Australia    *alt*

22 days, from £5299
Riviera Travel
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Australia is big... really big! This vast island continent could swallow up Europe whole, with room to spare. For some 50,000 years, a tiny Aboriginal population lived here in harmony with the untamed primal wilderness, undisturbed by the outside world until European colonisers arrived, spearheaded by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770. Since then Australia has flourished, and now makes her presence felt around the world, thanks in large part to the boundless enthusiasm and resourcefulness of her people, the outgoing, energetic descendants of convicts, gold miners, explorers, traders and adventurous settlers down the centuries. You'll travel in style on trains, boats and planes (and luxury coach) on your escorted Australian adventure, where diversity is the watchword at every turn, serving up sights, sounds and exotic experiences to delight all your senses. Our itinerary reads like a roll-call of world-renowned tourist icons, from sunset-reddened Ayers Rock to Sydney Harbour Bridge, 'the Coathanger', silhouetted against the evening sky; the wine-rich Barossa Valley; eucalyptus forests of the Blue Mountains; and the 1,400-mile-long underwater paradise teeming with life that is the Great Barrier Reef, the largest living structure on the planet. Australia's land-based fauna is extraordinary too; kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, kookaburras and emus are strangely familiar from a thousand wildlife documentaries, but never less than astonishing when you finally meet them in the flesh in their natural habitat.

Stay in Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Uluru (Ayers Rock), Cairns and Sydney Visit timeless Uluru (Ayers Rock) at both sunrise and sunset, and experience a guided walk at its base Journey along the full route of the Great Ocean Road, enjoying spectacular coastal scenery and the Twelve Apostles Full-day catamaran cruise to the Great Barrier Reef Enjoy a guided walk of Sydney ending in Bondi Beach and a guided tour of the famous Sydney Harbour Explore Alice Springs, enjoy an amazing Outback dinner under the stars and take a walk in the MacDonnell Ranges Enjoy a dinner on the iconic Colonial Tramcar in Melbourne and a ride on the Puffing Billy steam train Experience the Barossa Valley, including a winery tour and tasting Visit the School of the Air and the Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum See the incredible domes of the Olgas Discover the amazing rainforest around Cairns on the Kuranda Scenic Railway Experience the breathtaking landscapes and Eucalypt forests of the Blue Mountains Return flights from London, Birmingham and Manchester Stay in hand-picked three-star to five-star hotels, with daily breakfast and three meals The services of our experienced tour manager throughout Selected departures up to March to November 2018 Top-end extension: On selected dates, enjoy a three-day 'Top End' extension including visits to Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks.

What's Included:
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. It includes scheduled flights to Melbourne and returning from Sydney and all domestic flights within Australia; all transfers; 18 nights' accommodation on the 22-day tours in three, four and five-star hotels; daily breakfast and three meals; city sightseeing in Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice Springs and Sydney; Puffing Billy train trip; wine tasting in the Barossa Valley; walk at The MacDonnell Ranges and at the base of Uluru; visit to the Olgas; trip on the Kuranda Railway and Skyrail; Ocean Spirit catamaran trip to Michaelmas Cay; trip to Blue Mountains and Sydney Harbour cruise; hotel porterage of one item of luggage per person; the services of a Riviera Travel tour manager.


 DAY 1

You should arrive at the airport for your flight to Melbourne, via Singapore or Dubai.

 DAY 2

From Singapore or Dubai, take your connecting flight to Melbourne.

 DAY 3

Welcome to Australia! Melbourne is one of the world's greatest cities and our home for three nights is the five-star Pullman on the Park in East Melbourne, just ten minutes' walk from the centre with its free tramcar services.

 DAY 4

A morning city sightseeing tour includes Federation Square, the Victoria National Gallery, the Old Melbourne Gaol and the Exhibition Building built for the 1880 Great Exhibition. Our first stop is the spectacular Eureka Skydeck Tower with its sensational 88th floor viewing platform (the highest in the Southern Hemisphere) and 'Edge Experience' (at extra charge) ' a glass cube sliding out from the building, with you inside! We enjoy free time to explore in Melboune - stroll along the Southbank Promenade or join your Tour Manager and discover some of Melbourne's famed 'laneways'.Our included early dinner is on Melbourne's famous Colonial Tramcar Restaurant.

 DAY 5

The morning is free to relax or explore, with one option the bustling Queen Victoria Market that has served Melbourne for over a century. Early afternoon we drive into the Dandenong Ranges overlooking the city, riding on the historic 'Puffing Billy' steam train through lush mountainside from Belgrave to Emerald Lakeside. The evening is at leisure ' why not take in one of Melbourne's many theatrical productions.

 DAY 6

We set off early this morning on the Great Ocean Road, Australia's most spectacular coastal highway. It's a breathtaking drive along more than 300 kilometres of the best coastal scenery this country has to offer! To the west of the Otway Ranges we join the

 DAY 7

Today we head to the South Australian town of Mt. Gambier. Built on the slopes of an extinct volcano, it's famous for its spectacular Blue Lake whose waters inexplicably change to a brilliant blue in summer. Back on the road, we pass through the wine growing region of Coonawarra and typical south Australian bush country (look out for kangaroos & emus!) before our afternoon arrival in Adelaide. We stay for two nights at the centrally located five-star Intercontinental.

