 km), stretching from Torquay along the shipwreck coast to Allansford. The first destination is Bells Beach in Torquay, a surf spot known for hosting the Rip Curl Pro competition. Next, stop in Aireys Inlet, a quaint seaside town. Take a walk to the Split Point Lighthouse, which offers prime photo opportunities.

Continue to Lorne, a quaint beach town that makes a perfect lunch stop and has several nearby waterfalls, including Henderson, Phantom, and Erskine. The next stop is Apollo Bay, where you can stop at Kennett River to see the koala colonies before continuing to Cape Otway Lighthouse, the oldest in Australia. If time allows, climb to the observation deck for views across the Southern Ocean before continuing the drive and settling into your accommodation.

Day 8: Drive Back to Melbourne, Explore

Enjoy a drive back to Melbourne through the Otway Ranges

Enjoy the scenic drive back to Melbourne this morning, weaving inland along country roads through the dramatic Otway Ranges, past Colac and Geelong's wineries. Spend the rest of the day exploring more of Melbourne. Stroll along the banks of the Yarra River, which are lined with attractions such as Batman Park and the Melbourne Aquarium.

For some beach time, head to the golden sands of St Kilda, a surfing hotspot where you can wander along the pier and ride rollercoasters at Luna Park. If you're after something more peaceful, the Royal Botanical Gardens is an oasis covering 89 acres (36 ha) and home to over 51,000 native and imported species. Don't miss the Aboriginal Heritage Walk and Tropical Hothouse. End the day with a meal at one of Melbourne's top restaurants.

Day 9: Fly to Cairns, Pick Up Rental Car & Drive to Palm Cove

Fly to Queensland for the stunning beaches of Palm Cove 

This morning, drop your rental car off at the airport and fly to Cairns in north Queensland. This paradise lies on the shores of Trinity Bay and is the gateway to some of Australia's most remarkable natural attractions. The most famous is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, one of the world's most popular diving sites. To the north lies another UNESCO treasure, the ancient rainforests of Daintree National Park.

Pick up a rental car from the airport and drive 15 miles (25 km) up the coast to Palm Cove, your base for the next four nights. Travel along the Captain Cook Highway, bordered by exotic coastline and forested mountains. Palm Cove is one of the most idyllic seaside towns on this route, home to a pristine beach named for the swaying paperbark trees that line the esplanade. Enjoy a waterfront meal and browse the town's boutiques and spas.

Day 10: Great Barrier Reef Day Trip

Get your snorkeling gear on for some underwater discovery at the Great Barrier Reef

Drive back to Cairns this morning in time for your boat trip on the world-famous Great Barrier Reef. This natural wonder covers 133,000 square miles (344,000 sq km) and is visible from space. The UNESCO site is home to over 2,900 individual reefs and an array of marine life, including 130 varieties of sharks and rays, as well as over 1,500 fish species.

Board a high-speed catamaran for a full-day cruise. Before exploring two Great Barrier Reef locations at one of the 24 exclusive moorings, you'll sit down for an informative briefing. The trip includes all snorkeling equipment, a hot and cold buffet lunch freshly prepared by the onboard chef, plus friendly trained staff to teach snorkeling techniques and educate you about the Great Barrier Reef. When it's time, you'll dock in Cairns and drive back to Palm Cove for a restful evening.

Day 11: Kuranda Scenic Railway & Rainforest Tour

Kuranda Scenic Railway
Take the Kuranda Scenic Railway and visit the rainforest

Explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kuranda Rainforest and observe native Australian wildlife today. The trip begins with a journey on the Kuranda Scenic Railway, which winds through 15 tunnels and past Stoney Creek Falls and Barron Falls to Kuranda Village. This fascinating village has a thriving Aboriginal art scene and a Heritage Market that sells handmade arts and crafts.

Next, you'll tour the Rainforestation Nature Park in an amphibious Army Duck vehicle, taking in views of the rainforest from the water, and visit the koalas, kangaroos, and other critters at the Koala and Wildlife Park. Next, learn about Aboriginal culture at the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience before lunch. The trip ends with a ride on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, soaring over the rainforest canopy.

Day 12: Atherton Tablelands Day Trip

Stop off to see the 500-year-old curtain fig tree

Take a road trip to the Atherton Tablelands today, driving through Kuranda to Mareeba, the center of the Australian coffee industry. Here, you'll visit Skybury, Australia's oldest coffee plantation, to learn about the entire production process, from bush to cup. Taste some of their trademark brews while taking in views from the café. Coffee enthusiasts should also stop at nearby Coffee Works, where the Queensland Blue variety is produced.

