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Tour B: Sydney to Melbourne via Canberra SM2 (4 days/2 nights)

Route: Via Canberra, Avalanche Homestead, the Snowy Mountains, Mountain Lodge, Phillip Island.

Day 1: Sydney to Avalanche Homestead via Canberra. (L,D)

You are collected from your city hotel at 8.00 am in your luxury 4WD vehicle and travel south through Sydney along the beautiful Illawarra coast to Wollongong. Your tour then takes you through the rolling hills and rich grazing country of the Southern Tablelands to Canberra, Australia's national capital, designed by Chicago architect Walter Burly Griffin. After lunch, a tour of Canberra includes visits to the world renowned Australian War Memorial, Parliament House, the internationally acclaimed Australian National Gallery and a tour of foreign embassies, many of which are designed in the traditional architecture of their home countries.

A 45 km drive south brings you to Avalanche Homestead where you stay overnight. While by day it is a working Australian sheep and cattle property, Avalanche Homestead offers VIP accommodation and dining. At dusk a 4WD safari takes you spotlighting deep in the Australian bush where you will see some unique Australian animals and birds in their native habitat, including kangaroos and owls. In the evening, join your hosts for a convivial candlelight dinner complemented by quality Australian wines.

Day 2: Avalanche Homestead (B,L,D)

After breakfast you have the opportunity to join in the daily life of a working sheep and cattle ranch, or 'stations' as they're called in Australia. Depending on the season, you can help with activities such as mustering, hand-feeding, sheep-shearing, lambing and calving. You can see the wonderful Australian sheep dog at work, take a horse ride or choose one or more of the many bush walking trails on the property. In the bush surrounding Avalanche Homestead there is a vast array of native animals and birds including kangaroos, kookaburras, cockatoos, mountain parrots, eagles wild duck and many smaller birds. You may even be lucky enough to spot the extremely shy and beautiful lyrebird. Take a break from bird watching and experience the down to earth flavour of real Australian damper, washed down with steaming billy tea brewed over an open fire. If you prefer to spend your time in total relaxation, a perfect spot is by the swimming pool with a book from the extensive library.

Day 3: Avalanche Homestead via mountain National Parks and Buchan Caves to Mountain Lodge. (B,L,D)

Your personal tour operator takes you by 4WD luxury vehicle to Cooma, gateway to the Snowy Mountain Hydroelectric Scheme, one of the world's great engineering feats. Travelling over the Australian high country into Victoria, you reach the Buchan Caves, where you explore the beauty of the Royal or Fairy Caves before reaching your overnight accommodation, Mountain Lodge. Tonight you will experience a genuine Aussie BBQ dinner, after which take a short walk to view one of Australia's most endearing animals, the wombat, in its native setting.

Day 4: Mountain Lodge to Melbourne via the Penguin Parade and Koala Sanctuary. (B,L)

Before breakfast you can take a walk along the trail, try your hand at trout fishing in Icy Creek or one of the well stocked dams, or perhaps enjoy a game of tennis. After breakfast, you travel through alpine country which contains the Giant Mountain Ash, one of Australia's largest trees.

The landscape changes as you move northeast towards the sea, taking you through the rich dairy country of south-eastern Australia. You visit a cheese factory where you can taste the prize winning local cheeses, inspect a working dairy and a wood-fired bakery. Lunch is at the Tarago Restaurant or a traditional Australian country pub.

After lunch, you travel to Phillip Island and visit the Koala Sanctuary where you can see one of the world's most lovable animals at close quarters. At dusk, another unique experience is in store when you view the world famous Fairy Penguin parade. E very evening hundreds of these beautiful birds march up the beach to their burrows among the sand dunes. Over dinner on Phillip island there is plenty of time to reflect on your unforgettable experience before being driven to your Melbourne hotel.

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