Wild Australia

October 15 – 26, 2017

Australia is one of the 17 “megadiversity” countries in the world, home to a stunning array of plants and animals, many found nowhere else on earth. This ambitious 12-day itinerary explores Australia’s key ecosystems, from desert to rain forest to coral reefs. Only here can you see kangaroos, koalas, dingoes and green sea turtles all in such a short time.

Australia contains some of the most inhospitable regions in the world, the incredibly diverse Great Barrier Reef and everything in between. Begin in southern Australia on Kangaroo Island, then travel to the desert surrounding Uluru (Ayers Rock) and explore its ties to the local aborigines. Continue to the rain forests of Lamington National Park, filled with lush ferns and waterfalls. The final few days are on Heron Island at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. All along, get expert guidance from locals and naturalists. For those who want to see as much ecological diversity as they can, this journey shouldn’t be missed.

2018 dates will be announced shortly.
Call 855 698 7979 to be notified once details are confirmed.

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guide expert

Cornelia Dean

Cornelia Dean is a science writer and former science editor of The New York Times and a distinguished visiting lecturer at Brown University.

From January 1997 until June 2003, she was science editor of The Times, where she was responsible for coverage of science, engineering, health and medical news in the daily paper and in the weekly Science Times section. Previously she held other editing positions in the department. In her editing tenure of he science section members of its staff have won the Pulitzer Prize twice and were finalists three times. Previously, she was deputy Washington editor.

She is the author of “Against the Tide: The Battle for America’s Beaches” (1999), a Times notable book of the year. A book about the misuse of scientific information in American public life is in press (Harvard University Press).

Before her appointment by Brown, she taught undergraduate and graduate seminars on the public’s understanding of science, environmental policy and other issues at Harvard, where she was twice honored for distinction in teaching.

She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and lives on Chappaquiddick Island, Mass.


Itineraries are subject to change. For current information click the BOOK IT button at the ‘top right’ of this page to visit Academic Travel Abroad’s partner tour sites. Thank you!


Welcome to Australia

Arrive in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia and a vibrant, multicultural city. Depending on when you arrive, spend the day exploring the city’s historic buildings, churches, quirky shops and culinary scene before meeting your fellow Times travelers for a welcome reception and dinner.


Kangaroo Island

Take a short flight to Kangaroo Island, a wildlife refuge off the coast of South Australia. Yes, it’s called Kangaroo Island, but in addition to the ubiquitous marsupials, it’s known for its thriving animal and bird populations, which have mostly been spared the damage caused by rabbits and other invasive species. Once home to thousands of fairy penguins, the smallest of the species, Kangaroo Island has seen their numbers decline drastically in recent years. Begin with a guided beach walk of the Australian sea lion colony at Seal Bay. Continue through several different habitats to watch for kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and the rare Kangaroo Island glossy black cockatoo. Stay overnight on the island.


Wild Kangaroos and Wild Arches

Travel to the western part of Kangaroo Island to Flinders Chase National Park. A special permit allows you to visit the Kelly Hill Conservation Park, where herds of wild kangaroos graze on open plains. Goannas (monitor lizards) and echidnas (they look like porcupines, but are egg-laying mammals) also thrive here. On the coast, see the dramatic Admirals Arch and Remarkable rock sculptures, and the white sandy beaches of Vivonne Bay. A picnic lunch with wine allows you to soak in the natural beauty around you. At the end of the day, return to Adelaide via ferry.


The Red Center

Catch a flight to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, in the Red Center of Australia, home of the iconic Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. This giant sandstone monolith, rising abruptly more than 1,100 feet from the surrounding desert, is sacred to the Anangu aborigines. The rock undergoes amazing color changes as the sun moves around the sky. In the evening, have dinner under the night sky as you take part in the Sounds of Silence dining experience, with foods inspired by the bush. With tourism facilities and Alice Springs providing the only ambient light sources for hundreds of miles, Uluru is also a great place to stargaze: You might see the Southern Cross and the Milky Way, as well as Magellanic clouds, even if the moon is out.


