Sep 4 - 4, 2020
1 days
$420per person.

Tour Leader

Dr Kathleen Olive
Sep 4 - 4, 2020

Tour Leader

Dr Kathleen Olive$420per person.
  • Tour Info
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions


From determined early settlers to modern professionals, women have long played an important part in Sydney’s history. This unique one-day tour celebrates their contribution to all aspects of the city’s cultural life, from contemporary art to fine dining.

We begin the day with a private visit of SH Ervin Gallery on Observatory Hill, where we view the Portia Geach Memorial Award, Australia’s most prestigious prize for portraiture by women. We then head to Nutcote, May Gibbs’ carefully crafted 1920’s waterfront home at Neutral Bay. After our tour of Nutcote, we visit Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden at Lavender Bay, which the artist has lovingly created over decades on disused government land. We have catered box lunches to have while enjoying the garden and its views across the harbour. In the afternoon, we visit contemporary artist Wendy Sharpe’s studio. Here Wendy personally introduces us to her work, which has been awarded some of the nation’s most distinguished prizes, in a studio that is an exuberant inner city secret.


  • Private visit to the studio of artist Wendy Sharpe, whose awards include the Archibald, Sulman and Portia Geach
  • Visit the home and garden of May Gibbs
  • Private visit to SH Ervin Gallery, for a before-hours viewing of the Portia Geach Memorial Award

Itinerary Overview

Day 1: Before-hours visit to the SH Ervin Gallery to view the Portia Geach Memorial Award.  Visit the iconic Australian children’s writer May Gibbs’ 1920’s home, Nutcote, on the waterfront in Neutral Bay. Meet Wendy Sharpe in her exuberant studio to see what she’s working on. The tour concludes late in the afternoon.


Friday 4 September, 2020

The tour starts this morning at Wynyard station, where Dr Kathleen Olive will meet you at 9.30am. Our first visit this morning it to SH Ervin Gallery, where we enjoy a before-hours visit to view the Portia Geach Memorial Award, an annual prize awarded to Australian female portraitists. After touring the exhibition and enjoying the art on display by many of Australia’s finest female artists, we then make our way to Nutcote. This beautiful harbourside property was the home of the iconic Australian children’s writer May Gibbs, creator of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and the gumnut babies series. After our visit, we visit Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden at Lavendar Bay, where we have a catered box lunch to enjoy with the garden and its views across the harbour. In the afternoon, we meet Wendy Sharpe in her studio. Wendy is one of Australia’s most successful artists, having been awarded The Sulman Prize, The Portia Geach Memorial Award (twice) and The Archibald Prize, and she is happy to show us around her studio and to talk about her art. The tour concludes at Central Station at approximately 6.00pm. (L)

Dr Kathleen Olive

A literary and cultural historian with a PhD from the University of Sydney, with particular expertise in Italy, Spain and Japan.

Dr Kathleen Olive is a literary and cultural historian with close to 15 years’ experience leading tours to Italy, Spain, France, Turkey, Japan and the United States. She has a strong personal interest in the visual arts, interior design, fashion history and contemporary fiction.

Kathleen holds a BA with first class Honours and a PhD, both from the Department of Italian Studies at the University of Sydney. For a number of years she worked as a lecturer at the University of Sydney and the University of Technology, Sydney, teaching Italian language, literature and history. Kathleen continues to teach, as a national lecturer for the Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society (ADFAS), and in adult education courses in Sydney. In 2015, her edition of the Codex Rustici (a 15th-century commonplace book that Kathleen worked on with Nerida Newbigin, for her doctoral studies and for publication) was presented to Pope Francis on his first official visit to Florence.

Kathleen’s historical and artistic knowledge stretches from the Middle Ages through to the early 20th century. In Italy she has led numerous tours focusing on the medieval and Renaissance periods. In Spain she has a particular concentration on the “Convivencia” of Islamic, Christian and Jewish cultures in the south, and on the medieval pilgrimage routes of the north. Her tours of the USA’s north-east have focused on American collectors and their Gilded Age reinventions of European glory days, and in Japan she is particularly interested in contemporary design, from fashion to architecture. Kathleen speaks fluent Italian, is conversant in Spanish and understands French.

Kathleen was first involved on a tour to Italy in 2003 and it sparked her passion for on-the-spot communication of art and history. Since 2010 she has worked exclusively for Academy Travel, leading 6 tours a year. She has designed a number of our popular tours, from the Florence residential, to surveys of the courts of Renaissance Italy and of central Italy’s villas and gardens, as well as “twin city” tours to Palermo and Naples and to Florence and Rome. Closer to home, Kathleen is leading Academy Travel’s inaugural tour to Japan and our popular tours to Tasmania.

We asked Kathleen, what do you enjoy most about leading a group tour?

“I really enjoy travelling with groups who share interests in the history, culture and even food of a destination. It means that those personal connections are there right from the beginning, just waiting to be made.”

“There’s nothing I enjoy more than finding out the particular interests of my fellow travellers – an artist, a dish they love eating, their memories of a particular place – and finding a way to make an experience happen for them. That might mean recommending a particular wine bar, directing them to a museum that features artists they already like, or suggesting the best time of day for a view over a town. It’s so satisfying to be involved in making these kinds of memories for people.”

“Many of the people I travel with comment on my passion for the places I visit. It’s not just that I know my names and dates – it’s that I really enjoy bringing out the connections between history and art, for example, or between landscape and food. I never grow tired of injecting this kind of life into ‘dry’ academic knowledge.”

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Not applicable to this tour.

Tour Inclusions

What is included in the tour price? 

  • Land travel by private air-conditioned coach
  • One lunch as specifically stated as included in the itinerary
  • Online lecture prior to the tour
  • Services of tour leader throughout tour
  • All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals

What is not included in the tour price?

  • Return air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
  • Accommodation in hotels or apartments
  • 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
  • Meals 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.
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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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