The Northern Territory is the beating heart of Australia, from the Red Centre to the spectacular top end. The fiery ochre desert, verdant tropical north, and the diverse plants and wildlife are the inspiration for the region’s traditional and contemporary creative arts and are deeply interwoven with the spiritual traditions and culture of the First Nation’s people.
Our 11-day tour takes us from the iconic, magical landforms of Kata Tjuṯa and Uluru to Alice Springs and northward through the centre of the NT, ending in Darwin. Along the way we’ll learn how the unique landscape and the history of our First Nation’s people has influenced and embraced the visual and performing arts as an expression of culture, land and spirit. Experience what it’s like to live in one of Australia’s most remote locations, and immerse yourself in the history, art and culture of the traditional owners of the land.
As part of your professional development tour, you’ll attend workshops presented by experts in the field that will deepen your knowledge of the arts, as well as also attend a variety of performances and galleries, remote learning centres, and create your own works inspired by the environment.
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.
Please note that this is a tour designed for teachers of the Visual and Performing Arts and is not part of Academy Travel’s general touring program. Tour participant numbers may exceed 40 and good physical fitness is required. However, non teachers with an interest in this subject area are welcome to join this tour.
Please note that Academy Travel is no longer a NESA endorsed accredited provider of Professional Development hours. Activities on this tour can be counted towards Elective Hours only.
Master Classes and Workshops
Deepen your pedagogical knowledge, bond with other teachers and learn from leading experts in the creative arts in some of Australia’s most stunning settings.
The Iconic Outback
Marvel at some of Aboriginal Australia’s most sacred sites, including Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Karlu Karlu, and learn how connection to country is reflected in the visual and performing arts.
The Red Centre
In Alice Springs, visit the fascinating Desert Park, experience unique museums, learn about remote learning at the School of the Air and enjoy the lights of the Parrtjima Festival.
Explore Australia’s wettest and most northerly capital city, Swim, visit the markets and specialty museums, attend theatre and finish with a day in the stunning Litchfield National Park.
In addition to workshops, performances and gallery visits, the region’s ubiquitous influence across the arts will be examined through film and theatre studies, group discussions, and critical assessments.
Days 1–2: Fly to Yulara, after an ice breaker, enjoy a Sounds of Silence dinner, sunrise views of Uluru and visit Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre. Take a dot painting workshop and walk through Walpa Gorge.
Days 3-6:Travel to Alice Springs by coach. See the Parrtjima Festival, visit Alice Springs Desert Park and the Women’s Museum of Australia. Explore the School of the Air, take part in professional learning activities and see some of the spectacular West MacDonnell ranges.
Day 7: Travel from Alice Springs to Tennant Creek, stopping at Karlu Karlu and various sights along the way.
Day 8 : Travel from Tennant Creek to Katherine, stopping at Daly Waters Pub and Merrepen Arts Centre and enjoy a swim in Mataranka Waterhole enroute.
Days 9-11: Cruise through Katherine Gorge before travelling to Darwin. Participate in a creative arts workshop and visit the Museum and Art Gallery of the NT. Visit Litchfield National Park, stopping at Florence and Wangi Falls. Take a sunset cruise on Darwin’s harbour. Fly to Sydney.
The tour starts on April 11 at Sydney Airport.
The tour ends on April 21 at Sydney Airport.
Monday 11 April – Arrival to Uluru
Depart Sydney where we’ll board our flight for Uluru. Upon arrival, we take a group transfer to the hotel. After a refreshing welcome drink and an “ice breaker” exercise, we’ll enjoy dinner under millions of stars during our Sounds of Silence welcome dinner this evening, including stargazing, a star talk and drinks around the campfire. Overnight Yulara (D)
Tuesday 12 April – Uluru
We’ll enjoy the sunrise this morning with a boxed breakfast and a tour of the base of the iconic and awe-inspiring Uluru, the centre of the outback. Afterward, we’ll visit the Uluru Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre to learn about Anangu culture and the geology, wildlife and plants of the park through exhibits, displays and Aboriginal art galleries. This afternoon, we’ll get creative at a dot painting workshop, conducted by one of the traditional owners. Later we’ll tour the domes of Kata Tjuta, a Pitjantjatjara word that means “many heads.” We’ll also take a quiet walk through the desert refuge of Walpa Gorge, keeping our eyes open for rare plants and the occasional wallaroo. Then we’ll enjoy the Kata Tjuta sunset with drinks and canapes. Overnight Yulara (B)
Wednesday 13 April – Uluru to Alice Springs
This morning after breakfast, we’ll depart on the first of our long coach journeys through the Outback, to Alice Springs. On all of our coach journeys, we will view films inspired or set in the area we pass through, and analyse each production. When we arrive at our hotel, we’ll have a short workshop before time to relax. In the evening, we will take a coach tour of the spectacular lights of the annual Parrtjima Festival. Overnight Alice Springs (B)
Thursday 14 April – Exploring Alice Springs
