This unique 18-day itinerary kicks off in Adelaide and tracks it’s way through the spectacular Fleurieu Peninsula, the Coorong and the fertile, well watered farmlands of SA’s South East, and onto 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 22 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 luxury hotel for a welcome reception 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 overnight. Free evening.
This morning we head south through rolling farmlands and onto the port town of Goolwa. We stretch our legs for a few minutes in Goolwa before boarding the bus and crossing the infamous bridge to Hindmarsh Island. It’s then about a 10 minute drive to the best viewing point for the Murray River mouth and the sand dredges at work keeping the river mouth open.
We then cross back over the bridge to inspect 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.
It’s then onto Port Elliott for our lunch by the sea. Some magnificent seafood, including pipis, are on the menu. This part of the coast is the heart of South Australia’s fledgling pipi (aka cockles or clams) 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! While in the region we will learn how the pipi is hand harvested by the Ngarrindjeri from the pristine waters off the Coorong National Park, processed and marketed here and overseas.
After lunch we drive further along the coast to Victor Harbour – SA’s premier seaside holiday destination – before heading north towards Mount Compass and onto Strathalbyn. This very scenic route takes us through small settlements providing not only tourist attractions for the Adelaide market but also a vast array of produce from freshwater marron through to olives, fruit and whisky.
Free (late) afternoon before dinner in Strathalbyn.
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 have our first farm visit near Lucindale in the amazingly productive and diverse Limestone Coast region of SA’s South East – one of the nation’s highest value primary production areas.
After our farm visit we continue 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 dinner at the Caledonian Inn, rated the best country pub in SA. Over the past 160 years "the Cally" has become a local landmark.
Robe 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 of the 1850s, 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.
After free time this morning to do your own exploring of this historic gem – or a brisk walk along one of the coastal tracks – we board the bus at 10 am and not far out of Robe we call into Murray McCourt’s Woakwine Cutting.
The Cutting is a graphic depiction of hard work, tenacity and vision. We’ll see how more than 60 years ago two men and a D7 increased the productive land area of Woakwine Station by draining a swamp and creating about 1000 extra acres of productive farming land (ex-Pres Trump would have loved these guys!).
While at the Cutting we will also meet up with members of the McCourt family who will give us some more background on Murray’s astounding achievement. And to add even more audacity to this engineering tale, at one stage some rockfalls were threatening to block the channel, so Murray’s (then) young son Michael was sent over the edge dangling by a rope held by two very strong and trusted mates, to strategically and gingerly place some explosives at the source of the blockage. A two-minute fuse later, and the problem was solved.
“My father was self-motivated, highly energetic and a risk-taker, tenacious and determined,” Michael says. “He could see potential for the land if it was drained. It is now 1000 acres of beautiful peat country and the best we’ve got on Woakwine.”
After our visit to the Cutting and seeing the magnificent reclaimed land, we continue south towards Millicent where a special lunch has been arranged in the middle of a few thousand Wagyu cattle at Mayura Station.
First established in 1845, Mayura Station is one of Australia’s oldest and most respected pastoral operations. Located in the Limestone Coast region and in the heart of some of the best grazing country in Australia, this pristine environment is ideal for producing their award-winning Wagyu beef.
The full-blood Wagyu cattle were first imported into Australia by Mayura in 1997 and the station now runs the largest pure-bred herd in the country.
We will tour the Station’s feedlot then it’s a lunch to remember at the boutique Tasting Room located on-farm.
Afterwards we travel into Millicent township to visit the local living history museum which is not only a magnificent collection of historic memorabilia but it also provides a great oversight of the extensive ground-water drainage systems which have “made” the region. This will help put into perspective the unique physical attributes of Limestone Coast agriculture.
We then continue north-east (for about an hour) towards Penola in the heart of the Coonawarra wine region. 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.
We travel to the north of Penola this morning and call into the very stately Struan House, home of the local PIRSA office (SE Dept of Ag). Here we are given an overview of the regional landscape and climate as well as the diverse range of agricultural enterprises supported by these unique physical attributes.
We continue north to Naracoorte and visit a local manufacturing business called MiniJumbuk.
MiniJumbuk opened its doors in 1975. The inspiration for the business came when local sheep shearer, Don Wray, began carefully selecting and experimenting with the best wool varieties from local farms to create MiniJumbuk’s first quilt. Don succeeded in creating a design that was light, warm, comfortable and hard wearing – an industry was born. MiniJumbuk has grown to become a global leader in the design and manufacture of premium wool bedding products, and is still proudly Australian owned.
After lunch at Naracoorte and a visit to the MiniJumbuk operation we continue northeast towards Frances and Circle H Farms where Wayne Hawkins runs an impressive and award winning cropping and grazing operation straddling the SA/Victoria border.
