Australia’s arid interior, the ‘Outback’, has been inhabited for millennia by the first Australians. It was grimly endured by the first European settlers and later mythologised by artists and writers seeking to pin down the Australian identity. Our 11-day journey takes us from the city to the bush and from the coast to the desert, as we gain firsthand experience of the Outback and consider how it has been represented through history, art and film.
We begin with the comfort and charm of one of our most urbane capitals, Adelaide. From here we head to the vineyards of the Barossa and Clare Valleys, among the first places settled by European immigrants. Further north we encounter the spectacular landscapes, light-filled skies and Indigenous heritage of the Flinders Ranges. The final leg takes us north to New South Wales, and the true desert landscapes of Broken Hill.
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Adelaide’s artistic heritage
From the landscapes of Hans Heysen to leading Indigenous artists, we explore private and public collections in Adelaide.
Performances Enjoy a performance in Adelaide and a Sunday afternoon concert at the stunning Ukaria concert hall in the Adelaide Hills.
Visit some of Australia’s oldest and most celebrated winemakers in the Barossa and Clare Valleys, explore their German heritage and visit important art sites.
Enjoy the rugged, arid landscapes of Wilpena Pound, depicted by painters and photographers for generations.
Broken Hill art scene
Explore Silver City’s surprising range of galleries and sculpture parks and survey works by indigenous, colonial, and contemporary artists, inspired by the Outback and in situ.
Day 1-3: Arrive in Adelaide and meet your tour leader Robert Veel. Enjoy two performances, tour art galleries, visit Hahndorf and the Adelaide Hills.
Day 4-5:Travel to the Barossa & Clare Valleys enjoying wine tastings and tours of the vineyards. Day 6-7: Travel to Wilpena Pound, and take a scenic flight over the iconic landscape. Tour Brachina Gorge with an Indigenous guide and visit a Flinders Ranges’ art exhibition.
Day 8-11: Depart for Broken Hill, visit art galleries, explore the Living Desert Sculptures, enjoy an outback astronomy session under a million stars and go underground at the Daydream mine.
The tour begins at 5pm on September 2 at the Crowne Plaza Adelaide.
The tour ends after breakfast on September 12 at the hotel in Broken Hill.
Friday September 2 – Arrival
Check in at the Crowne Plaza Hotel begins at 2 pm. At 5pm we meet for a drink and a discussion of the tour and tonight’s performance before heading to a restaurant close to the Festival Theatre for a pre-performance meal. This evening we attend a performance together. (D)
Saturday September 3 – Adelaide’s Artistic Heritage
This morning we stroll to the South Australian Museum and tour the indigenous collection, we then visit the Art Gallery of South Australia, one of the country’s best. Our visit concentrates on Indigenous art from South Australia, the landscapes of Hans Heysen and other artists whose work elevated the landscape of South Australia’s arid interior to an iconic and mythical status. The early afternoon is free, and you might choose to stroll the nearby botanic gardens. Later in the day we travel by coach to Carrick Hill estate. The stately home and 40 hectares of gardens has survived with most of the original contents intact. Carrick Hill houses the private collection of the original owners and art patrons Sir Edward and Lady Ursula Hayward and includes contemporary European and Australian paintings and decorative arts. (B)
Sunday September 4 – Adelaide Hills and Hahndorf
This morning we head to the Adelaide Hills to Hahndorf, Australia’s oldest German settlement dating back to 1838. We visit ‘The Cedars’, and enjoy a guided tour of the home, garden and studio of renowned father and daughter artists Hans and Nora Heysen, with over 200 original works on display. Enjoy some free time in Hahndorf, afterwards we continue to the Ukaria Cultural Centre for a performance at the beautiful Concert Hall, a contemporary, intimate venue overlooking the Hills. Overnight Adelaide (B)
Monday September 5 – Barossa Valley
We depart Adelaide by coach to the Barossa Valley for a guided heritage tour of the Seppeltsfield Estate winery, the 1851 homestead, Elm walk, the distillery and blending cellars. We learn the Seppelt family’s history and its influence on the Australian wine industry. A leisurely lunch at a local winery estate showcases the best Barossa produce. We stop in at the historic Langmeil Church, before continuing north to the Clare Valley, our base for the next two nights. This afternoon we visit Anlaby Station for a tour of the house and garden followed by a light dinner. Afterwards, we make our way to the hotel for our two night stay. Overnight Clare. (B, L, D)
Tuesday September 6 – Clare Valley
This morning we explore Sevenhill, the oldest winery in the Clare Valley. Established by Jesuits escaping persecution in Europe in 1851, the vineyard first produced sacramental wine, a tradition that continues today. We take a walking tour of the winery’s significant winemaking and spiritual sites, including the underground cellar, old-vine vineyards, St Ignatius of Loyola Shrine and the crypt and church of St Aloysius. In the afternoon we visit the heritage town of Burra town and visit the mine. We also visit Watervale, here take a tour of Penobscot Farm and enjoy a farm to table degustation dinner experience in the “Hell Hole”. Overnight Clare. (B, D)
Wednesday September 7 – To the Flinders Ranges – Scenic flight
This morning we make the 300-kilometre journey north to Wilpena Pound, in the heart of the Flinders Ranges. En route we stop at Wombara to see its painted silos. As we travel north the landscape becomes increasingly arid, with far horizons, limpid skies and red earth. The ancient sedimentary rock that makes up Wilpena Pound forms a natural amphitheatre known to the Adnyamathanha people as Ikara, meaning ‘meeting place’. This afternoon there is a 30-minute scenic flight over the Pound in a light plane, the only way to get a comprehensive view of the remarkable landscape. This evening we enjoy dinner at the Station. Overnight Flinders Ranges (B, L ,D)
Thursday September 8 – Brachina Gorge
