Hello, adventurers! Kick off your 15-day Outback adventure in Adelaide (flights to arrive prior to 12.30pm). This beautiful city is known for its festivals, sporting events, colonial churches and architecture, amazing food, and as the gateway to renowned wine regions the Barossa and McLaren Vale. You begin your journey on a city sights tour passing the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide Botanic Garden, Parliament House. and Adelaide Oval.
Once you've worked up an appetite, enjoy a guided tour of Adelaide Central Market with a Local Specialist. Lucky you, you'll visit your guide's favorite stalls in this massive fresh produce market of more than 80 traders—browsing right where the chefs and locals shop. Try Artisan cheeses, quirky Australian native foods, and fresh fruits and nuts with a focus on what's in season. Celebrate the first night of your trip with a Welcome Reception at your hotel's, the Crowne Plaza, own Luna10 Bar sipping a local wine or brew as you bask in stunning views from the city's tallest building and get to know your Travel Director and fellow travelers.
Then make your way to dinner at the Japanese-inspired Koomo Restaurant and Bar for a delicious feast and raise a glass the adventure that awaits over the next two weeks. (WR) Stay: Crowne Plaza
Rise and shine for a big day of art, culture, and wine. You'll begin traveling to the Clare Valley, one of Australia's oldest and undiscovered wine regions, to join a Local Specialist at Knappstein Enterprise Winery. Sip on the award-winning wines like the area's celebrated Rieslings and world-class reds and tour the heritage-listed property. Then it's time for an exclusive look at the world-renowned panoramic landscapes at the Jeff Morgan Gallery. Jeff himself will greet you for a tour of his panoramic paintings of the Flinders Ranges, one measuring 33 meters long. Be amazed at the dramatic scenery of the rugged Australian outback before exploring it for yourself.
You're headed into the heart of the Flinders Ranges for your stay at Wilpena Pound Resort - tucked in South Australia's largest mountain range and owned by the Aboriginal people who have lived here for thousands of years. You'll be welcomed by an Aboriginal Elder or member of the local community, learn about the area, and, with your MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience, contributes to the future of the adnyamathanha people, the original owners of this land. (B/D) Stay: Wilpena Pound Resort
Start a full day of history with epic views of Wilpena Pound at Wangara Lookout. Enjoy a walk along a creek through bush and pines arriving at Hills Homestead—eyes peeled for kangaroos along the way. At the cottage, learn about the original settlers who struggled to survive in this harsh environment. Then head through Pichi Richi Pass, part of the first stage of the Great Northern Railway in 1879 linking Port Augusta and Darwin, to Quorn. Soak in Quorn's history as a vital railway junction during World War II before arriving in Spencer Gulf's Port Augusta.
Here you'll visit the Wadlata Outback Center, traveling through their 'Tunnel of Time' to the days of the dinosaurs learning how the Flinders Ranges and Outback evolved, the people who once owned the land, and those who live there today. Well acquainted with stories of this rugged and history-rich landscape, end the day relaxing over a Regional Dinner at a local Aussie pub. (B/RD) Stay: Majestic Oasis Apartments
Continue your deep dive into the history of the land with a visit to Woomera, an isolated, former rocket-testing site of the 1960s. Hear its storied history at the Woomera Heritage Center and Missile Park. Then its “mining time” as you journey through salt-lake country to the opal capital of the world in Coober Pedy, founded in 1920.
A fascinating stop, you'll be amazed to learn that over half the population of this town live underground in opal mining caves to escape the heat. Meet a Local Specialist who will explain different types of opals and their quality and take you down and through a labyrinth of old mine shafts, including a church and a private residence - showcasing the different types of early and modern dugout homes.
Pop into the shop to browse opal jewelery before your unforgettable Stays With Stories accommodation with a chance to experience ‘dugout' living. Explore their underground shopping arcade, underground bar, and historic display on mining, opals and what it's really like to live in Outback Australia. (B/D) Stay: Desert Cave
Journey to the heart of the Red Center today to World Heritage listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park for a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience through your visit exploring the iconic, rusty red home of Uluru. You'll experience the true beauty of mesmerizing Uluru over a classic sundowner of appetizers and sparkling wine. Sit back as the surrounding grasses blow and the sky lights up in red and orange illuminating Uluru rising 348 meters high. Gazing up at its massive structure, you'll feel a deep appreciation for and connection to this vast land.