We return to Penola and dinner tonight is at Chardonnay Lodge on the outskirts of Penola.
Another early settler to the Limestone Coast area was John Riddoch who purchased Yallum Park 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 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.
A must visit while in Penola is the outstanding Mary MacKillop Interpretive Centre. Alexander Cameron’s 18-year-old niece, Mary MacKillop, joined the family as governess in 1860, and 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 (the Josephites or Brown Joeys). Mary MacKillop was Australia’s first saint.
You can also wander down Petticoat Lane and enter historic timber and stone cottages such as Sharam’s Cottage, home of one of the district’s first cobblers. These attractions are open every day from 10 until 4.
After our visit to the Mary MacKillop Centre and Petticoat Lane we board our coach and head off to a sumptuous lunch (and wine tasting of course) Upstairs at Hollick Estates on the northern outskirts of Penola.
After lunch, it’s a free afternoon and evening – and there’s plenty to do. One option is to visit the famed Rymill winery. Rymill was established in 1974 by Peter Rymill, the great-grandson of John Riddoch, the first person to grow grape vines in the Coonawarra.
We check out of our motel this morning and head south, through a mixture of farming and forestry country, to Mount Gambier where we visit the beautiful Blue Lake. The lake occupies one of the craters of the extinct volcano after which the city has been named. Early each November, the lake’s sombre blue – in evidence during the winter months – mysteriously changes to an intense deep turquoise blue through until late February, when the colour gradually changes. From late March, it returns to a distinct sombre blue.
There’s time to grab a quick bite for lunch before boarding our noon charter flight direct to King Island and the main town of Currie – a flight of less than an hour. We are met at the airport and transferred to our hotel for check-in.
Surrounded by a rugged coastline with fresh seafood, famously good produce and some of the cleanest air in the world, King Island is simply a good place to be.
To help get our Island bearings, we'll enjoy a guided tour this afternoon of just some of the island's many stunning land and seascapes including British Admiral Beach, the Shipwreck Trail and Burgess Bay. We will also be given an insight of the island's kelp industry.
Back in town we will visit the museum which is a great custodian of King Island history and early settlement. And finally, we call into the local distillery for a wee dram before dinner tonight at the hotel.
After breakfast we board our 4WD purpose-built coach and head south. We follow roads and stock routes and then head off the beaten track to climb ancient dunes to reach Smugglers Cove where we break for our camp-oven morning tea. While on the island we’ll see lighthouses, shipwrecks, great nature walks and maybe even an elusive platypus or a rare orange-bellied parrot. Very few King Island visitors get to explore the island like we will.
We meet up with members of the Bowling family - 6th generation KI farmers and direct descendants of Elizabeth Bowling who emigrated from Lancashire, England in 1889 with 9 of her 10 children. On the Bowling farm we'll see cattle putting on 3 kg a day on native pasture! Speaking of weight gain, lunch today will be crayfish washed down with some premium wines.
After lunch we visit Seal Rocks with its dramatic and rugged seascape. We learn about the key role the cray and abalone industries play in the island's economy.
We will also visit the site of Australia's worst peacetime maritime disaster – the sinking of a British ship, the Cataraqui, on August 4, 1845. The Cataraqui struck rocks in a howling winter gale off the rugged south-west coast of the island. Tragically, more than 400 lives were lost.
We will call into one of the island's larger cattle grazing properties before returning to our hotel and a chance to freshen up.
We're then off to the small town of Grassy, once a thriving mining town where scheelite (for tungsten) was extracted from an open cut, and then two underground, mines. The mine was closed in 1990 but has recently started up again largely prompted by a desire to source scheelite from domestic sources.
Grassy is also known for Wild Harvest restaurant and its unforgettable 6-course dining experience which follows the local and seasonal food trail. We are expertly guided along the trail by our affable head chef, Ian Johnson.
In 2021, People's Choice magazine voted Wild Harvest the second-best fine dining restaurant in Australia.
The ambience and decor of the restaurant tells of Soldier Settlement scheme blue gum cladded shearing sheds, recycled baltic pine floors, the rustic iron roof from the original tank maker’s shed not to mention the overburden rock from mining days which captures the glow and crackle from the open fireplace.
As if the decor, food, great wines and hospitality are not enough, we are further entertained over dinner by a guest-speaker relaying his farming experiences on the island.
After our amazing dinner we have a quick visit to Grassy Harbour – where we'll surprise a few inhabitants of the little penguin colony as they go about their nocturnal ramblings – before returning to our hotel and the end of a wonderful day.
More guided touring today as we explore the north of the island. We will call in on the TRT Pastoral Group, a family owned and operated agriculture company and the biggest beef producers on the island. We will also visit the spectacular Cape Wickham lighthouse and Penny's Lagoon where we will enjoy another stupendous white table-cloth picnic lunch. More visits this afternoon including the King Island dairy and cheese tasting before returning to Currie.
