Best of Australia

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Best of Australia

Experience the very best Australia has to offer in a 10-day trip! Tour the sites of Sydneyoutback country, emerald rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef while travelling with a knowledgeable Aussie guide. Begin your Australia tour with a visit to the world-famous Opera House, a full day cruise around the harbour, and see the stars at The Sydney Observatory. Then travel to Moreton Island, where you can slide down sand dunes and dolphins come to visit in the bay each night!  In Far North Queensland, you are introduced to jackaroos on an outback cattle station, Aboriginal guides in their ancestors’ rainforest, and friendly animals that you can only see in Australia.

10 Days/9 Nights
Sydney, Moreton Island
(Brisbane) and Cairns, Australia
Year-round (except late Dec to mid-Jan)
Minimum 10 paying participants
$3565 AUD per person (including GST)
for 15 or more students (Add $50 per person for peak time of 15 June – 15 July)
$3642 AUD per person (including GST)
for 10-14 students (Add $50 per person for peak time of 15 June – 15 July)


  • Aboriginal-Guided Walks in Sydney and the Daintree Rainforest
  • Feed wild dolphins when they show up for their nightly visit
  • Wildlife Park and Cuddle a Koala
  • Sail, Snorkel and Dive at The Great Barrier Reef
  • Go sand dune boarding on a Moreton Island desert safari
  • Natural Rainforest Waterslide and Swim Under Waterfalls
  • Outback Cattle Station: Wild Kangaroos, Whip Cracking and Boomerang Throwing
  • Icons of Australia: Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and the Sydney Opera House

  • Risk assessment
  • Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns airport transfers
  • Small World Journeys guide on Days 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 and on other days specialty guides, educators and dedicated boat crew
  • All activities and entrance fees as described in the itinerary
  • Transportation to activities
  • 2 nights Sydney hostel (4 share rooms)*
  • 2 nights Moreton Island resort (2 or 3 share rooms)*
  • 4 nights Cairns 3-star hotel (2 or 3 share rooms)*
  • 1 night outback cattle station (dorm-style cabins)
  • All breakfasts
  • 6 lunches
  • All dinners at restaurants and accommodation
  • 101 Animals of the Great Barrier Reef field guide for each student
  • Coral adoption through Reef Restoration Foundation with updates on the progress of the coral
  • Mask, fins, snorkel, stinger suit or wetsuit hire on the reef trip
  • Pre-trip educational information
  • National Park fees and levies
  • BPA-free water bottle and cloth shopping bag for each student
  • 5 metres square Daintree rainforest plot adopted in your group’s name through Rainforest Rescue

*Two teacher rooms (private twin or triple share rooms) are included in the trip price for groups of 15 students or more. For trips with low numbers (10-14), one teacher room is included. A supplement of $724 AUD is charged if an additional private room is required for the trip. If teachers are happy to share a room, no additional costs are incurred.

Small World Journeys reserves the right to change the order of activities for logistical reasons. Prices are valid for travel until 31 March, 2024.

  • International and domestic airfare
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Three lunches
  • Personal expenses (phone, laundry, etc.)

  • Optional Surfing Lesson at Bondi Beach ($85 AUD)
  • Optional water activities on Moreton Island (prices vary – book on arrival)
  • Photo with koala ($22 AUD)
  • Intro SCUBA diving at the reef ($120 AUD)
  • 1 x day room upon arrival in Sydney to freshen up ($236 AUD)


Arrival: Welcome to Sydney! On arrival you are greeted by your local guide who has an intimate knowledge of Sydney’s back streets, icons, and best-loved sites. With your guide you travel from the airport to your accommodation and receive an orientation on what to expect in Australia.

Accommodation: Your hostel is located right in ‘The Rocks’—the historic district where Sydney began.  All rooms have ensuites and air-conditioning, while the accommodation offers spacious communal areas, internet, coffee bar and large rooftop terrace with spectacular views directly to the Sydney Opera House!  (upgrade to hotel available, see end of document)

Walking Tour: With your guide you learn more about the cultural, historic and natural sites of Sydney as you walk the city streets, cobblestone alleys and seaside paths of this attractive city. Your walking tour follows in the steps of colonists and convicts, and you learn of the city’s history, local hangouts and favourite sites.

