A short 7 day tour from Brisbane offering daily guided walks in the Australian World Heritage Gondwana rainforest, Border Ranges, Girraween, Bald Rock, New England and Oxley Wild Rivers National Parks. Massive monoliths, gorges and ravines, waterfalls and wildlife. An unsurpassed range of scenery and protected habitats from the snow gum forests at 1564m, over untracked wilderness to the beaches of the Pacific Ocean and Cape Byron – 7 days departing Brisbane
Single Supplement part available. Special Discounts apply to this tour. Early Bird price reverts to the Regular Price 6 months prior to each tour departure date.
2020 prices available and bookings received from mid 2019. Register now for advanced releases.
Witness the last retreat and evolution of ancient rainforests, dating back 200 million years.
The character of early Australia will unfold
Be inspired by the dramatic scenery, world heritage areas protecting a variety of habitats and wildlife species
You’ll return to Brisbane through the intensely beautiful big rivers and “rainbow country” preferred by today’s alternative life-stylers seeking life enhancing energy and environment.
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Pre departure administration in Brisbane as guest arrivals determine.
Day 1 Gold Coast to Border Ranges
141 kms in 4 stages
Departing from the Gold Coast, you’ll travel through a rich tapestry of hinterland and farming lots towards Boonah with the ever presence of the Scenic Rim drawing near, then a short ascent to the world heritage Main Range National Park and a series of 4WD creek crossings through the Condamine Gorge to the Darling River basin. Here are the headwaters of Australia’s longest and most historic inland waterway. A bush picnic lunch in the gorge and then time to enjoy a short 1 hour circuit walk in mixed habitats to view the Queen Mary Falls plummeting over its volcanic barrier. Experience a close encounter with some of our colourful fringe rainforest birds – parrots, rosellas, satin bower birds and wrens. We then settle into our private retreat cottage for the night, remotely located high on the border ranges with spectacular views of local peaks (and the morning sunrise) plus delightful evening cuisine from our host to match.
Accommodation: Spring Creek Cottages, The Head
Day 2 Border Ranges to Tenterfield
123 Kms in 3 stages
After a wholesome country breakfast, you’ll travel along remote back roads to the largest granite monolith in the southern hemisphere for a 2 hour return trail walk to its summit and amazing 360 degree views of the granite belt which stretches for 400 kms across two States. Then it’s a short drive to the regional historic township of Tenterfield, made famous by the impassioned speech of an English immigrant turned politician, Henry Parkes giving rise to “the birth of our nation”.
There is much to explore in the township set around bush legends and our First Nations Peoples. The day’s journey will take in morning tea delights from an iconic apple orchard packing shed, stories of war invasions, Thunderbolt the legendary bushranger and Tenterfield’s connection to Banjo Patterson, Breaker Morant, the Tenterfield Saddler and his grandson, broadway star Peter Allen.
Accommodation: Tenterfield Regional Motel (2 nights)
Day 3 Girraween National Park
An early breakfast and short drive to an energetic day offering a number of walking options on undulating and climbing national park trails. Walks range from 2 to 4 hours each, to Castle Rock,The Pyramid, Turtle Rock and The Sphinx or the granite slabs of Bald Rock Creek. Girraween, meaning ‘place of flowers’, is also a place of massive granite outcrops, large angular tors, and precariously balanced boulders. Girraween National Park is the merging point of ranging wildlife and birds from all points of the compass.
Day 4 Tenterfield to Armidale
219 kms in 4 stages
Today you travel south to the New England Tableland where fine Merino sheep and wool production created a number of pastoral dynasties and led to the growth of historic Armidale with its cold climate gardens and parks and institutions of higher regional education. The afternoon journey will take in a dramatic gorge and falls of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park where we’ll search for the endangered and shy Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby and follow the haunting cries and powerful flight of Peregrine Falcons which nest seasonally on the precipice of the 120m ravine.
Accommodation: Armidale based quality motor-inn
Day 5 Armidale to Dorrigo
170 kms in 6 stages
An early start for more startling scenery, of tortuous gorges carving their way into the Great Divide escarpment and plummeting waterfalls. Search for our largest bird of prey, the Wedge-tailed Eagle, soaring up to 2000 metres on the thermals or detect the shuffle in the bush of an Echidna, one of our unique living fossils. We walk up to 2 hours along undulating trails to view two of Australia’s most dramatic ravines and gorges.
This exceptional day continues with a visit to the wilderness edge of the world heritage New England National Park, a reserve of high geological significance, diversity of habitats, plants and animal species. Impenetrable ridges of volcanic origin dating back 500 million years protect dense sub-tropical rainforest through to high country snow gums and a windswept plateau of stunted heath. 1000 plant species are protected here. Be ready for a chance meeting with a Scarlet Robin, the Superb Lyrebird or a Spotted-tailed Quoll. Enjoy the high-point panorama stretching over 75 kms of trackless wilderness to the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean. Deep in the cool temperate rainforest you will discover remnant examples of the ancient Antarctic Beech Trees, thousands of years old, having direct link to the super-continent of Gondwanaland, 125 million years ago. There is a choice of two 1.5 to 2 hour walks in this iconic National Park. Later you’ll visit the twin drops of Ebor Falls before a winding back roads descent from the Great Divide onto the vividly picturesque farming and rain forested plateau of Dorrigo and finally a rainforest canopy walk.
Accommodation: Lookout Mountain Retreat, motel suites at Dorrigo
Day 6 Dorrigo to Ballina
268 kms in 5 stages
We continue down off The Divide to the eclectic village of Bellingen for a sidewalk morning tea with the ”alternative” locals, then suddenly a grand arrival on the Sawtell headland to view the South Pacific Ocean. Shortly after, we duck into Coffs Harbour and choose the scenic country way to Grafton (home of the Jacaranda Festival) and lunch at the tiny historic port of Ulmarra on the mighty Clarence River. Then it’s a highway run to Ballina at the mouth of another mighty river, the Richmond for late afternoon roaming and refreshments. Early to bed for our traditional pre-dawn rise to witness sunrise over the Pacific, beneath one of the oldest lighthouses (1866) on this spectacular coastline.
Accommodation: Ramada Hotel and Suites, Ballina
Day 7 Ballina to Gold Coast
100 kms in 4 stages
After the mindfulness moments of a spectacular sunrise you’ll return for a Ballina breakfast and then a concluding day of iconic headlands including a short stroll onto Lennox Head and then onto Cape Byron the eastern most landfall of the Australian mainland, at iconic Byron Bay. The “Byron” as it is affectionately known is the lifestyle retreat for alternative communities and hideaway celebrities. Time for a relaxed stroll along the iconic beaches and over the headlands on constructed pathways to the Cape Lighthouse.
Here you will overlook extraordinary beaches, precipitous slopes down to rolling azure waves, possibly sea turtles or rays, dolphins at play and (in season) migrating whales.
The nearest landfall north is Siberia, south the Antarctic ice mass and east, Chile.
After an alfresco beach side lunch and time to reflect on the journey’s end you’ll travel north through the “rainbow country” toward the Gold Coast airport and your anticipated flight departure for home.
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