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. You might like to do some walks or uncover some more of the island’s many stories at the King Island Museum (near our hotel). And you’re always guaranteed a warm welcome at the Arts and Cultural Centre at the picturesque area surrounding the Currie Wharf.
Or maybe a spot of fishing or game of golf on one of two world-class courses takes your fancy before our late afternoon 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.
In the Oaks district we meet with local farmers Robbie and Jane Dent who own and operate Tasglobal Seeds. This company brings together a wealth of skills and knowledge in pasture seed production and processing as well as the development of legume cultivars. Unique germplasm is developed from local sources as well as European and Central Asian countries. The soils in the area are typical of the Northern Midlands and include light red sandy and grey loams through to heavy black clays.
We continue to Conara for dinner and overnight at the magnificent Vaucluse Estate – the entire Homestead is exclusively reserved for our group. Its wonderful architecture and period antiques and fireplaces combine modern luxuries to offer a cosy and quiet country getaway.
We visit Vaucluse farm this morning. With a focus on sustainable land and water development, the Vaucluse Agricultural Company operates one of Tasmania’s best mixed cropping and livestock businesses.
We travel through more rich farmlands and historic villages in the area as we make our westwards to the Great Lake, the centrepiece of the unique irrigation schemes in Tasmania. We meet with farmers tapping into the enviably reliable irrigation water supply.
We return to Vaucluse Estate for dinner and overnight.
This morning we travel towards the east coast and the Freycinet Peninsula. This is a stunning region of pink granite peaks and white sandy beaches. Freycinet National Park occupies a large part of the Freycinet Peninsula, named after French navigator Louis de Freycinet, and Schouten Island. Founded in 1916, it is Tasmania’s oldest park.
Bordering the national park is the small settlement of Coles Bay, and the largest nearby town is Swansea. Freycinet contains part of the rugged Tasmanian coastline and includes the secluded Wineglass Bay.
We arrive at Coles Bay in time to board our catarmaran for a fantastic scenic cruise down the Freycinet Peninsula and around to the magnificent Wineglass Bay. Along the way we discover a coastline dotted with sparkling white sand beaches, including Cooks and Bryans beaches, only accessible by water or a full day bushwalk.
We explore the inner passage of remote Schouten Island, home to little penguins and short tailed shearwaters, before heading into the Tasman Sea towards Wineglass Bay. We take in the sheer beauty of Wineglass Bay from the rarely seen perspective of the water, a shimmering crescent of white sand fringes spilling into glass turquoise waters.
We return to Freycinet Lodge by mid-afternoon.
We travel south today through scenery ranging from beaches, to expansive coastline, to wooded forest areas and onto the beautiful and historic town of Richmond. The town is rich in history and architecture, with more than 50 historic buildings, mostly from the 1820s, and boasts Australia's oldest intact jail (1825), Australia's oldest Catholic church (St. John's, built in 1836) and the nation's oldest bridge still in use – the magnificent Richmond Bridge built by convicts in 1825.
Richmond is also in the centre of one of Australia's fastest-growing wine regions, the Coal River Valley.
We have some free time to take in some of the many sights of Richmond at your own pace – or enjoy a leisurely lunch. Then around mid-afternoon, it's back on the bus, bound for Hobart Town, 30 km to the south.
Hobart is Australia’s second oldest capital and 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 Hobart's waterfront – The River Derwent, the CBD, restaurants, shops, Salamanca Place and Battery Point are all on our doorstep.
We enjoy a guided tour this morning to help get our bearings and to learn more about the rich history of Hobart. After a seafood lunch on the pier there is free time to do your own exploration of Hobart.
You may like to take the opportunity to visit the famed (and very different) MONA (the Museum of Old & New Art) which many argue has single handedly put Tasmania on the map. MONA is the result of one man’s dream – David Walsh – a local collector and philanthropist who opened the gallery in January 2011. Since then it has treated visitors to an ever changing art scene.
This morning we board our coach and head to the ruggedly beautiful Tasman Peninsula and the Port Arthur historic site. Some people may have already visited Port Arthur on a previous visit to Tassie so this is very much an optional excursion.
On our way to Port Arthur we travel through the highly productive farmlands of the Sorell and Forcett districts, the home of much of Tasmania's fresh produce supplies.
Access to Tasman 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.
Port Arthur is a place of national and international significance – part of the epic story of forced migration and settlement of this country. Port Arthur was much more than a prison; it was a complete community, home to convicts, military and civilian officers and their families. The convicts worked at many industries producing goods and services for use locally and to be sold in Hobart and beyond. The military and civilian officers were tasked with security and administration of the settlement.
Containing more than 30 historic buildings, extensive ruins and beautiful grounds and gardens, the Port Arthur has many stories to explore.
We return to Hobart for 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.