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Australia in-depth: a 3-week itinerary for culture, nature and discovery

Things to do in Sydney - picture of the Sydney Opera House at night

Forget everything you’ve heard and know about Australia and hear this: you can never really know this one-of-a-kind country until you’ve visited. Get ready to immerse yourself in the land down under with an out-of-this-world exclusive 3-week itinerary of Australia’s diverse landscapes, vibrant cities, and natural wonders.

This isn’t just any ordinary trip; it’s a thrilling odyssey meticulously crafted to unearth the country’s hidden gems while indulging in its iconic sights. From the sun-kissed shores of Bondi and Arlie Beach to the awe-inspiring wonders of the Outback, this trip promises an adventure that will leave you breathless and longing for more.

Sit back and have the trip of a lifetime entirely organized for you. In three easy steps, you’re living your best Aussie life: book, pack your bags and just show up to unleash your inner explorer. Join us as we embark on a journey through this iconic Australian 3-week itinerary.

1. Sydney (Warrane)

In what we can guarantee will be the most life-changing week of your life, welcome to the first week of the Ultimate Australia trip. We start you off strong in our country’s crown jewel – Sydney. You’re there for a total of 3 days – stretch your legs after that gnarly flight on your trip to the Heritage-Listed Blue Mountains on day one. Head back to your award-winning hostel and park up at SideBar to find out what first-night fever is all about – word of warning, no one parties like Aussies.

Day 2 sees you and your new travel besties exploring the Sydney Opera House, hopping on ferries to Watsons Bay for unique skyline views, and beelining to Bondi Beach for a sunny afternoon. For thrill-seekers, consider the optional Harbour Bridge climb for an unbeatable harbour panorama. Be sure to sample our iconic cafe culture and elite coffee, as well as iconic Aussie foods – think Tim Tams, meat pies and of course a generous helping of Vegemite on toast.

Your lucky last day in Sydney calls for some sick Free Time Add-Ons, and a Contiki Exclusive that you will come to not only love but be obsessed with. Feel the thrill on a jet boat cruise across the Harbour or hit the streets with a city bike tour. It’s your call—whether you’re riding waves or cruising through town, we’ve got the goods to make your day fun as, sans booking stress.

2. Byron Bay (Cavanbah)

Prepare for what can only be described as an awe-inspiring coastal escapade from Sydney to Byron Bay, where the thrill of surfing proper waves meets the mesmerising sunrise at Byron Bay Lighthouse. On top of this, you get to start your last day in Byron with a downright aligning morning beach yoga sesh, followed by invigorating sea kayaking, before heading to the serene beauty of the Noosa Everglades.

3. Noosa Everglades (Noothera Everglades)

Arrive at Noosa and straight away make yourself at home in your eco-lodge surrounded by kangaroos, kookaburras and other Aussie wildlife. At ‘The Farm,’ embrace a fresh perspective on dining, savouring sustainable eats that redefine culinary experiences, before calling it a day on your first week down under the best way we know how – the classic Contiki group dinner.

4. K’Gari (Fraser Island)

Rise on week 2 of the Ultimate Australia trip to the melody (or loud cackling) of chirping birds at our Eco Camp this morning. Be careful not to bump into any roos hopping past your cabin as you stumble into breakfast, before venturing out for an adventure-packed day on K’Gari (Fraser Island).

Start by exploring K’Gari and floating around Lake McKenzie before heading back for your final night at the Everglades.

5. Arlie Beach

Another morning, another stunning Aussie destination – you’re off to Arlie Beach on day 8. Not before one more quick activity though, an energizing canoe through the serene Noosa Everglades. Then, touchdown in Airlie Beach for a chill afternoon of exploration, which somehow is just the warm-up.

