The following itinerary describes a range of sites which we plan to visit. At the time of publication (May 2022) most visits had been confirmed. While several are accessible to the public, others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary, together with their tour documents, prior to departure. The tour includes meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.
Toowoomba – 2 nights
Day 1: Tuesday 16 August, Brisbane – Ipswich – Toowoomba
- Private studio of artist Leonard Brown, Ipswich
- Ipswich Art Gallery
- Private studio of artist Leisl Baker, Toowoomba
- Welcome Dinner
Meeting Point: The Treasury Hotel, 130 William Street, Brisbane at 8.30am.
We depart Brisbane this morning for Ipswich where we meet with artist Leonard Brown at his home studio. He will discuss his work and that of his friend, Sam Fullbrook. Leonard Brown is best known for his minimal abstract paintings and his Russian icon paintings which he creates using traditional techniques. In 2011, the Queensland University of Technology Art Museum presented Union with Reality: The Art of Leonard Brown, a 30 year survey of his work which is also represented in numerous public collections including the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria. Leonard had a close association with Sam Fullbrook (1922-2004) who was described as the “last of the bushman painters”. Fullbrook won the Archibald Prize for portraiture and the Wynne Prize for landscape. We shall view his work during our visit to the Queensland Art Gallery; this includes the portrait of his friend, Brisbane-born novelist Ernestine Hill (1899-1972), who shared a history of life on the land and his deep appreciation of the Australian bush.
We then visit the nearby Ipswich Art Gallery. In addition to regular exhibitions, the gallery houses an excellent collection of modern and contemporary works by Australian artists, including Ben Quilty, Margaret Olley, Lawrence Daws, William Robinson and Margaret Preston. The gallery also has a 1970 print of the iconic photograph The Sunbather by Max Dupain.
We continue west to Toowoomba where we visit the private studio of landscape painter, Leisl Baker, whose work was featured in Amber Creswell-Bell’s book A Painted Landscape (Thames & Hudson 2018). Leisl’s expressive, contemporary landscape works are recognisable for their painterly, bold brushwork, rural scenes and rapid sgraffito. Working both en plein air and in her Toowoomba studio, Leisl aims to capture the essence of a time and place in her paintings. Her work has been shortlisted in numerous national awards for landscape including the Paddington Art Prize and the Hadley’s Prize for Landscape.
Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at Gips Restaurant in the historic Clifford House. (Overnight Toowoomba) D
Day 2: Wednesday 17 August, Toowoomba – Jimbour – Drayton – Toowoomba
- Jimbour: Heritage Homestead & Gardens, Long Table Lunch
- Royal Bull’s Head Inn, Drayton
This morning we travel some 111 km north-west of Toowoomba to Jimbour, a heritage-listed homestead at the centre of one of the earliest stations established on the Darling Downs. Jimbour, designed for politician, businessman and grazier Joshua Peter Bell, is Queensland’s only grand country house designed in the English manner. We shall tour this magnificent homestead and its heritage gardens, and enjoy a long table lunch here. Set on a hill overlooking vast plains, this magnificent home was used as a film location for the popular series Return to Eden. Gertrude Bell, mistress of ‘Coochin Coochin’ station, also visited Jimbour, recording in her diary her astonishment at finding such an imposing mansion in the Queensland bush. She was given plant cuttings to take home to her own garden at ‘Coochin’.
This afternoon we return to Toowoomba via Drayton, the first town established beyond the Great Dividing Range (1842). The Royal Bull’s Head Inn, built in 1847, became a popular haunt for squatters and workers. A guided tour of this inn will give us insights into the early days of settlement on the Darling Downs; its interior, including its original kitchen and rooms, have been lovingly restored and preserved by the National Trust.
