From the comfort of Adelaide to the expanses of the Outback, our itinerary traces sections of the legendary trail named in honour of the artist Sir Hans Heysen, whose paintings bear witness to the region’s stunning landscapes, history and heritage.
This active, adventurous small group tour (capped at just 14) commences in Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills. There we’ll survey the art inspired by the Flinders Ranges, including a visit to ‘The Cedars,’ the home and studio of Heysen and occasionally his daughter Nora, war artist and first female winner of the Archibald Prize.
Next we stop in the Barossa Valley to explore South Australia’s German immigrant heritage and enjoy the region’s historic wineries. We’ll stay on a historic working sheep station before travelling on to the true Outback at Arkaroola and Wilpena Pound. Here we’ll see sandstone gorges, visit ancient indigenous sites and walk through early European settlements, observing the distinctive flora and fauna and learning about the rich cultural history of the region.
A note on the tour style: This tour is quite different from a regular Academy Travel tour. Accommodation and food in the outback can be relatively basic, with shared facilities at some places. In order to fully enjoy the tour, you need to be able to participate in bushwalks of several kilometres and be prepared to travel by sturdy rather than luxury coaches. Please also note that the tour leader Chris Carter is an archaeologist and adventurer, and his style of tour leadership will reflect these interests.
Discover Hans Heysen’s enduring outback landscapes at the Art Gallery of South Australia and The Cedars, his studio in Hahndorf
Travel to the Barossa Valley and follow the Clare Valley Riesling trail, enjoying regional produce and fine wines in beautiful surroundings
Walk though Bararranna Gorge, and journey through ancient seabeds and razor-back ridges in 4WDs at Arkaroola
Uncover 600 million years of geology, following in the footsteps of Douglas Mawson’s research
Special access to Indigenous cultural heritage, historic sites and activities with a traditional owner, at Wilpena Pound
Days 1–2: Arrive Adelaide. Tour the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Heysens’ studio at The Cedars in Hahndorf.
Days 3–4: Enjoy lunch at a Barossa winery, tour Martindale Hall and follow Clare Valley’s Riesling trail through classic Heysen landscapes.
Days 5–7: Drive to Arkaroola. Walk through Bararranna Gorge and discover Arkaroola’s geological history in 4WD vehicles.
Days 8–10: See the rock engravings at Red Gorge with a traditional owner. Continue to Wilpena Pound, climb to Rawnsley Bluff and tour Brachina Gorge with an Aboriginal ranger.
Days 11–12: Enjoy a farewell dinner in a fine Adelaide restaurant before departure.
The tour begins at Adelaide airport and ends at our hotel in Adelaide. Contact us for quotes, bookings and flight schedules into and out of Adelaide from your destination.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Monday 4 April: Arrive Adelaide
Meet your tour leader at 3pm in the arrivals hall at Adelaide airport and transfer to our accommodation at the historic Mt Lofty House in the Adelaide Hills. After time to settle into your rooms we reconvene this evening for our welcome dinner in the award-winning Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant. Overnight Mt Lofty (D)
Tuesday 5 April: The Art of Hans Heysen
We travel down from the hills into Adelaide city to the Art Gallery of South Australia for a guided tour, focusing on the works of Hans Heysen. Born in Hamburg in 1877, Heysen emigrated to Australia with his family in 1883. He began art school at the age of 14 and sold his first work at 16. His works were regularly exhibited in Adelaide, and he won the Wynne Prize nine times between 1904 and 1932. Heysen’s deep love of the Adelaide Hills led him to purchase ‘The Cedars’ in Hahndorf where he set up his studio and lived out the rest of his life, making forays into the Flinders Ranges to capture the stunning Outback landscapes of the Australian bush. After studying Heysen’s artworks, we’ll make our way to ‘The Cedars’ and take a guided tour of the home, studio and its rambling gardens, which served as the family home and studio for his daughter Nora Heysen, also a lauded artist. Overnight Mt Lofty (B)
Wednesday 6 April: The Barossa
Departing the Adelaide Hills, we make the short journey north into the Barossa Valley winemaking region. Here we’ll visit the Seppeltsfield Estate, the original Barossa Valley winery, enjoying a tasting and a walk around the spectacular gardens. We then drive on through Kapunda to visit Anlaby Station for lunch and a tour of the house and gardens. Founded in 1839, Anlaby is one of the oldest stations in SA and remains a working merino sheep property with a heritage-listed garden. We continue to our heritage accommodation at Bungaree Station, a working sheep farm on 80,000 acres of land, which is exclusively ours for the night. We tour the property’s heritage buildings before enjoying a BBQ dinner with Clare Valley wines. Overnight Bungaree Station (B, L, D)
