Jul 16 - 25, 2022
10 days
$6,990per person, twin share (land content only). $1,290 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.

Tour Leader

Dr Chris Carter
Jul 16 - 25, 2022

Tour Leader

Dr Chris Carter$6,990per person, twin share (land content only). $1,290 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.
  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions


Discover New South Wales’ rich geological history in some of its most beautiful landscapes, with the expert guidance of a palaeontologist and an archaeologist.

This new 10-day tour surveys a range of sites to reveal Australia’s geological and human history. Australia has some of the world’s finest collections of fossils, with our evolutionary
history written in the rocks around us, from the ‘Jurassic shark’ to Canowindra’s extraordinary collection of fossilised fish. Some of these sites have been uncovered in areas of great natural beauty, such as the Sapphire Coast’s secluded coastal bushland or the Murrumbateman’s Wee Jasper, whose limestone caves were surveyed by Snowy Mountains Hydro.

Australia’s diverse physical landscape has also long been the focus of human endeavour, and we explore industries from Indigenous fishing to European whaling, blue metal and shale quarrying. In Central West NSW, we encounter the region’s history of gold and copper mining, a much debated part of the local and national economy.

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.


Millennia of geological history
Discover New South Wales’ geological history with a palaeontologist, from fascinating land formations on the South Coast to the history of mining in the Central West.

The Age of Fishes Museum
Encounter the staggering fossil collection at Canowindra’s Age of Fishes Museum, uncovered by chance in the 1950s and a scientific and evolutionary game-changer.

From sandstone to the sea
Admire New South Wales’ diverse landscapes, including the pristine beaches of the Sapphire Coast and the eucalypt-covered peaks of the Brindabella Range and the Blue Mountains.

Our deep history
See how our landscape emerged from a deep past by teasing out evidence of the myriad processes that form part of our geological and biological evolution.

Fine regional dining
Savour regional dining, with fresh seafood in Mollymook and Merimbula, fine Murrumbateman wines in Canberra, and a candle-lit dinner in a historic Bathurst mansion.

Start & Finish

The tour starts on Saturday 16 July at 8.30am, at Central Station, Sydney.
The tour ends on Monday 25 July at c.4.00pm, at Central Station, Sydney.

Detailed Itinerary

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

Saturday 16 July – Arrival

We depart Sydney this morning and travel south through the Illawarra Escarpment. With tour leaders Dr Gavin Young and Dr Chris Carter, we explore the prehistory of Sydney and
the NSW South Coast, from iconic Sydney sandstone to the geology of Kiama’s Blowhole. At Bombo Headland Quarry, nineteenth-century attempts to mine blue metal have left
basalt columns that create an impressive but otherworldly landscape that is now on the NSW Heritage Register. Lunch is at Mollymook’s celebrated Rick Stein seafood restaurant,
before we continue to our accommodation in South Durras. There is a light dinner tonight in the hotel restaurant. (L, D)

Sunday 17 July – The Shoalhaven

Today we go beyond the surface beauty of the Shoalhaven, a stunning coastal region where the bush-covered mountains form the perfect backdrop to hundreds of pristine beaches. We start the day with a short walk through bushland to secluded Myrtle Beach in Murramarang National Park. Here at Berry’s Unconformity, the layers of rock deposits and sediments have been exposed and allow geologists to calculate the time over which the land mass was formed. After lunch we continue south past Bawley Point to Kioloa and Merry Beach, to explore a fascinating stretch of coastline. Returning to the hotel, we
enjoy dinner together in a local restaurant. (B, L, D)

Monday 18 July – Devonian fossils & a Jurassic shark

We check out of the hotel this morning and drive south, travelling in the shadow of the extinct volcano of Gulaga Mountain, a site with deep spiritual significance for the local Yuin Nation. Nestled beneath Gulaga is Wallaga Lake, southern NSW’s largest and a sanctuary of birds and wildlife. Continuing after lunch to Mimosa Rocks National Park, we discover Devonian fossils of plants, laid down millions of years ago, and black shale containing the fossilised remains of Antarctilamna prisca, the so-called ‘Jurassic shark’. Travelling through Tathra in the Bega Shire, we witness the extraordinary resilience of a community that was
devastated by a March 2018 bushfire. Arriving in Merimbula, we enjoy a group dinner.
(B, L, D)