Conrad Martens (a friend of Charles Darwin) was the only major colonial artist to work in Queensland. He arrived in Moreton Bay by ship in 1851 and set out across the range to the Darling Downs where he sketched homesteads and properties, including ‘Coochin Coochin’, in the hope of attracting commissions for paintings. By March 1852, Martens had completed over 90 drawings which today provide an invaluable visual record of the region’s history; several of his works are held by the Queensland Art Gallery. On 23 December 1852 he probably stayed at the Royal Bull’s Head Inn whilst sketching views from Drayton Range. (Overnight Toowoomba) BL
Lamington National Park – 2 nights
Day 3: Thursday 18 August, Toowoomba – Coochin – Lamington National Park
The Scenic Rim’s history inspired various important pioneers, including poet Judith Wright, filmmaker Charles Chauvel and the Bell Family of ‘Coochin Coochin’. This afternoon we meet with Tim and Jane Bell to discover the fascinating history of their homestead, which is one of the Scenic Rim’s oldest homes. ‘Coochin Coochin’ dates from 1842, when the 120,000-acre property was established by David Hunter; its name ‘Coochin’ means ‘red’ in the Jagera language, for the red bill of the black swans that frequented the area. In 1870 the property was purchased by Thomas Alford, who moved the homestead to its present site on a hill. In 1882 James Bell bought 22,000 acres of freehold land, and with his wife, Gertrude, and their two sons, came to live there. Gertrude Bell (née Norton), Tim’s great grandmother, had come from an affluent home at Darling Point in Sydney and at ‘Coochin Coochin’ she resumed her former social life, inviting many guests to stay. Her detailed diaries record the visits of distinguished visitors, including the Queen Mother, the Prince of Wales, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and Agatha Christie. Agatha Christie loved her visit, was involved in a local concert and grew fond of Guilford Marsh Bell (Gertrude’s grandson) who later worked on renovations to her beloved Devonshire home ‘Greenway’. Agatha greatly admired the Australian women she met in the region and you will learn about their influence on her future life and career.
In the late afternoon we continue south to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. Established in 1926, the retreat is located in Lamington National Park which lies on the Lamington Plateau of the McPherson Range. (Overnight Lamington National Park) BLD
Day 4: Friday 19 August, Lamington National Park
- Lamington National Park with zoologist, Dr Ronda J Green
- The Rainforest Works of William Robinson: talk by David Henderson
Queensland pastoralist Robert Martin Collins drew public attention to the beauty and invigorating climate of the McPherson Ranges in the 1890s. In parliament he campaigned vigorously for the protection of the area. Lamington was proclaimed a National Park in 1915, two years after his death, and in 1994 the park was incorporated into the ‘Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area’. The biodiversity of these ancient rainforests was presented by David Attenborough in his 1979 TV series Life on Earth in which he featured their beech trees and bower birds.
Many artists have been inspired by the region including Arthur Boyd and William Robinson. In 1984 Robinson moved from Brisbane to live on an 80-hectare property in Beechmont; this move marked a critical turning point in his career. In 1994 he also acquired a rainforest studio at Springbrook. His affinity with the spectacular hinterland of verdant rainforest and dramatic mountains gave rise to a major new body of work. Between 1984 and 2005 Robinson painted some of his most original and compelling compositions including his celebrated Creation and Mountain series. The area has also inspired many writers including Germaine Greer who described the ‘irresistible’ decade-long battle to rehabilitate the damaged forest in her book White Beech: The Rainforest Years (2013). Judith Wright spent nearly 30 years in this region; her growing concern about its devastation led her to co-found, and become the first President of, the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland.
We spend the day exploring Lamington National Park with Dr Ronda J. Green, Chair of Wildlife Tourism Australia and Chair of the Scenic Rim branch of the WPSQ. Ronda, who is a zoologist, studied the birds that dispersed seeds of rainforest plants for her post-doctoral research.
This evening David Henderson will give a pre-dinner talk on ‘The Rainforest Works of William Robinson’. (Overnight Lamington National Park) BLD
Brisbane – 3 nights
Day 5: Saturday 20 August, Lamington NP – Brisbane
- Lunch at Sarabah Estate
- St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane
- David Henderson’s studio, Albion
- Philip Bacon Galleries, Fortitude Valley
This morning we depart Lamington National Park and journey north to Brisbane, stopping on the way to enjoy a light lunch at Sarabah Estate, a family owned vineyard situated within the Granite Belt. On arrival in Brisbane we visit St Stephen’s Catholic Cathedral which features paintings by celebrated artist, Lawrence Daws and outstanding examples of 19th-century stained glass.
