Mayan Adventure

With G Adventures – covering Mexico, Belize and Guatemala dept Playa Del Carmen with various departures from JUN thru till NOV 2019 on special 15% off normal price**

Cost from $2667 p/p. Small group operator with maximum 16 people per trip.

**Need to book and pay by 30 JUN 19 for this offer.

Leave the resorts of the Mayan Riviera behind and explore the authentic Yucatán. From sunny beaches and lush jungles to the highlands of Chiapas, journey through Belize, Guatemala, and southern Mexico on this incredible 22-day adventure. Explore the amazing ruins of Chichén Itzá, Palenque, and Tikal and walk the cobblestoned streets of colonial San Cristóbal de las Casas and Antigua. Snorkel with stingrays or just get into the reggae pace of life on a sunny Caribbean island. Experience a journey that introduces you to local culture and offers insight into the history of the Mayan heartland.

  • Explore incredible Mayan sites and colourful local markets
  • Snorkel on Belize’s world-famous barrier reef
  • Wander colonial towns and Caribbean shores

Duration: 22 days
Start/finish city: Playa del Carmen to Playa del Carmen
Service level: Standard
Comfortable tourist-class accommodations with character; mix of public and private transport.

For more information or to book, contact us on 03 9600 1482 or email

USA Grassroots Music Tour 2019

Listening Through The Lens presents
The Grass Roots Music Tour 2019
9 – 30 September


Arrive Nashville downtown independently
Nashville Tennessee – 7 nights
Americana Music Festival and Conference
Americana Honors and Awards Show (premium seats)
Knoxville Tennessee – 1 night
Asheville North Carolina – 2 nights
Earl Scruggs Centre
Biltmore Estate
Two live shows
Bristol Tennessee/Virginia – 4 nights
Live Show
Rhythm and Roots Reunion Festival
Birthplace of Country Music Museum
Clintwood Virginia – 1 night
Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Mountain Music Centre
Paintsville Kentucky – 1 night
Loretta Lynn’s Butcher Holler
Country Music Highway Museum
Lexington Kentucky – 2 nights
Red Barn Radio Show
Explore Lexington or free day
Bill Monroe Family Home and Grave
Owensboro Kentucky – 2 nights
International Bluegrass Museum and Hall of Fame
Live Show
Drake Vintage Music & Curios
Nashville Tennessee – 1 night
independent departure from Nashville 30 September a.m.

NOTE: This itinerary is subject to minor alteration due to changing circumstances beyond the control of Listening Through The Lens.

The tour guide Rob Dickens –


  • Experienced Guide
  • All accommodation (incl. breakfasts)
  • Full badge registration for all 6 days at Americana Festival
  • Americana Honors and Awards Show (premium ticket)
  • One year membership Americana Music Association
  • Tickets for all 3 days at Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion
  • Admission to four live shows plus Biltmore Estate, Birthplace of Country Music Museum, Earl Scruggs Centre, Ralph Stanley Museum, Country Highway Museum, Butcher Holler, Bill Monroe Home, International Bluegrass Museum and Hall of Fame
  • Vehicle Transfers from September 16 to September 29


  • Tips, gratuities
  • Transport during Americana Festival [we will have a perfectly-located hotel, most venues a 15-20 minute walk away – other options are Festival Shuttle (free), Uber and taxi (at own expense)
  • Transit costs pre-Tour and post-Tour
  • Some public gigs may emerge during Tour, at own expense, optional to attend
  • Travel insurance (this is compulsory for all participants)
  • Meals and beverages
  • Additional transport required due to emergency situation

Tour numbers
This will be a small group. Final numbers determined according to vehicle logistics. Places filled on a first-come basis.

AUD $4,900 per person twin share basis (contact me for single room supplement price and/or price in US$). Deposit being half balance due 30 May 2019 or within 3 days of booking, remainder 31 July 2019.

A deposit of AUD $2450 per person is required to hold your place. The deposit, payable to Trans Otway Travel, will be refunded if tour does not proceed or is full. In all other cases the deposit is non-refundable.

