Experience Australia's highlights and travel aboard the continent's famous trains, including The Ghan
About the Tour
What better way to experience the exotic country of Australia than aboard its famous trains? Including the Kuranda Scenic Railroad, the Katoomba Scenic Railroad and the Ghan, this journey through Australia includes 21 days of grand expeditions. Experience world-renowned destinations such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Blue Mountains and the desert of Uluru, as well as spectacular cities, including Cairns, Alice Springs, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. A thrilling blend of Aboriginal history, natural beauty and modern attractions brings the culture of Australia to life. Enjoy a cruise of the Great Barrier Reef, a star talker presentation under the starry night sky of the desert, visits to the wineries of the Barossa Valley, a drive on the Great Ocean Road, a visit to Phillip Island and a cruise through Sydney harbor, amongst other adventures. Luxury overnight accommodations only add to the splendor of this journey - a splendor that cannot be matched in any other destination
- Rail travel on The Ghan (1 night on train)
- Standard Class rail travel on Australia's rail network
- Two scenic rail journeys: Kuranda Scenic Railroad and the Katoomba Scenic Railroad
- Hotel accommodations for 19 nights
- 10 meals including 2 breakfast, 5 lunches and 3 dinners
- All drinks including beers, wines and spirits during your time on The Ghan
- Excursion to the Great Barrier Reef
- The Great Ocean Road and the Blue Mountains
- Excursion to Uluru, including dinner under the stars
- 'Sunrise and Olga' tour
- Visit to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and School of the Air
- Explore the vineyards of the Barossa Valley
- Guided tour of Adelaide
- Guided tour of Melbourne and Puffing Billy
- Visit Philip Island
- Sydney Harbor Cruise
- Transportation by deluxe motorcoach
- Services of a professional Tour Manager
Days 1 - Cairns
Arrive in Cairns, and meet your group and Tour Manager at the Pullman International Cairns Hotel. The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy the city. Overnight Cairns.
Day 2 - Cairns at Leisure
The day is yours to explore the eclectic city that is Cairns. This region of Australia is known for its easy access to spectacular beaches and beautiful seaside scenery, and you may wish to spend your day exploring these sandy locales. If you want to stay close to the city center, there is the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon for swimming; several local markets, including the famous night markets and Rusty’s Market; and fantastic museums, such as the Mulgrave Settlers Museum. Overnight Cairns.
Day 3 - Kuranda Scenic Railway
The rails of the 125-year-old Kuranda Scenic Railway guide us today. Our journey takes us into the rainforest and above the Barron River Gorge to Kuranda. On arrival, we board a World War II amphibious military transport unit, or Army Duck, for an unforgettable tour through World Heritage-designated rainforest. With the Duck Captain pointing out the different flora, fauna, birds and reptiles as we travel, this excursion is both scenic and informative.
After the tour, we enjoy lunch and then experience an Aboriginal “corroboree” with songs and dance, following the path of the Dreamtime Walk through traditional legend. Overnight Cairns.
Days 4 - Great Barrier Reef
One of the crowning jewels of the planet lies ahead today as we take a Quicksilver Cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. Stretching over 1,800 miles, this is the world's largest coral reef system and is home to thousands of species of fish and marine life. A large covered pontoon is our base for the day, and it is aboard the pontoon that we enjoy lunch and explore the reef. Swimmers have the option to snorkel, allowing for an up-close look at the exquisite coral and vibrant fish; however, 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! This evening, we return to Cairns for an evening at leisure. Overnight Cairns.
Day 5 - Cairns at Leisure
After a grand day of adventure, today is yours to rest and rejuvenate - or to continue your explorations through Cairns. Overnight Cairns.
Day 6 - Uluru
We leave Cairns today and fly to the desert to Uluru. Uluru, the world's largest monolith, rises more than 1,142 feet out of the flat desert floor. We begin at the Aboriginal Cultural Center and enjoy a guided tour around this sacred site, which holds great spiritual significance to the local Anangu people.
Later, as the sun sets, we watch this giant rock change color and enjoy a magical dinner under the stars. The incredible “Sounds of Silence” experience includes canapés and sparkling wine as the sun sets over Uluru, followed by a three-course dinner with a bush-inspired menu featuring kangaroo, crocodile, barramundi and quandong dishes.
After dinner, a star talker decodes the southern night sky for us and point out signs of the zodiac and other constellations, as well as the planets and galaxies visible due to the clarity of the atmosphere. We continue to our hotel, the Desert Gardens Hotel in the Ayers Rock Resort, following the presentation. Overnight Uluru.
