Australia: The Great Barrier Reef to Sydney 14 days / Nature & Wildlife Tours
95.0% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
About This Experience
An island, a country and a continent all in one, Australia combines dazzling scenery, cultured cities and an irresistible, carefree, carpe-diem spirit. Experience the allure of the land Down Under when you snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, gaze at Ayers Rock and explore the Sydney Opera House. But these iconic adventures are only the beginning. From multicultural Melbourne to the beautiful Blue Hills, Australia is full of surprises for you to discover and savor.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
11 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 1 lunch, 2 three-course dinners with beer or wine
Multilingual Tour Director
Private deluxe motor coach
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
Stunning rainforest, desert & mountain landscapes
Kaleidoscopic colors at the Great Barrier Reef
Intriguing Aboriginal culture
Iconic Ayers Rock
Melbourne & Sydney’s sparkle & sophistication
The charming Aussie accent
Overnight Flight2 nights
Melbourne3 nights - hotel info
Your exploration of Australia begins in Melbourne
A Go Ahead representative greets you at the airport and escorts you to your hotel. You’re free to spend the remainder of the day as you wish, whether you want to catch up on your sleep or begin your own explorations of this diverse and exciting city. At an included dinner, meet your fellow travelers.
Meander around Melbourne from Cooks’ Cottage to the cricket grounds
Optional Excursion - Fairy Penguin Parade
Pronounced something like “Melbuhn” by Aussies, Melbourne is home to a beautiful collection of 19th-century architecture, trams, sprawling parks and charming suburbs. On today’s guided tour of the city, you’ll see Flinders Street Station (a meeting point for Melburnians), South Bank, the Tudor-influenced Cooks’ Cottage in Fitzroy Gardens (residence of Captain Cook’s parents before it was moved here from Yorkshire), St. Paul’s Cathedral, Town Hall, the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Melbourne Park, the setting of the annual Australian Open tennis tournament. This evening, travel to nearby Phillip Island for a memorable optional excursion—the nightly “Penguin Parade” on Summerland Beach, when thousands of tiny penguins waddle up from the sea to nest.
Fairy Penguin Parade $139* pp
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.
Sample chardonnay and pinot noir from Yarra valley vineyards
Optional Excursion - Yarra Valley Winery via Steamtrain
Today is free to embark on your own exploration of Melbourne. You might wish to browse the stalls of the Queen Victoria Market or shop along South Bank, which houses the massive Crown Casino complex. Don’t miss venturing out to Melbourne’s eclectic suburbs—Carlton, Fitzroy, Richmond, South Yarra and St. Kilda. You’ll be rewarded with an international cuisine, unique architecture and a true small-town feel. Alternatively, join an optional Yarra Valley Winery via Steamtrain excursion to the Yarra Valley to taste the wines of the region. Also included in this optional excursion is a ride on the historic “Puffing Billy” steam train past the resplendent Emerald Lake.
Yarra Valley Winery via Steamtrain $179* pp
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 and enjoy a sumptuous three-course lunch and tasting, followed by a visit to another local winery.
Alice Springs1 night - hotel info
Venture to Alice Springs, the heart of the Australian Outback
Today, fly to the Northern Territory for a comprehensive tour of Alice Springs, the heart of central Australia. You’ll see many buildings dating back to Australia’s colonial days, including the Stuart Town Gaol and the Old Telegraph Station.
Ayers Rock1 night - hotel info
Traverse the rust-dusted landscape of Uluru National Park
Optional Excursion - Sunrise Ballooning
Begin the day with an optional sunrise flight (and champagne breakfast) via hot air balloon over the Red Centre. Later this morning, journey by motor coach through the desert to the breathtaking Uluru National Park, where you’ll spend the night. This evening, enjoy a guided sightseeing of the Olgas, a stunning collection of 36 weathered rock domes that will glow all colors of red and purple under the setting sun.
Sunrise Ballooning $259* pp
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.
Cairns3 nights - hotel info
Marvel at Ayers Rock rising mysteriously out of the plain
Visit magnificent Ayers Rock, located nearly 900 miles from the nearest city, in the heart of the Australian outback and close to the Tropic of Capricorn. On a guided sightseeing tour, you’ll learn about the rock’s history. For 20,000 years, native Aboriginal tribes have worshiped this dramatic monolith (which they call Uluru), whose red hues shift with the changing light. Following your visit, board a flight to Melbourne.