Thursday 7 April: Clare Valley
This morning we take the Riesling Trail, riding bikes approximately 4.5 kilometres along the flat pathway by the old railway line to Sevenhill Cellars, the oldest winery in the Clare Valley. The bus will follow for those who don’t wish to cycle. Sevenhill was established by Jesuits who escaped persecution in Europe in 1851. In their new home they produced sacramental wine, a tradition that continues today. We take a walking tour of the winery’s significant sites, including the underground cellar, old-vine vineyards, St Ignatius of Loyola Shrine and the crypt and church of St Aloysius. For lunch we head towards the Clare Valley and the heritage town of Mintaro where we take a guided tour of Martindale Hall, a Georgian-style sandstone mansion built in 1879 and featured in the 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock. There we’ll explore some of the locations where Hans Heysen painted. We return to Bungaree for a roast dinner this evening. Overnight Bungaree Station (B, L, D)
Friday 8 April: To Arkaroola
Departing early for our seven-hour drive today, we witness the landscape change from verdant bushland and vineyards to the rocky outcrops and red soil of the Flinders Ranges. We’ll take a break along the way to inspect the ruins at Kanyaka Station. Established as a cattle station in 1852, it became one of the largest in the district with 70 families working and living here until massive losses through the effects of drought caused the station to be abandoned, leaving only the stone buildings standing desolate and empty. We stop for lunch at the iconic outback pub, the Parachilna Prairie hotel. We continue to Arkaroola, near the Gammon Ranges National Park, arriving in the early evening and have dinner in the restaurant at the resort. Overnight Arkaroola (B, L, D)
Saturday 9 April: Bararrana Gorge and Waterholes
This morning we depart on a seven-kilometre walk to Bararrana Gorge on our first foray into Adnyamathanha Aboriginal lands. Although not too strenuous, the terrain is rocky and involves climbing up hills, along dry creek beds and over some large boulders. The walk is quite varied and allows us to discover the geological story of Arkaroola, rewarding us with magnificent views over the gorge and surrounding area. After free time for lunch at the resort we set out in 4WD vehicles to explore the waterholes along the Arkaroola Creek system and seek out native birds and other wildlife, including the endangered Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby. Dinner this evening is by the campfire with music provided by the traditional owners. Overnight Arkaroola (B, D)
Sunday 10 April: Mawson Walk and Ridgetop Track
Known mainly for his exploration work in Antarctica, Douglas Mawson was a lecturer in minerology and petrology at the University of Adelaide. He worked extensively on the geology around the Flinders Ranges, identifying the first major radioactive ore body in Australia. Our walk this morning follows in his footsteps through the Mawson Valley, where one of his students, Reg Spriggs, discovered ancient animal fossils that are over 600 million years old. This afternoon we take the resort’s specially designed open-top 4WD vehicles and navigate the steep slopes and rugged terrain to the Ridgetop Track for a 360-degree panorama over the red granite ranges to Lake Frome and the desert beyond. This evening is at leisure or you may wish to join the resort’s Astronomy Tour. Overnight Arkaroola (B)
Monday 11 April: Red Gorge to Wilpena Pound
We depart Arkaroola early this morning for Red Gorge, an area with a spectacular array of rock engravings. On the walk to the art sites – approximately four kilometres each way – we are accompanied by one of the traditional owners who will interpret the rock art and offer insights into the culture and history of the Adnyamathanha people. After an alfresco picnic lunch, we continue to Wilpena Pound and our accommodation for the next three nights. Overnight Wilpena Pound (B, L, D)
Tuesday 12 April: Wilpena Pound
The ancient sedimentary rock that makes up Wilpena Pound forms a natural amphitheatre known to the Adnyamathanha people as Ikara, meaning ‘meeting place’. Today we explore the area around Wilpena Pound with a series of optional walks, including one following the course of Wilpena Creek through red-gum woodland into the Pound (to discover the origin of its name). We return to the resort for a break and lunch before following a section of the Heysen trail down to the Homestead and shearing shed. Apart from spectacular scenery we hope to see a number of bird and marsupial species which abound in the park. In the evening (weather permitting) we meet for a sunset tour with views of Wilpena Pound and the Ikara Flinders Ranges with bubbles and nibbles. Overnight Wilpena Pound (B, L, D)
Wednesday 13 April: Brachina Gorge
