Apr 8 - 12, 2022
5 days
$3,995per person, twin share (land content only). $680 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.

Tour Leader

Robert Veel
Apr 8 - 12, 2022

Tour Leader

Robert Veel$3,995per person, twin share (land content only). $680 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.
  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions


Occupied by the Wiradjuri since time immemorial, scene of the first rural expansion in colonial Australia and then a major gold rush, the area just west of the Great Dividing Range from Sydney has a dramatic landscape and a storied past from which generations of artists have sought inspiration, including major artists such as Russell Drysdale, Donald Friend, Jeffrey Smart, Margaret Olley and Brett Whiteley.

Our five-day tour from Sydney explores heritage, landscape and the vibrant visual arts scene of the Central West. A major feature of the tour is visits to the studio-homes of practising artists, whose work is represented in major national and international collections.  We also enjoy the region’s fine food and wine with meals at excellent restaurants.

COVID-19? Book with confidence
If Government imposed COVID-19 restrictions mean that we cannot run a tour, or that you cannot travel to join a tour, then you will be given a 100% refund of all monies paid to Academy Travel for your tour.

Vaccination requirements
Academy Travel requires all participants on its tours to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. We reserve the right to inspect your digital vaccination certificate.


Meet the artists

Since the 1950s the Hill End Central West has attracted leading Australian artists.  The tradition continues and on the trip we will meet several contemporary Australian artists in their studios, all of them inspired by the heritage and landscape of the region.

Fine food and wine

The climate and terrain of the Central West are perfect for producing high quality food and cool climate wines. Fine dining and wine tastings on the tour allows us to sample both.

Gold Rush Heritage

A walking tour of Hill End, together with visits to the towns of Sofala and Gulgong, allow us to experience the heritage of the Gold Rush, which lasted from the 1850s until the 20th century.

Regional Museums

There has been a lot happening in the arts scene in the Central West recently. Enjoy the artists of the ‘Hill End School’ at Bathurst Regional Gallery, the priceless historical photographs in the Holtermann Collection Museum in Gulgong, the newly opened Mudgee Arts Precinct and the refurbished Orange Regional Gallery, home to one of NSW’s best regional collections.


Start & Finish

The tour begins at 10.00 am on April 8 at Sydney Central Station.
The tour ends on April 12 at Sydney Central Station at approximately 6 pm.

Detailed itinerary

Friday 8 April 2022 – To Mudgee

We meet at Sydney Central Station at 10.00am. We travel to Medlow Bath in the Blue Mountains for light lunch at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, an eccentric and legendary institution created by Sydney retailer Mark Foy in the 1920s. In the afternoon, after crossing the Blue Mountains, we visit the little-known Maiyingu Marragu indigenous rock art site near Lithgow. There are ancient ‘stencil’ paintings of hands on a rock ledge and a women’s birthing area, reminders of the very long indigenous occupation of the region before the arrival of Europeans. We continue north to Mudgee, our base for three nights. Dinner is in a local Mudgee Restaurant. Overnight: Mudgee (L, D)

Saturday 9 April – Gulgong and Fine Food

Just north of Mudgee, the town of Gulgong retains an authentic gold rush heritage and has several places of interest. Our first stop is the Holtermann Collection of photography. The 3,500 images of the people and places of the NSW gold rush are an astounding visual record for the time. They were made for Bernard Holtermann, a German immigrant who struck it rich when he found a 153kg nugget at the Hill End goldfields in 1872. The photographs won a Silver Medal at the 1878 Paris Exposition Universelle Internationale and are today recognised by UNESCO. Our next stop in Gulgong is the Henry Lawson Centre. This celebrated poet, together with his mother Louisa, an influential early feminist, spent his childhood in the region. The Centre celebrates his life and writings. There will also be time to pop in at the Settler’s Museum, containing some well-preserved colonial buildings and other artefacts from the earliest European settlement of the area. We return to Mudgee for a long lunch at The Zin House, located on a winery and regarded as one of regional NSW’s best restaurants. In the late afternoon we visit the Mudgee Arts Precinct and Sculpture walk, the region’s newest gallery. Overnight Mudgee (B, L)