When not leading tours for ASA, David Henderson is a full-time artist. David’s response to the Queensland landscape has been informed by a multiplicity of contexts. An outback childhood, studies in architecture, and training at London’s Royal Academy, have all left their mark on his painting. And while Queensland-born, like Jeffrey Smart and Justin O’Brien, he has spent much of his life in Italy. Whether painting local views, monumental urban spaces or the human figure, David’s approach can broadly be described as classical: a synthesis of light and geometry. We shall view a number of his most recent works in his studio where he will present a brief overview of his development and working methods.
We end the day with a visit to Philip Bacon Galleries, one of Australia’s leading private galleries which is renowned for exhibiting many of the country’s most collectable, twentieth century and contemporary artists. (Overnight Brisbane) BL
Day 6: Sunday 21 August, Brisbane – Murwillumbah – Gold Coast – Brisbane
- Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre (MOAC), Murwillumbah
- HOTA City Collection
This morning we travel to the country town of Murwillumbah which lies in a green caldera, the vast crater of the eroded Tweed Volcano, surrounded by rainforest and farmland. Overlooking the town is the striking Wollumbin Peak (Mt Warning). The Tweed has some of Australia’s most diverse flora, fauna and landscapes. Its unique natural history and cultural resonance prompted Parks Australia and Tourism Australia to declare it one of only sixteen ‘Australian National Landscapes’.
From the centre of Murwillumbah we transfer to the Tweed Regional Museum which offers spectacular views to Wollumbin/Mount Warning. Here we enjoy a visit to the Tweed Regional Gallery and visit the adjoining Margaret Olley Art Centre (MOAC). Born in Lismore in 1923, Margaret Olley is Australia’s most celebrated painter of still lifes and interiors. When she died in 2011, she left a treasure trove of paintings and objets d’art at her home, a converted hat factory and adjoining terrace, at 48 Duxford Street, Paddington Sydney. In 2014 parts of her house and its contents, which had provided the subject of so many of her famous works, were dissembled and transported to a purpose-built centre at the Tweed Regional Gallery in Murwillumbah. At MOAC, we view the recreated areas of Olley’s famous home studio, principally the Hat Factory and the Yellow Room.
The pristine beaches, tropical beauty and relaxed lifestyle of the Gold Coast and its hinterland have attracted 20th-century artists. Artists who have recorded its beauty include Lloyd Rees, Fred Williams, Albert Tucker, Vida Lahey, Ethel Carrick Fox, Betty Quelhurst, Jeff Carter, and Graham Burstow. Contemporary artists who began their careers on the Gold Coast or still live there, include Michael Zarvos, Scott Redford, Chris Bennie, Anna Carey, Victoria Reichelt and Donna Marcus.
Following lunch in Murwillumbah we travel to the Gold Coast to visit the revolutionary new HOTA Gallery which opened in May 2021. Both the colourful architecture and collection of this new six-storey ‘Home of the Arts’ were inspired by William Robinson’s stunning painting The Rainforest, a key work in HOTA’s holdings called ‘The City Collection’. This painting won the Wynne Prize for Landscape in 1990, and was purchased by the gallery shortly afterwards. The City Collection, which features more than 5,000 art works, includes an important corpus of paintings from the 1970s by artists including David Aspden, Michael Johnson, Col Jordan, Alun Leach-Jones, and Ron Robertson-Swann. There is also a fine collection of award-winning ceramics, and one of the largest collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island art in regional Australia. In the late afternoon we return to Brisbane. (Overnight Brisbane) BL
Day 7: Monday 22 August, Brisbane
- Private studio of award-winning artist, Scott Breton
- Queensland Performing Arts Centre: Lawrence Daws Mural
- Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA)
This morning we visit the private studio of award-winning artist Scott Breton. The grandeur of his landscape paintings and the plasticity of his figurative works reflect his interest in ‘the relevance of Renaissance thinking and aesthetics’. Scott will meet us and explain his work, style and artistic ambition.
