Thursday 11 August Home – Brisbane (D)
Tour members fly to Sydney today. On arrival, we are met and transferred by coach to our hotel for an overnight stay.
Friday 12 August Brisbane (B)
This morning, we take a drive to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, located on the banks of the upper Brisbane River in a beautiful parkland setting. It is Australia’s largest koala sanctuary and is also home to birds, kangaroos, dingoes, wombats, reptiles and emus. We then visit Queensland’s premier sub-tropical Botanic Gardens. Located in the historic suburb of Toowong, at the base of Mt Cootha, they are a gardener’s delight. There is free time in the afternoon to have a wander around Brisbane city at your leisure.
Saturday 13 August Brisbane – Chinchilla (B.D)
We depart Brisbane this morning and travel through to Chinchilla, arriving early afternoon.
Chinchilla, now well known for its biannual Melon Festival, is also a favourite destination for petrified wood fossickers. Lapidary enthusiasts just love the specimens from this district, called ‘Chinchilla Red’, due to their unique beauty and intricate patterns.
We drive past the famous “Big Melon” and visit the Historical Museum, before checking into our overnight accommodation.
Sunday 14 August Chinchilla – Roma (B.D)
Departing Chinchilla mid-morning, we continue our travels through to Roma.
Roma is a substantial rural service centre which lies at the heart of a rich sheep and cattle grazing area. From the 1840s it has been seen as a land of plenty with Sir Thomas Mitchell describing the countryside as “the finest country I had ever seen in a primeval state – a champaign region, spotted with wood, stretching as far as human vision or even the telescope could reach.” Today, calling itself the Capital of the Western Downs, it is a prosperous town with a number of historic buildings and considerable pride in the fact that it was the first place, in the vast Surat Basin, to discover gas and oil. On arrival in Roma, we visit the Big Rig – Oil Patch Museum to discover the unique history of how and where the Australian oil and gas industry originated. The Oil Patch enables you to experience the history of early rig sites and machinery and gain an understanding of today’s multi-billion-dollar industry. We overnight in Roma.
Monday 15 August Roma – Carnarvon National Park (B.D)
After breakfast, we depart Roma and make our way north to Carnarvon National Park. If you thought all national parks looked the same, Carnarvon National Park bucks the trend. This national park is an outback oasis punctuated by towering sandstone cliffs, prehistoric cycads and more than 2,000 indigenous artworks – to name a few of its best assets. Throw in a biosphere home to 173 species of birds, 60 different mammals, 22 kinds of frogs and 90 types of reptiles, and you can see why some 70,000 people visit this 200 million-year-old landscape every year. We overnight at the Carnarvon Gorge Wilderness Lodge, located within the park and this afternoon is yours to spend as you wish – there are numerous guided walks available in the park, and guides will help you choose the walk that is suitable for your level of fitness. Spot an elusive Platypus on a gentle nature trail or, for the more seasoned walkers, head up the gorge to Moss Garden where water seeping out of the limestone supports a lush carpet of mosses and ferns.
Tuesday 16 August Carnarvon National Park – Emerald (B.D)
A leisurely start today – we depart the Lodge around lunchtime, giving you ample time for further exploration of the park, before heading up to Emerald. Established in 1879 as the base for the railway line, Emerald has slowly grown to be the major regional centre of the Central Highlands and the gateway to the Central Western district. The Capricorn hinterland contains the largest sapphire gemfields in the world. We arrive late afternoon where we check into our accommodation. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Wednesday 17 August Emerald – Longreach (B.D)
A relatively early start today as we depart Emerald and journey through to Longreach.
