Photos: Awesome Australia

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  1. The sacred monolith of Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is located in Central Australia's Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which is a World Heritage site. (Torsten Blackwood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Be careful going down the road in Western Australia. There could be camels, wombats or kangaroos trying to cross. (Nick Rains / Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A kangaroo stands next to a rare waterhole as sheep gather and look for food on a station near White Cliffs in the state of New South Wales. (William West / AFP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Tourists look at spectacular cathedral termite mounds in the Litchfield National Park near Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory. Often visible along the Northern Territory, also know as the "Top End" highways, they are amongst the largest mounds built by termites anywhere in the world and are reminiscent of mediaeval cathedrals. (Greg Wood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A koala rests on a branch at Sydney Wildlife World, which features Australian flora and fauna set amongst natural habitats and ecosystems. Koalas feed almost exclusively on tough, toxic eucalyptus leaves, which they can digest because they have the longest gut for their size of any mammal. (Greg Wood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Located near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, the East MacDonnell Ranges Aerial are part of the remains of mountains that once went as high as the Himalayas. The East MacDonnell's are more varied and less crowded than the more popular West McDonnell Range. (Brian Geach / Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Visitors stand on a cantilever at the Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk tourist attraction that overlooks rainforest and coastline in the center in the Illawarra region, south of Sydney, in Australia's New South Wales. The Illawarra region gets its special character from the way the escarpment meets the sea. (Greg Wood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Pinnacles, ancient limestone formations, rise out of the sand in Nambung National Park. There are thousands of pillars in this Western Australian area, which offer photographers images at sunrise and sunset. (Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. The Three Sisters jut out of the Blue Mountains near Katoomba, New South Wales. The character of the rock formation changes as the sunlight brings out magnificent color.
    According to Aboriginal legend, there were three sisters in the Katoomba tribe who were in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry. The brothers were not happy with this law and used force to capture the sisters, which caused a battle.
    A witchdoctor turned the sisters into stone to protect them from harm, but he was killed before he could reverse the spell. And so the sisters remained in the rock formation. (Lincoln Fowler / Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. The large leaves of the Canna x generalis flowering plant from the Cannaceae family display their unusual coloring in the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. The Botanic Gardens were founded on their current site by Governor Macquarie in 1816 and is the oldest scientific institution in Australia, playing a major role in the acclimatization of plants from other regions. (Greg Wood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A droving team heads off from camp during the Great Australian Cattle Drive preview on May 7, 2009, in Oodnadatta, Australia. The Great Australian Cattle Drive takes place July 30-Aug. 29, 2010, and offers the general public the chance to experience an Australian adventure. (Quinn Rooney / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Many residents of opal mining town Coober Pedy, Australia, live underground in dugout homes. The Underground Serbian Orthodox Church is one of the town's must-see sites and includes rock carvings in the walls, a high-roof ballroom-style design and stained glass windows. (Quinn Rooney / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A young indigenous performer during the Yeperenye Federation Festival on Sept. 9, 2001, in Alice Springs, Central Australia. The Yeperenye Festival involves traditional elders with thousands of dancers, artists, singers, musicians and spectators, who gather at Blatherskite Park on the traditional lands of the Arrernte people. It was one of the largest cultural gatherings of indigenous and non-indigenous people since colonization. (Matt Turner / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Mount Borradaile in the Northern Territory was inhabited for up to 50,000 years by aboriginal tribes, and it's cave walls feature some of the best examples of aboriginal art. The drawings show a huge range of dates and events. The mount and the surrounding Arnhem Land draw tourists from all over who want to see real Australian history. (James Fisher / Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. The wetlands of the Yellow Water area of the Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territories are a mecca for wildlife and flora. The flora in the park is among the richest in northern Australia with more than 2,000 plant species recorded. The park is also considered to be one of the most weed-free national parks in the world. (Adam Pretty / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Rex the crocodile swims in a tank at Sydney Wildlife World on March 29, 2010. Rex, a saltwater crocodile, was caught in the Northern Territory and moved to his current habitat in December last year. (Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Cows have the right of way on Norfolk Island, east of the Australian mainland, where motorists also take the time to wave to each driver they pass. (Lawrence Bartlett / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. The Australian War Memorial in Canberra is a combination of a shrine, museum and archive, which commemorates the sacrifice of Australians who died in war. (Geoff Lung / Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A giant statue of famed Australian outlaw Ned Kelly at Glenrowan, the location of his final stand, about 110 miles northeast of Melbourne. Long dismissed as tourist kitsch, Australia's "Big Things" -- giant models of everything from koalas to pineapples -- are now being heritage-listed and recognized as works of folk art. (William West / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. The Ghan railway, which runs from Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north, offers travelers the chance to see great Australian landscapes through the country's Red Center. (Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Vineyards are shown in the internationally renowned Margaret River wine region in the south-west corner of Western Australia, situated between the two coastal capes of Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin. (Greg Wood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A rock climber heads up a dolerite stack known as Totem Pole in Tasmania's Cape Hauy. (Nick Hancock / Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Beach-goers soak in the sun on the Gold Coast in Queensland. The Gold Coast is a favorite tourist area that features some of the world's finest beaches and lively nightlife. (Sergio Dionisio / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. American Kelly Slater performs a cutback during an aerial expression session on day one of Surfsho at Bondi Beach on March 12, 2010, in Sydney, Australia. (Cameron Spencer / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off of Australia's coast offers one of the world's best places to snorkel. The reef is one of the richest, most diverse ecosystems and extends from the tip of Cape York in Queensland and goes south almost to Bundaberg. And it takes up an area larger than Victoria and Tasmania combined. (Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. These massive porites corals at the Great Barrier Reef are hundreds of years old. The corals are like trees in that each year a new band is laid down in their skeletons that record their environmental histories. (Jurgen Freund / Freund Factory) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Fish of all colors swim in the Great Barrier Reef off Australia's northeastern coast. In January of 2009, Australia announced a crackdown on pollution of the Great Barrier Reef as the World Heritage-listed site comes under increasing threat from toxic chemicals and climate change. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Crimson clouds provide a beautiful backdrop during a match between Australia and England at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, Australia. (Adam Pretty / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic landmark in Australia's most populous state of New South Wales, with a population in excess of 7million people, is shown in this photo taken on May 26, 2009. (Greg Wood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Sydney Opera House is easily one of Australia's most recognizable landmarks. The buiilding, on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbor, is a multi-venue performing arts center and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Greg Wood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 10/8/2007 10:56:27 AM ET 2007-10-08T14:56:27

