Outback to the Reef – A Small Group Journey (2022-23)

Contrast Queensland’s rich outback spirit with the pristine natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and the remote Cape York peninsula on this adventure which combines the ancient landscapes and untamed wilderness of Mount Mulligan.

Journey Overview

Contrast Queensland’s rich outback spirit with the pristine natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and the remote Cape York peninsula on this adventure which combines the ancient landscapes and untamed wilderness of Mount Mulligan, a working cattle station in the Atherton Tablelands, with the rich marine life of tropical hideaway, Lizard Island. An exhilarating helicopter trip from Horn Island to Roko Island in the Torres Strait reveals hundreds more pristine islands and beaches as well as the region’s rich pearling heritage. Travel by a combination of private 4WD vehicle, charter aircraft and helicopter maximising your time spent in each destination.

Journey Highlights

  • Admire raw pastoral landscapes from above on your private charter flight north through northern Queensland to Horn Island
  • Discover the outback spirit of Queensland at historic Mount Mulligan cattle station and heritage site
  • Discover blissful Roko Island in the Torres Strait, one of Northern Queensland’s best kept secrets, and learn all about pearling history from an expert at the resident pearl farm
  • Take to the air by helicopter over the ‘Tip of Australia’, and marvel at the hundreds of stunningly pristine islands in the Torres Strait
  • Be enchanted by the underwater delights of idyllic Lizard Island on diving and snorkelling adventures including a private turtle tour
  • Typically features a small group size of 8-10 guests

Journey Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Cairns, Queensland

Arrive into Cairns, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef where you are met and transferred to your elegant resort on the waterfront.

Tonight enjoy a welcome dinner with your fellow travelling companions and local guide.

Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort | Meals: D

Day 2: Cairns – Mount Mulligan | Discover the Outback Spirit

This morning you are transferred by road west to your boutique accommodation at Mt Mulligan Lodge, a journey of approximately three hours. Follow in the steps of the early miners whose passage inland took them through verdant farmland and rich cattle country. Pass through friendly little towns along the way and look out for the unique tobacco barns which dot the landscape.

Arrive at Mount Mulligan in time for a delicious lunch featuring locally sourced and seasonal produce. This afternoon set off on a guided nature walk around the Mount Mulligan weir. The weir is a refuge for an array of native wildlife including bounding agile wallabies, freshwater turtles, many bird species, and a diverse collection of flora.

Savour a dramatic outback sunset tonight with sundowners by the fire pit before a degustation dinner showcasing the incredible produce of the Atherton Tablelands.

Mt Mulligan Lodge | Meals: BLD

Day 3: Mount Mulligan | Design Your Day

Today is spent exploring this magnificent 28,000-hectare working cattle station and heritage site with curated experiences highlighting the spirit of North Queensland. The property also bears the marks of the historic gold and coal rush and in its current operation, as a working cattle station, the pastoral history of Australia.

Discover its captivating landscapes, which have a deep indigenous significance dating back 37,000 years, on an exhilarating adventure by all-terrain vehicle (ATV) exploring boulder-strewn creeks, navigating outback tracks, and learning about the cattle operation. Pause for a chef-prepared gourmet picnic morning tea at the picturesque south end of Mount Mulligan, known as The Branch.

This afternoon, Design Your Day with another of the property’s curated experiences:

Guided Tour of Mount Mulligan Old Township
Now a ghost town, the eerie, yet visually arresting remains of the Mount Mulligan township are rich in history. Abandoned in 1958, the township now only consists of a cemetery, a single residence, and a chimney stack, whilst the derelict coal mine provides an interesting insight into how these mines operated during that era.

Kayak or Paddleboard on the Weir
Discover the beauty of the Mount Mulligan weir and its riparian flora and fauna species on a guided kayaking exploration. Immerse yourself in the scenery and stillness of the bush and even pack a fishing rod to try your hand ‘yak angling’ for the elusive Barramundi. Alternatively, you may choose to take to the water on a stand-up paddle board. You might even be lucky enough to sight a platypus!

Tyrconnell Gold Mine Exploration
Wind back time to the 1930s on an exploration of the decommissioned Tyrconnell Gold Mine, the most famous mine on the Hodgkinson goldfield. Much of the infrastructure remains untouched, allowing visitors to uncover the history and tenacious prospecting life at this captivating site.

This evening, take your electric buggy to the Sunset Bar and watch the Mount Mulligan escarpment come alive as the sun sets with sundowners and canapés. Dinner is a shared homestead roast.

Mt Mulligan Lodge | Meals: BLD

Day 4: Mount Mulligan – Horn Island – Roko Island – Lizard Island | Pearling and Torres Strait Islands

After breakfast today you are transferred to the Mareeba Aerodrome (approx 2.5 hours drive) for your private charter flight north to Horn Island in the heart of the Torres Strait. On arrival, board a helicopter for a stunning scenic flight to the northernmost point of the Australian mainland, the iconic ‘Tip of Australia’. Get a unique aerial perspective of deserted white beaches, low lying wetlands, volcanic rainforest covered peaks and seasonal waterfalls that flow out to fringing reefs. There are also numerous historical landmarks to view, including one of Australia’s oldest military fortifications, Green Hill Fort, built in 1891.

