Food, Wine & Walking in Australia
For those who love walking but don't always want to huddle around a camping stove, or for those who love their food and wine but need a break from the indulgence every now and then, look no further than this 12-day trip including time in Sydney, plenty of gastronomic delights in the Hunter and Barossa Valley's and a fantastically scenic four-day walk in the Arkaba Conservancy.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Explore Sydney with a local and get under the skin of the coolest cities on the planet
- Get out into the Outback and experience the 'real' Australia on the four day Arkaba walk
- Sample some seriously good wines in both the Hunter and Barossa Valleys
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When To Travel
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Day 1: Arrive and Explore
With the journey to the other end of the world behind you and the warm sunny streets of Sydney calling you, the holiday really gets underway when you are collected from the airport and privately transferred to your hotel in the city centre.
Once you've freshened up, spend the day leisurely exploring the CBD; strolling through Darling Harbour or into the Botanical Gardens to find 'Mrs Macquarie's Chair' - a great spot for photographs of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Then as jetlag begins to hit, stop for dinner around the harbour - our detailed Dossier will help you choose the ideal spot- and get a well-deserved early night.
Day 2: Sydney Sider Tour
For Sydney first timers we can't get enough of this great expert-led introductory tour, designed entirely by locals, and which will help you get your bearings in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Since you'll likely be awake early we recommend doing the tour in the morning and then leaving the afternoon free to explore anywhere you loved in more detail, or simply relax.
Your guide will collect you from your hotel and aim to give you an overall understanding of the history, layout and iconic bits of Sydney - hopefully leaving you wanting to discover more. The tour will introduce you to Sydney's colourful colonial and aboriginal history, show you the historic Rocks area, the stunning Harbour quarter around Circular Quay, the Botanic Gardens and the Opera House. With your guide on hand to advise and show you all the secret spots you'll also get some Insta-worthy photos to start the holiday album.
Day 3: Sydney Harbour Cruise & Twilight Harbour Bridge Climb
After yesterday's introduction to the city, today it's time to tick off those bucket list Sydney experiences.
Start the day with breakfast at one of Sydney's many great cafes - our Dossier might help you choose which - and then head down to the water to board a lunch cruise on the harbour.
Step aboard a 52ft motoryacht and join your small group of fellow passengers for an afternoon on the water. Your captain will point out the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and the bays and coves of Sydney Harbour, filling you in on the history and culture as you cruise. A gourmet three course BBQ lunch with drinks will be served, and then you're free to enjoy activities such as swimming, fishing and kayaking - or you can simply sit back and relax on the expansive sunbed.
This evening we have lined up perhaps the most iconic of Sydney experiences for you - you'll be climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge at dusk. Kitted up with harnesses and alongside an experienced guide you'll ascend the bridge while the sun sets and the sky glows a beautiful burnt orange. At the top you'll then stop to appreciate the views and wait for the sky to darken and the city lights to start twinkling before you descend.
Day 4: Hunter Valley day trip
Having now seen the city highlights, head out of town to the Hunter Valley for a day of wine tasting.
Your guide will collect you from your hotel and drive you around three hours north to the Hunter Valley, which is nestled at the base of the Great Dividing Range. On the way you'll stop at the Australia Reptile Park for a morning coffee surrounded by kangaroos, wallabies and pademelons. Then, as you arrive into Australia's oldest and best known wine region you'll soon see why this is also one of the country's most popular, with over 150 top class wineries, 65 restaurants and several gourmet produce and boutique breweries to choose from.
Your first visit will be to Briar Ridge Vineyard, an upmarket winery nestled in the Mount View region of the Hunter Valley. With one wine tasting down you then continue onto the opulent Leogate Estate cellar door. Here you will also enjoy a selection of cheeses to accompany the wine tasting, and can take a tour of the onsite winery to learn about the wine making process. A relaxing two course lunch accompanied by yet another glass of wine will then be served, and afterwards the afternoon is yours to spend as you please. Your guide will be happy to take you to some more wineries, perhaps to visit a distillery or even to the Hunter Gardens Village Complex. You'll then be transferred back to Sydney, arriving in the early evening.
