Arguably one of the best introductions to Australia, this Cairns to Sydney route packs a lot in. It’s a popular route for a reason – amazing scenery and experiences with many picture postcard moments. Though don’t worry, Australia is a big place and you’ll probably want to come back a few times to really see it all! There is real diversity on this trip as you head north from Cairns and into the tropics before heading south for surf and cosmopolitan cities. Hop aboard this 14-day trip down Australia’s east coast and make the most of the time you have. Offering a solid mix of must-do experiences and uncommon adventures, you’ll learn to surf at Byron Bay, sail the Whitsundays and trek through Mossman Gorge in the Daintree Rainforest. Your 2 week adventure will feel much more like 4 weeks as each day brings something new.
Expect all of the highlights, culture, access, and I-can’t-believe-we-did-that moments, all at a good price. Service levels are standard with comfortable tourist-class accommodations with character and a mix of public and private transport.
Some tours may include light hiking, biking, rafting, or kayaking in addition to walking -suitable for most fitness levels with a max group size of 16 fellow minded travellers, but average of 12. Age requirement: 12+ .All travellers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Trip Code: OACS
Day 1: Cairns Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting 1h/19:00
Arrive at any time. There are no activities planned until the evening welcome meeting.
The adventure begins tonight. Feel free to explore, but make sure you’re back in time to meet the group. After introductions, your CEO will review the details of your tour.
Accommodation: The Hotel Cairns (or similar) Hotel
Day 2: Cairns/Cape Tribulation
Meals included: Breakfast
Head north to Cape Tribulation. Stop en route to explore Mossman Gorge and take an interpretive walk through the Daintree Rainforest.
Private Vehicle: Cairns – Cape Tribulation 3h/30m
Travel 1.5 hrs to Mossman Gorge. Later, continue 2 hrs to Cape Tribulation.
Take an interpretive walk through the Daintree Rainforest. Follow the Aboriginal guide and learn about bush food, medicinal plants and the lasting relationship of the Kuku Yalanji people with their natural environment. Find out how to make bush soap, watch an ochre painting demonstration and sample some bush tea.
Accommodation: Cape Tribulation Beach House (or similar) Hostel
Day 3: Cape Tribulation
Meals included: Breakfast
With a free day, opt for a trip to the Great Barrier Reef or to explore Daintree National Park.
Take a look at our optional activities TAB.
Accommodation: Cape Tribulation Beach House (or similar)Hostel
Day 4: Cape Tribulation/Cairns
Meals included: Breakfast
Return to Cairns in the afternoon with free time explore this laid-back city.
Private Vehicle Cape Tribulation – Cairns 3h30m Afternoon
Accommodation: The Hotel Cairns (or similar)Hotel
Day 5: Cairns/Airlie Beach
Meals included: Breakfast | Lunch
Depart early for a full day of travel to reach Airlie Beach with time to explore the town. Stop en route for lunch and a tour of the G Adventures-supported Ingan Cultural Museum. Participate in either a weaving or painting activity with traditional Jirrbal Aboriginal artists.
Private Vehicle Cairns – Airlie Beach 7h30m/623km
Ingan Cultural Museum & Jirrbal Aboriginal Art Demonstration Tully
Enjoy a tour of the Ingan Cultural Museum and have an opportunity to participate in either a weaving or painting activity with traditional Jirrbal Aboriginal artists – an excellent opportunity to see the diversity of an Aboriginal people from a local perspective!
Accommodation: Blue Horizon Resort (or similar)Hotel
Day 6: Airlie Beach
Meals included: Lunch
Set sail for a day in the Whitsunday Islands and visit to the Great Barrier Reef. Opt to swim or snorkel and enjoy a day at sea around these stunning islands. Return to Airlie Beach for the night.
Whitsunday Islands Sailing Excursion/ Barrier Reef Visit. 8h / 08:00-17:30
Enjoy a day sailing amidst some of the 70 tropical islands that make up the Whitsunday archipelago. Jump overboard for a quick refreshing dip and make friends with the tropical fish that thrive within Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The Whitsunday Islands are in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Spend the day sailing, then when it gets too hot, pull on a mask and snorkel and dive overboard to check out the variety of brightly coloured marine plants, coral and fish that thrive right in these warm tropical waters.
Accommodation: Blue Horizon Resort (or similar) Hotel
Day 7: Airlie Beach/Byron Bay
Fly to Brisbane and transfer to Byron Bay for two nights in this “hippie” paradise.
