Melbourne to Darwin small group tour, 18 days

From: AUDtesting

18 day expedition

What's Included:
▪Rainforest walk in Great Otway National Park.
▪Visit to the 12 Apostles and an Aboriginal centre.
▪Visit to Tower Hill Reserve and Coorong National Park.
▪Clare Valley wine tasting.
▪Underground mine tour.
▪Champagne sunset viewing of Uluru.
▪Mala walk around Uluru and visit to the culture centre.
▪Hikes at Grampians National Park, Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), Kings Canyon.
▪Crocodile-spotting boat cruise.
▪Aboriginal art and craft centre visit.
▪Exploration of Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks.
▪All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.

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Melbourne to Darwin small group tour, 18 days

You can’t get Down Under through a bus window. If you’re going to get off the tourist track, you’ll have to shake things up a bit—that’s why we’ve turned to trains, 4x4s, buses and boats for this itinerary. From the cobblestones of charming Melbourne, cut through the Outback and explore the mysteries of Uluru. Follow your curiosity down the deserted tracks that make Australia so remote and spend 18 days discovering the natural beauty of one of the world’s most awe-inspiring destinations.

Learn about creation time stories of the Aborigines, catch the magnificent colours of Uluru, hike through gorgeous natural rock formations in the Red Centre, ride the route of Afghan cameleers on the Ghan Train, explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kakadu National Park

Is this trip for me?

  • Group Size Notes: Max 20, avg 16
  • Meals Included: 14 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 9 dinners
  • Transport: Private bus, train, 4x4, boat


Day 1 Melbourne

Arrive in Melbourne at any time. There are no planned activities during the day, so check into the hotel and explore the city. Please try to arrive before 7pm for an important group welcome meeting where you can meet the Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members. If you arrive early enough, you'll have time to head into the city take in the 'cultural capital of Australia'.

Day 2 Great Ocean Road/Port Campbell (1B)

Depart early morning for the journey to Port Campbell. Check out the famous surf town of Torquay, Bells Beach and Lorne en route. Make a stop at Great Otway National Park for an included rainforest walk. Explore the scenic attractions of the Great Ocean Road including the picturesque Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. Estimated travel time: 5 hours Travel distance: 300 km

Day 3 Grampians National Park (1B,1D)

Start the day visiting more attractions of the Great Ocean road including The Arch and the now broken London Bridge. Visit Tower Hill National Park for a chance to see animals endemic to Australia such as koalas, emus and kangaroos. Visit an Aboriginal Cultural Centre to learn about the significance of the area to the indigenous people. End the day depending on the time with an evening walk in the Grampians National Park before staying overnight in Halls Gap. Estimated travel time: 3 hours Travel distance: 260 km

Day 4 Mt Gambier (1B, 1D)

Early start to explore more of Grampians National Park. Walk to the stunning Jaws of Death Balconies, visit Mc Kenzie's Falls, and travel onto the country town of Mount Gambier. We stay at a refurbished old English jail for the night where you can take a self-guided tour around this historic site. Estimated travel time: 4 hours Travel distance: 310 km

Day 5 Adelaide (1B)

Stop off at Blue Lake before travelling to Coorong National Park. This park is stunning because of its dune systems, lagoons, coastal vegetation and variety of bird life. Participate in a number of short walks to appreciate the scenery before heading on to Adelaide for the night. An optional group dinner gives you a chance to sample local cuisine and wines from the region. Estimated travel time: 4 hours Travel distance: 330 km

Day 6 Flinders Ranges (1B)

Early departure this morning. Travel through the Clare Valley wine area, making a stop for a wine tasting and demonstration to learn about the development of the vineyards in the area. South Australia has earned its place as one of the top wine regions in the world. Travel to Quorn Historic town for the night. Estimated travel time: 4 hours Travel distance: 350 km

Day 7 Outback (1B,1L,1D)

Take the day to explore the amazing scenery of Flinders Ranges. Wilpena Pound is a stunning natural amphitheater of mountains. Visit Aboriginal Art sites while on a guided tour of the area by your CEO. Your CEO will explain about the early settler history before settling in at Beltana Homestead for the night. Estimated travel time: 1 hour Travel distance: 50 km

Day 8 William Creek (1B,1L,1D)

We follow the Oodnadatta Track, strewn with ruins of failed early settler activity, along the route of the equally unsuccessful original Ghan Railway route. Stop to explore a number of historic settler sites along the way. Visit the Arabunna Aboriginal Centre to learn about the importance of the area to indigenous people. Visit the dry salt lake of Lake Eyre and take a dip in the remote thermal springs. Overnight at the Historic William Creek Hotel. Due to the size of the town the accommodations here are rather basic. Estimated travel time: 3 hours Travel distance: 200 km

Day 9 Coober Pedy (1B,1D)

Travel a very basic track to the unique opal mining town of Coober Pedy, where people live underground to avoid the heat. A guided mine tour gives insight to the mining process and then importance of opal to the area. Overnight like the locals by sleeping in an underground hostel, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Estimated travel time: 3 hours Travel distance: 150 km

Day 10-11 Uluru (2B,1L,1D)

