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Australia & New Zealand 2014

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Trip Extensions

Pre-trip: Melbourne & the Outback

More than 50% of our travelers have reserved this extension in 2014

The wonders of stylish Melbourne and the rugged Australian Outback await on this discovery-rich extension. Get to know Melbourne and its elegant English flavor through visits to sprawling gardens and bustling markets. Delight in charming Alice Springs, where you’ll tour the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Old Telegraph Station, and the fascinating School of the Air that reaches out to children across the vast Australian interior. And explore mystical Ayers Rock, the red sandstone monolith sacred to the Aboriginal people, where you’ll sip Champagne at sunset and allow the serene beauty of the Outback to wash over you.

It's Included:
Air transportation from Melbourne to Alice Springs; and Ayers Rock to Cairns
Private motorcoach transportation from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock
Accommodations for 2 nights in Melbourne at the Citadines on Bourke Melbourne Hotel, 2 nights in Alice Springs at the First-Class Lasseters Hotel Casino, and 1 night at Ayers Rock at the First-Class Desert Gardens Hotel or similar
7 meals: 5 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 1 dinner
3 included tours: Melbourne, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock
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    You depart Los Angeles today and fly over the Pacific.

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    Crossing the International Dateline, you lose a day on the westbound crossing and gain it back on your return flight to the U.S.

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    Arrive today in Melbourne. Your Program Director will meet you at the airport and assist with the transfer to your hotel. Before checking in, join a brief orientation walk and get the lay of the land around your hotel’s neighborhood. You’ll have some free time to explore your surroundings after check-in.

    Get to know your travel companions and Program Director a little better during this evening’s Welcome Dinner at the hotel.

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    After breakfast, you'll tour the sights of the city. See the Old Customs House and Town Hall. Pass by Parliament House and St. Patrick's Cathedral, and see the Shrine of Remembrance. Built between 1928 and 1934, the Shrine commemorates the 114,000 men and women of Victoria who served in World War I.

    Lunch is on your own today, and you have the afternoon and evening at leisure to explore Melbourne, the capital of Victoria and Australia's second-largest city. You might want to get a panoramic view of the city from the Eureka Tower Observation Deck, the highest public vantage point in the southern hemisphere. Consider taking a tour of the Victorian Arts Center, the premier performing arts venue in the city, and visiting the National Gallery of Victoria, which houses world-class collections of Australian, Aboriginal, Asian, European, and pre-Columbian art. Or wander around Federation Square. Ask your Program Director for suggestions on where to dine on your own this evening.

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    • Meals included:
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    Take an early flight from Melbourne to Alice Springs, with its frontier Outback atmosphere. For many, the Outback is synonymous with Australia. To Australians, it is known as the “Red Center” for the russet color of the soil and its location in the virtual geographic center of the country.

    Begin with a visit to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which delivers emergency services and health care throughout the vast country. Continue to the School of the Air, the first of its kind in Australia. From this site, about 140 elementary-aged children, spread across one million square miles of the vast Australian interior, receive their lessons and education via computers, webcams, video, phone, and fax. Established in 1951, this unique school offers the only formal education (short of professional home tutors) for the children, who live on cattle stations and in other far-flung corners of the Outback.

    Then enjoy an included tour of the Old Telegraph Station. Set aside as a Historical Reserve, this is the area of original settlement in Alice Springs. Here the European settlers constructed the Overland Telegraph Line, a remarkable engineering feat that was the only form of modern communication in the Outback for 60 years.

    Lunch is on your own today, with your afternoon at leisure to relax and explore independently. This evening, dine in your hotel on your own, or venture out to a local restaurant.

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    After breakfast, enjoy a full day at leisure to explore the beauty of the Outback on your own.

    Or join an optional morning excursion to the foothills of the dramatic MacDonnell Ranges and Alice Springs Desert Park. Here, in three unique habitats, you’ll experience the essence of Australia’s beautiful and mysterious desert landscapes. Desert habitats comprise 70 percent of the continent, and Desert Park is home to more than 400 animals and 400 species of plants, including many rare and endangered species.

    The balance of the day is at leisure to relax or explore further on your own.

    Or, if you’re craving some true Outback tucker (food), consider an optional Outback Barbecue this evening, where you'll enjoy traditional pioneer Outback camp cooking. You'll learn how to make damper bread as you hear about the workings of cattle stations in the Outback, listen to a talk on Aboriginal family groups as you eat, and be entertained with some true Aussie ballads. Enjoy it all under the stars, and complete the evening with a bit of southern hemisphere stargazing.

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    After an early breakfast, depart on your drive to Ayers Rock (Uluru, or “meeting place,” to the native Anangu people). You’ll leave the MacDonnell Ranges, and drive through the starkly beautiful landscapes that most people imagine when they think of the Outback, stopping for an included lunch along the way.

    Arrive at your hotel near Ayers Rock in mid-afternoon. Take some time to settle in, and later in the afternoon, experience a Champagne toast at Ayers Rock as the sunset bathes the red clay. You’ll see why this is a sacred place to the Aborigines, who believe the rock has mystical powers.

    Enjoy dinner on your own this evening.

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    After breakfast, tour around the base of Ayers Rock, and visit the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Center, with dynamic displays and artwork describing this World Heritage landscape from the perspective of the traditional owners, the Anangu people. Learn about the fascinating Tjukurpa (creation stories and law), which explains the spiritual meaning of the surrounding landscapes.

    In the early afternoon, you’ll fly to Cairnsand transfer to your hotel, where you’ll meet up with the rest of the group on your Australia & New Zealand Land Tour.