What is the mystery surrounding the Great Land called “OZ?” And no, it’s not the ruby slippers…
Explore Gay “Down Under”, including visiting the Sydney Opera House to discussions with an Aboriginal family. From scenic flights and camel rides in the Outback to a day cruise and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, and a fabulous Gay Mardi Gras parade and celebration in beautiful Sydney, this is the trip of a lifetime!
Beginning and ending in Sydney with stops in between, this trip is one of our most amazing and culturally diverse Gay adventures ever! After a short stay in Sydney at one of its hunkiest beaches, we journey to Ayers Rock to see Uluru, the famous red sandstone dome standing 348 meters high. Enjoy a magical sunrise, camel rides, and scenic flights as you explore this unique area at the center of Australia.
From here, we fly to our luxury eco-lodge near Port Douglas and enjoy nature walks, bird watching, and star gazing. While in Port Douglas, we will have a luxury day-cruise out to the Great Barrier Reef. We will soak up the sun, swim in turquoise waters and wander the white sands of the coral cays. And we will explore the mighty World-Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest with a local family belonging to the Kuku Yulanji, an aboriginal tribe, who share the importance and wonders of their ecosystem.
We conclude our journey with four nights in Sydney! While there we will sip, stroll, prance, shop, savor, tour, learn and SHINE our way through seductive Sydney during the weekend of Gay Mardi Gras, immersed in one of the biggest GAY parades and parties in the world!
Click here to read a travel blog from Trisha’s trip to Australia.
When you arrive at Sydney International Airport, one of our representatives will greet you and assist with your transfer to our luxurious hotel near Bondi Beach.
Most flights from North America arrive early morning, so enjoy the rest of your day relaxing after your long flight. And what better place to relax than at the beach! Nearby North Bondi beach has a muscled, pretty gay following. And you will also enjoy the walk by famed Iceburgs pool and around the sea cliffs to Tamarama Beach, which may offer a quieter experience. Enjoy your evening at leisure with a stroll along Hall Street with its trendy restaurants, cafes, and bars. Take time to rest and recover from the long journey and adjust to the time change, since you’ve just jumped ahead an entire day!
After breakfast, we say goodbye to Sydney as we fly to Uluru / Ayers Rock for our 2-night stay in the Outback, indulging our Crocodile Dundee fantasies, and learning the mysteries of the oldest inhabitants of this unique landscape!
We will visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, including Uluru, the true Aboriginal name for what many people know as Ayers Rock, one of the country’s most recognizable natural icons. Learn about the local flora and fauna, what “bush tucker” is (it’s not what you think), and the Aboriginal Dreamtime stories of the area.
Late this afternoon, we mount our sturdy steeds, camels, across the red sandy plains with Uluru in the distance.
We will get up before dawn today for our guided walking tour to a special location from which to observe an amazing sunrise over Uluru. After an Outback picnic breakfast, we will learn about the Mala people and hear their stories of world creation with “Liru” and “Kuniya,” two snakes often depicted in their petroglyphs. We will visit the Mutitjulu watering hole, and make our way around Uluru, before returning to our resort late morning.
Later this afternoon, we will be whisked into the air on a short scenic flight to gain a better overview of Uluru and the eroded mounds of nearby Kata Tjuta. Then we relax at a remote desert location with majestic views of the light of the setting sun dance across the folds of Uluru, sparkling wine and canapes at hand.
As darkness falls, our “Night in the Field of Light” begins. This art installation of 50,000 glass spheres of colored lights gently sparkles to life as we indulge in an outback-inspired gourmet buffet. A local Indigenous performance will add to the wonder of the evening.
Today we will make our way to the northeast coast, to Port Douglas, to stay in a glorious beach and rainforest setting. While here, we will have an opportunity to enjoy daily guided nature walks, bird watching, a coconut odyssey, beach discovery and star gazing at the outdoor observatory.
