GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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This classic 10-day journey takes in three of Australia’s most famous areas, including the Blue Mountains, the Great Barrier Reef, and Uluru.
On your first day in Australia’s largest city, visit the world-renowned Opera House, stopping for lunch at the Opera Bar with its sweeping views of the cityscape and Harbour Bridge. In the afternoon, take a guided walking tour through the historic Rocks area beyond Circular Quay, stopping at the Spirit Gallery to browse through an impressive array of Aboriginal arts and crafts. After some much-needed rest, start the second day with a harbor cruise. You can enjoy the best vantage points for seeing this spectacular city and its magnificent waterfront setting. In the afternoon, trek over to Sydney Harbour Bridge, where a trek up the stairs of the South East Pylon rewards you with an unbeatable harbor panorama.
Leave Sydney in the morning on a day trip to the Blue Mountains, approximately one hour away by car or bus. Head for Katoomba at the peak of the Blue Mountains National Park, where the Three Sisters await, an unusual rock formation representing three sisters who were turned to stone according to Aboriginal legend. Head to neighboring Scenic World and choose the scenic skyway, walkway, railway, or cableway to experience the majesty of the Jamison Valley. On your way back, make a small detour in the pretty garden village of Leura, with its many fine coffee shops, restaurants, and galleries.
Take an organized day trip to the Hunter Valley Wine Region, 150 km (93 miles) north of Sydney, and spend the day experiencing a selection of more than 150 wineries and cellar doors. Discover the region’s finest Shiraz or Chardonnay and taste some of the freshest produce and best cheeses that Australia has to offer. After a day spent tasting the area’s wines, take a well-earned break at the Bluetongue Brewery in Pokolbin where you can shift to beer tastings.
Fly to Cairns, a tropical city nestled in North Queensland and the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Relax after your three-hour flight from Sydney with a visit to the Cairns Tropical Zoo to cuddle a koala.
Take a full-day tour of nearby Kuranda village and the surrounding rain forest. Experience one of Australia’s most scenic rail journeys, the Skyrail, for a bird’s-eye view over the forest. After lunch, head to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park to watch Aboriginal dances and listen to music and informational talks—perhaps even try your hand at throwing a boomerang or playing the didgeridoo!
Book a full-day cruise from Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef and get up close and personal with the abundant sea life of the world’s largest coral reef system. With some of the best snorkeling and diving on the planet, nothing beats getting in the water and swimming with groupers, clown fish, and rays. Then revel in the fact you’re experiencing one of the seven wonders of the natural world firsthand.
Take an early morning flight to Sydney and then catch a connecting flight to the physical and spiritual heart of Australia: World Heritage–listed Uluru, the iconic symbol of the Australian Outback. Once you arrive and check in at Ayers Rock Resort, book a seat at the Sounds of Silence Dinner, where you can feast on a barbecue buffet of kangaroo, crocodile, and barramundi and marvel at the immense desert sky.
Wake up early the next morning to catch the majestic sunrise over Uluru (Ayers Rock). See the magnificence of Uluru as its surface changes color with the rising sun, from pink to blood red to mauve throughout the day. Afterward, walk around Uluru’s base with a guide and learn about how this sacred site was created by spirit ancestors in the Dreamtime. In the afternoon, sign up for a tour of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), the nearby rock domes over which you can watch the sunset.
Once you return to Sydney, take the short ferry ride to Taronga Zoo and stroll around the zoo’s harborside location, spying kangaroos, koalas, and other animal natives. If you have time, a short bus or train ride to the world famous Bondi Beach is in order for a taste of Sydney’s much heralded beach life. Spend early evening at the Bondi Icebergs club, where you can enjoy a glass of Australian wine while gazing out over the south end of the beach.