Exploring the outback to support farmers

Birdsville Hotel Pub at sunset

Over recent months we have heard a lot about how farmers are doing it tough, with much of Australia recording some of the worst drought it has seen in 20 years. Hopefully, by the time you read this, Spring may have brought with it some relieving rains and changing fortunes, but continued rain is needed.

It has been inspiring to witness many individuals and companies donating to support farmers and their fellow Australians.

Another way you can help is by travelling—see the many interesting, historical and creative sights and attractions that are keeping farming communities thriving. Invest in local accommodation, restaurants and tourist attractions, which keeps the economy going and provides other opportunities for growth.

In our October 2018 holiday brochure you’ll see some fascinating outback adventures:

We’ve got every state of Australia covered in this brochure, giving you the opportunity to explore every part of our beautiful country.

So please join us in discovering the magnificent places of Australia, and the experiences and local people who make it memorable.

To view all our tours, click here.

2018 October Holiday brochure NSW Day tours October 2018 Queensland Day tours October 2018

An intimate journey along the scenic Lions Road

Lions Road creek crossing

The Lions Road is a privately built road connecting Beaudesert with Kyogle, following a scenic route through rainforests, rivers and mountains of the McPherson Ranges along the Queensland and New South Wales border.

What’s it like to travel the Lions Road?

Get up close and personal to creek crossings, rainforest walks and top for breathtaking scenic lookouts through the Border Ranges.

While travelling, stop to see the incredible border spiral loop on the interstate railway line  –  an impressive engineering feet. Allowing trains to rapidly climb elevation in order to cross the range, the loops, curves and shorter tunnels were more cost effective than building a much longer and more expensive tunnel.

The road is narrow in parts and is not suitable for larger, heavier vehicles. Instead of our larger luxury coach, we are taking our mini-bus, along with a trailer, meaning you’ll have a more intimate experience of the beautiful scenery in a small group tour.

Lions Road tour

Why was the road built?

After the NSW government decided not to build the road connecting the Northern Rivers of NSW with Brisbane via Richmond Gap, the community took matters into their own hands.

Opened in 1970, the road was a project of the Kyogle and Beaudesert Lions Clubs, who received incredible support from the local communities and businesses in the form of funding, materials, construction and expertise.

The road has been continually improved through the support of the local border town shires, NSW, QLD and Federal governments, the Australian Army, Parks and Wildlife and other organisations who have contributed to the road.

Lions road scenery

Tour highlights

Our three day tour departing from Brisbane spends the first day traversing the beautiful Lions Road, crossing the state border and continuing to Lismore where we unpack for two nights at the Karinga Motel.

On day two, we get lost in the enormous Lismore markets, tapping into the creative and alternative arts, antiques, bric-a-brac and fresh produce of the Northern NSW region.

In Ballina, enjoy a Devonshire tea at heritage listed Ballina Manor and visit the Maritime Museum.

On day three, enjoy morning tea at Macadamia Castle before continuing on to the most easterly point of Australia, the Cape Byron Lighthouse.

Continue via the coastal route back to Brisbane, via Kingscliff Beach for lunch, then Pottsville, Hastings Point, Cabarita Beach and Tweed Heads.

An unforgettable, intimate journey, close to nature.

We have two departures in 2018, 3 November and 1 December. Find out more here.

Lions Road view Cape Byron Lighthouse Devonshire tea at Ballina Manor

The return of the Mary Valley Rattler

Mary Valley Rattler

Since 2012, the rails have been silent, but after an extensive upgrade and restoration, the Mary Valley Rattler now steams along the rails once more.

This incredible train journey is one of Australia’s standout heritage experiences, and its return has been long awaited.

The Rattler’s standard route travels between the historic and beautiful Gympie station through the scenic Mary Valley, the C17 class steam engine passes through Dagun station before arriving in Amamoor. The engine then turns around on the fully restored turntable for its return journey to Gympie.

For Cross Country Tours, the Rattler’s return on 6 October has been highly anticipated.

‘More than 200 people have registered their interest to find out about our tours to see the Rattler when we first heard news of its return,’ said Tony Gear, Cross Country Tours’ Managing Director.

