The group flights usually arrive into Cairns in the late morning. Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel by the early afternoon. Free transfers are available for all clients. In the late afternoon there will be an orientation city walk followed by sunset drinks in the harbour and a welcome briefing. This is the perfect opportunity to meet your guide and get to know your fellow travellers. Accommodation: ibis Styles Cairns or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
Today we visit Kuranda, a picturesque mountain retreat 25km northwest of Cairns, surrounded by rainforest. Here we can discover the living colour and natural beauty of a World Heritage listed rainforest that's millions of years old and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the local markets. The famous Kuranda Scenic Railway was built over 120 years ago and winds its way through the tropical mountain ranges between Cairns and Kuranda, with waterfalls tumbling into deep ravines. Our return Rainforest Cableway experience should take approximately 1.5 hours and includes spending time at the two rainforest stations. We allow time at each station, to enjoy ranger guided boardwalk tours and visit the Rainforest Interpretation Centre, lookout points and historical displays. Accommodation: ibis Styles Cairns or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
Today we experience the adventure of snorkelling, diving (optional, at an extra cost) and sailing on the Great Barrier Reef. The day starts early as we board our boat at 7:30am and sail at 8:00am. Our high-performance catamaran sails from Cairns to two unique locations where you can snorkel with turtles, colourful fish and see an amazing variety of corals. The exclusive reef sites are selected for their abundance of marine life and diversity of healthy corals. The sites include Hastings Reef (Coral Gardens, Turtle Bommie and 1770), Paradise Reef, Norman Reef – Shark Mountain, Long Bommie, Pretty Patches and more! The crew will select the two best sites suited to the weather conditions of the day to give you the best possible experience. While sailing to our first location, we receive an interactive presentation from an Ecotourism Australia certified guide regarding the physical aspects of the reef environment that affect reef wildlife and the functioning of the ecosystem, as well as chemical processes that impact reef ecology. While snorkelling we have the opportunity to participate in an ‘Eye on the Reef Rapid Monitoring’ survey, assisting the guide on collecting data on the reef – including benthos composition, species counts, coral predation analysis, and water quality testing. On the return journey there will be a chance to learn more about the survey itself and how any data we’ve collected will fit into the overall long-term monitoring plan on the Great Barrier Reef. We will return to Cairns in the late afternoon. Accommodation: ibis Styles Cairns or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
We transfer to Daintree National Park today, visiting the Mossman Gorge en route. Mossman Gorge contains the oldest surviving rainforest on earth with cool streams, towering mountains and a dramatic gorge. We visit the Mossman Gorge Centre, a new Indigenous eco-tourism development that provides one of Australia’s most iconic Aboriginal experiences in Tropical North Queensland and a genuine, authentic engagement with Indigenous Australia. The local art gallery showcases the art and crafts of local Kuku Yalanji artists. We will take the leisurely Rainforest Circuit Walk under the towering canopy of the rainforest, beautifully framed by the striking mountains stopping for a picnic lunch at one of the many water holes. We continue through the Daintree National Park to our secluded lodge for the next two nights, set in the quiet peacefulness of the rainforest and perfect for bird, butterfly or Musky rat-kangaroo spotting. On arrival, take a swim with Jungle perch and turtles in the untouched crystal clear Cooper Creek which winds through the lodge en-route from the mountains to the sea. Accommodation: Heritage Lodge and Spa or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
Spend a full day exploring the Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation. In the morning we embark on an hour-long cruise through the mangroves at Cooper Creek which winds its way from Cooper Creek’s Coral Sea mouth towards the panorama of Queensland’s third highest mountain, Thornton Peak. Home to reputedly the most biodiverse mangrove system in Australia, Cooper Creek’s significance has been internationally recognized and rewarded by Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service, which has afforded absolute protection to the creek’s flora and fauna. A wild environment, crocodile sightings are possible! We then venture into the heart of the oldest surviving rainforest in the world, the pristine Gondwanan Rainforest, in the company of an inhabitant guide. Our guide will reveal fascinating inter-relationships as an almost impossibly complex ecosystem is explained. At the centre of our