Day 1 – USA to Melbourne
Today you will begin your Swain Destinations customized itinerary. Please note, international air has not been included in this package price.
Day 2 – Cross the International Date Line
Cross the International Date Line, an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth that runs from the North to the South Pole - and defines one calendar day from the next. Crossing the International Date Line adds one day (24 hours) traveling west, and subtracts one day (24 hours) traveling east.
Day 3 – Welcome to Melbourne
Melbourne is Australia's second largest city (after Sydney), but is second to none when it comes to fashion, festivals and Sport. Set around the shores of Port Phillip Bay, the city itself is laid out in a large rectangle. She boasts a lively, cosmopolitan pulse, sitting on the northern banks of the Yarra River, about three miles from the bay. Visitors come for its shopping, restaurants and nightlife. Residents stay for its cultural diversity, passion for the arts and enviable sports calendar. Melbourne is renowned for playing host to a number of nationally and internationally recognized events each year including the Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam, the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix and the ever impressive two mile horse race - the Melbourne Cup. A major event in Melbourne spreads an addictive buzz through the city streets and you can be sure that locals and visitors alike will embrace the energy surrounding it. Starting Accommodation:
Day 4 – Koalas and Kangaroos, in the Wild
Depart Melbourne to travel just 45 minutes west to the bushland of You Yangs Park. The park is home to a healthy population of wild Koalas, which are researched and monitored to ensure the best possible sightings.Take an easy walk through the gum trees, searching for koalas, wallabies, kangaroos and birds in their natural setting. Your Wildlife Guide will point out plants and features of interest, explain some of the history of the area and, where possible, introduce you to known, named Koalas that are part of the research project.Help collect important data, remove Boneseed (a weed) and make a difference to koala habitat.
The area is also of great significance to the local Aboriginal People of the Wathaurong Tribe. Many signs of their occupation remain, and the guide will share their knowledge with you. Though you will not meet any Aboriginal People on this tour, guides act with the knowledge, consent and support of the Wathaurong Community. A picnic lunch is usually served under the gum trees and includes gourmet sandwiches, fruit and cakes, and delicious Australian 'Billy tea'.
At Serendip Open Range Sanctuary, drive, then walk through the gum trees and across grasslands in search of mobs of Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Also look out for curious Emus, and take a short walk to the billabong, home to large populations of water birds.
At the end of the day all participants will receive a certificate of thanks for helping wildlife, and an opportunity to stay in touch with each of the Koalas seen on the day. The tour is vehicle-based, with short walks during the day; includes a substantial picnic lunch and pick up/drop off to Melbourne city between 5 and 6pm. NOTE:this itinerary is an indication only, due to conditions on the day it can change slightly to maximize wildlife viewing opportunities.Starting Accommodation:
Rydges Melbourne (L)
Day 5 – Royal Botanical Gardens and Colonial Tramcar DinnerAboriginal Melbourne Tour
Today's experience starts with a private Aboriginal Heritage Walk at the Royal Botanical gardens, including herbal tea. Journey into the ancestral lands of the Kulin nation and explore rich and thriving culture on the award winning walk. Experience a traditional smoking ceremony with an Indigenous Guide and discover traditional uses of plants for food, tools and medicine.
Next is a unique 'Touch, Feel & Taste' of indigenous flavors and a light lunch at socially responsible restaurant Charcoal Lane in Gertrude Street, followed by a visit to Melbourne Museum's Bunjilaka Aboriginal Centre to teach you about Australia's first people. Also enjoy a visit and experience of Federation Square's indigenous stories at the Koorie Heritage Trust. Colonial Tramcar Dinner
Dining in Melbourne can be a fabulous experience, especially aboard the fleet of historical trams that have become The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. These glossy, burgundy restaurants on wheels are the first travelling tramcar restaurants in the world and ensure a delightful innovative approach to dining.