This morning we join an Indigenous ranger for a tour into Brachina Gorge, passing through 130 million years of history that provides 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 an important refuge for the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby. It was used by the early settlers as a pass for bullock teams transporting their loads across the country. On the way to Brachina we will stop at the ‘Cazneaux Tree’ which, when photographed by Harold Cazneaux in 1937, bought him world-wide recognition. This afternoon there is time to check out the ‘Artists of the Flinders Ranges’ exhibition showing at the Lodge. This evening we dine at Rawnsley Park Station, not far from our hotel. Overnight Flinders Ranges (B, L, D)
Friday September 9 – On to Broken Hill
This morning we tour the Station with an indigenous guide.We then make the 500km journey across the desert to Broken Hill. We stop at the small town of Peterborough. Founded as Petersburg by German immigrants in 1875, the town changed its name in WWI due to anti-German sentiment. Peterborough is where the East-West Sydney to Perth and the North-South Adelaide to Darwin railways intersect. It has a high proportion of heritage buildings and a rail museum. We arrive in Broken Hill in the late afternoon and there is a simple dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Broken Hill. (B, D)
Saturday September 10 – Art and History in Broken Hill
When boundary rider Charles Rasp came across deposits of what he thought was tin in 1883, he did not realise that he had stumbled upon one of the world’s largest silver–lead–zinc mineral deposits. Broken Hill remains Australia’s longest running mining town, with an industrial tradition that is recognised through its National Heritage Listing. Historic buildings, the desert setting and proud, independent residents have created a mythology around the town, celebrated in painting, sculpture and films such as Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and the Mad Max series. This morning a local guide shows us palatial Federation and Victorian buildings funded by mining wealth, tin cottages and 1930s art deco properties. Later this afternoon we visit the Line of Lode Miners Memorial. The impressive structure pays tribute to the 800 miners who lost their lives working at the mine. We then take a short drive out of town to see the sun setting over the much-admired Living Desert Sculpture Park. This evening we visit an outdoor astronomy where the brilliant night sky of the Outback will be explained to us. (Warm clothing required.) Overnight Broken Hill. (B)
Sunday September 11 – Regional Gallery and Silverton
This morning we visit the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery, housed in the refurbished Sully’s Emporium building. The Gallery holds more than 2,000 colonial, modern and contemporary Australian artworks by artists including Rick Amor, Badger Bates, Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, Liz Cuming, George Gittoes, Barbara Hanrahan, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Mandy Martin, Clifton Pugh, Lloyd Rees, Garry Shead, Tim Storrier, and Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri. The Gallery also possesses an authoritative collection of artworks narrating the history of Broken Hill. This includes works by J.C. Goodhart, Sam Byrne, Robert Emerson Curtis, May Harding, Hoppy Hopgood and Pro Hart. In the early afternoon we head out of town, to tour the Daydream Mine site, founded in 1881. Starting on the surface we see the old township where the miners lived in extremely harsh conditions in the 1880’s. We then don a hat and light to descend underground to see how the mine once operated. We continue to Silverton and wander through the historic buildings many of which have appeared onscreen in films and television series. We farewell Broken Hill with dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Broken Hill. (B, D)
Monday September 12 – Depart
The tour ends after breakfast. There are numerous options for returning to your home city, including direct flights to Sydney, Adelaide and Mildura which connect to flights to other capital cities. Another option is to stay an extra night in Broken Hill and catch the XPT train to Sydney on Tuesday. (B)
A cultural historian and founding director of Academy Travel, with a strong interest in visual arts, architecture and music.
Robert Veel is a cultural historian with over 20 years’ experience leading tours to Italy, the USA, Scandinavia and Turkey. He has a strong personal interest in the visual arts, architecture and music, and is a founding director of Academy Travel.
Robert holds a BA, Dip. Ed and M.Ed, all from the University of Sydney. He worked as a lecturer at the University of Sydney before a long stint at the University’s Centre for Continuing Education, lecturing in Italian history and culture and working as Assistant Director. Robert continues to teach occasionally in Continuing Education courses.
Robert’s historical and artistic knowledge stretches from the Middle Ages through the early 20th century. In Italy he has led many tours focusing on the Medieval and Renaissance periods. In the United States he likes to focus on the founding of the Republic and the Gilded Age of the early 20th century. In Scandinavia he is particularly interested in national identity and its role in Scandinavian literature, design and architecture. Robert speaks fluent Italian.
Robert led his first tour to Italy in 1990 and has not looked back! He has led more than 50 tours and designed many of Academy Travel’s most popular tours, including Sicily, New York, Rome and Venice residential tours, and our Scandinavia tours. More recently Robert led the first offering of Academy Travel’s tours to Tasmania and New Zealand.
We asked Robert, what do you enjoy most about leading tours?
“I really enjoy travelling with like-minded, interested travellers who are up for a bit of an intellectual adventure. It’s often the unexpected things that create the ‘shared joy’ of group travel”, says Robert “a wonderful, but little-known painting, a great performance or a fabulous meal. These are the things we travel for.”
“Over the years travellers have commented on my seemingly boundless enthusiasm. It’s true that I am curious about most things – people, places, history and artistic expression. There’s a kind of alchemy when this enthusiasm rubs off on others – hopefully with a bit of useful information as well!”
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.