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12 Day AAT Kings East Coast Islands & Rainforest

12 days 11 nights
Sydney to Cairns
from NZD$7,490pp
was NZD$7,935pp
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Queensland is the only place in the world where two World Heritage Sites meet. And you get to see their convergence on this east coast Australia trip, which tours from Sydney all the way to Cairns. From a Great Barrier Reef tour to the Wet Tropics rainforest, from K’gari (Fraser) Island tour to the Gold and Coffs Coasts tour, get set for a parade of postcard-worthy attractions.

BeachesWildlife & nature

This Tour Also Features

  • Atherton Tablelands Visit
  • Ferry to K'Gari (Fraser Island)
  • Great Barrier Reef Cruise and Snorkelling Adventure
  • K'Gari (Fraser Island) 4WD Tour
  • Lake Barrine Cruise
  • Langmorn Station Tour
  • Sarina Sugar Shed Tour
  • Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
  • Meals included: 11 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
Tour full itinerary
Itinerary
Aerial View of Sydney

As much as you’ll want to linger in Sydney, Coffs Harbour is calling. On the mid-North Coast of New South Wales, this pocket of paradise has some of the state’s most impressive beaches, not to mention the glorious national parkland that surrounds. Follow the breeze (and lead of locals) to the beach for a dazzling end of day, before a Welcome Dinner with your fellow adventure seekers.

Staying in:

  • BreakFree Aanuka Beach Resort (1 night)

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Coffs Harbour Kangaroos

Australia’s most easterly point is the stuff that postcards were made for, as you’ll discover when you reach the Cape Byron Lighthouse, standing proud over the Pacific Ocean. Dolphins are a common sight year round, and they’re joined by whales during migration. For lunch, we can point you in the direction of a tasty Byron Bay fish-and-chip shop – order a haul to eat with your feet in the sand. Which you’re going to see plenty of at your next destination.

Staying in:

  • Novotel Surfers Paradise (1 night)

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Aerial View of Gold Coast

Your base in Surfers Paradise is the heart of the Gold Coast, a city that really does sparkle. Today you might choose to explore beaches (there are too many to count), lingering in light-filled cafés and restaurants. Or enlist in a Gold Coast tour to see another side of the ‘Goldie’ in the Mt. Tamborine hinterland – a hub for creatives and foodies. The city also breaks records for its extensive network of canals, which you might opt to explore on a leisurely cruise.

Staying in:

  • Novotel Surfers Paradise (1 night)

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View over Hervey Bay

Follow the waves north to the gateway to K’gari (Fraser Island). The ferry ride across the strait is a highlight, particularly during whale migration when these gentle giants come to the calm, protected waters to calve. Landing on K’gari, expect to see a lot of sand. This is, after all, the world’s largest sand island, and the only place in the world where rainforest grows from the sand.

Staying in:

  • Kingfisher Bay Resort (1 night)

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Lake Mckenzie on Fraser Island

The island also has a really long sand highway, which you’ll get to zip along on a 4WD tour across 75 Mile Beach, all the way up the east coast to the Pinnacles Coloured Sands, calm Eli Creek and the Maheno shipwreck, which offers quite the photo opportunity. Just when you thought the island couldn’t get any prettier, Lake McKenzie appears on the horizon, this dazzling patch of blue formed only with rainwater. It’s a hard act to follow, but the ancient rainforest at Central Station and Wanggoolba Creek lives up to the challenge with its huge satiny, scribbly gum and kauri trees.

Staying in:

  • Kingfisher Bay Resort (1 night)

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Dingo on the beach in Fraser Island

Back on the mainland you’re in Queensland’s cattle country. Case in point Langmorn Station, where the Creed family will welcome you with afternoon tea and a tour of the immense (and historic) cattle property – the original family homestead was built in 1873. The Creeds will regale you with stories about life on the land. The theme continues as you cross the Tropic of Capricorn to arrive in Rockhampton, the beef capital of Australia. See if it deserves its title sampling some of the town’s restaurants. Ask us for tips.

Staying in:

  • Quality Hotel Regent, Rockhampton (1 night)

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Airlie Beach

Another town with an impressive title is Sarina, Australia’s sugar capital. If you’ve ever wanted to know how sugar cane is processed and distilled, you’ll find the guided tour at the Sarina Sugar Shed a sweet addition to the itinerary. And yes, you get to sample the wares. Continue, on a high, along the east coast to Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsundays. Life moves at a leisurely pace here. Fall into step and take things slow tonight.

Staying in:

  • Mantra Club Croc (1 night)

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View of Whitehaven Beach

The Whitsunday Islands need little introduction, the 74 tropical drops of land a beguiling union of powdery beaches and rainforest, all ringed by the Coral Sea. There are endless ways to explore this part of the Great Barrier Reef – today, we’re letting you choose. Perhaps rise early for an optional helicopter ride over Heart Reef. Or catch a catamaran to Whitehaven Beach, with sand so high in silica it squeaks underfoot.

Staying in:

  • Mantra Club Croc (1 night)

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Sugar Cane Mangroves

After all the excitement of yesterday, today it’s time to relax and enjoy the scenery – more sugar cane fields and rolling green paddocks, all framed by the ocean and rainforest-clad mountains. Stretch your legs en route to Cairns and soak up this steamy part of the state.

Staying in:

  • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cairns (1 night)

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Millaa Millaa Falls in Atherton Tablelands

The Cairns Esplanade is a hive of activity in the morning, with active locals out before the humidity of the day sets in. Keep pace, before cooling off in the Atherton Tablelands, a high tropical plateau of rainforest, including the heritage listed Curtain Fig Tree. And waterfalls, like Millaa Millaa, where enormous iridescent Ulysses butterflies like to dance. Explore Kuranda before getting some perspective on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, through and high above the canopy of the Barron Gorge National Park.

Staying in:

  • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cairns (1 night)

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Great Barrier Reef

Just when you thought your outlook couldn’t get any better, you’re zipping over the Great Barrier Reef on a high-speed catamaran. Snorkel with six of the world’s sea turtles bobbing over fans of coral, as well as so many fish you won’t know where to look. If you prefer to keep your head above water, the marine world can also be glimpsed from an underwater observatory and glass-bottom boat.

Staying in:

  • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cairns (1 night)

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Aerial View of Cairns

A ridiculous number of beaches, world-record breaking rainforest, dreamy islands and even dreamier ocean… it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to this backdrop. Not to mention your fellow travellers.

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Starts Status Twin/Double Single occupancy  
Sep 9, 2024
(Monday)
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was NZD$7,916
now NZD$7,490
was NZD$11,134
now NZD$10,708
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Nov 4, 2024
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was NZD$8,355
now NZD$7,935
was NZD$12,306
now NZD$11,886
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Feb 3, 2025
(Monday)
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was NZD$8,154
now NZD$7,760
was NZD$10,868
now NZD$10,474
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Mar 3, 2025
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was NZD$9,075
now NZD$8,630
was NZD$12,195
now NZD$11,750
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