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Gardens of New England & the Hunter Valley in association with the AGHS – April 2021

Status: open

10 Apr – 22 Apr 2021

Your leaders
Overview

Gardens of New England & the Hunter Valley in association with the AGHS – April 2021
Tour Highlights

Join garden enthusiast, Lynne Walker, a passionate gardener and former Coordinator for Australia’s Open Garden Scheme, Northern New South Wales, on an exciting new tour arranged in association with the Australian Garden History Society which explores a diverse range of private gardens in the Hunter Valley and New England.

  • Visit a special selection of historic station gardens and intimate private gardens which open wide with welcoming hospitality from friends of tour leader, Lynne Walker.
  • In Tenterfield visit two major New England gardens designed by renowned garden landscaper Carolyn Robinson.
  • Explore the Hinton Collection which showcases the development of Australian landscape painting at the New England Regional Art Museum, and visit the vibrant Maitland Regional Art Gallery.
  • Enjoy heritage walking tours of the ‘Cathedral City, Armidale; the rural town of Uralla associated with bushranger Captain Thunderbolt; and the small historic mining village of Nundle.
  • View the work of renowned architect, John Horbury Hunt at Ollera’s St Bartholomew’s Church, and at Booloominbah, former home of Patrick White’s great uncle, Frederick White. We also tour the magnificent, historic homestead of Saumarez, owned by the White family.
  • Tour the gardens of historic Chevy Chase and enjoy a concert in the grounds by students from the New England Conservatorium of Music.
  • Spend 2 nights at Goonoo Goonoo Station, a working cattle station offering luxury accommodation in historic buildings dating from the 1830s.
  • Enjoy the best of New England Food and Wine; this verdant high country is home to award-winning cool climate wines and fields of fresh produce.

Overnight Pokolbin (1 night) • Goonoo Goonoo Station (2 nights) • Glen Innes (3 nights) • Armidale (6 nights)

AGHS Membership

This tour has been designed for members of the Australian Garden History Society. If you would like to participate on this tour, but are not currently an AGHS member, you may join here. The cost for AGHS membership is currently from $78.00 AUD per person.

Itinerary

Itinerary

The following itinerary describes a range of sites which we plan to visit. At the time of publication (October 2020) 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 in 2021.

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.

Polkobin, Hunter Valley – 1 night

Day 1: Saturday 10 April, Sydney – Yarramalong – Ravensdale – Maitland – Hunter Valley
  • Jumjum Garden, Ravensdale
  • Maitland Regional Art Gallery (MRAG)
  • Welcome Dinner at the eRemo Restaurant

We depart Sydney early this morning for the picturesque Yarramalong Valley on the NSW Central Coast. Beside the Wyong River at Ravensdale lies Jumjum, a rural property renowned for its holistic approach to farming. Here, Muscovy ducks are raised under plantations of Hazelnuts and cattle graze in lush pastures. We tour the large informal garden surrounding the homestead with its owner, a superb plantswoman and enjoy a picnic lunch. This serene garden is imaginatively landscaped and planted and is a true oasis in the valley.

In the afternoon we take a guided tour of the Maitland Regional Art Gallery (MRAG), one of the most vibrant regional galleries in NSW, having won multiple awards for its exhibitions, as well as its architecture. The collection includes works by Margaret Olley, John Olsen, Fiona Hall, Judy Watson, Gloria Petyarre, Nell, Shaun Gladwell, Dr Christian Thompson, William Kentridge and Destiny Deacon. We shall enjoy a welcome evening meal at the modern contemporary Italian, eRemo Restaurant. (Overnight Pokolbin) LD

Goonoo Goonoo Station – 2 nights

Day 2: Sunday 11 April, Polkobin – Murrurundi – Goonoo Goonoo Station
  • Michael Reid Murrurundi: Art Gallery & Café
  • Glenalvon Estate, Murrurundi

From Polkolbin we drive two hours north to Murrurundi, a rural town located in the Upper Hunter region, where we visit Michael Reid’s gallery which showcases contemporary Australian and Aboriginal Art. The exhibition space designed by Dods and Zuccon in 2017 compliments the adjacent Bobadil House, a late-Georgian sandstone residence originally built as a Cobb and Co. staging post in the 1840s. There is also a fine garden divided into discrete spaces, creating privacy around the house with towering hedges and lines of London Plane Trees. Closer to the gallery is a forest underplanted with Acanthus, Periwinkle, Hellebores, Iris, Hollyhocks, Violets and Japanese windflowers. Following time to explore the gallery and gardens we enjoy lunch at the gallery’s café.

