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The Ghan Elizabeth River
From cruising to Hobart, exploring the wild nature of the Kimberleys or exploring the Murray River, these are the bucket list cruises in Australia. 

Dark MOFO Tasmania

The route: This six night Sydney round-trip cruise about Pacific Jewel heads south to Tasmania with two nights on land in Hobart. 

The experience: Cruising from Sydney to Hobart aboard Pacific Jewel is a blissful way to take in parts of Australia’s east coast. Departing Sydney, leaving the yacht-studded harbour and headlands behind, Pacific Jewel eases south, with a full day at sea before reaching Hobart. On the return to Sydney, there are two more days at sea.

Arriving in the Tasmanian capital, it’s a short ferry transfer to Hobart’s applauded Museum of Old and New Art, set on the banks of the River Derwent in a series of historic and architecturally designed modern buildings. As eye-opening as the art is, the real reason to come here over the cooler months is for Dark Mofo, the gallery’s midwinter festival. Expect large-scale public art, food, film, music, light and noise, with events held at MONA itself as well as various other venues through the city. 

The ship: With its homeport in Sydney, Pacific Jewel is popular among antipodean cruisers. Able to accommodate 1,670 passengers, the ship offers plenty of diversions for those days at sea between cities. Adrenaline-junkies will want to make a beeline for P&O Edge Adventure Park, Australia’s largest adventure park at sea. Here, you can do everything from zipline over the ship’s top deck to climb a boulder wall, abseil and try slackline surfing. 

Prepare yourself for the Dark Mofo party by making the most of the ship’s entertainment offerings, from movies on a big screen on the pool deck to live comedy, music and Broadway-style shows. Sign up for cocktail-making classes or leave your drink choices in the hands of experts at restaurants including Salt Grill by Luke Mangan, an outlet of the celebrity chef’s popular dining concept dedicated to the finest and freshest Australian ingredients.

Getting there: There are flights from all major capital cities to Sydney. 

The details: NRMA’s six-night Dark Mofo Tasmania cruise includes accommodation, meals and activities on the Pacific Jewel, as well as admission to MONA and a priority pass to Winter Feast. 

Murray River cruise and rail

The route: This five or six night experience begins in Sydney with an overnight train journey aboard the Indian Pacific to Adelaide. Travel to Mannum to board the PS Murray Princess, with three- and four-night itineraries along the Murray River, before docking back in Mannum for a return flight to Sydney. 

The experience: Departing historic Mannum, once a hub of Murray River trade, the Murray Princess heads downriver as dusk falls. While you enjoy dinner, the crew spotlight nocturnal animals on the riverbank, including grey kangaroos, hairy-nosed wombats and spoon-beaked egrets. 
The ship stops briefly at Murray Bridge for a guided tour of the town’s historic landmarks, before continuing upriver to moor in Craignook for guests to enjoy a nature walk. 

From here, Murray Princess departs for the big river gorges and 90-metre sandstone cliffs of the upper river. In smaller discovery vessels, you can explore the maze of the river, spotting darters, herons and egrets feeding along the water’s muddy edges. 

The ship: The PS Murray Princess is an authentic inland stern paddlewheeler, built for the Murray River with the character and charm of yesteryear. Carrying just 120 passengers, the intimate vessel is fitted out with comforts including a lounge, restaurants and plush cabins. When you’re not soaking up views of the caramel-coloured river from the sun deck, facilities include a spa and sauna, bar and lounges, library and free wi-fi. There’s plenty of on-board entertainment, from live music and dancing to informative lectures. 

Getting there: There are flights from all major Australian capital cities to Sydney. 

The details: NRMA’s Murray River Cruise & Rail begins with a classic Australian rail journey aboard the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Adelaide. Here, you’ll board the paddlewheeler PS Murray Princess for a three-night cruise along the Murray River.

Kimberley cruising with Coral Expeditions

The route: A 10 night journey aboard Coral Discoverer, this itinerary takes you around some of Australia’s most dramatic coastline, departing Broome and ending in Darwin with stops at Doubtful Bay, Horizontal Falls and King George River along the way. 

The experience: Prepare yourself for the majesty of one of Australia’s most spectacular stretches of coastline. Departing Broome, Coral Discoverer heads north toward Cape Leveque with a stop at the Lacepede Islands where coarse sand and coral have created islets atop a platform reef. This nature reserve is home to more 18,000 pairs of breeding birds, from brown boobies to roseate terns – it’s also a significant breeding ground for green turtles. 

You’ll cruise through the Buccaneer Archipelago, (800-1,000 islands), before stopping in Talbot Bay to witness the spectacle of Horizontal Falls. When the 12-metre tides turn, millions of litres of water are forced through narrow gaps between the cliffs. 

Continuing north, you’ll visit King Cascades, a breathtaking waterfall over terraced rock formations, and Bigge Island, where there is significant indigenous rock art. Before reaching Darwin, Coral Discoverer takes you to King George Falls. Climb aboard Zodiacs to dart into the foot of the tallest single-drop waterfall in Western Australia, towering 80 metres above the reef.

The ship: Recently refurbished, Coral Discoverer’s shallow draught and manoeuvrability allow her to go where larger vessels cannot. The Sun Deck is the ideal spot to gaze at the Kimberly coastline, while other facilities include the Explorer Bar and a restaurant. Coral Discoverer now offers five different grades of stateroom, all furnished with contemporary flair and featuring original artwork and an ensuite – some also come with private balconies.

Getting there: There are flights to Perth from major Australian cities. From Perth, it’s a 2.5 hour flight north to Broome to join this Coral Discoverer expedition. 

The details: NRMA’s 10 night Coral Expeditions Kimberley Cruising itinerary aboard Coral Discovery includes all on-board meals, entrance fees to national parks, guided tours and more.

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