If you’re heading over to Australia, here are 10 top Down Under attractions – including wilderness areas, historic sites, wine country and wildlife – that you can visit on a day tour.
Short tours are a great way to get an overview and many cruisers return to the spots they like best for a longer holiday. The Kimberley is so vast you need at least 10 days to explore it, so that’s another story …
Brisbane: Australia Zoo
Australia Zoo is one of a kind.
From animal encounters to wildlife shows and conservation projects, Australia Zoo is one of a kind. About 1000 animals and birds live on 40 hectares of bush, cared for by the “khaki collective”. Australia Zoo is about an hour’s drive from Brisbane and a tour allows about 4½ hours in the park. You can hand-feed kangaroos, meet koalas, wombats and dingoes with Roving Wildlife guides, and watch crocs and giant snakes doing their thing at the world-famous Crocoseum. Crikey!
Port Douglas: Daintree National Park
Daintree rainforest – one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world.
Daintree National Park in far north Queensland is owned by the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people and falls within two World Heritage sites: the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics of Queensland. It’s one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world, known for its biodiversity and huge array of animal species. A day tour from Port Douglas takes in the old sugar town of Mossman, Daintree Village and a cruise on the Daintree River. At the Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary you’ll experience three distinct natural environments and their inhabitants: rainforest, grasslands and wetlands.
Cairns: Great Barrier Reef
The underwater wonder that is the Great Barrier Reef.
The reef is (still) one of UNESCO’S Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Although it is suffering coral bleaching, there are many areas where marine life continues to thrive. From Cairns, a 90-minute catamaran ride takes you to a pontoon where you’ll spend about four hours snorkelling, diving, taking a tour on a semi-submersible vessel and walking through an underwater viewing chamber. Unforgettable.
Darwin: Litchfield National Park
Perhaps not as well known as Kakadu, Litchfield is smaller, closer to Darwin and a Northern Territory treasure. The unromantic-sounding termite mounds that stud the landscape are an extraordinary spectacle – cathedral mounds are up to four metres high. Your guide will explain the intricate construction – you just take amazing photos. Waterfalls cascade into clear, croc-free swimming holes: bliss on a hot day.
You can tick off two cities in one day on this leisurely cruise from Fremantle to Perth along the scenic Swan River. The riverboat takes you past Perth’s impressive Bell Tower, restored Swan Brewery, Kings Park and riverside mansions, while an onboard commentary outlines the city’s development. Back in Fremantle, a guided tour covers highlights of the historic city where your ship is docked.
Hobart: MONA (Museum of Old and New Art)
Cruise ships dock within walking distance of Brooke Street Pier, where you can catch MONA’s ferry for the scenic 25-minute trip up the River Derwent to the acclaimed subterranean museum-gallery. Exhibitions change regularly and MONA also hosts summer and winter festivals (Mofo and Dark Mofo); P&O has a cruise from Sydney to Dark Mofo in June 2019. On site are restaurants, bars and the Moorilla winery, so you can make a day of it.
The Remarkable Rocks can be explored on a shore excursion.
Spend a day exploring Australia’s third largest island and you’ll discover a lot more than kangaroos. Seal Bay Conservation Park is home to a large seal colony as well as pelicans and penguins; Finders Chase is a ruggedly beautiful National Park, where you’ll spot more native wildlife. The aptly named Remarkable Rocks have been formed over some 500 million years; more contemporary delights include locally produced honey, wine and cheese.
Melbourne: Great Ocean Road
The beautiful 12 apostles in Australia.
Driving the Great Ocean Road is a quintessential Aussie experience. This day trip offers endless photo opportunities, of the craggy coastline, those weather-beaten Twelve Apostles, forests, waterfalls and attractive little seaside towns. Check out the Shipwreck Museum at scenic Loch Ard Gorge or follow walking trails to see the blowhole. At Port Campbell you’ll stop for lunch on the beach and the chance to look around the village and stroll along the jetty.
The Penitentiary in the Port Arthur Historical Site.
It’s Australia’s biggest and best preserved convict site, with more than 30 buildings, ruins and restored period homes set on 40 hectares of landscaped grounds. Ships anchor offshore and tender passengers to the site; you can buy tickets for tours on the spot, which are particularly good value for families. Included in the entry price are a 40-minute guided walking tour, a harbour cruise and access to the buildings, gardens and dockyard.
Sydney: Northern Beaches & Hawkesbury River
If you’re already familiar with the Emerald City and have visited Bondi Beach or the Blue Mountains, why not head north for the day? Ferries to Manly, for beaches and waterfront bars, depart from Circular Quay regularly….
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