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Ocean to Outback vs. Reefs and Rainforests

11 Oct 2010 urban_squirrel said

Hi all,<BR><BR>This is my first post to the Contiki forums, so apologies if this has already been discussed, but I did not see any discussions on it.<BR><BR>I just came back from the Great Britain & Ireland tour with Contiki and had such a great time I think I want to go on a Contiki Australia tour in the next couple years. I'm tentatively looking at September or October 2012. <BR><BR>Anyway, the two tours that have caught my eye are Ocean to Outback and Reefs and Rainforests. I have a couple of friends who did Beaches and Reefs and recommended I go for the extra two days on Reefs and Rainforests if I wanted to do the East coast. However, although I really want to see the tropics and the oceanic areas of Australia (I've seriously wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef since I was about 10 years old!), it would be quite interesting to see the interior outback as well. Firstly, it would be nice to see a more diverse contrast of what Australia's landscape is like, and secondly, my sister, who is a geologist, will likely be going with me, and I know she would be interested in all the rocks! Unfortunately, I anticipate only being able to get away for 2-3 weeks, so I can't do the Aussie Explorer which would include it all, although I would love to.<BR><BR>From looking at the detailed itineraries, my understanding is that both tours include Sydney, Whitsundays and Cairns. The difference is that in Ocean to Outback you would fly from Sydney to Queensland, skipping some of the stops along the way that are included on Reefs and Rainforests, such as Brisbane, Surfer's Paradise, Byron Bay, and others that I'm probably forgetting. However, in Ocean to Outback those extra few days would be spent exploring the Northern Territory, which is not included on Reefs and Rainforests. <BR><BR>All in all, both include a few of the big reasons I want to go to Australia, which are the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier reef. If I did choose Ocean to Outback, I would be a little sad about missing the Carrumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and the dolphin cruise at Byron Bay (have I mentioned I love marine life? And yet I live in the Canadian prairies...). However, if I chose Reefs and Rainforests, I would be a little disappointed about essentially only seeing one side of the country, and Uluru (Ayers Rock) seems like a big Australian attraction to miss out on as well. <BR><BR>Can anyone shed some light on whether seeing the outback is worth missing out on the stops between Sydney and Whitsundays, or vice versa?
  • Read the responses 24 responses so far
  • 12 Oct 2010 JackDarcy said


    Thanks for the post dear!
    I liked your post. You have increased my area of knowledge.

  • 13 Oct 2010 Danielle said


    Hi, I did the Aussie Explorer so I have seen everything on these tours with the exception of the 2 days in the rainforest. Just to clarify, the reefs & rain forests doesn’t actually tour sydney, it just starts or ends there & you stop to take a picture in front of the bridge & opera house. So if you chose reefs & rainforests you’d probably have to stay an extra few days if you wanted to see sydney. It would be unfortunate to miss the rest of the east coast but cairns & the whitsundays are definitely the highlights. I don’t know how long you spend in the outback but it is definitely a great experience. I personally loved the outback, you get to see so many things that are unique to australia. It’s also a better bonding experience with your tour mates. You do get to go to a wildlife santuary in alice springs, it’s just not quite as up close & personal as currumbin. Maybe you could go to the sydney zoo or seaworld to make up for the other wildlife opportunities that you would miss out on? Please let me know if there are any other questions I can answer for you. I know you’ll have a great time no matter which trip you choose!

  • 17 Oct 2010 urban_squirrel said


    Thanks so much, Danielle, that was really helpful! From the information you gave me, I’m now leaning toward Ocean to Outback, but I am interested to hear other peoples’ experiences as well! The Sydney aquarium and zoo would actually be a great idea to make up for the other wildlife opportunities, those are definitely on my list of things to do in Sydney! I think whichever tour I choose, I will probably arrive at least a couple days early in Sydney to explore a bit on my own.

  • 18 Oct 2010 NaHdz said


    Hi There!

    I live in Australia so I may be able to give you a couple of tips!

