*** It’s a great week to be in Australia. See you there! ***
UPDATE #24: Just a reminder, for many of the amazing people that are working to make our trip happen (the bus drivers, guides, hotel staff, etc), our tips are extremely important (see the “Tipping” section of the trip posting). Their work is often seasonal and unreliable, and in the excitement of the trip, they often get overlooked and forgotten. While tipping is never mandatory, we want to make sure that we take care of the staff that works so hard to help us enjoy our trip. We recommend (but do not require) that you bring $150 USD for tipping. We’d like to collect everyone’s tip money at the beginning of the trip and then tip all of the staff appropriately as the trip goes along. This method has two main benefits: it will ensure all staff are fairly compensated for their efforts, and you will not have to worry about constantly finding cash to tip the dozens of staff. If everyone contributes $150 USD, it will allow us to tip everyone well and leave a little extra to give to the staff that really go above and beyond for the group. Thank you for understanding
UPDATE #23: For those who wish to communicate during our trip via WhatsApp, please download the app (if you don’t already have it) and go to this link https://chat.whatsapp.com/EELkedcAj8G3LicvusSXqQ . If you don’t have it on your phone already, and don’t have an international calling plan, you will need to set up the app before you depart (it sends to you a verification code). We used this for our last couple of trips, and it worked out quite well for group communication. One. more. week!
UPDATE #22: The contact information for our Adventure Tour Leaders are (1) Kelly: kellyu [at] westnet [dot] com [dot] au, phone +61 (0) 423 138 613, Skype kelly.umbers; and (2) Pete: pkornmeier [at] gmail [dot] com, phone 1.301.802.0672 (WhatsApp only). Please only use in an emergency as you are traveling to Australia. You can email me at jt [at] goingoutgroup [dot] com. I will connect to wifi when I’m not en route.
UPDATE #21: For those taking advantage of the group arrival transfer (see the “Flights, Days Off, & Airport Transfer” section of the trip posting for full details), just a reminder to look for the person at the arrival gates with the sign that says “J.T.’s Washington DC Australia Meetup Trip.” If you are not taking advantage of the group arrival transfer, please see the “Flights, Days Off, & Airport Transfer” section of the trip posting for alternate transportation options. When you arrive at the hotel, you will check in under your name, and the front desk will provide you with details for our welcome breakfast.
UPDATE #20: Just a reminder, if you are interested in those optional activities that require booking before our arrival, please make sure to secure your spot soon. There are limited spots for each activity. See the “Optional Activities” section of the trip posting for full details.
UPDATE #19: The roommate list has been finalized here… http://goingoutgroup.com/trips/australiaadventurers.pdf . Please verify that I have you and any options listed correctly. Feel free to use the list above to reach out to others (click on their Meetup profile to send them a message).
UPDATE #18: The list of hotels has been finalized as follows (with address and phone): GREAT SOUTHERN HOTEL (Feb. 10 – 12; 717 George St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia; +61 2 9289 4400), ACACIA COURT HOTEL (Feb. 13 – 15; 223-227 Esplanade, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia; +61 7 4051 5011), PENSIONE HOTEL MELBOURNE (Feb. 16 – 17; 16 Spencer St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia; +61 3 9621 3333). 6 more weeks!
UPDATE #17: The trip has sold out!
UPDATE #16: Just a reminder to familiarize yourself with recommended vaccinations and visa requirements. For U.S. citizens with a U.S. passport, a visa is required (see the “Visas, Vaccinations, & Immunizations” section of the trip posting for full details). I suggest visiting a travel clinic prior to departure, since they can make recommendations on vaccinations that may be useful for travel to this country.
UPDATE #15: Just a friendly reminder, please send me your arrival flight airline, number, and landing time & flight departure airline, number, and departure time (see the “Traveler Information” section of the trip posting) if you haven’t done so already. Also, don’t forget insurance is required for this trip, so please purchase it if you haven’t already done so (see the “Travel Insurance” section of the trip posting for full details). Thank you!
UPDATE #14: If you have not received your book yet and plan to attend another one of my events before our trip, please let me know beforehand (send me a message via my Meetup profile – do NOT comment on the trip posting), and I can bring with me. Otherwise, I am available in the Tysons area (Silver line – Greensboro stop) for pickup. I’ll will bring any leftover books with me on the trip provided I have space remaining in my luggage.
UPDATE #13: Unfortunately, the Embassy of Australia has informed me that they will not be able to meet with us before our trip.
UPDATE #12: The $2495 price has ended and the trip price is now $2595.
UPDATE #11: The $2495 price will increase to $2595 before Sun. Dec. 10th (see Price section of the trip posting for full details). Follow the steps in the “Payment” section to secure your spot. I hope can join us for this amazing adventure!
UPDATE #10: The early bird pricing for the optional activities (see the “Optional Activities” section of the trip posting) ends Sun. Dec. 10th. Make sure to sign up by then to receive the early bird price!
UPDATE #9: Just a reminder, the balance is due Sun. Nov. 26th. Please make sure to make your balance payment by that date (see the “Remainder Balance Payment Due” section of the trip posting), otherwise you will lose your deposit and your spot on the trip! Can’t wait for this adventure!