Uluru and Kata Tjuta

See Uluru in a new light at a sunrise viewing with a boxed breakfast. The rock changes color as the sun rises, from brown to gold to red. Take a guided walking tour of the base of Uluru, learning about the plants, animals and aboriginal history of this sacred space. In aboriginal lore, during the Dreamtime the ancestors walked along songlines, creating the world as they walked, and a songline crosses Uluru. Meet with native Anangu artists for an introduction to Western Desert Art. In the afternoon, drive to the Olgas, massive stone domes known locally as Kata Tjuta. Explore the area on a walk through Walpa Gorge before returning to the hotel for some leisure time.


From the Desert to the Rain Forest

Fly to Brisbane, then continue to Lamington National Park, Australia’s largest preserved subtropical rain forest. In contrast to the desert landscapes of the previous few days, Lamington, in the McPherson Ranges, is full of ferns, streams, waterfalls and a completely different set of wildlife. A Unesco World Heritage site, the park includes some species found nowhere else on earth, and is home to the rare Albert’s lyrebird, the large-eared pied bat, underground orchids and the platypus.


Into the Forest

You can choose from a variety of forest walks today, from easy strolls to challenging treks through the bush. Resident guides will share their extensive knowledge of Lamington’s flora and fauna. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a regent bowerbird: The striking black and yellow male builds a bower on the ground to attract females, decorating it with shells, leaves and seeds, and sometimes uses leaves to “paint” a blue-green saliva coating. Or maybe you’ll visit some of the more than 500 waterfalls in the park.


The Great Barrier Reef

After a short flight and a longer ferry ride, arrive on Heron Island, off the coast of Queensland. This large coral cay is at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, and supports nearly 75 percent of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral species. The dune areas around the island are a major hot spot for migratory birds and both green and loggerhead turtles, whose breeding grounds should be active when you are there.


Kaleidoscopic Colors

You may choose what you want to do for the next two days: Walk around the island (it will take about 20 minutes) to admire the contrast of turquoise sea, white sand and green plants, or get out on the water in a kayak. You can even get in the water, snorkeling close to shore or scuba diving at more than 20 sites, to see some of the colorful fish and sea creatures found only here. Heron Island is also a birding hotspot as well as home to a research station that studies the reef and surrounding aquatic life.

DAY 10

Now, Try Something Else

Do something else today, or repeat. If you snorkel or dive, you might see one of the giant sea clams, its iridescent blue lips sparkling, or a stingray gliding past. The underwater colors are incredible. Even if you watch them from a boat, you should not miss the chance. You can also stay on shore and relax on a beach, or indulge in a range of spa treatments.

DAY 11


Depart Heron Island by boat, and then fly from Gladstone to Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city. Once a penal colony, Brisbane has survived fire and flood to become a cosmopolitan city with unique architecture and a thriving cultural scene. Take a few hours to explore. Gather as a group one last time for a farewell dinner at a restaurant a short walk from the hotel.

DAY 12

Homeward Bound

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for individual flights home.

trip details


Majestic Roof Garden Hotel

Located in the Central East End of Adelaide, this sleek, modern 4.5-star hotel is close to many of Adelaide’s attractions.

Aurora Ozone Hotel
The hotel has stunning views of Nepean Bay, which includes an aquatic reserve, conservation area and marine park.

Emu Walk Apartments
This newly renovated property, featuring native design elements and artwork throughout, is a few minutes’ walk from the shopping center at the Ayers Rock Resort Area.

Binna Burra Mountain Lodge
The hotel, which prides itself on its ecological sustainability, was opened in the 1930s and offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and rain forest.

Heron Island Resort
Heron Island Resort has light-filled rooms, each with a balcony or terrace.

Stamford Plaza Brisbane
This five-star luxury property features panoramic river views, and is a short walk from shops and the City Botanical Gardens.

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