    The East Coast has some great spots but if you have limited time I wouldn’t miss seeing central Aus, Uluru is an unforgetable experience.. I loved it! there are cruises and tours you can do in the Whitsundays if you’d like to see some marine life and Cairns has a great wildlife sanctuary that is pretty similar to Currumbin..

  • 27 Nov 2010 BlackBagsi said


    I have done the ocean to outback tour this year. i have done this tour, cause the NT (uluru, kata tjuta, alice springs,…) is included in this tour.
    Maybe i´m doing the reefs to rainforest tour next year, because i want to see the east coast, too.

  • 7 Feb 2011 Explorer1098610 said


    I just got back from doing the Reefs and Rainforests tour a couple weeks ago. Even with all the flooding, I still loved every minute of the trip. However I didn’t do the sailing option in Whitsundays and felt alittle let down. It’s a family resort geared towards kids events and the 3 days there seems rather endless. Like you I dreamed of seeing the great barrier rief since I was a kid but had it not been soldout, I would have done Ocean to Outback as well. Seeing the rainforest at Cape Tribulation made up for any disappointment I might have felt. Surfers paradise was great but you can easily experience the beach & surf at Bondi or Manly beach in Sydney.I actually preferred Bondi beach to Surfers. I easily took lessons there too and the waters weren’t as rough! I plan to go back to Australia in a couple years so I’ll eventually get to see the outback. My adivce though whatever you do, book early!

  • 7 Feb 2011 urban_squirrel said


    Thanks! I have noticed that Oceans and Outbacks books up fairly far in advance. I will try to book as early as possible!

  • 7 Feb 2011 urban_squirrel said


    Oh no! Now that I’m pretty set on Ocean to Outback, I can’t seem to find it on the tours page anymore, so I really hope that they didn’t discontinue this tour!

  • 21 Mar 2011 explore_the_world said


    As an Aussie, I agree with NaHdz below.

    The outback is incomparable, and I think that you are already seeing a lot of the coastline already. I would choose the outback, as you will get to see the beaches when you are further up north in the witsundays. I do live between the Gold Coast and Brisbane, and both are nice places, but I reckon it would be better spent seeing the outback, as that is one of the big things that Australia is known for.

    Have a great trip.

  • 29 Mar 2011 GatorBrett1 said


    I did Bridge to Reef, which is basically the same trip as Ocean to Outback (without the Outback!). I’d definitely recommend the Ocean to Outback tour. As someone else said, you’ll see enough of the beach in Sydney, Whitsundays, and Cairns. Plus, it’s great b/c you spend at least 3 nights in each city along the coast, so it’s not rushed. There are more stops when you go to the Outback, but I hear it’s well worth it. I ended up being frugal and not paying for the Outback (I went independently) until AFTER arrival in Australia – it cost me stress, time, and money, but it was so exciting to fly to the middle of the desert, in the middle of nowhere. DEFINITELY try to see the Outback!

  • 29 Mar 2011 urban_squirrel said


    Does anyone have any insight as to why the Ocean to Outback tour does not seem to be on the website anymore? Am I the only one who can’t see it? Did they stop offering this tour?

    If so, that would be really disappointing. I think I want to take all your advice and see both the coast and the outback, but if they discontinue this tour, the only way to do that is the Aussie Explorer and I’m not sure how likely it is that I could get that much time off work.

  • 29 Mar 2011 TravelCrazy said


    I am also trying to decide which tour to go on, but I am spending more time in Australia, as I have a year visa to live and work there. I am really looking at the Reefs and Rainforest Tour but after reading everyone’s comments, now considering doing one that includes the outback. Whether I go to the outback as part of the tour or on my own later on, I will be going. I have been to Australia before, I went to Sydney and Cairns, but missed everything in between. I am going in July of this year so I want to have it booked within the next 2 weeks. Any suggestions? I was also looking at the Oceans and Outback Tour, but like you said it’s no longer up. I’m going to be calling a Contiki agent later on today for more information.