 DAY 8

A morning tour of Adelaide includes the location where Colonel William Light planned the city in 1836. His simple blueprint ' a one square mile centre surrounded by parks and open spaces ' is still in evidence today. Leaving Adelaide mid-morning, we head to one of Australia's most renowned wine regions ' the Barossa Valley. We visit the historic Seppeltsfield winery, where you will enjoy a private tasting.

 DAY 9

We transfer to the airport for our flight to Alice Springs, capital of Australia's 'Red Centre'. A short drive includes ANZAC Hill for panoramic views of the town. This afternoon we visit the Old Telegraph Station, established in 1871 to relay messages between Darwin and Adelaide. Alice Springs is a major base of het Royal Flying Doctors Service and we'll also visit the museum dedicated to it. Our hotel for two nights is the four-star Lasseters, with a pool and spa. Our authentic Outback dinner is at The Earth Sanctuary at the Quandong Homestead ' enjoy a bush BBQ with music and entertainment, hear stories of the Aboriginal Dreamtime and relax around the camp fire before returning to the hotel.

 DAY 10

Early risers have the option of an unforgettable hot-air balloon ride at sunrise. This afternoon, we explore the beautiful Western MacDonnell Ranges. We stop at Simpsons Gap, an important spiritual site for the Arrarnta Aboriginal peoples, and finish the day walking the picturesque gorge at Standley Chasm.

 DAY 11

We leave Alice Springs and head south, stopping off at some typical Australian 'roadhouses' as we enter the barren landscape of the 'Red Centre' - a vast desert plain dotted with spinifex and desert oaks. Mid-afternoon we arrive at Yulara, near Ayers Rock (traditional name Uluru), and check into the four-star Desert Gardens, with breakfast. In the evening we drive to 'Sunset Strip', pop some bubbly and enjoy Uluru's remarkable light show as the Rock changes colour ... utterly breathtaking.

 DAY 12

It's an early start to reach the viewing area to watch the sun rise above Uluru. A guided 'Mala' walk around the Rock's base reveals its spiritual significance through Dreamtime stories and Anangu rock art before an opportunity to purchase lunch at the Cultural Centre. Early afternoon, we visit the Kata Tjuta rock formations and take a short walk into the beautiful Mount Olga Gorge. Back at the resort you can visit the Yulara Village.

 DAY 13

We transfer to the airport for our flight to Cairns. Your hotel is the four-star superior Pullman International in Cairns for four nights with breakfast.

 DAY 14

This morning we join the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway for a trip through tropical rainforest, ravines and spectacular gorges in the magnificent Barron Falls National Park. Surrounded by World Heritage listed rainforest, Kuranda itself brims with arts and crafts shops. We return to the coast via the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, skimming over the top of the rainforest canopy.

 DAY 15

After breakfast we head out to Michaelmas Cay with Ocean Spirit Cruises. One of the world's great natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest expanse of living coral on earth. The sand bar at Michaelmas Cay offers the opportunity to snorkel with parrot fish, giant clams and even sea turtles! The cay is also home to over 20,000 migratory terns and gannets. You will enjoy snorkelling (equipment provided), a semi-submersible tour, a glass-bottom boat trip, and a buffet lunch before returning to Cairns.

 DAY 16

Today is at leisure in Cairns. Trips are available on the scenic Cook Highway to Cape Tribulation and the Daintree rainforest; to the Atherton Tablelands; a night-time tour of Cairns zoo or helicopter flights over the Great Barrier Reef.

 DAY 17

After our flight from Cairns to Sydney we transfer to the four-star superior Parkroyal Darling Harbour with breakfast for four nights.

 DAY 18

Our tour of Australia's largest city takes you through the historic 'The Rocks' area followed by a stop at Mrs. Macquarie's Chair for fantastic views of Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. We continue through Double Bay and on to famous Bondi Beach for a stroll along the promenade. This afternoon will be unforgettable ' a cruise in the world's most picturesque harbour.

 DAY 19

We travel inland to the dramatic Blue Mountains that encompass steep cliffs, eucalyptus forests, waterfalls and pretty villages. You'll see the stunning Three Sisters rock formation and enjoy views of the Jamison Valley below. You can take a short cliff-side walk (or the coach) to the Scenic Skyway cable car 270m above. You then take the world's steepest incline railway to descend 415m at a gradient of 52 degrees. At the bottom, a path takes you through lush eucalyptus forest teeming with plants and birdlife. We return to Sydney in the late afternoon.

 DAY 20

Today is at leisure in Sydney. The opportunities are endless ' enjoy the beaches, tour the Opera House, take a sea-plane trip over the city or even climb the famous Harbour Bridge!

 DAY 21

The morning is free before transferring to the airport for our flight home, via Singapore or Dubai.

 DAY 22

Arrive back at your selected airport.