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Highlights of Australia

Highlights of Australia

15 days, 5 cities51
See dates and prices

From $3159 without flightsPayments as low as $104

Aerial view of a sandy beach lined with palm trees and mountains in the distance
Aerial view of a sandy beach lined with palm trees and mountains in the distance
A building with three layers of white pointed arch roofs on the water with a city skyline behind it
Underwater view of small orange fish swimming around yellow coral
A koala bear on a rock
Trip Type:
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Why go?

What’s the best part about discovering the other side of the world? It could be the diverse and vibrant cities. It could be swimming through a coral reef you can see from space. It could be the koalas. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s discovering the other side of yourself.

Picture yourself

  • Hanging 10 on the waves of Bondi Beach

  • Cruising through Sydney Harbor, soaking up the sun

  • Exploring the largest outdoor market south of the equator

  • Snorkeling through the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef

  • Waddling alongside penguins on Summerlands Beach

What you'll get

  • Round-trip flights & airport transfers (or book 'em yourself)

  • 12 nights in handpicked accommodations

  • 12 breakfasts and 1 lunch

  • Welcome and farewell dinners

  • Expert Tour Director

  • 24/7 support from our travel gurus

  • 2 insider city tours

  • Sydney Harbor cruise

  • Admission to Great Barrier Reef Observatory

  • Entrance and tour through Mossman Gorge

Map for the Highlights of Australia tour
Full trip itinerary


  • Day 1: Board your flight

    Board your overnight flight, bound for a country that’s also a continent—Australia. Get stoked to meet some of the quirkiest people and coolest wildlife. Just don’t touch the bugs—not that you would.

    This tour requires a visa for U.S. citizens. Check entry requirements or call us with questions at 800-766-2645.

  • Day 2: Overnight flight

    Continue your flight to the land down under.

  • Day 3: Arrive in Melbourne + Welcome Dinner

    Welcome to Melbourne! Your first destination is Australia’s second largest city, and one of the best places in the world to get lost. Seriously. It seems every alleyway and side street has a hidden bar, hot new restaurant indebted to the city’s flourishing Vietnamese and Chinese populations, or a graffiti mural just waiting for you.

    In the evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner of local cuisine and drinks with fellow travelers at an authentic local spot. Afterwards, you’re free to take the party elsewhere!

    Today's highlights:

    • Meet an EF representative at the airport.
    • Transfer to your accommodation and check in.
    • Receive the latest schedule from your Tour Director.
    • Meet your fellow travelers as they arrive.
    • Get acquainted with Melbourne on a brief walk around the city with your Tour Director.
  • Day 4: Sightseeing in Melbourne + Optional Penguin Parade: Phillip Island Nature Park

    Start your morning by declaring “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my flat white,” Australia’s favorite way to get heavily caffeinated was supposedly invented in Melbourne before being co-opted by Starbucks. Now it’s time to take a deep dive with your Tour Director into quirky Melbourne, which, for the love of meat pies, you should pronounce as “Melb’n” like the locals do.

    Today's highlights:

    • Smell the flowers in Carlton Gardens: 94-acres of succulents, cacti, and other uniquely Aussie ecosystems.
    • Perfect your milk mustache with a flat white in one of Lygon Street’s charming Italian cafes.
    • Remind yourself to go back to school for architecture as you stroll Collins Street where glossy new skyscrapers mingle with ornate Victorian shopfronts.
    • If all your teeth are sweet-teeth, grab a jam donut at the largest open-air market south of the border (read: equator): Queen Victoria Market.

    Free time suggestions

    Pray to the Shopping Gods: Chapel Street is a shopping Mecca. Peruse the length of it, stopping often, as it transforms from vintage and bohemian to upscale boutiques.

    Call me Banksy: Get all the likes by posing in front of one of Melbourne’s endless murals on Hosier Lane (no, not named after the “Take Me to Church” guy). You now have photographic proof that you’re hip and artsy.

    Penguin Parade: Phillip Island Nature Park (extra cost)

    That’s right, there are penguins in Melbourne. Take a guided tour of Phillip Island, and end the day at Summerlands Beach to watch 4,000 tiny furballs scurry home at sunset full from a long day of fishing.

    Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

  • Day 5: Free Day in Melbourne

    Melbourne is so colorful and cosmopolitan and now it’s your playground for a day. Hop on over to the local Outback Steakhouse and chow down on an authentic Bloomin’ Onion. Kidding. Melbourne is the Great Australian Melting Pot and today’s your chance to take a bite of local culture.

    Today's highlights:

    • Boomerang your way through the bustling laneways and arcades of Oz’s cultural capital—you’re free to move about Melbourne.
    • Fuel up on exotic food like Sri Lankan roti or Malaysian beef kebabs as you zigzag from neighborhood to neighborhood.
    • Reach your peak on a rooftop with a cold drink and some good company. The CBD has plenty of the above, and great views of the Yarra River to boot.
    • Dance through the streets to the tune of Melbourne’s many busking musicians. Quality guaranteed: buskers have to pass an audition to get permission to perform. Be sure to tip ‘em!

    Free time suggestions

    The Tragically Hip: Hipsters? They have those there too? Yep. Grab your skinny jeans and head to the uber-trendy Fitzroy neighborhood for a mason jar cocktail.

    Bring your floaties: St. Kilda is like a bohemian beach town within a beach city within a beach country. The “Inception” of beach towns. Get your tan on at St. Kilda Beach, Melbourne’s most famous strip of sand. The neighborhood is also home to a small penguin enclave, and the world’s oldest continually operating rollercoaster.

  • Day 6: Travel to Cairns

    G’day mate, hop your morning flight (sorry we couldn’t arrange for enough kangaroo pouches to carry everyone) to Cairns. Maybe there’s something to be said about how this is the northernmost point of your trip to the Southern hemisphere. Or maybe you’re about to be way too floored by the beauty of snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef to care about geography.

    Today's highlights:

    • Board your flight from Melbourne to Cairns, and break out your biggest, floppiest hat, you’re going from big city to resort town.
    • Look in the mirror and practice another wacky city name pronunciation, Cairns is pronounced “Cans.”
    • Take a walking tour of the city center, lush esplanade, and boardwalk and start to feel blissed out by Cairns laidback vibe.
    • Get a taste of fresh seafood, strong espresso, or any number of other local stalls at Rusty’s Markets, if you’re lucky enough to be in Cairns on the weekend.

    Free time suggestions

    Lagoon-a matata: The Esplanade Lagoon is built into the boardwalk. The water is clear, and admission is free and open to the public. Perfect for a day of lounging, getting your laps in, or just playing a little footy on the lawn nearby.

    Gilligan’s: A Cairns backpacking institution. This hostel-turned party hut/pool/bar throws legendary ragers well into the night. Please swim responsibly.

  • Day 7: Great Barrier Reef + Optional Snorkel with Marine Biologist

    Sure, Australia is filled with natural beauty, the likes of which you’ve never seen before. But even after a few days down under, nothing will prepare you for the unparalleled experience of snorkeling through Earth’s largest living creature. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mind you visiting. Dance with dugongs (AKA Australian sea cows) and clown around with, well, clownfish.

    For more information on Ultimate Break’s commitment to responsible tourism, please visit this page.

    Today's highlights:

    • Organize an a capella version of “I’m on a Boat” as you board a vessel from Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef.
    • Swim, snorkel, and sun tan as you get acquainted with one of the natural wonders of the world.
    • Hop in an underwater observatory built into the reef to watch the fish up close.
    • Discover the secrets of the reef on an optional adventure with a marine biologist.

    Marine Biologist Snorkeling Upgrade (extra cost)

    Enhance your snorkeling excursion and spend the day with a real marine biologist who spends their time studying the reef and the colorful characters who live there. They’ll even take you to a special research area.

    Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

  • Day 8: Mossman Gorge & Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat

    Think of a rainforest. You call that a rainforest? No, THIS is a rainforest. Experience this Australian national park through the eyes of the aboriginal population: the Kuku Yulanji tribe.