This afternoon we visit Glenalvon, one of the area’s oldest properties, which features a single-storey stone labourer’s cottage (1831) and stables designed by the renowned architect John Horbury Hunt (1838–1904) in 1874; Hunt was known for his advanced and innovative designs. We also tour the private gardens which surround the sandstone homestead built in 1916.

From Murrurundi we continue north to Goonoo Goonoo Station, a working cattle station located just outside Tamworth, where accommodation is provided in the refurbished 19th-century heritage listed pastoral village. This lovingly restored and revitalised station has already become an icon of style and comfort in Northern NSW. We dine here tonight. (Overnight Goonoo Goonoo Station) BLD

Day 3: Monday 12 April, Goonoo Goonoo – Nundle – Goonoo Goonoo
  • Wombramurra Homestead Museum & Garden
  • ‘Koobah’ Home Garden
  • Lunch at Jenkins Street Guesthouse
  • Nundle Village
  • Nundle Woollen Mill Tour

Located 2km from the gold rush town of Nundle, Wombramurra Homestead has bred many champion stud cattle and horses. The 200-hectare property which overlooks Nundle Creek features a historic homestead which was established in 1841 by the Payne family. The entrance to this magnificent homestead is framed by oaks and golden elms that are more than a century old together with more recent plantings of Lombardy poplars and lipstick maples. The surrounding gardens were developed in the early 1900s and feature dry stone-edged garden beds, rolling lawns and an array of beautiful trees. There are also outhouses, which have been lovingly restored by the Eather family, including the original Payne family cottage which has been converted into a museum telling the history of the family’s original farming days and of living on the station.

We next visit  the historic homestead and gardens of ‘Koobah’ which is located on the outskirts of Nundle village and which has been lovingly restored by its present owners.

After our visit to ‘Koobah’ lunch will be served in the centre of Nundle village in a historic building established in 1938 as ‘The Bank of NSW’, and subsequently converted into a charming guesthouse. Following some time at leisure to explore the village and its array of boutique shops we take a tour of Nundle’s Woollen Mill. This family-owned mill with historic machinery produces Fine Merino Signature Yarn.  Nundle (pop. c. 289) was established at the foot of the Great Dividing Range when gold was discovered at ‘The Hanging Rock’ and nearby Swamp Creek in 1852. By June of that year there were 300 diggers on the fields at Oakenville Creek. Prospectors from California, Europe and China were also digging along the Peel River and up the mountain slopes. By 1865 the population had grown to 500. Today sheep and cattle farming as well as timber support Nundle’s economy, although gold and other precious stones (zircons, green jasper, sapphires and serpentine minerals) can still be found there. Nundle’s historic buildings include the Nundle Woollen Mill, old Court House, Peel Inn and Primitive Methodist Church. Nundle Courthouse (former) and Police Station have been placed on the Register of the National Estate.

In the late afternoon we return to Goonoo Goonoo where we enjoy a second meal at the station’s restaurant.  (Overnight Goonoo Goonoo Station) BLD

Glen Innes – 3 nights

Day 4: Tuesday 13 April, Goonoo Goonoo – Bendemeer – Kingstown – Glen Innes
  • Longford Station
  • Merilba Estate: Lunch at the Merilba Cellar Doors & tour of the private gardens

Leaving Goonoo Goonoo we travel across to Bendemeer to visit the garden at Longford Station. The homestead is set in the middle of an extensive property, over 7,000ha in size, which has specialised in breeding Black Wagyu cattle since 1995. At the  front of the historic homestead an expansive lawn slopes down to a picturesque lake and onward to the MacDonald River. Semi enclosed  areas relate to various views of the old house. Hundreds of trees, roses, perennials and shrubs have been used to create a landscaped garden of great serenity and beauty.

