Art and garden tours blooming with Renaissance Tours

Tourism Tasmania, Strahan, Renaissance Tours

Strahan waterfront © Tourism Tasmania photo by Jason Futrill

As COVID continues to stop us from travelling overseas, fulfilling our love of art, music and culture, Renaissance Tours has curated amazing culture filled short trips around Australia, all led by experts.

If Tasmania or Victoria are on your list, check out these wonderful tours that will start in late February 2021.

Touring Tasmania 

Gardens of Tasmania’s East Coast – 21 Feb – 01 March 2021

Bridestowe Lavender Estate, Tasmania, Renaissance Tours, Tourism Tasmania

Bridestowe Lavender Estate in Tasmania. ©Shutterstock

Travel along Tasmania’s picturesque East coast and discover enchanting private gardens, estates and nurseries of the Island State.

Explore the idyllic beauty of the Meander Valley and enjoy private guided tours of historic Culzean Gardens, Old Wesley Dale and the magical Wychwood Garden and Nursery. Also uncover Leybourne and Strathmore Gardens on the outskirts of the picturesque town of Evandale.

Wonder at the pristine natural beauty of Freycinet National Park, the jewel of Tasmania’s East coast, and take in the stunning coastal scenery with a cruise to renowned Wine Glass Bay.

Discover the beauty of Hobart and the surrounding Huon Valley with a visit to the quaint Eggs and Bacon Bay Cottage Garden. Then soak up the serenity of the Derwent Valley and marvel at the beauty of its gardens.

Tour Expert

Jennifer Stackhouse made the big move from New South Wales to a Federation house in the little village of Barrington tucked beneath Mt Roland in northwest Tasmania. Jennifer is the author of several gardening books including Garden, which won a Book Laurel in 2013, as well as The Organic Guide to Edible GardensPlanting Techniques and My Gardening Year, which she wrote with her mother Shirley. She was editor of ABC Gardening Australia magazine, now writes for the trade journal Commercial Horticulture and writes regularly for the Saturday magazine in The Mercury. She is often heard on radio and at garden shows answering garden queries.

New Art Spaces of Tasmania – 25 – 28 March, 2021

Mona, Hobart, Tasmania, Renaissance Tours

Mona is one of Hobart’s most visited places. © Courtesy of the artist and MONA-Museum of Old and New Art Hobart Tasmania

Spend a long weekend in the company of art curator Gitte Weise exploring some of the Island State’s newest art spaces, museums, private galleries and wineries.

Enjoy special access to the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona), including guided experiences of major installations by James Turrell, Charles Ross, Richard Wilson and Nam Jun Paik, and explore the gallery’s special exhibitions.

Gain exclusive access to the vast private contemporary art collection housed over four floors of the former headquarters of The Mercury newspaper and admire James Turrell’s stunning Amarna sequence after a gourmet meal. Experience the finest Tasmanian spring produce in the state’s best restaurants and enjoy award-winning wines.

Tour Expert

Gitte Weise was founder and director of Gitte Weise Gallery Sydney/Berlin and ROOM 35 Sydney from 1992 to 2010. She was the Exhibition Manager for the 1988 and 1990 Biennale of Sydney, responsible for Pier 2/3 and the Bond Store in Walsh Bay. Gitte was exhibition researcher for the exhibition Pop to Popism at the Art Gallery of NSW and in 2013 recreated the 1929 Hera Roberts Room for the Sydney Moderns exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW.  From 2013 to 2014 she was curatorial and exhibitions researcher at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Gitte currently works as curatorial adviser and manager for a private art collection. She regularly leads contemporary art tours in Sydney and overseas.

Gardens of Tasmania’s West Coast – 23 March – 1 April 2021


Tasmania, garden tours, Renaissance Tours, Old Wesley Dale

Old Wesley Dale in Tasmania. © photo by Scott Wilson

Discover the historic houses and estates, private gardens and nurseries of the Island State resplendent in warm autumnal hues.

Traverse the hills and valleys of Tasmania with writer and photographer Trisha Dixon, from Launceston to Hobart via the West Coast and through the scenic heart of the state, down to the picturesque south-east.

Wonder at a range of landscapes, from the sublime natural grandeur of Cradle Mountain to the quiet serenity of the superb cottage gardens at Old Wesley Dale.

Roam the Meander, Derwent and Huon Valleys and get to know some of the private gardens and nurseries that thrive in the island state, including Culzean Gardens, Crawleighwood Nursery and Garden, and Eggs and Bacon Bay Cottage Garden.