Testimonials for Rob Dickens

“You were a wonderful tour leader – so well organised, quiet, kind, patient, considerate and knowledgeable – with so many interesting contacts and friends who clearly respected you and whom you shared with us. Each day was highlighted by the fact the activities, events, sights and travel were all so well sorted. There was no indecision or time wasted by us, perfect.
I now appreciate and understand so much more the road that the music has taken, what has and is involved in creating it, the differences in areas, the roles that family, community and conditions have played in its development, and so on. Music will never be taken for granted again.
We can never thank you enough for these experiences and the wonderful memories we have been left with. What a magnificent, trouble-free, well organised expose of Americana, bluegrass and blues music! We look forward to doing it all again with you in the future”- Len and Janette

“An absolute phenomenal trip, three fabulous weeks of touring and experiencing a variety of music festivals and events throughout a number of the southern States of the USA with another seven like-minded people. The team at LTTL, as well as being great leaders, has got it right. With a carefully planned itinerary, wonderful accommodation, and including enough downtime for some R&R, makes this tour a truly unforgettable life experience. Cannot thank you enough, for the warmth, wisdom, professionalism and humour you portrayed in leading us down paths less travelled and wait now in anticipation for details on next year’s adventure” – Sandra

“Rob put together a great trip. His knowledge of each location, venues and the artists were top notch and greatly contributed to a rewarding and enjoyable experience” – Keiran

“His tour was a new experience for me and I appreciated Rob’s organisational skills and his special care of all members of the group. We had plenty of freedom to do our own thing while still adhering to the itinerary. The breadth of music and the musicians’ skills were impressive. Thank you for giving us such a great experience” – Peter and Renate

“The trip was a joy to participate in. Rob was an excellent host and having visited all places previously added a lot to the smooth operation of it all. A nice blend of music across a lot of genres. Happy to recommend Rob’s future music trips” – Philip
“A perfect mix of great live music and heritage attractions” – Jim

“Loved all of it! Great itinerary and well organised with experienced tour leader. Lots of great locations and musical experiences and people we met. Like minded music fans in the group. Thank you for the fun time” – Trish

Who might you see at our festivals?
Musically, what to expect? The line-up for Bristol Rhythm and Roots is out (see banner above). The artists for AmericanaFest will be announced over time, the first instalment very soon. As a guide, here’s who we saw perform at AmericanaFest 2018:
Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys, Drivin n Cryin, Jason Eady, Jim Lauderdale, Amanda Shires, The Black Lillies, Brent Smith, Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed, Israel Nash, Paul Thorn, Tony Joe White, Anderson East, Brandi Carlile, Buddy Guy, Courtney Marie Andrews, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, I’m With Her, Irma Thomas, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, John Prine, K.D. Lang, Lilly Hiatt, Lucero, Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real, Margo Price, Mary Gauthier, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, Robert Earl Keen, Rosanne Cash, Tyler Childers, Alejandro Escovedo, Asleep At The Wheel, Earls of Leicester, Josh Rennie-Hynes, Kaia Kater, Paul Cauthen, Romantica, Sam Morrow, Whitehorse, AHI, Becky Warren, Benjamin Jason Douglas, Brian Henneman (Bottle Rockets), Cedric Burnside, Eliza Gilkyson, Ellen Starski, Kevin Gordon, Paul Burch, Robby Hecht and Caroline Spence, Sunny War, Trisha Ivy, The War and Treaty, The Wild Ponies, The Accidentals, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Jim White, Lera Lynn, Max Gomez, Micah Scott, Michael Logen & Lizanne Knott, Mike Farris, Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis, SHEL, Strung Like A Horse, Tim Bluhm, Larry Cordle, Mike Rogers, Val Storey.

For more information or to book, contact us on 03 9600 1482 or email

TriFest USA Music Tour


Rob Dickens and I have put together and are running a music tour of the USA starting on 10 September 2018.

We have only two places left to make a total group of 10 people. If you have an interest in Americana, Country and Blues and Roots Music, this could be for you!

We’ll need to close off the trip soon, so would love to fill the last two places – land price is $5900 p/p based on a twin share – subject to availability at time of booking. You’ll then need to add airfares to this, arriving in Nashville and departing from Kansas City, which we’re more than happy to arrange on your behalf.

Full details from tour guide Rob Dickens:

The TriFest Music Tour 2018 will take in three weeks, three festivals and three States and visit many historically significant and unforgettable places.

The itinerary for our music journey is below. I (Rob Dickens) will be the guide. Having been to every festival and city/town that we will visit, I would love to share these places and experiences with you.