UPDATE #8: For those that have signed up and made payment for the trip, if you have not already submitted your traveler information (see the “Traveler Information” section of the trip posting), just a friendly reminder to please send that to me (through my Meetup profile) as soon as you can. Thank you!
UPDATE #7: The $2395 price has ended and the ticket price is now $2495.
UPDATE #6: The $2395 price will increase to $2495 before Tues. Oct. 10th (see Price section of the trip posting for full details). Follow the steps in the “Payment” section to secure your spot. I hope can join us for this amazing adventure!
UPDATE #5: I’ve posted optional activities (see the “Optional Activities” section of the trip posting) that require advanced signup. Please take a look and sign up if interested!
UPDATE #4: The $2295 price has ended and the ticket price is now $2395.
UPDATE #3: We have at least 15 people that have signed up and made payment… so this trip is confirmed! If you’ve made at least the deposit payment for this trip, feel free to book your flights per the “Flights, Days Off, & Airport Transfer” section of the trip posting!
UPDATE #2: There are fewer than 10 early bird spots left and the price will increase from $2295 to $2395 when the early bird spots are gone or BEFORE Thurs. Aug. 10th (whichever comes first). To be fair to those who want to join in and are ready to make payment, I’ll be removing those that haven’t paid at least the deposit by Sun. Aug. 6th. So make payment to *truly* lock in your spot (see “Payment” section of the trip posting for full details). If you’ve already made payment, the PayPal email you received is confirmation that we’ve received your payment (no need to email me asking for payment confirmation). This UPDATE has been emailed to the yes RSVPs. I hope you are able to join us!
UPDATE #1: Just a reminder, the Australia pre-trip dinner is Fri. July 28th. Click here. If you’ve already made payment or deposit for the Australia trip itself and can make the dinner, please let me know so I can add you to the RSVP list. Do NOT make payment, as that’s included as part of joining the Australia trip itself. I hope to see you there!
Natural wonders abound in Australia!
Beautiful harbors, perfect beaches, stunning coral reefs, wild rivers, tropical jungles, an incredibly diverse population of animals and plants, world -renowned museums, and iconic landmarks. Let’s discover the land down under on the continent of Oceania, one that is home to one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World (Great Barrier Reef) and 19 World Heritage Sites! This action-packed tour of Australia’s highlights is perfect for the adventurer with limited time who wants to explore the region’s diversity. We’ll snorkel crystal-clear warm waters alongside the world’s largest coral reef system, follow a trail to ancient rainforests, get up close and personal with amazing wildlife, relax on the world’s most well-known surf-spot beaches (and much more). Our Adventure Tour Leaders (2) will help us find the secluded spots only the locals know. Does this sound like a fun and relaxing vacation to you?
Seven Reasons to Book This Trip:
- Affordable Adventure – Did you know that this trip INCLUDES a Great Barrier Reef snorkeling excursion, a guided tour of the ancient Daintree Rainforest, a visit to the popular Mossman Gorge, an exciting river crocodile cruise, a guided tour of Phillip Island to see penguins in their natural habitat, a trip to Nobbies Centre to spot migrating whales and to view a colony of fur seals, a Wildlife Park visit to pet and feed kangaroos / wallabies and see koalas, a guided city tour of Sydney, a guided city tour of Melbourne, a local Adventure Tour Leader for the full duration of our adventure, 8 hot breakfasts, 1 lunch, transfers from and to the airport, all in-country transfers between cities, 8 nights in a hotel, 3 events in DC (2 dinners and 1 Embassy visit), plus an Australia book discussion (book included) during the trip… all for less than $256 a day??
- Shared Photos – As with all of our events, we can all upload our pictures to this website to share the best of our photos and multiply the memories!
- Make New Friends – We are the ONLY Meetup group that offers us the opportunity to travel abroad with other globally-minded people from the DC area, PLUS arrange 3 more events for the group that take place in DC to make sure that we will make friends that we will continue to see in DC!
- Leadership – I (J.T., your organizer) will be there every step of the way, making sure that the trip goes as smoothly as possible.
- Book Discussion – We will each receive, read, and discuss sections of “In a Sunburned Country,” a tale of one man’s journey to Australia that will help paint a picture for us of the culture and beauty of Australia. Please note if new prints are unavailable, the best available condition used book will be obtained.
- Unforgettable Memories – Australia truly is a beautiful and adventurous place. Let’s experience it together and make some wonderful memories!
- Escape the Cold Winter – Let’s get away from the cold DC winter and the occasional snowpocalyptic storm that comes through our area.
This 9-day exciting expedition through Australia is crammed with all the energy and activities deserving of our group. We’ll begin our journey in DC with a fabulous dinner at Blackfinn restaurant in DC. Then, before departing on our trip, we will have a private visit at the Embassy of Australia featuring diplomats who will teach us about their country. Shortly after we return stateside, we’ll reunite at DC’s popular Oz restaurant in Clarendon with an evening of Australian food and a recap of our travel experience for our reunion dinner!
To help us pass the time while traveling and to learn even more about this culture-rich society, we’ll read the book “In a Sunburned Country” by New York Times best-selling author Bill Bryson during our trip. At certain points during the trip, I (J.T., your Meetup organizer) will lead discussions of the book for anyone who wants to participate!
