Adventure - Art - Culture - Juniors Abroad at George Fox

Australia

Faculty: Kathy Heininge
Meeting Time: M - 6:30 - 9:00 PM

Australia has one of the most unique ecosystems in the world, and we will get to see a lot of it! From kangaroos to koalas, from kissing gouramis (tropical fish) to keelbacks (snakes), from wombats to wallabies, the Land Down Under will provide us with multiple opportunities to encounter nature, both in the wild and in zoos and sanctuaries. (We will also get to see the Tazmanian Devil and crocodiles, but those didn’t start with a “K” or a “W” and so didn’t fit the alliterative list.) We will snorkel in The Great Barrier Reef, the most famous coral reef in the world, and learn about what is endangering it. We will swim at Surfer’s Paradise, learn about aboriginal culture, and tour the beautiful city of Sydney. There is something for everyone on this trip.

There will be a lot of walking on this tour, so you will need to be physically able to walk on varied terrain. There is also a significant amount of swimming and snorkeling, so you will need to know how to swim. There will be a lot of fun being had, so you will need to be able to do that, too.

Preliminary Itinerary

DAY 1 - ARRIVE SYDNEY - BLUE MOUNTAINS

Arriving in Sydney early morning you will be met by your Australian Hosts, and taken through to the Western Suburbs of Sydney. Our first stop will be at Featherdale Wildlife Park, where you will see many Australian animals - feed the kangaroo, pat a koala, hold a snake, and watch the Tasmanian Devil mark his track! From here we continue up to the "Blue Mountains" to our accommodation in the suburb of Hazelbrook. Spend the afternoon relaxing or exploring the beautiful mountainous countryside.

DAY 2 - BLUE MOUNTAINS

Our day in the "Blue Mountains" will require you to have your walking shoes. We drive through Katoomba  right in the heart of the Blue Mountains. Enjoy a ride on the Scenic Railway, Walkway, Cableway & Skyway. At the bottom of the gorge, you can take a walk before returning to the top. We stop to visit the "Three Sisters" which is an unusual rock formation representing three sisters who according to Aboriginal legend were turned to stone. This afternoon, we walk the Wentworth Falls track, which will reward you with grand valley views from Fletchers Lookout before reaching the top of popular Wentworth Falls waterfall. This steep walk from the Wentworth Falls picnic area is well worth the effort. After a great day, we enjoy dinner back at the camp, and if you are keen, we take another walk after dinner to see the local glow worms.

DAY 3 -  CITY OF SYDNEY

This morning we drive into the city of Sydney, a rare jewel, sparkling both day and night. The city reflects the Australian personality - a bit brash, a bit cheeky but warm, outgoing and friendly. Before checking into our accommodation, we drive across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, visit Mrs MacQuaries Chair for a spectacular view of the Opera House and drive out to Australia's famous Bondi Beach. After checking in to our rooms, we will meet our local guide to take us on a Walking Tour exploring downtown Sydney, the Harbour (Circular Quay) and Rocks district. Buy your own dinner tonight in one of the many cafés close to our accommodation.       

DAY  4 -  FREE DAY in SYDNEY

Today is completely free to explore the city in your own time. You might like to be brave and book a "walk over the Harbour Bridge," or jump on a ferry to see Sydney Harbour from the water. There is so much to do in Sydney: Sydney Opera House, Royal Botanical Gardens, Hyde Park, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Aquarium, Potts Point, Queen Victoria Building, Chinese Garden, Museums, local ferries to Manly Beach, etc. We also recommend you go to the Sydney Tower Eye to view the city from 250 meters above street level, giving you a 360 degree view of Sydney's fantastic skyline. Another option is to attend a performance at the Sydney Opera House. Most of these things are within walking distance of our accommodation, which is situated right in the city near Circular Quay and The Rocks area.

DAY 5 -  SYDNEY - FORSTER

This morning you are free to continue exploring the city at your own leisure, before we board our coach to start our journey northwards. Our drive takes us over the beautiful Hawkesbury River, then through the outskirts of the city of Newcastle, before continuing on to our nights' accommodation in beautiful Forster on the north coast of New South Wales. The camp site we stay at is right on the ocean, so you may like to go for a swim before dinner or just walk along the beautiful white sand.

DAY 6 -  BYRON BAY

After breakfast, we drive through the main township of Forster/Tuncurry to get back onto The Pacific Highway north to Coffs Harbour on the north coast of New South Wales. Coffs Harbour is known for its bananas, so we make a photo stop at The Big Banana. After lunch we continue through to Byron Bay - the most eastern point in Australia, known for its great surfing beaches.

DAY 7 -  SURFERS PARADISE

This morning we enjoy the views from the Cape Byron Lighthouse, where you may see some dolphins from the hilltop.  Time to walk to the surf beach in this quaint township, before continuing our drive this afternoon across the border into Queensland to spend the next two nights in the world famous Surfers Paradise.  Our accommodation for 2 nights is right in the middle of Surfers Paradise, so you are nice and close to everything - especially the famous Surfers Paradise Beach.

