East Coast Islands & Rainforest
SYDNEY | PORT MACQUARIE | GOLD COAST | NOOSA | K'GARI | HERVEY BAY | ROCKHAMPTON | HAMILTON ISLAND | MISSION BEACH | CAIRNS | GREAT BARRIER REEF
Explore the epic coastline of Eastern Australia on a journey that takes you from buzzy cosmopolitan Sydney to tranquil Port Macquarie and the glitzy Gold Coast. Cruise to pristine K'gari and exquisite Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays, and head to tropical Cairns to discover the world-renowned Great Barrier Reef. There are hinterland experiences too – you’ll taste premium wines in the Hunter Valley and tour a remote Rockhampton cattle station.
- Enjoy a delicious winery lunch and wine tasting in the Hunter Valley
- Visit Australia Zoo, home of the Irwin family
- See the cute koalas at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital
- Let your hair down with free time in the holiday town of Noosa
- Take an exciting 4WD tour on K'gari
- Taste local produce at the Ohana Exotic Fruit Orchard
- Experience life on Langmorn Station, a working cattle property
- Stop at the Sarina Sugar Shed for a guided tour and lunch at a miniature sugar mill and much more!
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East Coast Islands & Rainforest
Day 1 : Sydney – Port Macquarie
As this holiday departs at 7.30am from Rydges Sydney Central, accommodation will need to be pre-booked for the previous night.
Leave Sydney today bound for the renowned Hunter Valley. One of Australia’s major wine regions, its viticultural history dates back to the early 1800s. It’s known for varietals such as Semillon and Shiraz, and is home to numerous wineries, including world-renowned brands and family-run boutique operations. Visit a vineyard to enjoy an exclusive wine- tasting, and get to know your fellow travellers over lunch. Continue north to the seaside town of Port Macquarie. Best-known for its extensive beaches and waterways, Port Macquarie is also emerging as a vibrant cultural hub with many art galleries. It is also rich in convict history.
Hotel: Waters Edge, Port Macquarie
Included Meals: Lunch and dinner with wine
Day 2-3 : Port Macquarie – Gold Coast
Day 2: Port Macquarie – Gold Coast
Travel on this morning to Cape Byron Lighthouse to experience superb views over the Pacific Ocean. Standing on a rocky headland with a precipitous cliff on the east side, and a sheer hundred-metre drop to the waters below, Cape Byron Lighthouse is the easternmost point in Australia. At the right time of year you may spot migrating whales breaching not far offshore. A scenic coastal drive this afternoon takes you to the legendary holiday destination of the Gold Coast, famed for its long sandy beaches, elaborate system of inland canals and waterways, and world-class surf breaks. Settle in for your two-night stay.
Day 3: Gold Coast Included Choice
Today choose one from a selection of Included Choice sightseeing experiences. Take the 4WD track through the Gold Coast Hinterland and magnificent rainforests to Tamborine Mountain. Or a boat trip to try your hand at crab fishing or ‘pumping yabbies’, a truly unique and local experience. You may prefer to be 270 metres in the air on the SkyPoint Climb at the iconic Q1 building.
Hotel: Novotel Surfers Paradise, 2 nights
Included Meals: Day 2: Breakfast. Day 3: Breakfast
Day 4-5 : Gold Coast – Noosa
Day 4: Gold Coast – Noosa
Head north this morning, stopping in Brisbane for a short orientation tour of the vibrant state capital, then continue to Australia Zoo, made famous by the late Steve Irwin and his family. Enjoy a sneak peek into the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital and see how AAT Kings works with its Wildlife Warriors to support the koala rehabilitation project at the hospital, the country’s largest and busiest wildlife facility. Your final destination today is the beachside resort town of Noosa. Although reports of the area can be traced back to Captain Cook’s voyages in May 1770, European settlement in the region did not proceed for almost a century. Unfortunately much of the culture and presence of the traditional owners of the Noosa district has been lost during the short period of white settlement, but there are still subtle reminders, such as ‘canoe trees’, middens and stone carvings. Join your fellow travellers for dinner this evening at a local restaurant.
Day 5: Noosa Free Time
Take time out today to discover Noosa for yourself. Swim in the clear waters of Main Beach, or venture a little further afield on an easy walk along the spectacular headland to Noosa National Park. The Park itself offers many walking tracks affording stunning coastal views and is home to several rare and threatened species. If you’re feeling adventurous, you may like to hire a stand-up paddle-board or take a boat ride on the mysterious and tranquil mirrored waters of the Noosa Everglades, one of Australia’s most beautiful wilderness areas. The shaded waterways and abundant wildlife along the Noosa River will surprise and delight you. This evening, stroll along Hastings Street and dine in one of its many eateries.
Hotel: The Sebel Resort Noosa, 2 nights
Included Meals: Day 4: Breakfast and dinner with wine. Day 5: Breakfast
Day 6 : Noosa - K'gari
Today cross the Great Sandy Strait by ferry to explore the wonders of World Heritage-listed K'gari, the world’s largest sand island. Its striking blue freshwater lakes, crystalline creeks, giant dunes and lush rainforests combine to create a unique, enigmatic environment. See Lake McKenzie, a perched lake ringed with magnificent white sandy beaches, and walk through the ancient rainforest at Central Station with its towering scribbly gum and kauri trees. Wildlife authorities recognise that K'gari dingoes may become the purest strain of dingo on the eastern Australian seaboard and perhaps Australia-wide. Enjoy lunch before travelling on to Hervey Bay, where in spring around 7,000 humpback whales and their new calves choose to rest and play in the calm and safe waters before they head back to the Antarctic.
