Australia's Reef & Rainforest

20 days
from
£6,199
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Leisurely
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Trip code: 
WLA
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Marine Wildlife
Min age:
16
Group size:
7–16

Explore Queensland's rainforests and reefs on an exciting Australian adventure!

Embark on a sailing adventure around the Whitsunday Islands, and also spend a full day exploring the Great Barrier Reef – snorkelling over a great underwater spectacle. Enjoy a day trip on the Kuranda Scenic Railway and Rainforest Cableway, and two nights in Daintree and Cape Tribulation National Parks - remote headlands which beautifully combine rainforest, beaches and glistening corals. The Atherton tablelands’ landscape features rainforest, wetlands and savannah and are home to tree kangaroos and the rare platypus for a real Australian encounter. Visit Fraser Island, not only the largest sand island in the world but the only place on Earth where tall rainforests grow on sand dunes at elevations of more than 650 feet, and home to the most pure strain of dingoes remaining in eastern Australia. Feel like a modern-day castaway on Lady Elliot Island and go diving or snorkelling to see giant Manta rays, colourful corals and fish, turtles and dolphins.

Highlights

  • Enjoy a two day sailing adventure around the Whitsunday islands
  • Experience a full day snorkelling excursion to the Great Barrier Reef
  • Explore Daintree and Cape Tribulation National Parks
  • Discover Lady Elliot Island and Fraser Island

Key information

  • 14 nights comfortable hotels and eco-lodges, 1 night standard hotel, and 1 night sailboat with shared facilities
  • Travel by minibus, by boat and light aircraft

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 5 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

London
to
London
  • Day 1

    Depart London late in the evening.

  • Day 2

    Flying via Singapore.

  • Day 3

    Arrive Cairns.

    The group flights usually arrive into Cairns in the late morning. Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel by the early afternoon. Free transfers are available for all clients. In the late afternoon there will be an orientation city walk followed by sunset drinks in the harbour and a welcome briefing. This is the perfect opportunity to meet your guide and get to know your fellow travellers.

    Accommodation: ibis Styles Cairns or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 4

    Day trip with Kuranda Scenic Railway and Rainforest Cableway.

    Today we visit Kuranda, a picturesque mountain retreat 25km northwest of Cairns, surrounded by rainforest. Here we can discover the living colour and natural beauty of a World Heritage listed rainforest that's millions of years old and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the local markets. The famous Kuranda Scenic Railway was built over 120 years ago and winds its way through the tropical mountain ranges between Cairns and Kuranda, with waterfalls tumbling into deep ravines. Our return Rainforest Cableway experience should take approximately 1.5 hours and includes spending time at the two rainforest stations. We allow time at each station, to enjoy ranger guided boardwalk tours and visit the Rainforest Interpretation Centre, lookout points and historical displays.

    Accommodation: ibis Styles Cairns or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Full day snorkelling excursion on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Today we experience the adventure of snorkelling, diving (optional, at an extra cost) and sailing on the Great Barrier Reef. The day starts early as we board our boat at 7:30am and sail at 8:00am. Our high-performance catamaran sails from Cairns to two unique locations where you can snorkel with turtles, colourful fish and see an amazing variety of corals.

    The exclusive reef sites are selected for their abundance of marine life and diversity of healthy corals. The sites include Hastings Reef (Coral Gardens, Turtle Bommie and 1770), Paradise Reef, Norman Reef – Shark Mountain, Long Bommie, Pretty Patches and more! The crew will select the two best sites suited to the weather conditions of the day to give you the best possible experience.

    While sailing to our first location, we receive an interactive presentation from an Ecotourism Australia certified guide regarding the physical aspects of the reef environment that affect reef wildlife and the functioning of the ecosystem, as well as chemical processes that impact reef ecology.

    While snorkelling we have the opportunity to participate in an ‘Eye on the Reef Rapid Monitoring’ survey, assisting the guide on collecting data on the reef – including benthos composition, species counts, coral predation analysis, and water quality testing.  On the return journey there will be a chance to learn more about the survey itself and how any data we’ve collected will fit into the overall long-term monitoring plan on the Great Barrier Reef.

    We will return to Cairns in the late afternoon.

    Accommodation: ibis Styles Cairns or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    Transfer to Daintree National Park visiting Mossman Gorge en route.

    We transfer to Daintree National Park today, visiting the Mossman Gorge en route. Mossman Gorge contains the oldest surviving rainforest on earth with cool streams, towering mountains and a dramatic gorge. We visit the Mossman Gorge Centre, a new Indigenous eco-tourism development that provides one of Australia’s most iconic Aboriginal experiences in Tropical North Queensland and a genuine, authentic engagement with Indigenous Australia. The local art gallery showcases the art and crafts of local Kuku Yalanji artists. We will take the leisurely Rainforest Circuit Walk under the towering canopy of the rainforest, beautifully framed by the striking mountains stopping for a picnic lunch at one of the many water holes.

    We continue through the Daintree National Park to our secluded lodge for the next two nights, set in the quiet peacefulness of the rainforest and perfect for bird, butterfly or Musky rat-kangaroo spotting. On arrival, take a swim with Jungle perch and turtles in the untouched crystal clear Cooper Creek which winds through the lodge en-route from the mountains to the sea.

    Accommodation: Heritage Lodge and Spa or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Full day at Daintree and Cape Tribulation National Parks.

    Spend a full day exploring the Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation. In the morning we embark on an hour-long cruise through the mangroves at Cooper Creek which winds its way from Cooper Creek’s Coral Sea mouth towards the panorama of Queensland’s third highest mountain, Thornton Peak. Home to reputedly the most biodiverse mangrove system in Australia, Cooper Creek’s significance has been internationally recognized and rewarded by Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service, which has afforded absolute protection to the creek’s flora and fauna. A wild environment, crocodile sightings are possible!

    We then venture into the heart of the oldest surviving rainforest in the world, the pristine Gondwanan Rainforest, in the company of an inhabitant guide. Our guide will reveal fascinating inter-relationships as an almost impossibly complex ecosystem is explained. At the centre of our walk we find a cathedral-like amphitheatre of ancient fan-palms, underpinning the grandeur of an old-growth canopy of rainforest giants.

    This afternoon we have a two hour guided walk into a private reserve, deep in the rainforest. With such an amazing pocket of pristine natural wonders, you never know what is hiding just behind the next tree! Your guide will explain to you the amazing history of the area, the flora and the fauna around you, and the natural wonders which take place every day. We plan on taking a dip in a secluded natural swimming hole, surrounded by nothing more than the unique environment created by the convergence of two eco-systems, that of the rainforest and the reef.

    We visit Myall and Cape Tribulation beaches before returning to our lodge for the night.

    Accommodation: Heritage Lodge and Spa or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Transfer to Yungaburra; afternoon visit the tablelands.

    Travel to Yungaburra today, a journey that will take us approximately 4 hours including stops. In the afternoon we discover the heritage listed town of Yungaburra and the surrounding tablelands, which are home to the rare platypus, Tree kangaroos, and in season, the kingfisher. We visit the Yungaburra platypus viewing area to watch the resident platypus swim and dive. We also take a walk along Peterson Creek in search of more platypus and the rare Lumholtz Tree kangaroo.

    Accommodation: Kookaburra Lodge or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Transfer to Mount Surprise; afternoon explore the Australian outback.

    Not far from Yungaburra are the renowned crater lakes of Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine. Both have walking tracks around their circumferences, one of which we will walk this morning. We then travel to Mount Surprise (approx. 4 hours) where we can experience life in the Australian outback in the afternoon. The region of Mount Surprise, also known as Savannah Way, offers a diverse range of outback experiences including cattle stations, gorges and the Undara Lava Tubes.

    Accommodation: Bedrock Village or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 10

    Morning visit the Undara Lava Tubes; afternoon transfer to Charters Towers.

    This morning we visit the Undara Lava Tubes. In Undara Volcanic National Park, rich volcanic basalt soils, covered in a sea of seasonal grasses, conceal the Undara lava tube, one of the longest lava tube cave systems in the world. About 190,000 years ago, a large volcano erupted violently, spewing molten lava over the surrounding landscape. The lava flowed rapidly down a dry riverbed. The top, outer-layer cooled and formed a crust, while the molten lava below drained outwards, leaving behind a series of hollow tubes. The roofs of some tubes collapsed, creating ideal conditions for dry rainforest to grow and wildlife to shelter. Rock-wallabies, insectivorous bat colonies and owls roost here in the cool. Birds shelter in the fruit-filled canopy and predators lurk in the tumbled basalt terrain to complete the food chain.

    In the afternoon we journey to Charters Towers, which takes 5 to 6 hours, passing by remote mining settlements that add to the outback experience.

    Accommodation: Hillview Motel or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Transfer to Airlie Beach.

    Before we depart for Airlie Beach, we discover the old gold mining town of Charters Towers. When gold was first discovered in Charters Towers in 1871, it became a gold rush town and quickly grew to become the second largest town in Queensland. Today, the magnificent heritage buildings are testament to the prosperity of years past. We depart mid-morning for Airlie Beach; a drive of approximately 6 hours, including a stop for a swim and snorkel at Horseshoe Bay in Bowen.

    Accommodation: Colonial Palms or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 12

    Sailing around the Whitsunday islands

    We spend the next two days on a private sailing adventure around the Whitsunday Islands, with a typical voyage covering around 160 kms. We set sail at 8:00am with a visit to the infamous Whitehaven Beach and a guided bush walk up to the ever talked about Hill Inlet Lookout on our agenda today. Snorkelling over some of the best reefs in the world (optional diving available on request). When you are not exploring the islands, you can take advantage of the spacious deck which is perfect for enjoying the sailing, the sun and to relax! Our crew will find us a nice and protected anchorage site for the night where we can watch a spectacular sunset from the boat.

    Accommodation: Siska Sailing Yacht or similar
    Sailing Yacht

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    Sailing around the Whitsunday islands; to Airlie Beach.

    We continue sailing around the Whitsunday Islands today on our way back to Airlie Beach. Pass along the western coast of Whitsunday Island, through Hook Passage and follow the eastern coast of Hook Island. Hook Island is nearly uninhabited and offers some excellent snorkelling options with abundant wildlife including turtles, dolphins and Manta rays.  Between June and September we may be lucky enough to see Humpback whales frolicking around the islands. We return to Airlie Beach in the late afternoon

    Accommodation: Colonial Palms or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 14

    Transfer to Hervey Bay.

    A long day of driving today as we make our way south along the tropical Queensland coast, passing by rainforest, lakes and beaches stretching to the Great Barrier Reef and taking us through sugar cane country before reaching Hervey Bay. Today’s journey will take 10 to 11 hours including stops.

    Accommodation: The Beach Motel or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    To Fraser Island.

    Transfer to nearby River Heads for our ferry over to the heritage listed Fraser Island, a journey which will take just under an hour.  Be dwarfed by the ancient, gravity defying rainforests growing out of only sand and explore the freshwater lakes and spectacular sand formations of one of the most incredible islands on earth. Fraser Island has the best one island can offer – cool towering rainforests, over 100 freshwater lakes including the sensational Lake McKenzie, huge sand blows, and an amazing 120km beach highway, complete with the Maheno shipwreck and cliffs of stunning coloured sands.  It’s also one of Australia’s best places to see baby Humpback whales and their mothers.The rest of the afternoon is free for you to enjoy some of the optional activities available on the island, including various ranger-guided walks, or to simply relax by the pool.

    In the evening there are various ranger-guided activities on offer which may include a spotlighting tour to see the fascinating nocturnal wildlife, a study of the stars of the Southern sky or a talk about Fraser Island's dingoes, which are among the purest on the East Coast of Australia.

    Accommodation: Kingfisher Bay Resort or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 16

    Full day on Fraser Island including Lake McKenzie.

    On this beautiful day off-roading in a custom-designed 4WD vehicle, we visit the top natural attractions of the island. Paddle in the crystal clear blue water of Lake McKenzie with its pure white sandy shores and visit the lush rainforest at Central Station and renowned Wanggoolba Creek with its rare King Ferns. Marvel at the tall satinay trees of Pile Valley and stop for a wander around the boardwalks at Eli Creek to witness enormous volumes of cool fresh water running out to sea. We will be accompanied today by rangers who explain the island's flora and fauna, the history of the shipwreck "Maheno", the formation of the fascinating coloured sands on the Eastern Beach as well as the Aboriginal and European history of the island.

    Accommodation: Kingfisher Bay Resort or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 17

    Fly to Lady Elliot Island; afternoon snorkelling.

