MAAU MOA Journeys - Australia 2019 Tour


With UBC's Museum of Anthropology


A once-in-a-lifetime journey during which MOA Curator Dr. Carol E. Mayer will guide you through the environmental and artistic diversity of Australia: from the desert heart of Uluru and the lush wetlands of Arnhem Land in the north, to the vibrant cities in the east and their abundant cultural repositories


Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before any applicable taxes. The pricing reflects twin-sharing, per-person costs without airfare to/from the tour; however, we can book flights from your home airport for an added cost. Contact us for a no obligation quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Mon 01 Apr 2019Wed 17 Apr 2019 $8400 USD Limited availability, please contact us

Please note that due to the nature of internal flights on the tour, this trip requires a $1500 per person deposit

Optional Single Supplement: $1172 USD (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $1172 if you join our share program and we are unable to pair you.

Tour Overview

Join us for a once-in-a-lifetime journey in Australia.

University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology Curator Dr. Carol E. Mayer will guide you through the environmental and artistic diversity of the country: from the desert heart of Uluru and the lush wetlands of Arnhem Land in the north, to Australia'€™s vibrant cities in the east and their abundant cultural repositories.

MOA is delighted to host the visiting exhibition Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia, organized by Dr. Mayer, which runs from November 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.

This MOA Journey offers exclusive access to many of the artists featured in the exhibition. Gain a special understanding of the landscapes and cultural experience that have shaped their works.

Each day, Dr. Mayer will share special insights to add to your enjoyment of this very special journey.

Regions visited: Oceania And South Pacific
Countries visited: Australia

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrival in Brisbane
Welcome to Australia!

Brisbane is the capital of the state of Queensland with a population of about 2 million people, making it the third-largest city in Australia. For many thousands of years Aboriginal people have lived in what is now known as Brisbane. In 1823, John Oxley was the first English colonist to explore Brisbane, which was then selected by the colony of New South Wales as the location for a new jail, intended to house dangerous prisoners in a remote location.

Today, its positive attitude and creative confidence makes Brisbane a genuine new-world city. Even though Brisbane is rapidly-developing and forward-thinking, it maintains a youthful enthusiasm and has what is arguably the most vibrant, laid back, and friendliest atmosphere of any east-coast capital city.

Overnight in Brisbane (reception & welcome dinner). Ibis Hotel (all hotels hereafter listed are subject to confirmation).

Included Meal(s): Dinner

Day 2 Brisbane City Touring
Brisbane has a rich Indigenous history and it's not hard to delve into its culture through a variety of amazing experiences in Brisbane.

Today we start off with a walking tour, emphasizing the dynamic arts practices from the oldest continuing living culture in world history. We discover some of Brisbane’s most breathtaking and fascinating precincts with a local Aboriginal guide. Gain a deeper appreciation of Brisbane’s Aboriginal history and marvel at the extraordinary Aboriginal artworks dotting the cityscape.

Break for lunch; afternoon visit to the Henderson Gallery (guided tour).

This space celebrates and features Indigenous artists and recently won a gold award at the Queensland Tourism Awards. Run by owner and talented artist Robert Henderson from the Wiradjuri people, the gallery champions works by emerging artists. One of its aims is to help rehabilitate prisoners through art and it also works with First Nations artists, first-time exhibitors, and a diverse range of artists who through their works make a visit to the gallery a stimulating and inspiring experience.

Later afternoon/evening: 'Spirits of the Red Sand'

Connect with Aboriginal culture like never before in this thrilling evening experience. Journey back in time to the Australia of the 1800s, discover the spirit of the land and witness the drama and upheaval that took place as two very different cultures learn to live alongside each other. The story of Spirits of the Red Sand is told through song, dance, storytelling and effects in a thrilling and interactive show followed by a char-grilled barbecue feast.

Overnight in Brisbane.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 Brisbane: The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art
Stretching from Iraq to Hawaii, 'The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art' will bring new and significant art from across the region to Brisbane. Highlights of our guided tour will be a substantial number of newly-commissioned works, as well as works by emerging, mid-career and senior artists and influential works that continue to shape contemporary art in the region. APT9 is based on extensive research that has built on the wealth of knowledge established over the exhibition's 25 year history.