We then travel across country to Kingstown and the Merilba Estate, a renowned winery and cattle breeding property.’Merilba’ has been a long established pastoral property in the New England region since the mid 1800’s. It is believed that the present day Cellar Door was a way station for the then bustling stagecoach industry. Twenty six horses were liveried and prepared for the stagecoach journeys. Today ‘Merilba’ includes approximately 30,000 acres at Kingstown and runs a South Devon stud, commercial cattle, Merino fine wool and prime lambs. Diversification in more recent years includes the breeding of Boar goats and most notably wine production. As well as its primary production enterprises ‘Merilba’ is also renowned for the beauty of its extensive gardens, and the structures contained in it. These include the Walk of Roses (a 30 metre pergola covered in dozens of different varieties of climbing roses), the Folly (a copper roofed rotunda also surrounded by roses) and the garden which is beautifully landscaped with extensive stone walls and a charming water feature. The vineyard is situated on a north facing slope at an elevation of 800 metres above sea level. ‘The combination of altitude, slope, soil and climate interact to give Merilba Estate wines great flavour and complexity’.  Lunch will be served at the Cellar Door of the estate.  During our lunch we will sample some of the Merilba Estate wines which include Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.

From Kingstown we continue north to the charming town of Glen Innes, located on the Northern Tablelands. The land upon which the town of Glen Innes (pop. c. 6,155) is located was originally the territory of the Ngarabal people who called it Gindaaydjin, (‘plenty of big round stones on clear plains’).   Many Ngarabal people continue to live in the Glen Innes area, still practising many aspects of their traditional culture and way of life. One Archibald Boyd registered the first run in the Glen Innes district in 1838. This area changed hands a number of times in the 19th century. The town, which developed in the 1850s, takes its name from one station owner, Major Archibald Clunes Innes. By 1866 it had a population of c. 350, with a telegraph station, lands office, police barracks, courthouse, post office and two hotels. From 1872, when tin was discovered at Emmaville, Glen Innes prospered. By 1875, its population had grown to c. 1,500 and it had a two teacher school, three churches, five hotels, two weekly newspapers, seven stores and a variety of societies and associations. In 1884 Glen Innes was linked by the new Main North railway to Sydney. This rail link and the expansion of mining brought great prosperity, reflected in some of its fine buildings. The town centre retains some of its federation buildings, many of which are on the Register of the National Estate. Tonight we dine tonight at the lodge’s Highlands Restaurant. (Overnight Glen Innes) BLD

Day 5: Wednesday 14 April, Glen Innes – Matheson – Glen Innes
  • Historic Waterloo Homestead
  • Lilburn
  • Brandon

This morning we visit historic Waterloo Station which was first settled by Peter McIntyre of the Hunter Valley in 1837. The property was subsequently purchased by John Sinclair in 1896 and remained in the family for the next 76 years. John’s son, Sir Colin Sinclair, became a State parliamentarian and later the president of the Royal Agricultural Show society. The highlight of the property is its magnificent 22-room homestead which was designed by Sydney architect and engineer Herbert Ross (1866–1937) in the Arts and Crafts style for John Sinclair in 1908. This grand home which has been lovingly restored by its current owners is surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens and century old English Elm trees. The homestead was constructed of local brick on a base of New England granite. It is surrounded by extensive verandahs and has a central court. The interior has tallowwood timber flooring, rendered internal walls and pressed metal ceilings. It includes a large formal domed vestibule, drawing and dining rooms, library, large master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom, a further eight bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Glen Innes is also well known for its beautiful private gardens, two of which we visit this afternoon. The first of these is ‘Lilburn’, a country property owned by Sue Molesworth and Tim Hughes. Tim’s family have lived here for several generations and his great-grandparents knew Tom Roberts well. We shall learn about Tom Roberts’ travels to New England and enjoy a tour of the property’s fine gardens.

We finish the day with a visit to the beautiful garden of  ‘Brandon’ on the outskirts of town. The garden surrounding the 1870s homestead has the feel of an ‘English manor’, with clipped hedges create walkways, passages, garden rooms and amphitheatres. The garden also has a magnificent wisteria walk. Tonight we dine tonight at the lodge’s Highlands Restaurant. (Overnight Glen Innes) BLD

Day 6: Thursday 15 April, Glen Innes –– Tenterfield – Glenrock – Eagles Bluff –  Glen Innes
  • Glenrock, Tenterfield
  • Eagles Bluff, Tenterfield

Today we visit two major New England gardens both designed by renowned garden landscaper Carolyn Robinson. Glenrock, her first garden is one of Australia’s finest exotic country gardens, which features drystone walls and beautifully planted stepped terraces that descend to a lagoon. This garden continues to flourish under the care and dedication of its new owners.