Day 7 - Sunrise and Olgas
Our adventures begin early this morning, as we enjoy a Sunrise & Olgas tour that presents the mystical Kata Tjuta, or the Olgas. The Olgas are comprised of a circular group of 36 red rock domes that cover a large area and are as legendary as Uluru. Back at the resort, the afternoon is yours to spend as you please. This is an ideal opportunity to relax by the pool or to enjoy the onsite bars and eateries. The resort’s “Town Center” is within walking distance of our hotel and includes shopping, a spa and even a museum. Overnight Uluru.
Days 8 - Alice Springs
Enjoy a free morning at the resort before traveling by motorcoach to Alice Springs. The drive presents the untamed beauty of the Australian Outback, with vast deserts, canyons and mountains framing the way. Keep your eyes peeled for the native wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies and koalas as we travel through the vast red landscape. As we arrive in Alice Springs, we check-in at either the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel or Crowne Plaza Lasseters Hotel, both of which boast spectacular mountain views. Overnight Alice Springs.
Day 9 - The Ghan
We begin our day at the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of the Air, where we learn how pilots, engineers, doctors and nurses have been critical to the safety and care of residents of Australia’s Outback. Informative exhibits mingle with interactive technology, such as virtual reality exhibits and a holographic presentation, to show how the history of the service has impacted this remote region.
Later, we join The Ghan for an epic rail journey from Alice Springs to Adelaide. We travel in Gold Service, which offers access to a private lounge and included meals prepared by the on-board chef. This journey is one of tradition and adventure and is often referred to as the ultimate journey through the heart of this mighty continent. A mode of transportation, a sightseeing expedition and a hotel all in one, The Ghan is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest rail journeys. Overnight train.
Days 10 - The Ghan to Adelaide
The vast red expanses of the interior are far behind as the train approaches Adelaide this morning. Flinders mountain range comes into view as you enjoy breakfast this morning, and later, we weave through the verdant pastoral lands as we approach Adelaide. Upon arrival, we enjoy a guided tour of the city, which includes highlights such as the Government House and Parliament Building. As the tour concludes, we transfer to our hotel. Overnight Adelaide.
Day 11 - Barossa Valley
Australia’s most famous wine region awaits your exploration today as we embark on a full-day tour of the Barossa Valley. As we wind through the lush vineyards and rolling farmlands, we enjoy wine tastings at some of the popular wineries. This region is known for its production of Shiraz; however, there are also spectacular examples of riesling, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and grenache throughout the valley’s wineries. Overnight Adelaide.
Day 12 - Adelaide at Leisure
You are free today to explore Adelaide and the surrounding area at leisure. Some of the most popular attractions include Adelaide Botanical Garden, the South Australian Museum and the Art Gallery of South Australia. Of course, you could venture to Cleland Conservation Park to seek out the seven amazing waterfalls, or you may wish to embark on an optional excursion to Kangaroo Island, which is payable locally. Overnight Adelaide.
Day 13 - The Overland
This morning, we transfer to Adelaide’s train station to board The Overland bound for Melbourne. The relaxing daylight journey presents the diverse landscapes of Australia as we traverse through cities and small towns and meander through woodlands and fields. As we arrive in the “Garden State,” we transfer to the Crown Promenade Hotel for this first of four nights. Overnight Melbourne.
Day 14 - Melbourne Sightseeing and Puffing Billy Railway
Our time in Melbourne begins with a guided tour of the city, including the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Parliament House, amongst other fascinating sites. Later this afternoon, we join the Puffing Billy Railway for a steam train ride to remember. This century-old railway travels through the rainforest and fern gullies of the Dandenong Ranges. The open-air cars offer spectacular views and fresh mountain air. Returning to Melbourne, the evening is yours to explore the exquisite dining scene. Overnight Melbourne.
Day 15 - The Great Ocean Road
Today we travel along one of the world’s most scenic byways, Great Ocean Road. This 150-mile stretch of highway follows Australia’s southern coastline and presents some of the most memorable views in the country. Keep a look out for animals and marine life, craggy rock formations, stunning sandy beaches, charming fishing villages and dramatic cliffs. Highlights during our journey include the Twelve Apostles, Bells Beach and the Otway Rainforest. Overnight Melbourne.
Day 16 - Phillip Island
Enjoy a morning at leisure in Melbourne to relax at your hotel or to sightsee through the city. Later, the group boards a motorcoach bound for Phillip Island, named after Governor Arthur Phillip. This island forms a natural breakwater for the shallow waters of Western Port Bay. Here, we visit the Koala Conservation Center, where tree-top boardwalks allow us to walk amongst koalas while they relax comfortably in their natural environment. At sunset, overlooking the beach from the viewing platforms, a wonderful spectacle comes into sight, as the island’s wild fairy penguins emerge from the sea and cross the sand to their burrows in the dunes. Overnight Melbourne.