walk we find a cathedral-like amphitheatre of ancient fan-palms, underpinning the grandeur of an old-growth canopy of rainforest giants. This afternoon we have a two hour guided walk into a private reserve, deep in the rainforest. With such an amazing pocket of pristine natural wonders, you never know what is hiding just behind the next tree! Your guide will explain to you the amazing history of the area, the flora and the fauna around you, and the natural wonders which take place every day. We plan on taking a dip in a secluded natural swimming hole, surrounded by nothing more than the unique environment created by the convergence of two eco-systems, that of the rainforest and the reef. We visit Myall and Cape Tribulation beaches before returning to our lodge for the night. Accommodation: Heritage Lodge and Spa or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
Travel to Yungaburra today, a journey that will take us approximately 4 hours including stops. In the afternoon we discover the heritage listed town of Yungaburra and the surrounding tablelands, which are home to the rare platypus, Tree kangaroos, and in season, the kingfisher. We visit the Yungaburra platypus viewing area to watch the resident platypus swim and dive. We also take a walk along Peterson Creek in search of more platypus and the rare Lumholtz Tree kangaroo. Accommodation: Kookaburra Lodge or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
Not far from Yungaburra are the renowned crater lakes of Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine. Both have walking tracks around their circumferences, one of which we will walk this morning. We then travel to Mount Surprise (approx. 4 hours) where we can experience life in the Australian outback in the afternoon. The region of Mount Surprise, also known as Savannah Way, offers a diverse range of outback experiences including cattle stations, gorges and the Undara Lava Tubes. Accommodation: Bedrock Village or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
This morning we visit the Undara Lava Tubes. In Undara Volcanic National Park, rich volcanic basalt soils, covered in a sea of seasonal grasses, conceal the Undara lava tube, one of the longest lava tube cave systems in the world. About 190,000 years ago, a large volcano erupted violently, spewing molten lava over the surrounding landscape. The lava flowed rapidly down a dry riverbed. The top, outer-layer cooled and formed a crust, while the molten lava below drained outwards, leaving behind a series of hollow tubes. The roofs of some tubes collapsed, creating ideal conditions for dry rainforest to grow and wildlife to shelter. Rock-wallabies, insectivorous bat colonies and owls roost here in the cool. Birds shelter in the fruit-filled canopy and predators lurk in the tumbled basalt terrain to complete the food chain. In the afternoon we journey to Charters Towers, which takes 5 to 6 hours, passing by remote mining settlements that add to the outback experience. Accommodation: Hillview Motel or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
Before we depart for Airlie Beach, we discover the old gold mining town of Charters Towers. When gold was first discovered in Charters Towers in 1871, it became a gold rush town and quickly grew to become the second largest town in Queensland. Today, the magnificent heritage buildings are testament to the prosperity of years past. We depart mid-morning for Airlie Beach; a drive of approximately 6 hours, including a stop for a swim and snorkel at Horseshoe Bay in Bowen. Accommodation: Colonial Palms or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
We spend the next two days on a private sailing adventure around the Whitsunday Islands, with a typical voyage covering around 160 kms. We set sail at 8:00am with a visit to the infamous Whitehaven Beach and a guided bush walk up to the ever talked about Hill Inlet Lookout on our agenda today. Snorkelling over some of the best reefs in the world (optional diving available on request). When you are not exploring the islands, you can take advantage of the spacious deck which is perfect for enjoying the sailing, the sun and to relax! Our crew will find us a nice and protected anchorage site for the night where we can watch a spectacular sunset from the boat. Accommodation: Siska Sailing Yacht or similar *Sailing Yacht*
We continue sailing around the Whitsunday Islands today on our way back to Airlie Beach. Pass along the western coast of Whitsunday Island, through Hook Passage and follow the eastern coast of Hook Island. Hook Island is nearly uninhabited and offers some excellent snorkelling options with abundant wildlife including turtles, dolphins and Manta rays. Between June and September we may be lucky enough to see Humpback whales frolicking around the islands. We return to Airlie Beach in the late afternoon Accommodation: Colonial Palms or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
