I read a recommendation for Ando's Outback Tour in Frommer's guide book and decided to take a chance on it despite there not being many online reviews and I am so very glad I did! My husband and 8 year old son and I just finished up our tour last week (in June- winter). Noel runs the tour these days and is as kind and knowledgable a fellow as you could hope to find. The real gist of this tour is that you see places, meet people and do things that you would never go and do on your own-- simply because they are not tourist traps but instead you are given the opportunity of stepping in and out of regular folks lives-- a meal in their home, a drink at their local rural pub, a breakfast with folks after sleeping on their ranch, a chat with tiny town store keepers or older blokes who up and decided to open a winery at 60, etc...just general characters that are all mates of Noel and Ted-- and now you are their mates so you are fully welcomed with open arms. It is by no means a 5 star trip and by no means an over-scheduled, exact itinerary, fancy food type thing--if you can't stand not knowing what is up next on the agenda or you feel that not eating your meals at the exact same time every day would be torture or you're a germaphobe -- this may not be the trip for you. But if you love the idea of moving outside your regular life for a few days, choosing to live in the moment by being present to other people's way of living and you want some degree of adventure and a glimpse into this amazing country in ways a tourist doesn't normally (horse riding, boomerang throwing, hiking to spots you'd never know about, scratching for opals, interacting with hunting dogs, the list goes on and on) -- go for it! It's an amazing price for the experience and you won't regret it (if you're open minded and easy going about travel). This was our first time to Australia and we feel so much more at home and connected here than we often do on trips because we were chatting with locals and just generally hearing their stories and sharing ours and we had a fabulous guide with us the whole time and I know we'll keep in touch with Noel. We can imagine coming back doing the tour again. It was an amazing experience for our son as well. You are in a 10 person bus so the drive time is really easy and it's like being on a safari (for city folks like us from the US) in terms of all the cool Aussie animals you see along the way. The stars at night are mind blowing as well as the sunrises and sunsets on those huge vistas. Noel chats away and answers any and all questions day and night...he's lived in Queensland and New South Wales all his life. The reason you don't find all the usual tour reviews on this group is that it's run by these funny, extroverted blokes whose kids are grown and have a bit less tying them down and they just want to let you see a bit of their world and show off things they think are cool and they love to meet some interesting folks themselves...they are not techies and the formal business end of things is the least of their concern...but that's what makes it special...they run when they want to and go where they like...email and see if it works for your schedule, it was a fabulous thing to follow our first 6 days in big city Sydney...definitely seeing two sides of the country. For me, I grew up with grandparents who were rural folks and I've lost touch with that part of the things once they passed away and it really touched me to be part of that world where animals are all around in everyday life, people are so sincere and have such a playful spirit about them, food is taken directly from the land and is needed for sustenance, vistas are big and empty and quiet and the people work for a living-- with their hands and backs, not their keyboards. If that appeals to you, you'll love it, but I warn you-- don't expect to take a shower :-)
If you own or manage Ando's Outback Tours, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.