|MEETING PLACE:||Melbourne, Australia|
|START DATE:||Monday, December 3, 2018|
|TRIP FINISHES:||Sunday morning, December 16|
|RIVER RATING:||Class III -IV|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 13|
|TRIP LENGTH:||16 days (including travel time between the U.S. and Australia)|
|TRIP COST:||$5398 per person based on double occupancy|
Twenty years ago, two OARS guides headed to Australia to explore The Land Down Under. After twelve months and thirteen thousand miles in a 1979 Valiant (without air conditioning) circumnavigating a country about the same size as the Lower 48, they found plenty of adventures and fell in love with The Lucky Country. One particular piece of paradise that has kept them returning year after year is the south east corner and rugged High Country of the Victorian Alps.
On this ‘Off the Beaten Track’ tour we’ve chosen to share our little secret with you. We’ll get up close and personal with the wildlife; kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, wombats and the myriad of incredible birds. We’ll explore the engaging history of the hard-working, hard-living early pioneers and meet the local people and learn how they’ve adapted their lives in one of the most remote environments in Australia. We’ll visit numerous National Parks, share meals with local folk and stay in a variety of lodging including off-grid cabins. We’ll also camp three nights on the Snowy River as we leisurely raft through the Snowy River National Park with just the right spice of whitewater in the Tulloch Ard Gorge. The opportunity for wildlife viewing is endless. For the active folk in our group the trip also has hiking, fishing, bicycling, horse riding and canoeing options – and for those who’ve always wondered what sharing 9 holes with kangaroos might be like, we can arrange a game of golf at a local golf course. It’s definitely a unique itinerary with flexibility and room for spontaneous and unexpected encounters.
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. The order of activities may change depending upon the weather and group interest. The following is an outline of the proposed tour itinerary:
Monday, December 3
Arrive in Melbourne, met on arrival and transferred to overnight hotel. Your flight will most likely arrive in the morning. You’ll have time to relax after your arrival before we officially meet at 4:45pm in the hotel foyer. Here you’ll meet your guides and the other guests. From the hotel we’ll board a famous fleet of historical trams that have become the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant – the first travelling Tramcar Restaurants in the world. This is a delightful and innovative approach to dining as we cruise the city streets of Melbourne, enjoying an Australian seasonal menu and quality Australian wines. Energy dependent we may visit a local ‘Aussie Pub’ before retiring for the night. Note: If you have the time we strongly recommend arriving in Melbourne on December 2 so you can recover from a long flight and be relaxed and ready for the Melbourne walking tour. Overnight lodging on December 2 is not included but can be arranged on your behalf.
Additional walking tour option: After a long flight you may be looking to stretch your legs. For those inclined we’ll meet at 12:30PM for a walking tour of downtown Melbourne with a local guide. The tour will touch on Melbourne’s Laneways, Victoria’s Gold Rush, the Old Melbourne Gaol (jail), Indigenous History, the Yarra River, Federation Square, Outlaw Ned Kelly, Eureka Tower and Chinatown. Approximate tour duration 2 hours.
Hotel: Alto Hotel on Bourke or similar
Tuesday, December 4
We leave Melbourne this morning after breakfast, headed east through outlying suburbs, then farming areas and finally bush landscape. We’ll stop in the tiny town of Rosedale for lunch at a quaint café to sample some famous Australian savory pies and a unique selection of sweets. We’ll continue on to The Waterfront Retreat at Wattle Point, our destination for the next two nights. Our accommodations are located on the edge of Lake Victoria with waterfront and bush views. The area is surrounded by a natural reserve of Banksia, Eucalypt and Wattle, and is home to friendly kangaroos who’ll visit right outside your door. There are also many birds including rosellas, rainbow lorikeets, galahs, cockatoos and honeyeaters, a variety of possum, wombat (a large but harmless rodent the size of a keg of beer), and a resident Echidna (spiny ant eater).
Take a bicycle ride, paddle a canoe or kayak on the lake, or walk around the grounds before we depart later in the afternoon for a boat ride to Ninety Mile Beach, one of the longest, unspoiled un-interrupted beaches in the world (not to mention a marine reserve). Ninety Mile separates the Gippsland Lakes (the largest inland water system in the Southern Hemisphere, and your front yard at Wattle Point) from Bass Strait. Take a stroll along the beach or try your hand at beach fishing while we prepare a welcome barbeque.
Hotel: Waterfront Retreat at Wattle Point
Meals: B, L, D
Wednesday, December 5
This morning we’ll visit the Krowathunkooloong Keeping Place to learn about the life of the Gunaikurnai Aboriginal people. This well-presented museum documents the history of the people before and after white settlement with historical records, and information on the impact of the Gippsland missions and prohibition of cultural practices. The display includes traditional hunting and fighting weapons, bark canoes, baskets, fishing spears, boomerangs and an exhibition of contemporary Gunaikurnai art.
