Outback to the Reef by Air – A Small Group Journey

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 pearling history from an expert at Roko Island
  • Marvel at the hundreds of pristine islands in the Torres Strait islands on a scenic helicopter adventure
  • Be enchanted by the underwater delights of idyllic Lizard Island on diving and snorkelling adventures
  • Typically features a small group size of 8-10 guests

Journey Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Cairns.

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.
Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort (Sea) | Meals: D

Day 2: Cairns – Mount Mulligan.

This morning you are transferred by road west to your boutique accommodation at Mount 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. The remainder of the afternoon is at your leisure to relax by the pool, explore the lodge and surrounds or take a kayak or paddleboard out on the weir.

Savour a dramatic outback sunset tonight with sundowners by the fire pit before a degustation dinner showcasing the incredible produce of the Atherton Tablelands.
Mount Mulligan Lodge (Outback Retreat) | Meals: BLD
Note: Room upgrade options are available for this journey

Day 3: Mount Mulligan.

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.

And this afternoon choose another of the property’s curated experiences which include guided tours of the goldfields with a demonstration of Australia's oldest operating gold crusher at Tyrconnell, exploration of the historic Mount Mulligan coal mine and abandoned township, fishing in the weir and wildlife spotting.

This evening take your electric buggy to the Sunset Bar and watch Mount Mulligan escarpment come alive as the sun sets with sundowners and canapés. Dinner is a shared homestead roast.
Mount Mulligan Lodge (Outback Retreat) | Meals: BLD

Day 4: Mount Mulligan – Horn Island – Roko Island – Lizard Island.

After breakfast today you are transferred by private 4WD vehicle to the Mareeba Aerodrome, driving time approximately 2.5 hours. Here you board your aircraft for the private charter flight north to Horn Island, at the very tip of the Cape York Peninsula in the heart of the Torres Strait. Transfer from plane to helicopter for a stunning 45-minute 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 bathed in warm tropical waters that teem with marine life. Many of the region’s 274 islands are virtually untouched, spreading like stepping stones through the strikingly turquoise waters of the Arafura Sea which separates Tropical North Queensland from the untamed jungles of Papua New Guinea.

Chance 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-September, migrating humpback whales that visit from the northernmost fringes of the Great Barrier Reef may be seen.

In the late 19th century this region was a bustling pearling hub with hundreds of ships and divers based here. Your pilot will point out numerous landmarks including one of Australia’s oldest military fortifications, Green Hill Fort, built in 1891; two remaining pearl farms visible at Friday and Roko Islands; shipwrecks; an abandoned gold mine; World War II bunkers and gun placements plus a monument to Captain James Cook who landed here in 1770.

Land on Roko Island for an immersion into the region’s pearling history. Learn more 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 is awaiting for your 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, stand-up paddleboard, take out a dinghy or glass bottom kayaks, the choice is yours.

Secluded and pristine, Lizard Island is true paradise. It is the most northern resort in tropical Queensland with 24 powdery-white beaches waiting for you to explore. It is world renowned for spectacular fishing, particularly in marlin season (September-December) and rare diving and snorkelling opportunities such as the "Cod Hole".

This evening enjoy welcome drinks and canapes followed by dinner in the Saltwater Restaurant.
Lizard Island (Oceanview Plunge Pool or Beachfront Suite) | BLD

Days 5-6: Lizard Island.

This morning your guide will share more about the history, fauna and flora of Lizard Island and present your activity options for the coming two days. Perhaps a gourmet picnic lunch on one of the island’s secluded beaches, exploring, snorkelling and enjoying the pristine surrounds. Or an opportunity to snorkel with majestic green sea turtles at Casuarina Beach, with a naturalist providing informative insights into their amazing world. Active adventurers can retrace Captain Cook’s footsteps on a hike up to Cook’s Look with spectacular panoramic views of the reef. 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).
Lizard Island (Oceanview Plunge Pool or Beachfront Suite) | Meals: BLD

Day 7: Lizard Island - 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 Mareeba/Horn Island/Lizard Island and Lizard Island/Cairns

Maximum Group Size: 10

All accommodation as detailed with private facilities; Internal flights as mentioned in itinerary; Meals as specified including welcome dinner; Services of a Pilot/Guide and specialist guides in select locations; Bottled water during transfers and touring; Assistance with luggage and group transportation by private air-conditioned vehicle; All entrance fees, planning, handling, operational and communication charges.

Please Note: Room upgrade options are available at Mt Mulligan Lodge and Lizard Island.

Show Full Itinerary
Preferred Accommodation

Preferred Accommodation

This journey features the following Preferred Accommodations:

Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort

Outback to the Reef by Air – A Small Group Journey

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 by Air – A Small Group Journey

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

Journey Dates & Prices

2022 departure dates for this journey are still being finalised. Depending on your preferred dates and arrangements, final pricing will vary from low season to peak season travel.

Please call A&K on 1300 851 800 or send us a booking enquiry to find out more about this journey.


Related Brochures