Washington DC, March 2006 — Grandtravel has selected sights and activities that are inimitably Australian for its 14-day deluxe “Down Under/Outback” grandparent/grandchild tour of Australia’s eastern half — a private tour of the Sydney Opera House, a nocturnal ‘safari’ to catch Australia’s fairy penguins and other marsupials at work and play, visiting regions in the “Red Centre” of the continent that Australian Aborigines hold sacred, seeking out the marine life along the Great Barrier Reef and enjoying a ‘shrimp-on-the-barbie’ on Kangaroo Island. The tour, departing July 13, 2006, links Sydney, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Ayers Rock, Cairns, Dunk Island, the Great Barrier Reef and Brisbane.

Grandtravelers first get their bearings in Sydney at the top of the Southern Hemisphere’s highest observation deck, the Centrepoint/AMP Tower, before striking out on an extensive list of sightseeing and activities: dressing up as convicts and soldiers to relive the first days of the British Colony at the city’s landmark Rocks district; breakfast with a zoo guide before the Taronga Park Zoo opens; a lifesaving presentation by the Manly Surf Lifesaving Club; and a visit to Oceanworld’s million-gallon Oceanarium are highlights.

Arriving at Kangaroo Island by ferry, grandparents and grandchildren head off to share in the wonder of Australia’s unique wildlife — guided walking among the sea lions in Seal Bay conservation Park, seeking out the night-time activities of fairy penguins, kangaroos and wallabies on a “nocturnal safari” and a walk through the Lahami Conservation Park where kangaroos share the same habitat with wallabies and glossy black Cockatoos.

Red-tinted Ayer’s Rock is the world’s largest monolith and a center of Aborigine myth and “dreamtime” belief, where on short walks and cave explorations Grandtravelers view Aboriginal art; learn about their attitudes towards evolution, affinity with the Earth, and food-gathering and hunting techniques; and try their own hand at painting with indigenous tools. An evening of exotic foods, the haunting sound of the didgeridoo and stargazing with an astronomer is followed with a sunrise camel ride and a campfire breakfast.

Dunk Island, mainly a national park, is covered in lush rain forest and eucalypt woods and is one of Australia’s most beautiful islands. Grandparents and grandchildren spend a couple of laid-back days enjoying the beaches, snorkeling along the Great Barrier Reef or over the volcanic coral at naturalist Beach, walking in the rainforest or visiting the local Artist’s Colony. An afternoon of free time is planned in the tropical city of Brisbane before a special farewell dinner along the city’s river. Other highlights include Adelaide’s South Australian Whale Centre and lively Central Market and a dinner performance at Cairn’s Tjapukai Dance Theatre where people of the rainforest pass on stories of their ancestors with song, dance and theatre.

Cost per adult or child, 12-17, is $8,990, per person, double; $8,890, triple. Cost per child, 7-11, double occupancy, is $8,780; triple, $7,495. Prices include deluxe or best available accommodations with private bath, most meals, transportation, admission to all scheduled attractions and events, en route activities for children, pre-departure guidance, a professional tour manager, a Grandtravel Activities Director (always an experienced educator or youth counselor), and service charges and hotel taxes.

Grandtravel, celebrating its 20th year, develops its intergenerational programs with the help of teachers, psychologists, leisure counselors and educators, giving special attention to creative activities, access to experiences not available to individual travelers or families, historical sites and natural attractions.

Further information, brochures and reservations can be obtained from Grandtravel, 1920 N Street, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036-1601; telephone, (800) 247-7651, (202) 785-8901, web site www.grandtrvl.com.

Loney Planet Australia & New Zealand (Lonely Planet Shoestring Guides)