Victoria’s Regional Galleries collectively provide a remarkable survey of both Australia’s heritage and its modern art. The story of these collections themselves speaks to a wider arc in Australian history, from the pastoralists of the colonial period to the ambitious new cities of the Gold Rush, a belated recognition of the region’s indigenous heritage and the revival of interest in regional centres as destinations for the cultural traveller.
This tour takes you to eight major collections, from Australia’s oldest regional galleries to wonderful modern and contemporary collections at Heide and TarraWarra. Visits to galleries are complemented with visits to historic sites, such as Maldon and Barwon Park, and the landscapes that have inspired generations of artists, from the Dandenongs, to the Mornington Peninsula and the distinctively Australian bush of the goldfields.
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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.
Discover the fine collections of modern art at Heide Museum of Modern Art, TarraWarra Museum of Art in the Yarra Valley, and McClelland Sculpture Park.
Explore Australian history in gold rush cities and enjoy the excellent collections at two of Australia’s oldest and largest regional galleries, renowned also for their special exhibitions.
Visit Point Nepean Quarantine Station, with nearly 50 heritage buildings, the beautiful gold rush town of Maldon, and Barwon Park, a spectacular 42-room bluestone manor.See the landscapes that have inspired generations of Australian artists, from rolling hills, to temperate forests, varied coastlines, wool country and the rugged bush of the goldfields.
Experience some of Victoria’s premier wine regions, with vineyard lunches in the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula, and at Tahbilk, a historic winery operating since 1860 on the Goulburn River.
Days 1–3: Meet at Tullamarine and travel to the Yarra Valley; visit Heide Museum of Modern Art and TarraWarra; explore the Dandenongs and Mornington Peninsula.
Day 4:Enjoy the Bellarine Peninsula, from tranquil Queenscliff to Geelong, whose regional gallery has helped change the city’s reputation, and bluestone heritage at Barwon Park Mansion.
Days 5–6:Uncover Gold Rush history at Ballarat and Bendigo’s galleries.
Days 7–8:Day trip to the Goulburn Valley to visit Shepparton Regional Gallery and the historic Tahbilk Estate, one of Australia’s oldest wineries. Visit Castlemaine Art Gallery.
The tour begins and ends at Terminal 1, Melbourne Domestic Airport. Qantas and Virgin fly into and out of Melbourne from most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Wednesday 12 October – Heide
The tour begins at 2 pm this afternoon, when we gather at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport (Terminal 1, baggage carousel number 3) to travel by coach to the Yarra Valley. On the way, we visit the Heide Museum of Modern Art, founded by John and Sunday Reed, art patrons who transformed their acreage outside of Melbourne into a haven for writers and artists. This gem of a museum now houses one of the premiere collections of Australian modernism, with works by Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, and Albert Tucker, and its sculpture garden has works by Anthony Caro, Anish Kapoor and Inge King. After our visit, we continue to our hotel in the Yarra Valley, where we relax and enjoy dinner together. Overnight Yarra Valley. (D)
Thursday 13 October – TarraWarra and the Dandenongs
This morning, after a talk in the hotel, we visit the TarraWarra Museum of Art. Founded by Eva and Marc Besen, the collection is housed in a stunning modern space surrounded by vineyards. It includes works by many of Australia’s most prominent artists, including Brett Whiteley, John Olsen, Fred Williams and Rosalie Gascoigne, and often features highly regarded temporary exhibitions. After lunch at a nearby vineyard, we travel through the Dandenong Ranges, in whose temperate forests and secluded valleys artists like Arthur Streeton, Frederick McCubbin and Tom Roberts found inspiration for an emerging Australian style of landscape painting. We’ll stop by the National Rhododendron Garden, whose extensive plantings overlook this wonderful landscape. On returning, we’ll have dinner in the hotel. Overnight Yarra Valley. (B, L, D)
Friday 14 October – The Mornington Peninsula
