15 days in Sydney, Great Barrier Reef & Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Itinerary

15 days in Sydney, Great Barrier Reef & Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Itinerary

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Route & dates

15 days in Sydney, Great Barrier Reef & Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Itinerary

Start: Sydney
1
Sydney
— 2 nights
Fly + Drive:  8​h 45​min
2
Cooktown
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 30​min
3
Port Douglas
— 2 nights
bus:  1​h 15​min
4
Cairns
— 3 nights
Fly:  4​h 45​min
5
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
— 3 nights
Fly:  5​h 30​min
End: Sydney

2
nights
Sydney

Lent iconic status as a result of its famous bridge and opera house, Sydney has a down-to-earth charm that enhances its spectacular setting and functional efficiency.
Get a sense of the local culture at The Rocks and Australian National Maritime Museum. You'll discover tucked-away gems like Art Gallery of New South Wales and Dolphin & Whale Watching. When in Sydney, make a side trip to see Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park in Calga, approximately 1h 05 min away. Next up on the itinerary: enjoy the sand and surf at Bondi Beach, hike along Bondi to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk, see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour, and tour the pleasant surroundings at The Opera House to the Botanic Gardens Walk.

To find other places to visit, photos, reviews, and more tourist information, read Sydney trip planner.

If you are flying in from United States, the closest major airport is Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport. In December, daily temperatures in Sydney can reach 81°F, while at night they dip to 65°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 23rd (Sun) to allow time to travel to Cooktown.

Things to do in Sydney

Outdoors Wildlife Parks

Side Trip

Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park
Find places to stay Dec 21 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Bondi to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk ©
Dolphin & Whale Watching

2
nights
Cooktown

Cooktown ©
Cooktown is a small town and locality in the Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia. Start off your visit on the 24th (Mon): don't miss a visit to Grassy Hill, contemplate the long history of Cooktown History Centre, enjoy the sand and surf at Finch Bay, then take an in-depth tour of James Cook Museum, and finally explore the different monuments and memorials at Cooktown War Memorial. On your second day here, experience rural life at Alkoomie Station, then explore the striking landscape of Black Mountain National Park, then take in the dramatic scenery at Trevethan Falls, and finally look for all kinds of wild species at Great Northern Tours.

To find other places to visit, ratings, photos, and other tourist information, read Cooktown planning site .

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Sydney to Cooktown. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 26th (Wed) so you can travel to Port Douglas.

Things to do in Cooktown

Parks Historic Sites Wildlife

Side Trip

Black Mountain National Park
Find places to stay Dec 23 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
Finch Bay ©
Finch Bay
James Cook Museum ©
James Cook Museum
Grassy Hill ©
Grassy Hill

2
nights
Port Douglas

A holiday in Port Douglas balances an activity-filled getaway with plenty of opportunities to relax, thanks to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and bustling beach life.
On the 26th (Wed), learn about winemaking at Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery, kick back and relax at Four Mile Beach, take in the exciting artwork at Des Spencer Galleries, then browse the exhibits of Ngarru Gallery, and finally look for gifts at With Sugar. On the next day, discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour.

Plan my trip to Port Douglas with suggested itineraries provided by Inspirock.

Traveling by car from Cooktown to Port Douglas takes 3.5 hours. In December in Port Douglas, expect temperatures between 88°F during the day and 73°F at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 28th (Fri) so you can drive to Cairns.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Outdoors Wildlife Tours

Side Trip

Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery
Find places to stay Dec 26 — 28:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Four Mile Beach ©
Four Mile Beach
Ngarru Gallery ©
Ngarru Gallery

3
nights
Cairns

Cairns ©
A neat, cosmopolitan city of shaded plazas and laid-back neighborhoods, Cairns serves as a popular base for exploration of the surrounding region and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as a center for watersport activities like surfing or waterskiing.
Let the collections at Rainforest Gems Gallery & Studio and The Crystal Caves capture your imagination. Kids will enjoy The Bat Hospital Visitor Centre and Granite Gorge Nature Park. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Cairns: Jaques Coffee Plantation (in Mareeba), Babinda Boulders (in Babinda) and Mamu Tropical Skywalk (in Innisfail). And it doesn't end there: take in the dramatic scenery at Millaa Millaa Falls, take the plunge with a skydiving experience, and pause for some serene contemplation at St Monica's Cathedral.

To find more things to do, where to stay, photos, and tourist information, go to the Cairns travel route planner.

You can drive from Port Douglas to Cairns in 1.5 hours. Other options are to take a bus; or take a shuttle. Expect a daytime high around 88°F in December, and nighttime lows around 73°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 31st (Mon) to allow enough time to travel to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Things to do in Cairns

Parks Nature Adventure

Side Trips

Atherton, Mareeba, Millaa Millaa Falls, Babinda Boulders, Rainforest Gems Gallery & Studio
Find places to stay Dec 28 — 31:
Highlights from your plan
Granite Gorge Nature Park ©
Granite Gorge Nature Park
Babinda Boulders ©
Babinda Boulders
The Crystal Caves ©
The Crystal Caves

3
nights
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park ©
For quintessential Outback scenery and culture, you can't beat a holiday in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, a World Heritage Site.
You'll visit kid-friendly attractions like Kuniya Walk and Red Desert Reptiles. Museum-lovers will get to explore Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre and Walkatjara Art. Next up on the itinerary: don't miss a visit to Uluru, stroll through Uluru Hiking Path, head outdoors with Walpa Gorge, and take in the pleasant sights at Field of Light.

For more things to do, maps, traveler tips, and more tourist information, refer to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park online itinerary planner .

You can fly from Cairns to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in 5 hours. Another option is to drive. Expect a bit warmer weather when traveling from Cairns in December: highs in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park hover around 97°F, while lows dip to 70°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 3rd (Thu) so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trip

Red Desert Reptiles
Find places to stay Dec 31 — Jan 3:
Highlights from your plan
Uluru ©
Uluru
Kata Tjuta / Mount Olga ©
Kata Tjuta / Mount Olga
Valley of the Winds ©
Valley of the Winds

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