After visiting Krowathunkooloong we head to the waterside village of Metung for lunch. We then board a motor yacht for a cruise on the Gippsland Lakes system passing various islands, and keeping a lookout for the unique semi-fresh water dolphins who frequent the area. The cruise will finish at Raymond Island where we’ll walk through a small village and see koalas whose natural habitat is the gum trees in people’s front yards.
Dinner tonight will be at a local ‘pub’ or we may return to our accommodations at Wattle Point for a delicious seafood buffet.
Hotel: Waterfront Retreat at Wattle Point
Meals: B, L, D
Thursday, December 6
After breakfast we’ll head north east to Buchan Caves, formed when ancient rivers carved a huge cave system from limestone rock. A local guide will lead our exploration through narrow passages that open up into caverns full of spectacular stalactites, stalagmites and other formations. Time and group interest permitting we can also take a scenic bushwalk in the Caves Reserve to see a variety of birds and native animals.
After the caves tour we’ll have lunch at the Buchan pub before we drive to Gelantipy and Karoonda Park, a cattle stud and camp owned by the Sykes family. Take a stroll around our lodging as you’re very likely to see wild koalas (on the ground as well as in trees) – a very unusual occurrence for Australians and tourists alike. If there is time this afternoon our host Paul may offer a tour of the property with insight into why they raise Herford bulls (famous throughout Australia) and combine it with facilities for groups to enjoy rafting and other wilderness adventures. Before dinner we’ll pack our gear in preparation for the rafting trip. Anything we don’t need on the river will stay in our rooms at Karoonda Park while we are rafting.
Hotel: Karoonda Park (The Lodge House has multiple rooms and shared bathrooms)
Meals: B, L, D
Friday, December 7
After breakfast we’ll head to the launch site for our adventure down the Snowy River through Snowy River National Park. There are two sections for rafting on the Snowy River – the upper and lower – both are beautiful. Which section we raft will be completely dependent on the weather, river level and access to the launch and take-out sites. The access points are critical involving 4WD tracks that can become impassible if the area receives unexpected rain. The upper section is mostly class II whitewater with a couple of class III rapids while the lower section has class III.
The Snowy is an extremely remote mountain river which has earned the reputation of being a “Classic”. Rafting has not been possible for many years since a Hydro-electric scheme was built between 1949 and 1974 – still recognized as a civil engineering wonder of the modern world, but left no water for the Snowy. After recent successful environmental battles, water releases have been increased to allow rafting through the incredibly beautiful gorge and river system.
Just reaching the put-in is an adventure. The last part of the shuttle is on rough dirt road to the faraway, huge and unlikely historic wooden McKillop’s Bridge. The rest of today we’ll run mostly flat water with some class 2-3 rapids, surrounded by spectacularly deep Australian mountain bushland. Water temperatures are dependent on flow, but are typically not too cold and very swimmable (there are no crocodiles in this area just in case the thought crossed your mind). Lots of opportunity to watch for wildlife and birdlife, water dragons and goannas (lizards) and the shy platypus. You’ll also find plenty of unusual plants which we’ll help identify.
Camping along the river corridor
Meals: B, L, D
Saturday, December 8
We continue rafting, camping tonight at another pristine beach with deep swimming and fishing holes which give you the opportunity to soak in what will probably be one of the few times in your life you’ve felt extremely remote from the rest of humanity, whilst immersed in a captivatingly exotic world. Downriver the occasional glimpse of the fringes of farmland do not take away from this feeling, as it’s pretty clearly the end of the line, even for the farmers! If you’ve been to Katmandu, London or even Peru, although they’re wonderful places to visit, you never really get that longed-for feeling of being one of the only ones that ever arrived there. Here, you will in spades!
Camping along the river corridor
Meals: B, L, D
Sunday, December 9
At the take out (which will depend on water level and access to the river which is also weather dependent) we’ll load up and return to Gelantipy and Karoonda Park. We’ll stay at the Lodge House again as the perfect end to our rafting adventure. We’re sure everyone will welcome a real shower and toilet after a couple of nights of camping out.
Hotel: Karoonda Park (The Lodge House has multiple rooms and shared bathrooms)
Meals: B, L, D
Monday, December 10
After breakfast we’ll head back through Buchan and then north through the tiny towns of Bruthen, Ensay and Swifts Creek before arriving in Tambo Valley. We’ll stop for lunch at the Pressing Shed and Nullamunjie Olive Groves. Here we meet our hostess Annie, who started planting olives to support her father’s sheep and cattle grazing. Now the award winning Nullamunjie is a true single estate olive oil – grown, pressed and bottled on sitesprang up after gold was discovered in 1851. Pioneering “High Country Cattlemen” and Chinese miners have all left their mark across the region. Once totaling a few thousand inhabitants, Omeo now boasts a population of some 300 people and a strong historical society who lovingly maintain a small historical park and ‘downtown’ made up of five heritage listed buildings. We’ll also visit Terry Petersen’s gallery (a talented artist inspired by the wondrous and unique landscape) and his private museum where mountain art and history combine. We continue to our home turf: Anglers Rest which is a winding 30 minute drive through beautiful mountain country with views of the Mitta Mitta River.