DAY 8 -  Free day in SURFERS PARADISE

Free day to explore the Gold Coast at your leisure. Swim and enjoy the beautiful surf beaches (remember to always swim between the flags), shop, or do some sightseeing in this popular tourist town. Visit one of Australia's Theme Parks - Seaworld, Dreamworld, Movieworld or Wet & Wild (own expense). You may like to venture up the towering Q1 building, with its Sky Point observation deck, offering panoramic ocean and city views.

DAY 9 -   AUSTRALIA ZOO

We leave the Gold Coast nice and early, driving a couple of hours through to the Sunshine Coast, just 1 hour north of Brisbane.  Your visit to Australia would not be complete without going to Australia Zoo where the late Steve Irwin (the crocodile man) built his famous zoo. Enjoy the day watching crocodile feeding, snakes, koalas, dingo's and lots of other Australian wildlife. You may be fortunate enough to meet up with Terri, Bindi or Robert Irwin.  After a great day, we board the coach at 3pm for a 3 hour drive to our next destination - Hervey Bay.                                                         

DAY 10 - FRASER ISLAND

Another of Australia's best kept secrets is Fraser Island - a sand island, where we travel in a custom built 4WD vehicle suited to the conditions. After our ferry crossing, we have time to relax in the clear warm waters of Lake McKenzie, travel along the gorgeous 75 Mile Beach (seeing the wreck of the cruise ship Maheno on the way), stop at the natural Eli Creek with fish so tame they swim between your toes.

DAY 11 -  HERVEY BAY - AIRLIE BEACH

An early start today, driving across the Tropic of Capricorn in Rockhampton, so by now we should be wearing our shorts and t-shirts. Our drive takes us up the Bruce Highway to Mackay, before arriving in Airlie Beach  - our stop for the next four nights. Airlie Beach is the gateway to the Whitsundays, a colourful, cosmopolitan and inviting holiday town lying on the shores of a palm fringed beach and overlooking the calm waters of Pioneer Bay dotted with yachts. Airlie is part of a picturesque peninsula that reaches out to the Whitsunday Passage and provides the ideal mainland base for holiday fun and adventure in the Whitsundays. The scene you see as we drive into Airlie Beach gives you that "holiday feeling". The relaxed tropical ambience can be experienced as you wander through the village streets and down to the lagoon. The Lagoon is set in landscaped parkland overlooking the bay, providing stinger free swimming. 

DAY 12 -  OCEAN RAFTING to WHITEHAVEN BEACH

A full day trip: Ocean Rafting to one of the seven wonders of the world - Whitehaven Beach. As soon as you arrive at Whitehaven Beach, you will see why it is the most photographed beach in Australia. Spend the day swimming, snorkelling and walking on pure silicane sand. Walk into town tonight and try out one of the many restaurants available for dinner.

DAY 13 -  CROCODILE SAFARI

Crocodiles are quite fascinating animals, and today we take a trip up the local estuaries and wetlands to Proserpine River. Explore the home to many species of native birds, mammals, reptiles and marine animals, including about 150 estuarine crocodiles. See them in the wild! This is a unique Australian nature experience, where we explore the tropical environment of the coastline, wildlife and vegetation. 

DAY 14 -   GREAT BARRIER REEF

This day trip takes you by a high speed catamaran to a pontoon on Hardy Reef which features an underwater observation chamber and a large semi-submersible deck for relaxing in the sun.  Included in your day trip is -

"          Travel to the Great Barrier Reef to a pontoon with an Underwater viewing chamber

"          Savour a delicious buffet lunch, and morning and afternoon tea

"          Presentations by reef experts

"          Indulge in snorkelling & swimming in the world of spectacular corals

The colourful corals and the abundance of marine fauna will leave you astonished while you enjoy this protected area for snorkelling. If you want to indulge in more activities, take a scenic helicopter ride or certified diving at an additional cost.

DAY 15 -   WHITSUNDAYS - CAIRNS

We leave the beautiful Whitsunday region today, driving north to Cairns. On the way we stop for a photo of the Big Snake, then through to Townsville and Tully. Tully is arguably the wettest town in Australia, with an average annual rainfall exceeding 4000mm, and the highest ever annual rainfall in a populated area of Australia (7900mm in 1950). Here we make another photo stop at the "Big Gumboot" before arriving in Cairns for our next 4 night stopover.                                                                                                      B                                     

DAY 16 -  Free day in CAIRNS

There is so much to do in the Cairns area, that we have allowed a free day to choose what you would like. 

DAY 17 -  ATHERTON TABLELANDS

Today we explore the beautiful Atherton Tablelands, driving up the range out of Cairns, stopping at amazing waterfalls and crater lakes.  Bring your swimmers and towel along in case you wish to go swimming. We visit Josephine Falls, Millaa Milla Falls and a beautiful Crater lake in the Wet Tropics of Queensland's World Heritage area.                                                                               

DAY 18 -  GREAT BARRIER REEF

To finish your holiday in Australia, you have to experience the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns. Our day trip leaves from the centre of town, taking us to the Outer reef where we enjoy two reef sites.  Included today is a Marine Biology Presentation, a Free Dive, Snorkelling, Glass bottom boat, lunch and refreshments. Tonight we go out for Dinner together to celebrate the end of our time in Australia.

 DAY 19 -  FLY HOME

With all the memories of your "Down Under" educational trip behind you, it is time to pack up and head home. Your early morning flight leaves from Cairns Airport to take you back to your home port.