As this trip departs from the Vibe Hotel Sydney at 7.30am, accommodation will need to be pre-booked for the previous night. The modern Australian capital of Canberra beckons this morning as we begin our encounter with Southern Australia on a journey through the Southern Highlands. Enjoy a quick stop at historic Berrima, famous for its gaol and early colonial architecture, then 'Connect With Locals' at Gold Creek Station. Here you'll meet 'Local Specialist' Craig Starr and his family for a Welcome Reception.
Gain a deeper understanding of life on his farm as you savour the flavours of a traditional Aussie BBQ 'Be My Guest' lunch. On arrival in the 'finest capital in the world', you'll take a guided tour through Parliament House with a 'Local Specialist'. Later, 'Dive Into Culture' during a visit to the Australian War Memorial where you'll hear the evocative lament played by a piper to pay tribute to the Australian servicemen and women who have lost their lives in armed conflicts. Join your Travel Director and fellow travellers tonight for dinner. (WR/BMG/D) Stay: Crowne Plaza
Ease into the laidback lifestyle encouraged by the locals of South Australia's Fleurieu Peninsula and visit the seaside town of Victor Harbor at lunchtime. Spend some time at leisure relaxing with fish and chips on its unspoiled beach or consider taking the horse-drawn tram to Granite Island.
This afternoon, board your ferry at Cape Jervis and cross to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island, which provides sanctuary to a multitude of native animals, some of which are found nowhere else. Explore KI's unspoiled natural beauty and indulge in its artisanal food scene at your leisure. Later, 'Dive Into Culture' and join a 'Local Specialist' at Kangaroo Island's only boutique distillery to taste a selection of their handcrafted premium spirits. Dinner tonight is at your hotel. (B/D) Stay: Aurora Ozone
With 11 days of history, food and sightseeing ahead, we'll head out of the city to start your Australia tour package in the historic town Berrima before pulling up at Gold Creek Station to Connect With Locals. It's here you'll appreciate a taste of true Aussie hospitality as hosts the Starr Family swing open their barn doors to share an insight into the family's history and what life is like on a 400-hectare station. See Craig roll up his sleeves for a fascinating sheep shearing demonstration before they fire up the BBQ, for a delicious Be My Guest lunch.
We're back on the road toward your home for the night, Canberra, the capital city packed with history. You're treated to a guided tour through Parliament House with a Local Specialist before a visit to the Australian War Memorial. Pause and pay reverence listening to an evocative piece played by a piper as a tribute to those who have lost their lives in armed conflicts. After a full first day, get to know your group over dinner where you'll enjoy seasonal produce, washed down with regional wine and a selection of tempting desserts. (BMG/D) Stay: Crowne Plaza
Say farewell to Canberra this morning by ascending the summit of towering Mt. Ainslie to bask in 360-views of the city. Then cross the mighty Murray River into Victoria where you'll feel like the clocks been wound back as we call into Beechworth, Victoria's best-preserved gold rush town, to explore the charming antique shops, galleries, and museums. Beginning in the gold rush days, you'll soon learn how each building has a story to tell.
Dive Into Culture and stroll the Beechworth Historic Precinct where you can sit in the judge's chair in the very courthouse that determined Ned Kelly's fate, or step back in time and send a telegraphic message at the circa 1858 Telegraph Station. Reward your sightseeing with a visit to the legendary Beechworth Bakery, self-proclaimed as 'Australia's Greatest Bakery.' If you like, sample their hearty, Big Brekkie Roll, toasty, or their specialty Bushwhacker or Bushranger focaccia. Full and happy, your home for tonight is the nearby cathedral city of Wangaratta. (B) Stay: Quality Wangaratta
It's a complete change of scene as we journey to cosmopolitan Melbourne where you'll get your bearings on a city sightseeing tour. Discover why Melbourne has justifiably earned its reputation as one of the world's most liveable cities and delve into its Victorian history in the CBD, Southbank's sprawling riverfront, arts district, and natural beauty at the Botanic Gardens. Cruise by the Crown complex and consider coming back this evening for one of its super-chef's restaurants, designer boutiques, or indoor amusement park.
After seeing so much of what awaits, you'll no doubt be eager to explore more of this stylish city. Fortunately, you're staying opposite the Crowne Complex in centrally located Southbank - a fun area that comes alive at night. Pop back to area you'd like to get to know better or tuck into a delicious seafood dinner and watch the sunset on the banks of the Yarra. (B) Stay: Crowne Plaza
There are endless ways to discover heart and soul of Melbourne today both in, or out, of the city on an Optional Experience. You could to the Eureka Skydeck - the highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere - for panoramic, floor-to-ceiling views of the city stretching far beyond its skyscrapers. Foodie? You could join a Hunt and Gather Food Tour of Queen Victoria Market to immerse yourself in the life, sounds, and stories of this historic marketplace. Out of the city, wine, history and nature combine in the Dandenong Ranges.
Starting with a tasty Devonshire Tea, you'll then board the century-old Puffing Billy steam train chugging along to two wineries in the Yarra Valley to indulge in a tasting of the area's famous Chardonnay, sparkling wine, and Pinot Noir. Or opt to venture further afield to Phillip Island to see the famous Little Penguins emerge from the sea and waddle up the beach to their sand dune burrow homes - a fascinating (and adorable! ) wildlife encounter you can't have anywhere else in the world. (B)
Buckle up for an epic coastal road trip filled with pinch-me moments. Your journey along the scenic Great Ocean Road will have you glued to the window the whole way with plenty of photo ops and time to relax and take in one of the world's greatest drives. Stop at the Mediterranean-inspired, quaint seaside villages.