Anglers Rest will be our base for the next 3 nights and 2 full days. It is not a town as such, but an area where 3 rivers converge: The Mitta Mitta, the Cobungra and the Bundara. Area population: possibly 20 if everyone is home at once! The Blue Duck Inn is the ‘hub’ of Anglers Rest, situated on the banks of the Cobungra River (the name comes from a gold mining lease that produced no gold). It also happens to be the only commercial establishment within 30 miles and services the area with cabins, meals and liquid refreshments. It is the meeting place for emergencies and celebrations alike. Here we’ll meet more local folk and explore the area with various activities available.
Hotel: Blue Duck Inn Hotel and Bundara Cabins
Meals, B, L, D
Tuesday and Wednesday, December 11 & 12
Over the next two days there will be opportunities for activities as you choose – there will also be some ‘down time’ should you wish to just sit by the river and listen and look at the bird life and local animals:
- Hiking – there are many trails available ranging from 20 minutes to multiple hours. Some are easy to navigate on your own, mostly they will be guided walks.
- Four wheel drive to visit one of the few remaining historic cattlemen’s huts – the High Country Cattleman is iconic for his horsemanship, bushcraft skills and resourcefulness. A number of huts were built throughout the high country by the cattlemen for storage and to shelter while driving their cattle from one mountain area to another. Most were lost in the ’03 bushfires.
- Horse riding (this is an additional cost and will depend on the length of the ride)
- Fishing – try your hand at trout fishing with a local fisherman (not to mention a real character) who has been fishing in the area for more than 40 years. (4 hours included – extra hours may incur an additional cost)
- Visit Mittagundi – a local outdoor education centre which teaches kids about animal husbandry, bushcraft and truly living off the grid old-style (there are no lights here except candles …)
- Off the grid tour to see our locally built home with micro-hydro and solar power, composting toilets, grey water system and solar/woodstove hot water supply.
- Wombat watch – join one of your guides for an evening venture to find wombats on the hunt for their dinner (roots and grass).
Dinner one night will be at a local’s home with a presentation about the history of fire in Australia and how the local people prepare and deal with the annual threat of massive bushfires. Another night will be at Payne’s Hut to meet Tess and Graham who have pioneered their own incredible piece of mountain land into a sanctuary of lush plants and gourmet food.
Lodging: Blue Duck Inn Hotel and Bundara Cabins
Meals: B, L, D
Thursday, December 13
After breakfast we leave Anglers Rest and head up into what is truly known as the ‘high country’ of Australia (the highest peak in the land “Down Under” is Mt. Kosciusko at 7,000 feet). This is also the Alpine National Park, Victoria’s largest National Park covering 646,000 hectares (2.5 million acres) supporting over 1100 native plant species of which 12 are endemic to the park and 38 of national significance. The high country is steeped in history from the Aboriginal Traditional Owners of Victoria (the Bidawai, Dhudhuroa, Gunaikurnai, Jaithmathang, Taungurong and Nindi-Ngudjam Ngarigu Monero tribes), the miners of the 1850’s gold rush and the high country cattlemen. Closed from May through October, this is the best road to see the vast and rugged views. Here we cross Australia’s Great Alpine Walking Track which stretches through 2 states. Take a stroll through the magnificent snow gums (alpine eucalypts), hike to Mt Cope, and visit one of the last of the old cattlemens’s huts; the National Trust classified Wallace Hut which was built in 1889 – you might even see a wild brumby (a.k.a. mustang).
After travelling through alpine meadows, we’ll head over the top of the mountains down to Mount Beauty, a small town in the impressive Kiewa River Valley. The fertile river flats and four distinct seasons make this among the most agriculturally rich areas of Australia. Here we will visit “Arby’s Place”; our driver and friend Arby’s wonderful eclectic home, to enjoy lunch. We then continue through the Kiewa to the picturesque town of Bright. Here we can stroll through the small mountain town for shopping, enjoy the walking path along the Ovens River, or enjoy a treat at the local bakery. Tonight we may get to enjoy some local music, and sample some local market cuisine including Bright’s locally brewed beer!
Lodging: Bright Motor Inn
Meals: B, L, D
Friday, December 14
From Mt Beauty we head through the hills and through the town of Bright, a beautiful town with amazing gardens and a small shopping area. Time permitting we’ll hike along the ‘river walk’. From there we head to Mount Buffalo National Park with its granite cliffs and rocky outcrops rising up from the Ovens River Valley below. Mt Buffalo is a nature lover’s paradise offering walking tracks, waterfalls, wildflowers, forests of snow gums, mossy plains and abundant wildlife. Here we are likely to see Peregrine Falcons and Superb Lyrebirds; the amazing mimics of the avian world distinguished by their elaborate tails.