Tonight, dine in style aboard the unique Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. Enjoy fine Australian cuisine and wines as you travel around the city aboard this specially renovated Tramcar. The tracks take you all over the Melbourne area past the city center and into the more exclusive suburbs Melbourne is known for.Starting Accommodation:
Rydges Melbourne (D)
Day 6 – Melbourne to Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the heart of Australia’s outback, Uluru.Uluru Sunset tour
Departing your accommodation at Yulara resort, today's excursion will travel through the landscape to the entrance of Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park. From this point, it is only a matter of minutes before the spectre of Uluru rises from the sand dunes to demonstrate its enormity and presence - our first stop allows you a photographic opportunity of this amazing icon. With Uluru looming in front, walk with your guide to a place of tranquillity at the base. The closer you wander, the more you surrender to the realization of the sheer size of this monolith.
As you drive around the base, your guide takes you to the entrance of Mutitjulu Waterhole, a semi-permanent watercourse nestled in the contours of Uluru. Here, learn the Creation stories of Liru (poisonous snake) and Kuniya (python) and their battle for control of Uluru as well as a number of other stories associated with other prominent Tjukurpa (Dreaming) stories. See the rock art of the ancients and learn how Uluru was, and still is, a significant location for teaching young Aboriginal people. We then adjourn to the Talinguru Nyakunytjaku viewing area where you will observe an uninterrupted view of Uluru with Kata Tjuta in the background.Starting Accommodation:
Day 7 – Outback ExperiencesKata Tjuta Sunrise Tour
Travel through the landscape to the entrance of Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park. From there is it a 25 mile journey through the desert landscape to the mighty rock formation. On arrival at the viewing area you will walk to the best vantage point to see the 36 domes that comprise this amazing icon. You will then make our way to the western side of Kata Tjuta where you journey between the domes for a walk up Walpa Gorge, named for the wind (Walpa) that whistles between the massive domes. As you stroll between these mighty conglomerate rock walls your guide explains how the environment and the geology has evolved over millions of years. This is an afternoon tour of approximately 3.5 hours.Bush Tucker Tour
Discover the importance of traditional bush food to the people of Central Australia with your Aboriginal host. You will walk through country and learn how the local people lived in such a hot desert climate surviving on a variety of bush plants and animals. Taste a selection of the bush foods, grind native seeds and have the opportunity to talk with your Aboriginal host about desert life. Excursion includes a 2 hour fully guided tour with an Anangu Guide, samplings for tasting of a variety of bush foods and hotel pick up and drop off. Please wear covered shoes that are comfortable to walk in, bottled water, sunscreen and a brimmed hat.Sounds of Silence
Tonight is an outback dining experience to remember, with Desert Oaks framing the view, the sounds of the didgeridoo, the taste of outback cuisine, the ‘sounds of silence’ and the Milky Way.
Journey into the desert and see the brilliant outback sunset over Kata Tjuta. Enjoy a three course meal prepared before we dim the lanterns and listen to the sounds of the great outback. Look up to see the brilliant southern skies, the Milky Way gleaming amongst stars and constellations.Starting Accommodation:
Day 8 – Uluru (Ayers Rock) to Cairns
Built on Trinity Inlet, the Coral Sea calls from the east whilst the rainforest-clad Atherton Tablelands serenade from the west, making Cairns a nature lover's Nirvana. The warmth of the tropical climate has fostered a vigorous outdoor lifestyle, reflected in the architectural styles of open verandahs and balconies and extending to the most traditional of Australian cuisine - the barbecue. Dining is a high point of any vacation, and the cosmopolitan local restaurants, cafe9s and eateries offer an eclectic fare of Australian and international cuisine, the highlight of most menus being the region's mouth-watering fresh seafoods and unusual tropical fruits.