This morning the adventure starts with an early departure from the marina on our beautiful yacht or catamaran, setting sail to the Coral Cays of Mackay or Undine Reefs. Enjoy sailing the coastline and take in the views of the Daintree Mountains. Once in the naturally protected areas of the cays, we will snorkel over the pristine coral reef with a marine biologist for this guided tour. If snorkeling is not for you, enjoy the views from a glass bottom boat or walk along the pristine white sand beaches. There is abundant marine life, including turtles, clam gardens, corals and a variety of fish.
We will ease into today and head to Cooya Beach, a traditional fishing ground of the Kuku Yalanji people. One of the Kubirri Warra brothers will join us for some time on the beach, on a mudflat and mangrove walk as he shares his insights to finding your own tucker(food). Next, we will make our way to Mossman Gorge, where we will be welcomed with a traditional ‘smoking’ ceremony conducted by Aboriginal people. This ceremony is said to protect us while visiting Kuku Yalanjii country. Our Indigenous guide will provide us with the narrative throughout this time, identifying bush food and traditions like making bush soaps and ochre paint. We will enjoy some time walking through the gorgeous rainforest and bond with this unique tropical environment.
Today is at leisure for you to enjoy the lovely eco-resort where you are staying, including hikes and other activities on offer that day, relaxing at the pool, walking along the beach and forest trails, or perhaps a spa treatment. You could also head into Port Douglas for independent exploring.
Later this morning, it’s a return to Sydney and Pride party time! We fly to sunny, seductive and friendly Sydney and get ready for the celebration of a lifetime!
Mardi Gras will be in full swing, and we will be working to maximize our enjoyment of this colorful fest by including spontaneous party opportunities as they present themselves. Flexibility will be the key to having the most fun possible at one of the biggest parties on Earth!
There is so much to see and do in Sydney that you will have a hard time deciding. Here are some fabulous ideas:
In the evenings, the gay Oxford Street district will be particularly active during Mardi Gras weekend, with lots of fun to be had!
After breakfast, it’s time to get up close and personal with some animals! We will start with a safari in the sky on an included cable car, and then come down to Earth with a 1-hour tour of the Taronga Zoo, one of the most highly regarded facilities of this kind in the world.
And we’re not through yet. We now take a ferry across the harbor to the most iconic of Sydney buildings, the Sydney Opera House.
Our tour there brings to life the saga behind the making of this modern masterpiece. We will go inside one of the working venues to experience the magic behind the world’s most extraordinary artistic spaces. And we will stay in the Opera complex to enjoy a tasting platter for lunch.
We start our day with a short trip to The Rocks, just under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. One of Sydney’s first English settlements was here, but this strategic location jutting into the harbor has long been held sacred by the Aboriginal people of the area a well. An Aboriginal guide will lead us on a 90-minute walkabout tour around The Rocks to learn about Sydney’s “Dreamtime” Heritage. The traditions of these saltwater Aboriginal people share some attributes but are also quite distinct from the culture of their distant cousins whom we met earlier in the Red Centre near Uluru.
The rest of the day will be soaking up the festival atmosphere. There’s no way to describe the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras except with superlatives. It’s the world’s largest Mardi Gras celebration, Australia’s biggest attraction for overseas visitors (and for locals, both gay and straight), and the world’s grandest gay party. In fact, Sydney Mardi Gras is a month-long event, with gay and lesbian cultural, social, and sporting events, culminating in the festive parade and countless parties.
This evening, our group will enjoy premium grandstand seats for the Mardi Gras parade, an event so extravagant it draws a crowd of some 600,000 people.
The parade is followed by an official all-night Mardi Gras party with multiple dance venues, plus there are dozens of unofficial parties around the city. While grandstand seating is included, the official all-night party tickets are not included with our package, but let us know if you would like tickets and we will order them on your behalf.
Today is for recovering from the party! Rest, relax, or lounge—it’s up to you.