Later this afternoon we’ll head to Gapsted Winery for a tour and lunch. This is the dream child of seven great friends who are also wine professionals. Their extensive experience in the industry and their passion for the King and Alpine Valleys together with a premium brand of cool climate red and white wines are at the heart of this winery’s success. The vineyard produces award winning wines such as Pinot Gris, Prosecco, Fiano and other unusual varieties. The unique combination of having winemakers and growers as owners allows them to have total control over the process from growing the fruit, right through to the making and marketing of their wine.
Our destination is the historic town of Beechworth, a 20 minute drive from Gapsted where we’ll have time to explore before dinner at a local pub.
Lodging: Armour Motor Inn (or similar)
Meals: B, L, D
Saturday, December 15
Apart from the history and lovely aspect of the town, a trip to Beechworth means a visit to the popular bakery, where we suggest you have breakfast. We have not included breakfast today so that you have the option to choose from the huge variety of baked goods, many of which are unique to Australia. There is so much to choose from that Australians travel from far and wide for both savory and sweet treats. A historic walking tour is available immediately after breakfast or you may prefer to browse around the local shops before we continue on to Milawa’s Cheese Factory for lunch. Here we can learn about the delicious Australian farmhouse cheeses inspired by European methods. All the cheeses are still lovingly handmade, preservative free using non-animal rennet, made on site.
From Milawa we head back to Melbourne via Glen Rowen. Glen Rowen is a quiet little hamlet originally used as a horse-coach staging point. The infamous police siege in 1880 of Australia’s notorious bushranger Ned Kelly and his gang put the town on the map. We’ll continue on to Melbourne arriving later this afternoon. Check into our hotel and meet for a farewell dinner.
Lodging: Alto Hotel on Bourke (or similar)
Meals: L, D
Sunday, December 16
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your outgoing flight.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled, professional guide service
- 11 nights hotel/bungalow/cabin lodging (based on double occupancy)
- 2 nights catered camping
- All rafting and camping equipment for the Snowy River rafting trip
- All meals as listed on the itinerary (B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner) which is basically all meals starting with dinner on December 5 through breakfast on December 18 except for one breakfast
- All activities as listed on the itinerary (except horse riding which is optional and an additional cost)
- All transfers commencing with arrival in Melbourne on December 3 through departure from Melbourne on December 16
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Melbourne
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Single supplement
- Insurance of any kind, including travel protection
- Alcoholic beverages (except for the first night tram tour/dinner which has drinks included)
- Items of personal nature (an equipment list is provided below)
Trip cost: $5398 per person, based on double occupancy
Single supplement: guaranteed sole use hotel room, additional $900
Please request a ‘willing to share’ if you are interested, as we often have solo travelers on our trips who are also willing to share.
Deposit : $1000 per person to confirm
2nd deposit: $1000 due June 7, 2018
Final payment: Balance due September 4, 2018
TRIP PREPARATION CHECK LIST
- Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: For your protection, we require that all participants have emergency medical evacuation coverage. If you don’t have proof of coverage at the start of the trip, you cannot take part in the expedition. We recommend you protect yourself, your belongings, and your vacation with the purchase of a short-term Travel Protection Plan. A Travel Protection Plan can help cover your non-refundable payments should you have to cancel your trip due to a covered illness or injury. Because we begin working to prepare for your trip upon receipt of your deposit, and may be turning other prospective guests away while holding space for you, there are cancellation fees that will apply regardless of why or when you might need to cancel. The cost for the optional Travel Protection is listed on your trip invoice. All Plan Benefits are administered by Trip Mate, Inc. (in CA & UT, dba Trip Mate Insurance Agency). For a complete description of Trip Mate’s Plan online go to: http://www.tripmate.com/wpf431X or call Trip Mate at 800-888-7292 (reference Plan #F431X). Please Note: Purchase this Plan within 14 days of the date we receive your initial deposit and the exclusion for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions will be waived, provided you are not disabled from travel at the time the plan is purchased.
- Trip Forms: Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation e-mail for the link to the online forms. If you prefer to fill out paper forms, please let us know right away. If you are reserving within 90 days of departure, your forms must be completed immediately to ensure we can properly plan for your trip.
- Reserve flights: Confirm travel arrangements to and from Melbourne.
- Whitewater Orientation: To increase your safety, we expect everyone to watch our 23-minute Whitewater Orientation video before joining us. Check out the 5-minute animated CROA Safety Video on the same webpage. Watch at http://www.oars.com/videos/oars-whitewater-orientation or call 800-346-6277 to request a free DVD. Please don’t leave home without watching.
- Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitation you may have as soon as possible. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip.
- Payments: A deposit of $1000 per person is required to confirm your space. A second deposit of $1000 is due June 7. Final payment is due September 4. Please let us know if you would like us to automatically charge your credit card on file when the second and final payment is due.
