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The group flights usually arrive into Cairns in the late morning. Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel by the early afternoon. Free transfers are available for all clients. In the late afternoon there will be an orientation city walk followed by sunset drinks in the harbour and a welcome briefing. This is the perfect opportunity to meet your guide and get to know your fellow travellers. Accommodation: ibis Styles Cairns or similar
Today we visit Kuranda, a picturesque mountain retreat 25km northwest of Cairns, surrounded by rainforest. Here we can discover the living colour and natural beauty of a World Heritage listed rainforest that's millions of years old and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the local markets. The famous Kuranda Scenic Railway was built over 120 years ago and winds its way through the tropical mountain ranges between Cairns and Kuranda, with waterfalls tumbling into deep ravines. Our return Rainforest Cableway experience should take approximately 1.5 hours and includes spending time at the two rainforest stations. We allow time at each station, to enjoy ranger guided boardwalk tours and visit the Rainforest Interpretation Centre, lookout points and historical displays. Accommodation: ibis Styles Cairns or similar
Today we experience the adventure of snorkelling, diving (optional, at an extra cost) and sailing on the Great Barrier Reef. The day starts early as we board our boat at 7:30am and sail at 8:00am. Our high-performance catamaran sails from Cairns to two unique locations where you can snorkel with turtles, colourful fish and see an amazing variety of corals. The exclusive reef sites are selected for their abundance of marine life and diversity of healthy corals. The sites include Hastings Reef (Coral Gardens, Turtle Bommie and 1770), Paradise Reef, Norman Reef – Shark Mountain, Long Bommie, Pretty Patches and more! The crew will select the two best sites suited to the weather conditions of the day to give you the best possible experience. While sailing to our first location, we receive an interactive presentation from a Ecotourism Australia certified guide regarding the physical aspects of the reef environment that affect reef wildlife and the functioning of the ecosystem, as well as chemical processes that impact reef ecology. We can participate in the Eye on the Reef Rapid Monitoring survey, either individually or in teams. Our accredited guide will first provide us with a step-by-step instruction before we conduct field surveys, which include benthos composition, species counts, coral predation analysis, and water quality testing. On the journey back to Cairns from the reef, we will discuss the purpose of the Rapid Monitoring surveys as a data collection method, and our guide will relate how the information collected on the day will fit into the overall long-term monitoring plan on the Great Barrier Reef. We will return to Cairns in the late afternoon Accommodation: ibis Styles Cairns or similar
We transfer to Daintree National Park today, visiting the Mossman Gorge en route. Mossman Gorge contains the oldest surviving rainforest on earth with cool streams, towering mountains and a dramatic gorge. We visit the Mossman Gorge Centre, a new Indigenous eco-tourism development that provides one of Australia’s most iconic Aboriginal experiences in Tropical North Queensland and a genuine, authentic engagement with Indigenous Australia. The local art gallery showcases the art and crafts of local Kuku Yalanji artists. We will take the leisurely Rainforest Circuit Walk under the towering canopy of the rainforest, beautifully framed by the striking mountains stopping for a picnic lunch at one of the many water holes. We continue through the Daintree National Park to our secluded lodge for the next two nights, set in the quiet peacefulness of the rainforest and perfect for bird, butterfly or Musky rat-kangaroo spotting. On arrival, take a swim with Jungle perch and turtles in the untouched crystal clear Cooper Creek which winds through the lodge en-route from the mountains to the sea. Accommodation: Heritage Lodge and Spa or similar
We will spend a full day exploring the Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation today. In the morning we embark on an hour-long cruise through the mangroves at Cooper Creek which winds its way from Cooper Creek’s Coral Sea mouth towards the panorama of Queensland’s third highest mountain, Thornton Peak. Home to reputedly the most biodiverse mangrove system in Australia, Cooper Creek’s significance has been internationally recognized and rewarded by Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service, which has afforded absolute protection to the creek’s flora and fauna. A wild environment, crocodile sightings are not guaranteed but we may get lucky! We then venture into the heart of the oldest surviving rainforest in the world, the pristine Gondwanan Rainforest, in the company of an inhabitant guide. Our guide will reveal fascinating inter-relationships as an almost impossibly complex ecosystem is explained. At the centre of our walk we will find a cathedral-like amphitheatre of ancient fan-palms, underpinning the grandeur of an old-growth canopy of rainforest giants. This afternoon we will go on a two hour guided walk into a private reserve, deep in the rainforest. With such an amazing pocket of pristine natural wonders, you can never know what is hiding just behind the next tree! Your guide will explain to you the amazing history of the area, the flora and the fauna around you, and the natural wonders which take place every day. We plan on taking a dip in a secluded natural swimming hole, surrounded by nothing more than the unique environment created by the convergence of two eco-systems, that of the rainforest and the reef. We will visit Myall and Cape Tribulation beaches before returning to our lodge for the night. Accommodation: Heritage Lodge and Spa or similar
