Academy Travel’s team of expert tour leaders offers genuine academic expertise, enthusiasm and the ability to communicate their knowledge to interested travellers.

Ben Churcher

Has a wide range of expeience as an educator, and an archaeologist. Since 1994 Ben has led tours to Jordan, Greece, Syria, Egypt, China & Morocco.

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Ben Churcher is an archaeologist who works both in the Near East, as well as with Aboriginal archaeology in Australia. He has a strong personal interest in history and archaeology, primarily of the Muslim world, but not exclusively. Ben holds the position of Field Director at the University of Sydney’s archaeological excavations at Pella in Jordan.

Ben holds a BA (Hons) from the University of Queensland and a Dip. Ed from the University of Sydney. In 1983, Ben received a travelling grant from the Alumni Association at the University of Queensland to participate at the excavations at Pella in Jordan and he has been involved in archaeology ever since.

In between digs, Ben worked as a secondary teacher for five years at both public and private high schools and in 1993 he brought together his love of teaching and archaeology by founding Astarte Resources, a company producing and distributing educational resources specialising in history. While running Astarte Resources, Ben has been involved with adult education lecturing on a range of historical subjects and graduate teaching duties at the University of Canberra in their cultural heritage degree.

Since 2002 Ben has worked extensively in Aboriginal archaeology in Australia, working with a small firm undertaking heritage assessments and management. This work has taken him from western NSW, into the Snowy Mountains and onto the coalfields of the Hunter Valley.

Ben has continued his association with the excavations at Pella in Jordan throughout this time and he has participated in most seasons of excavation at the site. This work has involved excavating most major Near Eastern periods from the prehistoric Natufian period, through to the Islamic period.

Ben is a life member of the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation at the University of Sydney and he currently sits on the board of the Foundation.

Ben has also travelled widely beyond the destinations to which he takes tours, has taught English in Japan for six months and has sailed on a dhow to Zanzibar. The consequence of this experience is that Ben is an adept traveller, unfazed by what the world may throw at him, and someone who has managed to amass a lot of information from various places and time periods that he is only too happy to impart.

Ben led his first tour to Jordan and Syria in 1993 and has gone on to take travellers to an eclectic range of countries including Mali, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Iran, Central Asia, China and Mexico. The common thread has been Ben’s interest in global history and the interconnections between both historical periods and cultures. How these interconnections are expressed in architecture, religion and governance is an abiding interest of Ben’s.

Upcoming tours lead by Ben Churcher

"I cannot praise Ben Churcher highly enough. This amiable guy with his dry sense of humour and deep knowledge of his subject was one of the best parts of the tour for me. I hope to join him on tour again." - Iran in depth tour, April 2017 Ben Churcher - Iran in depth - April 2017-2017-11-10 14:38:23

Chris Carter

Has an Honours and Master’s degree in archaeology and has recently completed a PhD. He has led tours to Central and South America for over 20 years.

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He has worked as a professional archaeologist and taught extensively in the field. He is currently involved with prehistoric sites in the Atacama region of northern Chile.

Upcoming tours lead by Chris Carter

Christopher Bradley

Has an honours degree from Liverpool University and specialises in the history and art of North Africa and Arabia.

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One of his particular interests is the Queen of Sheba. He first visited Ethiopia in 1977 and has led specialist tours there since 1993. He has written and photographed ten guidebooks and lectured to ADFAS, NADFAS, universities and the Royal Geographical Society.

Upcoming tours lead by Christopher Bradley

The tour promised and delivered much more than a run-of-the-mill sightseeing tour, with like-minded fellow travellers. Grand Tour of Italy-2014-04-04 20:48:52
The standard and wealth of theatre, music and galleries were absolutely brilliant. Very good choices were made. London Music and Theatre-2014-01-04 20:50:08

Christopher Menz

A former Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia and previously a curator of decorative arts. He is also an experienced cultural tour leader.

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Christopher Menz is a former Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia (2005–10) and in 2011–12 was Acting Director of The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne. Prior to these roles, he held curatorial positions at the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of South Australia, and the National Gallery of Victoria, specialising in decorative arts. He has published extensively on the decorative arts, notably the design work of William Morris, and is a regular contributor to ABR. In 2016 Christopher led the ABR/Academy Travel tour to the United States.

Dr Estelle Lazer

An archaeologist who has worked on site at Pompeii for seven seasons and has an international reputation for her research on the city's skeletal remains.

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She lectures at both the University of Sydney and the University of NSW. Estelle has led numerous trips to southern Italy for Academy Travel.

Dr Jeni Ryde

Has a wide-ranging knowledge of Italian history and cultural traditions. Jeni has a PhD focusing on Tourism, Heritage and Renaissance Studies.

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A former Senior Lecturer in Italian at the University of Western Sydney, she is a fluent Italian speaker with a wide ranging knowledge of European history, art and architecture. Her interests include Spanish studies, Renaissance art history and Italian cinema. Jeni has lead many special focus tours to Italy and has recently added Spain to her Academy repertoire.

