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New Year's Eve in Australia: Sydney to the Great Barrier Reef

14 days Nature & Wildlife, Special Event
Experience the allure of the Land Down Under when you snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, gaze at Ayers Rock and welcome the new year in Sydney. But these iconic adventures are only the beginning. From multicultural Melbourne to the vast Outback, Australia is full of surprises for you to discover and savor.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Tour group size: 18 - 35 travelers

Tour pace: You will walk for about 1 hour daily across mostly flat terrain, including paved roads and gravel paths, with few hills.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Your tour includes

  • 11 nights in handpicked hotels

  • Breakfast daily, 1 lunch, 4 three-course dinners with beer or wine

  • A special New Year’s Eve dinner and Champagne toast

  • Expert Tour Director

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Guided sightseeing and select entrance fees

Map of tour of Australia

Overnight Flight 2 nights

Day 1: Travel day

Cross the International Date Line in flight and “lose” a day.

Day 2: Travel day

Your flight continues to Australia.

Sydney 3 nights Hotel info

Day 3: Arrival in Sydney

  Included meals: Dinner

Welcome to Sydney! At an included welcome dinner, meet your fellow travelers.

Day 4: Sightseeing tour of Sydney

  Included meals: Breakfast

Take a guided tour of one of the world’s most pleasant cities, thanks to its laid-back outdoor lifestyle.

• Pass Darling Harbor and the Royal Botanic Gardens

• Stop at Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair to take in views of the Sydney Harbor Bridge

• See the Rocks neighborhood, the National Opal Collection, the Gap in Watsons Bay and Bondi Beach

• Step inside the iconic Sydney Opera House with a guide

Enjoy a free evening in Sydney or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise $129pp* Details

Take a dinner cruise through Sydney Harbour, basking in views of the city’s famous bridge, opera house and twinkling cityscape at night. The MV Sydney 2000, one of Sydney's most prestigious cruise ships, features multiple decks and live entertainment. Your dinner will be served on the Sky Deck, offering 360-degree views of the city.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $139)

Day 5: Free day in Sydney & New Year’s Eve celebration

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Champagne toast

Enjoy a free day in Sydney or add an excursion.

Tonight, enjoy a special multi-course dinner and a Champagne toast to welcome the new year.

Optional Excursion - The Blue Mountains & Koala Park $129pp* Details

On a clear day, the Blue Mountains are imbued with an exquisite blue hue, the result of sunlight striking drops of eucalyptus oil hanging in the air. On this excursion, you’ll visit Scenic World to see the famed Three Sisters rock formation. See the historic township of Katoomba, then browse through the shops in the quaint village of Leura, where you’ll also have free time for lunch. Set out on a short bushwalk to Wentworth Falls and enjoy panoramic views of Jamison and Megalong Valleys. Stop at Featherdale Wildlife Park, where you can view koalas, kangaroos and crocodiles. You’ll even get the chance to feed kangaroos and wallabies. Please note: This excursion is weather dependent.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $139)

Cairns 3 nights Hotel info

Day 6: Fly to Cairns

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Fly to Cairns, a coastal city in the state of Queensland. Then, enjoy a dinner with your fellow travelers.

Day 7: The Great Barrier Reef

  Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Enjoy a full day at the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system. 

• Head to Cairns Marina to board a boat out into the Coral Sea

• View the coral’s colors from the underwater observatory, glass-bottom boat or semi-submarine—or hop in the water with a snorkel

Day 8: Free day in Cairns

  Included meals: Breakfast

Spend a full free day in Cairns or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Kuranda Village Aboriginal Park & Rainforest $159pp* Details

At the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, meet your guide who will accompany you through the park. Along the way, you’ll learn how to make and play a didgeridoo, how to throw a spear and watch performances that celebrate the culture of the rainforest’s indigenous people. Next, you’ll take a scenic ride on the historic Kuranda Train before a leisurely lunch break. Take some free time to explore the Kuranda Village—discover treasures at the markets, visit an Aboriginal art gallery or hop on a river cruise. Before the end of your trip, take a ride on the Skyrail cable car, soaring high over the canopy of the forest. The cable car will stop along the way, giving you the chance to walk along a boardwalk through the rainforest floor.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $169)