We spend the remainder of the day in Brisbane’s South Bank, the city’s cultural epicentre, where we begin with a short visit to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre to view Lawrence Daws’ grand mural in preparation for our journey to the Glasshouse Mountains.
The remainder of the day is devoted to visiting QAGOMA. Here we tour the Australian Collection which includes works by Gordon Bennett, Arthur Boyd, Rupert Bunny, William Dobell, Ian Fairweather, Ethel Carrick Fox, R. Godfrey Rivers, Sam Fullbrook, Vida Lahey and Sidney Nolan. There are also landscapes painted by Conrad Martens at ‘Coochin Coochin’ and in the nearby McPherson Range. We also view the Indigenous Collection which tells the story of Namatjira and features his early works, along with works by those he influenced. (Overnight Brisbane) B
Noosa Heads – 1 night
Day 8: Tuesday 23 August, Brisbane – Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve – Noosa
- Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve & the Glasshouse Mountains National Landscape
- Time at leisure in Noosa
This morning we leave Brisbane and travel to the ‘Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve’, 55 hectares of subtropical rainforest which is home to a remarkable array of native flora and fauna, including 141 species of birds. Light refreshments are available at the Mountain View Café which offers breathtaking views of the Glasshouse Mountains. You may also wish to visit the Discovery Centre, take a walk along the Elevated Glider Gallery Boardwalk which showcases the rainforest mid-storey, or explore one of the easy rainforest trails.
The cluster of rugged volcanic peaks of the Glasshouse Mountains are registered as a landscape of national importance due to their cultural significance to the area’s traditional owners, the Gubbi Gubbi people. This was a special meeting place where they gathered for ceremonies and trading – many of their ceremonial sites are still present. The landscape has inspired many writers and artists including Lawrence Daws, Conrad Martens, David Malouf and Fred Williams. On his journey to Brisbane by ship in 1851, Conrad Martens did his watercolour sketch, Glasshouses, Moreton Bay. In his 1970 poem Glasshouse Mountains, David Malouf described the view of the mountains from the Redcliffe Peninsular. From 1970 until 2010, Lawrence Daws lived at his farm ‘Owl Creek’ at Beerwah on the edge of the rainforest by the Glasshouse Mountains. Many of his best-known works were created here. Daws hosted many artist friends including Brett Whiteley who, in 1976, made several sketches of the area and wrote “the view from the Daws balcony onto the Glasshouse is one of the absolutely monumental views.” Donald Friend produced a series of red ink drawings (shown at Philip Bacon Galleries in 1983), including The House at Owl Creek. Charles Blackman and Robert Dickerson also painted the mountains when they resided nearby.
We then continue our journey north to the coastal town of Noosa Heads, arriving in the mid-afternoon to allow time to enjoy this lively town. (Overnight Noosa Heads) B
Fraser Island – 3 nights
Day 9: Wednesday 24 August, Noosa – Maryborough – Fraser Island
- Statue of Mary Poppins
- Story Bank Mary Poppins Museum, Maryborough
- Brennan and Geraghty’s Store Museum, Maryborough
- Light lunch at the Portside Restaurant, Maryborough
- Ferry to Fraser Island
- Pre-dinner talk by David Henderson
This morning we drive north to Maryborough, a city in the Fraser Coast Region, home to a number of heritage-listed buildings. These include the former Australian Joint Stock Bank where P.L. Travers’ father, Travers Goff, worked as bank manager and where, in August 1899, she was born in a room on the second floor. We will view the bronze statue of her at the front of the building which commemorates her literary achievements. Born Helen Lyndon Goff, she lived in Maryborough until the age of five when the family relocated to Allora. Within the former bank we visit the ‘Story Bank Mary Poppins Museum’ which describes her life story and her ties with Maryborough.
We also make a short visit to the National Trust-run ‘Brennan and Geraghty’s Store Museum’. This charming store, established in 1871, is a rare survivor of our commercial heritage and features goods dating back to the 1890s.