What we need from you
Here’s a quick check list of important items we need back from you:
- A copy of your air itinerary
- A copy of your passport
- A copy of your Australian Visa
- Your signed Risk/Release form
- Your completed Guest Registration Form
- Your second and final payments (due June 4 and September 4)
Documents and final payments are due no later than 90 days prior to the trip departure (September 4)
Meeting Place & Time
Melbourne, December 3
You should plan to arrive in Melbourne by late morning on December 3 (most flights will depart the west coast of the U.S. on the evening of December 1 crossing the international dateline, arriving Melbourne on the morning of December 3). After claiming your luggage, you will be met by an OARS representative and transferred to your hotel which is located in the downtown area and is within easy walking distance of an abundance of cafes, restaurants and shops. If you arrive in Melbourne after 11:00AM on December 3 you will need to take the Skybus shuttle from the Melbourne airport to the Southern Cross train station. The hotel is across the road and around the corner. OARS will reimburse you for the Skybus transfer if you arrive later than 11:00AM on December 3.
We’ll meet in the hotel lobby at 12:30PM for the walking tour or 4:45PM for our tram tour and dinner. If you aren’t tired from your international flight, we’d love you to join us at 12:30PM for the walking tour of downtown Melbourne. Note: If you have the time we really recommend arriving in Melbourne on December 2 to take advantage of the walking tour of Melbourne on December 3. If you arrive in Melbourne at 10:00AM or later on December 3 it is unlikely you will be able to join the walking tour due to clearing immigration, collecting baggage and the distance from the Melbourne Airport to our hotel.
Getting to Australia
United, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand all offer flights to Australia, along with Australia’s flagship carrier, Qantas. There are also other airlines such as Japan Airlines, China Air and Singapore Airlines that have flights into Melbourne. You will find most flights depart the U.S. on the evening of December 1, crossing the international dateline before arriving in Melbourne on the morning of December 3.
Please let Carrie or Emily know if you need assistance with flight arrangements.
Your Air Itinerary
Once you or your travel agent have made your airline reservations, please send us a copy of your air itinerary at least 60 days before departure. We need this information so that we can arrange to meet you at the airport and also transfer you back to the airport at the end of the trip.
After Your Trip / Departing Australia
Your trip finishes in Melbourne on the evening of December 15 where we have a farewell dinner planned. A transfer from your hotel to the Melbourne airport on December 16 is included (flights departing from Melbourne the morning of December 16 will arrive on the west coast U.S.A. on the morning/same day of December 16).
Australia’s Tourist Refund Scheme
The Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) allows you to claim a refund of the goods and services tax (GST) and wine equalisation tax (WET) that you pay on certain goods purchased in Australia.
The Tourist Refund Scheme office is operated by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and is located on the Departures Level just after Customs within the main MEL Airport Tax & Duty Free store.
TRS is open to all overseas visitors and Australian residents, except for operating air crew.
To claim a refund you must:
- spend $300 or more (including GST) in a single business
- purchase goods no more than 60 days before departing Australia
- wear or carry the goods on board as hand luggage (unless they are liquids, gels or aerosols or oversized or bulky goods which the airline require to be checked in) and present them along with your tax invoice, passport and international boarding pass to the TRS facility
- have paid for the goods yourself
- have an original tax invoice for the goods
Claims are only available up to 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure of your flight. To make sure you have enough time to make your TRS claim, you should complete your departure immigration clearance at least 90 minutes before the scheduled departure time of your flight.
The airport departure tax in Australia is $38 per person; however the tax is usually included in the price of airline tickets and is not collected at the airport. Check your airline ticket to ensure the departure tax has already been prepaid. Airport taxes are subject to change without notice.
Essential Travel Documents
If you don’t have a passport, apply for one immediately because the process can be lengthy. If you do have a passport, find it and check the expiration date to see that it is valid for at least 6 months from your planned entry into Australia. Also check your passport for blank pages. If you do not have at least two blank pages in your passport, we recommend that you apply to have extra pages added.
Do not pack your passport in your checked luggage. You will need it for immigration and customs officials.
If you are a US or Canadian citizen, you need to obtain a visa prior to your arrival in Australia. Visas cannot be obtained upon arrival at the airport. For more detailed information visit the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship website. Full details for Visa requirements, an online application and complete instructions can be found at: https://www.eta.immi.gov.au/ETAS3. Citizens of countries other than the US and Canada should check with the consulate of Australia for entry requirements.
We suggest you make copies of the photo page of your passport and of your Australian visa and carry them separately from your passport in case they are lost or stolen. Spare passport photos will also expedite this process. It is also a good idea to leave a copy of your passport and Australian visa with your emergency contact at home. If your documents are lost or stolen, a photocopy will help the local US consulate speed up authorization for replacement.
Mandatory Evacuation Insurance
We require that you purchase emergency medical evacuation insurance to participate in this expedition. Call or visit Travel Insurance Services at 800-937-1387 for inexpensive options that cover this requirement. We strongly recommend that you protect yourself, your belongings, and your vacation through the purchase of a travel protection plan. For those unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we offer an optional Travel Protection Plan from Trip Mate, Inc. (in CA & UT, dba Trip Mate Insurance Agency) that can help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings. Should you have to cancel your trip due to illness or injury – your own or that of an immediate family member – non-refundable payments may be covered by a travel protection plan (see Cancellations and Refunds). For a complete description of Trip Mate’s plan online go
to: http://www.tripmate.com/wpf431X or call Trip Mate at 800-888-7292 (reference Plan #F431X). Please Note: Purchase this plan within 14 days of the date we receive your initial deposit and the exclusion for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions will be waived, provided you are not disabled from travel at the time the plan is purchased.