Day 5: To Adelaide
Start your morning with a lie in to recover from what was no doubt an indulgent day yesterday. Then, pack up the bags and meet your driver in reception for the transfer to Sydney domestic airport.
From there you'll catch a short two-hour flight to Adelaide and be met at the other end by another driver and escorted to your hotel in the city centre.
Since you will be getting very active over the days to come, spend this afternoon taking it easy. Wander around the city and perhaps visit the Art Gallery of South Australia or the South Australian Museum. Then stop for drinks and dinner before getting a good night's sleep.
Day 6: Begin walking
One of the so called 'Great Walks of Australia', the Arkaba walk is an amazing four-day, three-night adventure through the southern outback.
Begin your trekking adventure this morning with a transfer from your hotel to Adelaide domestic airport, where you'll board a short private charter flight to Hawker airstrip. Set against a backdrop of the Flinders Range and the 60,000 acre private Arkaba wildlife conservancy this walking safari offers the opportunity to really get back to nature and feel the scale and history of this vast country.
After meeting your small group and passionate guide over coffee, check your boots are laced comfortably and set off through the basin of Wilpena Pound. The day will take you to the edge of the Pound where it meets the Arkaba conservancy, and then down into the conservancy itself and to Black Gap's Camp, your home for the night. Sleeping in a traditional 'swag' bed under the stars (but with the luxury of an eco-toilet and bucket shower!) you'll really feel at one with your surroundings.
Days 7-8: Walking
Over the next two days continue deeper into the Outback with a challenging hike through the creeks and broken country approaching the foothills of the Elder Range on the first day, and a walk across the varying terrain through Mallee and the cypress pine forests to Red Range viewpoint on the second day.
You'll eventually cross Arkaba Creek to arrive at Arkaba's heritage homestead, your final stop of the walking adventure and one of Australia's most luxurious lodges. As you walk, take in the stunning scenery and let your guide fill you in on the rich aboriginal history of the area. Then as night draws in, tuck into some delicious and authentic Aussie cuisine before you fall asleep to the twinkling of the stars.
Day 9: To Barossa
Wake up on your last morning in the outback in the comfort of Arkaba Homestead.
The rest of the morning is then yours to spend as you please; you might want to simply relax in the library with a book, take a scenic flight over Wilpena Pound, or walk along the creek to the historic Arkaba Woolshed.
As the morning draws to a close, head to the airstrip for your flight back to Adelaide, and then meet your driver who will be waiting to transfer you an hour out of town, into the heart of the Barossa Valley.
Day 10: Barossa Wineries
After an active few days prior to this, today is all about indulging.
You'll be collected from your hotel by an experienced driver-come-wine-expert, who will be your guide for the day. During the course of the day you'll then explore the beautiful Barossa Region, hopping from winery to winery and sampling some of the best wines the country has to offer.
The tour will include a historic winery tour at Seppeltsfield Wines, a visit to Maggie Beer's Farm Shop and a stop at Barossa Valley Cheese Company. There will also be a leisurely lunch stop at Peter Lehmann Wines where you'll enjoy a local produce platter, alongside a large glass of wine, of course.
Whilst driving between wineries and food stops your guide will also be able to give you a scenic tour of the Barossa's early villages and towns, and will make sure to stop at a particularly beautiful lookout spot where you'll find panoramic views over the Barossa Valley.
Day 11: Explore Barossa
We're sure the heads are a little fuzzy this morning after all that wine yesterday, so fear not, today you'll be taking it easy.
The Barossa region is incredibly picturesque and ideal country for walking, cycling and general exploring, or if you've had enough of walking by now, perhaps just make the most of your last day by snoozing by the hotel pool. However you spend the day, it would be a crime not to spend your final evening enjoying a delicious and leisurely dinner, and several more glasses of Barossa's finest.
Day 12: Home time
After what has been an action packed stay it's sadly time to go home today.
Though with your suitcases packed with fine wines and the walking boots showing a little more love, you aren't heading home empty-handed.
Frances is our expert for this itinerary and, as a seasoned traveller, has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.