Tour Description

Outback Explorer: Cairns to Alice Springs

(Combined Adelaide and South Coast Departure)
Thirteen Days: 24th June – 6th July 2021

Twin Share: $6495 per person. Sole Use: $7395 per person.

Included in the tour:
  • Home pick-ups & set downs (most metro areas – please contact us for details)
  • Picnic-style morning teas & all meals as per the itinerary
  • All accommodation & admissions to all attractions
  • Experienced & informative tour driver/guide.

 

From Cairns in the northern tropics to Alice Springs in the red centre, our tour takes us through the heart of Outback Queensland and into the Northern Territory. Walk through massive, ancient lava tubes, discover the birthplaces of Qantas and the Royal Flying Doctor Service, visit the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and marvel at the ancient fossil discoveries. All of this, combined with inspiring views and the unique characters and hospitality of outback Australia, this tour is sure to be a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.

 

Day One – THURSDAY 24 JUNE 2021

(includes light lunch and two course dinner)

As we rise this morning to a wintry Adelaide day, it’s wonderful to think that this afternoon we will arrive in sunny Queensland!

After being picked up from our homes (limited areas*) we are taken to the Adelaide Airport terminal. On arrival we are met by an Endeavour Tours representative who assists with our group check-in, through the security procedures and to the gate, ready to board our flight to Cairns via Brisbane.

We are met in Cairns by our Endeavour Tours driver, who assists those who need help with luggage, and takes us to the Endeavour Tours minicoach.

It is just a short drive from the airport to our accommodation at the Rydges Esplanade Resort (Ph: 07 4044 9000). As its name suggests, the resort is located opposite the water, providing wonderful views of the Coral Sea and surrounding tropical mountains.

Day Two – FRIDAY 25 JUNE 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

This morning we enjoy a tour around Cairns, a city founded in 1876 as a service town for the goldfields. It has evolved from a rough frontier outpost where the pubs nearly outnumbered the people, to an international cosmopolitan destination.

Mid-morning, after enjoying refreshments, we join the wonderful Skyrail Rainforest Cableway at Smithfield. Skyrail takes us all the way to Kuranda, spanning 7.5 kilometres, gliding over Australia’s pristine tropical rainforests.  As we prepare to board the cableway, we are greeted by friendly attendants who explain the first leg of our journey and assist us into a gondola cabin.

Please note: Our Tour Driver will not accompany us on the Skyrail journey, but will meet us at Kuranda. Skyrail staff will be at all stops to assist.

Our rainforest journey begins as the gondola glides over woodlands before revealing the splendour of the World Heritage listed tropical rainforest with its dense canopy. As we ascend we enjoy spectacular views of tropical Cairns and the Coral Sea, we can even see Green Island and the fringes of the Great Barrier Reef.

As we approach our first stop, our gondola descends through the canopy layers and takes us deep in the forest. Red Peak Station is nestled amongst pristine rainforest with a boardwalk providing the perfect opportunity to explore the forest from ground level. Skyrail’s qualified rangers are on-hand to share their knowledge of this complex eco-system.

After absorbing the rainforest atmosphere we re-board the cableway. Between Red Peak and Barron Falls Stations we are treated to some of the most pristine areas of this World Heritage environment. On approach to the station we enjoy spectacular views of the majestic Barron Gorge and its mighty, granite walls. We alight to explore the second rainforest mid-station. Easy access walkways lead us through the rainforest to lookouts providing breathtaking views of the gorge and falls. The station is also home to the Rainforest Interpretation Centre, which houses a visual and interactive presentation of the rainforest environment.

From Barron Falls, we continue through the mountains before gliding over the Barron River and arriving at Kuranda. Here we are met by our Tour Driver, who drives us up the hill into the heart of Kuranda. While here, we enjoy lunch with time to explore the town, including the famous markets.

This afternoon, we experience a sensational journey back to Cairns, this time on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. A spectacular train-ride comprising unsurpassed views of dense rainforest, steep ravines and picturesque waterfalls. We travel through World Heritage listed tropical rainforest, past stunning waterfalls and into the awesome Barron Gorge. The railway represents an engineering feat of enormous proportions and is a testament to the hard work, ambition and suffering of those involved in its construction, much of which was completed by hand in the 1880-1890s.

Our driver will meet us at the station in Cairns and return us to the resort to freshen up for dinner.