Following lunch at Glenrock we continue to Eagles Bluff, Carolyn’s new garden, another stunning  country garden fringed by the dramatic escarpments of the Great Dividing Range. Unlike  Glenrock this garden is a mixture of exotic and native plantings which thrive in wide sweeping banks of planting which follow the contours of the valley. Their design combines the use of colour, shape and texture to form both a harmonious and contrasting effect. A stunning water feature anchors the garden in the landscape.

Today’s program also includes a brief visit to the historic town of Tenterfield, where Banjo Paterson met and married Alice Walker, and where Sir Henry Parkes made his famous 1889 speech calling for Australia’s federation. Tonight we dine tonight at the lodge’s Highlands Restaurant. (Overnight Glen Innes) BLD

Armidale – 6 nights

Day 7: Friday 16 April, Glen Innes – Stonehenge – Guyra – Armidale
  • Stonehenge Station
  • Ollera Station, Guyra

We start the day with a visit to one of the oldest gardens in the district, Stonehenge Station which was settled in 1838 by the Boyd family and it is thought that this is when Mrs Boyd planted many of the English trees which form the foundation of the garden. A driveway entrance of venerable English elms has been a much-loved landmark for more than one hundred and fifty years. The park-like gardens feature significant American, Asian and European trees, sweeping lawns and picturesque dams.

We next visit Ollera Station, located on the Northern Tablelands, 20km northwest of Guyra. In 1838 John and George Everett took up the Ollera run and today the property continues to be managed by the family who pioneered it. Ollera became essentially a semi-autonomous village with its own bakery, post office, store, bank, school (1862), and church. We will take a guided tour of this ‘living museum’ which retains its historic outbuildings. Of special interest is St Bartholomew’s Church. Built in 1876-77, it was designed by Canadian born John Horbury Hunt and features stained-glass windows commemorating the pioneers of Ollera. The church and Ollera Station are listed on the Register of the National Estate.

In the late afternoon we arrive in Armidale, dubbed the ‘Cathedral City’, of the New England High Country. We will be based here for six nights at the recently refurbished Tattersalls Hotel which still retains many of its fine Art Deco detail. (Overnight Armidale) BL

Day 8: Saturday 17 April, Armidale – Thalgarrah – Armidale
  • Eynsford Garden
  • Morning tea at Cotswold Gardens
  • Thalgarrah
  • New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM): The Howard Hinton Collection
  • Museum of Printing & the Black Gully Printmakers (BGP) & printmaker Lizzie Horne

We begin this morning with a visit to the garden of Eynsford located in the heart of Armidale. The gracious two storey residence, which was built in 1927 of Armidale blue brick combined with mock Tudor timber and stucco, was designed by prominent local architect Robert Hickson and built by a prominent local business man William Curtis as a wedding present for his son. Magnificent trees  which pre-date the house shelter plantings of azaleas, roses, camellias and a vegetable potager. One of the largest Ginkgos in New England is a stunning feature in the garden. We will then walk next door for morning tea at the Cotswold Gardens restaurant which was originally William Curtis’s family home, built in the late 1800s.

Judith Wright (1915–2000) was born at her mother’s family property, Thalgarrah, and raised on the family’s nearby sheep station, Wallamumbi. Oldest child of Phillip and Ethel Wright, her early education was at home and the first part of her life therefore centred on station life and her family’s many country homes. Thalgarrah was her favourite! From a young age Judith gained a strong environmental knowledge. It was at New England Girls’ School that she developed a greater understanding of poetry. Although she spent her formative years in Brisbane and Sydney, and later in Braidwood near Canberra, her family’s connection to the New England region was fundamental to her writing, and she described it in her poem Train Journey as the ‘country that built my heart’. This morning we visit Thalgarrah where we will hopefully be joined by poet, Catherine Wright, Judith Wright’s niece, who grew up at Wallamumbi Station. We also meet Thalgarrah’s owners, John and Geraldine Robertson, who are passionate about the property’s history.

