2012 Australia Solar Eclipse Tour

Sydney, Australia | November 4-16, 2012

Beautiful Australia! Wonderful weather, interesting sites, and perfect eclipse viewing on the Great Barrier Reef!

Activity Level:





11 days/10 nights

Tour Details

Day 1

November 4, 2012


Board your Qantas flight this evening from Los Angeles bound for Sydney.

Day 2

November 06, 2012

Arrive Sydney

The first settlement of Australia, positioned on one of the most beautiful harbours in the world, Sydney is the capital of New South Wales. As Australia’s largest city it boasts an incredible mixed culture which only adds to its charm. In addition to the harbour, Sydney is bordered by spectacular beaches to the East and the Blue Mountains to the West and boasts the architectural wonder of the Sydney Opera House.

On arrival in Sydney, and after completing immigration formalities and clearing customs, you will be met by a Southern World Australia representative and transferred to your hotel for check-in. (rooms not available until 2.00pm unless preregistered).

The afternoon and evening is free at leisure.

Accommodation: The Grace Hotel (or similar) 3 night’s – superior rooms

Day 3

November 7, 2012

Sydney Sightseeing (B,L)

Half day Morning Sightseeing tour of Sydney including the picturesque Botanical Gardens, the Conservatorium of Music, Art Gallery and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, stopping for spectacular views of the Opera House. Then it’s back to the city’s commercial centre, Darling Harbour and Chinatown before heading for Kings Cross and the exclusive suburbs of Double Bay, Rose Bay and Watson’s Bay for a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean from The Gap before returning to the city and Circular Quay to join a scheduled luncheon cruise.

Enjoy lunch in one of the most spectacular and relaxed venues imaginable. Sydney is built on one of the world’s largest and most beautiful harbours. From the decks of a luxury cruiseship, view the magnificent Opera House, Fort Denison and the spectacular Sydney skyline. The tour terminates at Circular Quay after the cruise.

We then tour to Historic Sydney Observatory on Observatory Hill at the Rocks, a spectacular site for astronomy and for views across the inner harbour. In the day time visitors can view the moon, Venus, bright stars and safely view the Sun using a special solar telescope. In the 3-D theatre visitors watch a 3-D show and then interact with the astronomer while viewing recent images from Mars and Saturn, or taking a trip through the solar system.

Following the visit to Sydney Observatory return to the hotel.

Day 4

November 8, 2012

Sydney Sightseeing (B,L)

Full day at leisure or you may wish to join an optional tour.

Day 5

November 9, 2012

Sydney- Coonabarabran (B,L,D)

Meet your coach driver for your 2 night overland tour to country New South Wales. Today you will visit Coonabarabran, known as the ‘Astronomy Capital of Australia’. Enroute pass through the Hunter Valley region, New South Wales’ premier wine growing area, and through the countryside, stopping enroute for lunch.

Coonabarabran is a friendly country town of around 3,000 people with 11,000 living in the region. As the closest gateway to the majestic Warrumbungle Ranges, it’s one of the best places in NSW to experience nature. Enjoy bushwalking amongst the spectacular scenery and ancient volcanic remnants of Warrumbungle National Park, encounter wildlife up close and by night, marvel at our stunning skies and find out why Coonabarabran is known as the ‘Astronomy Capital of Australia’.

Visit Siding Spring Observatory, Australia’s foremost optical astronomy research centre and home of the giant 3.9 m mirror Anglo Australian telescope. Professional astronomers from around the world come here to research our vast solar system and beyond. Visit the observatory during the day and discover fascinating facts about our universe in the Exploratory Centre.

Accommodation: Country Gardens Motel & Matthew Flinders Motor Inn (or similar)
1 night – standard room
Note: Due to limited rooms in the properties, it will be necessary to split the group between a minimum of 2 x motels (3 star – tourist class standard)
Dinner this evening in either the motel or a local restaurant.
Optional: Evening private star gazing with local astronomer

Day 6

November 10, 2012

Coonabarabran, Parkes, Orange (B,L,D)

Travel through Central West New South Wales, which encompasses the Central Tablelands area that lies between the Great Dividing Range and the vast, dry expanses of the outback. It is an area with a long past and many towns and villages have played a role in the history of the nation. Once the centre of the goldrush in New South Wales, today the area is a rich agricultural region, with crops ranging from cotton, grain, beef and lamb to grapes, citrus and stone fruit – winelovers and foodies are well catered for. It is also a mecca for astronomers with telescopes at Parkes and Coonabarabran.