    Today's highlights:

    • Cleanse your aura and ward off the bad spirits with our aboriginal hosts as you walk through a customary herbal smoke before entering the rainforest.
    • Gawk at the natural beauty of the gorge, remember that you’re not in Kansas anymore.
    • Head into the seaside village of Port Douglas and make a beeline for Four Mile Beach.
  • Day 9: Travel to Townsville

    Wave goodbye to the wallabies, and hop your bus to Townsville. Just a few hours down the coast from Cairns, this misleadingly named oasis (really more of a city than a town or ville TBH) combines the surf town vibes of Cairns with the big city amenities of Melbourne.

    Today's highlights:

    • Put didgeridoo practice on pause to marvel on your bus ride from Cairns as the outback transforms from tropical to savannah right before your eyes.
    • Arrive in Townsville and drop everything but your hiking boots and sense of adventure.
    • Feel the attraction as Magnetic Island calls your name, so much so that you take a ferry out to it.
    • Hike the coastal trails, catching a glimpse of koalas living their best life in the Eucalyptus.
    • Set your sights on the wreck of the SS City of Adelaide, which ran aground off the coast of Magnetic Island in 1916, and at low tide is fully visible, with mangrove trees growing out of its rotted deck.

    Free time suggestions

    Pretty in Pink: Move mountains and bushwhack to the top of bright pink Castle Hill for amazing panoramic views of Townsville, Cleveland Bay, and Magnetic Island.

    Don’t just strand there: Still not sick of the sun? The Strand beach in Townsville is one of Australia’s premiere beaches, not to mention beachside bars.

  • Day 10: Travel to Airlie Beach

    Now’s your chance to be bold at breakfast and try vegemite on toast, because you’re off again for bluer pastures in the afternoon. Head to Airlie Beach by bus and see if you can spot any dingoes out the window. Actually, start by asking your Tour Director exactly what a dingo is, and why you can’t pet one. After a quick regroup upon arrival, it’s off to the lagoon for a little R&R with your new BFFs. Beach volleyball, anyone?

    Today's highlights:

    • Soak up the final rays Townsville has to offer, but don’t be sad, you’re going from one beach town to another.
    • See if you can finish a rousing rendition of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” in the time it takes your bus to make the picturesque trek to Airlie Beach.
    • Arrive in Airlie Beach and re-re-reapply the SPF 100. The Australian sun doesn’t go on holiday.
    • Take some time in Airlie Beach to figure out which lagoon-side bar is your favorite. This may take some hands-on research.
  • Day 11: Free Day in Airlie Beach + Optional Whitsunday Island

    Don’t you just hate waking up in paradise? Yeah, us too. Airlie Beach boasts the most stunning beach scenes this side of Bob Ross’s paintings, and you get a front row seat to its endlessly serene beauty all day.

    Today's highlights:

    • Pinch yourself, make sure this isn’t a dream. Time to go hit the beach.
    • Though the bay is chock full of jellyfish, the public lagoon is a resort-level beach bunny’s dream, complete with sandy beach, grassy lawns, and plenty of space to turn up or chill out.

    Free time suggestions

    Beaches: Not the landform, the bar. Spend the day with a cold beverage in an open-air beer garden right by the Airlie Beach Lagoon. Contrary to what the fat cats in advertising want you to believe, no one drinks Foster’s in Australia. Sample something local!

    Crikey!: Would it really be an Australian vacation if you didn’t get to see some crocodiles? No. No, it would not. Channel your inner Steve Irwin and take an eco-friendly tour of the Proserpine River Wetlands and get debatably too close for comfort to some saltwater crocs.

    Whitsunday Island (extra cost)

    Take a high speed raft to the famous Whitsunday Island and Whitehaven Beach. Snorkel among the Great Barrier Reef, then keep the good vibes going on some of the world’s whitest sands and turquoise waters.

    Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

  • Day 12: Travel to Sydney

    Today you’re off to the biggest city on the Great Southern Island: Sydney. Get all the 42 Wallaby Way jokes out of your system on the plane over, we have it on good authority that the address is made up.

    Today's highlights:

    • Make like a kookaburra and fly—to Sydney. Your last stop in the outback.
    • Turn your attention to your Tour Director (who by now you should be referring to as Crocodile TD), you’re going for a harbor cruise tour of Sydney Harbor.
    • Set your sights on the uber-famous Sydney Opera House, where, if you listen carefully, you can almost hear the fat lady singing.
    • Float past iconic Sydney landmarks such as The Rocks, Mrs. Macquarrie’s Chair, and Bondi Beach—all of which you’ll have plenty of time to experience up close tomorrow.

