Sep 1 - 8, 2022
8 days
$4,780per person, twin share (land content only). $810 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.

Tour Leader

Dr Jeni Ryde
Sep 1 - 8, 2022

Tour Leader

Dr Jeni Ryde
  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions


The regions of central and western Victoria are often bypassed by travellers, and yet they offer fascinating insights into Australia’s history and culture: from Indigenous Dreaming and custodianship of the diverse lands to Australia’s economic foundations in gold, grazing and grain and the recent revival of the arts in these regions.

Our 8-day tour begins in Ballarat, marked by the legacy of gold mining and the Eureka Stockade, but also by its cultural heritage, from the oldest regional art gallery in Australia to the area’s many beautiful contemporary gardens. Next, we travel west to Victoria’s centre, to witness the spectacular scenery of the Grampians and learn about Indigenous history, art, and custodianship of the land. We then move on to the harsh natural beauty of the Wimmera and the Mallee, where we follow the Silo Art Trail – the disused grain silos which serve as giant canvases for contemporary artists to capture the region’s history. As we move north, inland deserts and salt lakes give way to the billabongs of Murray River. We end the tour in Mildura, where we enjoy the landscape and explore the regional town’s cultural heritage.

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.


Paul Bangay’s Private Garden
Paul Bangay is one of Australia’s most loved and internationally renowned landscape designers. Enjoy a private tour of his own garden, Stonefields, led by Paul himself.

The Silo Art Trail
Huge grain silos dot the landscape of the Wimmera in western Victoria. A remnant of the golden days of Australia’s grain trade, these have been turned into huge canvases for contemporary artists to immortalise the people and culture of the region.

The Grampians (Gariwerd)
Get to know this region in depth: from the iconic views across a unique Australian landscape, to its precipitous waterfalls, to the deep history of Australia as revealed through the rock art of the Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali peoples, the traditional custodians of the land.

Australian History
Explore Australia’s history through the places and landscapes that have shaped it, from the Eureka Rebellion in Ballarat, to the grain and grazing of the Federation economy, and the rich Indigenous history of Country.

Unique Landscape of the Mallee
Get to know one of Australia’s most iconic landscapes: the dry soils, salt lakes, ephemeral rivers, sand dunes and the low-lying eucalypts that give the region its name. Explore the beauty of this region, including visits to Lake Hindmarsh and the Hattah National Park.

Start & Finish

The tour begins at Melbourne Airport and ends at Mildura airport. Qantas offers suitable connections into Melbourne and out of Mildura from most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.

Detailed Itinerary

Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.

Thursday 1 September – The Goldfields

We meet this afternoon at 2pm at Melbourne airport, Terminal 1. From here we travel by private coach to Ballarat. Once the centre of life on the goldfields, when it went from a field of tents to become one of Australia’s largest inland cities, Ballarat was also the centre of political turmoil, which came to a head in 1854 with the Eureka Stockade. On arrival in Ballarat, we visit the Gold Museum, which traces the development of gold mining in the region and its social history. After settling into our hotel, we have dinner in one of Ballarat’s best restaurants. Overnight Ballarat (D)

Friday 2 September – Paul Bangay and the Gardens of Daylesford

The cool climate of the southeastern goldfields is a gardener’s delight, and they have become home to some of Victoria’s most loved private retreats, including the personal garden of Paul Bangay, one of Australia’s most successful landscape designers. This morning we have an exclusive visit of Paul Bangay‘s own garden at Stonefields. After Paul takes us around his garden, we enjoy morning tea together on the property. In the afternoon, we visit Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, whose well-preserved buildings and streetscapes reveal the history of mining and migration in the colonial period. In the later afternoon, we visit St Erth, a cool climate garden owned by the Diggers Club, which conserves and propagates heirloom seeds and rootstock. Returning to Ballarat, the evening is at leisure. (B, morning tea)

Saturday 3 September – Ballarat

This morning we have a lecture on the development of landscape painting in Australia in the 20th century. We then visit Ballarat Art Gallery, the oldest regional gallery in Australia, with an exceptional collection of Australian art. After a guided visit, there is time to explore the gallery’s temporary exhibitions. After a break for lunch, we travel to the Pyrenees wine region, about an hour’s drive north of Ballarat, for wine tastings and nibbles at some local vineyards. The region, with its cold winters and long hot summers, is well regarded for its red varietals. On our return to Ballarat, we visit the Botanic Gardens on Lake Wendouree. Evening at leisure. Overnight Ballarat. (B, wine tasting)

Sunday 4 September – The Grampians

Today we drive west into Central Victoria. After a morning coffee break in Ararat, another of Victoria’s gold towns, we visit Brambuk, the Indigenous Cultural Centre near Halls’ Gap, at the base of the Grampians. Here we learn about the deep history and significance of the region – called Gariwerd by its traditional custodians, the Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali people – and the very particular ecology of the National Park. After a break for lunch, we drive into the Grampians, a spectacular mountain range formed by sedimentary stone formed over 400 million years ago. We stop to take in scenic views across the ranges, including from Boroka Lookout, and the beautiful MacKenzie Falls, and visit some of the exceptionally well-preserved Indigenous rock art sites. In the later afternoon, we continue on to Horsham, our base for the next two nights as we explore the Wimmera and Mallee. Dinner and overnight, Horsham. (B, D)