Ayers Rock 1 night Hotel info

Day 9: Transfer to Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park

  Included meals: Breakfast

Fly from Cairns to Ayers Rock. Then, take a panoramic tour of the magnificent monolith (called  “Uluru” to the locals) that’s been worshiped by Aboriginal tribes for 22,000 years. You’ll take in views of Kata Tjuta, the weathered rock domes also known as the Olgas.

Alice Springs 1 night Hotel info

Day 10: Sightseeing tour of Alice Springs

  Included meals: Breakfast

This morning, take a scenic drive through the Outback, stopping at a camel farm for a ride. Then, continue on to Alice Springs for a guided sightseeing tour.

• Stop at Anzac Hill and take in sweeping views of the town and countryside

• Visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service, School of Air and the old Alice Springs Telegraph Station

Melbourne 3 nights Hotel info

Day 11: Flight to Melbourne

  Included meals: Breakfast

Spend a free morning in Alice Springs or add an excursion.

Later, transfer to the airport for your flight to Melbourne.

Optional Excursion - Sunrise Ballooning $239pp* Details

Sail through the morning sky high above Alice Springs on this breathtaking excursion. Watch as kangaroos and wallabies greet another day in the Outback. Your balloon ride lasts 30 minutes, and upon landing, you'll enjoy breakfast accompanied by champagne. Please note: This excursion is weather dependent.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $249)

Day 12: Sightseeing tour of Melbourne

  Included meals: Breakfast

Take a guided tour of the city’s beautiful 19th-century architecture, historic landmarks and sprawling parks.

• Explore Carlton Gardens, home of the Royal Exhibition Building and the Melbourne Museum

• Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Shrine of Remembrance

• Pass the Yarra River, the Sports and Arts Precinct and Queen Victoria Market

Enjoy a free afternoon in Melbourne or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Fairy Penguin Parade $139pp* Details

Every night, the tiny Fairy Penguins of Phillip Island waddle ashore in an adorable parade. On this excursion, you'll journey to Summerland Beach to see the penguins come home after a long day of fishing. They're returning to feed their babies, and you'll watch as the penguins arrive for dinner on the beach. Please note: This excursion is weather dependent.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $149)

Day 13: Free day in Melbourne

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Enjoy a full free day in Melbourne or add an excursion.

Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner in Melbourne with your fellow travelers.

Optional Excursion - Yarra Valley Winery via Steamtrain $165pp* Details

Embark on a journey to the Dandenong Ranges rainforest. Upon arrival, you’ll have the opportunity to feed some of the wild birds native to the area, including colorful parrots and cockatoos. Next, board the authentic “Puffing Billy” steam-powered train en route to Menzies Creek. Along the way, admire the mountain’s eucalyptus forest and fern gullies. After the scenic train ride, you’ll travel to a regional vineyard to enjoy an included lunch and wine tasting, followed by a visit to another local winery.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $175)

Day 14: Departure

  Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Passport & visa requirements

  • In order to enter Australia, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry.

  • We recommend having at least two blank passport pages for entry stamps.

  • U.S. and Canadian passport holders must purchase an individual visa from the Australian government’s Electronic Travel Authority website (eta.immi.gov.au) prior to departure. 

  • If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact your destination country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.    

Tour pace

  • You will walk for about 1 hour daily across mostly flat terrain, including paved roads and gravel paths, with few hills.

* Travelers should be healthy enough to participate in all included walks without assistance. Adding optional excursions may increase the total amount of walking on your tour.

  • You should feel comfortable managing your own baggage at times, as well as getting in and out of boats.

  • If you have any mobility concerns or physical restrictions, please contact our Customer Experience Team at 1.800.597.0350.

