The Wonders of Oz

Sample Itinerary: Two Weeks
Australia's Uluru
Uluru in all its dusk-laden glory (courtesy, Tourism Australia)

Days 1-3
Arrive in Sydney and conquer jet lag while exploring the city. Walk across the Harbour Bridge, hike along the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk, take a seaplane tour from Rose Bay to the north beaches, sail out of the headlands of Sydney Harbour, tempt your budget by shopping in downtown or the more urbane and edgy neighborhood of Newtown, ascend Sydney Square in downtown to the lounge for a drink in their revolving restaurant…. If it gets too much, find a seaside café at Bondi or take a day tour of the vineyards in Hunter Valley.

Days 3-4
Take the train out to the World-Heritage-listed Blue Mountains and go on a short bushwalk, then enroll in an intro abseiling course that’ll have you rappelling a full 60 meters by day’s end. Dine at one of the town’s charming restaurants and take in the expansive stretch of the Milky Way before sleeping the night away in a silence only imaginable in Sydney. The next day, set off on another quick jaunt in the bush before returning to Sydney for a late flight to Alice Springs.

Days 4-7
Hook up with Wayoutback Desert Safaris for a dizzying, spectacular three-day tour of Uluru, the Olgas, and Kings Canyon. While at Uluru, resist your “because it’s there” impulses and walk around (not up) the massive rock to fully appreciate the geographical diversity and the sheer magnitude of this truly remarkable Aboriginal landmark. Hike the lip of Kings Canyon before dropping into the surreal section known as the Garden of Eden. Catch sunrise at the foot of the Olgas before penetrating this maze of eerie, inviting domes on a half-day hike. Throughout the trip, your guide will educate you in Aboriginal custom, local fauna, and the best beer in each state. On the way back, debate which is your favorite spot—the Olgas, Uluru, or the Canyon—and convince your guide to take a quick detour to Rainbow Valley off the road leading back to the Alice.

Day 7-8
Spend the night in Alice Springs and check out either the Desert Park or the Aboriginal Art and Cultural Center before your midday flight to Cairns.

Days 8-10
Rent a car and take the spectacular drive up from Cairns along the eastern coast toward Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest. Once in the Daintree, stop off for a few hours at the Discovery Center—you could spend four months in the Daintree and never understand its complex ecology, but this will give you a good intro. Toss a few schooners (the closest thing to a pint glass) of Victoria Bitter at PJ’s Jungle Village, then crash early and spend the next day scuba diving or snorkeling on Mackay Reef. Once back on solid ground, drive to Port Douglas for a leisurely seafood feast before continuing on to Cairns.

Days 10-11
Take advantage of the profusion of Asian restaurants in Cairns to get some good Thai food, then crash early—you’ll spend the next half-day on Fitzroy Island, snorkeling, sea kayaking, hiking, or shamelessly lounging under the sun. Or forego the 45-minute boat trip and chill out at Cairns’ newly constructed waterfront, a sizeable pool of water, complete with a fake beach, fountains, and vast stretches of grass where the beautiful people come to bronze their skin. Make it to the airport by midday for your return flight to Sydney.

Days 11-12
Return to one of your favorite haunts in Sydney, or spread your explorer’s wings wider and penetrate one of the other neighborhoods throughout the city and make the most of the night—you fly home the next day.

Nathan Borchelt is the lead editor for

Published: 10 Aug 2004 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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