Across the Top End

9 - 25 Jun 2024

Agriculture in Australia’s north is booming. New developments in dryland and irrigated cotton and other crops; large horticulture developments finding ready markets in Asia and, of course, the beef success story of recent years.  And there is no more beautiful place on earth.

Agricultural highlights include:

  • Lakeland Downs, a pioneering and diversified cropping and cattle operation;
  • The Atherton Tableland, one of the most varied, beautiful and successful agricultural regions in Australia;
  • Pioneering cotton farms around Mount Garnet;
  • Northern Territory farmers who are getting great results growing cotton. We should arrive with the crop in full swing and get an update the on the Katherine cotton gin.
  • A detailed look at the Ord Irrigation Area.

There will be plenty of opportunity to sample the best scenery, landscapes and activities the north has to offer. For instance:

  • Tropical north Queensland including Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef and Cooktown;
  • Farm and scenic visits in the Ord irrigation area including a 2 hour charter flight taking in the irrigation area, the Port of Wyndham, Cockburn Ranges etc. ;
  • Cruising Lake Argyle;
  • The magical gorges and waterfalls of the Kimberley; and,
  • Broome – Cable Beach and the famed Staircase to the Moon.

Exciting add-on to Horizontal Waterfalls

At the end of the tour there is an option to take a day trip to the Dampier Peninsula and Horizontal Waterfalls. Visit Cygnet Bay and fly over the amazing Buccaneer Archipelago to the Horizontal Waterfalls where you will land on Talbot Bay for lunch, maybe a (safe) swim in the beautiful Kimberley water and an exhilarating boat ride through the "Horis" before float plane return to Broome.

Because group members will be arriving from all parts of the country, the tour is priced out of Cairns. Airfares (or other means of travel) to Cairns and out of Broome are additional. We are happy to help arrange these.

$9750.00 per person twin share
Single supplement $1950.00

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Itinerary

View or Print Itinerary
Date
Activity
Overnight

Day 1

Sun 9 Jun
D

Arrive in Cairns, the gateway to northern Australia. Transfer (own arrangements unless otherwise advised) to the Pacific Hotel Cairns (43 The Esplanade) before 6.30pm welcome drinks and dinner at the fantastic Piccolo Cucina restaurant, a 300 metre stroll from the hotel.

Of course, there’s always the option to arrive early and spend some time in the tropical north.

Australia

Cairns

Day 2

Mon 10 Jun
B L D

We'll transfer to the airport to board our exclusive charter flight up the north Queensland coast to Cooktown. The flight will be at 'touring height' to get the best views of Port Douglas, the Daintree River, Cape Tribulation, Bloomfield and the Great Barrier Reef. On arrival, we'll transfer to Grassy Hill for a 360 degree view of Cooktown, the Endeavour River and the Great Barrier Reef. Captain Cook used the view from Grassy Hill to plan his navigation through the reefs as he left Cooktown.

Day 3

Tue 11 Jun
B L

Today we'll explore historic Cooktown where Captain Cook made an unscheduled stop on his voyage of discovery as his crew repaired the Endeavour after hitting a nearby reef. The Cooktown Museum is a 'must see' and the town has many fine shops and cafes to enjoy. maybe take a 1km walk through the Botanic Gardens to the tropical beach at Finch Bay. Later in the afternoon, we'll take board our Riverbend Tour boat for a two hour sunset cruise on the Endeavour River with a generous cheese platter and selection of refreshments. Dinner at your leisure although the platters are very filling.

Day 4

Wed 12 Jun
B L D

We trek inland past the mysterious Black Mountain formed by massive black granite boulders to visit the amazing Lakeland Downs, where rich basalt soils grow a large range of crops on a grand scale. Red Valley Farms owner Peter Inderbitzen will show us around this massive operation including details of a major new enterprise. We'll spend most of the day here, with lunch at the Lakeland Hotel, then head onto the Tablelands as far as Atherton for overnight.

Day 5

Thu 13 Jun
B L D

Today we travel west through the Tablelands and will visit the St Ronans' ag development, operated by Sundown Pastoral Company. We will then continue on to the nearby Undara Volcanic National Park with a guided tour of the larva tubes in the late afternoon.

There are 39 large agricultural industries on the Tablelands including sugarcane, bananas, avocados, dairy and beef cattle, mangos, potatoes, citrus and papaya, with cotton emerging as a potential new crop.

Day 6

Fri 14 Jun
B L D

After a bush breakfast at Undara, we'll head back to Atherton to catch up with Dougal Millar who will show us around for the day. The first visit will be with Laurie Masasso who farms a variety of crops and also runs a packing shed operation for other clients including Dougal. Laurie will give a great insight into the operation of the supply chain from north Queensland farms to southern supermarkets.

Day 7

Sat 15 Jun
B L

There are 39 large agricultural industries on the Tablelands including sugarcane, bananas, avocados, dairy and beef cattle, mangos, potatoes, citrus and papaya, with cotton emerging as a potential new crop. We visit a farm before continuing on to Kuranda. Here we have some free time before boarding the spectacular Skyrail to descend through the rainforest tree tops and back to sea-level.