Preparing For Your Trip
Physical Requirements & Preparation
Our primary goal is for you to have an enjoyable experience. The nature of the trip is such that it involves some physical exertion and potential exposure to the elements, including heat, sun, wind and rain. We have experience accommodating people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or health conditions. Please consult your doctor if you have medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure.
We highly recommend that you engage in regular exercise prior to departure to ensure preparedness. No gym membership required! Simple exercises like push-ups, sit-ups and squats go a long way to improving core fitness. Cardiac training is also easy to accomplish without expensive equipment. Take 30-40 minutes two to three times a week and go for a brisk walk, easy jog or bike ride around town. If you have access to a pool, lake or the ocean, swimming is an ideal choice for cardiac exercise. Getting in shape will certainly add to your enjoyment of the trip.
It’s important that you carry any necessary medications, along with a printed prescription for each one. Do not pack them in your checked baggage in case of a baggage delay or loss. Australia has a very sophisticated medical system in case of serious medical problems.
Although we do not require any immunizations to participate on the Australia adventure, it is important that you be up-to-date on standard immunizations and that you check with your physician prior to departure. The CDC also is a good resource for recommendations pertaining to international travel immunizations. (www.cdc.gov)
The official currency in Australia is the Australian Dollar (AUD). Money can be exchanged at the airport, at Money Exchange Offices or at banks. ATMs are also widely available. Travelers’ Checks are another option, however they can sometimes be awkward to exchange and may involve additional fees. As of February 1, 2018 the exchange rate is 1 USD = 1.25 Australian.
All major credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants and stores. Note: some establishments charge a service fee for credit card payments. Also your credit card company may also have a fee for international credit card charges.
Guests often ask whether gratuities are appropriate, and in what amount. Australian service is often more casual than in many other countries, even in expensive restaurants and hotels. In keeping with Australia’s relaxed national character, tipping is not usually expected, and historically has not been normal practice—basic wage rates and overtime payments, in the hospitality industry, have generally been protected. There are no mandatory gratuities or built in restaurant service charges (although a 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be included in the total figure on your bill for meals not included in the itinerary).
Tipping in hotels and other service industries is still somewhat uncommon. In bars and for taxi service (should you need a cab outside of the itinerary arrangements), tipping is also not expected, although many people simply leave some of their coin change on the bar after picking up their drink, or tell the taxi driver to keep the change.
If you feel your tour guide/s have provided a very special trip for you, a gratuity may be left with the trip leader who will have tipped drivers, local guides and hotel employees along the way as he/she thought applicable. Entirely discretionary, a suggestion of between $250-$500 is a general tipping guideline for this trip.
This tour has little or no ‘retail therapy’ although there may be a couple of opportunities at local markets and small towns. We recommend shopping in Melbourne before or after the tour if you are looking for gifts or Australiana merchandise.
Weather & Climate
In December, temperatures should be warm and skies usually clear. However, Victoria is known to have all 4 seasons’ weather in one day. As a general guideline, daytime temperatures range between 75°F and 90°F. And lows typically average around 70°F. We should be prepared for sun and a possibility of showers and cooler weather especially when we are in the mountains. Please review the recommended packing list.
Alcohol is not included in the trip cost (except for the tram tour/dinner which includes drinks) and is available for purchase at hotel bars, restaurants and in designated liquor stores. It is not available at local supermarkets. Try some of Australia’s beers and award winning wines during your visit.
The electrical current in Australia is 240/250 volts, AC 50Hz. The Australian three pin power outlet is different from that in North America so you will need an adapter socket. If your appliances are not 240/250 volts you will need a voltage converter. Universal outlets for 240V or 11 OV appliances are usually found in leading hotels (hotels will have hairdryers in the bathrooms).
We request that you do not smoke in vehicles, at meals or in group situations. We have asked our guides, drivers, and staff who smoke to follow the same consideration. If a smoker and a non-smoker are sharing a hotel room, we ask that the smoker not smoke in the room.
If you have someone that needs to contact you about an emergency at home, they should call our office (800-346-6277). For your family at home you should define for them what you consider an emergency and provide them with instructions to call our office in the event one occurs during your vacation.
Should your family wish to reach you directly at one of the hotels and are calling from outside of Australia, they will need to dial the international sequence of: 011-61- then the number. Delete the zero if there is one in front of the number they are dialing.
Internet services are available at some of our hotels and in internet cafes. We will be ‘off the beaten track’ in the majority of areas however (especially on the rafting trip) where internet services are not available. Some of these areas also will not have cell service.
