Melbourne extends a friendly welcome! (Flights to arrive prior to 12pm). Lucky for you you’re staying in the heart of it all on the banks of the Yarra River. Check into your hotel and meet your Travel Director and fellow travellers over a Welcome Reception at The General Assembly. At this modern pub on the Yarra River’s South Wharf, you’ll feast on a three-course dinner with specialties such as Fisherman’s bend pie, schnitzel, and mac & cheese croquettes, washing it down with your choice of local wines and 15 beers on tap. It’s a delicious introduction to Melbourne’s cosmopolitan vibe.
Get out and see the sights today on a guided walk with your Travel Director discovering the little lanes, arcades, and café society of stylish Melbourne. Gaze up at the beautiful Victorian façades lining grand boulevards. Stroll past famous, edgy street art that shows a stylish contrast to federation buildings and churches as Melbourne’s coffee aroma wafts overhead. After your orientation, the days is yours to relax back at your hotel, go for a scenic stroll, do a little souvenir shopping, or find a spot on the banks of the Yarra River to grab a drink. Or choose to venture outside of the city on an Optional Experience such as the viewing of the incredible Little Penguins on Phillip Island. On this rare wildlife viewing experience you’ll watch the tiny, adorable penguins make their daily trek from the sea to burrows on the beach.
Go from city to tropics today as you as you fly north to sunny Cairns. At Hartley's Crocodile Adventures you’ll team up with a Local Specialist for a private, wildlife-rich boat cruise. They will give you the inside scoop on the life and habits of the crocs you’ll see popping up from the murky waters or lazing on the bank. Now that you’ve appreciated the beauty of the area, you can put your passion into practice on a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience helping with a Rainforest Restoration project to protect the natural wonder of the nearby Notophyll Vine Forest, an area older than the Amazon. By jumping in and helping the team plant trees, you’re supporting the protection of this rare type of dry rainforest from development and restoring it to an important wildlife corridor of native birds - a mission you’ll feel good contributing to. After a day in the wild, you’ll travel back to Cairns for a free evening to try some of the city’s famous seafood around the Cairns Marina. If you’re looking to browse among a lot of options, visit the Cairns Night Markets and have your pick of over 70 open-air stalls of local specialities.
Go from city to sea today on a full day bucket list exploration of the world’s largest coral reef system in the Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Set sail on a high-speed catamaran for these tropical waters then explore this underwater wonderland up close donning your mask and fins for a snorkel (equipment provided). You’ll feel like a fish in an aquarium weaving through the rainbow of reefs and fish. Or, choose to stay dry in your semi-submersible, air-conditioned craft with an underwater observatory to have a different view of these tropical species. However you choose to explore, you’ll love learning the insights on the reef the colourful fish and plants that call it home from your local guide. On board you’ll be treated to lunch and afternoon tea and coffee to soak up the Aussie sun before you cruise back into Cairns.
Your last day in Cairns is all yours to kick back at the hotel pool, check out more of the city sites, or venture out of town for more adventures. One popular Optional Experience is taking the Kuranda Scenic Railway through a lush forests, past gorges, ravines, and waterfalls to Kuranda’s 'village in the rainforest.' After an epic train ride, you have time to explore this quaint village’s trails, wildlife sanctuaries, shops, and markets all within a World Heritage rainforest. Your return trip will be just as scenic taking the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway soaring above the canopy back to the lowlands. After a big day out or in town, meet up with the group for a Regional Dinner at Ochre Restaurant. Here you’ll watch the boats come in over the Harbour Lights’ boardwalk with views of the inlet and mountains as you enjoy Australian cuisine featuring the best local produce. Choose a craft beer, glass of wine from their extensive list, or cocktail highlighting their largest selection of Australian spirits in the region and try their dry old Tablelands beef or Salt and Pepper Prawns.
Your Australia sightseeing takes an exciting turn as you leave Cairns’ beaches for Sydney, Australia’s largest city, harbour, and fun-loving metropolis. Settle into your ideal spot to explore, lively Darling Harbour, before taking to the water on a Sunset Harbour Cruise. One of the best ways to see the city, you’ll watch day turn to night from their spacious decks or inside expansive windows as you enjoy a Regional Dinner on the water with a backdrop of spectacular views. See Circular Quay and Shark Island as well as magnificent waterfront homes, beaches, and parklands. You’ll also be dazzled by two of Sydney’s most famous attractions, the Opera House’s grand sails and the Sydney Harbour Bridge lighting up the night sky.
After an easy morning start, you get to check out another side of the city in a couple of local communities. Your first stop is Newtown, rich with culture and colourful street art. Then make your way to the suburb of Marrickville, recently crowned the 10th “coolest” and most liveable neighbourhood in the world, before arriving at Dear Delicious Café in Dulwich Hill to Connect With Locals. You’ll enjoy the cafe’s bountiful, sustainable garden with the owner Greg as you learn how he’s brought urban farming to the community. Then enjoy a fresh and local Be My Guest experience, your lunch showcases his produce such as beets, kale, and aromatic mushrooms. Then learn about and taste some local brews at Batch Brewery meeting the founder Andrew and joining in a masterclass to see how his team creates inspired limited release batches like Mole Poblano Choco Chilli Stout using sustainable practices. Sample one of their specialties like Pash the Magic Dragon or Tasman Tango South Pacific Ale before heading back to Sydney. After a big day of food and drink, the evening is yours to check out the sites of Darling Harbour or relax before another big day.
Kick off your last day in Sydney soaking in the beautiful blooms of Wendy’s Secret Garden at Lavender Bay. At this tucked away retreat overlooking Sydney Harbour, meet a local volunteer and learn the story of how the garden was transformed, beginning in 1992 from unused railway land at the foot of founder Wendy’s house into a beautiful, whimsical secret spot. Take a walk around the grounds among the shrubs, herbs, and towering trees lining meandering paths, eyes peeled for the resident parrots, gulls, kookaburras and wagtails. Take a moment to enjoy the serenity of the garden, knowing that your visit, proudly a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience, helps by contributing to the ongoing maintenance by volunteer gardeners of this enchanting garden. Then it’s time to celebrate your travels over a Farewell Dinner on the waterfront with your newfound friends and travel mates.
It’s been a glorious nine days of Australia sightseeing, but all good things must come to an end. Fill up on your last breakfast before bidding farewell to your travel mates and your transfer to the Sydney airport (flights anytime).