The exhibition will feature over 80 artists and groups whose work is notable for making an impact in contemporary art in its local context, including a large representation of Australian artists. Their works will reveal a number of preoccupations, such as the use of innovative approaches to indigenous traditions and modern thought, the re-imagining of histories or poetic narratives and the ability to show our universal yet diverse relations to nature and culture.

Free time at APT9/GOMA & Brisbane

Overnight in Brisbane. Ibis Hotel.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 4 Brisbane - Fly to Darwin - Kakadu
Morning flight to Darwin, on arrival we drive (3 hours) from airport to Kakadu National Park along the Stuart and Arnhem Highways.

After a break for lunch, we head to Cooinda for our Yellow Waters Billabong Cruise. Yellow Water is part of the South Alligator River floodplain. You will have the opportunity to see the varied bird-life Kakadu's World Heritage wetlands, and perhaps a croc or two.

Overnight at Kakadu. Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Kadadu Area: Full Day Tour
An Aboriginal guide picks us up in air-conditioned tour vehicle; travel north across the Magela floodplains and past some of the spectacular escarpment outliers to Ubirr, one of Kakadu's major Aboriginal rock art sites.

Ubirr Rock Art Gallery: Guided through the natural stone galleries and give you an insight into the Aboriginal culture associated with some of these intriguing works of art. How people lived, hunted and gathered. The art here spans a vast period, from ancient times before the sea level rose to its present level right through to interaction between Aboriginal people and early European visitors. You will see paintings of spirit characters and the famous x-ray art depicting the internal structure of some of the animals of this country. Our guide provides interpretation of the sites from both a traditional Bininj and a scientific perspective describing the geology and land forms of the region.

East Alligator River: Not far from Ubirr runs the East Alligator River, the border between Kakadu and Arnhem Land. Here we will enjoy morning tea overlooking the river and look out for Ginga, the salt water crocodile that lurks near the river crossing. There are many birds that inhabit the forest along the bank.

Nourlangie - Burrungkuy Rock Art Gallery: We travel south-west to the stunning rock escarpment of Nourlangie. Here the rock art speaks of over 20,000 years of Aboriginal occupation. We will walk around the gallery with extraordinary stories of the images that have been entrusted to him by the three caretaker Aboriginal clan groups of the region. We will explore the rock shelters and learn how Aboriginal people would live here during the wet and dry season.

Anbangbang Billabong: We will visit the Anbangbang Billabong to view the spectacular bird-life and the paper bark swamp. You will learn about the local aboriginal 'bushtucker' and enjoy magnificent views of Nourlangie across the billabong.

Marrawuddi Art Gallery: We now head back to the Bowali Visitor Centre where you will find an interesting historical & geological display of Kakadu, a café for refreshments, locally made Aboriginal art and books on Aboriginal rock art to browse through in the Aboriginal owned Marrawuddi Art Gallery.

* Please note that lingering seasonal 'Green Season' rains could alter the above program *

Overnight at Kakadu. Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Kakadu - Darwin
This morning you have the option of a one hour scenic flight over Twin and Jim Jim Falls (optional: your Tour Leader can pre-book).

Drive to Darwin via Wetlands Visitors Centre, which has great views over the wetlands.

Darwin is Australia's most northern capital city and its isolation from the other states has encouraged the evolution of a unique lifestyle. It is both old style Australia and distinctly Asian in feel and the genuine multicultural mix is reflected in the food, open-air markets and a people of immense character and hospitality. Here you will find a living Aboriginal history and art heritage, the elusive 'Dundees' and their crocodilian partners lurking in the farms and wildlife parks. The perennially warm, tropical climate has bred an energetic outdoor lifestyle and a friendly, easy-going attitude to match.

On arrival we visit Outstation Gallery: This exciting new Aboriginal art gallery, located in the Parap gallery precinct in Darwin, Australia, showcases high quality and affordable Aboriginal artwork from established and emerging Aboriginal artists. The directors source the exhibited works from over 14 remote Aboriginal community art centres in desert country and the Top End, covering styles from fine dot work to bold contemporary paintings and watercolour landscapes.

Special exhibit of Aboriginal Women artists (MOA programming).