Tour Expert

Trisha Dixon is a writer and photographer with a passion for landscape, literature, music, art, architecture, design and history. She is an experienced tour leader in Australia and abroad, and has a number of books to her name, including Adagio: Living and Gardening Mindfully (2013), Under the Spell of Ages (2007) along with two books on the life and designs of Australian landscaper Edna Walling, co-authored with Jennie Churchill in 1988. Her photography has also featured in a number of publications.

 Food and Wine of the Tamar Valley – 20 – 24 April, 2021

Josef Chromy WInes, Tasmania, Renaissance Tours

Josef Chromy Wines in Tasmania. © Josef Chromy Wines

Join ‘The Wine Man’ Peter Bourne on a gourmet expedition through Tasmania’s picturesque Tamar Valley to sample some of the region’s most exciting wines and produce.

Fed by the fresh waters of the Esk and Tamar rivers, the region has created a fertile valley of high-yielding vineyards, famous for its Chardonnay, aromatic whites, Pinot Noir and sparkling.

Enjoy exclusive access to vineyards and cellar doors that have become famous for their cool-climate wines and be guided through private tastings as you meet the winemakers and producers that call this area home.

Experience some of Tasmania’s most refined gastronomy and finest local produce in a selection of renowned restaurants.

Tour Expert

Universally known as ‘The Wine Man’, Peter Bourne has been involved in the Australasian wine industry for over 35 years – initially as a fine wine me


Art Galleries of Regional Victoria – 18 – 23 April, 2021 (6 days)

Take a journey through regional Victoria’s leading art galleries and wonder at the state’s vibrant art-scape in the environment which inspires it. From local history and home-grown artworks in Castlemaine to touring exhibitions in Bendigo and Ballarat, trace Australia’s development from a flourishing regional centre into a major player on the international art stage.

Appreciate innovative works at the TarraWarra Museum of Art Biennial, as well as in the museum’s permanent collection, which is home to some of Australia’s finest contemporary art. Uncover the evolution of a local region at Geelong Gallery, before a curator-led private tour of the National Gallery of Victoria’s Australian Art collection at the Ian Potter Centre, featuring works which highlight Australia’s rich art history and diverse landscapes.

Expert Tour Leader: Brian Ladd

Brian is past President of the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales, a specialist in European and Australian sculpture, and a graduate in sculpture from the National Art School, Sydney. Brian brings a broad knowledge and enthusiasm to the study of art. From 1996 to 2010 he was Head of Public Programs Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and responsible for enlivening the Gallery and engaging diverse audiences with art.

Since 1995 Brian has led successful Society tours in Europe, the United States of America and Australia.

Country Gardens of Victoria 2021 – 14 – 23 March 2021 (10 days)

Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Renaissance Tours, garden tours

Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road © Shutterstock

Journey through the diverse landscapes of rural Victoria, from dramatic seascape views along the Great Ocean Road to stately colonial gardens on the former goldfields. Explore the lush forests of the Otway Ranges, wonder at the grandeur of the Twelve Apostles and gain exclusive access to private gardens that flourish against the backdrop of the dramatic southern Victorian scenery. Uncover the region’s fascinating past, from the returned Anzacs who built the Great Ocean Road to the historic homesteads of the goldrush era, and appreciate Victoria’s artistic heritage on a guided tour of the Bendigo Art Gallery. Explore acclaimed gardens including one designed by renowned landscape gardener Edna Walling, and enjoy gourmet meals accompanied by the finest country hospitality.

Expert Tour Leader: Julie Kinney

Julie’s love affair with travel began during a stint at London’s Cordon Bleu School of Cookery before returning to her native Western Australia to settle in the beautiful Margaret River region. A passionate gardener, Julie is well known for her collection and knowledge of rare plants from both Australia and abroad. She has a sophisticated appreciation of gardens having visited hundreds of gardens across the UK, Europe and Australasia and is an experienced and enthusiastic garden tour leader. Julie has founded and headed a number of popular garden clubs in Western Australia, as well as having been a committed part of Australia’s Open Garden Scheme, opening her own gardens to the public. Her book, The Garden Wanderer, is about the gardens of her region. An enthusiastic and charismatic tour leader, Julie loves nothing more than to showcase the best of wherever she tours to and to ensure her fellow travellers get the most from their travel experience.