On the eastern shore of Sydney Harbour lies Little Sirius Cove, the site of Curlew Camp where several artists such as Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and Sidney Long worked in the late 1800s. A regular visitor to the camp was company director Howard Hinton (1867–1948). His purchases from the Curlew Camp artists made him one of the most important art patrons of the era. These works are now displayed in the New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM). This afternoon we will tour the ‘Howard Hinton Collection’ to admire works by Arthur Streeton, Margaret Preston, Elioth Gruner, Tom Roberts, Rupert Bunny, Adrian Feint, Norman Lindsay, Roy de Maistre and Nora Heysen.

Within NERAM lies the Museum of Printing which represents the history of printing in Australia from 1850 to the early 1900s. During our guided tour we will see important printing presses, a linotype machine, guillotines and book binding equipment. The museum is also home to the Black Gully Printmakers, a community of artists and print enthusiasts who, in 2019, created diverse works for the exhibition ‘Between the Lines’ which aimed to illustrate the words of Judith Wright and the landscapes that influenced her so profoundly. We hope to meet with award-winning printmaker, Lizzie Horne, who is also a published poet and children’s writer. (Overnight Armidale) BL

Day 9: Sunday 18 April, Armidale – Uralla – Invergowrie – Armidale
  • Heritage Walking Tour with Graham Wilson OAM (incl. the McCrossin Mill)
  • The Gael Garden, Uralla
  • Free time in Uralla
  • Invergowrie Homestead

We begin this morning with a heritage walking tour of Uralla led by historian, Graham Wilson OAM. The town of Uralla (pop. c. 2,388) is located on the Northern Tablelands 1,000 metres above sea level, some 23 kilometres south west of Armidale. Uralla’s high altitude means it has cool to cold winters and mild summers. Its rich history is reflected in more than 50 buildings and sites of heritage significance. .It formed part of the territory of the local Aniwan people and its name ‘Uralla’ meant ‘a ceremonial meeting place and look-out on a hill.’ In the 1830s and 1840s the land was occupied by squatters attracted by the New England Tableland’s prime sheep grazing pasture. Early station buildings like Balala and the Gostwyck Chapel, have been placed on the Register of the National Estate. Uralla achieved the status of ‘town’ when the gold rush in the Rocky River area increased its population to over 5,000. By 1859 Uralla had three hotels, stores, a post office, a flour mill and a school. Further gold discoveries brought more prosperity. In 1927 Uralla’s hinterland was subdivided for soldier settlement. The area is renowned for its super-fine and ultra-fine wool for use in the fashion industry. A number of vineyards have also been established and produce a variety of cool-climate wines. Apples and other fruit which require colder weather are grown here. The notorious bushranger Captain Thunderbolt (Frederick Ward) is buried in the old Uralla Cemetery (John Street), and a statue and a number of street and other place names celebrate this infamous local. Among Uralla’s heritage-listed sites are the New England Brass and Iron Lace Foundry; Uralla railway station; Blanch’s Royal Oak Inn and ‘Captain Thunderbolt’s Rock’. A community collectively bought and restored McCrossins Mill in the 1980s and 1990s; this is now a multi-award-winning museum, gallery and function centre still run by volunteers. The town also boasts an antiquarian book store, numerous galleries, antique stores and cafes.

Our walking tour will conclude at the Gael garden a fascinating little garden lovingly created by its current owners around an old bank building in Uralla’s main street. Here borders overflowing with perennials and shrubs, vistas and many points of interest have been created; the owners recently bought the property next door so they could expand their garden even further.

We next visit historic Invergowrie Homestead c.1875. It was originally built and has recently been restored by members of two families, the Moffatts and the Mitchells who are linked by a past marriage. The cottage and surrounding outbuildings have all been faithfully restored as has the garden, with the restoration remaining faithful to the original  1880s garden plan of James Mitchell who was a keen gardener. Behind a huge box hedge a stunning formal rose garden has been re-established along with charming borders overflowing with perennials, and a vegetable garden. Rich autumn colour features throughout in shrubs, roses and grapevines. The recent construction of a heritage- style family museum has museum quality archival storage and display spaces which do justice to the long and varied history of the property. Lunch will be served in the historic cottage known as the Bachelors Quarters. (Overnight Armidale) BL

Day 10: Monday 19 April, Armidale
  • Booloominbah Historic House
  • Trevenna, The Vice Chancellors Garden (to be confirmed)
  • Saumarez Homestead & Garden