Monday 5 September – Silo Art & Wimmera Plains

The Wimmera Plains form an iconic Australian landscape, with its wide, dry plains and low-lying Mallee forests. With the expansion of the Victorian colony, the region was quickly taken over by graziers and farmers and by the early 20th century the region was a major producer of wheat and wool. Today we explore the history of the region, visiting the ‘Stick Shed’ at Murtoa, a cathedral-like structure built in 1939 to store huge quantities of grain, the Methodist Mission at Antwerp, and the natural beauty of the Pink Lake near Dimboola and Lake Hindmarsh. A highlight of today is the beginning of the Silo Art Trail – a public art project which turned the disused grain silos of the region into canvases on which contemporary artists depicted the history and people of the region. Returning to Horsham, the evening is at leisure. (B)

Tuesday 6 September – Silo Art and the Landscapes of the Mallee

Today we drive north, continuing along the Silo Art Trail and move deeper into the Mallee. As we move north, we notice the landscape becoming drier and less hospitable, the beginnings of Australia’s great inland desert landscapes – the Big and Little Desert wilderness areas – and the distinctive Mallee landscape, with its diverse species of eucalypts. After a break for lunch, we continue north to Lake Tyrrell, whose mirror-like surface creates the impression of an infinite skyline, and then to the Hattah National Park, where the Mallee landscape gives way to the billabongs and marshes of the meandering Murray. Dinner and overnight, Mildura. (B, D)

Wednesday 7 September – Mildura and the Murray

The Murray River – despite the drought and chronic problems with finding a solution to water usage along the length of Australia’s longest river system – remains beautiful in the area around Mildura. This morning we explore the landscape, including a cruise along the river, home to native birdlife and unique vegetation. After our tour this morning, we have lunch at a local winery to enjoy the abundance provided by the region. Then we visit the Art Centre – a combination of galleries and collections centred on Rio Vista, a National Trust historic house. This evening, we meet for farewell drinks. Overnight, Mildura. (B, L)

Thursday 8 September – Departure

The tour ends this morning, with a transfer to Mildura airport for morning flights to Melbourne. (B)

Dr Jeni Ryde

A linguist and art history specialist, with a PhD focusing on Tourism, Heritage and Renaissance Studies.

Dr Jeni Ryde is a linguist and art history specialist with over fifteen years experience leading tours to Italy, Spain and Portugal. She is passionate about art, design and architecture both ancient and modern and particularly enjoys how both complement each other. Her special interests are the simplicity of the Romanesque and the breadth and depth of the Renaissance. When she is not traveling with Academy Travel she is able to indulge her interests in drawing, music and teaching the less fortunate.

Jeni holds two undergraduate degrees with majors in Anthropology and French and Interpreting and Translation with NAATI qualifications, two Masters degrees in Italian Linguistics and TESOL and a cross disciplinary PhD in Renaissance Art History, Tourism and Museum Management.

After an early career as an assistant director in film and television both for the ABC and BBC, she worked as an interpreter and translator and then as a senior lecturer at Western Sydney University with a focus on Italian language, history and culture. She was also head of the postgraduate programs in Languages and Interpreting and Translation. Teaching in Adult Education has included several courses in Renaissance Art History, the Italian language and Italian Cinema for U3A and other community organizations. Jeni speaks fluent Italian and Spanish and has an understanding of French and Portuguese.

Jeni first began designing and leading tours to Italy with her own company in 2002 in response to requests from travelers searching for small group tours with specific themes. She joined Academy Travel in 2009 and has since led many tours to various regions of Italy as well as Spain and Portugal.

We asked Jeni, what motivates you as a tour leader?

“I delight in being the catalyst for showing our travelers beautiful places and works of art and especially seeing their reactions – a tear in the eye before a moving painting, a sigh of wonder on entering a beautiful building, a gasp at the beauty of an exquisite landscape. This for me is the great privilege and reward of being an Academy Tour Leader.”

“Many travelers comment on my boundless energy and curiosity for paths less travelled. I like to think that people who travel with me are swept along by my waves of enthusiasm and are inspired to go beyond the obvious to explore and learn with me. I’m known for introducing many little surprises along the way! An added bonus for me is the shared experience of like-minded people enjoying each other’s company while traveling together.”

View Bio & Upcoming Tours


We have selected 4-star accommodation for this tour, but please keep in mind that regional and rural areas are not always able to provide the same level of in-room service as inner city hotels.

Ballarat, Craig’s Royal Hotel (3 nights)

Historic hotel in the centre of Ballarat (next to the Art Gallery). Recently restored with modern conveniences in room, but period charm has been retained.

Horsham, Horsham International Hotel (2 nights)

Comfortable modern hotel in Horsham, a stopping point on the road from Melbourne to inland Australia.

Mildura, Mercure Hotel (2 nights)

Comfortable modern hotel in central Mildura, a stone’s throw from the Murray riverside.

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.
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.

Hold a Place Download Booking Form

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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