Day Three – SATURDAY 26 JUNE 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

Departing Cairns this morning after breakfast, we head towards the Atherton Tablelands, a rather unique area in Australia. What makes it so special is the combination of its geographic location in the tropics, its pleasant climate and the volcanic activities that have shaped large parts of its landscape. One of the most dramatic examples of this is Lake Barrine – a beautiful volcanic Crater Lake. It is here that we enjoy our morning tea today.

We continue our drive through the village of Yungaburra, surrounded by spectacular countryside, which has been shaped by many, now extinct, volcanoes. Just outside the town is Curtain Fig National Park, home to the fascinating Curtain Fig Tree. Starting from a seed dropped high in the canopy, this strangler fig grew vertical roots, which gradually became thicker and interwoven. Over hundreds of years these roots have strangled the host, causing it to fall into a neighbouring tree. Vertical fig roots then formed a curtain-like appearance and the host trees rotted away, leaving the freestanding fig tree. The tree is thought to be nearly 50 metres tall, with a trunk circumference of 39 metres, and is estimated to be over 500 years old. We enjoy a stroll on the boardwalk to fully appreciate the size and structure of the tree and its ‘curtain’. Large basalt boulders cover the forest floor, which is probably why the forest here wasn’t cleared for farming and why the curtain fig tree remains standing.

From here we journey south to the beautiful Millaa Milla Falls. This is perhaps Far North Queensland’s most recognised waterfall, as it has often been photographed. It’s no surprise that the falls are so popular—the location is stunning and the waterfall flows strongly all year round. After admiring the falls, we take a short drive to The Falls Tea House, the perfect place to enjoy lunch in these beautiful surrounds.

Refreshed we continue on through Mt Garnet and the Forty Mile Scrub to Mount Surprise. Tonight we will stay in lovely en-suite cabins at the Bedrock Village Caravan Park (Ph: 07 4062 3193) in an area surrounded by thousands of square kilometres of pristine tropical savannah woodlands.

Day Four – SUNDAY 27 JUNE 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

After breakfast this morning we head off for Undara Volcanic National Park. Long ago this area was an active volcanic region, and as large flows of lava ran away from the volcano, the outside of those lava flows cooled to rock. The inner sections flowed away, leaving lava ‘tubes’ remaining. Undara are the largest and best preserved lava tubes anywhere in the world and we enjoy a guided tour of these amazing tube systems.

After morning tea, we begin our journey further into the Queensland Outback. We make our way through the Gulf Savannah Woodland to the Lynd Junction, stopping at The Oasis Roadhouse, famous for being Queensland’s smallest pub. It is here we enjoy lunch.

Heading further south this afternoon, we come to Charters Towers, a delightful town built from the proceeds of gold mining. The boom in the late eighteen hundreds brought people, activity and prosperity to Charters Towers, making it Queensland’s largest city outside Brisbane at that time.

We check into our accommodation for tonight at the Cattlemans Rest Motor Inn (Ph: 07 4787 3555).

 Day Five – MONDAY 28 JUNE 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

Before we leave Charters Towers this morning, we enjoy a tour around this old gold mining city which was once home to one of the few regional stock exchanges in Australia, as well as a school of mines that produced the nation’s mining experts for many years. There are many major Australian companies that owe their existence to the early boom years in Charters Towers and the prosperity and grandeur of the gold mining era can be seen in the heart of the city, where a number of magnificent civic buildings have been well preserved.

Continuing our journey into the outback, we travel to the small town of Pentland, we pause for morning tea before continuing to Hughendon. Believed to be located at the edge of Australia’s ancient inland sea, there have been over 3000 fossil specimens found in the Hughenden area.

After lunch, we can sit back and relax for the last stretch of our journey today to Winton, known for dinosaurs, ’Waltzing Matilda’ and being the birthplace of Qantas.

Our accommodation tonight is at the Matilda Motel (Ph: 07 4657 1433).  

Day Six – TUESDAY 29 JUNE 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

We enjoy a hearty breakfast before heading to a very unique attraction, The Musical Fence. This world first and ‘one of a kind’ fence was designed by percussionist and composer Graeme Leak. It is made of wire and can be played as a musical instrument. Nearby, there are a collection of other ‘percussion instruments’ crafted from an assortment of old scrap metal, so we can have some fun making a special kind of music!

Our next stop is the impressive Waltzing Matilda Centre, the first museum in the world dedicated to a song! The original centre with its history and artefacts was destroyed by a fire in 2015, but on 20 April, 2018 it was reborn. Boasting state of the art interpretation and displays, the new centre celebrates the Waltzing Matilda legend, the origins of Qantas, as well as local stories and heritage. While here we enjoy morning tea.