‘Now that it’s officially back up and running, we’ve put together some great day tours so our passengers can be among the first to enjoy the new experience.’

Cross Country Tours day tours begin with the first departure on 14 October, and continue through November and then March and April 2019.

The day tour includes a ride on the Rattler between Amamoor and Gympie station, followed by lunch in the historic Gympie Station Cafe. All touring, morning tea, lunch and train ride are included in the fare of $95.

Find out all the available dates or call 07 3869 7444 to book.

Mary Valley Rattler bookings open


Fundraising for Mission in Action

Renee and Phil Fundraising for Mission in Action

In November this year, two of our staff, Phil Bromley and Renee Lambert, will be travelling to Kenya to help out at an orphanage run by Mission in Action.

Started in 2004 by a man from Lismore, the orphanage is currently looking after about 90 children, seeking to provide a roof over their heads, clothing, education, love and a chance at a brighter future.

Renee and Phil do not need any funds to help them travel to Kenya, but have been busy collecting donations towards school packs for children starting high school next year (approximately $450 each pack), and general living expenses for all the children.

We are very proud of Renee and Phil, and Cross Country Tours will also make a donation as a company.

If you would like to contribute, you can do so in one of the following ways:

  • www.missioninaction.com.au/donate-1 (if you need a receipt)
  • On our tours or at our Christmas Parties (no receipt provided)
  • In our offices at Brisbane and Thornton (no receipt provided)

Payments for Queensland Day Tours

Payments for day tours

In recent months, we’ve been working towards all our Queensland Day Tours requiring payment before the day of travel. 90% of all tours already require payment one month prior to the date of travel, or at the time of booking.

Our new brochure is about to be released (mid-October) and you’ll notice that all day tours now require prepayment. Here are the reasons why:

  • Safety of our on road team—it’s essential that we minimise the need for our crew to move around the coach while we are travelling, to prevent any injury in the event of an emergency stop. Safety of our passengers and crew is our first priority.
  • Less managing cash on the day—our team’s first priority on the day of travel is making sure everyone is on board and ready for an enjoyable day out. By having our payments squared away before we travel, we’re not spending valuable tour time recording payments and managing cash and change.

Some other things to remember to make your life easier:

  • You can still pay in cash—you can drop into our offices in Sandgate (QLD) or Thornton (NSW) to make a payment for your tour. In Sandgate, we’re open standard Monday – Friday business hours and also Saturday mornings until midday.
  • Traveller’s Refund Guarantee still applies to QLD day tours—this means that if you are unwell and need to cancel up until the day of travel, we will provide you with a full refund of your tour fare—but you need to let us know before tour departs. If any need to cancel arises, please let us know as soon as possible so that any waitlisted passengers may have the opportunity to travel.

If you have any enquiries about prepayments or day tours, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 1300 631 383 or send us an email.

5 Things you need to know about Canberra Floriade

Canberra Floriade

It’s time to shake off the winter blues and warm up ready for spring and Floriade season. While we have been shivering in our jackets, beanies and gloves, the tulip bulbs have been quietly preparing for blooming season.

1. Tulip garden beds are designed and planted more than six months in advance.

Tulip bulbs require at least six months planted in cool, dark soil before blooming. So planting for Floriade takes place during autumn, with careful planning and design. Floriade 2018 is embracing pop culture, so each of the garden beds has been inspired by music icons, Australian artists such as Ken Done, stars of the silver screen and even Where’s Wally?

Tulips at Canberra Floriade

2. Canberra Floriade features flowers from more than 1 million bulbs and annuals.

Imagine Commonwealth Park, on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, coming alive with the bold colours of spring. Commonwealth Park is about the size of 34 football fields that you can expect to be blanketed with colour and intricate floral designs—with space for live music, workshops and food stalls of course.

Canberra Floriade Lake Burley Griffin

3. Gnome Knoll is a mainstay of Floriade.

Every garden needs a garden gnome! Create your own design and take him (or her) on tour of this floral extravaganza. Perhaps enter your gnome creation into the Rotary Club’s competition for best design, or snap a photo of your gnome amongst the beautiful garden designs.