Cross the border to the Northern Territory, where Australia's most iconic view awaits. Experience the colourful sunset at Uluru, while enjoying a glass of bubbly. Marvel at the night sky while bunking down in a swag (canvas bedroll) for the night. If you would like a bit more coverage, tents are also available. The next morning, awake before sunrise to do the Mala Walk around part of the base of Uluru (Ayers Rock) while learning its significance to the locals. Visit the cultural centre to get a better understanding of the area. Between November and March, there is extreme heat with temperatures averaging between 43-46°C in the middle of Australia, especially around Uluru and Kings Canyon. This can lead to heat exhaustion and potentially become very dangerous. Be sure to drink plenty of water and replenish electrolytes by drinking sports drinks, coconut water or water mixed with electrolyte powder packets.  The Mala Walk at Uluru is not permitted if temperatures exceed 40°C. During these hot months, we will endeavour to offer all walks early in the day to avoid the heat. Our CEOs will monitor the weather conditions to gauge the safety of any included walks and may need to call off a given day's walk due to extreme heat. Estimated travel time: 9 hours Travel distance: 750 km

Day 12 Kings Creek (1B, 1L,1D)

Travel to the rock formations of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and, heat permitting, walk through the Valley of the Winds to explore the surrounding area before continuing onto Kings Canyon. Enjoy another night under the stars the traditional way, by sleeping in a swag (canvas bedroll). If you would like a bit more coverage, tents are also available. Opt to take a scenic helicopter flight over the area. Estimated travel time: 5 hours Travel distance: 450 km

Day 13 Alice Springs (1B)

Enjoy the morning taking in the scenery or by going on an optional 4 hour walk through the gorges and valleys of Kings Canyon of Watarrka National Park. Travel to Alice Springs via the homestead of Erldunda. Spend the night in a centrally-located hotel in Alice Springs. Located halfway between Adelaide and Darwin, Alice Springs is the base for all trips through the Red Centre. Estimated travel time: 4.5 hours Travel distance: 375 km

Day 14 The Ghan Train

Free day to explore Alice Springs. Embark on The Ghan Train at approximately 6pm. Our seats are two-abreast reclining chairs that can swivel to face each other if you'd like to socialize. The overnight train is comfortable and there is a café on board where you can buy meals. Sit back and enjoy the scenery pass by as the train travels from the Red Centre to the Top End of Australia. There are no power outlets on the train, so make sure all your gadgets are fully charged and ready to go! Estimated travel time: 15 hours Travel distance: 1,489 km

Day 15 Darwin

The Ghan Train makes a stop at Katherine for a 4 hour break. There are a number of activity options to choose from. A transfer to Katherine's Gorge is included and from there feel free to choose the activity that suits you. Opt to simply walk the stunning Katherine Gorge or get adventurous with a flat-bottomed boat or helicopter flight over the gorge. We arrive into Darwin at approximately 5:30pm.


Day 16 Darwin/Kakadu National Park (1L,1D)

Early departure to Corroboree Billabong for an included wildlife and crocodile-spotting cruise. Visit Ubirr to look at the indigenous rock art. Stop at an Aboriginal arts and crafts centre to learn about the ideas behind the creations. You have the option to sleep in a tent or outside under the night sky in a swag (canvas bedroll). During the wet season (usually November - April) groups will stay in dorm accommodation (located outside the park) to avoid the rain. NOTE: The itinerary for this day varies depending on the season. We will visit slightly different attractions depending on the weather conditions.

Day 17 Kakadu National Park/Litchfield National Park (1B,1L,1D)

Embark early on a full day of exploring. Hike to the top of Twin Falls for great views and an outstanding swimming spot. Walk to Jim Jim Falls and take in the sandstone cliffs while taking time to cool off in the refreshing plunge pools. Travel to our overnight camp near Litchfield, swags (canvas bedrolls) or tents await. End the night with a group BBQ. NOTE: The itinerary for this day varies depending on the season. During the rainy season the accommodations will be dorm-style and we will visit slightly different attractions depending on the weather conditions. Estimated travel time: 3 hours Travel distance: 200 km

Day 18 Litchfield National Park/Darwin (1B,1L)

An early start to take advantage of time in Litchfield National Park. Visit the Wangi, Florence and Tolmer Falls with opportunities to go for a swim. Visit the Buley Rockholes and see the amazing giant termite mounds. Tour ends in Darwin upon arrival in the evening at 6pm. Please book departure flights after 8pm. Estimated travel time: 2 hours Travel distance: 170 km


Day 16 Darwin/Litchfield NP (1L,1D)

Depart from Darwin at 6:30am, an early start to take advantage of time in Litchfield National Park. Visit the Florence and Tolmer Falls and cool off with a swim. Visit the Buley Rockhole and see the spectacular giant termite mounds before continuing on to the Adelaide River for a croc cruise.

Day 17 Kakadu NP (1B,1L,1D)

Cross into Kakadu National Park and visit an Aboriginal cultural centre, learn about some rock art and hike down to a breathtaking gorge with various pools.

Day 18 Kakadu NP/Darwin (1B,1L,1D)

Get an early start to visit Gunlom Falls for a walk and a swim before visiting the beautiful Ikoymarrwa for a swim, a site accessible only with a special permit. Tour ends in Darwin upon arrival in the evening, please book departure flights after 8pm.