Descend into a wonderful underwater world
One of the highlights of your stay in Cairns is this morning’s boat ride to the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral bed. You may choose to view the coral’s brilliant colors from the underwater observatory, or get even closer with a snorkel. Enjoy an included lunch this afternoon.
Soar on the skyrail above the lush Kuranda Rainforest
Optional Excursion - Kuranda Village Aboriginal Park & Rainforest
Spend the day at your leisure. Choose to go out on your own, discovering the cafes and shops of the wharf district or strolling along the harbor-side esplanade. You may also opt for a full-day guided tour of the village of Kuranda, set deep in the rainforest on the cusp of the Atherton Tablelands.
Kuranda Village Aboriginal Park & Rainforest $179* pp
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.
Sydney3 nights - hotel info
Arrive in Australia’s glittering cultural capital
Today, bid adieu to Cairns and fly to Sydney, host of the summer 2000 Olympic Games. Upon arrival, relax or begin your own exploration of the city’s iconic beaches, World Heritage Sites, lush hinterland and acclaimed wine regions. Dinner is included tonight.
Discover Sydney’s iconic architecture and multicultural cuisine
Optional Excursion - Sydney's Northern Beaches & Dinner
Sydney Opera House
Sydney’s laid-back outdoor lifestyle and natural allure make it one of the world’s most pleasant cities. Situated directly by the harbor of Port Jackson, with the Harbor Bridge and Opera House jutting out into the skyline, the city is truly a sight to behold. On your guided sightseeing tour, learn about the country’s first European settlers: convicted criminals who arrived in the late 18th century. Pass by Chinatown and the grand public buildings on Macquarie Street. See Darling Harbor, the Rocks and world-famous Bondi Beach. Then, step inside the iconic Opera House for a guided tour. In the evening, opt to take a ferry across the bay for dinner on Manly Harbor, a suburb known for its beautiful beaches and seaside location.
Sydney's Northern Beaches & Dinner $125* pp
Kick off your evening with a tranquil ride on the Sydney Harbor Ferry. Your destination is just across the bay at Manly Harbor, a suburb known for its relaxed atmosphere, world-class beaches, stunning coastal walks and buzzing cafe and bar scene. Take a stroll around town before sitting down to dinner at a local restaurant. After your meal, relax and enjoy the ride back to Sydney.
Trek through the azure landscapes of the Blue Mountains
Optional Excursion - The Blue Mountains
Spend the day enjoying Sydney at your own pace. Consider a visit to the Sydney Jewish Museum, the Chinese Garden of Friendship or the Royal Botanic Gardens. Alternatively, opt for an excursion to the Blue Mountains and the famous Three Sisters rock formation.
The Blue Mountains $155* pp
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 pass by the Sydney Olympic Park, stop to feed kangaroos and wallabies at a wildlife park, enjoy an included lunch at Echo Point in the shadow of the famed Three Sisters and browse through the shops in the quaint village of Leura. Please note: This excursion is weather dependent.
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 your return home. A visa is also required for U.S. and Canadian passport holders to enter Australia. You can obtain an individual visa through our recommended provider VisaCentral (www.visacentral.com/goaheadtours) or by visiting www.eta.immi.gov.au. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact the Australian consulate for your specific entry requirements.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
Clothing & Packing Tips
In the tropics, lightweight clothing is suitable year-round. Farther south in Australia, although the days are often warm during the southern summer (December–February), a jacket is needed for the evenings. During the southern winter (June–August), warm clothing is advised. Sneakers are advised for exploring reefs and beaches, as are a sun hat and sunscreen. There will rarely be an occasion for formal attire. Please note: When you check your luggage at the airport, make sure that all of your baggage is checked through to Melbourne as your final destination—not Sydney.
There are no health risks associated with traveling to Australia. Travelers should 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 lifeguard orders, and always swim between the well-marked flags. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider for the latest health updates and overseas travel requirements.