Head to the heart of the city, the Esplanade, and enjoy a cafe9 latte before contemplating an abundance of tour options.Starting Accommodation:
Day 9 – Michaelmas Cay Reef excursion
Depart Cairns wharf on board the 'Ocean Spirit', a luxury 105ft sailing vessel - the largest of her kind in the world. Sail to Michaelmas Cay, known as the Isle of the Birds, a year round home to thousands of sea birds of some 14 different species. Its spectacular coral reef, which thrives in the ideal conditions of clear, shallow, sunlit water, is home to a variety of marine life including giant clams and brilliant fish. Because Michaelmas Cay is a National Park the fish are so tame you can feed them from the beach and birds know they are safe to wander among you with their chicks.
Lunch is a buffet of seafood, meats, roasted potatoes, salads and tropical fruit, freshly prepared in the spacious galley.We spend four hours at the reef with time for a variety of activities.You may wish to do an introductory scuba dive with a qualified instructor (extra cost for this option, prebooking recommended), or just laze on the beach.
Enjoy a leisurely sail back to Cairns and afternoon tea, arriving back at the wharf late afternoon. Don't forget to take a hat, towel, sunscreen, sun protective clothing, camera, swimsuit and cash/credit cards for any on-board purchases.Starting Accommodation:
Day 10 – Scenic Hot Air Balloon Flight and Kuranda RailScenic Hot Air Balloon Flight
Transfer by Hot Air coach to the departure location near Port Douglas. Experience the fun and unique sensation of being in a hot air balloon, taking off from Mareeba and flying gently over the Atherton Tablelands. Enjoy the picturesque landscape at dawn, during this 30 minute ride, and breathe in the wide open spaces.
Hot Air has the largest fleet of Balloons in Australia, with an engaging and highly trained crew to maximize the enjoyment of your balloon flight. It is recommended you wear layers of clothing, the morning air can be quite cool to start, and much warmer by the time you land. You will be returned to your accommodation in Cairns between 9 and 9.30am.Kuranda Rail
You will be transferred to Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, where you will meet the Indigenous guide who will show you through the Park, including bush food demonstrations, didgeridoo demonstrations, movie theatres, fire making demonstrations and the famous Tjapukai Dance Troupe.
A short distance from Tjapukai is the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, where you will be amazed as you glide silently over the rainforest. There are 2 stations en route where you may alight and enjoy a walk through the rainforest to spectacular lookouts, or visit the CSIRO Interpretive Centre. Upon arrival in Kuranda, you have 2 hours free time to do your own exploring - why not take advantage of the exclusive Kuranda discounts on your Kuranda Boarding Pass!
At the scheduled time, board the Kuranda Scenic Railway. Your journey winds through hand-hewn tunnels, across bridges and around curves, all the time appreciating what an amazing engineering feat it is. Upon arrival at Freshwater Station, the coach will transfer you back to your accommodation.Starting Accommodation:
Day 11 – Daintree Dreaming Tour
Experience the regions rich Aboriginal history and culture on this exclusive day tour adventure. Travel along one of Australia's most scenic coastal drives as you head north of Port Douglas to Cooya Beach (Kuku Kuku). This special place is a traditional fishing ground of the Kuku Yalanji people. There are three diverse ecosystems - beach, mangroves and coastal reef. Here one of the Kubirri Warra brothers of Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours will teach you how to throw a spear and other Aboriginal hunting techniques. Walk with the brothers on their traditional lands as they demonstrate how to track and hunt for fish, mud crabs, and mussels. Learn about bush tucker and medicines before enjoying home-made damper and the catch of the day.
From here, we head to Janbal Gallery in Mossman. Enjoy and share in an authentic Aboriginal art experience with Binna, the Artist in residence. Learn about the Dreamtime, animals and stories of country of the Aboriginal people of the Mossman region. Next, we travel to the Mossman Gorge Centre for lunch.
We then Journey into the lush rainforest of Mossman Gorge and experience the wonders of the World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest with pristine waterfalls, vivid flora and fauna. All the while immersing yourself in its enchanting stores and rich indigenous heritage. Connect with the lives, culture and beliefs of the local Kuku Yalanji community and experience, first hand, their connection to the natural environment.