There are plenty of entertaining activities and attractions that can add to your Floraide experience. Perhaps try a workshop such as a Terrarium Workshop—well known florists Moxom + Whitney lead a session in terrarium making, terrarium care and the power of getting dirty.

4. Photos will be colourful and long lasting.

If you’re a budding photographer (pun intended), then Floriade will be paradise for you. With a vast array of colours and designs, perhaps one of the biggest questions is whether to get a close up of the immaculate petals of a tulip, or of the bigger picture. The answer is of course up to you, but if you’re looking for some great photography tips, read this blog by photographer Carol Elvin.

Photo of tulips at floriade

5. Canberra is about more than Floriade.

Our nation’s capital certainly comes alive during Floriade, but also boasts fascinating history and museums that have shaped our country’s history. Our Canberra Floriade tour ticks off the following attractions:

  • A guided or independent tour of Australia’s War Memorial, commemorating members of our armed forces who have participated in wars
  • Panoramic views of Canberra City at night time from Mount Ainslie
  • More flowers at Bowral’s Corbett Gardens, the centerpiece of the Bowral Tulip Time Festival
  • Admire the precision of the National Bonsai Garden
  • Explore 10 acres of tulips, daffodils and blossoming spring trees at the Tulip Top Gardens, open for only a month each year.

Find out more about this tour, departing Sydney and the Hunter in September 2018. Download the itinerary.

If you’re based in Brisbane, why not consider our Southern Highlands and Floriade tour.

Six reasons to travel overseas with Cross Country Tours

Central European Cruise

When you’re planning to travel overseas, it can be hard to tell the difference between one tour provider and another. At Cross Country Tours, our passengers tell us they choose us for international travel because of ‘peace of mind’, ‘friends made on tour’ or because we’ve ‘taken care of everything’.

To help you see all of our group international tours in one place, we’ve just released our touring catalogue for 2018-2020. And of course, if you have a specific destination in mind for your independent travel, we can help with that too.

Here are six reasons to join a Cross Country Tours international tour:

1. Group travel overseas – travelling with friends

You can enjoy the ultimate experience of different cultures, amazing architecture and natural wonders—and we’ll take care of the rest.

There’s nothing quite like travelling with friends and with Cross Country Tours, you’ll be exploring the world with like-minded travellers.

Once together at our international destination, our Cross Country Tours host will connect you with fellow travellers to make getting to know others stress free. We’ll also provide you with options in each location if you’d like to explore your destination with a group.

2. Your connection to home

Cross Country Tours is your connection to what’s happening back home. If a need arises while you’re travelling, such as luggage, insurance or medical concerns (either at home or away), our Cross Country Tours host will work with our office team to work towards finding a resolution.

3. Hand picked destinations

All of the destinations in our touring catalogue have been visited by one of our experienced team members to ensure a great experience. We know the key sights and attractions to look out for, but most importantly, we’re looking for exceptional, caring service from our international suppliers.

4. Prices and inclusions

When you travel with Cross Country Tours, you can rest assured that our prices include all airfares, taxes, accommodation, tips and gratuities, meals and attractions as listed on the itinerary. This means our tours are affordable because there’s no unexpected costs. We’ll also give you an idea of how to budget for spending money in various locations on the tour, if needed.

5. Getting to and from the airport

We’ll take care of your transfers to and from the airport from the Greater Brisbane area, the Hunter, the Central Coast and Sydney.

6. Information sessions

Prior to your tour departure, you’ll be invited to an information session, getting you excited about your tour, and helping you to be prepared with what to bring and what to expect throughout your journey with us.

Click here to download our international touring catalogue.

Creativity brings new life to the outback

Sheep Hills Silo Art

While New South Wales, parts of Queensland and north western Victoria face some of the worst drought in Australia’s history, some rural and outback towns are supporting their towns by attracting tourists to their region.

A new wave of creativity revitalising outback towns is giving a boost to local economies, particularly in Victoria’s west, where tourists can visit Australia’s largest outdoor gallery.

