The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - Travel




Reef encounter: an Australian cruise offers plenty of chances to explore the ocean

Crossing different climates and three time zones, it requires dedication and a lot of planning to see Australia in one trip. It took explorer Matthew Flinders years to navigate the coastline at the beginning of the 1800s; now a new cruise itinerary promises to do it in 32 days. Around 85 per cent of the country’s population live within 30 miles of the sea, making it easy to access most urban centres by ship.

Starting in Sydney, slip into laidback life down under by strolling along breezy beaches and marvelling at the larger-than-life architectu­ral wonder of Sydney Opera House. Further north, sunshine cities Brisbane and Cairns serve as gateways to the Great Barrier Reef, a swirl of glinting sandbanks, remote islands and colourful fish. Drop into the idyllic Whitsunday Islands for a sailing excursion on a two-masted schooner built in 1902 and a chance to observe baby koalas and crocs at Bredl’s Wild Farm.

Encounter another lesser-known reef system along the west’s Coral Coast by taking a flying safari above the 122 remote Abrolhos Islands. A habitat for tammar wallabies and lesser noddy birds, this Galapagos of the Indian Ocean was also the final resting place of ill-fated 17th-century Dutch sailing vessel the Batavia, passing through Australian waters long before Flinders set sail. You’ll be pleased to know a safer passage is guaranteed on the 930-passenger Viking Venus.

A 32-day sailing with Viking (0800 319 66 60; costs from £13,040pp, including all meals, an excursion in each port of call and flights. Departs January 20, 2025

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