This unique 18-day itinerary kicks off in Adelaide and tracks it’s way through the spectacular coastlines of the Coorong and Great Ocean Road, the fertile, well watered farmlands of SA’s South East, and onto Victoria’s Western Districts, fantastic King Island and finally mainland Tassie with its burgeoning farming sector amid a rich colonial history, mouth-watering produce and world class scenery.
Farming, cultural and scenic highlights include:
Because group members will be arriving from all parts of the country, the tour is priced out of Adelaide. Airfares (or other means of travel) to Adelaide and out of Hobart are additional. We are happy to help arrange these.
Maximum of 20 passengers.
The day to day itinerary details are constantly being updated so please check this website regularly.
Own arrangements for travel to Adelaide. The group will meet up at our downtown hotel for a welcome dinner and an outline of the fantastic days ahead.
We board our charter coach this morning – and being a public holiday in South Australia today – we'll take advantage of the quiet traffic conditions and take in a few of the city sights before heading southeast and into the magnificent Adelaide Hills. We call into Hahndorf where they say everything is handmade, handcrafted and handpicked. Hahndorf is a contemporary village proud of its German heritage. You'll have time to stroll the tree-lined main street and discover butcher, baker and candlestick makers, plenty of coffee shops... and a whole lot more.
Back on the coach and we continue through farmlands to Langhorne Creek for lunch. The area has a wine history dating back to 1850 and is home to the oldest recorded Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the world. The town itself is on the banks of the Bremer River which flows into Lake Alexandrina. In winter, the river frequently floods across the vineyards, contributing to the terroir of the region.
Irrigation and flood waters have "shaped" the area and local farmers are coming up with innovative ways to manage rising water tables and supply variability.
We travel on to the beautiful town of Strathalbyn, on the banks of the Angas River, for dinner and overnight.
Strathalbyn is recognised internationally for its main street full of antique shops with London House being one of the most historic. There will be time for a stroll down the main street before boarding our coach again and heading south through rolling farmlands and onto Goolwa. From Goolwa we cross onto Hindmarsh Island and a great view point of the Murray mouth. We also visit one of the Murray mouth barrages and learn about the history and current-day operation of the barrage system. The Goolwa Channel Barrage is 632 metres long and is the most important section of the network.
Back onto the mainland and overlooking the southern Ocean we meet up with representatives of South Australia's fledgling pipi (clam) export industry. The word "fledgling" probably brings a wry smile to the face of the local Ngarrindjeri people – they've been harvesting pipi for more than 40,000 years! We will learn how the pipi is hand harvested from the pristine waters off the Coorong National Park, processed and marketed – and of course we'll get to sample pipis, along with other magnificent seafood, over lunch at the renowned Kuti Shack restaurant.
The Kuti Shack is an initiative that brings together Goolwa PipiCo, the Ngarrindjeri people and three amazing seafood chefs who have been talking about partnering in business for a number of years.
After lunch we return to Strathalbyn for a free evening.
This morning we head eastwards to the small town of Wellington. Here we ferry across the Murray River just upstream from where Australia's longest river comes to the end of its 2500 km meandering journey and empties into Lake Alexandrina. We continue south past Lake Albert and onto the inland edge of the Coorong. Colin Thiele, the author of Storm Boy, beautifully describes the Coorong as "a wilderness and of inestimable value to South Australia and the whole of humanity ... It is an elemental region, a place of wind and water and vast skies, of sandhill and tussock, lagoon and waterweed, stone and scrub. It is a place of softened contours, muted colours and sea haze - and of glaring saltpans so intense that our brows pucker and our eyes wince." We continue through the settlements of Meningie and Coorong and onto the historic coastal town of Robe.
Founded in 1846, Robe is one of the oldest towns in SA. It became the state's second-busiest (after Port Adelaide) international port in the 1850s. Robe's trade was drawn from a large hinterland that extended into western Victoria. Many roadside inns were built to cater for the bullock teamsters bringing down the wool. Exports included wool, sheep skins and horses.
During the Victorian gold rushes around 1857, over 16,000 Chinese people landed at Robe to walk overland 200 miles to the goldfields and avoid the £10 per person landing tax imposed by Victoria to "discourage" Chinese immigrants. The £10 tax was more than the cost of their voyage.
Robe's importance as a trading hub decreased with the advent of railways which did not come to the town. The town has become a local service centre for the surrounding rural areas, home to a fleet of fishing boats (especially lobster) and is a popular holiday destination.
On arrival into Robe we are joined by a local historian who will take us for a brief tour of the town's historic landmarks and buildings.
Then it's private dinner upstairs at the Caledonian Inn, rated the best country pub in SA. Over the past 160 years "the Cally" has become a local landmark.
This morning we travel into the heart of the Limestone Coast region of SA’s South East – one of the nation’s highest value primary production areas. Agriculture, forestry and Coonawarra vineyards thrive on the fertile soils, reliable rainfall and abundant groundwater. Not far out of Robe we call into Murray McCourt's Wookwine Cutting – a graphic depiction of hard work, tenacity and vision. We'll see how more than 60 years ago two men and a D7 drained a swamp and created about 1000 acres of productive farming land (ex-Pres Trump would have loved these guys!).
We enjoy a farm visit before continuing on to Penola. The founder of Penola – and our accommodation tonight's namesake – was Alexander Cameron. Born in Inverness-shire, Scotland, Cameron emigrated to Australia in 1839 and established himself as an adventurous overlander and pastoralist by droving sheep to Port Phillip. After marrying Margaret MacKillop in 1843, Cameron continued to overland his sheep westwards to new pastures in South Australia where, in 1844, he was the first to apply for the 48-square-mile Occupation licences surrounding the future site of Penola.