Epicurean Delights of the Yarra Valley – 23 – 26 March (4 days)

Oakridge Restaurant, Visit Victoria, Renaissance Tours

Edible garden at Oakridge Restaurant. © Visit Victoria

Indulge in the epicurean delights of Victoria’s Yarra Valley with tastings at a selection of the area’s finest cellar doors and gourmet meals at acclaimed regional restaurants. Meet the vintners, chefs and green thumbs that contribute to this thriving pocket of Victoria celebrated as a regional retreat for the best of gourmet pleasures. Enjoy tastings at the cellar doors of the family-run De Bortoli wines and historic Yering Station. Enjoy meals prepared by some of the best chefs in the country with ingredients sourced locally from the surrounding farms and estates. In between savouring the best of the region’s wines and produce enjoy private visits to beautiful kitchen and landscaped gardens.

Expert tour leader: Nicci Crossing

Nicci is a true epicurean, being an avid lover of good food and wine. As a local to Victoria, she shares many stories of the region’s winemakers, chefs and restaurateurs as well as local histories of the state’s remarkably charming regional towns and communities. She has been involved in developing and promoting hospitality businesses for over 20 years.

Private Collections and House Museums of Melbourne (23–26 March 2021) 4 days

Melbourne, Visit Melbourne, Renaissance Tours

Royal Exhibition building Carlton Gardens © Shutterstock

Visit the private collections and special house museums of Melbourne to meet and learn about the benefactors and personalities who have shaped a city internationally renowned for its arts culture.

Enjoy private guided tours of the immersive Justin Art House Museum and an eclectic family collection at the Lyon Housemuseum Galleries. Discover how antiques dealer William Johnston’s extraordinary eye for beauty amounted in a critically acclaimed private collection of fine and decorative arts.

Uncover Melbourne’s enviable cache of cultural landmarks with an architectural walking tour of the CBD’s iconic laneways and historic streets. Visit the grand Royal Exhibition Building, known for propelling Melbourne onto the international stage as a city of influence for design, fashion and innovation.

Expert tour leader: Kenneth Park

Kenneth W Park works as a freelance lecturer, curator, tour leader, presenter and fundraiser. He is also Curator of Collections at Wesley College Melbourne where he manages an extensive art and archival collection. Kenneth’s wide-ranging studies include fine arts, history, museum studies, political science, industrial relations, and international relations.

Kenneth has a passion for the arts, architecture, history, travel, food, wine and good conversation – essentially the good life. An inveterate traveller making several international trips a year and has been to every continent. Kenneth lives by the motto, “Life is a grand tour so make the most of it”. Kenneth has lectured on and led many tours all over the world.

Short Breaks – Music by the Springs (12 – 15 February, 2021) four days

Celebrate the best of Australian chamber music in idyllic Hepburn Springs in country Victoria with a boutique festival curated by acclaimed pianist Stewart Kelly. Enjoy five intimate concerts over the weekend by renowned Australian artists including violinists Jenny Khafagi and Francesca Hiew, viola player Caroline Henbest, cellist Michael Dahlenburg and soprano Taryn Fiebig. See these acclaimed musicians perform works by Schubert, Handel, Brahams and Mendelssohn alongside lesser-known composers. Benefit from the insights of music aficionado and tour leader Phillip Sametz and enjoy the best of the region’s fine dining and local wines.

Expert Tour Leader: Philip Sametz

Phillip Sametz is a writer, editor, presenter, tour leader, tutor, vocalist and arts administrator. In recent years, on ABC Classic, he presented Screen SoundsSunday RecitalClassic Breakfast and many live concert broadcasts. His history of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Play On!, was published by ABC Books, and his annotations and articles appear regularly on ABC Classics albums and in the program books of Victorian Opera and the Australian symphony orchestras. He tutors the Words About Music course at the Australian Youth Orchestra’s National Music Camp and is the Director and vocalist of the Sydney-based swing band The Mell-O-Tones.


Short Breaks – Renaissance Tours Festival of Chamber Music 2021 – 20 – 23 September, 2021 (4 days)

The Renaissance Tours Festival of Chamber Music will take place at the superb Mitchelton winery near Nagambie in country Victoria, about 90 minutes’ drive north of Melbourne, in September 2021.

Renaissance Tours’ own festival of music, crafted exclusively for Renaissance Tours patrons, will be hosted and directed by leading performer and seasoned festival director Stewart Kelly. Guests will enjoy five concerts over three glorious days and nights in scenic springtime surroundings on the Goulburn River.

Each performance will be introduced by Stewart, and the program will feature acclaimed Australian musicians performing a selection of some of the most celebrated instrumental and vocal works of the chamber music repertoire. An array of gourmet meals and the winery’s fine wines will be served between concerts in unique spaces across the wine estate. Guests will stay in the winery’s exclusive luxury boutique accommodation located on the property.