Day 2 Melbourne
We arrive into Melbourne and transfer to the centrally-located Holiday Inn on Flinders (4T), with the rest of the day at leisure to explore this fantastic city of great open spaces and wonderfully grand buildings.
Day 3 Melbourne
During your free day in Melbourne, delve into history at the Royal Exhibition Building, Old Melbourne Gaol or Cooks’ Cottage, the understated home built by Captain James Cook’s parents and transported to Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens in 1934. You’ll notice the trams that have been operating in Melbourne since 1889, and this evening we experience a little piece of Victorian history aboard a glossy, burgundy Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. Enjoy the sights of Melbourne’s city centre as you are served a six-course dinner of local cuisine.
Day 4 Melbourne - Dandenong Mountains
Our morning tour takes in the fine contrast of Victorian, Edwardian and 21st century buildings that line wide boulevards plied by the ubiquitous trams, and its Botanical Gardens, a substantial part of the delightful parkland that comprises more than one third of this ‘garden city’. In the afternoon, we make a journey into the Dandenong Mountains, whose forested slopes are home to vividly-plumed birds including the rare lyrebird. We take a memorable ride on ‘Puffing Billy’, Australia’s oldest narrow gauge steam train, from Belgrave to Menzies Creek.
Day 5 Melbourne - Phillip Island
The morning is yours to relax or see more of Melbourne independently, before an afternoon excursion to Phillip Island, habitat of the sleepy koala and sunset venue for one of nature’s most delightful rituals - the ‘parade’ of Little Penguins, emerging from the sea and waddling their way resolutely up Summerland Beach to their sand dune burrows. Your upgraded ticket allows you to view them from an exclusive viewing platform inspired by the natural elements of the surrounding landscape, with unprecedented up-close viewing of the little penguins as they make their way along the pathway. We return to Melbourne later in the evening.
Day 1 London - In flight
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home, for your journey to London Heathrow Airport in time for a scheduled Qantas/Emirates flight to Melbourne via Dubai.
Day 6 Melbourne - Great Ocean Road - Warrnambool
Perhaps the most dramatic and photogenic stretch of Australian coastline is Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. From Torquay, we begin to follow the coast, opening up to a series of grand sweeping bays and exciting vistas at Lorne. The road climbs the Cliffside as we skirt Cape Otway National Park and pass into Port Campbell National Park, where we pause to admire the unique rock formations known as the Twelve Apostles. Built in 1932 as a works project during the depression, the Great Ocean Road still traverses country relatively untouched and unpopulated. Its wild grandeur encompasses rainforests, gorges, gullies, arches and blowholes; and the section to Warrnambool, beyond the Bay of Isles and the Bay of Martyrs, is particularly special. Tonight we stay at the Quality Suites Deep Blue (3T+) in Warrnambool, where dinner is included this evening.
Day 7 Warrnambool - Coonawarra - Murray River - Adelaide
Our journey continues to the wine-producing region of Coonawarra. Though it covers only around 15km², its unique soils produce some of the world’s finest grape crops and award-winning vintages. A tasting at a local winery reveals its quality, before the panorama of vines gives way to enchanting pastureland, running brooks, then great orchards beside the Murray River (the ‘Mississippi of Australia’) as we descend towards the lovely city of Adelaide, where our hotel for three nights will be the Pullman Adelaide (4T), located in the heart of this compact city centre.
Day 8 Adelaide
Surrounded by verdant parkland, picturesque hills and the Mount Lofty Range, Adelaide could scarcely present a more captivating aspect. Our morning sightseeing tour introduces the graceful streets, imaginative shopping complexes and fine Victorian buildings, and presents the chance to walk through the largest glasshouse in the southern hemisphere - a breathtaking year-round tropical rainforest. We head up to the summit of Mount Lofty, Adelaide’s highest peak, for a three-course lunch with sweeping views over Adelaide. In the afternoon, we visit Cleland Conservation Park, on the slopes of Mount Lofty, a place of sanctuary for native species such as kangaroos and koalas - you can enjoy a close-up encounter with the latter as they dine on eucalyptus leaves.
Day 9 Adelaide
At leisure to explore Adelaide independently. From our centrally-located hotel, you are only minutes from attractions such as the colourful Central Market and the beautifully laid out gardens of Victoria Square. Nearby, the pedestrianised Rundle Mall will delight bargain-hunters. or you may wish to venture a little further afield to the seaside resort of Glenelg, which can be reached by tram from Moseley Square.
Day 10 Adelaide - Alice Springs
We fly from Adelaide to Alice Springs, immortalised by Nevil Shute in his 1950 novel A Town Like Alice. ‘The Alice’, as it is usually known, was founded as a staging point for the overland telegraph line in the 1870s. A tour takes us to the Telegraph Station and the Royal Flying Doctor Service; then you are free to wander this small town, just five streets wide. The DoubleTree by Hilton (4T) is our hotel for the night.
Day 11 Alice Springs - Uluru
We depart Alice for Uluru and our hotel, the Voyages Sails in the Desert (4T+), sympathetically built into the landscape yet lacking no modern comfort. Following check-in, we head out to experience a true icon of Australia - Uluru. Standing at an already impressive 348m high, it is believed that two-thirds of the rock is buried beneath the sand, containing a whole network of caves and eroded gullies. With a glass of wine in hand, we watch as the setting sun changes the colours of the rock surface, culminating in a series of deeper and darker reds, to the sounds of a didgeridoo. As darkness falls, the coloured lights of 50,000 glass spheres come to life, creating the magical Field of Light - Bruce Munro’s monumental installation. A guide will provide insight as you enjoy a performance by local indigenous peoples, before being invited to a special three-course bush tucker inspired buffet.