A long day of driving today as we make our way south along the tropical Queensland coast, passing by rainforest, lakes and beaches stretching to the Great Barrier Reef and taking us through sugar cane country before reaching Hervey Bay. Today’s journey will take 10 to 11 hours including stops. Accommodation: The Beach Motel or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
Transfer to nearby River Heads for our ferry over to the heritage listed Fraser Island, a journey which will take just under an hour. Be dwarfed by the ancient, gravity defying rainforests growing out of only sand and explore the freshwater lakes and spectacular sand formations of one of the most incredible islands on earth. Fraser Island has the best one island can offer – cool towering rainforests, over 100 freshwater lakes including the sensational Lake McKenzie, huge sand blows, and an amazing 120km beach highway, complete with the Maheno shipwreck and cliffs of stunning coloured sands. It’s also one of Australia’s best places to see baby Humpback whales and their mothers.The rest of the afternoon is free for you to enjoy some of the optional activities available on the island, including various ranger-guided walks, or to simply relax by the pool. In the evening there are various ranger-guided activities on offer which may include a spotlighting tour to see the fascinating nocturnal wildlife, a study of the stars of the Southern sky or a talk about Fraser Island's dingoes, which are among the purest on the East Coast of Australia. Accommodation: Kingfisher Bay Resort or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
On this beautiful day off-roading in a custom-designed 4WD vehicle, we visit the top natural attractions of the island. Paddle in the crystal clear blue water of Lake McKenzie with its pure white sandy shores and visit the lush rainforest at Central Station and renowned Wanggoolba Creek with its rare King Ferns. Marvel at the tall satinay trees of Pile Valley and stop for a wander around the boardwalks at Eli Creek to witness enormous volumes of cool fresh water running out to sea. We will be accompanied today by rangers who explain the island's flora and fauna, the history of the shipwreck "Maheno", the formation of the fascinating coloured sands on the Eastern Beach as well as the Aboriginal and European history of the island. Accommodation: Kingfisher Bay Resort or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
We head back to River Heads by ferry after breakfast and continue to nearby Hervey Bay Airport, from where a 40 minute scenic flight will take us to Lady Elliot Island. With its glittering white beaches made entirely of crushed coral and extraordinary marine life, it’s easy to feel like a modern-day castaway on Lady Elliot Island, at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. Situated within a highly protected ’Green Zone’ the island is a sanctuary for over 1,200 species of marine life and is known for its abundance of Manta rays, turtles, amazing array of fish and unspoilt coral reef. The afternoon is free to enjoy this stunning island. Walk around the emerald green-edged island in 45 minutes, and go snorkelling to explore the unique underwater world. In the evening there are various activities on offer which may include presentations in the education centre about the Great Barrier Reef and Lady Elliot Island, star gazing, and night walks to discover nocturnal animals. Accommodation: Lady Elliot Eco Resort or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
Today is free for you to explore Lady Island and enjoy the included activities. For those keen on snorkelling there are several options, including a glass bottom boat/guided snorkelling tour or snorkel safaris. Visibility is over 20 metres for much of the year and encounters with giant Manta rays, Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead turtles and an abundance of incredible marine life are a daily occurrence. In addition to snorkelling excursions, there is also the option of a Reef Walking tour (tide dependent), or an Island Discovery and History walk around the island. Accommodation: Lady Elliot Eco Resort or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
After breakfast we board the return scenic flight bound for Hervey Bay, from where we continue to Brisbane where our adventure ends. Thsoe on the group flights will be transferred directly to the airport for their flight to London.
* 14 nights comfortable hotels and eco-lodges, 1 night standard hotel, and 1 night sailboat with shared facilities * Travel by minibus, by boat and light aircraft
All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 5 dinners included. Most breakfasts are English style ‘full breakfast’, some are buffet style and some Continental style with cereals, fruit, juice and coffee. Three of the included lunches and one dinner are served aboard sailing boats – expect simple but wholesome and fresh food. One included lunch and two of the included dinners are buffet style, while the other two included dinners are 2-course with a set menu. Vegetarians are generally well catered for although please be sure to advise us of any specific dietary requirements before departure.
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