Pre departure administration, meet ‘n greet and tour briefings in Brisbane the afternoon before departure
Commence your journey travelling north from Brisbane to Mt Ngungun (253m) one of the Glass House Mountains named by English seafaring explorer Captain James Cook. We’ll walk to the summit then continue on to the Sunshine Coast for lunch and a short beach roam. Enjoy a short inspection of unique Wallum Country with its birdlife and flora and then take a popular headland walk in Noosa National Park with its scenic beaches and coves, viewing the marine life (migrating Humpback Whales in season), bronzed Aussie surfers riding the waves, abundant birdlife and occasional Koalas.
Accommodation: holiday apartments for two nights
A continental style breakfast available in your room will facilitate an early departure on a special 4WD beach safari to the iconic world heritage Fraser Island. A full day of adventure taking in 90 miles of remote beaches (4WD road), multi-coloured sands, sandy forest tracks, picturesque “perched” lakes, towering forests growing in sand and startling sand blows, all unique features of the world’s largest sand island.
Today you motor north into the sugar cane belt of Queensland and the coastal township of Agnes Water, where luxury apartments for two nights accommodation await and a late afternoon stroll on the beach beckons.
Accommodation: Mantra Pavilions Apartments Agnes Water 2 nights
An early in house breakfast before you head to the ocean going catamaran service departing the historic village of 1770 for a spectacular day on Lady Musgrave Island. Enjoy a true coral cay located on the southern extremity of the Great Barrier Reef. Here is a pristine island hideaway of coral sands, remote from the mainstream tourist invasion where you can view wonderful coral gardens, colourful marine life, an azure lagoon protected by a horseshoe reef located some distance out in the Pacific Ocean. Take an island walk, swim and snorkel to your hearts content, in a wonderful tropical setting.
Today offers a comfortable country highway drive west into the outback, through cattle fattening and major coal mining regions taking in the villages of Biloela, Banana, Moura, Bauhinia (named after a native tree) and Rolleston. You pass through local government areas, the size of Belgium. Observe massive coal mining operations, now the centre of debate in the era of global warming and late afternoon pass through rolling plains and cattle stations with the dramatic Carnarvon Ranges looming on the horizon. Chance viewing of large plains roaming birds unique to Australia, the Emu and Bustard as well as Kangaroos and Wallabies. Settle in to your upmarket safari cabin for the following three nights amidst primitive Macrozamia Palms and grazing wildlife.
Accommodation: Carnarvon Wilderness Lodge 3 nights
After a hearty lodge breakfast, you’ll embark on a full day walk on easy terrain along one of Australia’s most dramatic and scenic outback destinations, Carnarvon Gorge. Complete all or part of the walk as you desire. The gorge is a small part of a much larger national park. Carnarvon Creek has eroded a canyon 35 kms long through the expansive Central Queensland sandstone high country 1200m above sea level. Here is 200 million years of geological history, 3,500 years of Aboriginal culture and rock art, massive white sandstone walls up to 200m high, side canyons and an amphitheatre protecting delightful moss gardens and the King Fern a “living fossil” unchanged in form for over 200 million years.
Boolimba Bluff is the opening objective for the day, a trail taking you to the top and head of the gorge offering expansive views across surrounding ranges and vast valleys. Later you can enjoy a selection of short walks into secondary gorges for some delightful, naturally air-conditioned exploration. The sculptured rock faces, sometimes only an arms span apart, ensure sunlight only sparingly reaches the floor of the gorge setting up a micro climate all of its own. You can choose your walks and otherwise spend time relaxing around the lodge.
Leaving Carnarvon Gorge, you’ll travel directly south through the outback, bushranger and cattle duffing (stealing) territory of bygone years where pioneering legends abound. You arrive in the prosperous regional town of Roma, its streets lined with the unique Australian Bottle Trees and on the edge of town, one of the largest cattle sale yards in Australia. Million dollar road trains loaded with stock wind their way into town.
Your travel day continues to the village of Surat on the banks of the Balonne River a feeder to Australia’s greatest 3,300kms inland river system. This is sheep and cattle country where horse drawn Cobb and Co stage coaches once operated.
You arrive in the outback town of St George in Australia’s premier cotton growing belt to visit a Greek migrant skilled in the challenge of engraving emu eggs.
Accommodation: a family owned country motel
Today you travel the Barwon Highway and back rural roads to Girraween National Park reflecting on the European efforts to tame and develop a vast and wild country, contrary to nature’s intent. Enjoy a tea break at a legendary Aussie outback pub literally in the “never never” and lunch in the prosperous town of Goondiwindi perched on the river bank defining the Queensland / New South Wales state border. The back roads are bordered by delightful old Eucalypt Trees and remote sheep properties, leading to high tableland country where cold climate stone fruit orchards and wineries are a family enterprise. A warm welcome awaits your arrival at Girraween Environmental Lodge with mobs of Kangaroos and Wallabies grazing nearby.