Longreach is the largest town in central Queensland and, as such, is an important rural service centre for one of the state’s most prosperous wool and beef areas. Located on the Tropic of Capricorn it services an ever-growing tourism industry which has been driven by the success of the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Outback Museum. On arrival mid-afternoon, we check into our accommodation with time to freshen up prior to meeting for dinner this evening. A tour highlight this evening as we join a cruise down the Thomson River aboard the Longreach Explorer. After a warm welcome by experienced crew, take your seat on the top deck ready to capture 360-degree sweeping, river and floodplain views. The Captain will enthrall you with captivating stories about the river, its wildlife and Indigenous heritage, all while enjoying drinks and nibbles. Photo opportunities are endless, but the stop at Sunset Bend is always the favourite. As the vibrant sunset colours fade into starlight, we dock at Smithy’s Outback Dinner & Show. Relax under the stars with table-service dining featuring camp-oven themed modern cuisine. Live on stage, talented musical performers will entertain with their songs and stories. A must-do, multi-award winning outback experience.
Thursday 18 August Longreach (B.D)
Today we enjoy a tour of this fascinating country town. We visit the Qantas Founders Museum, built to commemorate the ethos and preserve the material heritage of the founders and early operations of Qantas Airways Ltd. A world-class museum and cultural display, which eloquently tells the story of the founding of Qantas through interpretive displays, interactive exhibits, replica aircraft and an impressive collection of genuine artefacts. There is time for lunch at the Museum before we return to our accommodation with time to freshen up and relax. This evening, we visit The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame – a truly iconic Queensland Outback experience. Join the Head Stockman for an informative insight and tribute to the skills of all stockmen past and present. An exciting show of horsemanship and the showcasing of traditional Australian Stockman skills that are still used today. While dining, you’ll be entertained, captivated and leave having a sense of pride in being a part of keeping the spirit of the outback alive.
Friday 19 August Longreach – Winton (B.D)
Continuing our journey, today we have a relatively short drive travel from Longreach to Winton.
Winton is the Dinosaur Capital of Australia, home of Waltzing Matilda and Queensland’s Boulder Opal; abundant in nature, culture and heritage. On arrival in Winton, we make a quick stop at The Musical Fence, designed by Australian composer Graeme Leak. It is a purpose-built wire fence that can be plucked and bowed like a giant stringed instrument and is believed to be the only permanent musical fence installation in the world. There is time for lunch in town, before we visit the Waltzing Matilda Centre – the first museum in the world dedicated to a song, the centre boasts state of the art interpretation, telling the story of Waltzing Matilda. Time to relax this afternoon before we meet up for dinner this evening.
Saturday 20 August Winton (B.D)
A full day to explore this charming town. After a leisurely breakfast, we visit a truly quirky outback attraction – Arno’s Wall. In the town of Winton, he become a local legend and tourist attraction for the wall he had built over a long period of time. The wall made of scrap parts, motorbikes, lawn mowers, sewing machines and anything else you can think off, became a place to look and marvel at – what can you find imbedded in Arno’s wall? We continue on, to The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History. The Museum houses the largest collection of unique Australian dinosaur fossils and on our educational tour, we will explore the heart of the Museum, the Fossil Preparation Laboratory, Collection Room and Dinosaur Canyon. The remainder of the day, and the evening is at your leisure.
Sunday 21 August Winton – Hughenden (B.D)
After breakfast, we depart Winton and journey through to our next stop on the tour. Arriving Hughenden early afternoon. Hughenden has a lot to offer travellers, with four national parks, mountainous volcanic basalt country, sweeping black soil plains and rich fossil and dinosaur areas. On arrival we enjoy a coach orientation tour, during the course of which you will see one of the town’s attractions – “Mutt”, a full-bodied Muttaburrasaurus replica. We check into our hotel and enjoy dinner together this evening.