This morning there is the option to relax at the resort or take an optional flight over Wilpena Pound. Mid-morning, we join an Indigenous ranger for a tour into Brachina Gorge passing through 130 million years of history providing insights into past climate and the evolution of early life forms in the region. The gorge is home to many species of birds and reptiles and is an important refuge for the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby and was used by the early settlers as a pass for bullock teams transporting their loads across the country. Overnight Wilpena Pound (B)
Thursday 14 April: To Adelaide
After breakfast this morning we embark on the six-hour drive back to Adelaide. Arriving in the late afternoon we check into our comfortable modern city hotel with time to freshen up before gathering for a farewell dinner in one of the city’s fine restaurants. Overnight Adelaide (B, D)
Friday 15 April: Depart
The tour concludes after breakfast in the hotel. (B)
Dr Chris Carter
An indigenous and historical archaeologist, actively involved in research in the Atacama region of Chile.
Christopher Carter is an archaeologist with over 20 years’ experience leading tours to Central and South America, Spain and Ireland as well as within Australia. He is particularly interested in human interaction within landscapes and the formative period of cultural development.
Chris has a BA(Hons), MA and PhD from the Australian National University (ANU). He has worked as a tutor at the ANU and lectured at both the ANU and University of Sydney Centres for Continuing Education. When not leading tours, Chris works as an archaeological consultant and heritage advisor.
Chris’ research interests cover both Indigenous and Australian historical archaeology. He is also actively involved in research in the Atacama region of northern Chile and involved in a number of studies investigating the early settlement of this region. He has had a number of academic papers published in international journals.
As a teacher, Chris has always declared that archaeology cannot be learned in the classroom. Such statements resulted in him taking a group to South America in 1995. He has continued to lead several tours a year ever since. The areas visited have expanded to other regions that reflect the subjects he teaches.
We asked Chris, what part of tour leading does he find most rewarding?
“I love teaching and, as they say, ‘to travel is to learn’ and what better classroom than the wider world. Nothing satisfies me more than to lead people into new areas where they can see how humans have interacted with landscapes over the years – to witness the evolution of both the people and the environments they occupy.
On a recent tour, one member of the group commented that they can now ‘see’ a lot more than they did before. In the past, they had taken so much for granted and never thought about how things changed through time. Their eyes had been opened and they began to think more about what they were looking at. To me, these are the statements that make my job worthwhile.”
Opened in November 2020 this well-situated hotel is close to restaurants and the main shopping precinct, Rundle Mall. It boasts fabulous views of the city and Adelaide Hills. www.adelaide.crowneplaza.com
What is included in the tour price?
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
All accommodation at properties mentioned in the itinerary
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Taxis may also be used for short trips on some tours. Some city stay tours may involve local transport
Lunches and dinners indicated with the letters L and D in the itinerary
Beer, wine and soft drinks at sit-down lunches and dinners. Picnic and light lunches may not include alcoholic drinks
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
All tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
On international tours only
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required, and when stated as included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Some trips may be made by public transport such as high-speed train and subway
What is not included in the tour price?
Our tours do not include the following:
Air or land travel from your home city to the tour start/end points
Local taxes and airport levies that we are not able to prepay on your behalf. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Lunches and dinners not specifically indicated with the letters L or D in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as passports, laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
Airport Transfers on international tours
Tours may begin at either the arrival airport or the first hotel. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel, and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
We require all tour participants to have adequate insurance coverage.
For domestic tours, Medicare and your private medical insurance should be used to cover any medical expenses.
Domestic travel insurance is available and strongly recommended to cover non-medical expenses such as cancellation.
For international tours, we require you to have comprehensive travel insurance. Prices vary according to your age, your pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the length of your journey abroad.