Our bus rejoins us at the bottom for transfer to our hotel and a free evening.

Day 8

Sun 16 Jun
B L D

Fly to Darwin and after check-in and lunch, we'll take a guided tour of the town, finishing at the Darwin Sailing Club for a spectacular tropical Darwin sunset over the water and dinner.

As a strategic Allied military base, Darwin was the target of Japanese air raids in February 1942, with more bombs dropped on the city than on Pearl Harbour. Savage air raids continued to rain across the Top End during World War II, leading to a repositioning of armed forces in the Darwin region. Adelaide River, 100 km south of Darwin, become a huge base for Australian and American headquarters.

Day 9

Mon 17 Jun
B

It's a free day and evening. Choose between day trips to Kakadu or Litchfield or visit the jumping crocodiles. Our hotel has a swag of good restaurants, shops and other sights within walking distance.

Day 10

Tue 18 Jun
B L D

Time to look at some more farms. We will make an early start to visit famous Tipperary Station and look at their cattle and cropping operations including their recent foray into cotton production.

After our packed lunch under the shade of a suitable tree, we will visit and talk to other pioneering cotton growers in the region and visit the new gin in the area.

Day 11

Wed 19 Jun
B L D

8am departure for the morning cruise on the Katherine Gorge. After lunch, we'll visit some very successful horticulture operations growing a range of crops, from melons to mangoes to asparagus.

Day 12

Thu 20 Jun
B L D

It's an early start as we head west and watch the country change into a Kimberley landscape in the Victoria River district before we cross the border into WA and continue to the massive Lake Argyle to get a panoramic view of the lake.

After lunch at the pub, we take an unforgettable cruise on Lake Argyle, feed the local catfish and with a swimming option not to be missed. Then back on the bus to continue the journey into Kununurra.

Day 13

Fri 21 Jun
B L D

Full day of farm visits in the Ord, including the latest Stage 2 area. We will discuss cropping opportunities with a range of local farmers and other experts.

We’ll talk with Kimberley Agricultural Industries, the developers of Ord Stage 2, visit a Sandalwood plantation and catch up with farmers growing crops such as hay, corn, cotton, rockmelons, honeydews, pumpkins, chickpeas, Borlottis – just about anything.

A highlight (for some) will be lunch at The Hoochery, a rum distillery developed by local farming legend Spike Dessert who sadly passed away in 2017. The award winning distillery is the ultimate in farm diversification and is still operated by Spike’s family.

Return to Kununurra for sunset drinks and dinner at The Pumphouse.

Day 14

Sat 22 Jun
B L D

The East Kimberley is not only home to Lake Argyle and the Ord Irrigation Area, it is a base to explore arguably the best scenic areas of the Kimberley.

This morning we will visit some of the highlights of the Ord such as Ivanhoe Crossing and visit some "traditional" Ord farmers growing a wide range of crops.

After lunch, we’ll board our charter flights for a two hour aerial tour which gives a birds-eye overview of the irrigation area, Lake Argyle and the diversion dam, the Lower Ord and Wyndham with the late afternoon sun giving an unforgettable panorama of the Cockburn Ranges.

Day 15

Sun 23 Jun
B L D

We fly to Broome this morning. After a quick lunch at an iconic Broome eating spot, we take a tour of this historic town including the wharf, the Japanese cemetery and Gantheaume Point.

Later we will freshen up at our hotel before dinner at Zanders restaurant which has the best possible view of the sunset over Cable Beach.

But wait...that's not all. This is also the best night of the month to witness the famed "Staircase to the Stars" and we will be staying at the best viewing point in town.

Day 16

Mon 24 Jun
B L D

This morning, we head north of town to the Willie Creek Pearl Farm nestled on a tropical inlet of the Indian Ocean. You will learn about the collection and spawning of oysters in the purpose-built hatchery, appreciate the delicate operations of seeding and harvesting oysters and understand the value of pearls and the creation of stunning jewellery.

A highlight of the tour will be cruising Willie Creek’s calm azure waters and view live oysters suspended in their natural environment.

After lunch, we will head back to Broome with options such as the Pearl Luggers tour, a visit to the dinosaur footprints or just some shopping for a wonderful Kimberley Pearl. Dinner at the Mangrove Hotel, overlooking beautiful Roebuck Bay.

ALTERNATIVE (EXTRA COST):

An option to take a day trip to the Dampier Peninsula and Horizontal Waterfalls. Visit Cygnet Bay and fly over the amazing Buccaneer Archipelago to the Horizontal Waterfalls where you will land on Talbot Bay for lunch, maybe a (safe) swim in the beautiful Kimberley water and an exhilarating boat ride through the "Horis" before float plane return to Broome.

Day 17

Tue 25 Jun
B

Flights for home or stay on for some extra time in Broome.