21 days in Sydney, Kangaroo Island & Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

21 days in Sydney, Kangaroo Island & Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

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21 days in Sydney, Kangaroo Island & Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Start: Johannesburg
+2
train + foot + Fly:  14​h 45​min
1
Sydney
— 2 nights
Fly + taxi:  5​h 30​min
2
Kangaroo Island
— 3 nights
taxi + Fly:  7​h 15​min
3
Townsville
— 2 nights
ferry:  30​min
4
Magnetic Island
— 2 nights
ferry + Drive:  4​h 30​min
5
Airlie Beach
— 2 nights
ferry:  1​h
6
Hamilton Island
— 3 nights
Fly + shuttle:  3​h 45​min
7
Port Douglas
— 2 nights
Drive:  1​h 15​min
8
Cairns
— 3 nights
+2
Fly + foot + train:  20​h 45​min
End: Johannesburg


2
nights
Sydney

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.
On the 21st (Fri), kick back and relax at Camp Cove, explore the activities along Watson's Bay, and then identify plant and animal life at Featherdale Wildlife Park. On the 22nd (Sat), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: explore the world behind art at Art Gallery of New South Wales, enjoy the sand and surf at Balmoral Beach, Mosman, then trek along Manly Scenic Walkway, and finally enjoy the sand and surf at Shelly Beach.

To find maps, other places to visit, where to stay, and other tourist information, read our Sydney day trip planning tool .

Johannesburg, South Africa to Sydney is an approximately 15-hour flight. You'll lose 8 hours traveling from Johannesburg to Sydney due to the time zone difference. When traveling from Johannesburg in September, plan for slightly colder days in Sydney, with highs around 25°C, while nights are about the same with lows around 14°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Sun) so you can travel to Kangaroo Island.

Things to do in Sydney

Parks Outdoors Trails

Side Trips

Balmoral Beach, Mosman, Featherdale Wildlife Park, Shelly Beach
Find places to stay Sep 21 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Featherdale Wildlife Park ©
Featherdale Wildlife Park
Shelly Beach ©
Shelly Beach
Watson's Bay ©
Watson's Bay

3
nights
Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island ©
Abandoned by Aborigines a few thousand years ago, Kangaroo Island attracts over 140,000 visitors each year.
You'll discover tucked-away gems like Raptor Domain and Seal Bay Conservation Park. Take a break from the city and head to Flinders Chase National Park and Island Beach. It doesn't end there: learn about winemaking at The Islander Estate Vineyards.

To find reviews, photos, traveler tips, and other tourist information, use the Kangaroo Island tour itinerary website .

Getting from Sydney to Kangaroo Island by combination of flight and taxi takes about 5.5 hours. Other options: do a combination of car and ferry; or do a combination of bus, car, and ferry. On the 26th (Wed), you'll travel to Townsville.

Things to do in Kangaroo Island

Parks Wildlife Nature
Find places to stay Sep 23 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
Raptor Domain ©
Raptor Domain
Flinders Chase National Park ©
Flinders Chase National Park
Seal Bay Conservation Park ©
Seal Bay Conservation Park

2
nights
Townsville

Townsville ©
Tucked snugly beneath a steep, craggy mount--known as Castle Hill--the vibrant city of Townsville is as picturesque as its backdrop.
Kick off your visit on the 27th (Thu): look for all kinds of wild species at Billabong Sanctuary, then grab your bike and head to Douglas Mountain Bike Reserve, and then kick back and relax at CoffeeWorks Townsville. Here are some ideas for day two: head off the coast to Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium, then tour the pleasant surroundings at The Strand, and then tour the pleasant surroundings at Castle Hill.

To find maps, traveler tips, more things to do, and tourist information, use the Townsville journey planning website .

Do a combination of taxi and flight from Kangaroo Island to Townsville in 7.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and ferry; or do a combination of car, ferry, and train. September in Townsville sees daily highs of 32°C and lows of 21°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 28th (Fri) so you can ride a ferry to Magnetic Island.

Things to do in Townsville

Parks Outdoors Wildlife
Find places to stay Sep 26 — 28:
Highlights from your plan
The Strand ©
The Strand
Castle Hill
Castle Hill
Billabong Sanctuary ©
Billabong Sanctuary

2
nights
Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island ©
Kick off your visit on the 29th (Sat): kick back and relax at Geoffrey Bay, look for all kinds of wild species at Nelly Bay to Arcadia Trail, and then step off the mainland to explore Magnetic Island Forts Walk.

