With 2 weeks, your visit to Australia will be much more relaxed, and you’ll get a greater sense of the diversity of Australia’s landscape, wildlife, and people. You will be able to explore the country’s trio of icons—Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, and Uluru—in more depth, and maybe even have time to go outside those areas, especially if you limit your icons to two instead of three.
Days 1–6: Sydney to Cairns
Follow the itinerary as outlined in “Australia in 1 Week.”
Day 7: Cairns to Uluru
Leave Cairns as early as you can. Your flight to Ayers Rock Airport will take around 3 hours. Make sure you book a direct flight, not one that goes via Sydney! Try to get a window seat for the spectacular views as you fly over the Outback. If you take the early flight, you can be in Uluru by around 10am, which gives you the entire day to take in the enormity of this fabulous monolith. Take the shuttle from Ayers Rock Resort (the only place to stay, albeit one with many accommodations choices) to the Rock. Spend some time in the impressive and interesting Uluru–Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre , near the base of Uluru, and explore the area on one of the many walking trails or tours. End the day by watching the sun set over Uluru—an unforgettable sight. After doing all that in a day, you’ll be ready for a quiet dinner at whatever hotel you’ve chosen.
If you decide to climb Uluru (remembering that the traditional Aboriginal owners would prefer you didn’t), make sure you don’t do it at the hottest time of day. A climb should take you between 2 and 4 hours, depending on your fitness.
Day 8: Exploring Uluru
Sunrise is one of those magic times at Uluru, so make the effort to get up early. This is also a great time to do the 9.6-km (6-mile) Base Walk circumnavigating Uluru , which takes 2 to 3 hours. There are a range of other ways to experience Uluru, including camel rides, Harley-Davidson tours, and helicopter joy flights, but walking up close to the Rock beats them all.
You also will have time today to head to Kata Tjuta (called “The Olgas”), where you’ll see there’s much more to the Red Centre than just one rock. Kata Tjuta is about 48 km (30 miles) west of Uluru, but plenty of tour operators go there if you don’t have your own wheels.
End your day in the desert with the Sounds of Silence dinner, run by Ayers Rock Resort. Sip champagne as the sun sets over Uluru to the eerie music of the didgeridoo, and then tuck into kangaroo, barramundi, and other native foods. But it’s not the food you’re here for—it’s the silence and the stars. A short stargazing session with an astronomer ends a memorable evening.
Day 9: Uluru to Kings Canyon
Hire a four-wheel-drive vehicle and tackle the long Outback drive from Uluru to Alice Springs, stopping for a night at Kings Canyon Resort (www.kingscanyonresort.com.au). It is 306 km (190 miles) from Uluru to Kings Canyon (also known as Watarrka National Park), which offers another unbeatable look at Outback Australia. You can spend the afternoon walking up the side of the canyon and around the rim. Parts of it are very steep, and the whole hike will take you around 4 hours, but it’s well worth the effort. A gentler walk is the short and shady canyon floor walk.
Day 10: Kings Canyon to Alice Springs
Get an early start for Alice Springs and take the unpaved but interesting Mereenie Loop Road, which threads through the Glen Helen Gorge or the historic Hermannsburg mission settlement. Whichever road you take, the scenery is like nowhere else. You probably will spend most of the day driving to Alice, making a few stops along the way.
On arrival, check into a hotel and head out to one of the local restaurants, several of which offer sophisticated versions of “bush tucker,” including kangaroo, emu, and crocodile dishes.
Day 11: Alice Springs
If you can stand another early start, take a dawn balloon flight over the desert , usually followed by a champagne breakfast. If you don’t head back to bed immediately for a few hours of catch-up sleep, there are plenty of attractions to discover, including the Alice Springs Desert Park, for a look at some unusual Australian creatures; the School of the Air; and the Royal Flying Doctor Service base. In the afternoon, drop into the Mbantua Aboriginal Art Gallery to see some of the best Aboriginal art from the outlying communities in the desert region called Utopia, famed for its paintings. Alternatively, visit the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve, set in an oasis just outside town, for a look at early settler life. Finish the day with a sunset camel ride down the dry Todd River bed and have dinner at the camel farm.
Day 12: Alice Springs to Sydney
Direct flights from Alice Springs to Sydney leave in the early afternoon, so you’ll have all morning to explore more of the town and perhaps buy some Aboriginal art. (This is one of the best places to get it.)
On arrival in Sydney, after an almost 3-hour flight, check into your hotel and spend the night discovering the city’s nightlife.
Day 13: A Day at Bondi Beach
For sands of a different hue from those you’ve experienced in recent days, take the bus to Sydney’s most famous beach, Bondi , and spend it lazing on the sand or—in summer, at least—taking a dip in the surf. Take a public bus or the Bondi Explorer from Circular Quay, which gives you a choice of harborside bays and coastal beaches. The scenic cliff-top walk to Bronte Beach is worth doing, or you can continue farther to Coogee.
Day 14: Sydney
Your final day in Australia can be spent on last-minute shopping and seeing those Sydney sights that you haven’t yet had time for. Cap it all off with a slap-up seafood dinner somewhere with a fantastic view of the Harbour Bridge.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.