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Introduction

Come with us to enjoy the vastness of Australia, its diverse landscapes, changing climates, wide-open spaces, as well as its earliest indigenous cultures. This land was cut from the massive ancient continent of Gondwanaland more that 45 million years ago, and it has grown into a distinctly harsh and sometimes savage environment. From the immense, dry, arid outback, the humiliating savage bushfires of the forests, the Earth's largest living organism in the Great Barrier Reef, up into the stinking moist heat of the crocodile- and spider-infested tropics, and down to the far south and Victoria's Great Ocean Road, Australia is a land of wild extremes.

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Sydney Habour Bridge Australia
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Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia

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Leapfrog to the present day and you will find a remarkable, interesting and hugely diverse continent, whether you are perusing the museums of Sydney, learning about the relatively recent convict arrivals or immersing yourself in the aboriginal culture dating back over 50,000 years. Another of Australia's marvels is the bird and reptile population, with over 530 species to meet. The idyllic sounds of tropical birds, waves crashing to the shore and cicadas reverberating through the jungle combine in a soporific effect to quash your urban metabolism and bring you closer to a healthy laid-back pace. Your own utopia can be found somewhere between the perfect sandy beaches with their cosmopolitan cities, the small provincial towns and vast cattle stations, the tropical heat and heavy virgin rainforest, and the never-ending outback with its isolation and peace. We will take you to experience these and many additional wonders on another 'Jaunt with Jingers'.

Whether you choose to travel by classic car, modern 4x4, or enduro motorcycle, this rally offers some of the world's most diverse scenic driving and will certainly appeal to those with a spirit of adventure. Home to a host of iconic sights, fascinating cultures, interesting towns and dramatic panoramas, our journey explores all of these, as well as discovering some hidden treasures as we detour off the beaten track.

You will join other like-minded people, some of whom are experienced Jaunters from previous events, to share part of an adventure that will live long in your memory and help you get through those cold winter evenings by the fire as you summon up the determination to venture out on the slippery, ice-covered path to the log shed!

A highly experienced support team will accompany you on this 'trip of a lifetime', including an administration crew running ahead of the event to iron out the inevitable queries and requests. Our friendly, qualified doctor, ready to attend to your health and personal comfort, will travel in the 'sweep' crew along with an experienced and very capable motor mechanic who will ensure that your wheels keep on turning. In addition to this a photographer will move throughout the field snapping you in action and at play across the continent.

If shipping your own vehicle across the globe seems too daunting, speak to us about alternatives for hiring a vehicle locally-also doing away with the headaches of roadworthiness and bio-security issues. We have nearly new Toyota or Mitsubishi 4x4s available but get in early because there are only a limited number.

Provisionally set at 30 days, we may extend the tour by one or two days, if necessary, depending on our findings after the route surveys and feedback we receive from you, the customer.

Arrive early in Sydney to enjoy Australia's most populous city, with its galleries and museums, parks and beaches, world class restaurants and 'hip' modern bars.

Day one leads us inland to the Blue Mountains to view the magnificent Three Sisters, the massive eucalypt forests, and the quaint, tranquil communities of Katoomba and Leura. From here we travel northwards, enjoying the peaceful hinterland and wine-growing region of the Hunter Valley. The pretty township of Bellingen has an alternative culture using communal farms and a relaxed atmosphere to help you slow to the pace of your surroundings. The store of Hammond & Bellingen lives in a time capsule from another century. Jacaranda trees make a glorious display of mauve in the old town centre of Grafton during the springtime; these townships can look like they should be somewhere in the northern hemisphere rather than east-coast Australia.

Onwards north, there is an option to explore the Nightcap National Park with its 328-foot Minyon Falls. Also, we enjoy our first brush with the rainforest in the McPherson Ranges, offering fabulous bushwalks and dramatic rainforest, with an overnight at a secluded forest retreat.

Passing 'Australia Zoo', you can see and get close to the crocodiles. Famous Australian Steve Irwin and his wife cared for these huge reptiles before he was killed by a stingray in 2006. The coastal towns and beaches of southern Queensland are a distraction to slow our journey; the beaches of Marcoola and Coolum are unspoilt and picturesque. However, we keep to the highway with more picture-perfect coastline ahead.

Bundaberg, famous for its rum, is a staging post for us as we press on northwards to unrivalled beaches, coastline and the lush rainforests of the tropics. We take a leisurely rest-day on one of the multitude of islands that make up the Whitsunday Group for our first contact with the Great Barrier Reef. This is the commercial tourism centre of Australia, with endless options to fill your day from water-skiing, scenic flights or luncheon laying by the pool to snorkelling the reef.

Continuing on and heading deep into the tropics, we have another rest-day and more chances to explore and dive or simply snorkel on the surface of the world's largest living organism, sending your senses into overload. Glass-bottomed boats are used for those who cannot make the dive so that everyone has the chance to experience this outstanding marine park. This is a permanent holiday paradise for the rich and famous (also for the not-so-rich and not-so-famous) with year-round clear blue skies and even temperatures. If that is not enough, the national parks inland from the coast offer some exceptional driving and bush-walking.

We make our first step off the beaten track in northern Queensland, passing the northernmost sugarcane plantations to cross the croc-infested Daintree River and Cape Tribulation, arriving in Cooktown after an exciting coastal drive through the Daintree National Park. A loop day here allows time to inspect the ancient Aboriginal rock art at Laura in Quinkan Country. The area contains a large and dramatic body of prehistoric rock paintings, listed by UNESCO as being among the top 10 rock-art sites in the world. The paintings and engravings contained in the numerous caves and galleries are a pictorial record of the stories that are at the heart of Aboriginal life.

Now we start to track south again through the Atherton Tablelands, finding better roads, before heading southeast to take in the Undara Lava Tubes, formed by rivers of molten lava that have cooled on the exterior to create hollow tubes of rock that after many millions of years have become exposed. From here we begin our 'outback' adventure; the driving days start to get long, the heat rises, and dust gets into everything. We storm south to find towns built around man's lust for gold and, on crossing out of the tropics, towns that service a strong agricultural industry. Situated right on the Tropic of Capricorn, they say that more than a million sheep and cattle pass through the town of Longreach on trucks each year. A rugged drive leads us west to the tiny community of Boulia to discover the past inhabitants of this land; then onwards to the iconic town of Birdsville, where we will pause to imbibe the tonic of this lonely territory. While here, discover the hardy people, plants and animals that make this a very special place.  Still on primitive roads, we continue south with over 1,500km to travel until our next well-earned rest day.  The land begins to undulate forming the hills of the Flinders Ranges, where you can again enjoy more rural roads although combined with more comfortable lodgings.

Adelaide, on the other hand, is a smart, modern, peaceful and charming city set in a wonderful climate overlooking the Gulf of St Vincent. Calm seas, dry heat and hills to the east make this city the perfect stop for tired outback travellers. Loaded with galleries, museums, bars, beaches, and wineries you won't want to leave! Moving southeast from here we enjoy two of Australia's most picturesque roads: the Limestone Highway and the Great Ocean Road. The picture-postcard coastline will have you swerving to avoid the huge drops, as your jaw hangs loose and your hands remain stationary on the wheel. Melbourne has a large Greek community and we hope to take advantage of their culinary skills while here. Nearing the end of another Jaunt, we still have Gippsland and the Snowy Mountains to enjoy, which don't get the exposure they deserve, making them all the nicer for it. Our very last day from Kosciuszko National Park crosses the Great Dividing Range for a final time to descend once more to our starting point of 30 days previous, the country's largest conurbation, Sydney.


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