Australia & The Ghan    *alt*

22 days, from £6095
Great Rail Journeys
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Description

The Ghan and Australia's highlights by rail
A fantastic rail adventure in many of Australia's highlights including the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and the Blue Mountains. A wonderful train journey on the legendary Ghan from Alice Springs to Adelaide is a real highlight, and time to explore Melbourne and Sydney completes this holiday.

Tour Highlights
* The Great Barrier Reef
* The Ghan
* Alice Springs
* Uluru and dinner under the stars
* Adelaide and Melbourne
* Great Ocean Road
* Phillip Island's Penguin Parade
* 3 scenic railways
* Barossa Valley wine tour
* Sydney and the Blue Mountains

What's Included
* Standard Class Rail Heritage Rail Excursions 1 Night on The Ghan
* 17 Nights' Hotel Accommodation
* Selected Porterage
* Return Scheduled Flights Upgrades Available Transfer Flights

Itinerary


 Days 1-3 London to Cairns

We depart London Heathrow in the evening for an overnight flight to Dubai and continue via Sydney to Cairns, arriving early morning on Day 3 with a leisurely day ahead. We stay for three nights in Cairns at the Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort. Includes:Scheduled flights


 Day 4 Kuranda Scenic Railway

Today we travel on the wonderful 125-year old Kuranda Scenic Railway. Our journey takes us into the rainforest through a series of switchbacks and tunnels, above the Barron River Gorge to Kuranda. The train is hauled by a hand-painted locomotive, depicting 'Buda-dji' the carpet snake. According to ancient Aboriginal legend, 'Budadji' once travelled the same area as the train. From Kurunda we take a trip on a World War II amphibious military transport unit, or 'Army Duck', through World Heritage Rainforest, with the Duck Captain pointing out the different flora, fauna, birds and reptiles which we pass on our journey. After enjoying lunch, we experience an Aboriginal 'corroboree' with songs and dance and follow the path of the Dreamtime Walk through traditional legend. Includes:LunchKuranda Scenic RailwayArmy Duck tripAboriginal corroboree


 Day 5 Great Barrier Reef

A real highlight of our holiday is today's Quicksilver Cruise to the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef system which is home to thousands of species and stretches over 1,800 miles. We head for the Outer Barrier Reef, where a large covered pontoon is our base for the day. We enjoy lunch on the pontoon and explore the reef. Snorkelling is the best way to view the exquisite coral and vibrant fish close up, but our base also has a semi-submersible vessel to take non-swimmers for a cruise along the reef wall. The underwater observatory is a superb window into this extraordinary world! Includes:LunchCruise to the Great Barrier Reef


 Day 6 To Uluru

We leave Cairns today and fly to the desert to Uluru (Ayers Rock). Uluru, the world's largest monolith, rises majestically more than 1,142 feet (348m) out of the flat desert floor and its perimeter, at the base, is 5.6 miles (9km). We begin at the Aboriginal Cultural Centre with a guided tour around this sacred site, which holds great spiritual significance to local Anangu people. Later, as the sun sets, we watch this giant rock change colour and enjoy a magical dinner under the stars. The incredible 'Sounds of Silence' experience includes canapes and sparkling wine as the sun sets over Uluru, followed by a three-course dinner with a bush-inspired menu including kangaroo, crocodile, barramundi and quandong. After dinner, a 'star talker' will decode the southern night sky and point out signs of the zodiac and the planets and galaxies visible due to the clarity of the atmosphere. We spend two nights at the Desert Gardens Hotel in the Ayers Rock Resort. Includes:DinnerInternal flightsTours of Uluru


 Day 7 Ayers Rock

This morning we enjoy a 'Sunrise & Olgas' tour. This circular group of 36 red rocky domes cover a large area and are as mystical as Uluru. Your afternoon is free to spend at leisure in Ayers Rock Resort, an ideal opportunity to relax by the pool. Includes:Excursion


 Days 8-9 Alice Springs & The Ghan

On Day 8 we enjoy a free morning before travelling by coach to Alice Springs, where we stay at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel. On Day 9 we visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of the Air. We join The Ghan for our epic rail journey travelling from Alice Springs to Adelaide. The Ghan has long been a tradition for train travel between Alice Springs and Adelaide and is often referred to as the ultimate journey through the heart of this mighty continent, taking passengers on what is undoubtedly one of the world's greatest rail journeys. Named after the Afghan drivers of the camel 'trains', The Ghan is a mode of transport, a sightseeing trip and a hotel, all in one. We travel in Gold Service, with all of our meals included during the journey, which are served in the Restaurant Car. The meals are freshly prepared by the on-board chefs and menus feature a selection of Australian and international cuisine. Gold Service passengers also have access to the on-board Gold Lounge. All drinks for Gold Service passengers, including beers, wines and spirits, are included during your time on The Ghan. Includes:Day 9 - DinnerDay 9 - The Ghan


 Day 10 To Adelaide

We travel to Adelaide across the barren landscape of the Red Centre. We leave The Ghan for a three night stay at the Majestic Roof Garden Hotel and enjoy a city tour of colonial highlights including Government House and the Parliament building. Includes:BreakfastTour of Adelaide


 Days 11-13 Barossa Valley and The Overland

On Day 11 we explore the vineyards of the Barossa Valley by coach, with the chance to taste some superb wines. On Day 12 you are free to explore at leisure or take an optional excursion (payable locally) to Kangaroo Island. On Day 13 we leave Adelaide and journey to Melbourne, Australia's 'Garden State', on board The Overland. We check into Melbourne's Crown Promenade Hotel for a four-night stay. Includes:ExcursionDay 11 - Lunch


 Days 14-16 Melbourne and Phillip Island

Our city tour on Day 14 includes the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Parliament House. In the afternoon we join the Puffing Billy steam train for a journey through the rainforest and fern gullies of the Dandenong Ranges. On Day 15 we travel along one of the world's most scenic roads, the Great Ocean Road, to the Twelve Apostles, Bells Beach and the Otway Rainforest. On Day 16 you are free until mid-afternoon, when we head by coach to Phillip Island, named after Governor Arthur Phillip, which forms a natural breakwater for the shallow waters of Western Port Bay. Here we visit the Koala Conservation Centre. At sunset, overlooking the beach from the viewing platforms, you will encounter a wonderful spectacle of the wild fairy penguins emerging from the sea and crossing the sand to their burrows in the dunes (numbers vary depending on the season). Includes:Excursions


 Days 17-18 To Sydney

We leave Melbourne on the CountryLink XTP on Day 17 travelling through Victoria and New South Wales to Sydney. We spend four nights at the Amora Jamison. We take a cruise around stunning Sydney harbour on Day 18, taking in marvellous views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Includes:Sydney Harbour cruise


 Days 19-20 The Blue Mountains and Sydney

We take the train on Day 19 towards the Blue Mountains. Our tour of this area includes the Three Sisters rock formation, a cable car trip and a journey on the Katoomba Scenic Railway. On Day 20 you have a free day to explore Sydney at your own pace. Includes:Excursion


 Days 21-22 Return to London

On Day 21 you are free for last-minute sightseeing before we catch an evening flight via Dubai to London Heathrow, arriving early on Day 22. Includes:Scheduled flights