Plane Airlie Beach – Brisbane 1h30m
Private Vehicle Brisbane – Byron Bay 2h-2h30m/200km
Accommodation: Apartments Inn Byron (or similar) Hotel
Day 8: Byron Bay
Hit the waves with an included surf lesson. Spend the afternoon wandering the town or taking part in a multitude of optional activities. Get out and explore this lazy beach town.
Surfing Lesson Byron Bay 3h
Hit the beach and get ready to hang ten with a surf lesson from trained surf instructors. Spend some time in the water getting friendly with the waves, practice paddling, then pop up to balance on the wider, softer beginner boards. Too easy.
Plenty of optional activities – see our separate TAB.
Accommodation: Apartments Inn Byron (or similar)Hotel
Day 9: Byron Bay/Port Macquarie
Head to the coastal township of Port Macquarie, featuring all the beauty of the beach set alongside gorgeous national parks. Enjoy a free afternoon and choose to kayak along the Hastings River, visit a Koala hospital or simply relax.
Private Vehicle Byron Bay – Port Macquarie 5h/397km
Plenty of optional activities – see our separate TAB.
Accommodation: Opal Cove (or similar)Hotel
Day 10: Port Macquarie/Sydney
Continue on to Sydney for a night in the bustling city.
Private VehiclePort Macquarie – Sydney 4h-5h/390km
Accommodation: Leisure Inn Sydney Central (or similar)Hotel
Day 11: Sydney/Blue Mountains
Enjoy a Jet Boat ride in Sydney Harbour before travelling to the Blue Mountains region.
Private Vehicle Sydney – Blue Mountains 2h-2h30m / 130km
Accommodation: Leisure Inn Spires (or similar)Hotel
Day 12: Blue Mountains
Explore the area around Leura and Katoomba including iconic The Three Sisters. Descend down the 900 step giant staircase to the valley floor. Walk amongst the beautiful forest to the steepest incline railway in the world — The Katoomba Scenic Railway.
Opt to ride its 52-degrees angle or take the Scenic Cableway. If you’re keen for more walking, take the 900 stairs back up. Visit the Jenolan Caves and take a walk in Jamison Valley. With charming Leura as your base, explore the major attractions of the Blue Mountains from sightseeing to bushwalking to cafés and more.
In the case of bad weather or poor visibility, the Jamison Valley walk may take place on Day 13.
Jenolan Caves Tour Blue Mountains 1h30m-2h
Jenolan Caves are a protected feature of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains. These limestone karst caves are the world’s oldest caves and are significant both a scientific and sightseeing perspective. Enjoy a guided tour in the cool climes of this fascinating underworld.
Jamison Valley Walk Blue Mountains 1h-2h30m 1-3km
Plenty of optional activities – see our separate TAB.
Accommodation: Leisure Inn Spires (or similar)Hotel
Day 13: Blue Mountains/Sydney
Travel back to Sydney for a final evening in the big city.
Private Vehicle Blue Mountains – Sydney 2h-3h/130km
Free Time Sydney Evening
Accommodation: Leisure Inn Sydney Central (or similar)Hotel
Day 14: Sydney
Depart at any time.
Day 3: Great Barrier Reef Visit Cape Tribulation
Hop on a boat and head out to sea to reach the world-famous Great Barrier Reef. Don a mask and opt to snorkel the largest coral reef in the world. Say g’day to Nemo, the clown fish, and some of the 1,500 other species of tropical fish that thrive in the warm waters off Australia’s east coast.
Daintree National Park Visit Cape Tribulation Free
Step back in time in this lush tropical rainforest, reported to be more than 110 million years old! Bring your binoculars to spot some of the 430 species of birds, including the buff-breasted paradise kingfisher and flightless cassowary. On the ground, look for possums, bandicoots, echidna and musky rat kangaroo. Discover why the Aborigines consider this a spiritual place.
Jungle Surfing Cape Tribulation 95AUD per person
See the Daintree Rainforest from the canopy top. This two hour tour will have you ziplining between six canopy platforms, with guides pointing out the different flora and fauna as you zip by. Channel your inner tree kangaroo as you hop from tree to tree, seeing the beauty of the world’s oldest rainforest.
Daintree Rainforest Night Walk Cape Tribulation 45AUD per person
Once the sun goes down, grab a torch and head out into the jungle for a guided night walk. With your guide you’ll spot various critters who call this region home. Keep your eyes peeled for sleeping bats, birds, lizards and spiders as you listen to the sounds of the rainforest at night.
