We designed this Australia Vacations: Reef, Wildlife, and Outback Adventure for 2 sisters from Maine. They had 2 weeks in Australia and they wanted to see as many amazing environments as possible—and of course they also wanted to see kangaroos and koalas! This Australia vacation took them to the country’s best wildlife areas, from the Great Barrier Reef to the outback and beyond.
First for their Australia Vacations: Reef, Wildlife, and Outback Adventure, they went to Palm Cove, where they snorkeled on the one and only Great Barrier Reef, toured the ancient Daintree Rainforest with an Aboriginal guide, and relaxed on the beautiful beach. Then they stayed a few nights in a luxurious treehouse in the heart of the Daintree to soak up the beauty and culture of this unique area.
Next, they flew down to South Australia and made their way into the heart of the outback. They stayed 3 nights in a cozy lodge with breathtaking, panoramic views of the Flinders Ranges, with their rugged peaks, dramatic gorges, and timeless beauty. They enjoyed some scenic hikes in this wildlife-rich area, as well as an adventurous 4WD tour through the outback.
Continuing their Australia Vacations: Reef, Wildlife, and Outback Adventure, they spent an evening in cosmopolitan Adelaide, then made the short flight out to Kangaroo Island. Over a third of this unique and secluded island is made up of protected nature reserves, and it’s home to so many amazing animals that it’s known as “Australia’s Galapagos.” They spent 2 days exploring the island’s incredible coastal scenery and seeing Australian animals like kangaroos, koalas, and fur seals out in the wild.
They finished their Australia Vacations: Reef, Wildlife, and Outback Adventure in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city. They took a wildlife tour of Phillip Island to see koalas, wallabies, echidnas, and more. In the evening, they saw the famous Penguin Parade as a line of little blue penguins waddled onto the beach and into their evening roosts. They had an exclusive spot away from the majority of tourists and were able to capture some amazing photos!
At last, it was time to return home—but not without amazing stories of their Australian wildlife adventures!
Welcome to Australia! Arrive at the Cairns airport, pick up your rental car, and drive to Palm Cove, a charming seaside community where no building is higher than the coconut palms. Spend today getting into “vacation mode” by hopping on a bicycle (available from your resort at no extra cost) and heading to the beach.
The Reef House
Enjoy a full day out on the Great Barrier Reef today with a small-group snorkel tour. You’ll be transported to 3 spectacular sites on the edge of the Outer Great Barrier Reef. Snorkeling is the easiest way to enjoy the colors and variety of fragile corals and fish life found in the shallow lagoons. You can also witness the magic of the reef by scuba diving, or if you want to stay dry, head to the semi-submersible reef viewer or a glass bottom boat cruise!
The Reef House
Spend the afternoon with a local Aboriginal tour guide exploring the local area between Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation, including the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest and Mossman Gorge. Learn the amazing relationships the Kuku Yalanji people still have with their land as you walk through the world’s oldest living rainforest, see natural wonders, explore waterfalls, sample some “bush tucker” cuisine, and swim in a secluded freshwater stream.
The Reef House
Drive about 45 minutes north to your fabulous luxury lodge in the Daintree Rainforest. Along the way, enjoy the spectacular coastal scenery on the Captain Cook Highway. Silky Oaks Lodge is a luxurious eco-retreat that blends in perfectly with its gorgeous surroundings. Stay in your own luxury treehouse in the canopy of the Daintree.
Silky Oaks Lodge
Today is at your leisure to explore the surrounding rainforest and Mossman River. Explore the walking trails, canoe down the Mossman River, enjoy rejuvenating yoga, immerse yourself in signature Aboriginal cultural experiences, and more.
Silky Oaks Lodge
Drive back to Cairns airport and fly southwest to Adelaide. From the charming capital of South Australia, iconic Australian wildlife, inspiring outback scenery, and incredible food and wine are in easy reach. Soak up Adelaide’s colonial elegance in the spacious city squares, join the locals at the bustling Adelaide Central Markets, or head down to Glenelg Beach.
4-star hotel in Adelaide
Day 7 – 9
Next it’s a drive north, through wine valleys and pastoral countryside, into the outback surrounding the Flinders Ranges. Your home for the next 3 nights is a cozy eco-villa with breathtaking views of your vast, seemingly untouched surroundings. During your stay, you can explore Flinders Ranges National Park on nature walks, helicopter tours, scenic flights, mountain bikes, or 4WD adventures. You can also enjoy some downtime in the resort pool and make new friends around a crackling bonfire.
Rawnsley Park Station
Drive back through historic towns such as Hawker and Quorn (home of the old Pichi Richi Railway), perhaps stopping at the Wadlata Outback Centre in Port Augusta, en route back to Adelaide. Spend a night relaxing here before continuing your amazing wilderness journey.
4-star hotel in Adelaide
Drop off your rental car at the Adelaide airport today and take a short flight to Kangaroo Island. This incredible destination offers unparalleled wildlife experiences—it’s commonly referred to as “Australia’s Galapagos.” Get an introduction to island life with a fabulous nature tour complete with an elegant seaside lunch. First, enjoy morning tea with homemade cakes before taking a walk down a country track through eucalyptus trees where koalas snooze overhead. Travel through some of the island’s best farming country to the north coast. Break for lunch and enjoy a delicious meal featuring fresh fish, salads, and fine South Australian wines at a private bush location. At Seal Bay Conservation Park, walk with your guide among Australian sea lions on a beautiful sandy beach and learn about their unique breeding biology. The remainder of the afternoon is spent exploring more of the southeast region of the Island with destinations and experiences chosen to reflect seasonal opportunities. In the evening, retreat to a cozy B&B where you’ll be treated like family.
Continue exploring Kangaroo Island’s natural beauty today in Flinders Chase National Park. At Cape du Couedic, see fur seals resting on the rocks or frolicking in the surf under Admirals Arch—a spectacular coastal grotto. Enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch with wine in the bush before exploring more of the island. Depending upon the season, the afternoon might include a visit to “Grassdale” in the heart of Kelly Hill Conservation Park, the secluded pools of the Rocky River, or a rugged South Coast cove.
Fly back to Adelaide this morning and then onward to Melbourne, Australia’s “second city” and the hub of chic style and delicious food. Melbourne is a fabulous city for wandering on foot. Wander through the vibrant laneways, explore the café culture, and soak up some sun on the beaches of St Kilda.
Your morning is at leisure, but this afternoon you’re off to Phillip Island for penguin and wildlife viewing! The island has over 200 species of birds. Watch fishermen try to clean their catch as they battle squawking gulls and pelicans. Visit a koala conservation centre and see wild koalas within touching distance; you’re also likely to see some wallabies, echidnas, and more Aussie creatures on the way. At dusk, view the adorable little blue penguins as they waddle ashore to roost for the evening. You’ll have access to the exclusive beach boardwalks, away from the tourists massed on the grandstands.
Today, your incredible Australia adventure comes to an end. Enjoy a private transfer to the airport and begin the journey home. You’ll have plenty of photos of Australia’s natural wonders to tide you over until your next visit!