Mar 22 - 25, 2021
4 days
$2,295per person, twin share (land content only). $480 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.

Tour Leader

Robert Veel
Mar 22 - 25, 2021

Tour Leader

Robert Veel
  • Tour Info
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions


Academy Travel is delighted to offer a 4-day tour to Canberra and the Monaro, exploring the National Gallery’s blockbuster Botticelli to Van Gogh exhibition. Enjoy a rare opportunity to see masterpieces from the National Gallery of London in Australia – from Titian to Rembrandt, Vermeer, Velázquez, Turner and Cézanne – under the expert guidance of cultural historian Robert Veel. We also spend a full day visiting three exquisite private gardens in the spectacular Monaro High Country. Tours of the visionary National Arboretum and National Portrait Gallery, along with fine dining, round out the program.


  • Admire 60 masterpieces from the National Gallery of London, spanning 450 years and including rarely-loaned works such as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers
  • Enjoy the spectacular scenery of the High Country in spring, on a full-day excursion to the Monaro with private tours with the owners of three of its distinctive gardens
  • Contemporary Canberra’s vision, from the National Arboretum, a significant collection of rare and endangered trees, to the National Portrait Gallery which highlights individuals’ contributions to Australia’s story
  • A welcome dinner in one of Canberra’s finest restaurants and superb country hospitality in the Monaro

Itinerary Overview

Day 1: Assemble at our hotel for background lectures on the National Gallery’s Botticelli to Van Gogh exhibition. Welcome dinner.

Day 2: Explore the National Gallery exhibition with your tour leader, with time at leisure to admire works by Titian, Vermeer, Cézanne and others, as well as the gallery’s permanent collection. After lunch at the National Arboretum, enjoy an afternoon tour of this visionary site with its impressive 44,000 trees.

Day 3: On a private excursion to the Monaro, explore three magnificent private gardens with their owners, including a Paul Bangay-designed interpretation of the traditional Mediterranean garden.

Day 4: Our tour concludes after a morning visit to the National Portrait Gallery.

Detailed Itinerary

Start & Finish

The tour begins and concludes at our hotel in Canberra. We can assist in booking transport by plane or bus.

Detailed Itinerary

Monday March 22

Make your way to Canberra and check in to our hotel from 2pm. This afternoon Robert Veel gives two detailed lectures, one on the collection history of the National Gallery, London, the second exploring the fascinating history of artists’ materials and pigments with reference to the works exhibited in Canberra. In the evening we gather at one of Canberra’s fine restaurants, for a celebratory meal. (D)

Tuesday March 23

We spend the entire morning at the National Gallery of Australia in the company of Robert, exploring the seven key themes of this landmark exhibition. There is wonderful scope here, from the Italian Renaissance to Dutch and Spanish Golden Age painting, the Grand Tour and the birth of landscape and modern art – all exemplified by masters such as Titian, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Velázquez, Goya, Turner and Cézanne. This afternoon we travel out of Canberra to the National Arboretum, where we enjoy a packed lunch prior to a tour. Opened in 2013, the Arboretum occupies a huge 250-hectare (618 acre) site and is one of one of the world’s largest living collections of rare, endangered and significant trees. The Arboretum is organized into 44 ‘forests’ with over 44,000 trees, some of them more than 100 years old, and has a delightful Bonsai collection. (B, L)

Wednesday March 24

Today we venture to the foothills of the Snowy Mountains in the company of an Academy Tour Manager, exploring three magnificent private gardens with their owners. All the gardens are located on historic pastoral properties, where sheep and cattle graze over the extensive Monaro plains. At altitudes of around 1000mtrs, the gardens are ‘cold climate’ with four distinct seasons. After travelling to Cooma, our first stop is Hazeldean, a sheep property and well-known Angus stud that has been run by the Litchfield family since the 1850s. After a morning tea in the 1907 homestead, our host Libby Litchfield shows us the extensive gardens, well established with mature trees and traditional plantings. We then head for Curry Flat Station, established in 1846 by William Jardine. The current owners, Sue and Jim Jardine, have done extensive work on the garden surrounding the 1890 house, planting avenues of trees and herbaceous plants chosen for the cold climate. After lunch at Curry Flat we continue to Shirley, where the six acres of gardens at Shirley have been recently redesigned by renowned landscape architect Paul Bangay. The garden features expansive lawns, mature trees and a private lake. March is perhaps the best time to visit these gardens, the roses are still out and some of the trees already have their vibrant autumn colour. The large European trees are still in full leaf, the days are still and most of the perennial flowers are still flowering – catmint, swathes of lavender, sedums, Agastache, Japanese windflowers- to name a few! (B, L)

Thursday March 25

We conclude our tour with a visit to the National Portrait Gallery and its growing collection of representations of the individuals who have shaped Australian identity, history and culture. After coffee in the gallery café, we depart for the hotel for check out. (B)

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


Avenue Hotel Canberra 4.5*

The award-winning Avenue Hotel provides comfort and luxury in the heart of Canberra, close to Parliament House, local museums, dining and entertainment in the Braddon district.

Tour Inclusions

What is included in the tour price? 

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

  • Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
  • Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate, taxis or public transport are also used for short distance travel on some tours
  • All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
  • Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
  • Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
  • Services of tour leader throughout tour
  • All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • Local guides at some sites
  • Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
  • Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included

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 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.

What is not included in the tour price?

Our tours do not include the following:

  • Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
  • Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
  • Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
  • Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity

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


A limited number of places remain on this tour and as such, internet bookings are not taken. Please contact our travel consultant listed below if you wish to make a booking.

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Speak to a consultant

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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