Optional excursion: Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb:
For those interested, we offer the amazing Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb as an optional tour, scheduled during free time. It is a 3.5-hour experience, with views down onto the Opera House and across its magnificent harbor. (Be warned, you have to pass a breathalyzer scan to be allowed up!)
Harnesses, helmets, and gloves are provided. The Climb starts when you attach a strong carabiner (hook) onto a continuous metal rod that goes all the way up to the top of the bridge, and all the way down the opposite side. You walk part way onto the bridge, climb up a ladder, then start the gradual ascent to the top. The footpath is wide enough that most people don’t get too scared – but it’s not recommended to spend much time looking down at the speeding cars and subway trains a few stories below!
At the top, you walk from one side of this great icon to the other, and Climb Leaders will point out key landmarks. A clear day will afford you views that stretch from the Pacific Ocean to the Blue Mountains. You then return to the starting point on the opposite side of the bridge.
Tonight, we head out on Sydney Harbor’s sensational sunset dinner cruise for our Farewell Dinner! We will board our private luxury yacht and be mesmerized as the sunset reflects ever-changing light on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Our cruise concludes with a shipboard gourmet barbeque dinner with 5-star service, so enjoy your evening. What a special way to wrap up an amazing adventure and celebrate with our new best friends!
After breakfast, transfers will be provided to the airport, then it’s off to home.
Join us for our gay travel New Zealand Cultural Tour. Take a journey through the culturally rich New Zealand. A landscape so majestic it was decided The Lord of the Rings would be filmed there, and you’ll see why. In this beautiful gay cultural tour of New Zealand, you’ll see towering mountains, scenic coastlines, and grand, glacial lakes, not to mention enjoy delicious wines. See what it’s like to witness some of the amazing views from a vintage 1912 steamship, the TSS Earnslaw!
Price includes: Arrival and departure airport transfers, transfers for group flights; group ground transportation as listed in the itinerary; flights from Sydney to Ayers Rock to Port Douglas to Sydney; hotels for 1 night at Bondi Beach in Sydney, 2 nights at Ayers Rock, 4 nights in Port Douglas, and 4 nights in Sydney; all breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 6 dinners; entrance for activities shown on the itinerary; Mardi Gras parade viewing tickets (seated); and services of an HE Travel tour director accompanying the group within Australia (subject to minimum participation). HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage. Base price shown is per person in a shared room.
Not included: ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) for admission to Australia (we will provide instructions shortly before the tour); International airfare to and from Sydney, Australia; activities listed as Optional Tour Choices; Mardi Gras party admissions/special events tickets; Souvenirs, snacks, admissions, alcohol; 6 lunches and 5 dinners; Gratuities for tour director and local guides.
Optional Tour Choices:
$2500 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
$325 Sydney Bridge Climb
$160 Mardi Gras all-night party tickets
“The trip far exceeded my expectations.” – Steve A., Newark, OH
“Australia Dreamtime was exciting and colorful, everything I expected from a country with so much to offer the adventurous and interested traveler.” – Jim J., Watervliet, NY
“Australia is indeed a Continent – any visit will be too brief to see it all, but on this trip, we will see the diversity of this unique land, including mountains and oceans, deserts and rivers, cities and villages. We will also see how both European and Aboriginal people have interacted with the often-harsh landscape – and thrived!” – Phil Sheldon, President, HE Travel, Key West, Florida, USA
Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself.
For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
This tour starts and ends in Sydney, Australia.
This Cultural Tour of Australia requires some walking on each day, at a modest pace, often on uneven surfaces. Sailing. Swimming and snorkeling are also included for those so inclined. Someone with less mobility could still enjoy the tour but would need to sit out some of the more strenuous activities.
Each of the hotels used for our tour is one of the highest rated hotels in its area. We have chosen our deluxe hotels due to their history and comfort – and uniqueness! Our two city hotels are in excellent locations allowing easy access to charming restaurants, cityscapes, and nightlife.
For answers to your additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-294-8174