  • 29 Mar 2011 urban_squirrel said


    Let me know what they say when you find out, because I’m interested to know what my options are if they’re not going to be offering the Ocean to Outback tour anymore.

    Ideally, I can only take a maximum of 3 weeks off, but I would consider the Aussie Explorer if it were the only way to see both parts of Australia.

  • 30 Mar 2011 TravelCrazy said


    So I just got off the phone with a Contiki agent and she said that if Oceans to Outback doesn’t fill up they pull it off their schedule. So that’s bad news for me because it has been pulled off the schedule for the remainder of this year. But you may be able to book it for next year when you are planning on going. I’d try calling them to see if it would be available for when you want to go, I saw that we were thinking Sept or Oct 2012, so it might be back. I think I have decided to go on the Reefs and Rainforests tour in reverse so I end up in Sydney. Then during my time in Australia, I’ll head over to the outback.
    I’d say if this is your only trip to Australia, take the additional days and do the Aussie Explorer. Especially, if you have to fly a long time to get there. I know for me it’s 24 hours of flying plus stopovers, make the most of it. Hope that helps.

  • 30 Mar 2011 urban_squirrel said


    Thanks so much for the info! Now I am not planning on going until 2013 (keeps getting bumped) so it might be back. However, I will see if the Aussie Explorer might work for us as well. I really want to do it, I just don’t know whether my sister or I could get a month off work. Maybe if I don’t go anywhere next year?

  • 17 Apr 2011 Explorer1245332 said


    I have booked the ocean to outback tour in November 2010, in January 2011 the tour was cancelled. I was very frustated about that. I have now booked two more trips. First I fly to Sydney and explore Sydney on my own. Then I will be attending the Magical Tropics tour and following I`ll fly to Alice Springs and participate in the Alice and Uluru tour.

  • 5 May 2011 Katey said


    Hey Im an Aussie.. If you love animals I highly recommend Toronga Zoo in Sydney. You’ll se our native animals plus african. An added bonus of this is to get to Toronga Zoo you have to take a ferry from Circular Quay (Sydney Harbour) So as your boat departs, too your left is the Opera House and too your right is the Harbour Bridge. You’ll get some awesome photos of both from the ferry. If you can spare the extra $200 do a bridge climb… Amazing experience!

  • 5 May 2011 Katey said


    oh and also if your spending a few days in Sydney, hire a car for the day and head inland to the Blue mountains an easy drive that takes less than 2 hrs.. well worth it, there BEAUTIFUL!!

  • 10 May 2011 Explorer1250513 said


    It SEEMS like it could work, but I don’t know if it could.
    Colopure Advanced

  • 14 Oct 2011 Lydz1988 said


    Hey everyone,
    It definately would be a hard decision to chose between coast or central esspecially if you have limited time. As an aussie i have travelled both central aust and the entire east coast. regardless of what tour you go on you will never see even close to half the amazing things available.
    The whitesundays are unforgettable and i would highly recommend spending some time there. In terms of the rest of the coast line…. it is all pretty much the same… only differences are temperature and also water conditions. if your interested in surfing, the futher south you go the better conditions you will generally have. also less stings and no crocodiles futher south.
    Central Aust is also amazing! i loved it there and spent 2 weeks on my last trip and still didnt see and do everything i wanted to do. Central is rich in culture and the sights are like nothing else youll ever see. Definately check out uluru, kata juta, kings canyon, rainbow springs and if you head towards darwin the devils marbels, mataranka, kakadu and katherine gorge are fantastic.
    My biggest recommendation would be to avoid any tour that travels during december or jan. It gets incredibly humid in the north during the peak of summer.and also if you plan on doing kakadu ect…. the water levels will be too high to get the biggest benifit. Id advise travelling to the whitesundays or nothern aust in March or April (Autum) when the humidity is not as great and the water levels have subsided enough. Temperatures and humidity levels in Spring are also good, however water levels at kakadu and katherine gorge can often be very low.
    Hope this is helpful :-)

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