We travel to Yungaburra today, a journey that will take us approximately 4 hours including stops. In the afternoon we will explore the heritage listed town of Yungaburra and the surrounding tablelands, which are home to the rare platypus, Tree kangaroos, and in season, the kingfisher. We visit the Yungaburra platypus viewing area to watch the resident platypus swim and dive. We also take a walk along Peterson Creek in search of more platypus and the rare Lumholtz Tree kangaroo. Accommodation: Kookaburra Lodge or similar
Not far from Yungaburra are the renowned crater lakes of Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine. Both have walking tracks around their circumferences, one of which we will walk this morning. We then travel to Mount Surprise (approx. 4 hours) where we can experience life in the Australian outback in the afternoon. The region of Mount Surprise, also known as Savannah Way, offers a diverse range of outback experiences including cattle stations, gorges and the Undara Lava Tubes. Accommodation: Bedrock Village or similar
This morning we explore the Undara Lava Tubes. In Undara Volcanic National Park, rich volcanic basalt soils, covered in a sea of seasonal grasses, conceal the Undara lava tube, one of the longest lava tube cave systems in the world. About 190,000 years ago, a large volcano erupted violently, spewing molten lava over the surrounding landscape. The lava flowed rapidly down a dry riverbed. The top, outer-layer cooled and formed a crust, while the molten lava below drained outwards, leaving behind a series of hollow tubes. The roofs of some tubes collapsed, creating ideal conditions for dry rainforest to grow and wildlife to shelter. Rock-wallabies, insectivorous bat colonies and owls roost here in the cool. Birds shelter in the fruit-filled canopy and predators lurk in the tumbled basalt terrain to complete the food chain. In the afternoon we will journey to Charters Towers, which will take 5 to 6 hours, passing by remote mining settlements that will add to the outback experience. Accommodation: Hillview Motel or similar
Before we depart for Airlie Beach, we will explore the old gold mining town of Charters Towers. When gold was first discovered in Charters Towers in 1871, it became a gold rush town and quickly grew to become the second largest town in Queensland. Today, the magnificent heritage buildings are testament to the prosperity of years past. We depart mid-morning for Airlie Beach; a drive of approximately 6 hours, including a stop for a swim and snorkel at Horseshoe Bay in Bowen. Accommodation: Colonial Palms or similar
We spend the next two days on a private sailing adventure around the Whitsunday Islands, with a typical voyage covering around 160 kms. We will set sail at 8:00am with a visit to the infamous Whitehaven Beach and a guided bush walk up to the ever talked about Hill Inlet Lookout on our exciting agenda for today. Some sensational snorkelling over some of the best reefs in the world is of course included with optional diving available on request. When you are not exploring the islands, why not take advantage of the spacious deck which is perfect for enjoying the sailing, the sun and to relax! Our crew will proceed to find us a nice and protected anchorage site for the night. Our sailing adventure is on a full board basis. Accommodation: Siska Sailing Yacht or similar
We continue exploring the Whitsunday Islands today on our way back to Airlie Beach. We will pass along the western coast of Whitsunday Island, through Hook Passage and follow the eastern coast of Hook Island. We return to Airlie Beach in the late afternoon. Accommodation: Colonial Palms or similar
We’ve got a long day of driving ahead of us, making our way back to Cairns along the Queensland coast, a journey that will take us 9 to 10 hours including stops for morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea. Tonight in Cairns there will be a farewell dinner for the last night of the trip. Accommodation: ibis Styles Cairns or similar
Our adventure ends today after breakfast. Those on the group flights will be transferred to the airport for their flight to London.
11 nights comfortable hotels and eco-lodges, all with en suite facilities, and 1 night on sailboat with shared facilities
Travel by minibus and on boats
All breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners included. Most breakfasts are English style ‘full breakfast’, some are Continental style with cereals, fruit, juice and coffee. Included lunches and one dinner are served aboard sailing boats – expect simple but wholesome and fresh food. Two more included dinners are 2-course with a set menu. Vegetarians are generally well catered for although please be sure to advise us of any specific dietary requirements before departure.
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