“Alice” as it’s known to locals is considered by most to be the geographic centre of the Outback, memorialised in films like Walkabout and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The isolation of the town is one of its defining features, and this morning we’ll visit the School of the Air, which covers an area of 1.3 million square kilometres and serves around 125 children. Afterward, we’ll visit the Women’s Museum of Australia. On the site of the Old Alice Springs Gaol, the museum holds a collection of over 2500 objects relating to women in Australian history and has multiple exhibits on topics like women immigrants to Alice Springs and women and work. In the afternoon, there will be free time to explore central Alice Springs. We’ll finish today by joining the Falzon Family at the Earth Sanctuary Central Australia for a BBQ dinner and a talk on ecology, astronomy and culture Learn how the Dreamtime, folklore and the traditions of storytelling have an oral history passed from generations and how they embed themselves in the heart of the environment of this area. Overnight Alice Springs (B, D)
Friday 15 April – School of the Air and West MacDonnell Ranges
Aboriginal culture is deeply interwoven with life in the Centre, and this morning we’ll join an Aboriginal guide at the Alice Springs Desert Park for an insight into traditions, culture and connection to country. After time for lunch, we travel to the spectacular West MacDonnell Ranges, stopping at Simpson’s Gap and Standley Chasm. Your tour leader will conduct a professional learning activity while we are visiting this ancient environment – part of a continuing program of exploring learning opportunities and challenging you to create your own creative writing, performance or drawing inspired by your immersion in this environment. The evening is free. Overnight Alice Springs (B)
Saturday 16 April – Alice Springs to Tennant Creek
This morning’s first stop is a tour of the Araluen Arts Centre, before we depart for Tennant Creek. En route we’ll stop at Wycliffe Well, keeping an eye out for UFOs; then we’ll visit Karlu Karlu (the Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve), a sacred site for the Alyawarre people. The Aboriginal term for “round boulders,” Karlu Karlu refers to the natural granite rock formations, situated in a wide, shallow desert valley. We arrive at Tennant Creek in the evening, and have dinner in the hotel. Overnight Tennant Creek (B, D)
Sunday 17 April – Tennant Creek to Katherine
This morning we’ll make the long (675 km) journey from Tennant Creek to Katherine. Enroute, we’ll stop at the Daly Waters Pub for a lunch break. The iconic pub featured as a location in “Last Cab to Darwin”, which we will discuss. We’ll also visit the Merrepen Arts Centre, famous for its textiles and prints and established by Senior Australian of the Year Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann. Before reaching Katherine, we’ll visit the small town of Mataranka for a welcome swim in its sandy-bottomed thermal springs. Overnight Katherine (B, D)
Monday 18 April – Katherine to Darwin
A highlight of the tour will be this morning’s cruise through Katherine Gorge in the stunning Nitmiluk National Park. We’ll learn about the cultural and spiritual significance of the area. Continuing our journey north, we’ll arrive in Darwin in the late afternoon. There will be the option in the evening to join a short walk to the Darwin Sailing Club to watch the sunset with the locals. Overnight Darwin (B)
Tuesday 19 April – Explore Darwin
This morning we will participate in a creative arts workshop or visit a local school to look at ways in which the arts is taught to help understand culture and agency to the local student population instead of: This morning, we’ll participate in a creative arts workshop, or possibly visit a local school to observe arts teaching in the Top End (TBC). Following the learning activity, the coach will leave us at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. The afternoon is free to visit the site, or to explore Darwin’s other attractions. In the evening, (weather permitting) we will watch a film at the famous outdoor Deckchair Cinema. Overnight Darwin (B)
Wednesday 20 April – Litchfield National Park
This morning after breakfast we’ll travel to Litchfield National Park for an all-day exploration of this beautiful area. Replete with majestic waterfalls and vine forests, Litchfield offers a cool green respite. Once in the park, we’ll start with the Magnetic Termite Mounds, and then stop by the spectacular Florence Falls. We’ll continue to Wangi Falls for a (crocodile-free) swim in the clear pools beneath the falls, surrounded by monsoon rainforest. Upon returning to Darwin, we’ll have our farewell dinner on board a Darwin Harbour Cruise, enjoying the famous Darwin sunset together one last time.
Overnight Darwin (B, D)
Thursday 21 April – Farewell Darwin and Departure
After breakfast, we’ll take a group transfer to Darwin Airport for our return flight to Sydney, arriving in the afternoon. (B)
Jane Simmons has over 30 years of teaching experience. In 2015 she received the Australian Council of Teachers leadership award, and she was awarded the Drama NSW 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award for services and commitment to the drama community of NSW. She has extensive stage and critical experience, and has been leading creative arts PD tours for Academy Travel since 2014.
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Economy flights Sydney-Uluru and Darwin-Sydney with Qantas
10 nights’ accommodation in twinshare rooms in 3 to 4-star hotels (single supplement available)
Meals as listed in the itinerary
Local guides, workshops and activities as listed in the itinerary
Entrances to all sites listed in the itinerary
All land travel in a private air-conditioned coach
Services of an expert Tour Leader and an experienced Tour Manager
What is not included in the tour price?
Our tours do not include the following:
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 activities.
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.