Following a light lunch at restaurant located in the portside heritage precinct we continue to River Heads to take the 50-minute ferry trip to our resort overlooking Kingfisher Bay. David Henderson will give an evening talk before dinner. (Overnight Kingfisher Bay Resort) BLD
Day 10: Thursday 25 August, Fraser Island
- Lake McKenzie
- Central Station and Wanggoolba Creek
- Pile Valley’s Satinay and Brush Box forests
- 75 Mile Beach
- The Maheno shipwreck and the coloured sands of The Pinnacles
- Fresh waters of Eli Creek
Known as K’gari (‘paradise’) by the traditional owners, the Butchulla people, World Heritage-listed Fraser Island has inspired many writers and artists. Sidney Nolan lived in a ménage à trois at Heide in Melbourne with Sunday and John Reed until 1947, when he moved to Brisbane. There he stayed with his friend Barrett Reid, a Brisbane poet and the youngest contributor to the literary and arts journal Angry Penguins. With Reid, Nolan made his first visit to the rainforests, swamps, and lagoons of Fraser Island. It was here that Nolan learnt about Eliza Fraser, a Scottish woman who was shipwrecked near the island in 1836. He was fascinated by the story of her survival and rescue by escaped convict John Graham who had lived alongside the island’s Aboriginal people. Nolan painted various island sites including Lake Wabby and Indian Head. His Platypus Bay, Fraser Island was purchased by the Queensland Art Gallery in 2014. Other works include a lone female or male figure in the landscape such as the famous Mrs Fraser (1947) which has long been regarded as emblematic of his animosity towards Sunday Reed, and Island (1947) on display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The QAG website states: ‘Between 1947 and 1948, Sidney Nolan painted at least 15 images of Fraser Island and Eliza Fraser. He then returned to the same theme briefly in 1952, and again during the late 1950s and early 1960s, when he produced numerous works referring, either obliquely or directly, to the Eliza Fraser story and the landscapes he had encountered on the island. Their continuing presence in his paintings, almost 20 years after his initial curiosity, suggests that the episode affected his work greatly, making Queensland instrumental in his development as an artist.’
We spend a full day exploring the island’s unique landscape, including Wanggoolba Creek, which remains a crystal-clear freshwater creek running through rainforest at Central Station, just as Nolan painted it. (Overnight Fraser Island) BLD
Day 11: Friday 26 August, Fraser Island
- Whale Watching, Hervey Bay
- Afternoon at leisure
The calm waters of Platypus Bay off the north-western coast of Fraser Island, in the Hervey Bay Marine Park, have become world famous as a prime whale watching area. From August to October humpback whales, migrating south to the Antarctic, stop to rest, play and nurture their calves in the bay. We rise early this morning for our Whale Watching tour in Hervey Bay. The afternoon is at leisure to relax and enjoy the facilities of our resort. (Overnight Fraser Island) BLD
Brisbane – 1 night
Day 12: Saturday 27 August, Fraser Island – Brisbane
- Early morning Ferry from Kingfisher Bay Resort to River Heads
- Coach Transfer: River Heads to Brisbane
- Evening reception and viewing of private art collection
- Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant in Brisbane
After an early breakfast, we take the return ferry from our resort to River Heads, then continue on to Brisbane by coach. Along our route we we will enjoy the picturesque scenery of Gympie, the Glasshouse Mountains and the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
On arrival in Brisbane there will be for some time at leisure before visiting the home of an art collector to see her remarkable collection of Australian art. We then enjoy a Farewell Dinner together at one of Brisbane’s excellent restaurants. (Overnight Brisbane) BLD
Day 13: Sunday 28 August, Depart Brisbane
- Old Government House: William Robinson Gallery
This morning we visit the William Robinson Gallery, in the beautiful setting of Old Government House. Born in Brisbane in 1936, Robinson is recognised not only for his unique interpretation of the Australian landscape but also for his whimsical portraits and narrative scenes. His self-portraits were awarded the Archibald Prize in 1987 and 1995. The 2009 documentary by filmmaker Catherine Hunter, William Robinson: A Painter’s Journey, explores the places that have inspired him.
After time to enjoy this excellent gallery, we return to the hotel where our tour concludes at 12.00noon. B