Today we visit three historical properties associated with the pastoralist White Family – Booloominbah, Trevenna and Saumarez. Booloominbah is one of the nation’s most magnificent country houses. Built from 1884 to 1889, the house was designed by renowned architect John Horbury Hunt in the Federation Arts and Crafts style, for Frederick White, the great uncle of Nobel-Prize-winning novelist Patrick White. It was conceived as a ‘gentleman’s house’ “that would reflect White’s status as a community leader and successful pastoralist”. We will tour the house, which includes many panels of stained-glass including portraits of Shakespeare and Sir Walter Scott which adorn the windows of the library.

Nearby lies Trevenna, which has been the residence of a succession of Vice-Chancellors of the University of New England since 1962. This historic home, which was also designed by John Horbury Hunt in the 1890s, was bequeathed to the university by Florence Wilson, the daughter of Frederick White. Many of the exotic trees surrounding the homestead were planted in the 1880s by the White family. The layout of the garden dates back to the construction of the house and is based on the style of a traditional English garden with wide borders planted with shrubs and perennials, a sunken garden, extensive dry stone walls and an iconic stone sundial.

We then travel to the outskirts of Armidale to enjoy lunch and spend the afternoon at the National Trust property, Saumarez Homestead. In 1874 Francis White purchased Saumarez from Henry Arding Thomas for the princely sum of £40,000. However, shortly after the sale he died suddenly and his eldest son, Francis John White (Patrick White’s uncle) took possession.  The pastoral property was originally 3000 ha. and the White family worked the property until the land was sub-divided, with 10 ha. including the historic homestead, donated to the National Trust in 1984. The two-storey Victorian-Edwardian mansion, designed by John Wiltshire Pender, was built between 1888 and 1906. We’ll take a guided tour of this magnificent, fully-furnished, 30-room mansion. The property features over 15 outbuildings including a store building, stables, poultry yard and slaughter house. The garden was always an integral part of family life at Saumarez with a picking garden, daughter Mary’s garden, a formal front garden with large trees, an aviary and glasshouse, Mrs White’s rose garden, and originally an extensive vegetable garden and a very large orchard (the latter is now the site of a significant Heritage Rose Garden planted with over 1000 roses by local members of the Australian Garden History Society). (Overnight Armidale) BL 

Day 11: Tuesday 20 April, Armidale
  • Morning at leisure
  • Light lunch at the Imperial Hotel
  • Historic tour of Armidale, Dangarsleigh Memorial, Dangar Falls, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park
  • Chevy Chase
  • Dinner at Peterson’s Guesthouse & Winery

Armidale (pop. c. 24,504), administrative centre of New England’s Northern Tablelands’ region, is Australia’s highest city (alt. 1000m). Its high elevation gives it a mild climate, with pleasant warm summers, extended spring and autumn seasons, and cold winters with some frosty nights. It becomes like New England in the USA when in autumn the introduced birch, ash and poplar set the city and its hinterland ablaze with reds, golds and browns. Armidale was founded in the 1840s to support pioneering farming families in the wool and cattle industries. It was proclaimed a city in 1885. It is a cathedral city, being the seat of the Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops of Armidale. With its grand architecture and impressive cathedral spires that dominate the Armidale skyline, it is one of the most beautiful cities in NSW. The city’s role as a leading education centre was forged with the founding of Armidale Teachers College in 1928, and then 10 years later, the New England University College, a college of the University of Sydney. In 1954, the college became the University of New England, the first university outside an Australian capital city.

Armidale has many fine historic buildings, including St Peter’s Anglican Cathedral, designed by Australia’s famous Canadian-born architect, J. Horbury Hunt. St Mary’s and St Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral (1911–1912) is a Gothic revival church of Pyrmont stone and polychrome brickwork. The city’s grand, two-storey High Victorian town hall was completed in 1883. Its two-storey Classical brick and stucco post office (1880) was designed by the famous architect, James Barnet, the balcony and colonnade were added in 1897 by W.L. Vernon. The two-storey brick and stucco Imperial Hotel (1889) is Armidale’s oldest surviving hotel. This highly ornamented building features extensive and elaborate cast-iron frieze work on the verandahs, bull nosed awnings, and extravagant parapets decorated with Grecian urns and pediments on arches. The interior retains an air of Victorian opulence. These are just some of the many fine buildings you will encounter in the city.