Travel along the Newell Highway to Parkes, located about 365 km west of Sydney.

Parkes is home to one of the world’s largest radio telescopes, which justifies the town’s self-billing as the ‘gateway to the stars’. The 64m, fully-steerable radio telescope dish, built 23km out of town by the CSIRO in 1961, created history when it helped identify the very first quasar while scientists were searching for the source of mysterious radio signals emanating from deep space.

The Astronomy Education and Visitor’s Centre is open daily to explain the workings of the complex though absorbing, interactive displays. The centre also includes a library and The Invisible Universe, a superbly-crafted film, is screened regularly in the centre’s 75-seat, air-conditioned theatrette.

The town originally laboured under the name of Busman’s, but took on a new identity in the wake of a visit by the then NSW Premier, Sir Henry Parkes, in 1873. The town honours its namesake and Father of Federation through the Henry Parkes Museum and, of course, the history-making telescope.

During your visit to Parkes, you will visit the Parkes CSIRO Radio Telescope & Discovery Centre and enjoy lunch enroute. Later this afternoon, travel 1 1/2hours to Orange for an overnight stay.

Originally known as Blackman’s Swamp ‘Orange’ was so named by Surveyor-General Thomas Mitchell in honour of the Prince of Orange, who later became the King of Holland.

Orange‘, is an accidental anomaly because it has no connection with citrus; but grows apples, almost half the NSW crop. As well as apples you will find a strong, very diverse economy. From it’s beginnings in the late 1820’s (the site of Orange was officially proclaimed on 18 November 1846) Orange has grown into the prosperous largest city in the central western district with a population of 38,000 and overall with the nearby towns and villages, supports a surrounding population of 100,000. There is much of our history in and surrounding Orange.
When you arrive in Orange, situated on the western side of the Great Dividing Range, 261 km west of Sydney and 863 m above sea level, you will travel through it’s wide elegant streets and find a mix of history and cosmopolitan. You will still find so much of the elegance and splendour of the 19th century in it’s beautifully restored handsome buildings with stained glass windows and pressed metal ceilings, it’s wide tree-lined streets and it’s beautiful parks and gardens.

Accommodation: Country Comfort Orange & Quality Inn Ambassador International Orange (or similar)
1 night – standard room
Note: Due to limited rooms in the properties, it will be necessary to split the group between a minimum of 2 x motels (3 star – tourist class standard)
Dinner this evening in either the motel or a local restaurant.

Day 7

November 11, 2012

Orange, Blue Mountains, Sydney, Cairns (B,L)

Depart from your hotel this morning and travel by private charter coach from Orange to Katoomba and the Blue Mountains.

The highlights of our visit to the Blue Mountains include Echo Point, viewing the Three Sisters and enjoying spectacular high country views overlooking Australia’s Grand Canyon. Visit Scenic World, where you will have the opportunity to ride the world’s steepest incline railway down into the valley and return back up by the new cable car called the Flyway. Connecting the two bottom stations is a 300 metre wooden boardwalk through the rainforest passing the entrances to the old coal mines where there is a high tech visual display.

Enjoy a delicious Buffet Lunch at Mountain Heritage Resort before you follow the scenic cliff drive to see waterfalls, cascades and the village of Leura.

Head down the Mountains enroute to Sydney and visit Featherdale Wildlife Park this afternoon, one of the largest collections of Australian animals in the world. The Park is in a natural, well-established bush setting. As you wander along the leafy walkways you can expect to come face to face with some interesting characters; cuddly koalas, fuzzy wombats, kookaburras, vividly coloured parrots and kangaroos of all shapes and sizes. View over 2,000 animals at close range, and hand feed the kangaroos, wallabies and emus.

Continue onto Sydney and set down at the Domestic Airport to join your early evening flight to Cairns.