Please note this is a joint trip with the 30s & 40s Going Out Group, and the Global Travelers Going Out Group. Our traveling group will likely consist of members with an average age in their 30s.
Questions? If you have any questions not answered on this page, please post a comment in the comment box below, or message me through my Meetup profile.
We’ve got an early bird special for this trip of $2295! The first 20 paid sign-ups, or those who pay before Thurs. Aug. 10th (whichever comes first) get the early bird price! After that, the trip price will go to $2395, then $2495, then $2595. Our past trips have always sold out quickly! We have a LIMITED number of spots so make sure to RSVP early AND make payment to secure your spot and get the early bird price! To make payment, please follow the steps in the Payment section of the event posting.
I hope you can join us on this amazing adventure!
Fri. July 28th: Pre-Trip Dinner at Blackfinn
This delicious meal at Blackfinn restaurant (or similar) on I (Eye) Street in northwest is open to other group members as a paid event, but is FREE for those attending the trip. It is wonderful way for all trip-goers to meet each other for the first time, and it’s a perfect time for those who haven’t yet signed up to ask any questions related to the trip. I will even refund the cost of the dinner to anyone who signs up and makes payment for the Australia trip AFTER our dinner!
(Embassy of Australia)
Thurs. Jan. 11th: Pre-Trip Embassy Visit
We will meet with Australian diplomats and receive an official country briefing including the history, geography, culture and tourism of Australia (pending embassy approval). This event is organized exclusively for trip-goers and will NOT be open to other members of our group.
Sat. Feb. 10th: Day 1, Sydney
Arrive at any time in Sydney, then check in and enjoy the city.
Sydney is the capital of New South Wales and with 5 million people, the country’s most populous. As our plane touches down, we’ll notice the most remarkable aspect of the city — 21 square miles of natural harbor — the world’s largest! Free and low-cost activities abound in Sydney, from the world-renowned Art Gallery of New South Wales, to the open-air markets, quirky shops, and the famous waves of Manly Beach. The views from Sydney Tower’s outdoor platform, the Skywalk, offer 360-degree views of the city and suburbs, Darling Harbor, and the Blue Mountains in the distance. It is the 2nd largest observation tower in the southern hemisphere. Sydney is home to the world’s 2nd largest and most varied fish market, behind only Tokyo’s. Wander the narrow cobblestone streets of The Rocks, take in a street performance on the Circular Quay, visit the Museum of Contemporary Art, enjoy the sights and smells at the esteemed Royal Botanic Garden, and then dine at award-winning restaurants, while watching the sunset and the harbor lights take over the night sky.
Overnight: Great Southern Hotel or similar. Estimated Travel Time: 15 minutes. Approximate Distance: 5 miles
(Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge)
Sun. Feb. 11th: Day 2, Sydney
We’ll meet with our Adventure Tour Leader and other group members at our welcome breakfast at the hotel. After a hot breakfast, we’ll put on our walking shoes and get ready to see the sights!
During an informative and comprehensive 2.5 – 3 hour leisurely walking tour, we’ll uncover the history and explore the sites of Australia’s most popular city up close. Our friendly and knowledgeable Sydney tour guide will give us insights into the people, places, and events of this sun-kissed city.
(Queen Victoria Building)
We’ll stroll the magnificent Sydney Harbor, commonly referred to as the most beautiful natural harbor in the world. It’s an aquatic playground, with more than 150 miles of shoreline, punctuated by unspoiled beaches, sparkling and vibrant blue waters, picturesque gardens, and pockets of natural bush. It is also home to some of Australia’s big-name attractions, including the legendary Sydney Opera House (and World Heritage Site), which we’ll get to see up close (it looks like a great origami sailboat floating peacefully in the harbor); Sydney Harbour Bridge, the widest long-span bridge and tallest steel arch bridge in the world (also nicknamed “the Coathanger” because of its arch-based design); the Queen Victoria Building, which houses over 180 of Sydney’s finest fashion boutiques, jewelry shops, and homewares, accompanied by delightful cafes and restaurants; and much more!
Let’s discover why Sydney has been listed as a top ten most livable city in the world (according to EIU’s Global Livability Report)!
Overnight: Great Southern Hotel or similar
Mon. Feb. 12th: Day 3, Sydney
Today is a free day for us to see why over 200 films have been set in, or featured Sydney. Parramatta (suburb of Sydney) played host to the Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson film premiere “You, Me and Dupree” and Sydney Harbour was the set for “Finding Nemo.”
(Canyoning and Rappelling Option)
We can pick optional activities according to our interests. There are many great possibilities, from the famous Sydney Bridge climb, to spending the day on the world-famous Bondi beach. We can hike along the coast, explore open air markets, or visit Featherdale Wildlife Park. For the adventurous spirit, head to the Blue Mountains right outside of Sydney — here there is an incredible rainforest, limitless hiking opportunities, the Aboriginal Heritage Center, and cliff-top viewing platforms. For adrenaline junkies, check out the many canyoning and rappelling options within the moss-filled slot canyons and mythical hidden waterfalls for which the Blue Mountains are famous.
