Australia: Tasmania to the Great Barrier Reef

  • Trip Type: Land
  • 12 Days | Sydney to Cairns
  • Group Size: Max 25

Expedition Details


With its whimsical wildlife, unusual geology, and one of the oldest cultures on the planet, there is much that is extraordinary about Australia. Venture to this diverse continent to explore great cities like Sydney and Melbourne, as well as wild places from Tasmania to the Daintree Rainforest. Encounter Tasmanian devils, fairy penguins, kangaroos, and more; and experience the breathtaking underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef.

Trip Highlights

    • Get acquainted with Tasmania’s rare creatures on a private visit to the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary with a National Geographic grantee as your guide.
    • Get a new perspective on the natural world during a Dreamtime walk with an Aboriginal guide in the Daintree Rainforest.
    • Meet with Dr. Adam Barnett, a National Geographic grantee who will discuss his latest research on sharks.
    • Explore Tasman Island's coastal wilderness on a cruise run by Robert Pennicott—the 2012 National Geographic Traveler of the Year.

Itinerary - 12 Days

Days 1 & 2 — Sydney, Australia

Arrive in Sydney this morning and enjoy a welcome reception and dinner on a cruise through its stunning harbor. Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, and take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Sydney Opera House. Set out on an optional excursion to climb Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge.
InterContinental Sydney (D; B,L)

Days 3 & 4 — Hobart, Tasmania/Tasmin Island/Port Arthur

Fly to Tasmania to tour Hobart, the island's capital city. Enjoy a private visit to the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary with National Geographic grantee Dr. Stewart Nicol. The next day, see Tasman Island’s geological formations on a coastal wilderness cruise run by ecotourism pioneer Robert Pennicott, named a National Geographic Traveler of the Year in 2012. Wander the ruins of Port Arthur, a historic prison colony.
The Henry Jones Art Hotel (B,L,D; B,L)

Days 5 & 6 — Cradle Mountain-Lake Saint Clair National Park

Travel north to Mount Field National Park, pausing for a walk to Russell Falls. Glimpse the island's agricultural tradition at Curringa Farm, an operating sheep farm, and enjoy lunch and a sheep-shearing demonstration. Settle into an award-winning lodge at the edge of Cradle Mountain-Lake Saint Clair National Park, and spend a full day exploring the park's rugged, glacially sculpted landscapes on guided walks. Discover ancient rain forests and alpine heathlands, jagged mountains and glacial lakes. Go for a night drive in search of wombats, wallabies, and possums.
Cradle Mountain Lodge (B,L,D daily)

Days 7 & 8 — Melbourne/Phillip Island

Transfer to Launceston for your flight to Melbourne, known as the cultural capital of Australia. Visit famous landmarks such as the Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne Arts Centre, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and the lively beach town of St. Kilda. The next day, journey to Phillip Island, just off the southern coast. Venture down treetop boardwalks with a park ranger to view koalas up close at the Koala Conservation Centre. Witness the famous little penguin parade from a viewing platform at dusk. Alternatively, take an optional excursion along the Great Ocean Road to see the towering rock formations known as the Twelve Apostles.
Sofitel Melbourne on Collins (B,L; B,D)

Days 9 & 10 — Cairns/Port Douglas/Great Barrier Reef

Fly to Cairns. En route to our beach lodge in Port Douglas, stop at James Cook University to meet with National Geographic grantee Dr. Adam Barnett, a renowned shark researcher. Hear about his studies on deep-sea sharks such as the sevengill. Enjoy an evening at leisure before our full-day adventure on the world's largest reef system. Embark on a cruise by motorized catamaran to the outer reef and spend the day discovering some of the 2,000 species that inhabit the Great Barrier Reef. Observe the reef from a viewing platform, take a ride in a glass-bottom boat, or go on a private snorkeling tour in this incredible marine ecosystem. Scuba diving is also available for certified divers, at an additional cost.
Thala Beach Lodge (B; B,L)

Day 11 — Daintree Rainforest

Begin the day with a cruise on the Daintree River, in search of crocodiles at the convergence of salt and fresh water. Then set off with an indigenous guide on a Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk at Mossman Gorge for an intimate look at the connection of culture and spirituality with the land. Celebrate our journey down under at a farewell dinner tonight.
Thala Beach Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 12 — Port Douglas/Cairns

Transfer to Cairns for your return flight.

Related Trips


This expedition is not currently being offered.

Activity Level


Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.

Extend Your Stay

Extend your trip to Uluru with a stay at Longitude 131° or to Kangaroo Island with a stay at Southern Ocean Lodge, both members of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection. Please call for details.