Day 17- En Route to Sydney
A day of travel, our journey takes us from Melbourne to Sydney today. Along the way, enjoy the contrasts of the beach and the bush, and the city and small towns. As we arrive this evening, we check-in at the luxurious Amora Hotel Jamison, which is located in the heart of the city. Overnight Sydney.
Day 18 - Sydney Harbor Cruise
Some of the most iconic landmarks in Sydney can be seen from the water, and our cruise through Sydney Harbor allows us the delight. Our boat tour moves at a leisurely pace, allowing for fantastic panoramic views of spectacles such as the Sydney Opera House and the beautiful Harbor Bridge.
Back on dry land, the remainder of the day is at leisure to explore the vibrant city of Sydney. Perhaps visit the iconic Bondi Beach and try your hand at surfing, or peruse the culinary and entertainment options of Darling Harbor. Ever-popular attractions in the city include The Rocks historic area, the Sydney Tower Eye and Taronga Zoo. Overnight Sydney.
Day 19 - Katoomba Scenic Railroad
A contrast of yesterday’s urban explorations, today we journey into the Blue Mountains aboard the Katoomba Scenic Railroad. This is the world’s steepest incline railroad and offers a thrill for passengers of all ages. During our excursion, we also visit the iconic Three Sisters Rock Formation in Echo Point. These towering rock formations loom over the Jamison Valley and are some of the most iconic sites in the Blue Mountains. Overnight Sydney.
Day 20 - Sydney at Leisure
Enjoy a day at leisure in Sydney today. Whether you relax on the beach, explore the city’s culinary delights or continue your sightseeing through the numerous museums, galleries and attractions, the day is yours to behold. Overnight Sydney.
Day 21 - Return Home
Your tour concludes after breakfast this morning, and you are free to make your way to the airport for your return flight home.
Pullman Cairns International, Cairns
Found in the heart of Cairns, the Pullman Cairns International Hotel has a prime location to explore more of Australia and this metropolitan city. The hotel features a superb range of amenities, including a swimming pool, a Jacuzzi, a gymnasium and a sauna. There is also a bar and a restaurant. Each room has a hairdryer, a minibar and a television.
Desert Gardens Hotel, Ayers Rock Resort
The 4-Star Desert Gardens Hotel has a central location within the Ayers Rock Resort, putting guests near the resort's facilities and scenic lookouts, where you can enjoy watching the sunset on Uluru and the surrounding desert. The hotel is set amidst gardens of ghost gums and native flowering shrubs and features a restaurant serving Australian cuisine, a bar and an outdoor pool. All the guest rooms are air conditioned and are equipped with a telephone, television, radio, mini-bar, refrigerator, tea and coffee making facilities and a hairdryer. All rooms have either a private veranda or a courtyard, enhancing the serenity of guests’ experiences.
Crowne Plaza Lasseters, Alice Springs
The 4-Star Crowne Plaza Lasseters is elegant, stylish and modern, offering comfortable accommodation in one of Australia's favorite cities. With a superb range of facilities, including a fitness suite, an outdoor pool, a spa, various hotel restaurants and bars and complimentary Wi-Fi, this hotel makes guests’ comfort a priority. The rooms include a television, a hairdryer and a wall safe.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Alice Springs
The 4-Star DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel is located approximately 2 kilometers outside the center of Alice Springs in a quiet residential area. The hotel has two restaurants: one with offers contemporary Australian cuisine and the other serving Thai and Indian-inspired dishes. There is also a lobby bar that serves light meals during the day. The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel has a gift shop, as well as a health and fitness center with a sauna, a fully equipped gym and an outdoor swimming pool. Rooms are all individually air conditioned and feature a television, a telephone, a mini-bar, tea and coffee making facilities, a safe and a hairdryer.
Majestic Roof Garden Hotel, Adelaide
The Majestic Roof Garden Hotel is located in the center of Adelaide, providing easy access to many of the city's main attractions. This 4-star hotel boasts a lobby restaurant and bar overlooking the streets of Adelaide. Breakfast and dinner are served here daily. Leisure facilities include a fitness center with views over the whole city. All hotel rooms come equipped with mini-bar, air conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet, a safe, a television, an iron and ironing board, and tea and coffee making facilities.
Peppers Waymouth Hotel, Adelaide
Sat in an impressive tower, overlooking Adelaide, the 5-Star Peppers Waymouth Hotel offers luxury and charm in its tasteful rooms and elegant commons. Part of the Peppers hotel range, the Waymouth is perfectly placed for visitors to venture out into the lights of the city. Amenities include an indoor swimming pool with views of the city, a sauna and spa, a restaurant, an Internet lounge and a bar. Rooms include complimentary Wi-Fi, a safe, a television and a hairdryer.