Fly Sydney to Cairns
Cairns is the heart of the Tropical North,and provides an ideal base for exploring the rich and varied treasures of this region. Tropical North Queensland is a vast region stretching from reefs and islands, through coastal wetlands to mountains, tablelands and grassland.

On arrival in Cairns, you will be met by a Southern World Australia representative and transferred to your hotel for check-in. The evening is free at leisure.

Accommodation: Novotel Rockford Palm Cove
5 night’s – Superior rooms

Day 8

November 12, 2012

Cairns Sightseeing (B,L)

Join your guide and private coach transfer to Freshwater station to board the Kuranda Scenic Rail to Kuranda. The rail journey takes a leisurely one and a half hours to wind through dense tropical forests, past majestic waterfalls and high over almost bottomless ravines. On arrival in Kuranda – the village in the rainforest, free time to independently explore this quaint little village. Your Guide will be waiting for you at Skyrail with your tickets. Once aboard, you will be amazed as you glide silently over the rainforest canopy on the world’s most beautiful rainforest experience. There are two stations enroute where you can alight and enjoy a walk through the rainforest to spectacular lookouts and views or visit the CSIRO Interpretive Centre at Barron falls Station to discover more about the special plants and animals that inhabit this unique environment. Our rail journey may end at Caravonica Lakes but not the fun.

A short distance from the Skyrail Terminal is the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park and first stop there is the extravagant buffet lunch. Afterwards you have ample time to explore all the attractions of Tjapukai – history theatres, stage shows, craft demonstrations, the Aboriginal village and of course, the famous Tjapukai Dance Troupe. Meet your guide, at the entrance to join the coach for the return to your Hotel – the end of a day that you will never forget!

Day 9

November 13, 2012

Cairns at leisure (B)

Full day at leisure or you may wish to join an optional tour.

Day 10

November 14, 2012


This will be the first opportunity to see a total eclipse from Australia since the South Australian eclipse of 2002. In 2012 the eclipse will be visible from North Queensland. The eclipse track will begin in the Gulf of Carpentaria, cut through Cape York and after moving out into the coral Sea continue across the Pacific ocean towards North America.

Cairns is on the path of the eclipse and may be the best viewing spot. Totality will occur at 6.40 am Eastern Standard time with the Sun 14 degrees above the horizon. Totality will last just over two minutes.

Costs are based on the guests walking to and from Novotel Rockford Palm Cove to the Palm Cove Jetty to join the vessel. Additional costs will apply if coach transfer is preferred from the hotel to the jetty in the early morning, and/or should the group choose to return to Cairns for free time in the afternoon.

Sample itinerary – based on 8 hour charter period
Note: Start finish times are flexible
4.00 am Pick up at Palm Cove Jetty
Tea/coffee on boarding and enroute to Reef, if calm seas.
5.50 am Arrive at Marine World (exclusive pontoon)
At Marine World there is a large sundeck with clear views to the sky. The rear outer deck of both vessels also provides unobstructed views to the sky.
6.00 am – Continental Breakfast (e.g. selection of cereals, toasts, croissants, fresh
7.30 am fruit, yoghurt, juice, tea/coffee)
6.40 am Eclipse
6.50 am In-water activities commence. Breakfast continues until 7.30 am
Included activities (see further details below):
Snorkelling, semi-submersible and/or Glass Bottom Boat, Underwater Observatory, Fish Feeding with Marine Biologist
Optional activities:
Introductory/Certified Diving, Guided Snorkel Tours, Helicopter Scenic flights
10.00 am Morning Tea served back on the vessel – Danishes, Tea/Coffee, fruit platter etc.
10.30 am Depart Marine World returning to Palm Cove
Note: Another option may be to return to Cairns – give guests free time in Cairns and return to Palm Cove at a designated time.
12.00 noon Arrive Palm Cove jetty – walk to Novotel Rockford Palm Cove

Day 11

November 15, 2012

Cairns at leisure (B)

Full day at leisure or you may wish to join an optional tour.

Day 12

November 16, 2012

Depart Cairns (B)

Transfer by private coach to Cairns Airport to connect with your departing flight. You will connect via Brisbane for your return to Los Angeles.

Have Questions? Contact Us!