Continue your drive via Atherton to Yungaburra, passing through the crafty towns of Tolga and Kairi. Just before you get to Yungaburra, turn off to visit the famous 500-year-old curtain fig tree—a giant tree with several aerial roots hanging down from its branches that look like curtains.

Your final stop is Yungaburra, a rural town in the Tablelands region loved for its independent cafés and country vibe. The streets here are home to 28 heritage buildings, arts and crafts shops, and farmer's markets. The surrounding landscape has been shaped by formerly active volcanoes and is covered in crater lakes and waterfall-dotted rainforests. Before returning to Palm Cove, fuel up at the quirky "Alice in Wonderland"-themed Mad Hatterz Café.

Day 13: Explore Palm Cove & Fly to Sydney

Palm Cove - Beach
Enjoy some downtime on Palm Cove Beach before returning to Sydney
Spend a final day in Palm Cove, relaxing on the soft sands of Clifton Beach, indulging in a spa treatment, or joining a yoga class. Have a meal at the renowned Nu Nu Restaurant, with sea views and spectacular cuisine. Later, drive back to Cairns, where you'll drop off your rental car in time to catch your flight back to Sydney. Your driver will be waiting at the airport to take you to your hotel in the heart of the city.

Day 14: Sydney Harbour Scenic Flight & Lunch at Cottage Point Inn

Get an aerial view of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House on today's scenic flight

Relish a free morning in Sydney, perhaps heading to the iconic harbor to tour the Sydney Opera House. Take a harbor cruise, or head to Mrs Macquaries Chair for the best view of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Other city highlights include the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Pylon Museum, which tells the story of the Harbour Bridge.

Take to the skies this afternoon for a scenic flight to the award-winning Cottage Point Inn on the banks of the Hawkesbury River. The staff will greet you at the restaurant's exclusive seaplane dock you will taxi to upon landing. Have a leisurely, three-course à la carte lunch where you'll select the perfect wine to accompany your meal from various exceptional Australian wines. To top off your afternoon, enjoy a rare bird's-eye view of Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House before touching down in the city.

Day 15: Taste of Sydney Food Tour

Enjoy a lunch extravaganza  around Sydney
Experience Sydney's world-class food scene today on a food tour. This five-hour, four-course lunch experience travels all over Sydney, extending into the afternoon, leaving plenty of time to sample Sydney's nightlife later on. Each of the four precincts you visit offers a combined food and drink pairings, which includes a local beer tasting and selection of dishes from the Butcher and the Farmer's chef's table, a trendy eatery set in the restored Rozelle Tram Depot.

Day 16: Panoramic Sydney Sights & The Rocks Walking Tour

See Sydney's harbor from one of the best viewpoints; Mrs Macquaries Point

Discover Sydney on a guided morning tour, starting with a stop in The Rocks to learn about Australia's convict history. Follow your guide along shaded laneways and cobbled courtyards to see some of Sydney's earliest buildings, including Cadman's Cottage, built in 1816, and the Garrison Church, which dates to the 1840s.

Continue through Sydney's Central Business District and past Hyde Park Barracks and St Mary's Cathedral to Mrs Macquaries Point. You'll enjoy magnificent views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Next, travel through Sydney's swanky eastern suburbs, home to the rich and famous, to Watson's Bay, where you can take a coastal walk for ocean views before heading to Bondi Beach.

Here, you can stroll along the vibrant beachfront promenade, stop for a coffee, then relax on the golden sands watching surfers ride the waves. Continue your tour to Tamarama and Bronte Beaches before returning to the city via Centennial Park and Paddington, a trendy district with elegant terraced houses and boutique shops along Oxford Street.

Day 17: Depart Sydney

Say goodbye to Sydney as you catch your onward flight

Today your adventure in Australia comes to an end. You'll be transferred to the airport in time for your onward flight—safe travels!

More Great Australia Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Australia? Check out these other Australia itineraries, explore different ways to spend 17 days in Australia, or learn about the best time to visit Australia.


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Map of Ultimate Landscapes of Australia: City, Outback, Rainforest & Reef - 17 Days
Map of Ultimate Landscapes of Australia: City, Outback, Rainforest & Reef - 17 Days