Australia’s culinary traditions show a British influence, tending to be hearty and filling. The emphasis is on high-quality steaks and lamb chops, which are often barbecued. Meat pies, made in a variety of flavors, are also popular. Local specialties include shellfish, such as Sydney rock oysters and crabs, and the fish and chips often rival those in the United Kingdom. The national beverage is beer, and a visit to an Aussie pub is a popular pastime. Wines (especially from South Australia and Victoria) are superb.
Round-trip flights arrive in Melbourne and depart from Sydney. Flights are also included from Melbourne to Alice Springs, Ayers Rock to Cairns and Cairns to Sydney. All other transfers are serviced by private motor coach. In your free time, you may wish to explore the locations via public transport. In Melbourne, the Met (M) transportation system covers tram, train and bus travel. The tram is an easy way to see the city. You can purchase tickets in singles or in bulk at shop vendors, Flinders Street Station and Melbourne Central Station. In Sydney, buses run frequently. One of the best ways to see Sydney and the harbor is by ferry. For ferry travel, go to the Circular Quay near the Opera House. Sydney also features a monorail that runs from the city center to Darling Harbor.
Australia operates on 220 and 240 volts.
Australia has three separate time zones. On your tour, you’ll encounter Australian Eastern Standard (15 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard) and Australian Central Standard (14.5 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard). During the summer daylight-saving period, things get more complicated: The state of Queensland is then one hour behind that of New South Wales and Victoria.
The units of currency you’ll be using on your tour are the Australian dollar. Better rates of exchange are found in Australia. We recommend taking a combination of ATM/bank cards, credit cards and travelers checks, which can be exchanged for local currency as needed. All are widely accepted. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalency of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalency of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
95.0% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
Beyond my expectations!
I really expected snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, walking about the majestic Ayers Rock, and seeing the beautiful Opera House to be fantastic, and they were! The rest of the tour surprisingly exceeded my expectations! The Olgas were just as huge and majestic as Ayers Rock. The beauty of the outback was amazing. The very remote Alice Springs was interestingly comforting. Sydney, despite being a huge city, was a wonderful surprise with it's clean, safe, easy streets to walk, it's well kept parks to roam within, and it's Darling Harbour that is delightfully inviting. Our tour director, Luke, did a fantastic job of keeping us well organized, and giving us interesting information on each site. One of our bus drivers, Darren, that we had for 3 days was amazing with his singing, and with his humor. The hotels were wonderful! We signed up for most of the optional tours and enjoyed each of them. Once again, Go Ahead Tours has taken us on an exciting adventure!
Best Tour Director and Tour
Luke was excellent! Not only was he knowledgeable but he was even tempered and extremely positive. He took care of all of our needs and made everyone feel valued. This trip was also a wonderful way to see Australia. We saw it's total diversity from east, north, south and the Outback in between.
I really enjoyed the impromptu barbecue that our tour director held in Alice Springs. We got to try alligator, camel and kangaroo! Kangaroo is fatty like lamb. And I wouldn't recommend camel to anyone. Yuck! I also had great fun at Uluru. I really liked the outdoor barbecue there as well. Two optional tours that I think everyone should take are the chance to hold a koala and to sit and watch the fairy penguins come in from the sea. Be careful, Australia's winters can be cool. Don't be fooled by Cairns nice weather, the rest of the trip could be on the cold side.
Great Tour to Australia
Our tour director, Simon, was so organized and helpful on this 14 day trip. There were plenty of outside things to do as well as planned excursions. Although expensive, Australia was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. We did pay $17 once for a hamburger, fries and a coke. You can plan around that with creativity. The hotels were great as well as transportation. Since we left from DFW we had a direct fllight to Brisbane, then another short flight to Cairnes. What a relief as, last year, on a different tour company, it took us four flights to get home from Hanoi. Not fun at all. You will love the Great Barrier Reef, the Outback and the city tours as well, such as the Opera House. Not to be missed is the Featherdale Wildlife park. I was so dellighted to see the blue Fairy penguins in the park. We were not allowed to take photos of them in the wild but it was still amazing to see these little creatures coming out of the ocean at dusk and to see them travel to their burrows. All in all it was a wonderful trip that I will be able to use in teaching World Geography classes.