Accommodation: 3 nights Girraween Environmental Lodge
225 million years ago large volumes of molten lava penetrated the older sedimentary layer of the earth, cooling at depth and solidifying into granite. Subsequent erosion over 25 million years has sculptured the landforms into steep sided monoliths, large angular tors, precariously balanced boulders and expansive inselberg outcrops. Prolific wildflowers (in spring) accompanying bird and wildlife are a feature of Girraween National Park, the meeting point for ranging wildlife from all points of the compass. Your walking options for the day cover a cluster of imposing features, Castle Rock, The Sphinx and Turtle Rock and later a climb up the exposed faces of The Pyramid (1080m), or a sedate stroll over the rock slabs to The Junction.
If you are up and about early, observe the character and antics of the Kangaroo families, the melodious dawn chorus of colourful birds going about their day.
Later you cross the state border into New South Wales to walk to the summit of Bald Rock the largest granite monolith in the southern hemisphere and second in size only to Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Central Australia.
The formed trail provides an easy steady climb passing through the Grand Titans cluster of rocks, viewing wildlife and flora as you go, then out onto the dramatic faces of Bald Rock itself.
Later you can explore one of Captain Thunderbolt’s bush hideouts, and recall the tales and legends of one of Australia’s larrikin bushrangers.
The historic township of Tenterfield, is famous for an Englishman’s passionate speech which gave birth to our nation and a number of its famous sons are etched in Australian folklore and international entertainment.
Travelling the New England Highway south to Armidale, you’ll take a tea break at the site of Australia’s own Standing Stones, celebrating the contributions made by Celtic communities to a developing Australia
Then back roads lead to the fine Merino Sheep breeding and grazing country of New England and an historic property once fit for Royalty.
You can take a short easy walk on formed trails to the various look overs of Dangars Falls and gorge where in 1866 a dare devil Italian tight-rope walker strutted his way up an inclined rope with a wheelbarrow, shunning a 200m “gulf” below.
Be on the alert for a chance encounter with Australia’s endangered Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby or a living fossil, the Echidna, or the soaring flights of resident Peregrine Falcons.
You’ll overnight in Armidale an historic regional centre of fine tertiary education, and cold climate parklands.
Accommodation: 2 nights at a family owned Armidale motel
The world heritage New England National Park protects pristine ancient vegetation and habitats, offering expansive panoramic views and chance sightings or calls of the Superb Lyrebird. You’ll stand on the precipitous edge of The Great Dividing Range, underlying folded sedimentary rocks formed 500 million years ago, now overlayed by 5 lava flows forming a rim 300 metres thick. The park habitats range from deep subtropical clad gullies and inaccessible ridges to high plateau wind and snow swept heath with snow gums. At 1564metres on a clear day you can see 70 kms to the waves rolling in on the Pacific Ocean. Immerse yourself in a forest of ancient Antarctic Beech Trees 3000 years old, descendants from the Super Continent Gondwana of 45 million years ago.
Complete your day with a walk at the Wollomombi Falls and Gorge, one of the highest falls in Australia, enjoying amazing look overs into the devil inspired ravines below.
You’ll travel to Ebor Falls, showpiece of the Guy Fawkes River National Park taking a short roam along the ridge line between the upper and lower falls.
It is then a 2 hour drive and winding descent over the edge of the Great Divide to the sleepy and fertile rural valleys of big coastal rivers. Enjoy an alfresco lunch at an old stage coach Inn owned and restored by actor Russell Crowe, complete with his private barn museum of movie and sporting memorabilia. You’ll travel on to the seaside township of Byron Bay arriving for a late afternoon sunset walk on one of Australia’s most celebrated beaches, nestled beneath Cape Byron, the most easterly land mark of the continent.
Accommodation: one night at a beachside motel / apartment
Consider the adventure of a pre-dawn walk along the beach and over the headlands on constructed pathways to Cape Byron, arriving for a magnificent elevated view of the Pacific Ocean at sunrise. Here you will overlook extraordinary beaches, precipitous slopes down to rolling azure waves, sea turtles and rays, dolphin and (in season) migrating whales. The nearest landfall north is Siberia, south the Antarctic ice mass and east, Chile.
After a leisurely surf side café breakfast you’ll travel on toward and through the World Heritage Border Ranges National Park enjoying short stops at creative artist galleries along the way. Road conditions and other factors will determine the route across the border into Queensland under the shadow of Mt Warning, mountains of the Scenic Rim and the Numinbah Valley behind the Gold Coast. Your holiday concludes in Brisbane approx 5.00pm, fond memories hopefully lasting forever.