Your day includes the 2 hour coastal and mangrove walk, morning tea and lunch, a visit to Janbal Aboriginal Art Gallery and the Interpretive Rainforest walk at Mossman Gorge. We suggest you wear comfortable footwear and bring a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, swimmers and towel, and a water bottle.Starting Accommodation:
Day 12 – Cairns to Sydney
It is no surprise that when the British first arrived in Sydney they named the area Botany Bay. Even today, with a population of over 4 million people and a reputation for fun rather than flora, one is still surrounded by bush land in this bustling city. Native Waratah wind their way through the historic Rocks area, palm trees frame long stretches of pristine beach, and Eucalyptus embrace the harbors endless and beckoning bays.
It is Sydney's manmade wonders, however, that draw most visitors. The Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are the most photographed icons on the continent. Choose a Seaplane Safari experience and enjoy a bird's eye view of the Opera House's signature sails.Starting Accommodation:
Day 13 – Taronga Zoo and Aboriginal Discovery Tour
Spot echidnas, birds and reptiles and learn about the traditional uses of native plants for food, tools and medicine. You will have photo opportunities of native animals such as native birds, kangaroos, wallabies and emus. Located on traditional Cammeraigal Country, Taronga Zoo acknowledged the Cammeraigal people, their Country, spirit and traditions as customary owners. Aboriginal traditions of Caring for Country have strong links to Taronga's wildlife conservation goals.
'Nura Diya' meaning 'this country or camp', allows you to discover more about the oldest living culture on earth as it evolves into the future. Developed with Aboriginal people, and led by an Aboriginal Guide, the tour will take you on a walk-through introduction to Australia's wildlife from an indigenous perspective - all framed by views of beautiful Sydney Harbour. The many cultures of Aboriginal Australia are rich and diverse, and all use unique natural resources for shelter, food, medicine, tools and art. Nura Diya celebrates these diverse cultures and delivers personal insights, as you learn about Australian wildlife through the experiences of an Aboriginal guide. You'll hear stories of the Dreaming, a time of creation, when landscapes, plants and animals took shape, and of the strong bonds between people, plants and animals; and responsibilities for the land they all share.Starting Accommodation:
Day 14 – Story of Sydney Tour
Ultimately Sydney invites you to experience the 'Story of Sydney'. You will take away lasting memories of stunning beauty, fascinating culture and a variety of wonderful attractions. Travelling in a small group, 'The Story' promises to acquaint you with Australia's most vibrant city beginning with her birth place, The Rocks. Discover how culturally intact the region remains today.
The Story of Sydney is the ultimate way to orient yourself in Sydney. The itinerary includes 'must-see' attractions, from the Opera House to Bondi Beach, as well as many of the local's favorite hidden gems. 'The Story' really brings the city to life as your guide introduces you to Sydney's unique culture, contemporary lifestyle and fascinating history whilst you tour the city's diverse villages, fashionable shopping strips, beautiful beaches and buzzing dining precincts through the eyes of a Sydney-sider. The tour also includes (optional) short walks along spectacular coastal paths and golden beaches.Starting Accommodation:
Day 15 – The Rocks Dreaming, Aboriginal Heritage Tour
Be touched by the most ancient human culture on earth in a 90-minute leisurely walkabout with an Aboriginal guide in The Rocks, and journey into DreamTime, the culture of Aboriginal People. This tour experience is Aboriginal owned and was developed by Margret Campbell, a Dunghutti-Jerrinjah woman. The tour is led by Aboriginal guides who have her permission to share their cultural knowledge. The tour gives you the opportunity to discover how the ancient Aboriginal Dreaming is still alive within the modern Sydney landscape and how the billion-year old harbour, marine environment, sandstone strata, waterways, flora and fauna influenced how Aboriginal People lived in the area. Starting Accommodation:
Day 16 – Sydney to USA
Today ends your Australia vacation. You will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight.