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20 Day Australia Top End, Red Centre and Murray River Heritage Cruise

Tour of Distinction - 20 Days (19 Nights) | $9,190
Itinerary Maps

Discover the Australian outback on a journey from Adelaide through the Red Centre, all the way to Darwin in the Top End. You will see the beauty of Australia’s vast and varied landscapes including the rugged Flinders Ranges, ancient and iconic Uluru and Kata Tjuta, and the lush tropical wetlands of Kakadu National Park. This tour captures the essence of Australia’s culture, history and diversity and is a must-do for those looking for a real taste of the Aussie Outback.

Day 1: Arrival in Adelaide

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Your tour begins in the southern Australian city of Adelaide, capital of the state of South Australia. Arrive in Adelaide and transfer to your hotel.

Day 2: Mannum and the Murray River Cruise

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You have the morning free to explore the highlights of this vibrant city before boarding the 1:30pm bus for the two-hour drive across undulating landscape to Mannum and then boarding the PS Murray Princess. You sail late afternoon from historic Mannum, the birthplace of the Murray River trade and communication, and head upriver while you enjoy a dinner. As you cruise under floodlight to your overnight mooring at Caurnamont, you may see nocturnal wildlife on the riverbank. Watch for kangaroos, hairy-nosed wombats, tortoises, egrets and many other species.

Day 3: Murray River Cruise

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Early morning is time for the keen photographers to be out to capture the special light and the morning movement of wildlife. Prolific birdlife includes pelicans, wrens and swans. Enjoy a leisurely morning and lunch cruising upriver to Blanchetown through one of 13 locks, which maintain the flow and levels of water. This afternoon you moor opposite to the township of Blanchetown for the overnight anchorage. As the last rays of the sun fade, join a guided tour of Burk Salter Wines vineyards and surrounding wetlands and enjoy wine tasting at the cellar door, which is fitted out with beautiful red gum bars.

Day 4: Murray River Cruise

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After breakfast, cruise downriver to picturesque Swan Reach. First settled in the 1850’s, the town was originally the largest of five sheep and cattle stations in the area and is now home to native flower and fruit growers. The original Swan Reach homestead is now the Swan Reach Hotel, where you can enjoy an ale or cappuccino overlooking the Murray River (additional cost). Later on join the guided walking tour to visit the Swan Reach Museum, a must see. Cruise downriver after lunch and take in the tranquility as the landscape slides by. When you arrive at Sunnydale, it’s all ashore for the Woolshed Show as guests recreate typical Australian woolshed history. Later visit the Native Wildlife Shelter, where some of South Australia’s most interesting native animals are cared for. And then, of course, there is the great Aussie BBQ, cooked and served in a bush setting on the banks of the mighty Murray River.

Day 5: Murray River Cruise

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After a city tour of Saint John, including Reversing Falls, travel to the quaint village of St. Andrews by-the-Sea, with a treasure trove of beautiful architecture, unparalleled scenery and rich marine life. Visit 27 acre Kingsbrae Gardens with over 50,000 perennials in many themed gardens. Our stay tonight is the Algonquin Resort, one of Canada’s premium historic seaside resorts, overlooking the picturesque Passamaquoddy Bay.

Day 6: Murray River Cruise and Adelaide

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Today you leave Younghusband and head back to Mannum. After breakfast, say farewell as you arrive at Mannum Wharf and then depart by coach back to Adelaide, arriving at approximately 12:30pm. This afternoon explore the sights of Adelaide, and then join a local food expert for a guided tour of 140-year-old Adelaide Central Market. Enjoy the hustle and bustle, sample the culinary delights, meet the traders and share the history and secrets of the colourful marketplace. Tonight you dine at one of Adelaide’s newest restaurants, La Boca Bar and Grill.

Day 7: Adelaide – Flinders Ranges

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Today travel to the Clare Valley for a wine tasting at Jesuit-owned Sevenhill Cellars, the oldest existing winery in the region. Explore the picturesque grounds, including St. Aloysius Church, and take a stroll through the vines before stopping in Clare at lunchtime. Later, travel through the spectacular Flinders Ranges to Wilpena Pound, a remarkable natural amphitheatre covering nearly 8,000 hectares. Pass the intriguing ruins of deserted pastoral leases and keep an eye out for mobs of emu on the plains as dusk draws near.

Day 8: Flinders Ranges – Port Augusta

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Take a spectacular walk to Hills Homestead and Wangara Lookout for incredible views of Wilpena Pound. You are likely to see wild emus and kangaroos grazing along the riverbank. Journey through Pichi Richi Pass and historic Quorn on your way to Port Augusta. Visit the Wadlata Outback Centre, and then venture to Cena on Chapel for a delicious dinner.

Day 9: Port Augusta – Coober Pedy

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Visit Woomera, then travel through salt lake country, watching as the landscape changes as you near isolated Coober Pedy, Australia’s opal capital! Visit an underground church and home with a local guide and view an opal demonstration. You stay at the well-known Desert Cave Hotel in Coober Pedy.

Day 10: Coober Pedy – Ayers Rock 

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Cross the border into the Northern Territory and continue to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Enter the dual World Heritage-listed national park to enjoy gourmet canapés and wine at the Uluru sunset viewing area, 'Sunset Strip'. As the sun sets over the western horizon, the evening sky brings out the many shades of colour for which Uluru is renowned.

Day 11: Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and the Red Centre

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See the Red Centre set alight by the morning's first rays of sunlight. After sunrise, tour the base of Uluṟu. You may like to take a self-guided stroll around the 11-kilometre base of ‘The Rock’ or enjoy a guided walk with your tour leader to Mutitjulu Waterhole. You'll view aboriginal rock paintings as your guide interprets their meaning and significance. You'll also learn about the flora, fauna and cultural traditions of traditional owners, the Anangu. Visit Uluṟu-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre where there is time to purchase some locally made aboriginal art and learn more about the Western Desert region. This afternoon visit the spectacular domes of Kata Tjuṯa (the Olgas) and walk through Walpa Gorge, following the natural creek bed between two of the main domes. Take in a magnificent outback sunset at Kata Tjuta while you enjoy sparkling wine and nibbles.

Day 12: Ayers Rock – Kings Canyon

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Travel to Kings Canyon Resort. On the way, marvel at Attila (Mount Conner), the ‘forgotten wonder of Central Australia’, and stop for a lunch break at Kings Creek Station. Originally vacant crown land, the station now runs cattle and is the largest exporter of wild camels in Australia. Learn the intriguing story of owners Ian and Lynn Conway and their dedication to aboriginal children in the region's remote communities. You can do a six-kilometre rim walk exploration of Kings Canyon, which will reward you with marvellous views of Watarrka National Park, where you’ll be able to see as far as the horizon and get a real feel for the grand scale of this natural wonder. An easier walk along the boulder-strewn canyon floor is also available.

Day 13: Kings Canyon – Alice Springs

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Today you journey to Alice Springs. Travel across vast cattle properties and get a feel for just how expansive the outback is. Visit the historic Telegraph Station in Alice Springs, established in 1872, first serving for 60 years as one of 12 stations positioned along the Overland Telegraph Line that stretches 3,000 kilometres to relay messages between Adelaide and Darwin. It later served as a school for aboriginal children and was known as 'The Bungalow'. Top off the day at Anzac Hill for panoramic views over Alice Springs.

Day 14: Alice Springs

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Learn about the life and survival of the Arrernte people, including the search for water and bush food, from a local aboriginal guide at Alice Springs Desert Park. Visit the Nocturnal House and enjoy a captivating Birds of Prey presentation. Continue to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and learn how the facility brings first-class health services to people living in the bush. This evening enjoy a home cooked gourmet BBQ dinner at Earth Sanctuary World Nature Centre as you listen to tales of ecology, culture and astronomy, and even join a sing-a-long accompanied by the didgeridoo and guitar. It will be a night to remember!

