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Princess Cruise’s 17 Night Northern and Western Australia Explorer Cruise departs Sydney, grazes the upper most northern quarters of Australia, darts up to Papua New Guinea and slinks down the western coast from Broome into Fremantle.
Here are a few ideas to tickle your fancy while you’re docked at six of the most prominent ports.
Your cruise departs from Sydney at 4pm, so you may only have the morning for some city exploration.
When the sun shines in Sydney it really is a dazzler, especially down by Circular Quay, which is also conveniently where your cruise departs. Enjoy a drink outside The Opera House, where a handful of upscale restaurants flank the water, affording wide-spanning views of the harbour and its iconic bridge. If you’ve arrived a few days earlier, organise a tour to see the world-famous Bondi Beach. Relax at a laid-back beach café such as ‘Bondi Picnic’ which is typically ‘Bondi’ - chilled, trendy and arguably the hangout that serves the best coffee in the burb. As for the food menu, well they’ve replaced the bread in French toast with buttery, flaky croissant pastry. Need we say more?
Arrive 7am & depart 5pm
You’re now in an Aussie state where you can hold koalas so take full advantage of this and head to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Just 12km from Brisbane city, there’s a boat that leaves from downtown providing roundtrip transportation to and from. Boasting over 130 koalas, as well as kangaroos, Tasmanian devils and flying foxes, visitors are encouraged to interact with all the wildlife. By early afternoon, head back to Brisbane for a few solid hours of CBD shopping, or head to Stanley Street Plaza (South Bank) and seek out Nitrogenie. This ice-cream shop uses liquid nitrogen to craft incredible ice-cream. Basically, with nitrogen, the cream freezes far too fast for ice crystals to form, hence the unbelievably smooth texture. Peckish still? South Bank also houses a long strip of restaurants to suit every food hankering, most of which boast beautiful views of the river.
Yorkey's Knob, Cairns
Arrive 7am & depart 5pm
A sleepy beach suburb 13 kilometres north of Cairns, Yorkey's Knob is peaceful and serene, with a long stretch of golden beach and a distinct lack of beach-goers. Once docked, join an organised tour to Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, just a 40-minute drive from the terminal. Designed around cruise ship itineraries, you’ll have the opportunity to visit this fascinating crocodile park with the full reassurance that you’ll be dropped back at port before departure. As well as crocs, the park has koalas to cuddle, pythons to hold and an all-day agenda of snake shows, croc shows and boat tours through croc ‘infested’ waters. Departure time from Hartley's Crocodile Farm depends entirely on your ship’s departure so you can enjoy an incredible stress-free excursion.
Arrive 1pm & depart 8pm
Metres away from where your cruise docks, Darwin Waterfront is a contemporary city wharf framed by sloping lawns, green picnic areas and a purpose-built wave pool. It’s lush, modern and aesthetically beautiful, with multiple dining venues to keep you replenished from morning until midnight. For the very best harbour views, Wharf One Food & Wine is an upmarket waterside restaurant specialising in wood grilled cuisine and fresh, locally sought produce. Pull up a pew outside and soak up the waterfront’s infectious atmosphere; sip on a refreshing cocktail and devour a hearty plate of tender lamb shank.
Arrive 8am & depart 6pm
Broome is the resort town in western Australia’s Kimberley region, famed for its beaches, pearls and dinosaurs. Cable Beach is the most talked about beach in the area, boasting 22km of glorious white sand and from May to October, one of the safest spots for a swim. After your dip, spend a few hours in the Chinatown district. As a former pearling port, Broome is replete with restored pearl luggers and impressive pearl showrooms, all found in Chinatown. Admire the eclectic mix of Asian and colonial architecture before stopping at one of the many Asian restaurants. Come afternoon, you can drive five minutes out of Broome to Gantheaume Point, where at low tide you can see dinosaur footprints more than 130 million years old. Even at high tide, the deep red cliffs that frame a dramatically turquoise Indian Ocean are spectacular.
In Fremantle, you’ll disembark and transfer to Perth airport, but if you’re extending your stay in Perth, a full day exploring historic Fremantle is well worth your time. Just a 30-minute drive from Perth’s CBD, switch your time between the coastal town’s sights and numerous cups of Joe along ‘Cappuccino Strip’. If you’re in need of something stronger, the Little Creatures Brewery is always popular; grab a Pale Ale and soak up the ambience in the brewery's sun-baked backyard. Fremantle Prison is the largest and most intact convict built prison in Australia, making it one of the most fascinating sites to visit in the country. Explore the centuries-old prison areas and eerie solitary confinement cells, or embark on a 2.5 hour tunnel tour with an engaging and informative tour guide. They’ll bring the stories and folklores of these prisoner-built tunnels alive. Found 20 metres beneath Fremantle prison, the labyrinth of tunnels aren’t for the faint hearted, you’ll wade in shallow waters and glide through the spookily silent tunnels on-board an underground boat.
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