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Australia by Rail

Travel by rail between Adelaide, Alice Springs and Sydney for an incredible journey through Australia. One of the greatest train journeys of the world, enjoy the views aboard The Ghan and the Indian Pacific. Experience an adventure that offers an unsurpassed view of Australia accompanied by fine dining, award winning service and beautiful accommodations. Experiencing the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and the Australian outback, Kangaroo Island, wine country and metropolitan Sydney, not much is missed on this all encompassing journey. This is the ultimate rail itinerary to experience it all in Australia.

Trip Type: Adventure, Cosmopolitan, Cultural, Rail

Australia by RailAustralia by RailAustralia by Rail

Day By Day

Day 1 – USA to Cairns
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 Cairns, Australia
Upon arrival into Cairns you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. 

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, cafés 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.

Starting Accommodation: Pacific Hotel Cairns

Day 4 – Great Barrier Reef Cruise
Depart from Cairns on a fast, stable catamaran providing a smoother ride and reduced travel time, leaving more of your day to experience the magic of the Great Barrier Reef. The modern fast catamarans are never filled to capacity ensuring unmatched space, comfort & attentive service. The all-weather Marine World platform caters for all activity levels. Snorkel in the sheltered coral lagoon, go scuba diving or join the Marine Biologist on a Guided Snorkel safari. 

With 5 hours at the reef there is time to do it all. If simply relaxing & soaking up the tropical warmth is more your style then take time out on the spacious sundeck where you will also find the regions only reef-based massage therapist.

Starting Accommodation: Pacific Hotel Cairns (L)

Day 5 – Kuranda Rail, Skyrail & Tjapukai
Kuranda Scenic Railway Gold Class is a special rail journey for the discerning traveler desiring a more luxurious, personalized touring experience. Sipping on sparkling wine or a cold beer and savoring delicious finger foods whilst enjoying the breathtaking natural wonders adds a totally new and very memorable dimension to the world famous Kuranda Scenic Railway.

Starting Accommodation: Pacific Hotel Cairns (L)

Day 6 – Hot Air Scenic Balloon Flight
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.

Starting Accommodation: Pacific Hotel Cairns

Day 7 – Carins to Uluru
Today you will be met by your driver at your hotel and be transferred by private vehicle directly to Cairns Airport for your flight to Uluru. Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. 

Kata Tjuta Domes Tour
Departing the resort, today's tour will 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. Your guide will return to you to your accommodation at Ayers Rock Resort.

Starting Accommodation: Desert Gardens

Day 8 – Uluru Touring
Uluru Highlights Tour
Depart from your Ayers Rock hotel and travel towards Uluru seeing its vast shape rising from the sand dunes in the early dawn light, highlighting its presence in this country. Your guide will take you to a special location to watch the sun rise over this amazing monolith. You will learn the Creation stories of Liru (poisonous snake) and Kuniya (python) and hear about the Mala people. After breakfast you will visit Mutijulu Waterhole and then drive around the base of the Uluru before returning to the resort.

The afternoon is at your leisure to enjoy the surrounding area and take in the incredible setting.

Sounds of Silence Dinner
Entered into the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame, Sounds of Silence offers the best of the Red Centre distilled into 4 magical hours. Enjoy an evening of dining under the sparkling outback sky. Your journey begins on a lone sand dune. A path takes you to an uninterrupted, three hundred and sixty degree view of this vast landscape. In front of you is the fabled Uluru; behind you are the domes of Kata Tjuta and, possibly the most spectacular sunset you have ever seen. Here you enjoy sparkling wine and a selection of delectable canapes.

As the sun sets, you feast on a BBQ buffet of authentic Australian delicacies examples include barramundi, kangaroo, emu and crocodile, bush salads and classic desserts, complemented by some of Australia's finest wines. Attention then turns to some of the world's best stargazing, as our star talker takes you on a tour of the spectacular southern night sky. As you wind down after dinner, you are offered a choice of tea, coffee or port. In winter, guests gather around a campfire to savor a special treat of hot mulled wine.

Starting Accommodation: Desert Gardens (B, D)

Day 9 – Uluru to Alice Springs
Today you will be picked up from hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight to Alice Springs. Upon arrival, you will be transferred from the airport to your Alice Springs accommodation.