Day 15: Alice Springs – Tennant Creek

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Your first stop is the School of the Air. Witness a live classroom lesson broadcast over 1.3 million square kilometres to children living in remote locations who would otherwise have no access to public education. Later, travel north towards Tennant Creek, stopping at interesting Wycliffe Well on the way to visit Karlu-Karlu (Devils Marbles). You'll have plenty of time to walk around the precariously balanced boulders. End the day at Tennant Creek, an old gold mining town along the Stuart Highway.

Day 16: Tennant Creek – Katherine

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Today travel north and visit eccentric Daly Waters Historic Pub for a refreshing ale at lunchtime. Continue to Mataranka, ‘Land of the Never Never’. Here you can visit a replica of the original Elsey Homestead, used in the filming of ‘We of the Never Never’, an autobiographical film about Jeannie Gunn’s life in the outback. Or, you may take the palm-lined walkway for a swim in the famous thermal springs – a bit of a must do! Travel on to Katherine for the night.

Day 17: Katherine – Kakadu

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Join the local guide on a serene early morning cruise through Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park. Discover the cultural significance of this ancient waterway to the traditional landowners, the Jawoyn, and keep an eye out for the resident crocodiles. Continue to Kakadu National Park via Pine Creek and treat yourself to a mango smoothie along the way from Mayse's Cafe! Travel deep into Kakadu for a cruise on the famous Yellow Water Billabong. You should see a stunning variety of birdlife such as sea eagles, brolgas, and with any luck, fascinating little kingfishers. You'll also see feared estuarine crocodiles basking in the muddy shallows. Continue to Ubirr and view aboriginal rock art dating back some 20,000 years. Climb to the top of this rocky outcrop for spectacular views in the dusk light over the flood plains and escarpment country. You may recognise the location from the famous Australian film, Crocodile Dundee!

Day 18: Kakadu – Darwin

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This morning, maybe take an optional flight over Kakadu and Arnhem Land before you travel to Litchfield National Park. You'll stop at the amazing termite mounds and then Florence Falls to view the famous plunge pool from a high vantage point. Venture on to tropical Wangi Falls for a relaxing swim in the large crystal-clear waterhole before you continue to Darwin. Why not take the opportunity to visit the colourful Mindil Beach Sunset Markets for a spectacular sunset over the Timor Sea.

Day 19: Darwin – the Top End

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A day to unwind and explore tropical Darwin with suggestions from your tour leader before meeting up with fellow travellers for a farewell dinner cruise on Darwin Harbour as you watch the sun set over Darwin and the surrounding area.

Day 20: Depart Darwin

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This incredible trip comes to an end after breakfast as you transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Tour Includes:

  • 15 Nights Accommodation (3 - 4 star)
  • 4 Nights Accommodation on PS Murray Princess River Cruise
  • Professional Tour Leader
  • Deluxe Motorcoach Transportation
  • 37 Meals: 19 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 15 Dinners
  • Historic Mannum
  • Wildlife Viewing Along Murray River
  • Blanchetown
  • Burk Salter Winery
  • Swan Reach Hotel
  • Woolshed Show
  • Native Wildlife Shelter
  • Aussie BBQ on Banks of Murray River
  • Ngaut Ngaut Aboriginal Reserve
  • Younghusband
  • Adelaide City Tour
  • Central Market Wine Tasting at Jesuit-Owned Sevenhill Cellars
  • Flinders Ranges
  • Wilpena Pound
  • Hills Homestead
  • Wangara Lookout
  • Wadlata Outback Centre
  • Underground Church and Home
  • Opal Demonstration
  • Uluru Base Tour
  • Mutitjulu Waterhole
  • Walpa Gorge
  • Attila (Mount Conner)
  • Kings Creek Station
  • Watarrka National Park
  • Historic Telegraph Station Alice Springs
  • Alice Springs Desert Park
  • Earth Sanctuary World Nature Centre
  • School of the Air
  • Wycliffe Well
  • Karlu-Karlu (Devils Marbles)
  • Tennant Creek
  • Daly Waters Historic Pub
  • Mataranka ‘Land of the Never Never’
  • Katherine Gorge Cruise
  • Kakadu National Park
  • Dinner Cruise on Darwin Harbour
Departure Dates:   Tour Code   Double   Single

March 11 - 30, 2018




Pricing is per person in Canadian Dollars

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