Other possible sightings from the air include dugongs, dolphins, sea turtles, giant marlin and the largest reptile in the world, the saltwater or estuarine crocodile, a ferocious and expert hunter that can reach six metres in length and weigh over 1000 kilograms. Between July and September, migrating humpback whales that visit from the northernmost fringes of the Great Barrier Reef may be seen.

Land on Roko Island, the location of one of only two remaining pearl farms in the area. Experience an immersion into the region’s pearling history and learn about the cultivation, seeding and harvesting of the oyster before a delicious two-course seafood lunch with beautiful ocean views over Roko Jetty and Possession Island.

Re-board your helicopter from Roko Island to Horn Island where your aircraft awaits for the flight to Lizard Island. Arrive in time for afternoon tea before making your way to the 'Beach Club' to be personally fitted with fins, mask and snorkel for the duration of your stay. The rest of the day is at leisure to relax in your suite, snorkel from the beach, or stand-up paddleboard. The choice is yours.

This evening enjoy welcome drinks and canapés followed by dinner in Salt Water Restaurant.

Lizard Island | Meals: BLD

Days 5: Lizard Island | Design Your Day

Today is yours to explore this true island paradise.

Walk to Cook’s Lookout
Follow in the footsteps of Captain James Cook as he hiked to the top of the island to search out a path to navigate the Endeavour back into open waters. History tells us that from this remarkable lookout, Cook was astounded to see his ship was on a coral reef and had somehow not become grounded.

Take your own Private Dinghy to a Secluded Beach
This signature experience is one of the most popular activities on Lizard Island. Take a morning or afternoon refreshments pack, your snorkel gear and motor to a private beach for a peaceful day of relaxing or exploring.

Glass Bottom Sea Kayak
Taking a glass bottom kayak out into the waters of Anchor Bay opens up an underwater treasure trove. This is a beautiful way to explore the reef at a leisurely pace, stopping to hover over coral, schools of fish and giant clams.

Lizard Island | Meals: BLD

Day 6: Lizard Island | Snorkelling and Diving on the Inner and Outer Reef

Travel to Casuarina Beach and Watson’s Bay on a private guided tour with a naturalist providing informative insights into their amazing world and the captivating opportunity of snorkelling with majestic green sea turtles.

For those looking to venture out a little further on a snorkelling adventure, a cruise to remote snorkelling and diving spots on the inner and outer reef will reveal hundreds of vibrant fish and coral species (additional cost applies).

This evening enjoy your farewell dinner at Salt Water Restaurant. The menu showcases the freshest produce from the waters around the island, the coast, and from the hinterland of the mainland.

Lizard Island | Meals: BLD

Day 7: Lizard Island – Depart Cairns

This morning you transfer to the airstrip for the flight back to Cairns where your adventure ends.

Meals: B

Journey Details

Internal air included: Private charter flights

All accommodation as detailed on a double/ twin share basis with private facilities; Travel in a private aircraft as specified in the itinerary; Meals as specified; Bottled water during transfers and touring; Wine and beer with all included dinners; Airport welcome; Assistance with luggage and group transportation by private air-conditioned vehicle; Services of a Pilot/Guide and Local Guide(s) in select locations; All entrance fees, planning, handling, operational and communication charges.

Note: Proof of COVID-19 full vaccination is required for this program.

Tailor-Made Travel with A&K

If scheduled departure dates don’t work for you, or you would prefer to travel privately, please talk to one of our expert Journey Designers or your travel agent about creating the perfect bespoke tailor-made journey for you, or your own small group with family or friends.

Show Full Itinerary
Preferred Accommodation

Preferred Accommodation

This journey features the following Preferred Accommodations:

Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort

Outback to the Reef – A Small Group Journey (2022-23)

Stay with Riley, a five-star luxury hotel in Cairns, and rediscover fun. Live in the moment and indulge in the little luxuries. Leave you... Read more

Mount Mulligan Lodge

Outback to the Reef – A Small Group Journey (2022-23)

Located on an entirely private 28,000-hectare working cattle station and heritage site, Mount Mulligan Lodge offers boutique accommodatio... Read more

Lizard Island

Outback to the Reef – A Small Group Journey (2022-23)

Lizard Island, Australia’s northernmost island resort on the Great Barrier Reef, is a one hour scenic flight over the reef from Cairns. R... Read more

Dates & Prices

Journey Dates & Prices

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy

Aug 6, 2022 - Aug 12, 2022
Price AU$12,800pp Single Supplement AU$6,260 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Book
Sep 5, 2022 - Sep 11, 2022
Price AU$12,800pp Single Supplement AU$6,260 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Book
Oct 8, 2022 - Oct 14, 2022
Price AU$12,800pp Single Supplement AU$6,260 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Book
Apr 22, 2023 - Apr 28, 2023
Price AU$13,590pp Single Supplement AU$6,660 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Book

Availability shown here is updated weekly and indicative only. Availability on any product or journey shown here is not specific to a category of travel and may not denote availability at the cheapest ‘From’ price. For real time availability, talk to your travel agent or call Abercrombie & Kent on 1300 851 800.


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