If you are planning on bringing your cell or smart phone, please check with your carrier regarding international service and charges. If you plan on purchasing an Australian sim card while you are here we would recommend Telstra as having the most coverage during our tour.
Fax machines and telephones are available at the hotels. Keep in mind, however, that telephone calls and faxes can be very expensive.
Melbourne, Australia is 11 hours ahead of GMT.
Location Day Time – Standard Time
Melbourne, Australia Monday 12:00 PM
US – Pacific Standard Sunday 5:00 PM
US – Mountain Standard Sunday 6:00 PM
US – Central Standard Sunday 7:00 PM
US – Eastern Standard Sunday 8:00 PM
Laundry service is available at some hotels however it may not be time effective to take advantage of the service due to our schedule. It is anticipated there will be a ‘do your own’ or a laundry service when we are at Anglers Rest on day 8-9. We recommend packing synthetic fabrics which are usually easier to wash and dry quickly.
The hotels/lodges selected for this tour have been chosen for their location, design, availability and hospitality. There are two properties (one night each) that do not have private bathrooms. We believe you will enjoy the ambiance of the properties and their place in this unique itinerary.
Melbourne, December 3 and December 15
The Alto on Bourke
636 Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000
Phone: (03) 8608-5500
The Alto is a multi-award winning boutique apartment hotel and is one of the few environmentally friendly rated hotels in downtown Melbourne. This hotel brings together classic architecture of the late 19th century and a contemporary, stylish interior. There is a choice of one or two beds with private bathroom. Wi-Fi is available.
Waterfront Retreat at Wattle Point, December 4 and 5
200 Wattle Point Road, Forge Creek, Victoria 3875
Phone: (03) 51577517
The Waterfront Retreat is located right on the shores of Lake Victoria and is surrounded by natural the Australian ‘bush’. The 1 bedroom self- contained lodges are private with private bathrooms and water views.
Snowy River rafting/camping trip, December 8 and 9
2 nights wilderness camping with all camping equipment (tent, sleeping bag/pad) and waterproof bags included. There will be a simple, portable toilet. There are no showers at the wilderness campsites however we will supply a number of solar showers and bathing is available in the clear fresh water.
Karoonda Park, December 7 & 10
3855 Gelantipy Road, Gelantipy, Victoria, 3885
Phone: (03) 51550220
Our stay at Karoonda Park for one night is in the ‘lodge house’ which has a large kitchen, dining and living area. The bathrooms are shared (multiple showers and toilets in a ladies bathroom, and multiple showers and toilets in a men’s bathroom). Some bedrooms have a double bed and others twins. This is a true ‘family style’ accommodation. After 4 days and 3 nights on the river we will no doubt have melded into a family group.
Anglers Rest, December 10, 11 and 12
Blue Duck Inn Hotel and Bundara Cabins
Blue Duck Inn: (03) 51597220
Bundara Cabins: (03) 51597200
As this is a very remote area with limited accommodations we will be utilizing both the Blue Duck Inn and Bundara Cabins. Both have regular flush toilets and showers however they have limited electricity (no hairdryers at these locations). It’s possible there will be no power for a period of time late at night to early morning. There is a choice of double/queen or separate beds. Both places have river views.
Bright, December, 13
Bright Motor Inn
1-5 Delany Ave, Bright VIC 3741
Phone: (03) 5750 1433
Nestled amongst 100-year-old trees, the Bright Motor Inn backs onto the Ovens River, and within easy walking distance to restaurants, street cafes, the Bright Brewery, specialty stores and the heart of the town.
Beechworth, December 14
Armour Motor Inn
1 Camp St, Beechworth VIC 3747
Phone: (03) 5728-1466
The Armour Motor Inn, situated in a secluded garden setting in the heart of the historic Beechworth village, offer rooms with a choice of queen bed or twins with private bathrooms and Wi-Fi.
Ground transportation on this trip will include a comfortable van, local 4WD vehicles and sightseeing water taxis.
We need to know if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions that should be considered in planning the trip. Please let us know in advance on your registration form.
The Happy Isles of Oceania, Paul Theroux, published in 1992.
Lonely Planet East Coast Australia (Regional Travel Guide) by Regis St Louis
In a Sunburned Country, Bill Bryson
Morgan’s Run, Colleen McCullough
Birds of Australia, Ken Simpson & Nicolas Day (there are also other Field Guides to Bird of Australia)
Death of a River Guide, Richard Flanagan
Bradt Australian Wildlife, Stella Martin
Culture Smart! Australia, Barry Penney
Rabbit Proof Fence, Doris Pilkington
Fatal Shore, Robert Hughes (a prize winning scholarly, brilliantly entertaining narrative that has given its true history to Australia narrative and description of the origin of Australia)
Additional reading and reference:
You may also enjoy:
Poems and short stories by Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson (in particular The Drover’s Wife, Waltzing Matilda and The Man From Snowy River)
You may also like to download an app to your Smartphone for Australian Birds and Mammals
Packing for Your Trip
It’s always easier to travel light! Bring only what you need, and you will have less to haul around the airports and hotels. Airlines have very strict luggage size and weight restrictions so check with your airline before packing to avoid paying expensive excess baggage charges.