Sydney Opera House & Royal Botanic Gardens: Later you walk with your guide to get up close to one of the world’s most recognizable buildings, and an icon of Australia – The Sydney Opera House. Your visit to Australia is not complete without a photo in front of this majestic building, and a walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens takes you to the perfect lookout.

 Sydney Budget Accommodation
Meals Included: Dinner

Bondi Beach: With your guide you enjoy the morning at Australia’s most famous beach – Bondi! You will have plenty of time to soak up the sun and surf, learn about Aussie beach culture and lifeguards and enjoy the fun people watching. You can also do the coastal cliff walk between Bondi and Coogee Beach. The trail weaves along the coast, giving you the opportunity to whale watch (seasonal) and view Aboriginal rock carvings in Marks Park.

OPTIONAL Surf Lessons: In a small group you start your lesson with important surf and safety rules and covering all the basics from warm-up to paddling, catching waves and standing. By the end of the lesson with a little practice, you should be standing and shredding!  Perhaps the perfect memento of an Australian coastal holiday – return home knowing how to surf! (Extra cost, pre booking required)

Opera House Performance: As a special treat tonight, get “poshed up” and attend a live performance in the Sydney Opera House – from opera to circus, rock and cabaret – in one of the busiest performing arts venues in the world.

Accommodation: Sydney Budget Accommodation
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Fly to Brisbane and Transfer to Moreton Island: Later today you are transferred to the Sydney Airport for your flight to Brisbane (flight not included– please book a flight that arrives in Brisbane no later than 3 pm). You arrive in Brisbane airport where you are greeted by your driver guide and then transferred to the Brisbane Wharf for your ferry ride. You then travel to Moreton Island, the world’s third largest sand island and traditional home of the Morrgunpin Aboriginal people.

Island Resort: On arrival you check into the family-operated resort, where facilities include 2 swimming pools, guest laundry, ATM, internet kiosk and WiFi, tennis courts, massage hut, Marine Education and Conservation Centre, and nightly activities like bingo and karaoke. Eco Rangers conduct education programs and nature-based tours to enhance your awareness of the surrounding ecosystems.

Evening Dolphin Feeding: A highlight is the evening dolphin interaction. Every evening at sunset a pod of up to nine local bottlenose dolphins swim to the beach in front of the resort. You then have a chance to watch their behaviour and feed them, an activity supervised by the Tangalooma Marine Education and Conservation Centre. This is truly a special interaction with wild dolphins you could never get at a wildlife park.

Accommodation: Moreton Island Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Desert Safari and Sand Tobogganing:  Today you take a 4WD bus on a trip through the Aussie “bush” and learn about the history, geology, and natural features–like the coloured sands–of this unique island. You arrive at the Tangalooma Desert, where the massive sand dunes that stretch to the sky are perfect for sand tobogganing.  The “toboggans” are pieces of masonite which when waxed, fly down the sand dunes.

Free Afternoon Options: Options in the morning and late afternoon include tennis and table tennis, archery, squash, educational presentations and animal feedings like fish and the laughing kookaburra!

Optional Marine-based activities:  With 15 purposely sunk shipwrecks, the bay promises a paradise teeming with reef fish and corals that have formed on the wrecks since 1963.  You can expect to see wobbegongs, trevally, kingfish, dugongs, sea turtles, yellowtail, dolphins, tuna and an abundance of tropical reef fish in a truly unusual environment. Activity choices include kayaking and snorkelling, paddle boarding and “banana boat” rides. (extra cost – book activities on your own once on the island)

Evening Dolphin Feeding: For those students who didn’t get a chance to feed the dolphins last night, tonight is your chance!

Accommodation: Moreton Island resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Ferry to Mainland: This morning after breakfast you leave Moreton Island by way of ferry, and then you are transferred to the Brisbane airport. It is then approximately 2.5 hours to fly to tropical Cairns.

Arrival in Cairns: Here you are met by our staff at the airport and you have a brief orientation on what to expect in Cairns.

Accommodation: Your accommodation is at a recently refurbished hotel only one block from the waterfront, with a pleasant walk along the esplanade to access restaurants and Cairns central shopping district. All rooms have ensuites and air-conditioning, hairdryers, TVs with Austar and tea & coffee making facilities while the hotel also offers WiFi access, laundry facilities, a tropical pool and spa.

