Sydney, NSW - Longreach, QLD
Leaving the city behind, your journey begins in the heart of the outback at Longreach – named after the “longreach” of the Thomson River, which we will explore on arrival aboard the MV Longreach. This frontier township truly embodies the characteristics of the Australian outback. Later, visit the Champion family at Longway Station, who will share incredible stories about their experiences in this harsh landscape.
This evening, continue to the Qantas Museum, and see the aircraft and history come alive. A welcome dinner will be served, surrounded by Australian aviation history.
Overnight: Albert Park Motor Inn
Katherine , NT
This morning, the Longreach School of Distance Education welcomes us with a demonstration of how isolated rural families are given the opportunity to learn. Continue to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, where the legends, explorers and pioneers of the Outback come to life.
Reboarding our private aircraft, the journey continues to the Northern Territory and the township of Katherine or “Nitmiluk”. Sweeping from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the West Australian border, the vast Katherine region is full of hidden secrets. Katherine Gorge itself is made up of thirteen beautiful gorges, with rapids and falls, and follows the path of the Katherine River. This afternoon, enjoy a Nabilil Dreaming sunset dinner cruise of the stunning Katherine Gorge. The Katherine River carved this deep gorge out of sandstone thousands of years ago. Now, in the dry, it boasts quietly flowing creeks and still deep rock pools.
Experience the spectacular beauty of the Gorge as the setting sun turns the ancient sandstone walls to a deep ochre. As the stars begin to appear, the bush comes alive with bright eyes, as our native nocturnal creatures start their day.
Overnight: Paraway Motel or similar
Kakadu National Park, NT
This morning experience a unique Aboriginal cultural tour with a local Jawoyn elder. As you walk in the footsteps of the traditional owners of Katherine, you will experience “Welcome to Country”, and become immersed in the culture, heritage and dreamtime legends of this magical location. After, transfer from Katherine to Cooinda, the gateway to the magnificent World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park. Here, cruise the beautiful Yellow Waters Lagoon, Kakadu’s most famous wetland, located at the end of Jim Jim Creek.
A complete contrast to the Katherine River, this area is teeming with native Australian wildlife including one third of Australia’s bird species – such as Jabiru, Brolga and Kingfisher - and the infamous saltwater crocodiles.This is a wonderful adventure through a finely balanced natural ecosystem, that boasts floodplains and backwater swamps in its extensive wetlands.
Kakadu National Park, NT
This morning, examine some of the finest examples of Aboriginal art at Ubirr Rock. Located in the East Alligator region of Kakadu National Park, Ubirr consists of a group of rocky outcrops on the edge of the Nadab floodplain. The rock art in Kakadu is among the finest in the world, and represents a close personal and spiritual relationship between the Aborigines and the environment. The rock art at Ubirr depicts traditional foods and tells stories about law and creation ancestors. From the top of Ubirr, panoramic views of the floodplains and the escarpment are waiting beautifully for you. This afternoon we farewell Kakadu by small plane and enjoy breathtaking views of the Arnhem land escarpment before landing in Darwin.
Overnight: Mantra on the Esplanade
A full day at leisure to explore the fascinating and turbulent history of Darwin. On Christmas Day 1974, Cyclone Tracey devastated the city. After the disaster the population fell from 47,000 to 12,000 and many did not return. It is a tribute to those who stayed and those who came to live in Darwin “after Tracey”, that the rebuilt city now thrives as an administrative and commercial centre for Northern Australia.
In Darwin, the history of the city comes alive at Fannie Bay Gaol, the Darwin Museum and the WWll Storage Tunnels – these and more can be enjoyed at your leisure, aboard your personal hop-on, hop-off vehicle. This afternoon enjoy a breathtaking sunset cruise on Darwin Harbour aboard a traditional Pearl Lugger.
Overnight: Mantra on the Esplanade
The Kimberley Region, WA
Departing Darwin this morning, your journey continues, as we fly over the fascinating World Heritage listed Bungle Bungle Range, located in Purnululu National Park. The imposing and striking tiger-striped, beehive shaped domes are made of sandstone and conglomerates moulded by rainfall over millions of years. Their stripes are the result of oxidised iron compounds and algae. Although the range has elevations as high as 578 metres above sea level, the range was only discovered in the 1980’s.
Landing in Kununurra -Miriwoong country – marvel at how the Ord River irrigation scheme has completely altered the landscape, creating a lush oasis of farmland and sandalwood plantations. On arrival in Kununurra, embark on a cruise of the Ord River, through the inspiring scenery of the Kimberley region. The cruise continues to the impressive Dam Wall. Completed in 1971, the wall holds back the waters of Lake Argyle. After the cruise, a chance to step back in time- explore the historic Argyle Homestead, home of the famous pioneering family, the Duracks.