Overnight: Great Southern Hotel or similar
Tues. Feb. 13th: Day 4, Cairns
In the morning, we’ll transfer to the airport for our flight to tropical Cairns (the flight usually departs early – we may leave the hotel by 6am). Once we check into our hotel, we’ll each have an ocean view from our own private balcony!
Cairns is renowned as the gateway to 2 of the world’s greatest natural attractions (and World Heritage Sites): the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest. Cairns pulses with energy and is awash with bars, nightclubs, eateries, and cafes, suiting all budgets. Let’s discover an exciting city that takes pride in its cultural heritage and where time seems to last a little longer.
There is no shortage of activities in the Cairns area — the compact city is easy to get around. We’ll choose our own adventure today, from exploring Cairns’ trendy coffee shop scene, relaxing on the beach, swimming at the Esplanade lagoon, sampling local produce at a farmer’s market, shopping for a summer wardrobe, jumping on a bike for a sightseeing tour along the city’s network of cycle paths, or marveling at tropical plants in the Botanic Gardens. For the adventurous spirit, go whitewater rafting, river tubing, or bungee jumping! For the conservation-minded, hop on the ferry to Fitzroy Island for a guided tour of the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. After dark, choose a lively bar for drinks, taste local seafood at an award-winning restaurant, party on a dance floor, discover treasures at the markets, or watch a local cultural show.
Overnight: Acacia Court Hotel or similar. Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours. Approximate Distance: 1230 miles
(Great Barrier Reef)
Wed. Feb. 14th: Day 5, Cairns / Great Barrier Reef
We will wake up and take a lovely 20 – 25 minute walk along the water to the marina where we’ll get on our catamaran for the day. We’ll sail across crystal clear blue-green water towards the outer Great Barrier Reef. Recognized as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, it is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, and the first reef in the world to be awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO. During our boat tour, we’ll relax with the breeze in our hair, and enjoy tea, coffee, and snacks as we experience an interactive marine biology presentation from our on-board marine biologist. We’ll snorkel to our heart’s content at two separate and enchanting locations, including the option to scuba dive — all gear provided. Regardless of our swimming experience or comfort level, our professional guides are there to help us. In between our two different snorkeling locations, we’ll be treated to a tropical lunch buffet, with all food locally sourced and prepared fresh by our on-board chef. Fresh prawns and local fruit will be included in the lunch buffet. As we wrap up our reef adventure, we’ll relax as we sail back to the mainland with wine and cheese, and the most incredible ocean views!
The Great Barrier Reef is classed as the largest living organism on Earth (and the only one that can be seen by astronauts from space). Stretching across an area of more than 134,000 square miles and 1600 miles in length, the Great Barrier Reef encompasses more than 900 islands and 3000 individual reefs. It is larger than most countries and would place 63rd, just between Germany and the Republic of the Congo. It is also extremely ancient, dating back as much as 20 million years.
(Scuba Diving Option)
The reef is a biodiversity hotspot — more than 600 (or one-third) of the world’s coral species can be found in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. It is home to more than 1500 species of fish (10 percent of the world’s total), 200 species of birds, more than 3000 species of mollusks, 6 of the world’s 7 species of marine turtles, 30 species of whales and dolphins, one of the world’s most important dugong populations, and much more. There are more species of fish living in a two acre area of a coral reef than there are species of birds in all of North America. Coral reefs act as a filter that traps things floating in the water. That is why water around the Great Barrier Reef is so crystal-clear.
Overnight: Acacia Court Hotel or similar
Thurs. Feb. 15th: Day 6, Cairns / Daintree Rainforest
Today, we’ll board our private coach on a full-day tour and travel north to Daintree National Park, part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland, a World Heritage Site, and also the oldest tropical rainforest in the world. Our scenic drive will take us north along the coast, through multiple national parks, state forests, and wildlife reserves. We’ll visit all the must-see parts of this expansive rainforest. Our first stop will be the Daintree Discovery Centre, where we will explore epic aerial walkways that provide a bird’s-eye view of the upper canopies of the rainforest, and we’ll peruse the interpretive educational center to learn about the extreme diversity of plants and animals in the rainforest. Later in the day, we will hike and swim in Mossman Gorge and take a cruise on the Daintree River looking for crocodiles.
The Daintree Rainforest is thought to be 180 million years old. For perspective, dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. Touring this part of the world is about as close as we will ever get to hopping inside a time machine. The rainforest stretches a gigantic 750 square miles in size (as large as New York City), and sits alongside the Great Barrier Reef making it the only place in the world where two UNESCO World Heritage Listed Sites meet.
(Mossman Gorge Swim)
The Daintree Rainforest is absolutely gorgeous. The varied landscape is another factor that makes Daintree Rainforest such a fascinating place. Dramatic gorges, plunging waterfalls, panoramic mountain ranges, granite outcrops, winding rivers and streams, vividly colored animals, and exotic plants meet white sandy beaches and the achingly breathtaking ocean at the north Queensland coastline.