The Real Deal: Eleven nights' accommodations, local transportation, guided tours, and some meals from $1,775 per person — including taxes and fees.

When: Tour groups congregate in Brisbane on Nov. 29 and Dec. 20, 2007; additional departures available in 2008.

The fine print: The package price of $1,775 divides into $1,610 paid in advance and $165 paid in cash upon arrival to ease payments to local suppliers. Local transportation by minibus, 4WD vehicle, ferry, and sailboat is included, as are three breakfasts, three lunches, and three dinners. All taxes and fuel surcharges are included. Mandatory travel insurance is additional; the average insurance cost is $60-$80 per person. Group size is limited to 12 persons. A tourist visa is required for entry to Australia; one quick and simple method is to apply online for an Electronic Travel Authority, a stampless visa that takes about five minutes to process and costs $17. You can also apply for an ETA in person at the embassy for free. Trips are designed for shared accommodation; no single supplement. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: No deadline; based on availability. The company recommends booking at least one month in advance of tour departure date.

Contact: Intrepid Travel, 866/847-8192,

Why it's a deal: Following this tour's itinerary on your own would mean making many separate arrangements and reservations for accommodations, camping, vehicle permits on Fraser Island, sailing and diving excursions, and car or bus transportation north along Australia's eastern coast. This Intrepid package, the cost of which breaks down to about $160 per person per night, covers 11 nights' lodging and transportation, plus the cost of all the activities you would otherwise have to pay for individually, and provides hassle-free trip planning.

Trip details: The Queensland Adventure Northbound guided tour includes local transportation along Australia's eastern shore from Brisbane to Cairns, plus eleven nights' accommodations of varying types. Nights are spent in local hotels, motels, and permanent twin-share tents, as well as a traditional bush camp, a multi-share bunkhouse, and a rain-forest hut.

The trip begins in Brisbane, Queensland's capital, with a one-night stay at the Best Western-affiliated Astor Metropole, which faces Central Station. Rise early the next day for the drive north, stopping at Noosa Heads, a spectacular lagoon along Australia's Sunshine Coast. By late afternoon, you'll reach Hervey Bay, gateway to World Heritage site Fraser Island. Days three and four will be spent exploring in this nature lover's paradise, where you'll camp in a permanent tent and have plenty of time to discover the island's lush rain-forests, freshwater lakes, and sun-drenched beaches teeming with birds and wildlife.

On days five and six, the group heads inland for a taste of Aussie life on a working cattle station, where you'll join in on daily farm activities and even learn how to lasso a calf! At night, curl up beside the roaring campfire inside your cozy swag — an Aussie bedroll — camping out in the bush under the stars.

Board a sailboat for two days of island-hopping among the Whitsundays, a collection of 74 islands surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef. Swim, snorkel, and dive in crystal-clear waters by day, and bed down at night in bungalows at the seaside resort town of Airlie Beach.

Heading north for the tropical coves of Mission Beach on days 9 and 10, you'll camp in huts surrounded by rain-forest and have time to explore this small, relaxed community at your leisure. Activities abound for the adventure inclined, including white-water rafting on the Tully River, horseback rides, half-day coastal paddles, and tandem skydives.

Your trip concludes with a night in Cairns, the gateway to northern Queensland, Daintree National Park, and the pristine sandy beaches of Cape Tribulation. You can set off to explore on your own after the tour ends, or you can extend your stay at the Hotel Cairns for $52 per person per night, based on double occupancy. If you choose, you can also tack on extra nights in Brisbane at the beginning of your trip for $45 per person per night, based on double occupancy, or $90 per night for a room to yourself.

For more information on what to see and do in these cities, check the official tourism board Web sites for Brisbane and Cairns.

Remember that the seasons in Australia are the opposite of ours, so the valid travel dates for this package are during Queensland's late spring and early summer. From December through February, local temperatures can climb from 70 degrees in points south to as high as 95 degrees during the day in Cairns, and it can be humid. Before you go, check the weather forecast, the local time, and the exchange rate on

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.


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