Transportation & arrival information

  • Round-trip flights booked through Go Ahead arrive in Sydney and depart from Melbourne. A Go Ahead representative will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel. Please remain in the arrival lounge, as the representative might be escorting one of your fellow travelers to the bus at the time of your arrival.

  • Transfers to and from the airport at your destination are included for travelers who have purchased their flights through Go Ahead. Travelers who purchase their own flights may request airport transfers with Go Ahead for an additional cost.

  • Flights from Sydney to Cairns, Cairns to Ayers Rock and Alice Springs to Melbourne, as well as a boat ride to the Great Barrier Reef are included in the price of your tour.

  • All other included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach.

Baggage allowance

  • Airlines have varying weight restrictions on baggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage; be advised that you are responsible for any such costs. 

  • Contact your airline for baggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note that Go Ahead travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other transfers, which may include train connections or flights. 

  • One carry-on bag of 45 total inches (length + width + height) is also permitted.

  • Make sure you label your baggage and keep valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag.

Clothing & packing tips

  • During the southern hemisphere’s spring and summer seasons (September–February), we recommend lighter clothing with a warmer layer for cooler mornings and evenings.

  • The Australian sun is very hot. Pack sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. Bug repellent is also useful, as there can be flies in the Outback this time of year.

  • A sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers is recommended for sightseeing.

  • You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or special performance. 

Health

  • There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Australia. 

  • At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov.

  • Take particular care of sun exposure and drink plenty of liquids. If you choose to go swimming, be careful of powerful surf. Make sure to obey signs and lifeguards’ orders, and always swim between the marked flags.

  • Travelers prone to seasickness may want to take special precautions for the boat ride to the Great Barrier Reef.

  • If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour as well as any possible delays encountered.

  • If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify Go Ahead at least 30 days prior to your departure by logging in to goaheadtours.com and updating your traveler info. To update this information closer to your departure date, please call our Customer Experience Team at 1.800.597.0350.

Cuisine

  • Australian menus emphasize high-quality steaks and lamb chops, though meat pies are also popular. Regional specialties include shellfish (such as Sydney rock oysters and crabs) and smoked sausages brought to South Australia by German settlers. The national beverage is beer, and a visit to an Aussie pub is a popular pastime, but the country’s wines are superb. 

Electricity & air conditioning

  • Australia operates on the standard 220-240 volts and uses Types I plugs with three large, flat pins set on an angle. 

  • We recommend packing a universal adapter, as well as a voltage converter if you plan on using your own hairdryer or other device without a built-in converter. 

  • The majority of the hotels on this tour will have air conditioning. 

  • Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.

Connectivity

  • Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. 

  • There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches. 

  • Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges. 

Time zones

  • You’ll travel through Australian Central Standard Time (14.5 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time) and Australian Eastern Standard Time (15 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time). 

  • When it’s noon in New York, it’s 3:30am in Cairns and 4am in Melbourne.

Currency

  • You will use the Australian dollar.

  • Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. 

  • We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at local banks as needed. 

  • You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees. 

  • Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.

  • International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour.

Tipping

  • At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity in local currency. Please keep current exchange rates in mind.

  • We recommend tipping the equivalent of $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director and the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver.

  • If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. 

  • Tips can only be paid in cash. 

Purchasing excursions on tour

  • Most optional excursions will be available for purchase while you are on tour.

  • Your Tour Director will only accept cash (in USD only), Visa or MasterCard as payment for excursions. 

  • Please be advised that if you pay for an excursion by credit card while on tour, it may take up to three months for your card to be charged. 

  • Some optional excursions may only be purchased in advance. See page four of your tour itinerary for more information.

International travel is, by its very nature, unpredictable. We must therefore reserve the right to change this itinerary, without advance notice, to meet with local conditions at the time of travel. We appreciate your understanding. Please refer to our website for Terms & Conditions, dates and prices.

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