(River Crocodile Cruise)
It boasts the highest variety of plants and animals found in any rainforest on the planet, including 660 species of vertebrate animals, 230 butterfly species, and 3000 plant species. We can find some of the biggest tropical trees on Earth including the ancient Bull Kauri trees, standing a whopping 145 feet tall — around the same height as the Statue of Liberty. It is home to a great many weird and wonderful critters. There’s the Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo, a small tree-climbing marsupial that’s as close as any marsupial gets to being a monkey. Then there’s the White-lipped Tree Frog, the world largest tree frog, which sometimes barks like a dog and sometimes mews like a cat. There’s also the Ulysses Butterfly, a bright metallic blue rainforest flyer with a wingspan of ~6 inches across. The impressively massive Cassowary (a large flightless bird) also lives here, with its brightly colored neck and idiosyncratic behaviors. The Daintree Rainforest is the only place on the planet where we can find the oldest flowering plant, the “Idiot Fruit” (Idiospermum Austrialense), that lived when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The rainforest is known for its awesome tropical flavors and specialty foods. One of the exotic fruits to try in the Daintree is the Chocolate Pudding Fruit. Tasty!
Overnight: Acacia Court Hotel or similar. Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours. Approximate Distance: 145 miles
Fri. Feb. 16th: Day 7, Melbourne
In the morning, we’ll hop on a short flight to Australia’s sporting and cultural capital — Melbourne (the flight usually departs early – we may leave the hotel by 6am). Melbourne is the only city in the world with 5 international standard sporting facilities on the fringe of its central business district: Melbourne Cricket Ground, Docklands Stadium, Rod Laver Arena, Hisense Arena, and Olympic Park. Originally going to be named “Batmania” after one of its founding fathers (John Batman), stylish and arty Melbourne is both dynamic and cosmopolitan. We’ll quickly learn why it has been ranked the world’s most livable city every year since 2011 by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Melbourne is a multicultural city and Australia’s second most populous city (behind Sydney), with a population of over 4.6 million. It is Australia’s foodie capital, with more eateries, cafes, and restaurants per number of people than anywhere else in the world. Melbourne has the largest streetcar (tram) network in the world, beating the Europeans and Americans with 450 total streetcars, that travel 10 mph over 150 miles of track, pausing at almost 2000 stops. Melbourne was named by International Business Times (in 2010) as one of the best cities in the world for viewing street art. It is also the world’s “fox capital,” with 10 to 35 foxes to be found every square mile in the metropolitan area.
In the afternoon, during an informative and comprehensive 2.5 – 3 hour leisurely walking tour, we’ll see the famous sights this beautiful city has to offer. From Federation Square, to the Block Arcade, to the Royal Exhibition Building, to the Eureka Tower, attractions and cultural experiences abound. The modern Federation Square development, with plazas, bars, and restaurants by the Yarra River, is at the city’s center. The Block Arcade, erected in the late 1800’s, is Melbourne’s most richly decorated interior shopping space, replete with mosaic tiled flooring, glass canopy, wrought iron, and carved stone finishings, and is one of Australia’s best surviving examples of the Victorian Mannerist style. The Royal Exhibition Building (a World Heritage Listed Building) has often been called the Sistine Chapel of Melbourne, and is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Melbourne’s central business district has five of the six tallest buildings in Australia, the tallest of which is the Eureka Tower (at 975 feet), the second tallest residential tower in the world, after the Ocean Heights in Dubai. No other elevator in the southern hemisphere elevates you faster (at 30 feet per second) or as high. Remarkable! Melbourne will amaze and delight us!
Overnight: Pensione Hotel Melbourne or similar. Estimated Travel Time: 3.5 hours. Approximate Distance: 1440 miles
Sat. Feb. 17th: Day 8, Melbourne / Phillip Island
We’ll get to spend the morning as we wish. Feel free to explore Melbourne’s incredible museum scene, from Museum Victoria (with collections of 16 million objects covering Indigenous items, science, history, and technology), to the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (Melbourne’s leading contemporary art space, and the only major public gallery in Australia focused on commissioning rather than collecting).
In the afternoon and for the rest of the evening, we’ll get to enjoy Melbourne’s premier wildlife event — the parade of the penguins! We’ll head to Phillip Island, just off of Australia’s southern coast and a popular day trip from Melbourne. Measuring 16 miles long by 6 miles wide, the island boasts breathtaking natural beauty with a mix of sandy beaches, serene wetlands, and fantastic wildlife experiences. It attracts some 3.5 million visitors each year, which makes it the most popular single tourist destination in Australia.
Here, we’ll have the chance to see not just penguins, but also a large colony of 30,000 fur seals on what’s very cleverly called “Seal Rocks,” and Australia’s favorite little furry creature — the koala! First, we’ll explore the rugged coastline along the clifftop boardwalks of Phillip Island and visit the Nobbies Centre. From this vantage point, we can spot the fur seals just ~0.5 miles away (bring your binoculars) and we also might be able to spot migrating whales. Then, we’ll visit the Wildlife Park where we’ll get to see adorable koala bears. Additionally, we’ll get to see kangaroos and wallabies roam freely about, and we’ll also get to pet and hand-feed them!
