Highlights of Australia: Rock, Reef, Sydney

Explore the highlights of Australia, including Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, and Sydney, with unique experiences that give you insight into the Aboriginal cultures of Australia.

This Highlights of Australia: Rock, Reef, and Sydney package is perfect for those who want to see Australia’s highlights with some unique Aboriginal experiences. We designed this trip for a couple from Oregon who wanted to learn about Australia’s history and Aboriginal culture.

They started their Highlights of Australia journey at Uluru/Ayers Rock, in the spiritual heart of Australia. This massive monolith is sacred to the indigenous Anangu people, and it’s easy to see why when it magically transforms with the changing daylight. They were able to watch Uluru come to life at sunrise on a guided tour, where they learned about Aboriginal legends as well as the natural environment. Then they set out on camelback for a sunset tour. They also had a magical Sounds of Silence dinner experience under the stars, complete with stargazing interpretation.

Next, on their Highlights of Australia trip, they headed to Port Douglas, where they were able to explore the Great Barrier Reef and the incredible Daintree Rainforest. They had an unforgettable day diving in the reef and seeing its spectacular underwater ecosystem. They also had an unexpected highlight with an Aboriginal culture tour through the Daintree Rainforest. Their guide showed them how his ancestors used the ancient plants for food and medicine and had them try traditional spear fishing for crabs.

The last stop on their Highlights of Australia trip was cosmopolitan Sydney. They enjoyed a fun bike tour of the city with interesting insight from a local guide. They also had a unique tour of the Taronga Zoo, where they learned creation legends from an Aboriginal guide and enjoyed interactive experiences with iconic Australian wildlife, like kangaroos and koalas.

At last, their incredible Highlights of Australia vacation came to an end. They enjoyed a private transfer to the airport, where they began their journey home.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1
Welcome to the Outback! Arrive at Ayers Rock/Uluru in the spiritual heart of Australia. This monolith in the desert is sacred to the Aboriginal population. Over the next 2 days, you’ll have the chance to discover the strong sense of spirituality and culture here. Today, enjoy a transfer from the airport to Sails in the Desert Hotel. Perhaps take a dip in the pool or browse the Mulgara Gallery onsite to see indigenous art. This evening, enjoy a unique Sounds of Silence dining experience under the stars. As the sun sets, you’ll be serenaded by the mysterious sounds of a didgeridoo, and a star talker will interpret the legends of the night sky as you enjoy bush tucker fare and local wines.
Sails in the Desert Hotel

Day 2
One of the most impressive features of Uluru is the way it shifts colors in the changing light—slowly flaring to life as the sun rises, bathing the rock in bright red, and fading again to deep purple as the sun sets. Today, you will witness this magnificent spectacle at both sunrise and sunset. First, enjoy a guided trek around the base of Uluru, where you’ll embrace the culture, geology, and environment that make up the essence of this amazing natural attraction. Find yourself in awe as you watch Uluru change colors in the sunrise, visit waterholes, view ancient rock art sites, and learn the legends of the native Anangu people. This evening, ride camels through the desert and witness Uluru transform at sunset.
Sails in the Desert Hotel

Day 3
Today, transfer to Port Douglas by plane. Upon arrival, pick up your rental car and drive to your luxurious accommodations at the Shantara Resort. Make yourself at home and enjoy 4 fabulous nights in Port Douglas, where 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites meet: the Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Daintree Rainforest.
Shantara Resort Port Douglas

Day 4
Get ready for the experience of a lifetime: exploring the Great Barrier Reef! Quicksilver’s wave-piercing catamarans and friendly crew will take you to a reef at the very edge of Australia’s Continental Shelf. You can choose to dive, snorkel, or stay dry and explore the stunning reef from the comfort of a Quicksilver semi-sub, just 1 meter underwater. Time to cross the Great Barrier Reef off your bucket list!
Shantara Resort Port Douglas

Day 5
Today, you have the chance to enjoy a truly unique cultural experience with an Aboriginal guide as you explore the ancient Daintree Rainforest (at 135 million years old, it was around before the dinosaurs!). See living examples of ancient plants you’ll find nowhere else and learn about the intimate relationships the Kuku Yalanji still have with their land. You’ll also stop at a secluded swimming spot and try your hand at spearfishing for crabs.
Shantara Resort Port Douglas

Day 6
Today is yours to spend at leisure. Head to Four Mile Beach for some relaxing waves and sunshine; explore the shops, cafes, and restaurants on offer in Port Douglas; or perhaps enjoy some self-guided hikes in Daintree National Park and take a dip in some of the natural swimming holes.
Shantara Resort Port Douglas

Day 7
This morning, make your way to the airport, drop off your rental car, and catch a flight to Sydney. Upon arrival, enjoy a private transfer to your fabulous accommodations at the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney. This luxurious hotel is within walking distance of major attractions like Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, and the Royal Botanical Gardens. Perhaps enjoy dinner and cocktails at the hotel’s Blu Bar 36, where you can take in world-class views of Sydney Harbour.
Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

Day 8
Explore the city in the best way possible: on a bicycle! On this guided half-day tour with Bonza Bike Tours, you’ll take in all of the iconic sights, plus some other highlights and local insight you may miss on your own. Make sure to bring your camera and snap some photos of famous attractions like the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Royal Botanic Gardens, Hyde Park, Anzac War Memorial, Sydney Tower, and more!
Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

Day 9
What’s the best way to spend your last day in Sydney? How about touring the local zoo with an Aboriginal guide? Hear dreamtime legends describing the creation of the land and animals. Learn the centuries-old traditional uses of plants for food and medicine while enjoying interactive experiences with unique Australian wildlife, including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, and a vast array of Australia’s birds.
Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

Day 10
Your adventurous vacation has come to an end. It’s time to catch your flight back home after a private transfer to the Sydney Airport.

About this vacation
Cost Per Person

Does not include the cost of airfare

Based on
10 day stay
2 travelers

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