Day 12 Kata Tjuta (the Olgas)
A return to Uluru by day presents the opportunity to see it, literally, in a very different light. Of deep cultural significance to the Aborigines, who now officially own the park in which it stands, Uluru has inspired a number of paintings and carvings, many of which may be admired from walking trails around the foot of the rock. To the west are the Olgas, a collection of more rounded rocks known to Aborigines as Kata Tjuta (‘Many Heads’), one of which, Mount Olga, is, at 548m, taller than Uluru. We return to our hotel for a free afternoon.
Day 13 Uluru - Cairns - Palm Cove
We fly to Cairns, in North Queensland, and transfer to our resort - the Reef House Palm Cove (4T+), literally just steps from the Pacific Ocean and the sandy beach. We stay five nights in this peaceful paradise.
Day 14 Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system and the largest structure built by living organisms. It is spectacular in scale - covering an area of 344,000km² - and is visible from space. As awe-inspiring as its size, is the variety and colour of the tropical fish that inhabit its shallow waters; and today presents opportunities to see them your way. We begin with a transfer to Cairns and an exhilarating catamaran ride across the blue Coral Sea to a pontoon on the Outer Great Barrier Reef. From here we have a breathtaking treat - a five-minute helicopter ride for a spectacular bird’s-eye view of the Great Barrier Reef. From this unique perspective on this stunning World Heritage-listed location, look out for turtles, rays, reef shark and schooling fish amongst the coral formations below. Returning to the pontoon, you can view the underwater life through a glass-windowed underwater observatory, from a semi-submersible boat, or by snorkelling in the water with the equipment provided. We return to Cairns late afternoon and on to our resort hotel in Palm Cove.
Day 15 Palm Cove
Free for you to unwind in the idyllic tropical surroundings of Palm Cove.
Day 16 Kuranda - Tjapukai Park
Gold prospecting and tin mining inspired the amazing engineering feat of the scenic railway that winds its way through the rainforest and up the mountainside of Kuranda. Hewn from the rock, it twists and turns for 34km through 15 tunnels, across chasms and beyond cascades. We enjoy this wonderful journey, stopping for photos at the dramatic Barron Falls before we reach the picturesque Kuranda Railway Station, with its original wooden structures and connecting bridge decked out with tropical flowers and ferns. Then there is time at leisure to browse Kuranda’s shops and cafés or visit the butterfly sanctuary, after which we descend to Tjapukai Park by coach or the Skyrail cable car (extra cost) to visit the Aboriginal Dance Theatre and see their award-winning show. We return to Palm Cove late afternoon.
Day 17 Palm Cove - Cairns - Sydney
We transfer to Cairns Airport for a flight to Sydney. Upon arrival, we transfer to the Parkroyal Darling Harbour Hotel (4T), our base for the next four nights. Darling Harbour is an attractively-restored area of dockland, now a huge waterfront leisure park including a palm-fringed promenade, a Chinese garden and the magnificent Sydney Aquarium, which conveys the impression of being underwater.
Day 18 Sydney
A city tour introduces the highlights of Sydney, one of the world’s great cities. The harbour is instantly recognisable and is dominated by the great span of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, affectionately known as ‘the coat hanger’, and the distinctive Opera House, Danish architect Jorn Utzon’s white-sailed vision added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2007 as ‘an outstanding example of 20th century architecture’. The 19th century Royal Botanical Gardens, the attractive repository for native plant-life, and Hyde Park, famed for its magnificent fig-tree-lined avenues, also reward a visit. This evening, we board a private cruise vessel to enjoy luxury canapés, desserts and drinks as we take in an unforgettable perspective on Sydney, its sumptuous waterfront homes and its iconic harbour as the sun sets, all accompanied by a live band on board.
Days 19-20 Sydney
Two full free days at leisure. Why not explore Sydney on foot. A leisurely half-hour stroll from our hotel will take you through the charming old dockland streets of the Rocks - the area where the first British convicts settled, which retains much of its Victorian character thanks to the efforts of conservationists in the 1960s and 1970s, and now hosts numerous fine shops, galleries and restaurants. Nearby Circular Quay has some wonderful dining venues of its own. On the other side of the Quay is the unmistakable shape of the Opera House, which invites countless photo opportunities. Stroll through the Botanical Gardens, admiring the flora, and along historic Macquarie Street, a parade of grand colonial-style buildings including the State Conservatory of Music, Parliament House and the Mint, all designed by Englishman Francis Greenway, who was transported to Australia for forgery. Shopping opportunities abound in Sydney, but many of the best can be found on Pitt Street, running south of Circular Quay, and George Street, which boasts one of the most sublime shopping centres in the world - the Queen Victoria Building, with its three floors of bow-fronted shops adorned with marble, gilt, rich panelling and stained glass.
Day 21 Sydney - In flight
Enjoy a few last hours at leisure in Sydney, before we transfer to the airport for a scheduled Qantas/Emirates flight to London via Dubai.
Day 22 London
Arrival at London Heathrow Airport where you will be met and guided to your Titan vehicle, for the journey home.