Having built the original Royal Oak Hotel by 1848, Cameron encouraged his station tradesmen to establish their own independent businesses by purchasing 80 freehold acres in April 1850, which he subdivided to found the private township of Penola.
The Camerons’ 18-year-old niece, Mary MacKillop, joined the family as governess in 1860, and soon met the charismatic local scientist and priest, Julian Tenison Woods, with whom she founded a school and later a congregation of religious sisters, the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Also known as the Josephites or Brown Joeys, they continue to this day to work with poor and needy communities throughout the world. In 1995 Mary MacKillop became the first Australian to gain Roman Catholic sainthood – St Mary of the Cross.
Farm and scenic visits in and around Penola today.
The first Europeans to this area were the Austin brothers, who arrived in 1840. The Camerons arrived in 1844 to settle the area. By 1850, they were doing a lot of business supplying liquor to the many travellers passing through to the Victoria goldfields.
Another early settler, John Riddoch, purchased Yallum in 1861. Riddoch grew up in poverty in the highlands of Scotland and in 1851 emigrated to try his luck on the Victoria goldfields. Within a few years he was a successful shopkeeper and wine merchant on the Geelong goldfields. He acquired 35,000 acres in the Penola area on which he ran 50,000 head of sheep. It was Riddoch who planted the first grape vines and helped to diversify the pastoral economy of the area with an agricultural industry. In 1890, he established the Penola Fruit Growing Colony which was renamed Coonawarra in 1897.
Today we cross into Victoria’s Western Districts to discover yet more amazingly productive farming. We’ll also tour the ancient eel farming site at Condah.
Later this afternoon we will bask in the quiet sophistication and beauty of Port Fairy.
We continue east today through the rich dairy and horticultural enterprises around Tower Hill and Warrnambool before picking up the most spectacular section of the Great Ocean Road near Port Campbell. Prepare to be enthralled by the winter tempest of the Southern Ocean as it pounds against the iconic and massive sandstone structures dotted along this section of the "Shipwreck Coast". The Twelve Apostles tower 45 metres above the ocean, while London Bridge is waging a defiant, but ultimately futile, battle against the elements.
We leave the coast and head north towards the rich dairying region of Timboon and Colac. Victoria's South Western District produces more than 20 per cent of our national dairy output.
Then it's off to Melbourne for overnight.
Some optional activities in Melbourne this morning – which can include an MCG tour, sightseeing, shopping etc – before our afternoon flight to King Island. We land at Currie and are transferred to our nearby hotel for dinner showcasing the island’s sublime produce.
Today we enjoy a guided tour of King Island including beef operations, where we get to taste the magnificent product over lunch, as well as meet with enterprising farmers looking to distill whisky and other spirits made from island-grown grain.
Then it’s a free evening where you might like to explore some of the boutique dining options offered by the island’s culinary artisans.
Free time on King Island this morning and into the early afternoon (maybe a spot of fishing or a game of golf on one of the world-class courses) before our 4.05 pm direct flight to Burnie on Tasmania’s northwest coast. We are met and transferred to our beachfront hotel for dinner and overnight.
This morning we travel south to Cradle Mountain to enjoy a guided tour through the wilderness and the stunning views across Dove Lake to the jagged dolerite peaks. We then continue eastwards towards Deloraine to meet with farmers making the most of Tasmania’s abundant irrigation water resource. More than 40 large dams have been built in Tassie over the past two decades.
We continue east towards Hagley for dinner and overnight at the magnificent Quamby Estate – the entire Quamby Homestead is exclusively reserved for our group. The homestead was the ancestral home of Tasmania’s first-born Premier, Sir Richard Dry. Its Anglo-Indian designed architecture and period antiques and fireplaces combine modern luxuries to offer a cosy and quiet country getaway.
We continue our travels eastwards today through rich farmlands and historic villages including Ross, famed for its buildings and bridges built by convicts in Australia’s earliest years. We’ll learn more about Tassie’s proud and rich colonial history as we travel towards the east coast and the Freycinet Peninsula.
This is a stunning region of pink granite peaks, white sandy beaches and the iconic Wineglass Bay. We will have a number of guided activities, as well as free-time this afternoon, while in this amazingly beautiful part of Tasmania.
We travel south today to the ruggedly beautiful Tasman Peninsula. Access to the peninsula is via Eaglehawk Neck, a thin isthmus just 30 metres wide and once guarded by dogs to prevent convicts escaping. This spectacular coastal environment includes soaring 300 metre high sea cliffs, diverse wildlife, pristine bushland and of course, the Port Arthur Historic site a short beach-walk from our waterside lodge.
After time to take in the major sights of the peninsula, we continue on to Hobart. Australia’s second oldest capital offers a contrasting blend of heritage and culture amid a modern lifestyle in a setting of exceptional beauty. Located at the entrance to the River Derwent, and with its well-preserved surrounding bushland, captivating history, picturesque waterways, rugged mountains and gourmet experiences, Hobart has something for everyone.
Our hotel is spectacularly located on the Elizabeth St Pier – The River Derwent, the CBD, restaurants, shops, Salamanca Place, Battery Point and the MONA ferry are all on our doorstep. Free time this afternoon before our farewell dinner this evening.
Transfer to the airport for our flight/s home today or you might choose to extend your time in Hobart or Tasmania more generally.