Day 6: Whitsunday Islands Snorkelling Whitsunday Islands30m-1h
Take advantage of the included snorkel gear, throw on a mask and see what lives in the Great Barrier Reef. (Note that fins are not provided in order to adhere with local coral conservation efforts.)
Day 8: Sea Kayaking Tour Byron Bay 2h-3h/ 65AUD per person
Paddle along Byron Bay’s coast, passing by Aboriginal sites, surfing meccas, and Australia’s most easterly point. Keep an eye out for marine life, such as dolphins, whales, and tropical fish.
Day 9: Koala Hospital Visit Port Macquarie
Visit the Koala Hospital, learn about these unique creatures and even adopt your very own Koala!
Kayaking Port Macquarie
Head out on the Hastings River to learn more about the fascinating history of the area and soak in the natural beauty of the Australian bush setting.
Day 12: Scenic RailwayBlue Mountains 14-35AUD per person
This railway is steep and plunges into the rainforest and through the valley. The ride is scenically stunning. At the end, opt to take a rainforest walk or a cable car back to the visitor’s centre.
The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.
VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.
While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.
Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
Group Leader Description
This group trip is accompanied by one of our group leaders, otherwise known as a Chief Experience Officer (CEO). The CEO will be the group manager, leader and driver – this person is experienced in the routes travelled and will organize and lead the meal preparations and has experience in cooking a variety of local and international dishes for large groups.
As the group coordinator and manager, the aim of the CEO is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. They will also offer suggestions for things to do and to see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends.
We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting – we think it’s the best of both worlds.
Meals: Eating is a big part of traveling. Travelling with us you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility, though generally food is cheap. Our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other’s company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your CEO will be able to suggest favourite restaurants during your trip. On truck trips in Africa, aboard the M/S Expedition or our Galapagos yachts, while trekking in remote regions etc. food is included, plentiful and made of fresh local ingredients. The above information applies to G Adventures group trips. For Independent trips please check the itinerary for details of meals included. For all trips please refer to the meals included and budget information for included meals and meal budgets.
About our Transportation
Our vans are mini-coaches. Occasionally with smaller group sizes we will use smaller, equally comfortable 13-seater vehicles. All mini-coaches tow a trailer for luggage and camping equipment (when needed). All groups have one CEO/Driver.
The vehicles are factory built with comfortable seats and air-conditioning. It is mandatory to wear a seatbelt while riding in our vehicles.
Local Flights: All internal domestic flights are included in the cost of this tour.
We believe single travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and single travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.
Accommodation: Comfort hotels (9 nts), motel (2 nts).
My Own Room: Please note that if you have booked the “My Own Room” option for this tour, you will receive your own single room for all night stops
Outback Pioneer Hotel
Ayers Rock, Northern Territory
+61 2 8296 8010
Please note that day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned on this day. Upon arrival to the city on day 1 (or earlier if you have booked pre-accommodation with us), please make your way to the joining hotel (note that check-in time will be in the afternoon). Once you arrive at the hotel, look for a note or bulletin board in the reception with a note from your CEO. This note will give the details of your Welcome Meeting on day 1 (usually between 5pm and 7pm), where you will get a chance to meet your CEO and other travellers, as well as learn more about how the tour will run. If you don’t see a note, please ask reception for details!
If you are arriving later and will miss the Welcome Meeting, your CEO will leave a note at reception for you with any information you may need, and with morning instructions for the next day.
If you have pre-arranged an arrival transfer, look for the driver holding a G Adventures sign in the arrivals hall. Please approach them, and ask them who they are supposed to be picking up (do not tell them your name, they should have this information already). Once they give you the correct name, have your passport ready to show them and you will be on your way!
We don’t expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, as soon as possible please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your CEO (if you are not on a group tour please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier). If you are unable to get in touch with your leader, please refer to our emergency contact details. If you have pre-booked an airport transfer and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.
Should you need to contact G Adventures during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call our local office in Melbourne. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so we may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures Local Office (Melbourne)
During office hours, 9am-5pm Local Time
From outside Australia: +61 3 9413 5820
From within Australia: 03 9413 5820
After office hours emergency number
From outside Australia: +61 430 321 725
From within Australia: 0430 321 725
If you are unable for any reason to contact our local operations manager, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.
Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0844 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 01805 70 90 30 00
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999
What to Take
The max luggage allowance on domestic flights within Australia is 20 kgs, 1 checked bag and 1 carry on per person.