Lastly, as the sun starts to head down, we’ll take our seats right at the shoreline as the parade begins. Fairy penguins, little penguins, or Eudyptula minor, no matter what you call them, the 32,000 penguins of Phillip Island are amazing creatures. Weighing just 2 pounds each and standing 1 foot tall, these little birds can dive up to 80 yards and hold their breath for 113 seconds! Of the 17 species of penguins in the world, these little penguins are the smallest. They are also the only penguins with blue feathers instead of black. The Phillip Island’s Penguin Parade is the only commercial operation in which we can watch penguins in their natural habitat. Walkways are elevated and only red lights are allowed, so that the penguins aren’t even aware of our presence. As we watch the waves crash, tiny penguins will start to appear in the whitewater, until there are thousands on shore waddling their way from hunting at sea, to their sandy burrow sanctuaries up in the dunes. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we’ll never forget!
After our day trip, we’ll be taken back to our hotel, and for those up for it, we’ll head out for a final night on the town!
Overnight: Pensione Hotel Melbourne or similar. Estimated Travel Time: 3.5 hours. Approximate Distance: 175 miles
(Federation Square, Melbourne)
Sun. Feb. 18th: Day 9, Melbourne
Depart at any time.
TBD: Post-Trip Reunion Dinner at Oz Restaurant & Bar
Dates and details TBD. We will feast on a sumptuous meal at Oz Restaurant & Bar (or similar)! Dinner attendance will also be open to non-trip goers in our group.
Price below reflects double occupancy. For single occupancy, please add $600.
- $2295 if booked before Thurs. Aug. 10th (or whenever early birds sell out)
- $2395 if booked before Tues. Oct. 10th
- $2495 if booked before Sun. Dec. 10th
- $2595 on or after Sun. Dec. 10th*
* Starting Sun. Dec. 10th, spaces are subject to availability. If booking on or after Sun. Dec. 10th, do NOT purchase your airline ticket until you have been confirmed on the trip by the Organizer.
Non-refundable deposit of $500 is due at booking, full payment due by Sun. Nov. 26th or at booking, whichever is later. This deposit locks in a price per the Price section.
The travel company needs the following information for final booking. Please send me a message (through my Meetup profile) with this information as soon as you’ve secured your spot by making payment (you can get to me your flight information later, but please get to me everything else that you can): 1. Full name as it appears on passport 2. Passport number 3. Passport issue date 4. Passport expiry date (as a general rule, passport must be 6 months valid beyond date of entry into another country) 5. Date of birth 6. Nationality 7. Existing medical conditions 8. Meal requirements 9. Emergency contact / next of kin. 10. Will you take advantage of the transfer to the hotel upon arrival? 11. Will you take advantage of the transfer to the airport upon departure? 12. Cell phone number 13. Will you be getting a single room for an extra $600? 14. Sex 15. Roommate’s name (if you have one; otherwise, a roommate of the same sex will be assigned to you) 16. Arrival flight airline, number, and landing time and departure flight airline, number, and take-off time (when you secure it).
Price is based on double occupancy. If you have a preference for a roommate, please let me know full first and last name (send me a message through my Metup profile). Otherwise, you will be assigned a roommate (same sex). Single supplement is $600 to stay in your own room. Optionally, if you plan to stay additional days in Australia either before our after our tour, and wish to book pre or post-tour accommodations, you may do so for $150 per night. SOLD OUT
PayPal account not required. Please follow the steps below (if payment by smartphone doesn’t work, please try your computer). Your RSVP is not guaranteed without payment, and your email receipt is confirmation that we have received your payment (please check your spam folder and email settings). You can also log into your PayPal or credit card account online to verify payment. All of our trips have sold out, so I recommend you secure your spot online early.
- Select “Yes” under “Are you going?” (or select “Change” RSVP to add more guests if you’ve already purchased ticket(s))
- Enter the number of guests coming and click “Finish RSVP”
- Click “Pay Now” (or “Pay Online Now”) at the top of the event posting near the ticket price per person
- Verify correct dollar amount for number of people you’re paying for. Modify if appropriate, click “Pay Now” or “Check Out” button
If you are paying in full, and if you are looking for double occupancy, leave the dollar amount as is. If you are looking for single occupancy, please add $600 to the total and change the dollar figure. For your convenience, the single occupancy price will either be $2895 (booked before Thurs. Aug. 10th), $2995 (booked before Tues. Oct. 10th), $3095 (booked before Sun. Dec. 10th), or $3195 (booked on or after Sun. Dec. 10th). Click “Pay Now” or “Check Out” button.
If you are paying just the non-refundable deposit, change the dollar amount to $500. Click “Pay Now” or “Check Out” button. You will need to pay the balance by Sun. Nov. 26th.
- If you don’t have a PayPal account, click “Pay with a Debit or Credit Card”
- If you have a PayPal account, simply log in, and pay as you normally would via PayPal
REMAINDER BALANCE PAYMENT DUE
PayPal account not required. If you’ve already paid the initial non-refundable $500 deposit, please follow the instructions below for making the balance payment (if payment by smartphone doesn’t work, please try your computer). Your email receipt is confirmation that we have received your payment (please check your spam folder and email settings). Balance payment must be made by Sun. Nov. 26th, otherwise you will lose your deposit and your spot on the trip. If you would like to pay your balance in installments, please message me through my Meetup profile.