    We head back to River Heads by ferry after breakfast and continue to nearby Hervey Bay Airport, from where a 40 minute scenic flight will take us to Lady Elliot Island. With its glittering white beaches made entirely of crushed coral and extraordinary marine life, it’s easy to feel like a modern-day castaway on Lady Elliot Island, at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. Situated within a highly protected ’Green Zone’ the island is a sanctuary for over 1,200 species of marine life and is known for its abundance of Manta rays, turtles, amazing array of fish and unspoilt coral reef.

    The afternoon is free to enjoy this stunning island.  Walk around the emerald green-edged island in 45 minutes, and go snorkelling to explore the unique underwater world. In the evening there are various activities on offer which may include presentations in the education centre about the Great Barrier Reef and Lady Elliot Island, star gazing, and night walks to discover nocturnal animals.

    Accommodation: Lady Elliot Eco Resort or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 18

    Discover Lady Elliot Island, known for turtles and Manta rays.

    Today is free for you to explore Lady Island and enjoy the included activities.  For those keen on snorkelling there are several options, including a glass bottom boat/guided snorkelling tour or snorkel safaris. Visibility is over 20 metres for much of the year and encounters with giant Manta rays, Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead turtles and an abundance of incredible marine life are a daily occurrence.  In addition to snorkelling excursions, there is also the option of a Reef Walking tour (tide dependent), or an Island Discovery and History walk around the island.

    Accommodation: Lady Elliot Eco Resort or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 19

    Fly to Hervey Bay; to Brisbane and depart.

    After breakfast we board the return scenic flight bound for Hervey Bay, from where we continue to Brisbane where our adventure ends. Thsoe on the group flights will be transferred directly to the airport for their flight to London.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 20

    Arrive London.

Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Australia

All nationalities except New Zealand require a visa for Australia. British, most EU passport holders, Canadian and US passport holders can apply for an electronic visa online. For British passport holders this is done through www.australia.org.uk.

Vaccinations

Australia

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 5 dinners included.

Most breakfasts are English style ‘full breakfast’, some are buffet style and some Continental style with cereals, fruit, juice and coffee. Three of the included lunches and one dinner are served aboard sailing boats – expect simple but wholesome and fresh food. One included lunch and two of the included dinners are buffet style, while the other two included dinners are 2-course with a set menu.

Vegetarians are generally well catered for although please be sure to advise us of any specific dietary requirements before departure.

Weather

Queensland experiences two distinct weather seasons each year. The winter season that falls between April and September, with slightly cooler but warm temperatures and minimal rainfall. The summer or monsoonal season is between October and March with hot, sticky temperatures and heavy rainfall periods. Northern Queensland is particularly prone to cyclones, with the season generally being from November to May. The most popular time to visit Queensland is in the Australian winter months, May through September. This is a great time to experience the best of the tropical region with clear skies and comfortable temperatures perfect for exploring the region.

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 1 (Leisurely)
Although the tour is not physically demanding,  a fair amount of travelling is involved and there are some long days, but these are generally broken up with sightseeing en route or on arrival. Some of the main roads are good and fast, there are some bumpy stretches that take us to some of the sites away from the main road.
You should be comfortable in the water in order to participate in the ocean excursions, but no certifications such as SCUBA are necessary.  When in boats it is possible that we will encounter rough seas.  An ability to swim is highly recommended to get the most out of this holiday.

Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & Lodges

14 nights comfortable hotels and eco-lodges, 1 night standard hotel, and 1 night sailboat with shared facilities.

We use fairly small, often privately run, establishments, from eco-lodges nestled in the rainforest to the welcoming ambiance of cabins in the Australian outback. A highlight of this trip will no doubt be our stay at Heritage Lodge Daintree, a property set amongst the pristine rainforest of Daintree National Park - wake to the call of birds and take a swim with Jungle perch and turtles! Also memorable will be our stay at Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, where we can enjoy breakfast on the deck overlooking the coral lagoon before exploring white beaches made entirely of crushed coral, and the extraordinary marine life.

We also have one night aboard a fast sailing boat with single and double bunks and shared facilities.

 

Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

As another year flies past, it’s time for us to ask ourselves one simple question: where next?

Be the first to post your review! If you have recently returned from an Exodus adventure and want to help other travellers with your feedback then simply use the link below to post your holiday review.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 0208 772 3936