Chifley Alice Springs Resort is conveniently located about 500m from the town center, and situated on the banks of the famous Todd River, with its magnificent river red gum trees. Efficient, friendly outback service and modern, comfortable facilities contribute to the hotel's laid back atmosphere.

Starting Accommodation: Chifley Alice Springs Resort

Day 10 – Alice Springs to Adelaide, board The Ghan Train
Join the Ghan Train for a legendary journey on a legendary train.  The Ghan is internationally recognized as one of the world's most famous long distance trains.  Named after the Afghan camel drivers who did so much to open up the heart of Australia last century, this magnificent train is of great historical significance to the nation, so relax and watch the vast Australian Outback unfold as you journey from the 'Red Centre' to Adelaide.

The Gold Service Twin Cabins feature 3-seater lounge during the day converting to upper and lower sleeping berths at night, and offering en suite facilities with toilet, washbasin and shower. Gold Service guests may choose when to dine in the exclusive and elegant Queen Adelaide Restaurant Car, where a new regional based menu is prepared by on-board chefs.

Starting Accommodation: The Ghan (D)

Day 11 – Adelaide to Kangaroo Island
You will be met by your driver at Adelaide Keswick Rail Terminal and transferred directly to Adelaide Airport for your flight to Kangaroo Island.

As Australia's third largest island, Kangaroo Island is just 100 miles long by 35 miles wide. The Island boasts outstanding natural beauty and its relative isolation since European settlement has ensured an abundance of wildlife in a stunning and protected natural environment. With 21 national and conservation parks covering more than 30 per cent of the Island's total area, Kangaroo Island has established itself as a premiere destination for nature lovers of all types.

Starting Accommodation: Kangaroo Island Lodge (B)

Day 12 – Kangaroo Island Touring
Tour Kangaroo Island in style in a 4WD air-conditioned vehicle with naturalist guide. The full day of touring with a small group starts with Cygnet River Valley and Lathami Conservation Park. Lunch is a delicious BBQ with local wine. Continue to Seal Bay Conservation Park, walk with your guide amongst Australian Sealions, see the pups nursing or playing in the surf. Visit Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park before returning to your accommodation late this afternoon.

Starting Accommodation: Kangaroo Island Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 13 – Kangaroo Island to Barossa Valley
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight to Adelaide. From there you will be driven by private car to the Barossa Valley.

Perhaps the most Germanic region in Australia, the Barossa Valley combines old world charm with world class wine. Luxury labels, including Penfolds, Henschke, and Rockfords, are proudly displayed next to smoked meats, pastries and freshly baked breads. Producing nearly one-fourth of the nation's wine is hard work and locals wind down with day trips to the historic hamlet of Bethany, cycling through the valleys of grapevines or hosting the boisterous Barossa Vintage Festival.

It is an impressive liquid lineup with renowned labels such as Jacob's Creek starring regularly on dinner tables the world over. At the other extreme this is the home to every auctioneer and collector's dream, the hallowed turf that produces none other than Penfold's Grange Hermitage. Why not experience the best of the wine growing region with A Taste of South Australia. Their expert guides ooze information that will educate you on this spectacularly scenic locale as well as tantalize your taste buds with some locally grown gourmet foods.

Starting Accommodation: Novotel Barossa Valley Hotel

Day 14 – At leisure, Barossa Valley
Today is at your leisure. Enjoy the surrounding area on your own or explore our optional excursions in the area.

Starting Accommodation: Novotel Barossa Valley Hotel

Day 15 – Barossa Valley to Adelaide, board Indian Pacific
You will be met by your driver and transferred directly from Barossa Valley to Adelaide.

The Indian Pacific gives you two oceans on one of the world's longest and greatest train journeys. But most of your cruising will be across the vast continent of Australia. From the spectacular Blue Mountains to the treeless plains of the Outback, see unique landscapes unfold and spot a fascinating array of wildlife from the comfort of the lounge or your cabin on the leg from Adelaide to Sydney.

Get up close and see the sights of some of our most famous outback towns when you enjoy an optional off-train sightseeing tour. The great train offers these tours during scheduled stops at Broken Hill en route to Adelaide.

All along the Indian Pacific route, keep an eye out for a sighting of the magnificent Australian wedge tailed eagle, the symbol of this great train. It's massive wingspan of up to 6 feet will make it easy to spot in a clear desert sky.