Tuesday 19 July – Lighthouse to Lighthouse

We begin the day exploring Eden, on the stunning Sapphire Coast. Boasting the southern hemisphere’s deepest natural harbour, it was the focus of intensive fishing and whaling activities by people of the Yuin Nation, and from 1791 European whaling ships also
established operations. Later, we enjoy a picnic lunch as we walk a section of the Lighthouse to Lighthouse track at Boyds Tower, with ever-changing views
over heathland, forest, ti-tree and banksia groves, and possibly the odd whale sighting. Returning to Merimbula, dinner is in a historic building, the former residence of a servant who travelled with Charles Darwin on The Beagle. (B, L, D)

Wednesday 20 July – Over the Great Dividing Range

Whaling was a significant part of Eden’s local economy, until overfishing led to stock depletion and the decline of the industry by the 1930s. This morning we visit the town’s Killer Whale Museum. With a spectacular view onto the Pacific Ocean, the museum tracks Indigenous and European whaling activity, as well as the region’s history of logging
and the story of Killer whale Old Tom. Departing the South Coast, we travel over the Great Dividing Range to Canberra where we check into our hotel. Dinner is in the fine Braddon Merchant restaurant, which showcases regional produce and the excellent
wines of the Canberra district. (B, D)

Thursday 21 July – Wee Jasper

We travel today to the foot of the Brindabella Ranges, where the Wee Jasper Valley boasts one of the most geologically diverse landscapes in Australia. From large caves to dramatic limestone outcrops and fossils of molluscs, marine animals and even a wombat, this area has been extensively studied since initial geological mapping was undertaken by the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Commission. We explore the site with expert tour
leader, Dr Gavin Young, before enjoying a picnic lunch alongside the pretty Goodradigbee River. Returning to Canberra returning to Canberra in the afternoon. (B, PL)

Friday 22 July – To Cowra

After check out, the morning is at leisure to independently visit one of Canberra’s fine national museums and collections. After lunch, we depart Canberra to Cowra. The journey north to Central West NSW takes us through the gentle hills of the Murrumbateman wine region and regional centres such as Yass, first surveyed by Hamilton Hume in
1821. After checking in to our hotel in Cowra, there is a group dinner. (B, D)

Saturday 23 July – The Age of Fishes

Travelling to nearby Canowindra, we spend the morning examining the fascinating collection of the town’s Age of Fishes Museum. In 1955, roadworks uncovered by chance one of Australia’s most extensive fossil beds, laid down over 350 million years ago in the Devonian Period. These fossils of armoured fish, fish with lungs and large crocodiletype predators have offered scientists remarkable new insights into geology and evolution. After
exploring the site where the fossils were discovered, we return to Cowra to visit the serene Japanese gardens. Traditionally designed within a strikingly Australian landscape, the gardens showcase the beauty of every season and are a gesture of peace from the Japanese. We also visit the nearby POW site where over 1,000 prisoners-of-war broke out of the camp in August 1944. Tonight we enjoy a group dinner. (B, D)

Sunday 24 July – Mining and Central West NSW

We check out this morning and travel to Bathurst. Since the 1851 discovery of gold at the town’s Fish River prompted the Australian Gold Rush, Bathurst and Central West NSW have been the focus of a significant mining industry, and there is the opportunity to learn more about gold and copper extraction on a mine visit this morning. After lunch we visit the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum in Bathurst. This museum houses the Somerville
and Chapman Collections, with exhibits currently on loan from the Australian Museum. In the early evening, there is a tour of Abercrombie House, a historic mansion built on the outskirts of Bathurst in the 1870s. Its imposing stone architecture is a testament to the area’s geological wealth, and after our introduction to the property we enjoy a candlelit
farewell dinner by the fire. (B, L, D)

Monday 25 July – Departure

We check out of our hotel this morning and travel over the Blue Mountains to Sydney. There is an opportunity on the way to survey the region’s impressive geological formation, a vast sandstone plateau with endless valleys covered by eucalyptus trees. After lunch in an old-world restaurant, we travel the remaining distance to Sydney’s Central Station, where tour arrangements conclude. (B, L)

Dr Chris Carter

An indigenous and historical archaeologist, actively involved in research in the Atacama region of Chile.

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.”

View Bio & Upcoming Tours


South Durras (Batemans Bay), Murramarang Beachfront Resort (2 nights)

Merimbula, Robyn’s Nest (2 nights)

Canberra, The Midnight Hotel (2 nights)

Cowra, Cowra Services Club Motel (2 nights)

Bathurst, Rydges Mount Panorama (1 night)

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 Three

A Grade 3 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


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More information?

The consultant for this tour is Hannah Kleboe. For further information or to have the consultant call you, please email.
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