Sydney and the Southern Highlands: Art, Architecture & Design 2024

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15 May – 20 May 2024

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Sydney and the Southern Highlands: Art, Architecture & Design 2024
Tour Highlights

Photo credits

  1. GB House, Gordons Bay, by Renato D’Ettorre, Renato D’Ettorre Architects. Photo by Justin Alexander.
  2. K House, Kiama, by Renato D’Ettorre, Renato D’Ettorre Architects. Photo by Dianna Snape Photography PL
  3. Angophora House, Waverton, by Richard Cole. Photo courtesy of Richard Cole Architecture.
  4. Angophora House, Waverton, by Richard Cole. Photo courtesy of Richard Cole Architecture.

With architecture and design writer Stephen Crafti explore contemporary art, architecture and design in Sydney and the Southern Highlands.

  • Meet Renato D’Ettorre, principal of Renato D’Ettorre Architects to view the GB House recipient of the coveted “Wilkinson Award” in 2019 and featured on Open Homes Australia; and the K House, overlooking the ocean in Kiama, which featured in Habitus House of the Year.
  • View projects that were winners in the NSW Architectural Awards 2021 including Birchgrove House by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects, and Rily’s Terrace by Adele McNab Architects.
  • Meet with leading artist, Marion Borgelt, at her private studio; and visit the atelier of award-winning designer Trent Janson and recipient of the Venice Design Biennale Residency in 2022.
  • Meet with architect, John Zhao from Seidler & Associates, for a private tour of the Seidler Penthouse at Milsons Point; and view Stephen Collier’s Horizon Apartment: a 70sqm one bedroom apartment in Harry Seidler’s The Horizon building.
  • View Duncan House in Castlecrag – a fine example of the work of Walter Burley Griffin with an extension by Weir Phillips Architects.
  • In Kangaroo Valley visit the home of Nick Turner, Principal and Founder of Turner+Associates Architects, and learn how his home survived the November 2020 bushfires.
  • View Angophora House by Richard Cole Architecture which featured in ABC’s Dream Build series.
  • Tour the award-winning Little Napier House by SHR Bureau; and Fisherman’s House by Studio Prineas, shortlisted for the 2023 Australian Interior Design Awards.
  • Journey to Sydney’s picturesque North Shore to view Balmoral House by CHROFI, and Northbridge House by Blake Letnic Architects.
  • View two projects (in Birchgrove and Summer Hill) by multiple award-winning design studio, Carter Williamson Architects.
  • Visit Retford Park, gifted to the National Trust by James Fairfax. We tour the Victorian-Italianate mansion, the Fairfax Pool Pavilion designed by architect Guilford Bell in 1968, and the multi award-winning Ngununggula Southern Highlands Regional Gallery by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer (TZG)
  • Spend 2 nights at Bundanon’s new arts complex designed by Kerstin Thompson Architects which won the Sulman Medal for public architecture in July 2022.
  • Enjoy a private architectural tour of Bundanon’s Riversdale Art Museum which includes artworks by Arthur Boyd and his family, Sidney Nolan, Brett Whiteley, Joy Hester and Charles Blackman.

Overnight Sydney (3 nights) • The Bridge, Bundanon (2 nights)

Watch GB House come to life on Ch9NOW Open Homes Australia – Season 3, Episode 10, 18 Jan 19



The following itinerary describes a range of private projects we plan to view, and a number of key designers we hope to meet. At the time of publication (March 2023) most visits had been confirmed, however a number of visits may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure in 2024. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight schedules 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 and L=lunch.

Sydney – 3 nights

Day 1: Wednesday 15 May, Sydney: Paddington, Redfern, Balmoral & Northbridge

Please meet in the foyer of the Paramount House Hotel at 9am.

Following a short welcome meeting, we transfer to Paddington where we meet with Simon Robert Hanson, principal architect of Bureau SRH, to view his Little Napier House which received the RAIA NSW Chapter Architecture Award for a Small Project in 2012. Here two heritage-listed terraces houses were combined to create a larger home for a growing family, and the footprint of the two houses was reduced in order to include a pool in the backyard.

Next, we visit Adele McNab’s Riley’s Terrace which was the recipient of the NSW AIA Award for Residential Architecture (Alterations & Additions) in 2021. The jury citation states ‘Riley’s Terrace is an example of the successful balance between a tight inner-city site, modest budget, and desire for maximised flexible space. Through inventiveness, adaptability and a strong understanding of the site, the architect has delivered a small and beautiful home for herself and her family. Spaces are versatile and changeable with time and requirement, creating a distinct series of interconnected rooms which optimise their use through cleverly designed joinery, storage and materiality. Simple and elegant materials in warm muted tones carry through the home, imparting an atmosphere of calm and retreat. A tight budget has been thoughtfully allocated, with a restrained and consistent approach. A spiral stair allows for greater storage, reduced circulation and enhanced usability of the rooms.’