Snorkel your heart out at the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef – (finding Nemo, anyone?). Then, the tough choice on day 10: skydiving, sea kayaking, or soaring over the Whitsunday Islands on a scenic flight? Yes, that’s the one with the Heart Reef. No lines, no booking with dodgy agencies – it’s all fully sorted for you as part of your trip. Take your pick, but we’re choosing the skydiving every time. Dining in the Whitsundays is the perfect time to try a delicious Barramundi dinner – thank us later.

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6. The Great Barrier Reef

Cruise atop it or don your finest scuba gear and get amongst the action- either way, there’s no way you’ll forget this anytime soon. If you didn’t get that rush you were hoping for from the Great Barrier Reef (Um, hello were your eyes even open?), you’ll well and truly cop it today. Another day of difficult deliberations awaits you: bungy jumping, skydiving, white water rafting or the amazing Skyrail? Someone queue Paradise by Bazzi.

7. Magnetic Island (Yunbenun) via Townsville

You’re sure to get a good sleep after a day of adrenaline, before hopping on a scenic train to Townsville the next morning. This isn’t just any travel day though, because before long you’re hopping on a ferry to Magnetic Island to make it just in time for a stunning sunset at Hawking’s Point.

Casually chilling with koalas is up first on the docket today (literally!) while nomming on a brekkie fit for champions at Selina Koala Village. Fuel up well and get maximum cuddles in, because today you’re hiking the Fort Walk, spotting koalas in the wild, and topping it all off by spending dusk with rock wallabies.

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8. Cairns (Gimuy)

When you arrive in Cairns the next day, savour a bush tucker dinner and an early night, before diving into the oldest tropical rainforest on earth, the Daintree. In a Contiki-exclusive, connect with local Aboriginal Kuku Yalanji people, observe a smoking ceremony, and get hands-on with an Aboriginal artist, crafting your unique souvenir.

Day 15 and the trip of a lifetime is devastatingly over halfway done. How time flies so quickly we do not know, all we know is this ain’t a holiday, we are travelling! It feels like you’re just getting warmed up in the land down under and this is because we are – the next stop is the actual real-life Great Barrier Reef.

9. Darwin (Garramilla)

Ok everyone, main character travel playlists are on for the flight from Cairns to Darwin – and whip out that Akubra and your finest R. M Williams boots. Crocodile Dundee dress is optional. You touch down in the Red Centre of the nation and immediately get to get the blood flowing exploring the Kakadu National Park. Soak up the oldest culture on earth here in Darwin with the Aboriginal people of Australia, through trying spear throwing and bush medicine, admiring prehistoric rock art and visiting the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre.

10. Kakadu National Park, the Yellow Water Billabong, Katherine Gorge and Litchfield National Park

Over the next few days, you get to fly over Kakadu National Park, Cruise on the Yellow Water Billabong at sunset as well as the expansive Katherine Gorge, Litchfield National Park Florence Falls and magnetic termite mounds you have to see to believe. 

By now, you’ve got a slight accent, approximately 20 new besties and a lifetime’s worth of memories but use the flight to Alice Springs to recharge slightly, because, in true Contiki fashion, we’ve saved the best for last.

11. Uluru and Kings Canyon

Your last four days may well be your favourite as you journey to our nation’s most iconic landmark, Uluru. See the breathtaking Field of Lights installation at Uluru when you first arrive, then come back the next morning for an unreal Sunrise at Uluru, do a dot painting workshop, and an insane scenic flight over the whole area. The next few days see you on a guided hike around the imposing King’s Canyon, a sunset Uluru toast, and even ride a few camels.

No trip is as jam-packed, culture-focused or frankly well-organised as the Ultimate Australia trip when you’re on the hunt for a longer Aussie travel itinerary. First-timers and frequent flyers alike are more than happy to drop a 5-star raving review about this trip and after experiencing it – you understand why.

After a quicker jaunt around Australia’s most stunning beaches and rainforests? Try the Beaches and Reefs on for size. Maybe you’re into less beaches, and more bush – The Outback Adventure is the one for you. Whatever you want to experience in the land down under we’ve got you covered.

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