Most visitors to Australia have a sense of adventure but simply don’t have the time to ‘do it all’. Cue the escorted tour, which can be combined with an independent self-drive and city tours to give visitors the best of all worlds.

“Escorted touring is the best way to see any country and especially a destination as large and diverse as Australia. Customers have a choice of touring style too.”

BRIAN HAWE, FIRST CLASS HOLIDAYS

Perfect 10

  1. Be my guest: Trafalgar Tours includes a dining experience taking guests into the bush for an open-air dinner cooked in a bush camp oven

  2. Melbourne for foodies: Escorted tours in the city can include wine estate visits and dinner in an historic colonial tramcar

  3. Don’t miss: Victoria’s Great Ocean Road is a self-drive classic but visit it on an escorted tour and there’s more opportunity to take your eyes of the road and enjoy the views

  4. On track: Board the Ghan train and side excursions can include time on a cattle station with cattle dog and horse breaking demonstrations and live local music

  5. Tours to suit: The range of touring styles is broad. Match your clients’ needs to the most suitable escorted option from large group tours to more intimate small experiences

  6. Take to the skies: Visitors to Uluru can stay at a permanent campsite in Australia’s Red Centre and take an escorted tour with an Aboriginal guide

  7. Sleep under the stars: Rich, mysterious and often misunderstood, Aboriginal culture stretches back tens of thousands of years. Take the chance to learn more about Australia’s traditional landowners

  8. Indigenous insights: Collette Tours includes a three-day adventure in the rugged outback learning about Aboriginal life and traditions

  9. Off the beaten track: APT’s escorted tour in Western Australia takes small groups in 4WD vehicles specially designed for outback terrain

  10. Catamaran to the reef: Coral Princess has a four-night cruise escorted by a marine biologist on the Great Barrier Reef

Stress free

Escorted tours are diverse, from a couple of days to several weeks, linking highlights or providing outback adventures without the need to even open a map. Participants may travel by 4WD or air-conditioned coach and there is no need to feel too organised as free time is often built in and expert guides are free to go ‘off piste’ when they choose.

For first-time visitors bent on seeing all the ‘must sees’, an escorted tour is hassle free and time efficient, and for remoter areas they are a good option too.

New direct Qantas flights from the UK to Perth have boosted interest in Western Australia for escorted tours to wilder and remote areas such as the Kimberley. While the growing popularity of Tasmania, especially with seasoned travellers, has brought a growth of experience-based itineraries on the island.

What the experts say

“Escorted tours of Australia allow consumers to explore the country with ease, whilst accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. Our main target audience is the high-value traveller and we know that an escorted tour is of appeal to them as they want to see Australia and do it well. So whether your clients want to discover the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef or witness the sunset at Uluru – there’s certainly an escorted tour out there for everyone.”

DENISE VON WALD, REGIONAL GENERAL MANAGER, UK/NORTHERN EUROPE, TOURISM AUSTRALIA

What’s new

Tour operators Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Titan has launched its most ambitious escorted Australia tour yet. The Grand Tour of Australia covers the key highlights of the country alongside alternative experiences such as an overnight stay in the Hunter Valley, three nights in Noosa with a day trip to Fraser Island and five nights in the Northern Territory. Departing February to April 2019, the 30-day escorted tour costs from £6,699pp.

Trafalgar Tours’ new Inspiring Australia escorted tour takes guests from tropical rainforests to the red desert, from great reefs to cities. This 13-day exploration of Australia showcases the country’s diverse ecosystems from £5,595pp.

Travellers get to the heart of Australia on the Ghan Expedition train journey, taking passengers from Darwin to Adelaide over three nights with escorted tours to Nitmiluk George and Alice Springs. The four-day journey features dinner under the stars at Alice Springs and a full day of exploring the underground mining town of Coober Pedy.

Scenic has launched its 2018/19 Australia and New Zealand Escorted Touring Collection.

Airlines: Qatar’s new flight from the UK to Canberra means it is increasingly easy to include the oft-missed out Australian capital city in an itinerary.

The iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground is developing a new ‘roof walk’ which will allow visitors not only to walk on the roof but to ride a zipline from the scoreboard down to a landing area.

Tourist board: Tourism Australia’s Aussie Specialist Programme has relaunched with a new digital platform, including an updated website that features interactive training modules, tour suggestions, factsheets, latest industry news updates, destination FAQs and an interactive map.

Where to book it

Cosmos has a 15-day Highlights of Australia tour includes a sunset experience at Uluru (Ayers Rock) with Champagne and canapes. From ancient Aboriginal rock paintings to the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney Harbour the tour covers the best of Australia’s outback and major cities starting from £4,405pp.

A 16-day Tasmania cruise, hike and drive from Travel 2 is priced from £5,389pp. Departing March 10, 2018. The deal includes flights and car rental from day eight of the tour.

G adventures’ 12-day tour from Melbourne to Uluru (Ayers Rock) includes a mix of highlights along the way including driving the Great Ocean Road, wine tasting in Victoria, sleeping underground like the locals in Coober Pedy and exploring the outback, starting from £2099pp.