Throughout our tour dress is informal and relaxed on most occasions. Smart casual clothes are acceptable almost universally, and you may want to pack a light sweater for evening wear and early morning hours. A set of polypropolene/capilene/smart wool (top and bottom) are recommended as we will be in the mountains where even in summer it can cool down. In general, pack comfortable, light clothing that can be used in layers to warm up or peel off according to climate conditions. Pack walking shoes, hats – a wide brim for sun protection or a baseball cap which can also fit under a helmet on the rafting trip. Remember swimwear and sunglasses. Also remember to minimize your sun exposure with long sleeved shirts and bring a good sunscreen, or buy one locally. Please note: If you buy new shoes or sandals for the trip, make sure you break them in first!
Suggested Packing List
Equipment and Personal Items:
- Daypack: for general sightseeing and hiking. It should be large enough to carry a rain jacket, a snack, camera and water bottle
- Water bottle
- Camera and accessories
- Sunglasses (we recommend a securing strap)
- Personal toiletries
- Sunscreen and lip protections: SPF 30 or higher
- Moisturizing lotion or cream
- Insect repellent
- Personal mini first aid kit (Band-aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen)
- Spare pair of glasses and/or contacts
- Medications, if needed (please list current medications on your registration form)
- Comfortable traveling/walking/light weight hiking shoes for general sightseeing and hiking
- River sandals or lace up shoes that can get wet for the rafting trip and beach walking.
- Casual shirts/pants/skirts for hotel evenings
- Casual shirts/pants/shorts/skirts for daytime touring
- Shade hat or visor
- Light weight sweater or fleece jacket and pants
- Socks and underwear
- Rain jacket and rain pants (both may be needed on the rafting trip in the splashy rapids)
- Headlamp or flashlight
- Top and bottom capilene, polypropolene, smart wool or synthetic underwear for layering when/if needed
- Binoculars: small
- Trekking poles
Bugs & Mosquitoes
It is unlikely we will encounter any biting insects although there may be some at the beach area of Wattle Point. If you are susceptible to mosquitoes, sandflies or no-seeums, you may want to come prepared with insect repellent. Australia does have a reputation for non- biting flies which can be annoying. Some previous guests appreciated having a head net in some areas. These are readily purchased on arrival at an outdoor store or let Carrie know in advance to purchase one on your behalf.
Shop for the latest in top-quality gear for your trip: www.oars.com/OARStore
Terms & Conditions
Reservations and Deposits
- A $1000/person deposit is required to confirm your reservation. A second deposit of $1000/person is due June 7, 2018. The balance is due September 4, 2018).
Cancellations and Refunds
- If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, notify us as soon as possible.
- After deposit, $500 per person up to June 4, 2017 when the 2nd deposit is due $1000 cancellation fee after June 4 up to September 4 when the final payment is due.
- No refund September 4 to departure. We regret that we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies. For this reason, we strongly urge our participants to investigate trip cancellation insurance (see Insurance).
- Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying this trip. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
- We require that you purchase emergency medical evacuation insurance to participate in this expedition. Call or visit Travel Insurance Services at 800-937-1387 for inexpensive options that cover this requirement. We also strongly recommend that
you protect yourself, your belongings, and your vacation through the purchase of a travel protection plan. For those unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we offer an optional Travel Protection Plan from Trip Mate, Inc. (in CA & UT, dba Trip Mate Insurance Agency) that can help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings. Should you have to cancel your trip due to illness or injury – your own or that of an immediate family member – non-refundable payments may be covered by a travel protection plan (see Cancellations and Refunds). For a complete description of Trip Mate’s plan online go to: http://www.tripmate.com/wpf431X or call Trip Mate at 800-888-7292 (reference Plan #F431X). Please Note: Purchase this Plan within 14 days of the date we receive your initial deposit and the exclusion for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions will be waived, provided you are not disabled from travel at the time the plan is purchased.
- Everyone is required to sign a standard liability release before the trip, acknowledging awareness that some risks are associated with the trip. Safety is of the utmost concern on our trips. However, due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with Travel Outdoors cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
- O.A.R.S. International, Inc., and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services, and assume no responsibility however caused for injury, loss or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays and expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which it has no control. Reasonable changes in itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and wellbeing of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings and other factors. There is risk in whitewater rafting, particularly during high-water and high-altitude conditions. Rafts and kayaks do capsize. You could be swept overboard. Your guide will make every attempt to assist, but you must be strong and agile enough to “self-help” and “float-it-out” without further endangering yourself or others. We reserve the right not to accept passengers weighing more than 260 pounds or with a waist/chest size exceeding 56 inches. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips. We are experienced at accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. We need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices subject to change without notice.
- Snowy River Expeditions is a travel partner of O.A.R.S. International, Inc., and will provide services including transportation and equipment on this trip.