Future of The Reef Talk: In the evening back in Cairns you attend a unique presentation on the future of the Great Barrier Reef.  Your marine naturalist teaches you the facts about the state of the reef, dispelling myths about bleaching and climate change, and relays the good, the bad and the ugly about reef tourism. During this talk, you learn the four key threats to the reef and how scientists are trying “assisted evolution” by breeding corals that are resistant to bleaching under higher temperatures.  Perhaps most importantly, you gain ten tips on how you yourselves can help save the reef and continue campaigning when you return home.

Accommodation: Cairns Queenslander
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Boat Ride to Reef: Your day begins with an air-conditioned catamaran ride to the outer Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World-Heritage site and one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet.  Your boat crew provides an optional introduction to snorkelling talk to prepare you for your experience.

Snorkelling: Upon arrival, you dock at a floating pontoon, and an underwater universe greets you. You can expect to see a rainbow of hard and soft corals, turtles, and a variety of fish species including butterfly fish, giant Maori Wrasse, parrot fish, and the ever-popular clown fish, also known as “Nemo”.

Lunch today is a tropical buffet served on the boat.

Field Guide & Sightings App: 101 Animals of The Great Barrier Reef, written by Dr. Martin Cohen, helps you to better understand the underwater world and is yours to keep. Before the trip, we’ll also give you information about downloading an app with which you can log in sightings of reef fauna and flora and your data is then sent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)

Observatory: There is an underwater observatory at the pontoon, as well as a small marine life touch tank. Floating “noodles” and life jackets are available as well.

Slide into the Reef: You may like to finish your day by celebrating with a few slides into the Great Barrier Reef; your double storey pontoon has something that no other boat does….. A long and fun slide that finishes in the waters of the reef.

Semi-Sub and Glass Bottom Boat: A semi-submersible craft and glass bottom boat allow those who prefer not to swim to still enjoy viewing the marine life at The Great Barrier Reef.

OPTIONAL SCUBA Diving: Snorkelers can also opt to learn about SCUBA diving one-on-one from the dive instructor—an intro dive is a fantastic way to see the reef without having a certification.  (Extra cost and medical restrictions apply; see inclusions tab).

Optional Evening Activity – Documentary Film: Documentary films can inspire discussion and action, in addition to complementing the content of your trip. Tonight you have a choice to view one of several optional documentary films that relate to the environment (no extra cost).

Accommodation: Cairns 3-star hotel
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Today you enter Wooroonooran National Park – a diverse part of the UNESCO Wet Tropics World Heritage Area which hosts some of the oldest continually surviving rainforest in the world.

Josephine Falls: One of the most picturesque places in the entire Wet Tropics! You take an easy walk through the jungle, listening for the call of the king parrot and the bowerbird and emerge at Josephine Falls, where Josephine Creek plunges down a gorgeous set of cascades. Below the falls, boulders surround a fun swimming hole and a natural water slide down a smooth sloping rock face.

Millaa Millaa Falls: Millaa Millaa (meaning “plenty of water” in the local Aboriginal language) is the icon of tropical north Queensland and one of the most photographed natural sites in the region. The waterfall flows over pure basalt rock thousands of years old in a dramatic burst. There is a fantastic swimming hole at the base of the falls, and you can climb on the peculiar columnar basalt for a unique perspective of the falls from behind.

Outback Cattle Station and Wildlife: As you cross the Great Dividing Range, you enter outback country, where the dirt turns red and gum trees prevail. Here you are welcome guests at a traditional working cattle station and homestead, opened to your group. On arrival, you hop in the hay truck to trace a route through the station–much of which has been set aside as a sanctuary for wildlife—and look for the kangaroos and crocodiles that roam the property.

Aussie BBQ and Stargazing: After a classic Aussie “barbie”, you have a fire under starry outback skies. From this remote outback station, views of the southern hemisphere stars are phenomenal. You’ll learn how to find southern constellations—including the Southern Cross—most of which cannot be seen at all from the northern hemisphere. Students sleep in single-gender dorm-style bunk houses, while teachers sleep in single cabins tonight.