After a morning at leisure to allow you to explore Armidale, lunch will be enjoyed at one of Armidale’s oldest hotels and from there we shall embark on a special heritage coach tour of Armidale and local district led by local historian, Graham Wilson OAM. The tour will encompass the many churches in town and other historic buildings with occasional stops and tours of many of them with an emphasis on private houses, as well as heritage parks and gardens and public buildings with Graham who is widely recognised as an expert across New England.

A special focus of the tour will be the contribution to the district of two local land-owning families, the Dangars and Perrotts. For example, we will visit the grand Dangarsleigh Memorial to the fallen of World War I which was built by Alfred Haroldston Perrott, who lost his eldest son in World War I. He wished as he stated, to  ‘do something to keep forever green the memory of those poor boys who would never return.’ The Dangar family also lent its name to Dangar Falls in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. We shall visit these falls which offer some of the most awesome views in the Northern Tablelands. We look out across deep ravines and gorges of the northern edge of the Park. After a downpour of rain the mighty falls come alive, plunging 120 metres into a ravine, filling it with mist and rainbows.

We end our day by visiting Chevy Chase, a sheep grazing station that was famous for its super fine merino wool production. Chevy Chase was originally part of a much larger Dangar property called ‘Gostwyck’ which was subdivided and the Perrott family bought the block of land in 1905 and named it Chevy Chase. The station, which remained in the Perrott family for many years, evolved when Alfred Harold Perrott built an imposing family homestead (1908–1911) for his wife and family on land he purchased in 1905 and 1906. This imposing home, which combines Victorian and Edwardian stylistic elements, comprises five family bedrooms; a huge dining room; sitting and drawing rooms; an office; a large walk-in pantry; and a back wing consisting of a dairy, storeroom, laundry and meat room. It has eight marble fireplaces, each of a different design! We shall enjoy a tour of the gardens where five Bunya pines and  a number of palm trees, characteristic of the early Federation garden style survive in good health. Trellises and archways as well as many of the early rose bushes remain in the formal rose garden. The present owners, using stone from the property have built stone walls and steps which complement the old garden. A charming feature of the property are its dog kennels built at the same time as the house, also in brick with pitched roofs and cement feeding bowls, an indication of the high esteem in which the Perrotts held their dogs! We conclude our visit with a concert in the grounds by students from the New England Conservatorium of Music.

We  then travel to dine nearby at the historic Peterson’s Guesthouse & Winery. Formerly known as ‘Palmerston’ the heritage listed  house, which was built in 1911, was designed by architect Frederick George Castleden and is considered a fine example of Edwardian Bungalow architecture. The estate is rich in history. Also owned by the Dangars, for several years it was managed by the Former Queensland premier A H Palmer. Parts of the original garden survive and invite exploration. We shall enjoy the best produce New England has to offer including its award-winning cool climate wines. (Overnight Armidale) BLD

Day 12: Wednesday 21 April, Armidale – Dumaresq – Armidale
  • Fangorn Private Botanic Garden & Bushfood Morning Tea, Dumaresq
  • Micklegate
  • Auchinlea
  • Farewell dinner at the Tattersalls Hotel

We start the day with a visit to Fangorn, a native garden owned and much loved by one of Australia’s foremost authorities on native plants, and a local ABC Regional Radio garden host. She established the garden over 30 years ago and then renovated it in 2007. The botanic garden comprises two very large bush gardens which allow for many different microclimates. The garden is situated at approximately 1100m above sea level and is built on a ridge of floating basalt. The climate here is cool temperate with winter minimums reaching -15C and summer maximums rarely exceeding 35C. The garden hosts the National Living Correa Collection and the owner is the author of four books on native plants in Australia including the definitive guide to correas. The owner will provide us with a Bush Tucker Morning Tea – a rare and very special treat, based on recipes from her latest book.

Next we visit the lovely old garden of Micklegate. A circular driveway in the front of the house is lined with exotics resplendent in their Autumn coats. To one side gently curving beds are planted with a great range of shrubs, perennials and bulbs and on the other side an extensive rose garden contains dozens of repeat flowering roses in their full Autumn glory.

Nearby is the garden of Auchinlea. Here, a great variety of mature trees including maples, tulip, poplars and liquid amber ash have been planted against a backdrop of radiata pines. Under these trees, beds of perennials and shrubs thrive and walks have been skillfully created leading from one garden area to the next. There is also a woodland with oaks, silver birches and a variety of trees, a vegetable garden and extensive stone walls and paths which give added structure to the garden. We will enjoy lunch in these tranquil surroundings before returning to Armidale for some time at leisure.

This evening we enjoy a farewell dinner at the Tattersalls Hotel’s fine dining restaurant. (Overnight Armidale) BLD

Day 13: Thursday 22 April, Armidale – Sydney
  • North West Xplorer Train 224 to Sydney (0840-1639hrs)

We depart Armidale early this morning for our return journey by train to Sydney. The representation of nature’s beauty and power in the New England District is conveyed in Judith Wright’s poem Train Journey. We are scheduled to arrive in Sydney at 1639hrs, where our tour officially ends. B

Accommodation

Accommodation

All hotels and motels provide rooms with private facilities. A hotel list will be given to all participants prior to departure, in the meantime a summary is given below:

  • Pokolbin (1 night): 5-star Spicers Guesthouse – this recently renovated retreat, located in the heart of the Hunter Valley, features a restaurant offering modern Italian cuisine. www.spicersretreats.com
  • Goonoo Goonoo (2 nights): Goonoo Goonoo Station – a working cattle station located in the fertile Peel Valley. The station homestead includes a historical pastoral village comprising the original 1830s chapel, post office and store which have been converted into luxury accommodation. The station also features a restaurant focused on using local produce; its floor to ceiling windows offer incredible views over the rolling hills and distant Liverpool Range. www.goonoogoonoostation.com
  • Glen Innes (3 nights): 4-star New England Motor Lodge – extensively renovated in 2018, this modern motel with an outdoor swimming pool, restaurant and bar, is located 1 kilometre from the town centre. Please note porterage is NOT available at this motel. www.newenglandmotorlodge.com
  • Armidale (6 nights): 4-star Tattersalls Hotel – established in 1854, the charing hotel has recently undergone an extensive renovation and now offers comfortable modern rooms in the heart of the town. www.tattersallsarmidale.com.au

Note: Hotels are subject to change, in which case a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

Single Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a single room throughout the tour. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

How to book

How to Book

ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION FORM

Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $500.00 per person payable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Passport Details

All participants must provide no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the program a photocopy of the front page of their current passport.

Practical Information

Practical Information

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 13-day tour of New England and the Hunter Valley involves:

  • A moderate amount of walking mainly during outdoor site visits, often up and down hills and/or flights of stairs and uneven terrain.
  • A moderate amount of coach travel, several on winding mountainous roads.
  • The daily schedule generally involves an early-morning departure (between 8.00-8.30am), concluding in the late afternoon (between 5.00-6.30pm).
  • 4-star hotels and motels with 3 accommodation changes.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand-luggage. Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person except in Glen Innes where porterage is NOT available.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Practical Notes

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on weather, clothing and what to pack.

Tour Price & Inclusions

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $7490.00 Land Content Only

AUD $960.00 Single Supplement

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 4-star hotels, motels, and at the Goonoo Goonoo Station
  • Meals as indicated in the tour itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=dinner
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach
  • North West Xplorer Train from Armidale back to Sydney, Second Class
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels and motels (excluding Glen Innes, where porterage is NOT available)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Entrance fees
  • Use of audio headsets for site excursions
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals
  • GST
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare to Sydney
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Luggage in excess of 20 kg (44 lbs)
  • Travel insurance
Tour Map

Tour Map

Gallery
Terms & Conditions

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply.

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions or services of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products, services, terms and conditions. If a service provider cancels or does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, and does not give a refund, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA or AGHS (Australian Garden History Society.

ASA and AGHS will not be liable for any claim (e.g. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, border closures, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any tour service provider or authority however caused (contingencies). You must take out such travel insurance as is available against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour cancelled or changed will be limited to the partial refund of amounts you have paid, less an administration fee of $500 and other costs and charges of third party service providers. No compensation will be payable to you by ASA or AGHS where ASA cancels or changes a tour, or any part of a tour.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate and in the best interests of health, safety and wellbeing of tour participants. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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