After an unforgettable sunset, head to your Stays With Stories experience and home the next two nights at the Desert Gardens Hotel. This indigenous owned hotel is surrounded by the red dirt and desert trees you've explored and the perfect spot to immerse yourself in nature. Stay in or join an optional Uluru Barbecue Dinner complete with a stargazing tour of the vast Southern sky. (B) Stay: Desert Gardens
Rise and shine early today to witness as once in a lifetime sunrise at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Hot cocoa in hand, sit back as the sun lights up Uluru and its desert surroundings. Get more acquainted with the park on a drive with your Travel Director before putting boots to the ground on a guided walk to Mutitjulu Waterhole. At the base of Uluru, learn from your Travel Director about its ancient rock art that has been preserved for hundreds of years, putting history in the words and pictures of those who've lived it.
You have some free time to sit by the pool or visit the art galleries and Town Square shopping village before capping off the day with a guided walk through Kata Tjuta's red-hued sedimentary rock through Walpa (“wind”) Gorge to a lookout. You're fortunate to experience another magnificent Red Center sunset paired with nibbles and sparkling wine in this more secluded spot. Cheers to grandeur and grand history of Uluru and cheers to adventure. (B)
If you loved yesterday's sunrise, you could take it to another level with an private Optional Experience at the Field of Light installation of artist Bruce Munro. Against the desert backdrop, you'll watch 50,000 glass spheres light up Uluru in violet, blue, and white like a field of flowers. It's a unique and dazzling start to your morning that will make you see this land you've come to love in a whole new way.
You'll continue your desert adventure on an epic drive from Uluru to Watarrka National Park (named for an Indigenous word meaning “umbrella bush”) exploring the ancient walls of Kings Canyon that rise 100 meters above Kings Creek. Take a guided walk along the sandy creek bed surrounded by the striped cliff walls of golden yellow, orange, and red.
After a day in the desert, your home for the night is Kings Canyon Resort, where you'll enjoy a dinner surrounded by desert-scapes and a sunset over Carmichael Crag. (B/D) Stay: Kings Canyon Resort
Get an early start today to experience Kings Canyon with an unforgettable desert sunrise and trek. Lace up your hiking boots and, accompanied by your Travel Director, climb to top of the canyon for a walk around its semi-circular edge.
After your ascent, leave the sandstone formations behind to drop into the Garden of Eden's shaded, lush oasis of greenery.
After a big morning, refresh at your hotel before drive through the Outback to central Australia's Alice Springs. You'll learn how this town originated on your visit to the circa 1871 Telegraph Station. Hear its beginnings of sending messages between Darwin and Adelaide with a single wire, not only connected Australia's north and south, but also the first communication link between Australia and England.
After a day of rich land and rich history, it's off to Anzac Hill for panoramic views over ‘The Alice.' Pay a visit to the hilltop Anzac Memorial basking in the views of the Western and Eastern MacDonnell ranges. (B) Stay: DoubleTree by Hilton
Dive Into Culture at Alice Springs Desert Park as an Aboriginal guide Local Specialist shares the culture and traditions of the local Arrernte People. Learn about the desert birds like the Barn Owl, emu, and Princess Parrot and animals including the dingo, red kangaroo, and Western Quoll. Next, meet the magnificent Royal Flying Doctor Service with a Local Specialist learning how they provide emergency medical assistance in the Outback. Visit their center packed with history and even peak inside a replica of one of their small planes.
Continue your day of culture at the Earth Sanctuary World Nature center. You'll Connect With Locals, brothers Tom and Danny Falzon, learning about their sustainable, wind and solar powered lifestyle in the rugged Outback. You're treated to a home-cooked Be My Guest Aussie BBQ as you hear stories of ecology, culture, and life on the farm. To top it all off, sit back and soak it all in as they treat you to a star talk, complete with telescopes, and lead you in guitar and didgeridoo accompanied sing-along. (B/BMG)
Kick off your last day in Alice Springs with a fascinating visit to the School of the Air, “the world's largest classroom. Here you'll tour this remote school with a Local Specialist, see the teachers in action, and learn how they were the first to use two-way radio broadcasts to educate remote students, providing support to children living in the surrounding isolated communities. From schools to natural wonders, your next stop is Karlu Karlu (Devils Marbles), an amazing outcrop of precariously balanced granite boulders.