- Click on the appropriate link below
To pay the balance ($1795) for the $2295 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Thurs. Aug. 10th), please click here
To pay the balance ($1895) for the $2395 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Tues. Oct. 10th), please click here
To pay the balance ($1995) for the $2495 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Sun. Dec. 10th), please click here
To pay the balance ($2395) for the $2895 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Thurs. Aug. 10th), please click here
To pay the balance ($2495) for the $2995 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Tues. Oct. 10th), please click here
To pay the balance ($2595) for the $3095 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Sun. Dec. 10th), please click here
- If you don’t have a PayPal account, click “Pay with a Debit or Credit Card”
- If you have a PayPal account, simply log in, and pay as you normally would via PayPal
- Pre-trip dinner at Blackfinn restaurant in DC
- Pre-trip Embassy of Australia visit with diplomats (pending approval)
- “In a Sunburned Country” paperback version and book discussions during the trip (please note if new prints are unavailable, the best available condition used book will be obtained)
- Accommodations as stated above (hotels 8 nights, based on twin-share rooms)
- 8 hot breakfasts, 1 lunch
- Great Barrier Reef snorkeling excursion via catamaran
- Guided trip to Daintree Rainforest, including entrance to Daintree Discovery Centre
- Mossman Gorge excursion
- River crocodile cruise
- Guided trip to Phillip Island, including access to see their penguin colony returning home at sunset
- Nobbies Centre visit to spot migrating whales and a colony of fur seals
- Wildlife Park trip to view koalas, and to pet and feed kangaroos, wallabies, and more
- Guided city tour of Sydney to see Sydney Harbour, Sydney Opera House, Queen Victoria Building, etc.
- Guided city tour of Melbourne to see Federation Square, Block Arcade, Royal Exhibition Building, Eureka Tower, etc.
- Group arrival and departure transfers from and to airport
- All transfers between destinations and to / from included activities (2 internal in-country flights, air-conditioned bus / minivan)
- Australian English speaking travel guide
- Meetup group facilitation with book discussion by J.T. (Organizer)
- Local guides / representative assistance
- Post-trip reunion dinner at Oz Restaurant & Bar
- Entrance fees not listed
- International airfare
- Applicable tourist visas ($20 AUD or ~$15 USD for U.S. citizens)
- Airport taxes
- Tips or gratuities for tour leader, bus driver, day / excursion guides, porters, etc. (typically $10 per day for tour leader, $1 – 2 per day for charter bus driver, $5 for excursion guide [half day], $1 – 2 per bag for porter)
- Meals not mentioned above
- Excursions and activities listed as optional or suggestions
FLIGHTS, DAYS OFF, & AIRPORT TRANSFER
Update: The trip has been confirmed!
Please do not purchase your air ticket until this trip is confirmed (15 people have paid). You will receive notification by email when the trip is confirmed and I will also update the event posting at the top of this page. We can coordinate air schedules in the comment box of this page to try to get the same flights.
When buying your air ticket, make sure it arrives on Sat. Feb. 10th and departs on Sun. Feb. 18th. Please make sure your flight lands in Sydney and departs from Melbourne. Also, depending on how many transfers you get, you may need to request off of work Thurs. Feb. 8th – Mon. Feb. 19th. Please send to me your flight information through my Meetup profile.
Upon arrival on Sat. Feb. 10th, our group transfer from the airport (Sydney Airport – SYD) to the hotel will depart the airport at noon. If you’d like to take advantage of our free group transfer, please be sure to arrive before then. All international flights arrive at terminal T1. Once you exit customs, you’ll see a place called “The Meeting Point.” Look for the person with the sign that says “J.T.’s DC Australia Meetup Trip.” If you are unable to take advantage of our group transfer, you can take the Airport Link Train (which is connected directly to the airport) for $17 AUD (~$13 USD) from the Airport to the Central Train Station (4 stops, 13 minutes). It’s a 5 minute walk from the train station to the hotel (which you can see once you exit the train station). Another option is to take the AirBus Airport shuttle (similar to our SuperShuttle) for $16 AUD (~$12 USD), which drops you off directly at the hotel (it can be a bit slow since it drops off other people). There are also taxi stands at the airport, which typically cost ~$50 AUD (~$37 USD).
For departure on Sun. Feb. 18th, our group transfer from the hotel to the airport (Melbourne Airport – MEL) will depart at 8am. So if you’d like to take advantage of our free group transfer, please be ready to leave the hotel by then and book your flight accordingly.
Luggage for our in-country flights includes a checked bag (to a maximum weight of 20kg or ~44 lbs). Travelers can have one carry-on with maximum weight of 7kg (~15 lbs). Generally fees for excess luggage can be high, and would be communicated by the authorized agent when we are checking in.
VISAS, VACCINES, & IMMUNIZATIONS
For U.S. citizens, a visa is required and costs $20 AUD (or ~$15 USD). Please take a look at the State Department website for visa information here… https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html (click on the destination country, then click “Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements”). Please inform yourself if you are able to obtain visas at the borders, visa regulations change often, therefore we cannot hand out information. Please take a look at the CDC website for recommended vaccinations and medications here… http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list/ . I suggest visiting a travel clinic prior to departure, since they can make recommendations on vaccinations that may be useful for travel to this country.
