Day 1: Fly into Sydney and check into The Old Clare Hotel. Wander around the hotel’s recently revamped neighbourhood and have dinner at one the Old Clare’s excellent restaurants.
Day 2-3: Take the ferry to Manly Beach (a half-hour journey from Circular Quay): spend the day relaxing or making like the locals with a surfing or paddle-board lesson. Back in the city, have a meal to remember at Momofuku Seiobo, which started life as a humble noodle joint.
Day 4: Learn about Australia’s convict past by joining The Rocks Walking Tour, then wander the harbour district’s cobbled laneways at your own pace. Get up close and personal with Australian wildlife (minus any risk of bite marks) at Taronga Zoo, 12 minutes from the city by ferry.
Day 5-6: Sticking with the wildlife theme, fly to Alice Springs (flight time: three hours, 10 minutes) for the eye-popping Kings Canyon, West MacDonnell Ranges, Simpson Desert and Devils Marbles.
Day 8: Catch a one-hour flight from Alice Springs to Uluru (Ayers Rock). (Alternatively, it’s a four-and-a-half hour drive). Join a wilderness trek around the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Red Centre. You’ll be tired after all that exploring, so rest your head at Longitude 131º, whose 15 luxury tents survey Uluru.
Day 9: Make the most of Longitude 131º: if you don’t mind early morning starts, tear yourself out of bed at 5am to glimpse sunrise over Uluru and enjoy freshly baked pastries from the lodge at its base. If you prefer art sessions to early rising, try an aboriginal dot-painting workshop (arranged through the lodge), or book a Harley Davidson ride around the area (an extra cost).
Day 10–11: Swap dust and the desert for liquid thrills by flying to Cairns (flight time: two hours, 10 minutes). Check into mellow QT Port Douglas, close to Four Mile Beach (an hour’s drive from Cairns). See the Great Barrier Reef in all its splendour by snorkelling, scuba diving or going on a helicopter ride over the reef.
Day 12: Seek out wild platypus by taking a day trip to the Atherton Tablelands (the drive will take just under two hours from Port Douglas).
Day 13: Trek the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest (drive time from Port Douglas: an hour and a half) and keep your eyes peeled for rare native animals, including tree-living kangaroos, rainforest dragons, colourful butterflies and prehistoric birds.Day 14: Fly back to London from Cairns.