Stroll among these massive rocks of up to six meters high that continue to crack and change shape, believed by the Warmungu Aboriginal people to be the fossilised eggs of the Rainbow Serpent. Immerse yourself in the area's history at your overnight in the former 1930s gold-mining town of Tennant Creek, “the Territory's heart of gold.” Feast on a hearty meal before resting up before another big day in the Outback. (B/D) Stay: Bluestone Motor Inn
See another side of the Outback wetting your whistle at the historic Daly Waters Pub. This quirky pub has seen its cast of characters from the days when Qantas' pilots used to stop to refuel on the nearby dirt runway to today's patrons who follow the “leave something behind” motto sticking a collection of memorabilia to the walls. Grab a cold schooner and leave one of your own treasures behind before continuing to Mataranka's hot springs.
From one “watering hole” to another, here you'll enjoy a refreshing swim in its crystal-clear, thermal springs or grab a seat on its stairs and seating areas and soak in the healing waters. Journey to where the Outback meets the Tropics arriving in your centrally located hotel in Katherine for a late dinner, and, if you haven't had enough pool time, another dip. (B/D) Stay: Contour
Our first stop is Nitmiluk National Park, where, accompanied by an indigenous Local Specialist, you'll embark on a two-hour boat cruise along the ancient waterway of Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge. After admiring the steep cliff walls, and maybe a freshwater crocodile or two on the banks, take to the trails admiring fascinating indigenous rock art. To continue your exploration, a second boat is waiting to take you to the even bigger cliffs of the deep river gorge. Along the way, your guide will share their knowledge of the traditional Jawoyn landowners and their stories of how the gorge was formed.
Continue your national park adventures deep into Kakadu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At this cultural jewel, you'll join a Local Specialist to cruise Yellow Water Billabong, famous for its diverse species of birdlife including magpie geese and, yes, crocodiles.
After a big day in the outdoors, you'll stay in the heart of Kakadu at the indigenous owned and totally unique hotel - in the shape of a crocodile. (B/D) Stay: Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Jabiru
Dive Into Culture at Ubirr, one of Kakadu's, and Australia's, renowned Aboriginal rock art sites. Your Travel Director is accredited and well versed to share the history and the stories behind the images in this rocky landscape rich with history. Go for a wander on the loop trail past caves and overhangs before another stunning sight. You'll stop at Nadab lookout at Ubirr for the most amazing view over the wetlands of Kakadu. And, fun fact for movie buffs, Crocodile Dundee was filmed here! From rock art to modern cityscapes, you're headed to the multicultural city of Darwin.
After settling into your ideally located hotel on the Darwin Esplanade, you might choose to watch a movie under the stars at the Deckchair Cinema or soak up the atmosphere and flavors of the Mindil Beach Sunset Market, treating yourself to dinner while watching the iconic sunset. In a city known for its Asian influenced food, this famous food market has plenty of tempting options for you to choose from. (B) Stay: Hilton Garden Inn
Pack your swimmers today for your trip to Litchfield National Park. You'll begin visiting the park's iconic Magnetic Termite mounds, unique to Northern Australia, that are over 100 years and up to three meters high. Stop at Florence Falls for a walk to a lookout point before venturing to Wangi Falls with to enjoy a cooling dip in its large swimming holes lined by tumbling waterfalls and vine forests (Please note swimming is seasonal and opening controlled by NT Parks).
After soaking up the sun on your last big day, return to Darwin for a celebratory evening as you set sail on Darwin Harbor with your Travel Director and fellow travelers for Farewell Sunset Dinner Cruise. While enjoying a range of options from the Territory-inspired banquet dinner, watch the Darwin skyline on full display. Learn Darwin history from your knowledgeable guide and keep your eyes out for crocodiles, dolphins, turtles and dugongs, who also share these waters. It's a magnificent final full day of your Outback adventure. (B/FD)
It's a been two weeks of sun, fun, and adventure in the outback, but all good things must come to an end. Say farewell to your fellow travelers this morning over breakfast before your transfer to Darwin Airport for your onward flight (flights anytime). (B)