Monday 22 August Hughenden – Charters Towers – Magnetic Island (B.L.D)
Departing Hughenden this morning, we travel to Leahton Park, home to the largest herd of purebred Texas Longhorn cattle in Australia and the famed Bethel Saddlery custom saddle shop. Take a horse drawn wagon ride and a trip back in time – back to the old west – to the era of the legendary Texas Longhorns! These cattle are direct descendants of the millions of Texas Longhorns that walked in the great trail herds from Texas in the late 1800’s. Enjoy camp oven cooked damper and billy tea, served from the genuine cowboy chuck wagon, before taking an informative tour of the custom saddle shop. We then continue to the town of Charters Towers to experience the Venus Gold Battery. Charters Towers is renowned for its gold mining history and heritage. At the height of the 1880’s it was the second largest city in Queensland and was referred to as “The World”. The town is a living museum that preserves an amazing story, 137 years old. We have time to visit Towers Hill Lookout, the site of the first gold discovery, World War II bunkers and the ruins of the Pyrites Works before we continue to Townsville late afternoon. On arrival into Townsville, we transfer to the ferry terminal for the short boat ride to Magnetic Island and our resort where we stay for 2 nights.
Tuesday 23 August Magnetic Island (B.D)
Magnetic Island is situated in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, just 8 kilometres from Townsville. This World Heritage listed island includes a National Park and provides a haven for abundant wildlife such as wallabies, koalas and a wide variety of birdlife. This morning’s tour of this beautiful tropical paradise provides an insight into the history, flora and fauna of the island. This eco/orientation tour explores the bays, habitat and environs of this beautiful isle! Look for koalas in their natural habitat and view the Coral Sea and rugged rocky headlands from the roads which hug the coastline. The afternoon is at leisure for further sightseeing or maybe take it easy and laze under a coconut palm on the warm, golden sand and/or take a swim in the clear, blue sea.
Wednesday 24 August Magnetic Island – Townsville (B.D)
This morning we take the ferry back to Townsville and enjoy a Reef HQ Aquarium Tour, the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium. The underwater viewing tunnel offers astounding views of living coral and the predators that prowl the watery depths. Enjoy the antics of the hundreds of reef creatures, without even getting your feet wet! We check into our hotel this afternoon for our overnight stay, and the rest of the day is yours to do as you wish – perhaps explore Townsville further, or just relax and enjoy your surroundings.
Thursday 25 August Townsville – Port Douglas (B.D)
After breakfast, we transfer to the Railway Station and board the Spirit of Queensland for the day trip to Cairns. We travel in comfortable Premium Economy style seating with panoramic windows, ensuring a relaxing and enjoyable journey. We pass through the towns of Ingham, Cardwell, Tully, Innisfall, Babinda and Gordonvale before our late afternoon arrival into Cairns. We transfer straight through to Port Douglas by coach, where we stay for 3-nights.
Friday 26 August Cape Tribulation & Daintree Eco Experience Tour (B.L)
A full day tour today. We take a guided tour through the Wildlife Habitat. We then cross the Daintree River to visit Cape Tribulation National Park, a World Heritage Listed site, where we have a BBQ lunch. We return to Port Douglas late afternoon.
Saturday 27 August Great Barrier Reef Cruise (B.L.D)
A highlight of our time in Port Douglas is a cruise out to Low Isles, an idyllic unspoilt coral cay encircled by a spectacular fringing reef of beautiful coral gardens, teeming with colourful marine life. We board the 30-metre luxury sailing catamaran, Wavedancer, for a day to remember with a wide range of activities to fully experience Low Isles unique environment. There is a chance to snorkel, or if you don’t want to get wet, enjoy a glass-bottom boat tour, a guided beach walk or just relax on the beach under a thatched umbrella before we return to our hotel late this afternoon.
Sunday 28 August Port Douglas – Cairns (B.D)
The morning is at leisure before we are transferred back to Cairns. On arrival, we will have a short sightseeing tour of the city before checking in to our hotel.
Monday 29 August Kuranda Day Tour (B.D)
This morning we board the Skyrail Cableway which takes us above the tropical rainforest of the Barron Gorge National Park and onto Kuranda. Visit the Butterfly Sanctuary before heading to Kuranda village, with time to browse through the various stalls of the colourful Kuranda Markets. We then take the historic journey through the picturesque countryside on the Kuranda Scenic Train back to Cairns, arriving late afternoon. We enjoy one final dinner together this evening.
Tuesday 30 August Cairns – Home (B)
Today, we transfer to Cairns Airport in time to join the flights home.