Overnight in Darwin. Hotel Novotel.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Darwin: City Touring
We have a morning city tour of Darwin - Highlights include Parliament House, Stokes Hill Wharf area, Mooring Basin, Botanic Gardens, East Point Reserve, Fanny Bay Gaol.

After a break, we continue to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory for a guided tour.* The galleries focus on the aspects of the Northern Territory environment, history, ethnic diversity, maritime and natural history. The museum houses an impressive display of Aboriginal art. Possible meeting/presentation by research staff.

* The MAGNT manages the Museum of Central Australia and Strehlow Research Centre at the Araluen Arts Precinct in Alice Springs (possible hosted visit Day 10/11)

Special exhibit of Aboriginal Women artists (MOA programming)

Overnight in Darwin. Hotel Novotel.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 8 Darwin & Bathurst Island
Today we take a ferry to Bathurst Island. We make our way to Cullen Bay Ferry Terminal to board our ferry and, after a 2 hour cruise, arrive at Bathurst Island. Upon arrival at the Aboriginal community of Nguiu on Bathurst Island we will meet our local guide who will take you on a journey through the progressive, modern day Aboriginal community of Nguiu (Wurrumiyanga).

We visit the museum with its interesting displays of traditional art and depictions of the Tiwi ‘Dreamtime’ stories and Early Mission Precinct with its unique Tiwi style Catholic Church. Your guide will tell you about the colourful history of the early mission days and learn how the Tiwi people have blended their culture with Christianity.

Morning Tea with the Tiwi Ladies: At morning tea, we enjoy 'billy tea' and damper while we spend time with some friendly Tiwi Ladies as they work on their weaving and painting. Your guides and the ladies will also demonstrate their totem dances and perform a smoking ceremony to bless their visitors and explain the meanings behind these rituals.

Arts and crafts co-operatives: We will also be taken through the world renowned Tiwi arts and crafts co-operatives and see where the artists work and possibly see some of them at work. You also have the opportunity to purchase Tiwi arts and crafts and screen-printed fabric at Island prices.

Lookout and burial site: Stop at a picturesque lookout, which is the setting of a Tiwi burial site where we can learn some of the complex rituals associated with the Pukamani Poles (burial poles). Our guide will also share their knowledge about traditional bush tucker, bush medicine and the natural fibres and dyes used by the Tiwi people. Return back to the ferry landing to re-board our vessel, departing Bathurst Island for Darwin at 3pm.

Overnight in Darwin. Hotel Novotel.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Lunch

Day 9 Darwin - Fly to Gove/Nhulunbuy: Gululu Day Trip
Early this morning we fly to Nhulunbuy on the Gove Peninsula in northeast Arnem Land.

The Indigenous people of Arnhem Land, collectively know as Yolngu, have roamed the area for at least 60,000 years, hunting fish and bush animals as well as collecting seasonal bush food. According to traditional beliefs, the landscape of the region and its inhabitants were brought into being during the travels of the Creator ancestors long ago. As the ancestors travelled the land, naming and creating as they went, they left people behind and gave them the knowledge they needed to survive and look after what had been named. This knowledge finds its expression in everyday life; and through the performance of ceremonies, the past is recreated. The ritual designs painted on bodies, together with songs and dances, retell the journey and deeds of the totemic ancestors.

On arrival we'll embark on a day tour on the Gove Peninsula, which takes participants to a range of secluded and culturally significant coastal and inland locations in the East Arnhem Region. The tour is led by a Yolgnu guide and provides a range of cultural information about the sites and the Yolgnu people's connection to the land and sea. A picnic lunch is provided as part of the tour and may be supplemented by seafood gathered on the day.

Overnight at Walkabout Lodge.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 10 Bawaka Homeland Day Tour
Today we visit the beautiful and undisturbed Homeland of Bawaka, located on the beachfront in Port Bradshaw south of Nhulunbuy. Bawaka is a beautiful tropical paradise with visitor access by 4WD (45 min on dirt road and 45 min on sand). The Homeland features unspoilt beaches, spectacular cliff-top ocean views, vast areas of bushland and an amazing array of marine life.

08:00 Pick up from Nhulunbuy 4WD vehicle with Yolngu driver-guide and journey to one of the region's many Yolngu homelands. Upon arrival we will be welcomed to Yolgnu Country. This is a form of blessing for you to be on country and to keep you safe. Our guide will tell you about how Yolgnu gathered bush foods, and about traditional remedies or craft materials depending on the season.

