Australia Road Trip and Diving the Great Barrier Reef


This 5-week itinerary focuses on the outdoors and gives a taste of Australia’s incredible landscapes both on land and under the sea. Highlights include the cosmopolitan cities of Sydney and Melbourne, the Red Centre, Adelaide’s wine region, the Great Ocean Road, Tasmania, the Daintree rainforest and a week of scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. I then departed Australia via Cairns to Bali for diving and other adventures in Indonesia.

Date of Trip – September to October, 2023

Sydney and Around

Sydney – 2 Nights

First Visit to Sydney
Sydney sparkles on a beautiful spring day. Post includes the fish market, a tour of the Sydney Opera House, a walking tour of the CBD, the Royal Botanic Garden, Ferry to Manly, a Harbour Bridge walk and Aalia, my favorite restaurant of the trip.

Blackheath, Blue Mountains – 1 Night

Grand Canyon Track, Blue Mountains
Just a 1.5-hour drive out of Sydney the Blue Mountains can be done as a day trip, but spending the night allows you a more leisurely day to hike the scenic Grand Canyon Track.

Sydney – 1 Night Before Flight to Alice Springs

Red Centre

Alice Springs – 1 Night

Discovery Resort – Kings Canyon – 1 Night

Red Centre Part 1 – Alice Springs to Kings Canyon
Famed for Uluru (Ayers Rock), the Red Centre is more than one giant red rock. Post includes stops at Simpsons Gap and Standley Chasm, the Mereenie Loop, and the Kings Canyon Rim Walk, one of the highlights of the region.

Ayers Rock Resort – 2 Nights

Red Centre Part 2 – Ayers Rock Resort
Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta are worth viewing in both morning and evening light. There are also several walks in the area. My favorite was the Base Walk around Uluru.

Adelaide Wine Region

Adelaide Hills – 2 Nights

Bike Route through Adelaide Hills Wine Region
Renting an electric bike was a great way to explore some of the wineries around Hahndorf. We did tastings at Hahndorf Hills, The Lane, and Shaw and Smith. The Lane is a fabulous lunch stop.

The Louise, Barossa Valley – 1 Night

Bike Route through Barossa Valley Wine Region
The wineries in the Barossa Valley are also accessible by bike. We did tastings at Torbreck, Whistler and Elderton. The Louise, an upscale property, is a lovely place to splurge on a multi-course dinner.

Grampians National Park

Halls Gap – 2 Nights

Grampians National Park
The Grampians are known for craggy mountains and open vistas. We did the Mackensie Falls Big Loop Hike, but for something more challenging and iconic to the area check out the Wonderland Loop.

The Great Ocean Road

Port Campbell – 1 Night

Lorne – 1 Night

The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is Australia’s iconic coastal road with epic sea vistas, beautiful beaches and golden sea stacks. You could drive it in a day, but it’s worth taking a bit more time to enjoy this stunning coast.

Melbourne – 2 Nights

Melbourne, Australia’s largest city, is a cosmopolitan urban center with a big city vibe – towering sky scrapers, interesting neighborhoods and tons of restaurants and cafés. Highlights include the colorful graffiti covered laneways and the Royal Botanical Gardens Victoria.


Freycinet National Park – 1 Night

Binalong Beach – 1 Night

Tasmania, Australia, Part 1
We started our trip around the island in Freycinet National Park with a hike to the Wineglass Viewpoint. Our second day we headed to the Bay of Fires where the orange lichen covered boulders pop against the blue water.

Cradle Mountain – 1 Night

Strahan – 1 Night

Hobart – 1 Night

Tasmania, Australia, Part 2
Cradle Mountain with craggy mountains and golden grasslands was one of the highlights of the trip. Strahan on the west coast was only mildly interesting but we loved the rainforest walk to Russell Falls in Mount Field National Park.

Sydney – 1 Night Before Flight to Cairns

Great Barrier Reef

Cairn – 1 Night

Spirit of Freedom – 7 Nights

Dives Sites Part 1
The highlight of the first part of the trip was Cod Hole where we met the famed giant potato cod. Many of the dive sites had great expanses of healthy coral and tons of colorful fish.
Dive Sites Part 2
The Shark Feed at Osprey Reef was the highlight of the second half of the 7 day trip. Again we had great dive sites with mostly healthy coral. Saw a hammerhead, a few turtles and cuttlefish.
Life on the Boat and Other Logistics

Daintree National Park

Cape Tribulation – 2 Nights

Weekend in Daintree
If you like rainforest and jungle, Daintree, north of Cairns in northeastern Australia, is a pleasant place to hang out for a day or two. The area has a number of short boardwalks to take in the scenery and wildlife.