Travel to the Murray River and into the outback to explore Australia’s history, from Indigenous settlement to the larrikins and miners who led our nation into modernity. In Mildura, we discuss the importance of the mighty Murray on the history of settlement and rural economy. We head to Lake Mungo to look for evidence of the Aboriginal settlement that spread broadly across the landscape, and on to Broken Hill where mining provided the genesis for an Australian icon, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company.
A continuous history of human occupation spanning 50,000 years
Outback landscapes in Lake Mungo and Mutawintji National Parks
An iconic part of our national history, with the story of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company known fondly as ‘the big Australian’
An area rich in archaeology that has been preserved in pristine condition for thousands of years
The importance of riverboat culture to the history and settlement of the areas around the mighty Murray and Darling River systems
Degustation dinner at Stefano’s much acclaimed restaurant in Mildura
Walk around the Walls of China, climb the sand dunes at Vigars Well and explore the archaeology at Lake Mungo National Park
Special access to Indigenous cultural and historic sites with a traditional owner at Mutawintji National Park
Experience the life of the 19th-century Cornish miner underground at Day Dream Mine
The wealth of art in Broken Hill, where art galleries outnumber pubs
Day 1: In Mildura, visit Rio Vista historic home and dine at Stefano’s.
Days 2–3: Cruise the Murray River, travel to Lake Mungo National Park and uncover the archaeology of the area.
Day 4: Drive via Pooncarie to Bindara Station on the Darling River.
Days 5–6: In Broken Hill, walk through the historic centre, visiting art galleries and the Miners Memorial.
Day 7: Explore Mutawintji National Park with a traditional elder and see the rock art.
Days 8–9: Go underground at the Day Dream Mine before travelling home.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.
Please contact us for the best airline to meet your travel requirements into Mildura and from Broken Hill.
Tuesday 23 October: Arrive
The tour commences at our Mildura accommodation at 6pm. After meeting Chris Carter for introductions, we enjoy a welcome dinner in the cellars of the Grand Hotel at Stefanos Restaurant. Overnight Mildura (D)
Wednesday 24 October: To Mungo via the Murray
This morning we board the historic paddle steamer, PS Melbourne for a leisurely cruise on the Murray River. An informative onboard commentary provides an insight into the Murray Darling River system and its environs as we meander along the river. We learn about the history of the majestic steam driven paddleboats and enjoy a light lunch onboard before disembarking at Mildura Wharf. A short drive takes us to Wentworth where we make a brief stop to see the confluence of the Murray and Darling Rivers before continuing to Lake Mungo. We head into the National Park this evening to witness the sun setting over the Walls of China. Overnight Lake Mungo. (B, L, D)
Thursday 25 October: Mungo National Park
We return to the Walls of China this morning and walk across the lunette that formed along the Eastern margin of the lake to search for evidence of the earliest human inhabitants and extinct animals dating back 50 000 years. The World Heritage Listed Willandra Lakes system has remained dry for approximately 18000 years creating a significant archaeological region known for the discovery of Mungo Man, the oldest human remains found in Australia. We drive around the lunette, stopping at Vigars Well to climb the dunes for a spectacular view and enjoy a picnic lunch. Overnight Lake Mungo. (B, PL, D)
Friday 26 October: To Bindara
After an early morning walk along the dry western shoreline of the lake we depart for Pooncarie on the Darling River. Burke and Wills passed through here on their ill-fated journey to the Gulf of Carpentaria and paddle steamers loaded with bales of wool anchored at the once busy river port. We stop for a cold beer and lunch at the Telegraph Hotel before continuing to historic Bindara Station. Overnight Bindara Station. (B, L, D)
Saturday 27 October: To Broken Hill
The majestic red brick homestead and outbuildings on Bindara were built by Joseph Dunne around 1870 from bricks fired on the property using local clay while other materials used in the construction were transported up the river by paddle steamer. We explore the outbuildings and old cemetery and take a stroll along the banks of the Darling River where the bushland provides a natural habitat for a wide range of birds including many rare species. We drive to Broken Hill stopping for a picnic lunch and arriving in the late afternoon. Overnight Broken Hill. (B, L, D)
Sunday 28 October: Explore Broken Hill