A picnic lunch is provided as part of the tour and may be supplemented by seafood gathered on the day.

Our guide will take you by foot or in vehicle to explore the area where there will be many photo opportunities.

16:00 Return to Nhulunbuy.

Overnight at Walkabout Lodge.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 11 Gove - Fly to Alice Springs
This morning we fly to Alice Springs (via Darwin), arriving this afternoon.

Alice Springs lies at almost the exact geographical centre of Australia. Many Aboriginals work as stockmen on the vast stations in this area, and reminders of their rich heritage are everywhere. Wild camels roam throughout the region, and the dry red earth and deep blue sky create a surreal atmosphere. Neville Shute wrote a famous novel, "A Town Like Alice" in 1950; that book and the movie based on it put Alice Springs on the international map for the first time, but it was many more years before it began attracting tourists in telegraph station here after his wife, Alice, and the town which later grew up nearby took the same name.

Overnight in Alice Springs. Double Tree by Hilton.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 12 Alice Springs Touring
Today's tour of Alice Springs includes the panoramic ANZAC Hill, the Old Telegraph Station, and the Royal Flying Doctor Service HQ. "The Alice" began in 1872 as an overland telegraph station linking the north and south. Today it combines the vigour of the frontier-like environment with the convenience of modern facilities.

We also visit Alice Springs School of the Air, which has been bridging education gaps caused by remote locations and providing schooling to children at cattle stations, roadhouses, Aboriginal communities, and national parks with daily lessons via satellite broadband to children aged 4 to 13 years since 1951. The school broadcast area covers 1.3 million square kilometres including most of the Northern Territory, the northern area of South Australia, and eastern area of Western Australia.

A must see for every visitor is the Alice Springs Desert Park. In the space of just a few hours, you can discover many of the secrets of the Central Australian deserts. Hundreds of species of plants and animals found across Central Australian deserts can be seen. Our visit involves an easy walking trail through three desert habitats. Witness free-flying birds of prey in the nature theatre, see rare and endangered animals in the spectacular nocturnal house, hear the insights into the interlinking world of plants, animals, and people from our local guides and enjoy a cinematic journey through four-and-a-half billion years of desert evolution during the 20 minute cinematic journey of "The Changing Heart".

Overnight in Alice Springs. Double Tree by Hilton.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 13 Alice Springs: Outback Experience
Today we have a full-day 'Aboriginal Dreamtime' Outback experience.

The Mbuntua Tour focuses on bush food, Aboriginal culture, and Dreamtime, and how this has been adapted since white settlement. The tour includes a short walk (2km at an easy pace) and a bush food demonstration including some sampling. We then enjoy a delicious meal with home-baked food in a bush BBQ setting and a relaxed chat about Aboriginal culture and art.

We will also be seeing some of the beautiful countryside of the Western McDonnell Ranges.

Overnight Alice Springs. Double Tree by Hilton.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Lunch

Day 14 Alice Springs - Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Today we travel over the Macdonnell Ranges and cross the vast desert to Uluru (Ayer's Rock), in the centre of the continent.

Uluru is an incredibly impressive monolith 5 km (3 miles) in length and over 300 m (1,000 feet) high! Uluru is a remnant of ancient mountains which long ago weathered away, leaving the sandstone monolith standing alone in the desert. In 1989 scientists found evidence that Uluru, the Macdonnell Ranges, and a cluster of huge rock domes named Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) were part of a single plateau. Although British explorers trekked through the Red Centre as long ago as 1844, none of them visited Uluru until 1873, when it was named Ayers Rock after a colonial administrator of the day, Sir Henry Ayers.

We visit Uluru for a short walk at the base before travelling to the sunset viewing area.

Overnight near Ayers Rock. Outback Pioneer Lodge.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 15 Uluru - Sydney
Today we have an early morning excursion to see the sunrise light up the Olgas/Kata Tjuta. After a break and some free time, we fly from Ayers Rock to Sydney, arriving late afternoon.