Stretching over 200km and through six country towns, disused grain silos have been given a makeover by local and international artists on their concrete canvases that reach the sky.

Brim Silo Art

Celebrating sport, farming, indigenous people and country life, Victoria’s Silo Art Trail is a recent addition to the towns between Rupanyup and Lascelles, with the trail completed in 2017.

All Australian Journeys driver and hostess team Keith and Rose have personally followed the silo art trail through outback Victoria, with Keith providing the photos for this article and AAJ’s itineraries.

‘After seeing photos and reading articles on the Silo Art Trail, we thought we truly understood what they were about, but it wasn’t until we stood in front of them that we saw the enormous project undertaken by the artists,’ said Rose.

‘No photo does them true justice, it is not until you actually see the height of each silo and the curvature of each silo and reflect on how difficult they would have been to paint that it becomes apparent how much work has been put into them,’ said Keith.

Patchewollock Silo Art

Further north in Victoria, Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement has restored an authentic 19th century village, with working bakery, general store, blacksmith, music shop, print shop and Kaiser Stereoscopic Theatre. But it’s the first of its kind ‘Heartbeat of the Murray’ Laser Light Show that is wowing visitors to the village.

And in the small Victorian town of Boort, you can meet the ‘Spanner Man’, who creates larger than life sculptures entirely from spanners—antique, new and everything in between.

Boort Spanner Man Frill Necked Lizard

A farmer for more than three decades, when John Piccoli leased his farm, he began making sculptures with boxes of spanners from his shed. He has made more than 100 sculptures from over 100,000 spanners.

Join All Australian Journeys in April 2019, as we follow the Silo Art Trail through Victoria, explore the Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement, learn of the Chinese experience of the gold rush at the Gum San Chinese Heritage centre in Ararat, cruise the Murray River on a historic paddlesteamer and visit the Spanner Man in Boort.

Read the itinerary or get in touch to book.

Take your time

Peterborough SA

Today is the best time of your life. It’s the time to immerse yourself in new experiences, focus on wellbeing and enjoy the freedom of escaping the everyday routine.

But a warning: sticking to your list of must see destinations can be a challenge.

With each journey you take, another experience, another place, sight, sound or flavour will sneak onto your list.

So our solution: throw out the list.

Simply take a well deserved break and follow today’s inspiration. There’s always something new to discover on an All Australian Journeys holiday. Our full service holidays will awaken your curiosity and enlarge your world.

Our team are experienced in planning, booking and guiding you to memorable experiences that will fuel your desire for more – more destinations, more experiences, more friendships.

So where do you want to go?

How to get to Vivid 2018

Vivid Tours 2018

This year, vivid is celebrating its 10th birthday, and it’s sure to be a huge celebration of light, sound and ideas. We want to make sure all our customers can get to Vivid this year, so we’re offering several different options for your Vivid experience. All of our tours include coach travel from Newcastle and Maitland and a cruise on Sydney Harbour to get the best view of the lights around Circular Quay.

1. Choose one of our day tours

Our day tours have pickup locations throughout Maitland and Newcastle and you can enjoy a relaxed, luxury coach journey to Sydney with a friendly group, enjoying Robert’s Famous Afternoon Tea enroute to your Vivid 2018 experience. Click here for our Vivid day tours.

2. Vivid Overnight Packages

If you’re near Coffs Harbour, Nambucca Heads, Kempsey, Taree, Wauchope or Wingham and can get to the XPT rail line, why not consider one of our overnight packages? Use your rail pass to travel by rail to Maitland where we’ll meet you, join you on one of our tours and then provide you with overnight accommodation and hot breakfast in Maitland before your return home the following day. Give us a call to find out how.

3. Outside Sydney? Extend your experience!

If you’re based in Brisbane, Queensland or live outside Sydney and the Central Coast of New South Wales, it’s still possible to experience Sydney as it transforms for Vivid. We can arrange for you to join one of our day tours, (or extend your stay with several day tours), flights and accommodation – just get in touch on 1300 631 383 and chat to one of our consultants.