Sydney, Rock and Reef

12-Day Independent Vacation: Travel from Sydney to Cairns

Discover the infinite variety of the Australian continent on this eclectic, fully customizable vacation. On our suggested itinerary, experience the urban excitement of Sydney, ancient Aboriginal ways at Uluru (Ayers Rock) and lush rainforest and marine life on the tropical northern coast. See more journeys in our eCatalog!

Highlights include:
Experience three of Australia's best-known destinations.
• Tour Sydney, stand beneath Uluru and snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef.
• Add days, destinations and activities to make this journey your own.
• Select adventures such as urban explorations, nature experiences and more.

From $2,799
per person*
Departures year-round through 2015
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Special Interest: Independent, Sports & Active
Travel Provider:  AAA Sojourns

Package details include

Sydney Opera House at sunsetOur suggested itinerary begins in Sydney, the vibrant cosmopolitan gateway to Australia – and one of the world’s most beautiful cities. A half-day guided tour provides excellent opportunities to view the city’s architecturally splendid Opera House, unique Harbour Bridge, Royal Botanical Gardens, historic Rocks area, famous Bondi Beach and much more.

Then venture west on a full-day High Country tour to Blue Mountains National Park. Highlights include visiting a wetlands area to see native bird species, viewing early Aboriginal rock art thousands of years old and seeking out kangaroo in their native habitat. Savor world-class food and wine at a traditional Australian bush barbecue while marveling at the plethora of wildlife that surrounds you.

The Olgas in AustraliaJourney inland for a four-day escorted tour of Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kings Canyon and Alice Springs. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the home of the Olgas and Ayers Rock, is also known by its Aboriginal name of Uluru. A UNESCO World Heritage site with rock formations unlike any others on earth, Uluru is the world's largest monolith and is sacred to the Aboriginal people of the area. Learn about the area’s geology and cultural history as you spend three days exploring the gigantic rock formations and their hidden springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient paintings.

End your tour with a day at Kings Canyon where a guided walk takes you along the canyon’s towering walls with its unique formations to the "Garden of Eden," a lush watering hole.

Switch from the dusty outback to the lush tropics with four days in the northern coastal city of Cairns. From here, you can experience the abundant marine life of the Great Barrier Reef on a full-day tour that includes a reef cruise and your choice of activities. Colorful fish in coral reefSnorkel among the colorful fish and coral gardens, enjoy informative presentations about the area’s ecology and wildlife, or take a nature walk to a protected seabird sanctuary. Conclude your adventure with an unforgettable visit to Cairns Night Zoo, where you’ll grab your flashlight to learn about nocturnal wildlife. Learn how owls hunt, touch a possum, pat a koala, and follow your guide safely through a crocodiles' lair.

Price includes:
11 nights accommodations: 4 nights in Sydney, 1 night at Ayers Rock (Uluru), 1 night in Kings Canyon, 1 night in Alice Springs and 4 nights in Cairns
Sydney area - Essential Sydney Tour
 - Blue Mountains High Country Tour
Uluru area – 4 days in Uluru, Kings Canyon & Alice Springs
Cairns area - Great Barrier Reef Cruise of Michaelmas Cay
 - Cairns Night Zoo with BBQ dinner and entertainment



Create Your Own Australia Itinerary
Couple taking a selfie at Kangaroo IslandAAA Sojourns offers three exciting ways to plan your adventures Down Under: You can embark on the itinerary we designed for our Members; add or substitute the customizable options below to personalize the tour to include your special interests; or ask your AAA Travel Counselor to create a unique itinerary just for you.

Choose from:
Culinary activities like dinner with winemakers or regional cooking classes
High-energy adventures such as ballooning or diving on the Great Barrier Reef
Urban explorations like yachting on Sydney harbor or touring the Opera House
Nature experiences in national parks and wildlife refuges like Kangaroo Island
Rail journeys – traverse the continent aboard The Ghan historic train

Itinerary mapDay 1 - Arrive in Sydney
On arrival in Sydney, transfer on your own to the hotel.
Accommodation: The Menzies Sydney or similar - 4 nights

Day 2 - Half-day Essential Sydney Tour
Visit the historic Rocks precinct, the birth place of Sydney, and explore the convict built cottages, pubs and the first church in Australia. Climb Observatory Hill for views of Anzac Bridge and Darling Harbour. Cross the magnificent Sydney Harbour Bridge and travel through the leafy northern suburbs before arriving at the seaside town of Manly. Continue north to North Head for unrivalled views of the Harbour. Travel to the Botanical Gardens and pass through Macquarie Street to will see Australia’s first Parliament House, Mint, Hyde Park Barracks and St Mary’s Cathedral. Lunch is at the Botanical Gardens Pavilion, offering splendid views and excellent food.

The tour continues down to Mrs. Macquarie’s chair, situated on the water’s edge. Continue through Woolloomooloo, Kings Cross and onto Darling Point, one of Sydney’s most affluent suburbs. Pass by Double Bay, Rose Bay, Vaucluse and Watsons Bay before traveling along the coastline to Sydney’s most famous beach, Bondi. Here you will have some time to soak up the atmosphere of this beachside Mecca. Stroll down the esplanade with the locals and maybe enjoy an ice cream before re-boarding your vehicle. You will make your way back to Sydney via the vibrant Oxford Street and the suburb of Paddington. Along the way, admire this boutique shopping precinct and the charming Georgian and Victorian homes.