In Lorne, browse the shops along Mountjoy Parade set against the surrounding hills and forest, then in Apollo Bay watch the boats come in at the harbour before today's highlight, Twelve Apostles. Admire these limestone formations rising 45 metres above the Southern Ocean and towering over the surrounding landscapes, feeling fortunate that you have the opportunity to see the eight apostles still standing today.
Later, visit Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge before arriving in the historic former port city of Warrnambool and your overnight stay at Deep Blue Hotel & Hot Springs. Relax in their sauna or book some time in their spa or geothermal hot springs to rejuvenate before another big day. (B/D) Stay: Deep Blue Hotel and Hot Springs
Kick off the morning with an indigenous perspective on flora, wildlife, and volcanic formations at Worn Gundidj in Tower Hill State Reserve. A MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience, you'll join a Local Specialist, and Dive into Culture on your first encounter with Australia's native creatures including emus, koalas, and kangaroos in their natural habitat. With their guidance and stories, you'll learn all about the aboriginal lifestyle including identifying native plants for food and medicinal purposes, and even trying your hand at throwing a boomerang.
Filled with a new perspective, you'll cross the South Australia border to Mt. Gambier to view the Blue Lake. Lovers of rich red wines will delight at our next destination, Coonawarra where you'll join a Local Specialist for a tasting at Wynns Coonawarra Estate built in 1891. Learn how their wine is made and the rich soil that makes the area one of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon regions in the world as you sample six tasty wines paired with local cheeses.
Continue your Australia tour package to one of the world's most important fossil sites and part of 800,000-year-old Naracoorte East Range where on a guided tour with a Local Specialist through Alexandra Cave you'll learn about the layers of fossils. Your day finishes over dinner showcasing products from the Limestone Coast and Southern Australia at the Highlander restaurant. (B/D) Stay: William MacIntosh Motor Lodge
Today is a big day for wildlife, the laidback lifestyle of the Fleurieu Peninsula, and local flavours. Begin in Tailem Bend, once inhabited by the Aboriginal Ngarrindjeri people, before visiting the seaside town of Victor Harbor. Relax with fish and chips on its unspoiled beach or take the horse-drawn tram to Granite Island to watch the white surf pound against unusual granite formations.
Excitement will be at an all-time high as we board a ferry to Kangaroo Island, known as ‘KI' to the locals and Australia's third-largest Island, and sanctuary for 18 native mammals, some of which are found nowhere else. Meet and greet the Western Grey Kangaroo, Short-nosed Echidnas, and Tammar Wallaby, now extinct on the mainland. Explore KI's natural beauty - from native bushland to pristine beaches - and indulge in its artisanal food scene.
Later, meet Local Specialists at Kangaroo Island's only boutique brewery to taste a selection of fine, local beers. Your destination tonight is Kingscote, South Australia's oldest European settlement. (B/D) Stay: Aurora Ozone
Nature and wildlife take centre stage today beginning with an exploration of Kangaroo Island showcasing the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch coastal features in Flinders Chase National Park. You'll love the next adventures today with two MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences, starting with a private educational ecology tour of Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, an area badly affected by the 2019/20 bushfires.
As you learn about the delicate ecosystem from one of their experienced guides, know that your visit will assist their recovery plan and wildlife rehabilitation programme - native animals such as goannas, eagles, kangaroos and Kangaroo Island echidnas have already returned. After lunch featuring fresh local produce, join a Local Specialist at Seal Bay Conservation Park for a guided walk into the heart of one of the country's most important sea lion breeding colonies.
Your expert guide will introduce you to the Australian sea lion - one of the rarest species in the world of only 12,000, 800 of which call Seal Bay home. Learn how these endangered animals hunt, surf, interact with their pups, defend their territory, and - as “eared” seals - use their front flippers to prop themselves up and their back flippers to help them to “walk” on land. Finish your day at the Aurora Ozone Hotel perched on the stunning Kingscote Seafront. (B/L)
Continue your Australia tour package to the capital of South Australia, Adelaide, where you'll get your first look at the city on an orientation tour past Adelaide Oval, the Central Market, Art Gallery of South Australia, and the Botanic Gardens. Once you've gotten the lay of the land, the afternoon is yours to explore how you wish.
You could indulge your foodie side with a tour of the famous Adelaide Central Market, the city's premier food destination, or visit the National Wine Centre for tastings and a masterclass learning about the role wine has played in Australia's history, the position of Australian wine in the international market, and the relationship between food and wine. Or see the sights on three wheels on an EcoCaddy bike tour pedalling past greenspaces, public art, and Victorian architecture. (B) Stay: Crowne Plaza
The rolling Adelaide Hills, Hahndorf, and Australia's premier Shiraz producing region, the Barossa, lay ahead of you today. Your first stop is Mt Lofty for sweeping views of Adelaide before stopping to stretch your legs in the quaint village of Hahndorf settled by 19th-century Lutheran migrants and known for its original German-style architecture and stone cottages.
Refuel over lunch at the South Australian Company Store over a bountiful boutique Barossa tasting platter of cheese, smoked meats, and chutney paired with Sauvignon Blanc and, of course, Shiraz. Travel to our next stop, a popular Barossa winery for a tour and tasting. You'll end the trip on a high note returning to the city for a Farewell Dinner at Koomo, Adelaide's highest restaurant where you'll toast your adventures enjoying city views and feasting on Japanese-and-Asian-influenced dishes. (B/L/FD)