Accommodation: Outback Cattle Station
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Farm Activities: This morning you get a sample of true outback life on a cattle station. You visit the cattle yards to learn about the cattle musters and branding, and what this robust rural family does to survive flooding, and drought. You can channel your inner Indiana Jones by learning to crack a whip, and ride on the farm’s hay truck to look for kangaroos and crocodiles in the wild. On the homestead, old trinkets, furniture and memorabilia that you can touch also take you back to the age of the early Australian pioneers.

Boomerang Throwing: Yes, they actually come back to you! Your guide teaches you the significance of the boomerang and how they were cleverly used for hunting. You learn proper throwing technique and what makes them return.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway: You experience Cairns premier eco-attraction and winner of numerous ecotourism awards – the Skyrail. You are transferred to this unique rainforest cableway for a fantastic journey over Australia’s World Heritage listed tropical rainforest canopy and deep into the forest.  Spanning 7.5 kilometres over Barron Gorge National Park, the Skyrail experience includes a scenic cableway ride and stops at two rainforest mid-stations. You can descend from the cableway onto rainforest boardwalks, where interpretive information is provided through guided boardwalk tours, signage and an interpretive centre.

Cairns Night Markets:  The nearby Night Markets opens at dusk, where you can find opals, pearls, silver, clothing, massage oils, t-shirts, arts, crafts, Australian food products, toys, and plenty of souvenirs and gifts.

Accommodation: Cairns 3-star hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Wildlife Park: This morning your guide takes you to a wildlife immersion park that is made up of three open and interactive environments (the Rainforest, the Wetlands and the Grasslands) for guests and animals to mingle in a natural setting. Hundreds of animals are housed on the property, including kangaroos, wallabies, laughing kookaburras, goannas, quolls, snakes, lorikeets, tree kangaroos, owls, koalas and an assortment of other Aussie animals, all of which need proper enclosures, feeding and care.

Optional Photo – You and a Koala! If you have always wanted to get a quintessential photo with a koala- here’s your chance (extra cost).

Aboriginal-Guided Rainforest Walk: The Kuku Yalanji are one of the only tribal rainforest people in Australia who still have their own culture and language, and this afternoon you are welcomed by an Aboriginal guide for a walk to see the Daintree rainforest through indigenous eyes. Beginning with a traditional smoking ceremony, you wander rainforest paths, discovering with your guide how these Aboriginal people found their way through dense rainforest, made shelter and learned which native plants were tasty to eat and those that served as weapons and medicine.   As your guide shares his stories, you learn how the seasons dictated life, what falls under men’s and women’s “business”, how to make fire in the rainforest and how to make fish very easy to catch.   You then sample billy tea and wattle seed damper (bread) made on the fire topped with jam from rainforest berries.

Beach BBQ Party: In the afternoon, you head to the beach for music, games and a BBQ cookout.  This is a great way to end your week in Australia!

Accommodation: Cairns 3-star hotel
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

After breakfast this morning you have free time for last-minute shopping or souvenir purchases.  If you leave later in the day, you can choose one of the following option:

Optional Service Project: Alternatively, you can participate in a service project for the homeless by making special bags for a local charity using upcycled materials (which helps them save money!) You then put it the bags food and hygiene items most needed by those living on the street.  A local not-for-profit organisation will then distribute the packs you make.  In addition, a representative from the charity will speak to you about how members of the Cairns community become homeless, and how your gift will help. No worries if you aren’t the best at arts and crafts – the bags are easy to make, and you’ll feel good doing it too.

Later you are transferred to the Cairns airport for your flight home.

Included: Breakfast


Do you wish to visit the Gold Coast instead of Brisbane/Moreton Island? Ask us about options to the theme parks like Sea World &  Movie World, surfing lessons and more!

OR Ask us about options in Sydney or to New Zealand for a combined trip to both of these lands Down Under.

Is this Best of Australia program too long or too short? Contact us for custom tour options that match your budget and objectives!

