Cruise on the Echuca Riverboat, Echuca Wax Works, Golden Dragon Museum, Her Majesty’s Theatre, Ballarat Botannical Gardens, Sovereign Hill, Blood on the Southern Cross light and sound show, Bendigo tram, gold mining museum package, Castlemaine, Maldon, the Porcupine township, Eucalyptus distillery.
Sydney to Albury
Departing from Sydney, we follow the Highway down along the Great Dividing Range until we reach the New South Wales city of Albury, famous for its twin association with Wodonga just across the Victorian border. As we check in, a scrumptious meal is being prepared allowing us some time to get to know everyone else on the tour. Although there are no formal visits scheduled for this bustling town, there will be free time after dinner to wander around and absorb the atmosphere.
Albury to Ecucha, Bendigo and the Golden Dragon Museum
After departing Albury we head straight to Echuca, a town featuring the recreation of the charming riverboat lifestyle of yesteryear. Host to many film crews we have the delightful opportunity to view an authentic reconstruction of days gone by. A river cruise aboard an original paddle wheeler is on the agenda and promises to be the most relaxing part of our day. Amongst other things to see and do is the Wax Works, a display of famous and infamous celebrities and personalities of the past.
In the afternoon we move along to Bendigo, stopping to peruse the Goldon Dragon Museum. As a tribute to the patronage of the Chinese people, this museum allows visitors to view exquisite Chinese arts and crafts including the longest imperial dragon in the world, Sun Loong, measuring over 100 metres. To recover from the excitement of visiting Sun Loong, we follow the museum with a trip to our new accommodation where we will settle for the next four nights.
Ballarat, Ballarat Botanical Gardens, the tramway museum and Sovereign Hill
A short drive this morning to the heritage town of Ballarat takes us to some interesting and magical sights, where in 1853 the discovery of gold changed the future of this district forever. Starting out as an isolated squatter settlement the Clunes and Ballarat areas evolved into one of the richest urban areas of the world. In 1858, two years after the municipality was formed, the Ballarat Police Horse Paddock was converted into a botanical garden and at the same time a road now known as Wendouree Parade was constructed on the west side of Yuille’s (Black) Swamp later to be known as Lake Wendouree.
Today we will revisit that history and much more. We will take a tour of Her Majesty's Theatre, led by the theatre's own historian, Peter Freund followed by a charming stroll through the Ballarat Botanical Gardens which feature the Robert Clark Horticultural Conservatory. Established in 1857 the gardens contain a significant collection of 19th century marble statues. Be greeted by John Howard, Paul Keating and Bob Hawke in the Prime Minister’s avenue, set within the magnificent Horse Chestnut Avenue, which features a collection of bronze statues depicting each of the 25 Australian Prime Ministers. And if it is statues you find intriguing sneak off to the Statue Pavillion which houses Ballarat’s finest collection of marble figures. Be charmed by Craft Cottage, a point of sale for locally produced crafts by the Members of the Ballarat Craft Council. Formerly Adam Lindsay Gordon’s abode, the cottage was relocated to the Gardens in 1934.
For a lunch break you might like to taste test the Historic Lake and Pavillion Restaurant, located on the Lake Foreshore. Providing light lunches, scones and cakes and 35 varieties of teas and coffees this is a great place to absorb the beauty of the gardens.
After lunch there are plenty of interesting and gorgeous sights to see in the gardens including the Claxton Monument, a site featuring fountains and fernery, the Floral Clock, a gift from the Begonia Festival Association, the Morey Gates, an intricate display of cast ironwork located at the main entrance and the Dahlia Garden, a display of a large collection of hybrid dahlias. Before heading off to Sovereign Hill we also visit the Ballarat Tramway Museum where you have the opportunity of taking a fun ride along Wendouree Parade, excellent for picturesque views of Lake Wendouree.
This afternoon we arrive at Sovereign Hill, one of Ballarat's most famous tourist attractions. Included is the equally popular Blood on the Southern Cross, a sound and light show that delights and overwhelms the senses. You will truly believe that the hills around you are full of rioting miners!
Bendigo, the Bendgio Tram, Bendigo Pottery
Today we are treated to a guided tour of Bendigo, firstly from our own coach and then from on board the delightful Bendigo Tram. We will visit the famous Bendigo Pottery Tourist Complex, which has something for everyone from the country housewife to the auto enthusiast. Today has been set aside as an easy day to allow us to take in the sights at a relaxed pace.
Castlemaine, Maldon and the Porcupine Township
A visit to the towns of Caslemaine and Maldon is on the agenda today. Home to an art gallery and museum, botanical gardens, a steam train railway, antiques, wineries and arts and crafts, Castlemaine has a great deal to offer. Maldon was the first town to be classified by the National Trust in 1996. It is often referred to as a town of living history featuring a wealth of spectacular buildings. An option that you may consider is the steam train from Maldon to Muckleford.
We will visit a tiny town called the Porcupine Township, just out of Maldon itself, where the forgotten years of Victoria's history is quietly hiding. Filled with original slab buildings, hotels, miners’ huts and tents, this often forgotten town hosts an array of interesting and fun sights.
Eucalyptus Distillery and Wagga Wagga
A unique opportunity awaits us today as we head off to the Eucalyptus Distillery. This is your chance to see how eucalyptus oil is produced from from Blue Mallee foliage. For those who wish, there is an opportunity to purchase this very Australian and very useful product.
As we travel back towards Sydney, our stop for the evening will be at Wagga Wagga, where we will lodge in the heart of cattle country at one of the most sophisticated cattle slay yards in the Riverina.
Overnight: Wagga, Wagga
Wagga Wagga to Sydney
Our final day of travel, but first let's take a look around Wagga Wagga a large rural township that inherited its name from the Aboriginal word wagga meaning "many crows". Wagga Wagga was first settled by the largest aboriginal tribe in NSW - the Wiradjuri. It was later discovered by Europeans in 1829 when Captain Charles Sturt journeyed along the Murrumbidgee and Murray River systems.
Our lunch stop will be at Cootamundra, the first home of the late Sir Donald Bradman, Australia’s most successful and famous cricketing hero. We will visit the Cootamundra Wattle before heading back to Sydney.
Inclusions: Five Star coach travel, motel accommodation, morning tea daily, admission fees as per itinerary.