From award-winning sculptors to visual, textile, ceramic and photographic arts, the Hunter and Wollombi Valleys are renowned for the number of talented artists that live, work and exhibit here. This three-day excursion will take you from Indigenous rock art to the studios of leading contemporary artists – and, of course, you’ll have ample time to enjoy the regional food and wine, fine landscapes and explore the rejuvenated towns of the region.
Our exploration includes visits to regional art galleries, which will be having several excellent exhibitions at the time of our visit. We’ll also meet artists in their studios, including Braddon Snape and Fiona Lee, whose exhibition we’ll see at Maitland Regional Gallery. Along the way we’ll visit well-preserved historic towns, and have dinner at two excellent restaurants in the Hunter Valley, and visit the private sculpture park and studios of Paul Selwood, one of Australia’s leading sculptors.
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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.
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Visit the studios of leading Australian artists: Paul Selwood, Braddon Snape, Fiona Lee and Richard Tipping.
Tour the first-rate public galleries of the region at Maitland and Newcastle.
Enjoy the scenic beauty of the Wollombi Valley and the Broken Back Range.
Learn about Indigenous art and history, including the Bulgandry Aboriginal Art Site.
Explore historic Morpeth and rejuvenated Newcastle.
Day 1: Depart Wynyard for the Hunter Valley via the Great North Road to Wollombi. Lunch at historic Wollombi followed by a visit to the studio and private sculpture park of artist Paul Selwood. Dinner and overnight, Hunter Valley.
Day 2: Visit Maitland Regional Gallery where artist Fiona Lee will meet us and talk about her exhibition, followed by a visit with artist Richard Tipping at his new gallery space. After a break for lunch, visit Newcastle Regional Art Gallery. Dinner and overnight, Hunter Valley.
Day 3: Visit Creator Incubator – 34 artist studios in a converted industrial site – with sculptor Braddon Snape. Picnic lunch by the beach, before returning to Sydney, stopping to visit the Bulgandry Aboriginal Rock Art site on the Central Coast.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Wednesday 10 November – Wollombi
At 9.30am, enjoy a coffee at Wynyard in the Sydney CBD before heading north to Wollombi, a well-preserved colonial town on the original Great Northern Road. After lunch in a local café and a stroll among the colonial-era buildings, we visit the home and studio of Paul Selwood, one of Australia’s most successful sculptors, and hear him talk about his art and the sculpture garden he has created nestled in the Wollombi Valley. In the late afternoon, we continue to the Hunter Valley. After checking into our hotel, there is time to relax before we enjoy dinner at an excellent Hunter Valley restaurant. Overnight Pokolbin (L, D)
Thursday 11 November – Towns and Galleries
Today we explore the art and heritage of the Hunter Region. Our first stop is Maitland, where we visit Maitland Regional Gallery’s diverse range of well-curated exhibitions. A highlight of our visit is the artist Fiona Lee who will speak to us about her exhibition at the gallery. We then visit a new gallery opened by artist Richard Tipping, who’ll meet us at the gallery and discuss the work on show. After a break for lunch, we continue to Morpeth, a pretty, well-preserved colonial town on the Hunter River, before continuing to Newcastle Regional Gallery. After visiting the gallery, we’ll stop by Margell Hinder’s sculptural fountain before returning to the Hunter. After time to relax and freshen up, we dine in a fine Hunter Valley Restaurant. Overnight Pokolbin (B, D)
Friday 12 November – Newcastle Artists
Newcastle has substantially changed from the days when it was one of Australia’s largest industrial centres. These changes are seen across the city, which provides easy access to quiet city beaches and to its hinterland in the Hunter Valley. But the former industrial spaces of the city have also become a haven for artists. This morning we visit Creator Incubator, where artist Braddon Snape has transformed an industrial warehouse complex into 34 open artist studios. After Braddon talks to us about his own work in his studio, he will show us around the complex. In the afternoon, after a picnic lunch by the beach, we return to Sydney stopping to visit the Bulgandry Aboriginal Rock Art site, near Kariong. Here we see an exceptional number of very well-preserved Aboriginal engravings of animals and of Bulgandry man, an ancestral hero. Continuing to Sydney, we arrive at Wynyard in the early evening. (B, L)
Dr Nick Gordon
A cultural historian with a PhD in History, and practicing painter who brings this passion to the visual arts.
Dr Nick Gordon is a cultural historian and artist, with over 10 years of experience leading tours to Europe. He has strong interests in art, history, philosophy and architecture, from the ancient world to the present.
Nick holds a University Medal and PhD in history from the University of Sydney. He taught medieval and Renaissance history at the University of Sydney, the history of political thought at the University of Western Sydney, and architectural and Australian history elsewhere. He continues to teach at the Centre of Continuing Education, and gives occasional lectures on topics ranging from Classical Rome through to Australian and contemporary art. Nick has lead tours for Academy Travel since 2007, and designs study tours, residential tours and art-focussed tours, such as the Venice Biennale, Art Along the Rhine, Art Basel, and Amsterdam to Paris: Van Eyck to Van Gogh.
Nick is also an artist and his firsthand experience of art complements his academic expertise, through his knowledge of materials and the processes behind how an artwork is made, and his well-practiced eye for reading art.
We asked Nick, what do you enjoy most about tour leading?
“One of the things I enjoy most about touring is helping people understand more about what they’re seeing. This happens through a combination of background lectures exploring different contexts, cultural commentary on the road, and especially by being able to explain what is going on in an artwork with the artwork in front of us.”
“The aim of all of this is to help people see more for themselves, independently, both on tour and beyond. Some of the best moments for me on tour are when this happens, and you get to be part of something bigger as people start adding their own knowledge and experience to what we’re looking at. It makes each experience unique.”
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.