Sunday 10 April – Hill End, Sofala – to Orange

This morning we take the dramatic back road to Hill End, famous as a Gold Rush town and later as a mecca for the artists who settled in the area, seeking to capture and mythologise the spirit of the Australian bush in the mid-20th century. Thanks to these pioneering artists, the pretty village remains the home of several artists of note. We visit Golden Gully, a much-painted site outside the village and then take a stroll through Hill End, in the footsteps both of fortune seekers and prominent Australian artists. In the afternoon we travel along the Turon River to Sofala. After strolling the town, we visit the home and studio of landscape painter Amanda Penrose Hart, winner of the 2017 Gallipoli Art Prize. Penrose Hart moved from Sydney on to a property that includes stretches of the original coach road and goldfields to paint the landscape she loves. As well as a studio visit, we enjoy a gourmet lunch cooked by the artist! After lunch, we travel through the scenic countryside to Orange for our two-night stay. Overnight Orange (B, L)

Monday 11 April – Orange

This morning we head to Orange Regional Gallery, re-opened in early December 2021 after an extensive refurbishment. The Orange collection includes important works by Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Grace Cossington Smith, Sydney Nolan, Lloyd Rees, Roland Wakelin and others. At the time of our visit there will be a show by William Kentridge, an internationally famous artist and theatre designer from South Africa. A local guide then takes us on a history and heritage stroll through Orange’s beautiful Summer Hill precinct. This afternoon, we meet an indigenous elder who’ll share his knowledge of Indigenous food and culture, and we visit significant indigenous sites in the area. We’ll also briefly tour the Mt Canobolas area, where Orange’s excellent cool-climate wines are made. Dinner is at a local restaurant, with local wines. Overnight: Orange (B, D)

Tuesday 12 April – Bathurst & Portland

This morning we travel to Bathurst, we visit the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery and meet the director, Sarah Gurich. The gallery is known for its collection of ‘Hill End artists’ of the mid-20th century, including Russel Drysdale, Donald Friend and Jeffrey Smart. We also take a brief heritage tour of Bathurst’s Town Square. Our next stop is the town of Portland, a ‘company town’ built to house workers at the Portland Cement Works. The Works closed in 1991, but recently a private philanthropist has purchased the entire site and is rehabilitating it as an arts and entertainment precinct. We will tour this exciting project with the site manager, and visit the foundry and studio of sculptor Harrie Fasher, now widely recognised as one of Australia’s leading sculptors. Harrie’s large scale works in steel, wood and bronze, many featuring horses, are represented in collections from Canberra to New York, and you may have seen her work in Sydney’s Sculpture by the Sea over several years. Our coach then takes us back to Sydney’s Central station, arriving at approximately 6pm. (B, L)

Robert Veel

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!”

View Bio & Upcoming Tours


Winning Post Motor Inn, Mudgee (2 nights)

This comfortable hotel is very centrally located, close to shops and restaurants. It has a good in-house restaurant.


Byng Street Boutique Hotel, Orange (2 nights)

We have selected the Byng Street Boutique Hotel for its location in the heart of Orange’s heritage precinct. A historical homestead with contemporary architecture.


Tour Inclusions

What is included in the tour price? 

Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:

All tours

  • 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
  • All breakfasts
  • 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

Airport 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.

Travel Insurance

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.

Tour Details

Fitness Requirement

Grade Two

A Grade 2 tour is appropriate for travellers in good health with good mobility, who can comfortably participate in up to 3 hours of physical activity per day on most days.
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More information?

The consultant for this tour is Hannah Kleboe. For further information or to have the consultant call you, please email.
Email Hannah Kleboe

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