Upcoming tours lead by Dr Jeni Ryde

The standard and wealth of theatre, music and galleries were absolutely brilliant. Very good choices were made. London Music and Theatre-2014-01-04 20:50:08
Having never done an organised group tour before, I was apprehensive, but would have no hesitation doing another Academy Travel tour. Venice-2014-03-04 20:49:28

Dr Jennifer Lawless

Has led tours to Turkey, Greece and Iran. Jenny has been awarded a Churchill Fellowship and a NSW Premier’s History Prize for her research and writing.

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Jennifer has led tours to Turkey, Greece, Crete and Iran. Her main interest in travel is history, both ancient and more recent history such as the experiences of Australians at Gallipoli. Other cultures – and in particular their food and wine – also rate!

Jennifer has co-authored over ten books on ancient History that are widely used in senior History classes and has been awarded a number of scholarships and awards for writing and research, including a Churchill Fellowship, an Endeavor Research Fellowship for Turkey, and a NSW Premiers Award for History. Jennifer has lectured in History teaching method at Sydney, Macquarie and Western Sydney universities and was the Board of Studies History Inspector for 13 years.  Her PhD concerned the experiences of the Australians captured as POWs during the Gallipoli campaign. This involved almost ten years of research and travelling over 8,000 kilometres through Turkey, locating the main POW camp sites. Ottoman documents that had never been translated into English before formed a solid basis for the research.

Upcoming tours lead by Dr Jennifer Lawless

Dr John Tidmarsh

The former president of the University of Sydney's Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation, and a former lecturer in the Department of Archaeology.

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He is also Co-Director of the University’s excavations at Pella in Jordan, and the Australian Archaeological Mission at Jebel Khalid in Syria and has also excavated in Greece and Cyprus. He has led numerous tours to Oman, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and other countries in the eastern Mediterranean.

Upcoming tours lead by Dr John Tidmarsh

Dr Kathleen Olive

Has a PhD in Italian Studies, speaks fluent Italian and lectures on the art, history and culture of Europe. Kathleen has an outstanding knowledge of Italy.

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Kathleen has a doctorate in Italian literature from the University of Sydney. She has a strong interest in medieval history and contemporary fiction writing, which she has taught at a number of universities in Australia. Kathleen leads travel groups to Italy, Spain, Turkey and the United States. She lived and studied in Italy and speaks fluent Italian.

Upcoming tours lead by Dr Kathleen Olive

Dr Matthew Dal Santo

Is a historian and free-lance writer with Honours degrees from both Sydney and Cambridge Universities.

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He was a Fellow in History at Trinity College where he received his PhD and won the Sydney University Medal in modern French literature. Matthew speaks French, Italian, Danish, German and Russian.

Upcoming tours lead by Dr Matthew Dal Santo

Dr Matthew Laing

Is a historian and political scientist with a PhD from the ANU. Matthew leads tours to the United States and Scandinavia and lectures for Academy Travel.

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In 2007 he spent six months in Washington as a congressional intern and has travelled extensively in the North East USA. He has lectured at the ANU’s Centre for Continuing Education and led tours in Australia and the USA.

Dr Michael Adcock

A social and cultural historian who specialises in the field of modern France. He has published works on the French Revolution with Cambridge University Press.

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Dr Michael Adcock specialises in the field of modern France. Michael ‘s extensive teaching experience includes several years with the History Department of the University of Melbourne, where he lectured in courses devoted to nineteenth and twentieth century France and series’ of popular lectures at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, the Art Gallery of Queensland and the National Gallery of Victoria. Michael’s PhD examined the visual arts of the French Second and Third Republics, with much of his research undertaken in Paris. His research on the French Revolution has been published by Cambridge University Press. He has led Academy Travel tours to Paris since 2006

Upcoming tours lead by Dr Michael Adcock

Dr Michael Neuman

Is a former Professor at the University of New South Wales, where his work in urban history, specialising in Spain, has won international awards.

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Other areas of expertise include art, culture, and the environment.  He completed his PhD at the University of California at Berkeley focusing on Spanish urban history, politics, and urban planning. A Czech citizen whose first language was Czech and who speaks several other European languages, Michael has a wide-ranging knowledge of European history, art and architecture and taught and led projects in over a dozen European countries.

Dr Michael Neuman

Upcoming tours lead by Dr Michael Neuman

I cannot commend the tour highly enough – it was perfectly organised and the content was very well considered. Fabulous value for money. North East USA-2014-05-04 20:48:25
The standard and wealth of theatre, music and galleries were absolutely brilliant. Very good choices were made. London Music and Theatre-2014-01-04 20:50:08

Dr Nick Gordon

Has a University Medal and a PhD in History and lectures on European art. Nick is also a practising painter and brings this passion to the visual arts.

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Dr Nick Gordon holds a University Medal and a PhD in history from the University of Sydney. He has taught European history at universities in Sydney for 10 years and continues to lecture regularly on art and history for Sydney University’s Nicholson Museum and Centre for Continuing Education. Nick’s interests range from classical antiquity, to architecture, modern and contemporary art, and the history and culture of medieval, Renaissance and early modern Europe. His knowledge of and passion for these fields have developed from both his academic research and practice as an artist. He has led tours for Academy Travel since 2007.

