18 days in Melbourne, Great Barrier Reef & Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Itinerary

18 days in Melbourne, Great Barrier Reef & Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Itinerary

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Route & dates

18 days in Melbourne, Great Barrier Reef & Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Itinerary

Start: Melbourne
1
Melbourne
— 2 nights
Fly:  4​h 30​min
2
Hamilton Island
— 2 nights
ferry:  1​h
3
Airlie Beach
— 2 nights
ferry:  1​h 15​min
4
Whitsunday Island
— 2 nights
bus + ferry:  5​h
5
Magnetic Island
— 2 nights
Fly:  6​h 30​min
6
Cooktown
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h 30​min
7
Port Douglas
— 2 nights
Drive:  1​h 15​min
8
Cairns
— 1 night
Fly:  4​h 45​min
9
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
— 1 day
Fly:  4​h 45​min
End: Melbourne

2
nights
Melbourne

Melbourne ©
The state of Victoria crown jewel, Melbourne boasts shaded streets, leafy residential neighborhoods, vibrant street life, and a picturesque city center.
Discover out-of-the-way places like 13th Beach and Sorrento Back Beach.

For ratings, photos, traveler tips, and other tourist information, use the Melbourne trip planner .

The Route module can give you travel options from your home to Melbourne. December in Melbourne sees daily highs of 30°C and lows of 14°C at night. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 15th (Sat) so you can travel to Hamilton Island.

Things to do in Melbourne

Beaches Outdoors Parks

Side Trips

13th Beach, Sorrento Back Beach
Find places to stay Dec 13 — 15:
Highlights from your plan
Sorrento Back Beach ©
Sorrento Back Beach
13th Beach ©
13th Beach

2
nights
Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island
A trip to Hamilton Island takes you to a car-free destination mostly covered in bushland.
Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: kick back and relax at Catseye Beach.

To see maps, where to stay, photos, and tourist information, refer to the Hamilton Island trip planner .

Traveling by flight from Melbourne to Hamilton Island takes 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus, car, and ferry. While traveling from Melbourne, expect somewhat warmer days and much warmer nights in Hamilton Island, ranging from highs of 34°C to lows of 28°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 17th (Mon) so you can catch the ferry to Airlie Beach.

Things to do in Hamilton Island

Beaches Outdoors Parks
Find places to stay Dec 15 — 17:

2
nights
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach ©
Very much a town with an emphasis on the tropical lifestyle, Airlie Beach offers exotic surroundings with palm trees and charming, sandy beaches.
Start off your visit on the 18th (Tue): go for a stroll along the water at Abell Point Marina, look for gifts at Colour Me Crazy, and then view the masterpieces at Art Whitsunday Gallery & Shop. On the next day, head off the coast to Whitsunday Islands and then enjoy the sand and surf at Boathaven Beach.

To see traveler tips, other places to visit, reviews, and other tourist information, read Airlie Beach trip planner.

Traveling by ferry from Hamilton Island to Airlie Beach takes an hour. In December in Airlie Beach, expect temperatures between 34°C during the day and 28°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 19th (Wed) to allow enough time to ride a ferry to Whitsunday Island.

Things to do in Airlie Beach

Parks Nature Beaches

Side Trips

Colour Me Crazy, Whitsunday Islands
Find places to stay Dec 17 — 19:
Highlights from your plan
Abell Point Marina ©
Abell Point Marina
Whitsunday Islands ©
Whitsunday Islands
Colour Me Crazy ©
Colour Me Crazy

2
nights
Whitsunday Island

Whitsunday Island ©
Kick off your visit on the 20th (Thu): kick back and relax at Whitehaven Beach. Keep things going the next day: contemplate the waterfront views at Hill Inlet.

You can plan Whitsunday Island trip in no time by asking Inspirock to help create your itinerary.

Getting from Airlie Beach to Whitsunday Island by ferry takes about 1.5 hours. Plan for little chillier nights when traveling from Airlie Beach in December since evenings lows in Whitsunday Island dip to 24°C. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 21st (Fri) to allow enough time to travel to Magnetic Island.

Things to do in Whitsunday Island

Parks Beaches Outdoors
Find places to stay Dec 19 — 21:
Highlights from your plan
Whitehaven Beach ©
Whitehaven Beach
Hill Inlet ©
Hill Inlet

2
nights
Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island ©
Kick off your visit on the 22nd (Sat): take an in-depth tour of Magnetic Island Museum, then identify plant and animal life at Nelly Bay to Arcadia Trail, and then kick back and relax at Geoffrey Bay. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 23rd (Sun): get interesting insight from Pilgrim Sailing and then head off the coast to Magnetic Island National Park.

