Australia Is Open – Here Are Six Tours to Get You Startedby Daniel McCarthy /
Vaccinated Americans will be able to travel into Australia quarantine-free starting on Feb. 21, 2022.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement on Monday, continuing the country’s staggered reopening plan post-COVID-19. Morrison, who emphasized that all travelers must be fully vaccinated, specifically mentioned boosting the country’s tourism industry with the move.
“I know the tourism industry will be looking forward to that, and over the next two weeks they’ll get the opportunity both for visitors to be coming and for them to be gearing up to welcome international visitors back to Australia,” he said during a press conference on Monday.
While there are some requirements still (all travelers must hold a valid Australian visa, be able to show proof of vaccination at entry, and present a negative rapid or PCR COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours of departure) the news is great news for the travel industry, which continues its slow recovery post-COVID.
To get clients started on considering an Australian vacation this year, here are some of the best itinerary options from tour operators who serve the country:
Collette’s Complete South Pacific Tour
An epic 27-day itinerary from Collette might be the best way for bucket-list travelers, who have not crossed Australia off of those lists, to do so.
The tour, which will run in Sept. 2022 and then several times through 2023, takes guests all over both Australia and New Zealand, giving them a taste of the region’s most iconic tourist destinations—the Great Barrier Reef, Mt. Cook, Sydney, and more—along with some others that may have gone overlooked otherwise.
It begins in Melbourne then takes guests to Hobart, Adelaide, Cairns, and Sydney before jetting over to New Zealand for a tour that begins in Auckland and includes Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown.
For meals, in total the tour includes 37 meals—24 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 11 dinners—along with some unique experiences like a champagne toast at sunset overlooking Uluru, a wine tour at Seppeltsfield Winery, and a locally-hosted Kiwi family dinner.
Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Shutterstock.com
Contiki’s Great Barrier Reef Diving Trip
Back to the bucket-list sentiment, the Great Barrier Reef Diving Trip from Contiki gets you to Australia, and lets you learn how to dive into one of the most iconic locations worldwide, in 5-days.
The trip starts and ends in Cairns, a laid-back city in Far North Queensland that has long been considered the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.
The first two days of the trip are spent at Pro Dive Cairns training center learning the ins and outs of diving from the pros. Day three and four takes guests out there for the first time, participating in 9 dives at 16 dive sites on the outer Great Barrier Reef (the first 4 will earn guests their open water certification).
Intrepid Travel’s First Nation Experiences
Intrepid Travel, starting Feb. 21, 2022, will offer a new slate of tours designed to support local communities and celebrate First Nations history. In total, Intrepid is offering four different tours to celebrate Australian heritage.
The longest of the offerings is the 9-day Premium Kimberly & Bungle Bugles tours that focus on Australia’s Kimberley region, a sparsely settled northern part of the country that is highlighted by untouched nature. That tour will bring guests from the Windjana Gorg and Purnululu National Park to El Questro station, giving them a teas toe the area’s history from Traditional Custodians.
Intrepid is also offering three shorter fours—the 6-day Premium Red Centre tour through the outback; a 5-day Trek the Larpinta Trail that highlights some of the country’s best bushwalking and trekking routes; and the 5-day Margaret River and Albany Adventure that starts from Perth and includes learning about traditional medicines in plans and hearing a didgeridoo performance.
G Adventures’ Best of Australia
Another long tour (14-days), G Adventures’ Best of Australia Tour is designed for guests who don’t have the kind of time to come back and see different parts of Australia. The tour offers a mix of common and uncommon experiences, including a pick-to-late lunch at an organic farm in Byron Bay, a trek through the Mossman Gorge in the Daintree Rainforest, and more.
The tour starts in Cairns and runs south, through Airlie Beach and Byron Bay, into the Blue Mountains, and then Sydney, where it wraps up with a day at Bondi Beach. The tour runs in small groups (no more than 16 people) and next departs at the end of April 2022.
Cradle Mountains. Photo: Shutterstock.com
AAT Kings’ Perfect Tasmania Tour
AAT Kings, the New Zealand and Australia specialty tour operator, is bringing guests to Tasmania, an island state located off the southern coast of Australia’s mainland and the 26th largest island in the world, with its new Perfect Tasmania itinerary.
The 13-day tour, which is offered beginning in April, gives guests a glimpse into the natural, culture, food, and wine in Tasmania roundtrip from Hobart, the island’s capital and one of the most historical cities in the whole of Australia.
Guests on the tour will take in city sights in Hobart, along with a tour through the Cradle Mountains and Launceston. The tour also includes a Wineglass Bay four-hour lunch cruise on Day 9, which will take guests past the pink granite cliffs near Coles Bay.
The tour is one of several in Australia that AAT Kings is offering this spring. Others include the 10-day Outback Explorer and the 15-day Outback Adventure itinerary, along with the 7-day Tassie Getaway tour.
Globus’ Great Sights of Australia
In 2020, Globus announced that it was focusing on small group tours, called Small-Group Discovery itineraries that would provide some peace of mind during the height of the pandemic. Now, almost two years later, Globus continues to offer the option on some of its iconic itineraries, still providing that peace of mind while also giving guests a more intimate experience.
Globus’ Great Sights of Australia is one of those tours, limited to an average of just 20 guests per departure. The 12-day itinerary starts in Brisbane and brings guests north to Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef, and then south to Melbourne, before heading to Sydney, a loop that showcases not only some of the country’s great cities but some of the great cities of the world.
It is a perfectly sized tour, not only with capacity but also with its itinerary, for guests who want to see the best of the country. The tour is offered starting in May 2022 and then almost every month through the end of the year.
The view in Wendy's Secret Garden. Photo: Shutterstock.com
Trafalgar’s Contrasts of Australia
A 9-day tour, Trafalgar’s Contrasts of Australia is another option for someone who wants to see the most iconic sites of Australia’s east coast—it starts in Melbourne, heads north to Cairns for three days, before heading back south to Sydney.
In total, it is 8 nights long and filled with activities like a cruise on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, and another one through Sydney Harbor, along with visits to Melbourne’s Laneways, Sydney’s Inner West, and Wendy’s Secret Garden in Lavender Bay, a not-so-secret place tucked inside of Sydney Harbor.
The next available date for this tour is September 2022, with regular departures running well into 2023 and beyond.