To see photos, other places to visit, more things to do, and other tourist information, read our Magnetic Island road trip site .

Magnetic Island is just a short distance from Townsville. In September, daytime highs in Magnetic Island are 32°C, while nighttime lows are 21°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 30th (Sun) so you can travel to Airlie Beach.

Things to do in Magnetic Island

Parks Wildlife Historic Sites
Find places to stay Sep 28 — 30:
Highlights from your plan
Geoffrey Bay ©
Geoffrey Bay

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 30th (Sun): enjoy the sand and surf at Airlie Beach Lagoon, stop by Beach Book Boutique, and then go for a walk through Bicentennial Walkway. Here are some ideas for day two: see some colorful creatures with Charter Yachts Australia and then add some adventure to your tour with a kayaking and canoeing tour.

For ratings, where to stay, reviews, and more tourist information, refer to the Airlie Beach tour itinerary builder website .

Traveling by combination of ferry and car from Magnetic Island to Airlie Beach takes 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of ferry and bus; or do a combination of ferry, flight, and bus. When traveling from Magnetic Island in September, plan for little chillier days and about the same nights in Airlie Beach: temperatures range from 29°C by day to 23°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 2nd (Tue) to allow enough time to ride a ferry to Hamilton Island.

Things to do in Airlie Beach

Outdoors Adventure Tours

Side Trip

Bowen
Find places to stay Sep 30 — Oct 2:
Highlights from your plan
Airlie Beach Lagoon ©
Airlie Beach Lagoon
Kayaking & Canoeing
Horseshoe Bay ©
Horseshoe Bay

3
nights
Hamilton Island

A trip to Hamilton Island takes you to a car-free destination mostly covered in bushland.
Kick off your visit on the 3rd (Wed): go for a stroll along the water at Hamilton Island Marina, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Catseye Beach, and then head outdoors with Jetryder. Here are some ideas for day two: tee off at Hamilton Island Golf Club and then discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour.

To find more things to do, traveler tips, and more tourist information, read our Hamilton Island itinerary planning website .

You can ride a ferry from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island in an hour. Another option is to do a combination of bus and ferry. Expect a daytime high around 30°C in October, and nighttime lows around 24°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 5th (Fri) so you can travel to Port Douglas.

Things to do in Hamilton Island

Outdoors Parks Beaches
Find places to stay Oct 2 — 5:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Hamilton Island Golf Club ©
Hamilton Island Golf Club
Hamilton Island Marina ©
Hamilton Island Marina

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 5th (Fri), look for gifts at Coffee Works and then get outside with Eclipse FNQ Charters. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 6th (Sat): do a tasting at Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery, then look for all kinds of wild species at Mossman Gorge, then meet the residents at Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas, and finally choose your vessel at Shaolin Junk Cruises.

To see maps, photos, other places to visit, and more tourist information, refer to the Port Douglas day trip website .

Do a combination of flight and shuttle from Hamilton Island to Port Douglas in 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of ferry, bus, train, and taxi; or do a combination of ferry, bus, and shuttle. Expect a bit warmer weather when traveling from Hamilton Island in October: highs in Port Douglas hover around 34°C, while lows dip to 23°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 7th (Sun) to allow enough time to drive to Cairns.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Outdoors Parks Wildlife

Side Trips

Mossman Gorge, Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery, Shaolin Junk Cruises
Find places to stay Oct 5 — 7:
Highlights from your plan
Mossman Gorge ©
Mossman Gorge
Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas ©
Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas
Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery ©
Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery

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.
Get outdoors at Palm Cove Beach and Yorkeys Knob Beach. You'll explore the less-touristy side of things at Balloon Rides and Muddy's Playground. The adventure continues: let the river carry you with a rafting and tubing tour, take in the exciting artwork at Bones and Jones, relax and rejuvenate at some of the top local wellness centers, and take in nature's colorful creations at Botanical Gardens.

To find maps, more things to do, ratings, and tourist information, refer to the Cairns trip planner .

Traveling by car from Port Douglas to Cairns takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or do a combination of shuttle and bus. In October in Cairns, expect temperatures between 34°C during the day and 24°C at night. On the 10th (Wed), you'll travel back home.

Things to do in Cairns

Outdoors Parks Tours

Side Trips

Palm Cove Beach, Yorkeys Knob Beach
Find places to stay Oct 7 — 10:
Highlights from your plan
Palm Cove Beach ©
Palm Cove Beach
Balloon Rides
River Rafting & Tubing

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