Overnight: Pinctada Kimberley Grande
Buccaneer Archipelago, WA
This morning re-board and once again experience spectacular aerial views, this time over the remote far north west coastline and the exquisite Buccaneer Archipelago. This isolated part of Australia is rarely seen, as it is virtually impossible to access from the ground. A truly spectacular region, experience the stunning two tiered Mitchell Falls and Prince Regent River.
You may be lucky enough to see the unique horizontal falls – described by David Attenborough as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”. Located deep within Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago are the Horizontal Waterfalls. Massive tidal movements create a waterfall effect as water banks up against one side of the narrow cliff passage, to be repeated again on the turning tide. Arriving at the historic pearling port of Broome, a chance to explore the notable Japanese and Chinese cemeteries, and courthouse, as well as ancient dinosaur footprints at famous Gantheaume Point.
Overnight: Cable Beach Club
A full day at leisure to sit back, and be immersed in the lifestyle and ambiance of beautiful Broome. Take the shuttle into town and amble through Chinatown, see a movie in the world’s oldest alfresco picture theatre – Sun Pictures – and explore a historic Pearl Lugger. While here, be immersed in the history of the pearl industry, and perhaps even take home a souvenir pearl, as you meander through the famous pearl shops. For true relaxation, stroll the grand expanse of the famous white sandy Cable Beach, take a camel ride, then watch one of the world’s most famous sunsets over the Indian Ocean.
Overnight: Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa
Alice Springs, NT
Your journey continues this morning, heading to Alice Springs. The most famous of all Australian outback towns, Alice is situated almost geographically in the centre of Australia. On arrival, visit the Telegraph Station, site of the original Repeater Station, which was for many years the sole reason for the existence of a handful of people in this remote area. It was here that a supposed spring was found in the riverbed - the river was named Todd after the Postmaster, and the spring, Alice, after his wife.
Overnight: Doubletree by Hilton
Today, be immersed in the resilience of the people of Alice, as we visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Learn how this unique concept, started by Dr John Flynn, continues to provide medical services to the furthest regions of outback Australia. Continue to Standley Chasm, where surging flood waters have cut through the tough quartzite over thousands of years, to form a picturesque natural alleyway. The reliable trickle of water has ensured the survival of species from a time when Central Australia was a lusher place.
Returning to the jet, we depart Alice for an unforgettable flight to the Red Centre. Experience the impact of watching Uluru, the world’s largest monolith, appear on the horizon. The “Red Centre” of Australia is a land of vivid colour and striking contrasts. Uluru and Kata Tjuta have great cultural significance for the Anang, the traditional owners of the land.
Here, the magnificent Uluru with its rich red tones of bare rock, and cliff faces which change colour according to light conditions and moisture, dominates the surrounding desert. Learn of the tradition of the Anangu people, as you explore the base of the Rock. A feast tonight under the stars at the magnificent ‘Sounds of Silence’ dinner. Wonderfully placed between Uluru and Kata Tjuta, experience the subtle colour changes of the Rock at sunset. Your accommodation for the next two evenings is the superb Sails in the Desert in the very heart of the Red Centre.
Overnight: Sails in the Desert Hotel
Uluru, NT - Kata Tjuta, NT
An early start today, as we experience a sublime sunrise at the rock. Watch as the giant monolith of Uluru emerges from the inky landscape, changing from purple through to rusty browns and red in the golden sunlight. Return for breakfast, before continuing to Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). Kata Tjuta has great significance as a sacred area for the indigenous owners of the land, your local guide explaining the significance of important dreamtime legends to you. This impressive and imposing group of 36 conglomerate domes has a circumference of more than 22 kilometres. Your afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the facilities of the beautiful Sails in the Desert, before a sumptuous farewell dinner tonight.
Overnight: Sails in the Desert Hotel
Birdsville - Sydney
On your final day, the first stop is the quaint outback Queensland town of Birdsville. Proclaimed a town in 1887, Birdsville was established to collect tolls from the droves of cattle being moved interstate. Now the home to the famous Birdsville Races, this town - perched on the edge of the Simpson Desert - is as remote as it is captivating.
Here, a short exploration of this unique town, followed by lunch at the famous Birdsville Hotel - Australia’s most remote pub, where you will experience true outback hospitality and perhaps meet some of the local characters. Reboard your private aircraft for your final flight to Sydney.