For more things to do, where to stay, traveler tips, and tourist information, go to the Magnetic Island online trip itinerary builder .

Getting from Whitsunday Island to Magnetic Island by combination of bus and ferry takes about 5 hours. Other options: do a combination of train and ferry; or do a combination of flight and ferry. Traveling from Whitsunday Island in December, expect somewhat warmer with lows of 28°C in Magnetic Island. Cap off your sightseeing on the 23rd (Sun) early enough to travel to Cooktown.

Things to do in Magnetic Island

Parks Wildlife Nature
Find places to stay Dec 21 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Geoffrey Bay ©
Geoffrey Bay
Pilgrim Sailing ©
Pilgrim Sailing
Magnetic Island National Park ©
Magnetic Island National Park

1
night
Cooktown

Cooktown ©
Cooktown is a small town and locality in the Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia. Kick off your visit on the 24th (Mon): get great views at Grassy Hill, contemplate the long history of Cooktown History Centre, then enjoy the sand and surf at Finch Bay, and finally admire the natural beauty at Cooktown Botanical Gardens. Keep things going the next day: explore the striking landscape of Black Mountain National Park, admire the sheer force of Trevethan Falls, and then identify plant and animal life at Great Northern Tours.

To see maps, where to stay, other places to visit, and tourist information, use the Cooktown trip planner .

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Magnetic Island to Cooktown. Finish your sightseeing early on the 25th (Tue) so you can travel to Port Douglas.

Things to do in Cooktown

Parks Wildlife Nature

Side Trip

Black Mountain National Park
Find places to stay Dec 23 — 25:
Highlights from your plan
Finch Bay ©
Finch Bay
Grassy Hill ©
Grassy Hill
Great Northern Tours ©
Great Northern Tours

2
nights
Port Douglas

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), take in the exciting artwork at Des Spencer Galleries and then see the vivid underwater world at Opal Reef. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: take a pleasant ride with a tour on horseback and then kick back and relax at Wonga Beach.

To see maps, more things to do, where to stay, and other tourist information, use the Port Douglas online tour itinerary planner .

You can drive from Cooktown to Port Douglas in 3.5 hours. December in Port Douglas sees daily highs of 36°C and lows of 26°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 27th (Thu) to allow time to drive to Cairns.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Parks Outdoors Beaches

Side Trip

Wonga Beach
Find places to stay Dec 25 — 27:
Highlights from your plan
Opal Reef ©
Opal Reef
Horseback Riding Tours

1
night
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.
Start off your visit on the 28th (Fri): take in the architecture and atmosphere at St Monica's Cathedral, enjoy the sand and surf at Trinity Beach, and then kick back and relax at Yorkeys Knob Beach.

To find more things to do, ratings, reviews, and tourist information, read our Cairns road trip site .

Getting from Port Douglas to Cairns by car takes about 1.5 hours. Other options: take a bus; or take a shuttle. In December, daily temperatures in Cairns can reach 36°C, while at night they dip to 26°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 28th (Fri) so you can travel to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Things to do in Cairns

Beaches Outdoors Parks

Side Trips

Trinity Beach, Yorkeys Knob Beach
Find places to stay Dec 27 — 28:
Highlights from your plan
Trinity Beach ©
Trinity Beach
Yorkeys Knob Beach ©
Yorkeys Knob Beach
St Monica's Cathedral ©
St Monica's Cathedral

1
day
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.
Kick off your visit on the 29th (Sat): look for all kinds of wild species at Red Desert Reptiles, see the world from above with a helicopter tour, view the masterpieces at Walkatjara Art, then explore the activities along Mutitjulu Waterhole, and finally hike along Kuniya Walk.

To find ratings, where to stay, more things to do, and other tourist information, refer to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park online holiday maker .

Fly from Cairns to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in 5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive. Traveling from Cairns in December, expect nights in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to be about the same, around 24°C, while days are a bit warmer, around 42°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 29th (Sat) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Parks Nature Tours

Side Trip

Yulara
Find places to stay Dec 28 — 29:
Highlights from your plan
Kuniya Walk ©
Kuniya Walk
Helicopter Tours
Mutitjulu Waterhole ©
Mutitjulu Waterhole

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