Today we explore the Mornington Peninsula, starting with a visit to the McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery, an endeavour supported generously by Dame Elizabeth Murdoch. The 16-hectare open-air museum displays over 100 large sculptures in park and bushland settings, including ground-breaking works by Inge King, Patricia Piccinini and Ken Unsworth. After our visit we continue touring along the eastern side of the Mornington Peninsula, enjoying the vineyard views across the vineyards, stopping for lunch, and admiring the dramatic coastal scenery. In the later afternoon, we visit Point Nepean Quarantine station, where dozens of historic buildings look out across the bay. We then take the ferry across Port Phillip Bay to Queenscliff, a pretty seaside town. Evening at leisure. Overnight Queenscliff. (B, L)
Saturday 15 October – Barwon Park and Geelong
This morning we explore the history of grazing in Victoria with a visit to Barwon Park to tour the 42-room bluestone mansion built for the squatter Thomas Austin (who is thought to have introduced rabbits to Australia). Now a National Trust estate, the manor exemplifies the wealth acquired by the 19th-century squattocracy. Next is a stop at Geelong, whose role as the main port of the Victorian wool industry made it vital to the Australian economic boom. With its port in decline and the waterfront revitalized, however, the city is taking on a new role. Geelong Regional Gallery, part of a multimillion-dollar arts facility, has a strong collection of works that highlight the region’s history. Upon returning to Queenscliff, the later afternoon and evening are at leisure. Overnight Queenscliff. (B)
Sunday 16 October – Ballarat
Ballarat, whose name is derived from indigenous words for “resting place” (Balla Arat), was established as a township in the 1850s, when 20 000 diggers turned up to exploit the newly discovered goldfields (and whose rebellion against strict licensing and heavy taxation shortly afterwards at Eureka shot the town to further prominence). Ballarat’s place in the birth of the national story was further enhanced in the 1880s when the citizens of the town established Australia’s first regional gallery as a way of providing access to art for the people and advancing the city’s status. This morning, we visit the excellent collection at Ballarat Regional Gallery, which has works by almost every major Australian artist from the 1870s to the end of the 20th century. After lunch, we continue on to Bendigo, stopping to visit Maldon, a small Gold Rush town that has preserved much of its original architecture and feel. Evening at leisure. Overnight Bendigo. (B)
Monday 17 October – Shepparton & the Goulburn Valley
Today we travel to Shepparton, in the Goulburn Valley. The town, although much less prestigious and much smaller than Bendigo and Ballarat, also owes its early development to the Gold Rush, and subsequently to farming and the railways that linked the fertile valleys of northern Victoria to Melbourne. In the morning we’ll visit Shepparton Art Museum, which has an extensive collection of Australian ceramics, as well as paintings, prints and contemporary Australian art. We then travel to Tahbilk, a historic winery founded in 1860 on the banks of the Goulburn River. Here, we enjoy lunch in its highly regarded restaurant, tour the heritage buildings, and explore the wetlands by boat. Return to Bendigo in late afternoon; the evening is at leisure. Overnight Bendigo (B, L)
Tuesday 18 October – Bendigo
Bendigo’s history parallels Ballarat’s quite closely, from its gold rush origins to the foundation of Bendigo Art Gallery. The main difference between the galleries is the internationally respected temporary exhibitions Bendigo continues to host. After a talk this morning we visit the gallery, whose collection ranges from historic paintings of Bendigo, through to the greats of modern Australian painting and contemporary art. Later, following a lunch break and some leisure time, we take a walking tour of Bendigo’s historic buildings, products of the Gold Rush that are emblematic of the citizens’ aspirations, and visit the Golden Dragon Museum. Later we’ll dine together at one of Bendigo’s fine restaurants. Overnight Bendigo. (B, D)
Wednesday 19 October – Castlemaine and Departure
This morning we travel to the airport, stopping for an out-of-hours visit to Castlemaine Art Museum, whose collections are housed in a beautiful art-deco building. We continue to the airport, arriving at approximately 1pm, in time for mid-afternoon flights. (B)
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.