Arrive in Auckland and embark your ship this evening between 4 and 5 PM. Settle in to your cabin and familiarize yourself with the ship and her crew.
For your first port call, choose to join an optional excursion and attend a Maori Cultural Performance. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is the place where Maori chiefs first signed their accord with the British Crown – the Treaty of Waitangi – Te Tiriti of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document. Stroll through the grounds before your introduction to New Zealand's indigenous culture through a performance by the resident performance group Te Pitowhenua.
Today is spent at sea as you cross the Tasman Sea on your way to mainland Australia. Continue to settle in to your new "home," or spend time relaxing on deck and taking in the fresh sea air.
Arrive on Australia's Norfolk Island today. Choose from two optional, half-day excursions to explore more of the area's cultural and natural history. Embark a coach to Kingston where you can see the former fortress-like military base and visit ruins of the New Gaol, once called "Hell in Paradise" by the convicts who resided there. Alternatively, explore the island by 4-wheel-drive vehicle. One third of Norfolk Island is comprised of reserves and parks, and its inhabitants enjoy life in a pristine environment of lush hills and valleys and stunning beaches. With no busy roads, there are only 55 miles/80 kilometers of laneways crossing the island, and cows still have right of way! This tour takes you off the main roads to private properties and the National Park, where you are sure to experience spectacular scenery, abundant bird life, and native flora and fauna. Enjoy tea at a private homestead before returning to your ship.
You have two days at sea as your ship continues northward. Be sure to take advantage of your ship's luxurious amenities and explore all L'Austral has to offer as you prepare for the next leg of your voyage.
Choose from several optional half- and full-day excursions as your ship arrives in the capital of Queensland. Join a coach tour to see the highlights of Brisbane. Gain a glimpse into both the history and present day experience of this relaxed city. You can also join a tour to Mt. Coot-tha to enjoy breathtaking views of the coastal city. Stop at the nearby Botanic Gardens, and travel to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary for a visit with the island-continent's most famous animal. Longer tours take you out of the city to Tamborine Mountain and Mount Cotton Estate Winery, or on a 4WD tour of the Gold Coast Hinterland and Tamborine Mountain. Sightings of kangaroos and koalas in the Tamborine area are common. On your 4WD tour, experienced guides bring you through Joalah, Tamborine National Park to the Waterfall below and explain the uniqueness of the Rainforests and Eucalyptus forests that make up the Tamborine Plateau.
Relax after your exciting first stops in Australia. Prepare for the next port by cracking open your book, watching for marine life on deck, or visiting with fellow passengers.
Beautiful and virtually untouched, Percy Island was reclaimed by Queensland and much of it is now a national park. Details of your excursions in port are forthcoming.
From this northern Queensland port city, choose from a number of optional excursions. You can go to the Billabong Sanctuary and take a guided tour by one of the Sanctuary's qualified rangers who offers expert insight into Australia's fascinating wildlife. Here you also have free time to explore the different habitats at your own pace. As you stroll, look for kookaburras, dingoes, Australian black swans, cassowary, cockatoos, birds of prey and other native wildlife. Alternatively, join a tour into the rainforest. North Queensland is home to the Wet Tropics Rainforest — the oldest surviving rain forest on the planet and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During your day out, experience this living time capsule of Australia’s flora and fauna through driving and walking within this precious environment. For a longer tour, you can venture into the Australian Outback. Head to the other side of the mountains to reach the gold rush town of Charters Towers.
With its lagoons and waters ranging from blue, nearly white, to translucent turquoise, Cairns is surely the most exotic colonial city in the world. Your stopover offers a chance to discover the world’s largest coral reef system: the Great Barrier Reef and its myriad islands and islets bathing in the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Stretching out over 2,300 km and home to 400 coral species and 1,500 fish species, the reef offers spectacularly beautiful and varied scenery. Its high concentration of species has earned it an international reputation as an excellent spot for scuba diving. Its neon fish, clown fish, sponges and other crustaceans make this ecosystem one of a kind.
Spend two days in port and partake in a variety of optional excursions. Enjoy a performance by Aboriginal performers, who capture the local Tjapukai culture. You can also hop aboard the Jungle Train, passing waterfalls and colorful vegetation, crossing 40 bridges and moving through 15 tunnels to reach the Kuranda Railway Station. Take a coach tour that highlights the best Cairns has to offer and gives you a panoramic perspective on the city. Alternatively, leave land behind and venture by catamaran to the Outer Reef where you have the opportunity to explore this incredible ecosystem from above or below the water. Finally, you can experience the region from above when you drive to the Skyrail Rainforest Cable Car Station. Upon arrival, board one of the gondolas for a truly amazing experience over Australia's World Heritage listed Tropical Rainforest canopy and into the rainforest itself.
You have another day at sea to relax, or time to take advantage of your ship's amenities if you haven't already done so.
After arriving in port today, take a tour that reveals the island's hidden past. Step back to 1893 when you visit Green Hill Fort which was built in resopnse to a Russian War scare, its now silent 6 foot breach loading guns still jutting out menacingly over the island's main approaches. Once a munitions storage space, the Fort's underground tunnels and rooms today house the Torres Strait Museum. The Museum displays include Pearling, Shipping and Military themes. This is also the best spot on the island to get panoramic postcard style shots so be sure to bring a camera. Pass by a Japanese Pearl Divers Memorial which sits amongst the many ornate tombstones overlooking Hammond Island to the north. A scenic drive around the island, Museum visit, comprehensive commentary and question time are all part of this optional tour.
As you sail back to mainland Australia, enjoy the sea air on deck and keep watch for any marine or bird-life that might be following in your ship's wake.
A remote continent in the heart of the Pacific, a wild land of unrivaled beauty, Australia is home to an ancestral culture which has a wealth of art and traditions and is an integral part of the country’s heritage. During your stop in Yirrkala you have the chance to gain some understanding of it and experience its magic. Located to the east of Arnhem Land, this remarkable small town is home to a community of some 850 Aborigines, most of whom are Yolngu, an indigenous people that inhabited this land well before the first colonists arrived. During your visit, take a journey back in time by attending traditional ceremonies such as the “smoking ceremony” for a blessing, watching traditional singing and dancing, or visiting the Buku- Larrnggay Mulka Art Center where a number of bark paintings are exposed as typical examples of Aboriginal art.
You last day at sea is spent reflecting on all the wonders you have encountered along this great land.
Following breakfast on board, disembark your ship in Darwin. Transfer to the airport for your journey homeward.