Day 3 - Blue Mountains High Country Tour
Your tour starts in the historical precinct of The Rocks, the birthplace of Sydney and Australia. Heading north, cross the Harbour Bridge and go west towards the historical towns of Windsor and Richmond. Some of Sydney’s earliest history can be found in these quaint villages. Enjoy some beautiful homemade morning tea at the foot of the mountains. Continuing on you’ll cross the Nepean River at the charming village of Yarramundi, where you will stop to view a myriad of native Australian birds in their natural wetland environment. Not far from here you’ll enter the Blue Mountains National Park and view some outstanding Aboriginal rock art. Hidden in thick bushland, you will be amazed at the detail of artworks that are thousands of years old. The steep ascent of the mountains continues as you arrive at Hawkesbury Heights for outstanding views over the Sydney basin.

Next it is on to the town of Blackheath, deep in the heart of the Blue Mountains, for a traditional Australian barbecue under the canopy of the bush. Enjoy world-class food and wine in unique surroundings and experience the plethora of wildlife that surrounds you. Later drop into a hidden valley where you will seek out the many kangaroos that graze in the wild, before returning to Sydney.

Day 4 - Free Day in Sydney
Today enjoy your own sightseeing of Sydney or add an optional tour.

Day 5 - Sydney to Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Transfer from your hotel to Sydney airport and fly to Uluru for a 4-day/3-night escorted tour of the outback. Arrive at Ayers Rock Airport, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. This afternoon visit the Cultural Centre and Maruku Arts and Craft Cooperative. Join a guided walk to the waterhole of Mutitjulu, followed by the guided Mala Walk. Learn about the legends, geology and flora of the region and explore Kantju Gorge. Late this afternoon, stop and enjoy a glass of wine with our compliments as you watch Uluru at sunset. Admire the changing colors of Uluru as the sun sinks beneath the desert plain.
Accommodation: Ayers Rock Resort or similar - 1 night

Day 6 - Ayers Rock / Kings Canyon
Rise early to see Uluru at sunrise. Drive out to Kata Tjuta, a magnificent cluster of 36 rocky domes that dominate the western skyline of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Join a walk into Walpa (Olga) Gorge, where some of the plants are so rare that they are only found in and around these distinct sandstone formations. This afternoon, journey to Watarrka National Park, the home of Kings Canyon.
Accommodation: Kings Canyon Resort or similar - 1 night

Day 7 - Kings Canyon & Alice Springs
This morning, enjoy a guided walk up to the rim of awe-inspiring Kings Canyon for spectacular views of the canyon’s walls. Then walk through the ancient Lost City and the lush Garden of Eden to a waterhole (requires a good degree of fitness). Another less strenuous walk along the canyon floor is also available. This gentler alternative takes you deep into the canyon between the towering orange walls. This afternoon travel to Kings Creek Station. After lunch (at your own expense) continue on to Alice Springs for an overnight stay.
Accommodation: Doubletree Alice Springs or similar - 1 night

Day 8 - Alice Springs / Cairns
This morning, transfer to Alice Springs Airport. Arrive at the Cairns Airport for your four-night stay.
Accommodation: Pacific International Hotel Cairns or similar - 4 nights

Day 9 - Michaelmas Cay on the Great Barrier Reef
Michaelmas Cay is a low-lying vegetated Sand Cay surrounded by magical coral gardens teeming with an incredible diversity of marine life. The Cay is a National Park and World Heritage listed area. One of the most important nesting sites in the Southern Hemisphere, the cay is a protected seabird sanctuary that plays host to over 20,000 migratory seabirds. The Michaelmas Cay cruise offers a wide range of activities including snorkeling from the shallow waters of the sand cay, semi-submersible coral viewing, coral cay scientific tours, nature walks viewing a bird sanctuary, live musical entertainment and a chilled glass of Australian sparkling wine on the homeward sail.

Day 10 - Cairns Night Zoo
On arrival at the Cairns Night Zoo, a guide will greet you and escort you to the famous Aussie BBQ buffet that includes a selection of beer and wine. After dinner your guides will provide you with a flashlight and lead you into the darkness to meet the creatures of the night. Learn how owls hunt, touch a possum, and pat a koala. Follow your guide safely through the crocodiles' lair, seeing croc eyes glow in the beam of your flashlight. On clear nights your guide will take you star gazing. See the Southern Cross, the Big Dipper and other well-known constellations.

In the Aussie bush, there's always a chance you will cross paths with a "Swaggie,” an original Australian bushman. Join your hospitable Swaggie and enjoy billy tea and damper with him by the campfire. His friends, the kangaroos, will come down to say “G'day” and maybe even share a bite to eat. The resident musician will provide lots of fun with live Australian music and entertainment. Dance and sing along – this is a great night out for all!

Day 11 - Free Day in Cairns
Today enjoy a day at leisure to explore Cairns on your own.

Day 12 - Depart Cairns
Transfer from your hotel to Cairns airport for your flight home.

Limitations & Restrictions

*Prices are per person based on double occupancy, are subject to availability at time of booking, and may change without notice. Price given based on suggested itinerary; final price will depend on hotel availability, itinerary and dates requested, and currency fluctuation until paid in full. Single supplement may apply. Except for packages including air transportation, unless stated otherwise, airfare, taxes and government fees are not included. Offers valid for new bookings only. Member Benefits are per person and apply to first and second traveler only. Member Benefits are available only with advertised fare and are subject to change without notice. Your travel arrangements may be modified or canceled subject to the travel providers’ policies. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply. We make every effort for accuracy at time of printing but reserve the right to correct errors. AAA Travel strongly recommends the purchase of trip protection insurance. Except for packages including air transportation, fares may not reflect additional fuel supplement or port charges and vary by provider.

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