We continue to Balmoral located in the suburb of Mosman in Sydney’s picturesque Lower North Shore where there will be time at leisure for lunch at one of the beachside cafés. Next, we meet with Steven Fighera, Project Director for CHROF, for a tour of Balmoral which he designed. This project exemplifies the talents of this award-winning practice. Designed around a series of courtyards, the house appears single story from the street yet features a number of levels due to its sloping site. The interior and exterior spaces are ‘blurred’ with generous glazing.

We end the day with a visit to Northbridge House designed by Blake Letnic Architects. Due to be completed in 2023, the project involves significant alterations and additions to a dwelling house on a steep slope overlooking Sydney’s North Shore. The house appears relatively modest from the street. However, once past the front door, the home reveals a number of surprises including double height spaces and a curvaceous staircase that provides a sculptural presence.

This evening we enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.  (Overnight Sydney) D

Day 2: Thursday 16 May, Sydney: Castlecrag, Waterloo, Darlinghurst, Milsons Point & Waverton

We begin this morning with a visit to Duncan House in Castlecrag, a fine example of the work of Walter Burley Griffin. It is one of the original houses in the Castlecrag area, which were all built in the 1920s-1930s. The house is a diminutive yet perfectly proportioned example of Griffin’s work, using his patented knitlock concrete, ribbed and gracefully crenelated, yet grounded in the earth through the use of heavy rusticated protruding stone corner piers. The dwelling is listed on the NSW State Heritage Register. Weir Phillips Architects were commissioned to redesign a sensitive addition to the diminutive dwelling, replacing an earlier 1980s extension. This project was featured on Season 5 Episode 1 of Restoration Australia.

By appointment we visit the private studio of artist, Marion Borgelt. Originally trained as a painter, artist Marion Borgelt’s practice now includes painting, installation, sculpture and mixed media. Represented by the Sally Dan-Cuthbert Gallery, Borgelt’s work draws inspiration from universal themes such as life cycles, cosmology and optics to create visually spectacular work.

Following a light lunch at the Too Good Co. Cafe at Yirranma Place we view the Horizon Apartment by Stephen Collier. Harry Seidler’s Horizon is a landmark building, not just in Darlinghurst, but in the broader environs. Constructed in the late 1990s in the ‘round’, the apartments fan out to the views. Angular interior walls create unexpected spaces. Award-winning architect Stephen Collier has worked with the ‘spatial jigsaw’ of the 70-square-metre floor plan within this apartment to create flexible spaces.

Next, we transfer to Milsons Point where we meet with architect, John Zhao from Seidler & Associates, for a private tour of the stunning penthouse apartment. A description of the penthouse is given by Sydney Living Museums: “Entry to the penthouse is into a space two storeys high, with a presentation theatre and facilities for entertaining. A half-elliptical Indian granite dining table allows guests to sit at the curved side of the table so that they can see the splendid water view; the hosts sit on the opposite side, facing their guests. A curved stair leads to the upper floor lounge, study and master bedroom suite. Within the straight outline plan, flowing curves enrich the open interior. Only the artworks (by Albers, Stella, Lichtenstein, Mais, Perry and Noland) are colourful in contrast to the neutral grey, white and black interior.” Please note: Photographyboth inside & outside, of the Seidler Penthouse is strictly prohibited!

In Waverton we meet with Richard Cole, of Richard Cole Architecture, for a tour of Angophora House which featured in ABC’s Dream Build series and in Better Homes and Gardens on Channel 7. This light-filled two storey home was built for his retiring parents on a block which featured magnificent angophoras and district views. (Overnight Sydney) BL

Day 3: Friday 17 May, Sydney: Birchgrove, Balmain & Summer Hill

This morning we transfer to Birchgrove to meet with a representative from Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects, for a visit to the Birchgrove House which received the AIA NSW Architecture award for Residential Architecture (Houses Alteration and Additions) in 2021. The clients approached Brian Zulaikha, several months after a visit to his home in Balmain. Drawn to the house’s rich materiality and connection to the natural environment, the couple asked Brian if he would design their own home; a run-down, Victorian era, harbour front in neighbouring Birchgrove. Despite the house’s dilapidated and slightly ramshackle appearance, its character shone through to the clients and a brief was developed to retain as much of the original fabric as possible. This respectful embrace of the existing building’s quirks defined the project’s conceptual framework and construction methodology. The house itself is a rich, textural composition of charred timber, concrete, brick, copper and spotted gum timber panelling and cannot be understood without reference to its garden. Tiered landscaping on every level enables cascading Australian native vegetation to drape over intricately detailed balustrading; working with the vision of minimising “house” and maximising “landscape”.

Cater Williamson Architects is an award-winning practice that’s recognised for its bespoke homes, whether new houses or alterations and additions to period buildings. We shall visit a recently completed house designed by principal, Shaun Cater. Located in the coveted suburb of Birchgrove, this new house demonstrates the artistry and skills of this practice. Known as “Wurrungwurri”, this late Victorian sandstone house has been imaginatively extended by Carter Williamson Architects. In contrast to the home’s original ornate gabled facade and bay window, the home conceals a dramatic contemporary addition that beautifully responds to the fall of the site.

While in Birchgrove we also meet with a representative from Studio Prineas to view Fisherman’s House which beautifully combines the past – a timber cottage with a striking contemporary design. Using the idea of memory as a design cue, the house features a striking contemporary off-formed concrete tower that’s nestled against the sandstone cliff edge. The project was shortlisted in the 2023 Australian Interior Design Awards and featured in Wallpaper*.

Following some time at leisure for lunch in Balmain we visit the Zulaikha Laurence House by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects (TZG). Completed in 2006, the house was a recipient of both the 2007 RAIA National Award for Residential Architecture – Houses and 2007 RAIA NSW Residential Alterations and Additions Award. Former home of award-winning architect, Brian Zulaikha and his partner, Janet Laurence, the eminent artist, Janet Laurence, this house overlooking Blackwattle Bay in East Balmain started its life as a gunpowder store (circa 1918). The bunker-like kitchen, which forms part of the gunpowder store, was extended by Zulaikha into an architectural gem that’s received numerous accolades.

We end the day in Summer Hill to visit “Wisteria”. This period home in Summer Hill has been thoughtfully extended by Carter Williamson Architects. Featuring a two-storey timber clad addition, the home’s rear elevation includes deep timber blades to protect the windows and a generous pergola to restrain the afternoon sunlight. Japanese-style gardens further strengthen the connection to the outdoors. (Overnight Sydney) B

Bundanon – 2 nights

Day 4: Saturday 18 May, Sydney – Gordons Bay – Thirroul – Kiama – Bundanon

This morning we transfer to the coastal suburb of Coogee where there will be time at leisure to enjoy lunch at one of the alfresco cafes.

A short walk takes us around to Gordon’s Bay where we meet with Renato D’Ettorre, from Renato D’Ettorre Architects, for a tour of the ‘GB House’. In 2019 this project was the recipient of the coveted “Wilkinson Award”, the most significant residential architecture prize awarded in the state of NSW. “Above the clear blue sea, this house embodies the spirit of seaside living in response to a magical site – endless ocean, rocky headland and the ideal north-east aspect.  The design is discreet in scale, has a quiet focus and layered materiality, and is sensitive to both site and neighbours providing mystery and privacy along one of Sydney’s busiest coastlines.”  This spectacular house was featured on Open Homes Australia.

After a short coffee break in Coogee we journey south to the seaside suburb of Thirroul to visit the private studio of Trent Jansen. Trent is a multi award-winning designer and Lecturer at the University of New South Wales Art & Design. In March 2023 he was featured in habitusliving after having been appointed to the 2022 Venice Design Biennale Residency. He designs limited edition one-off pieces for the Molonglo Group, and exhibits internationally with Gallery All and Galleria Rossana Orlandi. He also designs products and furniture for Moooi, DesignByThem and Tait. Trent has also exhibited at numerous national and international galleries and design events including the National Gallery of Victoria, London Design Museum, Design Miami, Art+Design in New York City, Art Gallery of South Australia, the Triennale Di Milano and The Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in Beijing.

Following some time at leisure for lunch in Thirroul we continue south along the coast to Kiama. The K House in Kiama by Renato D’Ettorre Architects is as dramatic as the view over the Pacific Ocean that’s captured from the home’s large picture windows. Taking on a modern interpretation of the coastal aesthetic, the K house features a crisp white interior and an honest expression of materials – concrete and painted brick, powder-coated aluminium mesh and timber joinery. There’s a sense of lightness to this house. And while the interiors are pared back, the ‘devil is in the detail’ – with angular walls, deep crevices for sun protection and a fluid arrangement of spaces. The design beautifully captures the owners’ European heritage while create a fine contemporary home. The house is featured in the Habitus House of the Year series.

From Kiama we journey inland to Bundanon’s new accommodation complex, The Bridge, which offers simple, eco-friendly accommodation surrounded by stunning natural landscapes. (Overnight Bundanon) BD

Day 5: Sunday 19 May, Bundanon – Kangaroo Valley – Bundanon

Following a leisurely breakfast we visit Kangaroo Valley House, the home of Nick Turner, Principal and Founder of Turner+Associates Architects. The project was filmed in 2019 as part of the ‘Designer Notes’ series produced for AWS to showcase Australian design. Originally designed over 15 years ago, Nick expanded the property by adding a stunning new ‘wing’ which ensures that the surrounding landscape is the undeniable star. During our visit we hear the incredible story of how in November 2020 when the area was engulfed by fire, the house was saved thanks to its carefully designed ‘halo’ watering system which covered the home with an umbrella of water, powered entirely by the robust off-grid power system.

We return to Bundanon for a light lunch and then join Mary Preece for an architecture tour of the new arts complex. Designed by Kerstin Thompson Architects, the complex includes a light-filled contemporary art gallery – partially buried into the landscape. This new art museum was designed to house the Trust’s Arthur Boyd art collection which includes an extensive collection of artworks by Arthur Boyd and his family, Sidney Nolan, Brett Whiteley, Joy Hester and Charles Blackman. “On 1 July 2022 Kerstin Thompson Architects was awarded the highest honour that can be bestowed in the public architecture category of the NSW Architecture Awards, the Sulman Medal for public architecture.”

Following some time at leisure to enjoy the stunning natural landscapes that surround our accommodation we conclude the day with a farewell dinner at Bundanon. (Overnight Bundanon) BLD

Day 6: Monday 20 May, Bundanon – Bowral – Sydney Airport
  • Ngununggula Southern Highlands Regional Gallery: Tonkin Zulaikha Greer (TZG)
  • Retford Park: private guided tour of the mansion, and renowned Pool Pavilion by Guilford Bell
  • Light lunch at the Raw Wild Market & Café
  • Time at leisure, optional visit to Dirty Janes Antique Market, Bowral
  • Transfer to Sydney Airport

We begin this morning with an architectural tour of the Ngunungulla Southern Highlands Regional Gallery designed by TZG in 2021. Our tour will be led by Brian Zulaikha, former director of TZG, and Director in Charge of this multi award-winning project. Ngununggula, meaning “belonging” in the traditional language of the Gundungurra First Nations people, is the first regional art gallery in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. “Making ‘Ngunuggula’ a reality involved the adaptive reuse of two buildings within Retford Park, a grand Dairy Building and an associated ‘Vet Clinic’, both of which were under utilised and rapidly deteriorating. These buildings, as well as a third contemporary pavilion, were reimagined as a state-of-the-art Regional Gallery for the Southern Highlands.” TZG

Next we enjoy a private guided tour of Retford Park, gifted to the National Trust by James Fairfax. We tour the Victorian-Italianate mansion and visit the interior of the renowned Fairfax Pool Pavilion designed by architect Guilford Bell in 1968.

Following a light lunch at the Raw Wild Market & Café there will be some time at leisure. You may wish to visit Dirty Janes, a permanent antique market in Bowral that offers the best in vintage.

Mid-afternoon we  travel to the Sydney Airport where our tour will officially conclude at approximately 5.00pm. BL



  • Surry Hills, Sydney (3 nights): 4-star Paramount House Hotel – situated in the trendy Surry Hills suburb, Breathe Architecture has transformed the former headquarters of film studio Paramount Pictures and an adjacent warehouse into a boutique hotel. Rooms reserved: mixture of Everyday and Sunny rooms. paramounthousehotel.com
  • Bundanon, Southern Highlands (2 nights): The Bridge offers simple, eco-friendly accommodation surrounded by stunning natural landscapes. All rooms contain a King-sized bed (which can be separated into 2 single beds on request), and an ensuite bathroom. www.bundanon.com.au

Single Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double room for single occupancy throughout the tour. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

How to book

How to Book


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.

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 6-day tour involves:
  • A moderate amount of walking often up and down hills and/or flights of stairs.
  • The daily schedule often involves an early-morning departure (between 8.00-8.30am), concluding in the late afternoon (between 5.30-6.00pm).
  • You must be able to carry your own luggage. Hotel porterage is not included in the tour price.
  • A moderate amount of coach travel.

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 Terms and Conditions section given below.

Tour Price & Inclusions

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $4490.00 Land Content Only

AUD $820.00 Single Supplement

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities
  • Meals as indicated in the tour itinerary where: B=breakfast and L=lunch
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach as outlined in the tour itinerary
  • Lecture and site visit program
  • Entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Use of audio headsets for site excursions
  • Tips for the coach driver and restaurants for included meals
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia-Sydney, Sydney – Australia
  • Porterage
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
Tour Map

Tour Map

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: your initial deposit of $500.00 is non-refundable.**
  • 75-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**$250.00 of this amount (ie 50% of your deposit) may be credited to another AsA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case earlybird 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.

ASA 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 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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