    Free time suggestions

    Manly Beach: Looking for tickets to the gun show? The cost of admission to Manly Beach is one dumbbell curl. Just kidding, it’s free. Catch a quick ferry-ride from Sydney out to the preferred beach of the locals. No testosterone needed.
    The perfect night to dress like hipsters: Newtown is Sydney’s coolest neighborhood for those in search of their eclectic side. Go thrifting and see if you can snag a pair of Russell Crowe’s discarded jeans.

  • Day 13: Sightseeing Tour of Sydney and Day at Bondi Beach + Optional Surf Lesson on Bondi Beach

    This is it: the beach to make all other beaches blush. This quintessential strip of sand is the emerald oasis of Sydney’s sunbathing masses, and the future spot of your next sunburn. Perfect your doggie paddle in the breakers, or take the infinitely-‘Grammable Bondi to Bronte coastwalk and snap some doggie pictures with the furry locals.

    Today's highlights:

    • Join your Tour Director for a guided walking tour of Australia’s biggest city.
    • Make sure someone gets your back (and your ears) as you follow your Tour Director down to beautiful Bondi Beach.
    • Spend the day swimming, sunbathing, or taking a long walk exploring the sandstone cliffs nearby.
    • Take an optional surfing lesson from a local pro and learn to read the waves in real-time.

    Surf Lesson on Bondi Beach (extra cost)

    Spend the day exploring one of Australia's most popular beaches. Ferry across picturesque Sydney Harbor, meet up with a pro surfing instructor for a 2-hour lesson, then put your skills to the test and hang 10.

    Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

  • Day 14: Free Day in Sydney

    Today’s your day to make out like a bandit in some of the Southern Hemisphere’s premiere shopping districts, make a break for the pub, or get your bad self some outdoors time on the harborfront.

    Free time suggestions

    The most fun you can have underwater: Strap on a snorkel and follow along the Gordon’s Bay underwater nature trail, complete with submerged steel plaques describing the history and wildlife in the bay.
    Garden party: Pack a lunch (Tim Tams are a MUST) and hit the Royal Botanical Gardens that you saw from the harbor cruise on your first day here. Get a whiff of the roses and pretend you’re in “The Bachelor,” then pop a squat at Mrs. Macquarrie’s Chair for a scenic view of the waterfront.

    Farewell Dinner
    Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) at an included farewell dinner with the group.

  • Day 15: Fly Home

    Goodbye, friends!
    Your next destination awaits—home. Before you head to the airport, enjoy your last few moments together. Take one more group photo. Grab that final drink. (Fine, maybe a couple of drinks.) But this isn’t goodbye. It’s “See you later.” The only question is, where?

    – or –


    1. Double the fun
    A lot of our trips line up back to back! Give us a call—we can help you add another and save big while you're at it.

    2. Go ahead or stay behind
    Extending your trip is easy! During checkout, you'll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for an additional fee. We'll adjust your flights accordingly, but you'll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside of tour.

    Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.


Overall rating: 4.7 out of 5
Based on 51 authentic traveler reviews
  • 10/10

      Anonymous, traveled May 2024

    This was my first EF trip and definitely won’t be my last! This is a good mix of seeing cities and the beaches of Australia. 10/10 just do it!

  • Will go again

      Anonymous, traveled May 2024

    Saul was great guide! He gave great suggestions for our free time and was always there when we needed him. Had so much fun! Want to go again but this time I will add the New Zealand option too

  • Karaoke master Jarvis

      Sarah, traveled Dec. 2023

    Great travel days with always something to do and an amazing tour director Jarvis!

  • Book the trip. It's worth it.

      Montserrat, traveled Dec. 2023

    This was my first EF trip and there are no words to describe how wonderful my time in Australia was. From the beautiful sights to the friends I have made on this trip; everything was absolutely phenomenal. I also cannot rave enough about this trip without giving credit to my AMAZING tour director, Jarvis. Jarvis went above and beyond at every step to ensure ... See more

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