Hotel: Mantra Hervey Bay
Included Meals: Breakfast and lunch
Day 7 : Hervey Bay - Rockhampton
After breakfast, your first stop is Ohana Exotic Fruit Orchard for a guided tour and the opportunity to try some local flavours and produce. Later, leave Hervey Bay and travel to Langmorn Station, an 11,000 hectare Red Brahman cattle property located in a scenic coastal valley. A member of the Creed family, whose forebears built the heritage-listed homestead in 1873, will lead you on a guided tour of the station. Enjoy afternoon tea in the garden in the company of the family’s friendly pet kangaroo before travelling on, crossing the Tropic of Capricorn as you arrive in Rockhampton, the beef capital of Australia. Rockhampton’s charming historical architecture has captured the hearts of visitors for many decades. Founded in 1853, the city is home to heritage post offices, majestic cathedrals and quaint homes. A stroll along historic Quay Street tonight could provide the perfect opportunity to sample some local beef at one of the city’s steakhouses.
Hotel: Quality Hotel Regent, Rockhampton
Included Meals: Breakfast
Day 8-9 : Rockhampton – Hamilton Island
Day 8: Rockhampton – Hamilton Island
Travel north to the sugar town of Sarina today for a guided tour of a unique miniature sugar mill and distillery. There’ll be an opportunity to taste some of the products made on site before you enjoy a light lunch. Travel though Airlie Beach then on to catch the ferry to Hamilton Island. One of 74 tropical islands that make up the Whitsunday group in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, spectacular Hamilton Island boasts pristine beaches and a kaleidoscope of coral and marine life. The island is vehicle- free, and home to large populations of koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and kookaburras.
Day 9: Hamilton Island
Cruise to spectacular Whitehaven Beach, regarded by many as the best beach in Australia. Wander in peace along its seven kilometres of pure white sand, or if you’re feeling energetic, take a walk to Hill’s Inlet for elevated views over the Whitsunday islands and the sparkling waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Back on Hamilton Island, the afternoon is yours in this tropical paradise.
Hotel: Reef View Hotel, Hamilton Island, 2 nights
Included Meals: Day 8: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner with wine. Day 9: Breakfast
Day 10 : Hamilton Island - Mission Beach
Take the ferry back to the mainland this morning and continue north along the Bruce Highway, stopping off in the coastal town of Townsville with time for a stroll along its handsome, endless esplanade, an ideal viewing platform to tropical Magnetic Island offshore. Your final destination today is Mission Beach, a seaside town with World Heritage rainforest on one side and the Great Barrier Reef on the other. There are no chain stores or traffic lights in Mission Beach – you’ll slow down and enjoy the simple life here. Your accommodation offers superb views over the Coral Sea.
Hotel: Castaways Resort & Spa, Mission Beach
Included Meals: Breakfast and dinner with wine
Day 11-12 : Mission Beach – Cairns & Great Barrier Reef
Day 11: Mission Beach – Cairns
Before departing, wander along the shores of Mission Beach, with glorious views to Dunk and Bedarra Islands. Then set out on today’s journey to the tropical plateau of the Atherton Tablelands, where lush rainforests, spectacular waterfalls and peaceful lakes abound. Visit Millaa Millaa Falls and the heritage-listed 500-year-old Curtain Fig Tree, and keep an eye out for the magnificent Ulysses butterfly. Spend some free time in Kuranda, the ‘Village in the Rainforest’. Initially people came here to admire the mighty Barron Falls, while artisans were attracted to the region’s natural beauty and decided to call it home, creating a vibrant arts and crafts culture. Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the local markets, before travelling on to Cairns via the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Your six-person gondola will glide just metres above the canopy providing spectacular views of the rainforest, the Coral Sea, the Cairns Highlands and the city of Cairns itself.
Day 12: Great Barrier Reef
Board a sleek, high-speed catamaran today and cruise out to the iconic Great Barrier Reef. The World Heritage listed reef is the only living organism that can be seen from the moon. You’ll have the opportunity to go snorkelling (equipment provided) to view this natural living wonder first hand, or view the spectacular coral and tropical fish from the underwater observatory and semi-submersible craft. Enjoy a tropical buffet lunch on board before you return to Cairns in the late afternoon. This evening you’re in for a real treat – join a local family in their home in Cairns for a Be My Guest Aussie BBQ dinner. Spend a leisurely evening enjoying an informal chat with the family and learning about life in the tropics. The open, warm and friendly nature of Australians will be there in abundance.
Hotel: Hilton Hotel Cairns, 2 nights
Included Meals: Day 11: Breakfast. Day 12: Breakfast, lunch and Be My Guest dinner
Day 13 : Farewell from Cairns
Say farewell to your fellow travellers when your holiday comes to an end this morning after breakfast.
Included Meals: Breakfast