Late morning, we venture a short distance to Corfield to visit the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils. We enjoy a guided ’behind the scenes’ tour of the Fossil Preparation Lab to discover how the dinosaur bones are found and recovered. This is the most productive fossil lab in the Southern Hemisphere and we have the chance to touch a real fossil, as well as see the technicians at work. We will also visit the collection room to see and hear about Australia’s largest and most complete dinosaur specimens, nicknamed Banjo, Matilda and Wade.

After our visit and lunch at the museum, we set off along the highway once more, travelling towards Longreach. An iconic outback town, Longreach has a rich history and culture, built on the traditional industries of sheep and cattle farming. It’s name comes from the ‘long reach’ of the Thomson River which is situated close to the town and the landscapes that surround are inspiring.

On arrival, we check into our accommodation for the next two nights at Albert Park Motor Inn (Ph: 0418 806 233).

Day Seven – WEDNESDAY 30 JUNE 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

Probably one of the most well known attractions in the Queensland outback is the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame. The dream of Hugh Sawrey, stockman and artist, supported by a group of co-founders, including the legendary RM Williams, the complex pays tribute to unsung heroes of remote Australia. The building itself is inspired by the silos, water tanks and unique constructions of the outback,  and the museum galleries celebrate our country’s pioneering history, sharing the inspirational stories of real Australians.

There is a new cinematic experience showcasing the journey of the Stockman through time, as well as a live show where we get to see the outback stockman at work in a live muster. This visit will definitely be a highlight of our tour.

There is a saying in these parts, that Qantas was conceived in Cloncurry, born in Winton and grew up in Longreach! Celebrating it’s centenary in November 2020, it is timely to visit the Qantas Founders Museum  to discover the story of its inception, learn about the characters who built it and marvel at their pioneering spirit. After lunch in the café we explore the museum. A 747 jumbo jet and a Boeing 707 seem an unlikely sight in outback Queensland, but these are just two of the incredible exhibits of this world-class centre. We have plenty of time here to take it all in before heading back to the motor inn to freshen up for a special evening.

Late this afternoon we depart on the Drover’s Sunset Cruise. We board the Longreach Explorer, gliding through the waters of the Thomson River admiring the colours of the outback as the sun begins to set. Arriving at Sunset Bend, we disembark for Smithy’s Outback Dinner and Show, where we enjoy a camp-oven themed dinner under the stars, listening to the talented performers as they entertain us with song and story.

At the end of a unique and memorable evening we return to our accommodation for a good night’s rest.

Day Eight – THURSDAY 1 JULY 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

We farewell our hosts here in Longreach and return to Winton for morning tea before beginning our journey further west.

Our first stop is in Kynuna, a small settlement in the heart of Waltzing Matilda Country. Kynuna was once a Cobb and Co post and is home to the Blue Heeler Pub, named after the famous Australian working dog. The hotel is well known as a part of the Waltzing Matilda legend, as the song was performed at the hotel soon after it was written by Banjo Patterson.

A relaxing lunch is enjoyed before we set off for the small town of McKinlay. We stop here to visit the renowned Walkabout Creek Hotel, known for its role in the internationally acclaimed Crocodile Dundee movies.

Our travels continue north west towards Cloncurry, where tonight we will stay at Gidgee Inn Motel (Ph: 07 4742 1599).  After settling into our rooms, we enjoy a relaxing dinner in the restaurant.

Day Nine – FRIDAY 2 JULY 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

This morning we take the opportunity to look around Cloncurry. Founded in 1867 with the discovery of copper, Cloncurry was the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the destination of the first Qantas flight, so it played a significant role in shaping outback Australia.

After visiting one of the local museums and enjoying morning tea, we journey a short distance along the highway to Mount Isa, nestled among the Selwyn Ranges in the heart of north west Queensland. Once a small town built around the large mineral resources that the city is now famous for, Mount Isa has grown into a thriving industrial and commercial centre.

On arrival, we head to Outback at Isa, known as the cultural heart of town. The Centre offers a variety of experiences and after enjoying lunch at the Outback at Isa Café, we will take time to discover more about this outback community. The Isa Experience is an award winning display featuring an interactive, multi-media gallery which interprets the region’s cultural, indigenous, pioneering and mining heritage. Included in the experience is the Outback Park, complete with a lagoon and waterfall, the Rodeo Hall of Fame and Allan’s Outback Gems, the newest addition to the display.

Late afternoon we check into our accommodation at The Burke and Wills Motel (Ph: 07 4743 8000), where we will stay for the next two nights.