Starting Accommodation: Indian Pacific (D)

Day 16 – Indian Pacific to Sydney
Today will conclude your journey on the Indian Pacific. Upon arrival into Sydney Train Station you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

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: Holiday Inn Darling Harbour (B)

Day 17 – Sydney City Touring
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.

Sydney Harbour Cruise
Cruising on Sydney Harbour is a quintessential Australian experience. With a minimum of two people on this small group experience, 'cruise like a local' aboard this 52' Pacific Motor Cruiser, on one of the most spectacular harbors in the world.

Enjoy the fabulous sight-seeing opportunities, or perhaps you fancy yourself as an angler? You may choose to go for a swim, or take your chilled glass of Australian wine and relax on the luxurious sunpads. A catered gourmet Australian barbecue lunch is served with regional wines and local beers. Jump aboard and explore this magnificent, world-renowned harbor with Sea Sydney Cruises.

Starting Accommodation: Holiday Inn Darling Harbour (L)

Day 18 – Bridge Climb and VIP WILD LIFE Sydney
Sydney Bridge Climb
The Bridge Climb is a 3.5 hour guided journey to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It takes you along the outer arch of the Bridge on catwalks and ladders all the way to the summit, 400 feet above Sydney Harbour. In Climb groups of up to 14 people, you'll be led by one of Bridge Climb's professional Climb Leaders on an adventure of the world's most recognizable bridge. The steady incline to the summit leaves you free to focus your attention on your Sydney experience, with opportunities to witness 360 degree views of Sydney, including east to the Sydney Opera House, west to the Blue Mountains and the Harbour city surrounds. When you reach the top you will have a sense of achievement that you will remember forever - you've conquered an Australian icon recognised the world over!

Wild Life Sydney VIP Tour
Then, Jump into WILD LIFE Sydney with a VIP Guided Tour and immerse yourself in the unique world of Australia's animals. Begin your tour with a behind the scenes look at our colorful Butterfly habitat where you will enter the temperature controlled laboratory and see where they raise their caterpillars into beautiful butterflies. Observe the holding and breeding area for the creepy crawlies and see the 5 most venomous snakes in the world. Touch the scales and tails of unique reptiles, be amazed by the unique hatching areas, and see where food is prepared for the bizarre reptiles.

Ascend into starlight as you visit the Nocturnal House and find out what the possums and quolls get up to after dark. See where the eucalyptus leaves are housed, with your chance to get up close and personal with Australia's most cuddly animal, the koala and receive a complimentary color photo. You will then visit the Grey Kangaroos, Rock Wallaby and Paddy Melons along with other unique Aussie animals. The VIP Guided Tour ends in the exclusive quarantine area where you will explore, touch and learn about a variety of Australian animals, including wallabies, echidnas and more.

Starting Accommodation: Holiday Inn Darling Harbour

Day 19 – Sydney to USA
You will be met and transferred to the airport for your departure flight.

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CairnsPacific Hotel CairnsShangri-La Hotel, The Marina
Port DouglasThala Beach Nature Reserve
Uluru (Ayers Rock)Desert GardensSails in the Desert
Alice SpringsChifley Alice Springs ResortDoubleTree by Hilton, Alice SpringsDoubleTree by Hilton, Alice Springs
The GhanThe GhanThe GhanThe Ghan
Kangaroo IslandKangaroo Island LodgeStranraer HomesteadSouthern Ocean Lodge
Barossa ValleyNovotel Barossa Valley HotelNovotel Barossa Valley HotelThe Louise
Indian PacificIndian PacificIndian PacificIndian Pacific
SydneyHoliday Inn Darling HarbourThe Langham, SydneyPark Hyatt Sydney


Pricing for this package is on request. Please call a Swain Destinations Specialist to customize this journey.

Terms and Conditions

Prices are per person, twin/double share in USD. All highlighted savings are reflected in the price. Travel may be limited to certain days of the week. Hotels and tours remain subject to availability. Cancellation penalties and other booking or alteration restrictions may exist. Please note blackout dates may apply to Christmas, New Year and local special event periods. Pricing may increase over Holiday and special event periods and may not be reflected in price grid. Prices indicated remain subject to change without notice. Prices are not guaranteed until full payment is received and processed. CST #2012413-20 See our full Terms and Conditions: