“A Place of Special Value”: Literary & Artistic Travels in Victoria 2021

Status: waitlist

9 Mar – 20 Mar 2021


“A Place of Special Value”: Literary & Artistic Travels in Victoria 2021
Tour Highlights

Victoria has a long and proud literary history. In 2008, Melbourne became only the second city in the world, after Edinburgh, to receive designation as a City of Literature within UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. Learn about Victorian writers, past and present, familiar and unfamiliar, from literary expert Susannah Fullerton, President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia. Susannah will be assisted by Shane Carmody, a historian with a great love of libraries and archives.

  • Visit Mulberry Hill the home of Lady Joan Lindsay and Daryl Lindsay, and enjoy afternoon tea at Hanging Rock.
  • Explore Victoria’s great art collections at the Castlemaine Art Gallery, Bendigo Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Ballarat, Heide and the NGV.
  • Take a literary walking tour of Maldon in the footsteps of Henry Handel Richardson, and learn about her connections with Queenscliff from Dorothy Johnston, author of nine published novels including Gerard Hardy’s Misfortune. 
  • Enjoy poetry by Adam Lindsay Gordon; view his cottage in Ballarat and his commemorative statue in Melbourne.
  • Tour the rugged Shipwreck Coast of Victoria (Great Ocean Road) which featured in Mad Max (1979) and the TV series, Round the Twist. Kipling wrote about going “down the road to Lorne” and the Erskine River Falls.
  • View murals, mosaics and stained glass by Napier and Christian Waller; take a private tour of the Waller House.
  • Visit the private studio of Robert Ingpen, freelance illustrator and storyteller publishing well over 100 books. He has illustrated children’s classics including Storm Boy, Peter Pan, Treasure island, The Jungle Book, Wind in the Willows, A Christmas Carol, Alice in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Tom Sawyer, The Secret Garden, Pinocchio, Around the World in Eighty Days, The Jungle Book, The Wizard of Oz, and in 2016 The Nutcracker. 
  • By special appointment, visit the private studio of printmaker, David Frazer, who has held over 40 solo exhibitions in Australia, London and China.
  • By special appointment tour the State Library of Victoria for a behind-the-scenes view of selected works.

12-day Literary Tour of Victoria

Overnight Bendigo (2 nights) • Ballarat (2 nights) • Port Campbell (1 night) • Queenscliff (1 night) • Flinders (2 nights) •  Melbourne (3 nights)


Novelist Anthony Trollope described the state of Victoria as “a place of special value”. This tour will introduce you to some of its literary and artistic riches.

We will visit homes and places associated with some fabulous Australian writers. There’ll be Hanging Rock and Joan Lindsay’s fascinating home, a simple cottage where poet Adam Lindsay Gordon lived unhappily in Ballarat, a trail showing us places associated with Alan Marshall’s I Can Jump Puddles, and a Henry Handel Richardson walking tour. Aussie crime writers are included – Arthur Upfield, Garry Disher and Dorothy Johnston (who will meet with us), and we will board the historic train on which Phryne Fisher found a body. And we will see towns, parks, and homes connected with many fine Australian novels and poems.

Mark Twain visited Victoria and wrote a book about his Australian travels. We will stay where he stayed on his lecture tour, and will see many of the places that other visiting writers – Kipling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, H.G. Wells, amongst others – admired and described. Robert Burns never came to Australia and yet he surprisingly features in this tour.

There will be film and TV locations along the way, a visit to the only official Book Town in the country, readings from stories and poems in the spots where they are set, and special encounters with authors and book illustrators. On our visits to libraries, we’ll have the chance to enjoy private viewings of rare books and illustrations.

Victoria has superb art galleries and we will tour some of them, seeing Australian Impressionist works, striking modernist collections, murals and mosaics, and learning more of some of this country’s great artists. A stunning garden is also a work of art, and this tour includes Dame Elisabeth’s Murdoch’s beautiful garden at Cruden Farm, as well as the gardens of Rippon Lea, Bolobek, Mooramong, and The Briars.

One cannot explore Victoria without delving into history – Aboriginal ownership, the Gold Rush, Ned Kelly, sheep farming, viticulture and the development of seaside tourism will all be discussed as we travel. Charles Darwin, on his 1836 visit to Australia, predicted a great future for Australia wines. We will sample some of them at wineries, and enjoy some excellent restaurant meals.

Australians are great overseas travellers, yet sometimes forget to explore their own backyard. This tour offers you the chance to see the second-smallest and most densely populated state in the country, to discover its literary and artistic treasures, with fabulous scenery all along the way.



The following itinerary describes a range of sites which we plan to visit. At the time of publication (June 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.

Bendigo – 2 nights

Day 1: Tuesday 9 March, Arrive Melbourne – Macedon Ranges – Bendigo
  • Coach journey from Melbourne airport to Bendigo
  • Bolobek
  • Hanging Rock: afternoon tea

Meeting Point: Tullamarine Airport, Terminal 1, Ground Floor Arrivals Hall, at the Gloria Jeans Coffee Shop at 10.00am.

After arriving at Melbourne airport, we head to Mount Macedon, north-west of Melbourne. There we visit an historic working cattle property called ‘Bolobek’. The property originally belonged to the Syme family (Oswald Syme, who purchased the land, was son of the founder of the Melbourne Age) and they moved into their new home there in 1911. Mildred Syme was a keen gardener and laid out the garden. The Symes owned Bolobek for about sixty years and during that time did much of the planting, as well as running cattle and sheep on the property. In 1969 Bolobek was bought by Robert and Joan Law-Smith. Lady Joan Law-Smith was a keen gardener, author of several books about gardening, and also a talented artist. She and her husband pulled down the old house and erected a new one. Thanks to her work, the garden is today listed on the Victorian Heritage Register as “of aesthetic, architectural, historic and horticultural important to the state of Victoria”.  Since their time the property has been owned by two other families, both committed to preserving the garden, planting trees and welcoming the public to their property. We will enjoy lunch at this beautiful spot in the Macedon Ranges.

The distinctive crags and weird shapes of Mount Diogenes were woven into the legends and mythology of the traditional owners of that land. Corroborrees, and men’s initiation ceremonies were held there, trade was conducted there, and the land’s spiritual essence was worshipped. But white settlers forced the Aboriginal people from the area, and it became a venue for horse races. Tourists came to wonder at the rocks. They knew it under a different name – Hanging Rock, and it is by that name that it entered Australian literature with Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock. Set in 1900, the book tells the story of a group of schoolgirls who enjoyed a day-outing to the place. Some of them are never seen again! Joan Lindsay’s novel became a cult classic and is considered one of the most important Australian novels. The 1975 movie version was hugely popular, and resulted in far more tourists visiting Hanging Rock. In 2018 a TV mini-series was filmed on site. We will enjoy a picnic afternoon tea in this mystical place and, if we dare, can walk under the actual hanging rock. We’ll make sure to count our numbers very carefully before departure!

On this first evening of our tour, we will meet for a drink and a warm welcome at our hotel in Bendigo. (Overnight Hotel Shamrock, Bendigo) L

Day 2: Wednesday 10 March, Bendigo – Maldon – Castlemaine – Bendigo
  • Walking tour of Maldon with local historian, Peter Cuffley: Maldon 1880 & the Richardson Family
  • Victorian Goldfields Railway: Maldon to Castlemaine
  • Castlemaine Art Museum: featuring major works of the late 1800’s and the Edwardian era
  • Grave of Sarah Burns, Castlemaine Cemetery
  • Studio of printmaker, David Frazer, Castlemaine
  • Welcome Dinner

Maldon was designated “Australia’s first notable town”. Settled by pastoralists, it was caught up in the Gold Rush (though it also proved rich in quartz-mining) and its population skyrocketed. It has many interesting and historic buildings.

Henry Handel Richardson (whose real name was Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson) spent some years of her childhood in Maldon when her mother worked as postmistress there. Diarist Joseph Jenkins, also known as ‘the Welsh Swagman’ spent 25 years of his life in Maldon, working as a miner, street-sweeper, swagman and poet. He kept his diary regularly, in spite of the personal demons which tormented him, and his sharp eye and his astuteness make his diaries an important historical record (they are now kept in the State Library of Victoria). Jenkins was aware that, by keeping his diary, he was “building (his) monument”.

We will enjoy a literary and historical guided walk through Maldon, seeing where Richardson’s mother worked, places she fictionalised in The Getting of Wisdom, the church where her crush on the vicar distracted her from his sermons, and the vicarage where that same vicar tutored her while dressed in his pyjamas!

After lunch in Maldon and some free time to further explore this town (which was a movie location for Break of Day and Romulus, My Father), we head to the train station.

The Victorian Goldfields Railway runs between Maldon and Castlemaine, and its trains are pulled by steam or diesel locomotives. The indomitable Miss Phryne Fisher, in the third book in Kerry Greenwood’s series, heads to Ballarat for a restful stay in the country, she does not expect to encounter murder on the train. A theft of jewels goes wrong, a corpse is found, and Phyrne must solve the crime before another murder is committed. Of course, she manages this with her usual flair, and fits in some sexy dalliance with men from the rowing tea who happen to be on the train as well. We will be travelling on the same train that was used in the TV episode of Murder on the Ballarat Train and will experience something of the Golden Era of rail on this train journey.

Castlemaine’s history dates back to the Gold Rush of 1851 and it still has many fascinating old buildings, including the oldest continuously operating theatre in Australia. We will visit the Castlemaine Art Museum, an art deco, heritage-listed, building which contains a wonderful collection of Australian art. Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton, Rupert Bunny and Jeffrey Smart are just some of the artists whose works are displayed, while there are also photographs by Max Dupain and Olive Cotton. Also in the gallery are works by Christian Waller, an important illustrator who was born in Castlemaine. She was the first Australian artist to illustrate the children’s classic Alice in Wonderland.

Our next stop is the graveyard. There we will find the grave of Sarah Burns Campbell Thompson, granddaughter of the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns. Her grandmother Anna was a barmaid at the Globe Inn in Dumfries, the poet’s favourite tavern, and she and the poet became rather too friendly. A baby named Elizabeth was the result, and it is her daughter Sarah who made the move to Australia. Sarah and her husband Andrew lived at Campbell Street Lodge in Castlemaine, which we will also view.

Printmaker and wood-engraver David Frazer has held over 40 solo exhibitions nationally and internationally. In 2007 he featured in the ABC’s ‘Artist at Work’ series. His works depict isolation and urban and rural decline, and his images have been described as “poignant, mildly unsettling but entirely captivating”.  We will enjoy a private visit to his studio before returning to Bendigo. (Overnight Hotel Shamrock, Bendigo) BD

Ballarat – 2 nights

Day 3: Thursday 11 March, Bendigo – Ballarat

When Mark Twain visited Bendigo in 1895, he was driven mad by the station clock which woke him several times a night. Like Anthony Trollope who also visited the town, he was fascinated by the gold-mining history of the place and the fortunes that were made in the region by some lucky few. One of those who benefited from the gold was George Lansell who invested in land and had success with deep mining. His vast profits enabled him to build Fortuna Villa, one of the most over-the-top houses in the district. We will visit this extraordinary home, admire its stained glass, grand staircase and solid marble baths. We’ll also explore its gardens with ornamental lake and fountain.

Our next stop is the Bendigo Art Gallery, one of the best regional art galleries in the country. Founded in 1887, it displays many important Australian art works (including paintings by Charles Conder and Arthur Streeton). We’ll also view works by Christian Waller, leading print-maker and illustrator, and see the portrait that mosaicist and artist Napier Waller did of his wife Christian.

In the afternoon we travel to Ballarat. Novelist Anthony Trollope stayed in the town in 1871 and felt the place was “lavishly provided with all those appurtenances which municipalities require”. He was taken down a mine and watched a quartz-crushing machine at work. Australian poet Adam Lindsay Gordon moved to Ballarat in 1867, but the livery stables he was in charge of burned down, and his young daughter died, so his time in the town was deeply unhappy. He took his own life a few years later. The poet Bernard O’Dowd grew up in Ballarat, and Grace Carmichael, one of Victoria’s first women poets, was born in the town. The town provided a setting for many Australian authors – Rolf Boldrewood, Henry Lawson, Norman Lindsay and Peter Carey are a few of them. The Dr Blake Mysteries are set in Ballarat.

Craig’s Hotel, where we will stay, is a local icon – Prince Alfred was a guest there, as was Mark Twain who was in town for a speaking engagement. (Overnight Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat) BL

Day 4: Friday 12 March, Ballarat – Clunes – Ballarat
  • Ballarat Botanical Gardens: Adam Lindsay Gordon Cottage & Statue of William Wallace
  • Historic township of Clunes incl. Town Hall & Courthouse
  • Art Gallery of Ballarat

In the heart of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens is the Adam Lindsay Gordon cottage. Novelist Marcus Clarke once stated that Gordon’s poetry represented “the beginnings of a national school of Australian poetry”. The cottage originally stood behind Craig’s Hotel, but was moved to the gardens in 1934. Gordon was born in England and arrived in this country at the age of 20. He held a variety of jobs for his writing did not make him money. His poetry really only came into prominence after his death, but has proved influential. Near the cottage is a statue of Scottish hero William Wallace, ‘Braveheart’.

Clunes, just north of Ballarat, is Australia’s only official ‘Book Town’. Every year it hosts a book festival. We will visit the distinctive combined court house and Town Hall (dating from 1872-73), and will have time to explore the bookshops and film locations of this historic place. Tony Birch’s novel Shadowboxing is partly set in Clunes.

Following a light lunch in Clunes, we visit the Art Gallery of Ballarat, the largest regional gallery in the country. It holds over 11,000 art works, including pieces by Arthur Boyd, Norman Lindsay, Tom Roberts, Russell Drysdale and Eugene von Guerard. (Overnight Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat) BL

Port Campbell – 1 night

Day 5: Saturday 13 March, Ballarat – Skipton – Noorat – Port Campbell
  • Mooramong and Claire Adams Mackinnon, Skipton
  • Alan Marshall parent’s store, Noorat
  • Great Ocean Road: Bay of Islands, London Bridge & the Arch

This morning we visit Victoria’s little piece of Hollywood. Mooramong is an 1860s country house that became the property (as a 21st birthday present) of Donald ‘Scobie’ Mackinnon. He was a grazier and sportsman and led a carefree bachelor life at Mooramong until, in 1937, he was in London and saw a woman across the room at a party. Their eyes met and they fell madly in love. She was silent-screen film star Claire Adams (who once claimed that Rin Tin Tin was her favourite leading man!) and within three weeks they were married. In 1938 he remodelled Mooramong for her, transforming it into a fashionable residence in the Art Deco style. Their swimming pool was for some time the largest privately owned pool in the Southern hemisphere. By that pool they hosted parties for their Hollywood friends, he farmed the property and she rescued stray dogs. The two remained deeply in love and their ashes are buried together on the property. Claire left Mooramong to the National Trust of Australia in her will.

Author Alan Marshall, whose 1955 fictionalised autobiography I Can Jump Puddles has become an Australian classic, was born in Noorat. As s schoolboy he contracted polio, which left him permanently lame and turned him into a passionate advocate for the disabled. We will visit Noorat to do part of the Alan Marshall Discovery Trail and see where he lived behind his parent’s store, and the plaque which he unveiled.

In the afternoon we head to the coast to visit the world’s largest war memorial. It’s actually The Great Ocean Road, built by soldiers back from WWI and dedicated to men killed in that war. Today this road, travelling between Torquay and Allansford, is Heritage-listed and an important tourist attraction. We’ll see some of the sandstone and limestone rock formations such as London Bridge and Bay of Islands as we make our way along this famous road. We will spend the night in Port Campbell. (Overnight Sea Foam Villas, Port Campbell) BD

Queenscliff – 1 night

Day 6: Sunday 14 March, Port Campbell – Apollo Bay – Lorne – Queenscliff
  • Great Ocean Road: Loch Ard Gorge, 12 Apostles
  • Lunch at leisure in Apollo Bay
  • Coffee Break Lorne
  • Lecture with crime author Dorothy Johnston
  • Dinner in the Grand Dining Room, Vue Grand

Today we continue our journey along the Great Ocean Road. The road makes many appearances in literature. Rudyard Kipling wrote appreciatively of the “paradise by the sea” though he visited Australia before the road was built. Crime writer Arthur Upfield lived at Airey’s Inlet in the early 1950s and used it as a setting in his novel The New Shoe; and Melbourne writer Gregory Day set his book A Sand Archive on the Great Ocean Road. Adam Lindsay Gordon was staying in the area in 1859 when a ship was wrecked on the Cape Northumberland Shoals. This almost certainly inspired his poem From the Wreck. And the area is familiar to many from movies. Mad Max was filmed at Fairhaven, and the children’s series Round the Twist was filmed at Airey’s Inlet.

Sites along our route include Loch Ard Gorge and the Twelve Apostles, impressive pinnacles of rock formed by erosion. There will be a stop in Lorne – Kipling wrote about going “down the road to Lorne” and the Erskine River Falls – and then another stop in Queenscliff, a small town on the Bellarine Peninsula.

Originally a fishing village, Queenscliff boomed as a seaside resort in the 1880s, and it has some lovely old buildings. In Dead Man’s Chest, the 18th novel in the Phryne Fisher series, Phryne sets off for a holiday at the Queenscliff Hotel but of course that holiday is disturbed by the discovery of a body. Author Rod Jones is a Queenscliff resident and his novel Swan Bay, about a reclusive author, is set in the area. Henry Handel Richardson spent time in Queenscliff, a period explored in The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, while in Ultima Thule she renames the town ‘Shortlands’. Artist Sidney Nolan had a brief and reluctant stay in Queenscliff’s gaol.

Before dinner, while enjoying a drink, we have the treat of meeting Dorothy Johnston. Her series of ‘sea-change mysteries’ featuring Constable Chris Blackie and his rookie Anthea Merritt is set in Queenscliff. The first book in the series is Through a Camel’s Eye. In Gerard Hardy’s Misfortune a Henry Handel Richardson academic is murdered in the Royal Hotel. Dorothy is an award-winning novelist and has twice been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin. Award. (Overnight Vue Grand, Queenscliff) BD

Flinders – 2 nights

Day 7: Monday 15 March, Queenscliff – Barwon Heads – Sorrento – Flinders
  • Private visit to the studio of Robert Ingpen, Barwon Heads
  • Guided walking tour of historic Queenscliff
  • Ferry From Queenscliff to Sorrento

It was in Shakespeare’s The Tempest that the phrase ‘sea-change’ first entered our language. Originally it meant a change brought about by the sea, but today it can simply mean a substantial change in perspective or life-style. The Australian TV series Sea Change which first aired in 1998 drew on both meanings of the phrase. Aussie viewers quickly became familiar with Diver Dan, magistrate Laura Gibson and her children and friends. The series was filmed at Barwon Heads (the boatshed was Dan’s home). When Nevil Shute’s novel On the Beach was filmed, again Barwon Heads was the location for the closing scenes about the end of the world. We visit Barwon Heads in the morning.

Robert Ingpen, graphic designer and illustrator, won the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for his work illustrating children’s books. He is a resident of Barwon Heads. Storm Boy, Clancy of the Overflow, Click Go the Shears and The Drover’s Boy are some of the Australian books he has illustrated, but he’s also done pictures for works by Shakespeare, Jules Verne, J.M. Barrie, Dickens, Kenneth Grahame, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, Kipling and many others. Robert Ingpen has also designed the flag of the Northern Territory, public murals, statues and Australian postage stamps. We are lucky enough to meet this talented artist and fascinating man.

We then head back to Queenscliff, to enjoy an afternoon guided walk, before taking the ferry to Sorrento. This pretty town on the shores of Port Phillip was named for an Italian coastal town. It has many notable limestone buildings and was the setting for the 1995 film Hotel Sorrento. We drive to the Flinders Hotel, home for the next two nights. (Overnight Flinders Hotel) BD

Day 8: Tuesday 16 March, Flinders: The Mornington Peninsula
  • McCrae Homestead: built in 1844 by Andrew McCrae and his artist wife Georgiana
  • Lunch at the Port Phillip Estate
  • The Briars: Gardens & wildlife Sanctuary

Today we enjoy a leisurely exploration of the Mornington Peninsula, long a favourite holiday destination for Melburnians. Poet Henry Tuck’s Poems of a Peninsula Pioneer describe “the ever-running waters” and “lands to seaward slope” of this area. For crime novelist Garry Disher, this is not just the “playground of the idle rich”, but also a place of welfare recipients and sea-changers. He has significantly “bumped up” the local murder rate in his fiction featuring Detective Inspector Hal Challis.

Our first visit today will be to the National Trust’s McCrae Homestead, one of Australia’s oldest houses. The drop-slab cottage was built in 1844 by lawyer Andrew McCrae and his artist wife Georgiana. She kept diaries which give a wonderful record of pioneer life: “23 July, 1845, Since the flour sacks are full of holes, I have removed my dresses from the tinned chest and filled it with flour instead.” She loved her “mountain home” and the garden she created there, and left the place with regret in 1851.

Lunch today will be at the Port Phillip Estate, in the heart of the Mornington Peninsula wine region. It’s a fascinating sculptured building, offering panoramic views over the vineyards to the bay.

It seems odd to find Napoleon in the state of Victoria, but Andrew Balcombe was born on the island of St Helena when Napoleon was in exile there, and his father had dealings with the exiled Emperor. Andrew tried his luck on the Australian goldfields, but ended up a farmer at The Briars, now a National Trust property. His granddaughter Dame Mabel Brookes collected Napoleon-related memorabilia to add to what the family already owned. Many items in the collection were stolen in 2014, but some remain. Lucia Elizabeth Balcombe Abell (Betsy) wrote up her recollections of Napoleon in Recollections of Emperor Napoleon. It was her story which inspired Thomas Kenneally’s book Napoleon’s Last Island.  He felt that the name Betsy Balcombe “was a name that teased the brain” and was gripped by the story of a friendship between an Emperor and a girl who ended up in Australia. There’s a wildlife sanctuary in the grounds of The Briars, which we will visit, as well as wetlands and a formal garden. (Overnight Flinders Hotel) BL

Melbourne – 3 nights

Day 9: Wednesday 17 March, Flinders – Langwarrin South – Melbourne
  • Mulberry Hill: Home of Sir Daryl Lindsay (artist) & Lady Joan Lindsay (author)
  • Gardens of Cruden Farm: Home of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch
  • Literary walking tour of Melbourne

Mulberry Hill is a very special literary house to visit. Designed in the American-colonial style and built in 1926, it was home to Sir Darryl Lindsay, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, and his wife Lady Joan Lindsay, artist and author of Picnic at Hanging Rock (which was written in this house). Her autobiographical novel Time Without Clocks describes their lives at Mulberry Hill as well as discussing the art scene in Victoria at that time.

In honour of Joan Lindsay’s famous ‘picnic’, we will enjoy a picnic lunch today at Cruden Farm, Langwarrin, and will then have a guided walk to see the grounds, one of the finest examples of landscape gardening in the country. This was the home of philanthropist Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, who arrived at the property as a young bride. She lovingly tended and created the garden over 45 years. Landscape designer Edna Walling created the walled garden in the early 1930s. There’s a plantation, an ‘outer garden’, and over 100 lemon scented gum trees. Dame Elisabeth loved art and interesting pieces of sculpture are nestled amongst the greenery.

In the afternoon we head into Melbourne and will stretch our legs with a literary walking tour. (Overnight Melbourne) BL

Day 10: Thursday 18 March, Melbourne – Bulleen – Ivanhoe – Melbourne
  • The Victorian Parliamentary Library
  • Fitzroy Gardens: Commemorative statues of Adam Lindsay Gordon & Robert Burns, Cook’s Cottage & Ola Cohn’s Fairies Tree
  • Heide Museum of Modern Art
  • Private tour of the Waller House: circa 1922, home of Napier and Christian Waller
  • ‘Wardlow’, home of the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher (exterior)

We begin today with a visit to the Victorian Parliamentary Library. Housed in its own wing on the eastern side of the Parliament, the Library was built as between 1858 and 1860. It formed the bottom part of a U shape connecting the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly, construction for which had begun in 1855. The principal architect, Peter Kerr, worked with a neo-classical design, elaborately embellished, and the Library is beautifully proportioned with abundant natural light.  The whole project was vast and never completed. The original collection covered a huge range of subjects with many rare and valuable books.  Most of these were transferred to the State Library and to the Libraries at Melbourne and Monash Universities as the needs of the Parliament changed. Only open to the public by special arrangement, the Library is one of the architectural gems of a city built on gold.

We will then visit the Treasury Gardens on the south-eastern side of Melbourne’s CBD. Erected in 1932, the gardens display a statue of poet Adam Lindsay Gordon which was paid for by public subscription. His love of poetry is reflected by the book and pencil he holds, while his love of riding (he was an excellent steeplechaser) is shown by the riding boots he wears. Quotes from his works are carved on the pedestal. Two thousand people were there to watch when the statue was unveiled. The bronze sculpture was designed by Paul Montford.

No poet in the world is commemorated by as many statues as the Scottish bard Robert Burns. There’s a statue of him in Treasury Gardens which is a replica of the one at his birthplace of Alloway, in Ayr. The statue cost about £1000 and it was said that almost every Scot in Melbourne contributed to its cost. It was erected in 1903 and the sculptor was George Lawson. We’ll ‘take a wee look’ at this memorial to one of the world’s greatest poets.

Then it’s time for a gentle stroll through Fitzroy Gardens, past Captain Cook’s Cottage and on to admire the Fairies’ Tree. In the 1930s artist and author Ola Cohn sculpted this tree for the children of Melbourne. The work she did on the tree inspired her books The Fairies Tree, More About the Fairies Tree and Castles in the Air. The Fitzroy Gardens feature in Fergus Hume’s 1886 Melbourne novel The Mystery of a Hansom Cab which played an important role in the history of crime fiction and was a phenomenal best-seller.

Our afternoon visit will introduce us to an extraordinary woman, artist and patron of the arts, Sunday Reed. Together with her husband, John Reed, she established the Heide Museum of Modern Art. Heide, named for the Heidelberg School of Impressionist painters, was the gathering place for modernist painters Sidney Nolan, Joy Hester, John Perceval and Albert Tucker. The original farmhouse is Heide I, and the new residence built by the Reeds is Heide II. In 1993 a purpose-built gallery was added to the complex.

The Arts and Crafts style home of artists Napier and Christian Waller is at Ivanhoe and is cared for by the National Trust. Their murals, mosaics and stained-glass works adorn many prominent buildings in the city, and this home is their memorial. Napier Waller was a well-read man, much influenced by William Morris; Christian was a distinguished book illustrator.

As we make our way back to the hotel, we will pass ‘Wardlow’, home of the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher in the TV series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. It is only the exterior of this 1888 house that was used in the filming – interior shots were done in a studio. The Parkville home is Heritage-listed. (Overnight Melbourne) B

Day 11: Friday 19 March: Melbourne
  • State Library of Victoria: incl Napier Waller Murals, Great Hall and behind-the-scenes view of selected works
  • National Gallery of Victoria
  • Farewell Dinner

Melbourne is rich in literary connections. Marcus Clarke (For the Term of his Natural Life) lived and worked in the city, as did Rolf Boldrewood. Henry Handel Richardson, Germaine Greer, C.J. Dennis, Peter Carey, Peter Temple, Christos Tsolkas, and Helen Garner, are just some of those who have lived there or written about the city, while literary visitors include Trollope, Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells and Agatha Christie, to name just a few.

The State Library of Victoria is the oldest public funded library in Australia. The foundation stone for the first building,  a restrained neo-classical design by Joseph Reed, was set on 3 July 1854, the same day that the foundation stone was set for the University of Melbourne, and Redmond Barry was first President of the Library and first Chancellor of the University, positions he held continuously until his death 24 years later. From the beginning the Library collected images, documents and artifacts relating to the history of Victoria as well as books, and today it is the most important repository for such material. It occupies a whole city block and has had two major renovations in recent times, allowing visitors to use the grand spaces such as Queen’ Hall (the original library), the famous domed reading room, and the vast Barry Hall, formerly the Museum of Victoria. We will enjoy a guided tour of this important collection.

Our afternoon visit is to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), one of the country’s finest galleries.  We hope to view the William Blake collection which includes 36 of the 102 watercolours Blake did to illustrate Dante’s The Divine Comedy. There are also many of his engravings, a beautiful copy of his Songs of Innocence and some of his illustrations of Virgil.  Artist Sidney Nolan attended art classes at the NGV and the gallery holds his 1946-47 iconic Ned Kelly series. There will be a guided tour, and time at leisure to enjoy this wonderful art collection.

Tonight we enjoy our farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (Overnight Melbourne) BD

Day 12: Saturday 20 March, Depart Melbourne
  • Rippon Lea: Home of Aunt Prudence in Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries
  • Light Lunch & view private works by Ala Cohen, artist Marjorie Wood & Napier Waller
  • Late afternoon transfer to Melbourne Tullamarine Airport

The Rippon Lea estate in Elsternwick was built in 1868. It is familiar today as the home of Aunt Prudence (acted by Miriam Margoyles) in The Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries. The garden was also for a while the home to Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy – at least in the form of a hideous 3m tall statue of Colin Firth in the role. The house was built for Sir Frederick Sargood, a wealthy businessman and philanthropist.

In the afternoon Chris Wood, will describe a fascinating culture of illustration that developed among a network of Victorian artists in the late 1920s and early 1930s. This culture centred upon the avant-garde art and literature journal Manuscripts, arguably Australia’s first, edited by a young Harry Tatlock Miller, who went on to run the famous Redfern Gallery in London; Harry’s partner, Tasmanian Loudon Sainthill, became a world-famous theatre designer. Chris will show you Harry’s set of manuscripts, read excerpts from the minutes of the literary club, named ‘Bloody Little Rosebuds’, and describe the relationships between his great aunts, Harry, and artists Christine and Napier Waller, sculptor Ola Cohn. He will also show you original examples of black-and-white illustrations by members of the network.

Mid afternoon we head to Tullamarine airport, to return to our homes after this literary and artistic exploration of Victoria. BL



All hotels 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:

  • Bendigo (2 nights): 3-star Hotel Shamrock – housed in a restored Victorian heritage building whose guests including Dame Nellie Melba, Richard Strauss and Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales. www.hotelshamrock.com.au
  • Ballarat (2 nights): 4-star Craig’s Royal Hotel – boasting a rich ambiance of Australian heritage, this hotel features boutique-style rooms with elegant furnishings. www.craigsroyal.com.au
  • Port Campbell (1 night): 3-star Sea Foam Villas – opposite Port Campbell bay beach, offering accommodation in apartments with patio or balcony. seafoam.squarespace.com
  • Queenscliff (1 night): 4-star Vue Grand Hotel – renovated iconic hotel built in 1881 with its opulent Grand Dining Room and refurbished modern rooms. vuegrand.com.au
  • Flinders (2 nights): 4-star Quarters at Flinders Hotel – inspired by the natural coastal surroundings, this boutique hotel offers luxurious and relaxing accommodation on the Mornington Peninsula. www.flindershotel.com.au/quarters
  • Melbourne (3 nights): 4-star Rydges Melbourne CBD – located in the heart of the city’s vibrant theatre district, within easy walking distance to the State Library of Victoria and the Parliament. www.rydges.com

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 double room for single occupancy throughout the tour. Some participants who take the Single Supplement may be required to share a penthouse at Sea Foam Villas, in Port Campbell. This is a luxury apartment with three bedrooms, a shared living room and two bathrooms. 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

Making a Tentative Reservation before the tour price has been published


Some ASA tours fill almost immediately. Don’t miss out! You can register your ‘Intention to Travel’ by completing this application and returning this to ASA with a AUD $200.00 per person deposit. Once the tour price has been published, the itinerary and ASA Reservation Application Form will be sent to you. From the time you receive the itinerary you will have two weeks to either:

  • Send us a completed ASA Reservation Application Form together with an additional deposit of AUD $300.00 per person. On receipt of this Reservation Application and deposit, ASA will process your booking and if approved, send you a tour confirmation. At this time your deposit of AUD $500.00 is subject to the tour’s Booking Conditions.


  • CANCEL your Intention to Travel in writing. ASA will refund your AUD $200.00 per person deposit, less a $66.00 service fee (including GST).

Participation Criteria

To participate in an ASA tour, you must be reasonably fit, in good health and able to participate in all activities without assistance from Tour Leaders or other tour members. If you require assistance, a fit and able travel companion must undertake to accompany and assist you with all tasks for the duration of the whole tour. ASA’s ability to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your specific needs, your health and safety and the health and safety of other tour members, is of paramount importance to us. For this reason the ASA Reservation Application includes a Medical Information section. As a general guideline, you must be able to accomplish each of these activities without assistance or support:-

  • walk and stand unassisted for at least 2-3 hours a day in hot, humid conditions
  • walk confidently on and over uneven surfaces
  • climb at least 3 flights of stairs
  • embark and disembark from ferries, buses and trains
  • walk up and down steep slopes
  • walk at a steady pace and no less than 1km every 15-20 minutes
  • organise, manage and carry your own luggage
  • follow and remember tour instructions
  • meet punctually at designated times and places
  • administer your own medication
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 12-day tour of Victoria involves:

  • A daily schedule generally involving an early-morning departure (between 8.00-8.30am), concluding in the late afternoon (5.30-6.00pm).
  • 2-3 site visits most days involving up to 1-2 hours of walking at each (sometimes on uneven terrain, cobbled streets, and steep slopes) and/or standing, interspersed with coach travel.
  • 3 and 4-star hotels with 5 hotel changes
  • You must be able to carry your own hand-luggage. Hotel porterage only includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

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 $TBA Land Content Only

AUD $TBA Single Supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 3 and 4-star hotels
  • 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
  • Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels (where 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
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare to Melbourne
  • 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

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 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. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily 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 or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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