Group too big
This was a once in a lifetime 20th anniversary tour for us. When I was looking for a group to go with, one of the things that I did not want was to have a very large group. I specifically asked via e-mail what the cap was on this trip and I was assured, again, in writing via e-mail that the cap was 20 people. When you are getting off and on a bus, the more people there is, the longer it takes. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed everyone that was on the tour, but we did have 41 people. That is over double the cap number!! I was very disappointed that this customer representative of Go Ahead would misrepresent something like that just to make a sale. But as for the trip itself, it was wonderful. For me the Outback and the Great Barrier Reef were the highlights. The cities were nice, but once you have been in one city, you have been in all cities. Our tour guide Sladjana was absolutely amazing!! She always went above and beyond the call of duty, even lending us her camera when we lost ours on one of our flights. Con and Gerry in the Outback were great. The wine tasting could have been done more towards the beginning of the tour, just because it tended to loosen people up and was a great ice-breaker. More time could have been spent at the Markets, but overall this was a good experience. I would definitely recommend Australia as a destination, but just remember that even if you have it in writing, it doesn't mean that it is a fact :(
Great Trip-Great Value
A wonderful way for the first time traveller to experience Australia. We covered a large amount of the country and had great encounters with all types of wildlife, other cultures and lovely scenery. I definitely recommend this trip!
Australia is AWESOME!
My trip to Australia was amazing. Every day we had fun things to do and great sites to see. I chose to do all of the optionals and I loved it! My favorite place was Cairns because of the beautiful Great Barrier Reef. I went scuba diving and saw the amazing life under the sea. In Alice Springs, the hot air balloon ride was spectacular and Ayers Rock was breathtaking. Learning about the Aboriginal way of life was interesting. In Melbourne, the Penguin Parade was so cute. Lastly, Sydney was great! I took a helicopter ride over Darling Harbor, we visited the Sydney Opera House and actually got to hear the Sydney Philharmonic practice which was priceless, and our quick visit to Bondi Beach was super cool. Our tour guide was FANTASTIC! He was efficient, accommodating, and very informative. OUr bus drivers were fun and entertaining. The Qantas food was great and the air hospitality was welcomed. Overall, it was an OUTSTANDING TRIP.
The Australian experience is one that will be a lasting memory for all who do it. The friendly people are beyond compare and if you are lucky enough to have Luke as the tour director then it will be perfect. The Uluru part is worth the entire 20 plus hours of flight. Alice Springs is a charming little town in the outback where the friendly people are always helpful. The only negative experience for this trip was the Barrier Reef. This was caused by the rough seas and being surrounded by vomiting people the entire day. I would recommend that Goahead plan a second choice for those people who cannot do the rough seas! This was my second trip to Australia and the first definitely had the better reef trip--beautiful sunny day with a calm sea as compared to this one with overcast sky and very rough sea. I would recommend this trip to anyone who really wants to have a good trip with a variety of things to do and see.
My most amazing trip!
Every place we visited was awesome. It rained the whole time we were in Cairn but it was still very enjoyable. The Daintree Rainforest was a real treat., especially the Skyrail ride over the treetops. I was able to hold a real Koala and get my photo with it, too. The Outback was beautiful and green since they had a very wet winter. Ayers Rock was much bigger then can be imagined by photos. We learned so much about the history and culture of the Outback and it was very interesting. Melbourne is a beautiful city and we watched the "Little Penguins" come home to digest the fish they had been swallowing for several days.. They were adorable to watch. They put on a show for you. The Blue mountains were truly blue. Sydney was the perfect ending of our trip. Visiting the Opera House was a very informative tour and it is also much bigger than any photo can depict. Taking pictures of the Bay bridge and the Opera house in the same frame was really fun and mine turned out great. Taking lots of pictures was hard because you wanted to see everything without the camera in your face. This was a very fast paced trip. So my next trip will be slower and longer. I would like to spend more time in each location without rushing onto planes, boats, trains and motor coaches constantly. And I will surely plan to go First Class so the plane trip over and back will be more comfortable.
Visiting Down Under
Visiting Australia was wonderful. It was hard to decide what was the most enjoyable. Perhaps the most enjoyable were the Australian people themselves---friendly, laid back, and "no worries".