Check out this tour's educational outcomes
"I learned lots about the rainforest and coral reef communities. SCUBA diving on the liveaboard I liked the most – I got open water certified! Rick and Bec [SWJ guides] made lasting impacts on my life; they are wonderful people. I never want to leave Australia. My life is forever changed, for the better!"
–Stephanie Sellers, Student, Appalachian State University, Boone, USA (May-June ’17)

How Your Trip Makes The World A Better Place

We’re not talking rainbows and unicorns. We’re talking about how we have put significant thought into how to make our student tours as safe as they possibly can be while still being fun; encouraging students to learn about and contribute to the community they are travelling in; and teaching them what “sustainability” really means.


Although we wear bras and brush our teeth, you could say we are a team of hippy tree-huggers. This is why we run our office on renewable energy, voluntarily offsetting our carbon emissions, and fulfilling our policy to give at least 5% of our annual net profits to local environmental and community organisations and charities. Here’s what else we are doing:

HELPING THE REEF: In addition to the coral tree we sponsor, we pay to “adopt” coral at Fitzroy Island through our partner. The coral propagation happening there is unprecedented and is being celebrated as a significantproject to help save the reef. Each of our groups that visit the reef receives a certificate on the tour and later receive updates on the coral.

ADOPTING A RAINFOREST PLOT IN YOUR NAME: We pay to have a 5-square metre plot of rainforest is adopted in your group’s name through Rainforest Rescue. On your excursion, your group will be presented with a certificate detailing the significance of this gift to the environment. In 2018-19, we purchased more than 100 square metres of rainforest adopted in our groups’ names.

CREATIVE WASTE REDUCTION: We give you your own water bottle and cloth shopping bag to eliminate the need for disposable bottles and plastic bags (and saves them from going in landfills!) We also recycle BOTH our hard plastics and soft plastics (through RedCycle) and have transitioned into NO WASTE snacks and NO WASTE lunches. Our food scraps get composted and put into our community garden, our bin liners are paper (not plastic) and we even wipe our bums with Who Gives a Crap 100% recycled toilet paper!


SUPPORTING OUR INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY: It is our policy to include a talk or an activity with an Aboriginal person on every trip we offer. By taking this trip, you are supporting grassroots indigenous tourism ventures and encouraging Aboriginal pride in culture. We are proud to say that in the financial year of 2018-19, we gave over $43,000 in business to Aboriginal-owned ventures.

Additionally, our student community service project involves students in making “Moon Sick Care Bags” which supply re-usable sanitary products to Aboriginal women in remote communities — this helps both Indigenous women AND the environment! (Ask us how your group can do this on their tour)

SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES: It is our policy to use locally owned suppliers and businesses unless their standards are not up to par (for example, if they have a bad environmental record). In 2018-19, three quarters of our expenses were paid back into the local economy.

VOLUNTEERING IN OUR COMMUNITY: Small World staff are incentivised to volunteer in the community, and are given time to do so during work hours. As a team, we also clean up our local mangroves once a quarter, recognising their importance at the nursery to the Great Barrier Reef.


SUPERB SAFETY RECORD: We’ve had thousands of students travel with us, and our safety record is excellent. Ask us for teacher references specifically regarding safety.

RISK ASSESSMENT FOR EVERY TRIP: We do a risk assessment for every student tour we run, and is sent to your organising teacher. We have safety protocols for our activities and a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Manual that documents these protocols. We also have a complete Crisis Management Plan. In addition, students are given a safety briefing during orientation that addresses hazards and risks for this region.

SAFE BUSES: All of our buses are equipped with seatbelts for every seat. While this is not a Queensland law to have them, we feel your safety is a priority. Our guides do safety checks at the start of each day of the trip. In addition, vehicles go through a Department of Transport safety inspection every six months.

SAFE GUIDES: Small World Journeys’ guides hold current Senior First Aid and CPR certificates, along with government-issued Driver’s Authority (if driving) and Working With Children cards (also known as a Blue Card) after passing a thorough background check. For more information on our guides, see About Us.

We do custom trips!

Still haven’t found exactly what you are looking for? All our tours are fully customisable and can be catered to suit your time-frame, student interests and budget. A geography excursion to the Great Barrier Reef? A biology excursion to the Daintree Rainforest? An Aboriginal culture excursion? Our educational trips in Queensland and New South Wales are hand-crafted for those who cannot find exactly what they want from the inflexible set itineraries of large tour operators.

If you are looking for a science trip, ecology trip, Aboriginal culture, or just a sample of the best of Australia – we can help.

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