You are required to purchase an all-inclusive insurance policy that covers emergency repatriation, medical, and evacuation for a combined minimum amount of $200,000. Trip cancellation, trip interruption, baggage loss and accidents should also be included. Costs vary by age, travel dates, and when you purchase, but an approximate quote is $100 – $150 for a 30-year-old. You should extend the insurance to cover your entire journey if you are arriving before or departing after our trip. Please secure full coverage (rather than coverage for covered reasons). You will need to book your air flights first before getting insurance coverage.
Mains electricity in Australia is 230V 50Hz and utilizes plug type I (eye). Depending on your appliance, you may need a converter and an adapter. Please see the following link for more information… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity_by_country
If you have any questions not answered on this page, please post a comment in the comment box, or message me through my Meetup profile.
Since payment is made in advance for this trip, all sales are final unless the trip is canceled or rescheduled. Thanks for understanding. =)
SUGGESTED ITEMS TO BRING
1. USD cash 2. Credit and / or debit card 3. Pre-departure information and trip details 4.Passport, with photocopies (as a general rule, passport must have at least 6 months of validity beyond the date of entry into another country) 5. Travel insurance (with photocopies) 6. Airline tickets (with photocopies) 7. Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required (with photocopies, see Visas, Vaccinations, & Immunizations section of the trip posting for full details) 8. Camera (with extra memory cards and batteries) 9. Reading / writing material 10. Binoculars 11. Daypack 12. Plastic bags or cover for backpacks 13. Lock for luggage 14.Fleece top / long sleeve top (for hikes, jungle treks etc) 15. Windproof / waterproof jacket 16.Small towel and swim wear 17. Shirts / t-shirts 18. Sleepwear 19. Water shoes / sports sandals / flip flops 20. Sun hat 21. Shorts / skirts 22. Long pants / jeans 23. Hiking / track pants 24.Hiking boots / sturdy walking shoes 25. Rain poncho / umbrella 26. Money belt 27. Outlet adapter 28. Sunblock 29. Sunglasses 30. Toiletries (biodegradable) 31. Watch or alarm clock 32. Water bottle 33. Pocketknife 34. Flashlight 35. Insect repellent 36. Ear plugs 37. First-aid kit (should contain lip balm, Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
Some optional excursions require advanced registration. See list below and click on the link to secure your spot! Early bird price ends Sun. Dec. 10th.
- Abseiling / Canyoning (Day 3, Mon. Feb. 12th) — A fantastic abseiling (rappeling) / canyoning combination, one of the mountains best! The first half of the day is abseiling, starting with a 16 foot high cliff and building up to 100 foot high cliffs during the morning. After lunch, it’s a scenic 20 minute walk to the start of the canyon. We’ll wade into the creek that descends into the narrow slot-like canyon and within a few seconds we are jumping into a rock pool, the first of several jumps and swims. This canyon is an exciting affair with water jumps, exhilarating swims, waterslides and fantastic scenery. The final abseil out of the canyon is one of the best waterfall abseils in the mountains. Clip into the rope, step back and follow the 100 foot waterfall down to the deep rock pool below. This is not just a brilliant waterfall abseil but also a fantastic photo opportunity. $199 early bird / $209 regular. Please click here.
- Bungy Jump (Day 4, Tues. Feb. 13th) — With a world first Jump Menu offering 16 different jump styles, there’s a Jump for everyone. Whether we’re a first time jumper or a seasoned thrill seeker, they’ve got a jump to take us out of our comfort zone and a bit further! There’s nothing like a little adrenaline hit to remind us we’re still alive! Their site is designed for ultimate spectating with tailor made viewing platforms, decks, licensed bar, music, and sun chairs. From the top of the 165 foot tower, we can see out over the Northern Beaches and out to the incredible Great Barrier Reef. So when we’re on the edge, ready to jump, suck in the views as it all looks quite different on the rebound! $139 early bird / $149 regular. Please click here.
- Minjin Swing (Day 4, Tues. Feb. 13th) — In keeping with the AJ Hackett spirit of stretching the limits of gravity, the Minjin Jungle Swing was created to allow 1, 2, or 3 people to experience extreme speed and acceleration together. The only multi-person Jungle Swing in Australia swoops through the rainforest from 150 feet down to 3 feet in 3.5 seconds, reaching speeds up to 75 mph. But don’t think it’s up to the Swing Master to set us going – we have the control… all we have to do is pull the self release. $99 early bird / $109 regular. Please click here.
- Combination Bungy Jump + Minjin Swing (Day 4, Tues. Feb. 13th) — See descriptions above. $205 early bird / $215 regular. Please click here.
For many of the amazing people that are working to make our trip happen (the bus drivers, guides, hotel staff, etc), our tips are extremely important. Their work is often seasonal and unreliable, and in the excitement of the trip, they often get overlooked and forgotten. While tipping is never mandatory, we want to make sure that we take care of the staff that works so hard to help us enjoy our trip. We recommend (but do not require) that you bring $150 USD for tipping. We’d like to collect everyone’s tip money at the beginning of the trip and then tip all of the staff appropriately as the trip goes along. This method has two main benefits: it will ensure all staff are fairly compensated for their efforts, and you will not have to worry about constantly finding cash to tip the dozens of staff. If everyone contributes $150 USD, it will allow us to tip everyone well and leave a little extra to give to the staff that really go above and beyond for the group. Thank you for understanding.