Today we explore Broken Hill’s wide streets and heritage discovering the towns mining past and thriving modern art scene. We take a walking tour with a local guide through the historic town centre past palatial Federation and Victorian buildings funded by mining wealth, tin cottages and 1930’s art deco properties. On our way, we stop in at the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery housed in the refurbished Sully’s Emporium building. The gallery collection comprises of colonial, modern and aboriginal works by Australian artists such as Lloyd Rees, Pro Hart and Emily Kame Kngwarreye. This afternoon we visit the Line of Lode Miners Memorial located atop a mullock heap. The impressive structure pays tribute to the 800 miners who lost their lives working at the mine. Later, we take a short drive out of town to see the sun setting over the Sculpture Park. Overnight Broken Hill. (B)
Monday 29 October: Mutawinji National Park
This morning we make a 300-kilometre round trip north east of Broken Hill to Mutawintji National Park dominated by the Bynguano Ranges whose vibrant colour beautifully captures the changing light and provides a backdrop for the famous hand stencil artworks of the local people. The ruggedly beautiful park shows evidence of continuous use by Aboriginal people for thousands of years. We are guided around Mutawinji by one of the traditional owners and introduced to its history, culture and embark on a walk to view the rock-art. Overnight Broken Hill. (B, PL)
Tuesday 30 October: Daydream Mine
We travel 20 kilometres outside of Broken Hill for a guided tour of the Day Dream Mine site founded in 1881. Starting on the surface we see the old township where the miners lived in extremely harsh conditions in the 1880’s and see the historic smelter used by BHP. Donning a hat and light as the Cornish miners, some boys as young as eight years old would have done we descend underground to see how the mine once operated. We continue to Silverton and wander through the historic buildings many of which have appeared onscreen in films and television series. We may even stop in at the iconic Silverton Hotel where you can have lunch washed down with a cold beer before returning to Broken Hill in the afternoon. Overnight Broken Hill. (B, D)
Tuesday 31 October: Depart
The tour concludes after breakfast. (B)
Has an Honours and Master’s degree in archaeology and has recently completed a PhD. He has led tours to Central and South America for over 20 years.
Christopher Carter is an archaeologist with over 20 years’ experience leading tours to Central and South America, Spain and Ireland as well as within Australia. He is particularly interested in human interaction within landscapes and the formative period of cultural development.
Chris has a BA(Hons), MA and PhD from the Australian National University (ANU). He has worked as a tutor at the ANU and lectured at both the ANU and University of Sydney Centres for Continuing Education. When not leading tours, Chris works as an archaeological consultant and heritage advisor.
Chris’ research interests cover both Indigenous and Australian historical archaeology. He is also actively involved in research in the Atacama region of northern Chile and involved in a number of studies investigating the early settlement of this region. He has had a number of academic papers published in international journals.
As a teacher, Chris has always declared that archaeology cannot be learned in the classroom. Such statements resulted in him taking a group to South America in 1995. He has continued to lead several tours a year ever since. The areas visited have expanded to other regions that reflect the subjects he teaches.
We asked Chris, what part of tour leading does he find most rewarding?
“I love teaching and, as they say, ‘to travel is to learn’ and what better classroom than the wider world. Nothing satisfies me more than to lead people into new areas where they can see how humans have interacted with landscapes over the years – to witness the evolution of both the people and the environments they occupy.
On a recent tour, one member of the group commented that they can now ‘see’ a lot more than they did before. In the past, they had taken so much for granted and never thought about how things changed through time. Their eyes had been opened and they began to think more about what they were looking at. To me, these are the statements that make my job worthwhile.”
Accommodation on this tour is limited by the remote locations and the number of rooms available at certain destinations. Our stays vary from motel style to cabins and a station homestead with shared facilities. We have secured the best possible accommodation throughout. Accommodation on this tour is limited to couples or twin share only.
Mildura, Commodore Motel (1 night)
A typical country style motel located by the river and close to Stefanos restaurant for the welcome dinner.
The Imperial is a landmark, heritage listed building which has been extensively renovated and converted into an elegant hotel. Our rooms all have ensuite bathrooms, there is a guest lounge, communal kitchenette for breakfast and a courtyard garden with heated swimming pool.
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 public transport is 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
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? Open-age 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
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
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
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.