Day Ten – SATURDAY 3 JULY 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

Following breakfast this morning we take some time to look around Mount Isa, including a stop at the City Lookout to take in the panoramic views. We also enjoy a short drive to Lake Moondarra, an artificial lake on the Leichhardt River. A popular spot for recreational water activities, the lake also hosts an array of bird life such as pelicans, cormorants, galahs and ducks.

After morning tea we visit the Underground Hospital and Museum, quite a unique attraction in the Queensland outback! During World War II, after the bombing of Darwin, concern grew about the vulnerability of sites in North West Queensland to air raid attacks. A large air-raid shelter was constructed in a matter of weeks, excavated by off-duty miners, designed to function as a fully equipped underground hospital. Today, we get to wander through the hospital and learn how it functioned back in the 1940’s.

After lunch we return to the Outback at Isa complex, this time to visit the Riversleigh Fossil Discovery Centre. The centre uses state-of-the-art interactive displays and showcases some of the unique fossil finds from the Riversleigh World Heritage Site located north of Mount Isa. It is one of the most significant fossil deposits in the world, with finds dating back at least 25 million years.

We return to our accommodation in the afternoon with time to relax or explore the main street before dinner.

Day Eleven – SUNDAY 4 JULY 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

After discovering the outback city of Mount Isa, it is time to continue our journey west. We follow the Barkly Highway to Camooweal, where the National Trust Buildings reflect the essence of remote Australia. Camooweal is administered by the Mount Isa City Council, which means the main street of Mount Isa stretches for 188 kilometres, making the Barkly Highway one of the longest main streets in the world! We will stop here to stretch our legs and have morning tea.

Before long we cross the border and travel through the Northern Territory to Barkly Homestead. Situated at the junction of the Barkly and Tablelands Highways, the homestead is a popular stopover for travellers on the way to and from Queensland.

After lunch we continue to our final destination for the day, the gold mining town of Tennant Creek.  Once the link for the overland telegraph, Australia’s last gold rush took place here in the 1930s, earning the town its title of The Territory’s Heart of Gold.

Our accommodation tonight is at the Bluestone Motor Inn (Ph: 08 8962 2617).

 Day Twelve – MONDAY 5 JULY 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

Just over an hour south of Tennant Creek are the famous Devil’s Marbles. This remarkable geological formation is the result of mechanical weathering, which cracked the rocks, and chemical weathering, which flaked the surface, thus creating the amazing spherical rocks we see today. The stones have the appearance of being dumped upon the landscape with some boulders sitting precariously on the top of others. We stop here for the chance to wander among the rocks and marvel at the magic of nature.

A short distance from Devils Marbles is Wycliffe Well, our morning tea stop for today. Wycliffe Well has developed a reputation for being the UFO capital of the Territory, with many reported sightings of strange flying objects in the skies above. The roadhouse features a display of press cuttings which tell the stories of these reported sightings, as well as some murals and many other items continuing the UFO theme.

Travelling south on the Stuart Highway, near the town of Ti Tree, we pass Mount Stuart, known for being the most significant feature situated closest to the geographical centre of Australia. We stop in Ti Tree for lunch before a comfortable drive this afternoon to Alice Springs.

Our accommodation for the final night together is at the Crowne Plaza Lasseters (Ph: 08 8950 7777).

Day Thirteen – TUESDAY 6 JULY 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch )

After enjoying our final breakfast together this morning and farewelling our hosts we take the opportunity to visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). Established in 1928 by the Reverend John Flynn, on a campaign to improve living conditions for those in remote Australia, the RFDS has grown to become the world’s largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisation.

We head to the site of the original Alice Springs working base that commenced operating in 1939. On a guided tour we discover how using the latest in aviation, medical and communications technology, the RFDS is able to deliver a primary health care and 24-hour emergency service to those who live, work and travel in the isolated and outback areas of Australia. We can view ‘John Flynn, the Hologram’, to hear the story of his vision and how it became the RFDS of today, as well as experiencing the stories of a patient and a pilot through the new virtual reality display. We can also step inside a full scale replica of an RFDS aircraft and feel what it is like to be a patient at 15,000 feet.

After morning tea we proceed to the airport to check in for our direct flight to Adelaide. We will be assisted through the check in procedure and taken to the gate for departure.

Upon arrival at the Adelaide Airport we are met at the gate by an Endeavour Tours representative, who guides us to the baggage collection area. We have a final opportunity to farewell our fellow-travellers, before we board the vehicle that will return us home with memories of an inspiring tour exploring the scenic beauty and vastness of the outback from Cairns to Alice Springs.