Crown Promenade, Melbourne
The 4-star Crown Promenade is situated in the heart of Melbourne's lively Southbank District. A range of restaurants, bars and cafés serve food and drinks in the attached Entertainment Complex, and the hotel also has its own restaurant and bar onsite. For convenience, 24-hour room service is available. Rooms at the Crown Promenade offer air conditioning with independent temperature control, a large flat-panel digital television, mini-bar, tea and coffee making facilities, hairdryer, safe and high-speed wireless Internet access. Relaxing is easy at the hotel's deck leisure center, which features a spacious indoor pool, a sauna, steam and massage rooms, a gym and an activities studio.
Amora Hotel Jamison, Sydney
Set in the center of the city and just a short walk from the Sydney Opera House is the 5-Star Amora Hotel Jamison. The city’s Harbor Bridge and many more great attractions are also within close proximity to the facility. The hotel boasts two restaurants and two bars and well-appointed leisure facilities, such as a heated swimming pool, a fully equipped gym, a sauna, a steam room and the Amora spa (payable locally). The contemporary hotel rooms come equipped with air conditioning, mini-bar, hairdryer, safe, toaster, telephone, iron and ironing board and television.
Kuranda Scenic Railroad
The Kuranda Scenic Railroad has journeyed through the World Heritage Rainforest of tropical North Queensland for 125 years. Weaving through a series of switchbacks and tunnels above the Barron River Gorge to Kuranda, the KSR provides magnificent views of this outstanding national park.
Australia's Afghan Express, now affectionately referred to as The Ghan, offers guests an epic travel experience through this remarkable country. Named in tribute to the Afghan camel drivers who helped to make Australia's arid and uncharted Red Center accessible at the end of the nineteenth century, The Ghan's maiden journey was in August of 1929, and the train traveled the 1,559 kilometers from Adelaide, South Australia to Alice Springs. It was always intended that The Ghan's journey would continue from Alice Springs to Darwin on the coast of Australia's Northern Territory, and in 2004, this became a reality when the 1,420-kilometer rail link connected the two cities.
Today, the entire 2,979-kilometer trip from Adelaide to Darwin, or vice-versa, can be made in three days. Traveling in luxurious comfort aboard a train fully-equipped with modern amenities, guests aboard The Ghan enjoy a journey that presents Australia's most diverse and spectacular scenery.
The Overland Train
The recently refurbished Overland travels between Adelaide and Melbourne on a daylight-only route. This 132-year-old rail line offers multiple levels of service, including Red Premium Service, which provides passengers with comfortable reclining seats and complimentary orange juice or water on boarding the train. Further, guests of this class have access to the Red Service Café Carriage, which serves a selection of snacks, meals and drinks. There is also an at-seat trolley service with snacks and drinks available for purchase, as well as a limited selection of a la carte dishes.
Puffing Billy Railway
With a reputation as Australia's favorite steam train, the century-old Puffing Billy is a treasure for rail enthusiasts. This narrow-gauge line was constructed during the early 1900s and follows a route between Belgrave and Gembrook. Passing through the Dandenong Ranges, crossing rustic timber bridges and passing scenic Emerald Lake Park and Wright State Forest, this steam train ride is one to remember.
Katoomba Scenic Railroad
Built to service the Katoomba coal mine in the 19th century, the Katoomba Scenic Railroad later became a novelty to locals, as this train follows the world's steepest incline track. Beautiful scenes of the surrounding forests complement this journey through the Blue Mountains. Along the way, passengers enjoy a steep ascent at an incline of 128 percent, a 310-meter cliffside tunnel and stunning views of the Jamison Valley’s ancient rainforest.
NSW Trainlink XPT
The frequent NSW TrainLink XPT service operates in and between several Australian cities, including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Casino. Similar in design to the UK's InterCity 125, the XPT follows the route of the Hume Highway through the state of Victoria, passing through Benalla and the cathedral city of Wangaratta before entering the state of New South Wales and the Riverina region. The XPT service continues through the cities of Albury and Wagga Wagga and then heads west to Cootamundra and the Southern Tablelands. Leaving Goulburn, the train enters the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, a mountainous wine-producing region that sits on the Great Dividing Range. Finally, after passing through the suburbs of Campbelltown and Strathfield in the Australian capital, the service pulls into Sydney's Central Railroad Station.
First Class accommodations on this train include extra legroom, a deluxe reclining seat, and a footrest. Most seats rotate to form a “conversation group” of four. A buffet car selling a selection of hot and cold meals, snacks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks is available on the train.
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