You will be on the move a lot, so our advice is to pack as lightly as possible. We recommend the use of a well-labeled duffel bag, soft bag or backpack (whichever you find easiest to carry). Suitcases or heavy luggage are not recommended for the health of the CEO! A good size day-pack (20-35L) is also essential as you will have the chance to walk and hike in different national parks during these trips. This daypack will be used to carry your personal gear for the day, your lunch and a water bottle.
For days in the outdoors, we recommend the use of lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics made of wool or synthetic fibers. Cotton is not recommended for days spent hiking as it does not allow for heat or moisture to enter or escape, and it will not dry easily once wet.
- Passport (with photocopies)
- Travel insurance (with photocopies)
- Airline tickets (with photocopies)
- AUD cash
- Credit or debit card (see personal spending money)
- G Adventures vouchers, pre-departure information and dossier
- Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
- Light fleece top
- Light windproof/waterproof jacket
- Sun hat
- Sturdy walking shoes
- Toiletries (biodegradable)
- Watch or alarm clock
- Water bottle
- Money belt
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Camera, memory card(s) and charger
- Electricity plug adapter
- First-aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Camera with extra memory cards and batteries
- Personal Entertainment
- Waterproof backpack cover
Laundry can be done at least once a week while on tour – most cities have laundromats where you can buy soap and wash your laundry in coin-operated machines. Your CEO will advise you along the trip where you will be able to do your laundry.
All countries require a valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity). Contact your local embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent. It is your own responsibility to have the correct travel documentation. Visa requirements for your trip will vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. We keep the following information up to date as far as possible, but rules do change and sometimes without warning. While we provide the following information in good faith, it is vital that you check the information yourself and understand that you are fully responsible for your own visa requirements.
A valid passport and visa is required. For some nationalities, the visa can be issued by your Travel Agency or the Australian Embassy via Electronic Travel Authority (ETA).
To apply for an ETA online, travellers must hold a passport from one of the following countries:
- Brunei – Darussalam
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
- United States
More information about the ETA and how to apply can be found here:
If you do not hold a passport from any of the above countries, you cannot apply for an ETA online. You may be eligible to apply for an ETA through a travel agent, airline or an Australian visa office. Alternatively, you may be eligible to apply for other types of electronic visitor visas. See: www.immi.gov.au
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
The Australian currency is the Australian Dollar (AUD).
Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere in Australia and can be used to purchase small and large items. When purchasing products or services with a foreign credit card you may be charged additional fees by your credit card company for foreign purchases.
Credit cards and debit cards are very useful for cash advances but you must remember to bring your PIN number (be aware that many ATM machines only accept 4-digit PINs). Both Cirrus and Plus system cards are the most widely accepted debit cards. Both Visa and Master Cards are the most widely accepted credit cards. While ATMs are commonly available, there are no guarantees that your credit or debit cards will actually work check with your bank before you travel. A visit to an ATM can be arranged on Day 1 and other days of the trip.
Do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money. A combination of local currency (preferably smaller bills, 5’s, 10’s and 20’s), traveller’s cheques and credit cards is best. Currency exchange is best obtained prior to travel or at the airport, currency exchange is easy to find in Australia in the gateway cities and most banks do accommodate.
Always take more rather than less, as you don’t want to spoil the trip by constantly feeling short of funds.
As currency exchange rates can fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com
Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an ’emergency’ fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!
It is not customary in New Zealand or Australia to tip service providers, but if you do experience outstanding service it is good to do so. Such service would only usually be in places like quality restaurants and it would be very rare that you would tip more than 10%. Unless specifically asked to do so at the time (by your CEO) – do not tip your local guides. Also at the end of each trip if you felt your Chief Experience Officer did an outstanding job, you may consider a small tip – but it certainly isn’t expected.
Safety and Security
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government’s advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers’ cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home – you won’t need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your CEO has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it deemed necessary, due to safety concerns. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy and explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.
Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards), have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).
Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk. Read more about travel safety for ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling.
Trip Specific Safety
Heed the caution signs at all times in National Parks and other remote areas in New Zealand and Australia.
Our small group adventures bring together people of all ages. It is very important you are aware that, as a minimum, an average level of fitness and mobility’ is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travellers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage at a minimum. Travellers with a pre-existing medical condition are required to complete a short medical questionnaire, which must be signed by their physician. This is to ensure that travellers have the necessary fitness and mobility to comfortably complete their chosen trip. While our CEOs work hard to ensure that all our travellers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day’s activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings in this Trip Details document for more information.
The medical questionnaire can be found online at: www.gadventures.com/medical-form.
A Couple of Rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our CEO has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your leader, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy we require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.