Sep 9 - 12, 2021
4 days
$2,870per person, twin share (land content only). $760 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.

Tour Leader

Robert Gay
Sep 9 - 12, 2021

Tour Leader

Robert Gay$2,870per person, twin share (land content only). $760 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.
  • Tour Info
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions


Established in 1996, the Brisbane Festival has grown in stature alongside Brisbane itself as a cultural destination. We are delighted to offer a long weekend at the Festival, combined with a chance to see an outstanding exhibition of European Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, travelling to Australia for the first time.

We’ve secured tickets to the premiere season of Boy Swallows Universe by the Queensland Theatre Company, an adaptation of Trent Dalton’s much-loved novel, which is the headline event at the Festival. We’ve also booked a performance to the Queensland Camerata chamber orchestra’s Conference of the Birds and there will be time to explore the Festival’s other offerings along the Southbank precinct.

Academy Travel is delighted that one of our most admired and popular tour leaders Robert Gay will be leading this tour.  He will be accompanied on this trip by his wife Professor Penny Gay whose expertise in theatre will greatly enhance the performance experience.

COVID-19 cancellation policy

The following special cancellation and refund conditions applies to this tour.

  • If you book on this tour and then find that you are unable to travel due to Government imposed COVID-19 travel restrictions we will provide a 100% cash refund of all monies paid to Academy Travel for this tour. This refund will be given irrespective of how close to the tour start date you become ineligible to travel, but you must inform us within 24 hours of becoming personally unable to travel in order to obtain a full refund.
  • If the tour cannot proceed due to Government imposed Covid-19 travel restrictions, the tour will be cancelled and all participants will receive a 100% cash refund of all monies paid to Academy Travel for this tour. This refund will be given irrespective of how close the cancellation occurs to the start date of the tour.


  • Boy Swallows Universe is Trent Dalton’s novel set in Brisbane, is being brought to the stage for the first time in this highly-anticipated adaptation. Tickets are all but sold out for the show.
  • See Camerata’s Conference of the Birds at the Brisbane Festival. A story of love, faith and humanity’s search for the courage within is as relevant today as it was nine centuries ago. (Main image by Peter Sis)
  • Visit European Masters of the Met. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art opened in 1880, just when Americans were opening their eyes to the beauty of European art. We are privileged to be able to see some of the Met’s best works in Australia.
  • Enjoy a degustation meal at one of Brisbane’s best restaurants, with views over the Brisbane River.
  • Robert and Penny Gay share their expert knowledge to help you get the most from the program.

Itinerary Overview

Day 1: Meet your tour leaders Robert & Penny Gay at The Emporium and enjoy a sunset cruise down the Brisbane River.  Dinner in a fine dining restaurant overlooking the river.

Day 2: Special guest lecturer Christopher Menz introduces European Masterpieces of the MET before visiting the exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery.  There is a pre performance talk before the performance of Camerata’s Conference of the Birds.

Day 3: After a talk, enjoy lunch at the Gallery of Modern Art’s well regarded restaurant.  Enjoy an evening performance of Boy Swallows Universe.

Day 4: The tour end after breakfast.

Detailed Itinerary

Start & Finish

The tour begins at 3.00pm on September 9 in the Emporium hotel.
The tour finishes after breakfast on September 12 in the hotel.

Thursday September 9

Meet your tour leaders in the hotel and walk to the embarkation point for our sunset cruise down the Brisbane River to The Powerhouse, Brisbane’s newest performing arts venue. We take a backstage tour before returning to Southbank. This evening we head to Otto Ristorante overlooking the Brisbane River. (D)

Friday September 10
Performance – Camerata’s Conference of the Birds

This morning, special guest lecturer Christopher Menz gives an in-depth introduction to the European Masterpieces exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery. Christopher will then accompany the group for an open visit to the exhibition.  This evening at 5.00pm, Robert Gay gives a pre-performance introduction to Camerata’s Conference of the Birds. After a break we head to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) for the performance. (B)

Saturday September 11
Performance – Boy Swallows Universe

This morning, Professor Penny Gay gives an introduction to the Queensland Theatre Company’s production of Boy Swallows Universe. At lunchtime we dine at the Gallery of Modern Art’s (GOMA’s) well regarded restaurant. This afternoon, we enjoy the events and atmosphere of the Brisbane Festival in the Southbank precinct. This evening we head to QPAC ‘s playhouse for the performance. (B, L)

Sunday September 12

The tour ends after breakfast. (B)

Robert Gay

One of Australia’s leading music tour leaders and music educators, he has designed and led more than 90 tours.

Since 1987, Robert Gay has managed to combine his passion for music and his love of teaching with his enthusiasm for travel. He has visited the great opera houses and concert halls of Europe and America and heard most of the great singers and instrumentalists of the last half-century. Robert was President of the Sydney Schubert Society for eighteen years, and for several years was a guest lecturer for ADFAS.

After gaining a BA, Dip. Ed. from the University of Sydney, Robert trained as a lyric baritone in London and Munich before turning to the field of music education with a position at 2MBS-FM. He has taught music history courses at Sydney University’s Centre for Continuing Education since 1985. Robert’s musical expertise ranges wide, from baroque to modern. He particular enjoys placing works in their larger contexts – musical, biographical, social and historical.

In the early days, Robert always designed his tours to include a visit behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ – whether it was Berlin, Dresden, Prague or Budapest – thereby providing fascinating insights into a world which has now largely disappeared. His tours, which total nearly 90, have regularly featured the great musical cities of Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Russia, as well as Scandinavia and the United States of America.

“It has been an enormous privilege to have travelled the world for the last 30 years taking groups of music lovers to the great musical and cultural cities of Europe and America,” Robert says. “There is something magical about music – an art form which only truly lives as it is performed – which seems to bind people together so effortlessly and harmoniously.”

“I have always been a great believer in ‘the spirit of place’,” says Robert. “You can read and research and google all you like, but it cannot for a moment match the thrill of standing in the beautiful villa on the shores of Lake Lucerne where Wagner and his beloved Cosima first lived together; or of hearing a service in Bach’s unassuming St Thomas’s church in Leipzig; or seeing a performance in the old Paris Opéra, the auditorium ‘crowned’ by its superb Chagall ceiling celebrating both opera and ballet. Such experiences are treasurable and unforgettable!”

View Bio & Upcoming Tours

The Emporium Hotel,  Brisbane (3 nights)

We have reserved rooms in this five-star boutique luxury hotel in the heart of Brisbane’s Southbank. Emporium Hotel South Bank 

Tour Inclusions

  • 3 nights’ accommodation and breakfast at The Emporium Hotel Brisbane
  • Sunset cruise on the Brisbane River
  • Private dining at Otto Ristorante overlooking Brisbane River
  • Entry to the QAG exhibition and all other sites included in the itinerary
  • Performance tickets included in the itinerary
  • Travel on excursions by private coach
  • In-depth performance talks by Robert & Penny Gay
  • All group tipping

Tour Details



Fitness Requirement

Grade One

A Grade 1 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.
More Details


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For further information or to secure a place on this tour please contact:
Hannah Kleboe (02) 9235 0023 or 1800 639 699
(outside Sydney)

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