Dr Stephen Wilkinson

Is chairman of the International Institute for the Study of Cuba and holds a PHD in Hispanic Studies.

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His academic appointments include a research fellowship at University College London, London Metropolitan University and Kings College London. A fluent spanish speaker, Stephen has previously led six tours to Cuba and has also worked as a researcher, translator and consultant for various Cuba related film projects in the UK, including the BBC.

Dr Tom Ford

Holds a PhD in history and has written extensively on classical music. Tom is currently PR and media manager (classics / jazz) for Universal Music Australia.

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He has written extensively on classical music, specifically Mozart. He has been a broadcaster on 5MBS Adelaide and 3MBS Fine Music in Melbourne, where he now works.

Judy Tenzing

Has a degree in South Asian History. She has a lifelong passion for travel and over 30 years experience as a tour leader on the sub-continent and in Asia.

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With over 30 years experience as an administrator and tour leader on the great sub-continent she has a great deal to share with her fellow travellers. Judy has a degree in South Asian History and regularly presents courses at Sydney University’s Centre For Continuing Education on the history and culture of this remarkable region. In 2001 Judy published the definitive book on the history of Sherpa mountaineering – Tenzing and the Sherpas of Everest.

Upcoming tours lead by Judy Tenzing

Lindy Montgomery

A graduate of both the University of Sydney and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where she taught musicology for 13 years.

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Lindy possesses a fine soprano voice and has featured as a soloist with Pinchgut Opera and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. She led Academy Travel’s music tour to Germany in 2008.

Upcoming tours lead by Lindy Montgomery

Lucia Gahlin

Is a UK-based Egyptologist with a wealth of experience as an educator, researcher, archaeologist and museum curator. She has lead regular tours to Egypt since 1994.

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Lucia is an Honorary Research Associate at University College London’s Institute of Archaeology, and teaches Egyptology for the University of Exeter.

Upcoming tours lead by Lucia Gahlin

Michael Turner

Michael Turner is a garden and art historian. The former Senior Curator of the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney (2005-2016).

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Michael now lives in Sussex from where he writes and lectures on garden history as well as creating garden tours. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in London and a member of The English Gardens Trust. When in Australia, Michael appeared regularly on television, radio, and in the press. He has been a featured guest on the ABC’s In Conversation with Richard Fidler and on Classic FM’s Midday with Margaret Throsby talking about the 18th century English landscape architect Capability Brown.

Upcoming tours lead by Michael Turner

Peter Rose

One of Australia’s leading literary figures, Peter is an award-winning poet, memoirist and novelist. Since 2001 he has been Editor of Australian Book Review.

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Peter Rose is the Editor and CEO of Australian Book Review. His books include a family memoir, Rose Boys (2001), which won the National Biography Award in 2003. He has published two novels and six poetry collections, most recently The Subject of Feeling (UWA Publishing, 2015).

Upcoming tours lead by Peter Rose

Robert Gay

Is one of Australia’s leading music tour leaders and music educators. He has designed and led more than 80 performance based tours to Europe and the US.

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Working for the Centre for Continuing Education and other associations for more than 25 years, Robert has designed dozens of music courses and led more than 80 performance based tours around the world. Since 2010, Robert has led tours exclusively with Academy Travel.

Robert Veel

Holds a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Education. He is a director of Academy Travel and leads tours to Europe, Scandinavia, the US & Australia.

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He led his first tour to Italy in 1990 and since then has designed and led 16 tours to Italy, Turkey and the United States, as well as traveling through Asia, north Africa, the Middle East, Russia and Canada. Robert’s special interest is in Italian medieval and Renaissance history, and he has taught numerous courses in this area at the University of Sydney and elsewhere since 1990.

Robin Nichols

Has been a professional photographer for more than 30 years. He is well known through his regular classes and photography tours.

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Robin’s good sense of humour and approachable style has made him a popular teacher and tour leader.

Stuart Barrie

Is a director of Academy Travel and has over 20 years' experience in travel, including leading groups through western Europe, Russia and the United States.

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He has a strong interest in history, and holds a Bachelor of Arts from Macquarie University and a Master of Commerce from the University of New South Wales. Stuart led a theatre tour to New York in early 2006, jointly offered by Academy Travel and the Sydney Theatre Company.

Upcoming tours lead by Stuart Barrie

Sue Rollin

Holds degrees in Near Eastern history and archaeology, South Asian studies and interpreting. Sue has led tours in India, Central Asia and the Middle East.

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She lectures for the UK-based National Association of Decorative and fine Arts Societies (NADFAS) and is well known to ADFAS members through her lecture tours in Australia.

Thomas Abbott

Holds a degree in art history, specialising in the architecture of Berlin, the art of 18th-century Germany and the Bauhaus. He has led many tours in Germany.

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Thomas has lived in Germany since 1988 and has led many cultural tours throughout Germany with leading UK and other organisations, specialising in the architecture of Berlin, the art of 18th-century Germany and the Bauhaus.

Upcoming tours lead by Thomas Abbott

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