Sydney is regarded as one of the world's greatest coastal cities. The odd thing is that when the British explorer Captain James Cook sailed up the east coast of Australia in 1770 he missed the site altogether. He saw the Sydney Heads, of course, but did not guess that a vast harbour lay behind them. So when a British fleet arrived to establish a colony in Australia in 1788 it went first to nearby Botany Bay. Within days, however, Sydney Harbour was discovered and the settlement moved there.

Overnight in Sydney. Hyatt Regency.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 16 Sydney City Touring
This morning we visit the Australian Museum.

From a 'beautiful collection of Australian curiosities', the museum has grown to an internationally-recognized collection of over 18 million cultural and scientific objects. The museum plays a leading role in research; through exhibitions and other public programs the museum continues to inform and amaze generations of visitors about the unique flora, fauna and cultures of Australia and the Pacific. For the purposes of our visit, a fine way to tie together many of the themes touched upon during our journey, we will focus mainly on the human side of things, though in Australia, as you know by now, the human experience here has always been closely linked with the natural environment.

After some free time, we'll proceed to the iconic Sydney Opera House for a guided tour. This is one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks and this is your chance to truly get up-close. Run your hands over the world-famous shell tiles, take a seat in the elegant custom-made white birch timber chairs and marvel at the vaulted ceilings. We visit areas off-limits to the public and capture photographs from rare vantage points. Explore theatres and foyers where more than 1600 concerts, operas, dramas, and ballets take place each year.

The balance of the day is yours to explore Sydney. A popular (optional) activity is a harbour cruise; your Tour Leader can help you plan your afternoon.

This evening we enjoy a farewell dinner.

Overnight in Sydney. Hyatt Regency.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 17 Departure
Departure from Sydney.


Included Meal(s): Breakfast

Tour Map

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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►


All transport (including local flights), Tour Leader services, all accommodation, all breakfasts and some lunches/dinners (see tour itinerary), sightseeing and entrance fees for all sites listed as 'visited.' Gratuities for porters, restaurant staff for included meals, local guides, and drivers. Airport transfers are included for land & air participants, including early arrivals/late departures if extra accommodation is booked through us.


International airfare to/from the tour. Tour Leader gratuity ($5-10 per person per day), most lunches & some dinners (see tour itinerary), any sightseeing listed as 'optional.' Optional trip cancellation insurance. Airport transfers for land only participants.

This tour is open to members of UBC's Museum of Anthropology. To register, or for more information, please visit

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is being offered in conjunction with a special temporary exhibit at the University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology, November 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019. For more info, follow this link:


Given the large area we cover on this trip and the extremely varied climactic conditions that can be experienced depending on where you are in the country, it's difficult to generalize what we can expect from start to finish. That said, if we break the trip into three basic parts, we can expect:

East Coast: Brisbane, where our journey begins, doesn't experience a huge variation throughout the year, but April usually coincides with a cooler and drier time of year, with comfortable high temperatures ranging from 20-25C and moderate humidity. Further south in Sydney, things will be cooler and more temperate, with showers possible as the city moves into its winter season.

The North: April marks a transitional period between the hot and wet time of year to the cooler and drier, which means that if everything goes by the averages, this could be almost ideal conditions, though definitely still warm and possibly wet. If the rains linger, however, which is not unheard of, we should be prepared for some good dousings and sticky heat. Hopefully things will have dried up, but late rains can affect road conditions and cause some possible disruptions to routes and programming.

The Centre: Autumn (March-May) is one of the best times to visit, with warm days and cool nights. Average temperatures range from 12-27C (53-80°F). On average, this is a dry place at any time.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Most local transport will be provided by air-conditioned motor coach. Some of our excursions will make use of multiple off-road style vehicles as conditions warrant. Longer distances are covered by air with local scheduled carriers.

Overall this tour is not "strenuous" per se, though it is ambitious with plenty of moving around, some full days of travel and sightseeing, some early starts, and walking tours of towns and cities and sites that are large. Heat may be a factor in some locales which can cause fatigue. Porters should be available at hotels to assist with baggage, but you must be independent with your luggage, especially at airports.


All hotels are carefully chosen for quality of service, comfort and location, and are typical of an international mid-range standard (ie 3-star).

Please refer to the full itinerary for listing of proposed hotels in each location.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader (Victor Romagnoli) throughout, MOA curator, local guides, drivers,

Group Size

Maximum 18 (plus Tour Leader & MOA staff members)