The tour is fully escorted, starting in Nashville TN for the Americana Music Festival and Conference, moving through Tennessee and North Carolina to Bristol TN/VA for the Rhythm and Roots Reunion and finishing off in Columbia Missouri (via Kansas City) with Roots n Blues n BBQ. The Tour is using the experienced services of Philip Osborn at Trans Otway Travel.

The full line-ups for Rhythm and Roots Reunion and Roots n Blues n BBQ are now out with half of the showcase artists announced for Americana Music Festival and Conference. A key part of the Americana event in Nashville is the Americana Honors & Awards Show at the historic Ryman Auditorium, one of the best acoustic venues in the USA. Those Awards will be presented for the best new releases and artists.  All performers for these exciting events can be found following the links below.

Listening Through The Lens presents
TriFest Music Tour
10 September – 1 October 2018

  • Nashville Tennessee 7 nights
  • Americana Music Festival and Conference
  • Americana Honors and Awards Show
  • Knoxville Tennessee – 1 night stay
  • Asheville North Carolina – 2 nights
  • Biltmore Estate
  • Bristol Tennessee/Virginia – 4 nights
  • Rhythm and Roots Reunion festival
  • Birthplace of Country Music Museum
  • Nashville Tennessee – 1 night
  • Fly to Kansas City Missouri – 2 nights
  • Columbia Missouri – 4 nights
  • Roots n Blues n BBQ festival

This itinerary is subject to minor alteration due to changing circumstances beyond the control of Listening Through The Lens.

Tour inclusions

  • Experienced Guide
  • All accommodation (incl. breakfasts)
  • Full badge registration for all 6 days at Americana Festival
  • An upgraded ticket to the Americana Honors and Awards Show
  • One year membership Americana Music Association
  • Tickets for all 3 days at Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion
  • Admission to Birthplace of Country Music Museum
  • VIP Whole Hog tickets for all 3 days at Roots n Blues n BBQ festival – some food provided
  • Vehicle Transfers and flight (excl. checked bags fees) between Nashville and Kansas City
  • Admission to Biltmore Estate, American Jazz Museum, Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Tour exclusions

  • Tips, gratuities
  • Transport during Americana Festival [we will have a perfectly-located hotel, most venues a 15-20 minute walk away – other options are Festival Shuttle (free), Uber and taxi (at own expense)]
  • Transit costs pre-Tour and post-Tour
  • Public gigs will emerge during Tour, at own expense, optional to attend
  • Travel insurance (this is compulsory for all participants)
  • Meals and beverages
  • Additional transport required due to emergency situation

Testimonials from the 2017 tour:

“You were a wonderful tour leader – so well organised, quiet, kind, patient, considerate and knowledgeable – with so many interesting contacts and friends who clearly respected you and whom you shared with us. Each day was highlighted by the fact the activities, events, sights and travel were all so well sorted. There was no indecision or time wasted by us, perfect.”

“I now appreciate and understand so much more the road that the music has taken, what has and is involved in creating it, the differences in areas, the roles that family, community and conditions have played in its development, and so on. Music will never be taken for granted again.”

“We can never thank you enough for these experiences and the wonderful memories we have been left with. What a magnificent, trouble-free, well organised expose of Americana, bluegrass and blues music! We look forward to doing it all again with you in the future.”

To book the final two remaining places on this tour, please contact us on (03) 9600 1482 or via email at

Treasures of Mexico – Contours


EARLY BIRD OFFER: $500 p/p discount if booked by 29 September 2017.

Departures: 25 Feb, 26 May, 01 Sep, 06 Oct 2018. Cost $9100 p/p.


Mexico has more UNESCO World Heritage sights than any other country in the Americas; Olmecs, Zapotecs, Toltecs, Mayas and Aztecs have all left their imprint on the modern face of this fascinating country. This tour will show you this unique country from Mexico City to its turquoise blue Caribbean shores.

You will start in Mexico City. This Metropolis will surprise you with the grand scale of its central zocalo, enormous Chapultepec Park and world-class Anthropology Museum. The bohemian district of Coyoacan is a delight with its cobbled streets, terraced cafes and the Frida Kahlo Museum. You will travel through South – Central Mexico to Puebla & Oaxaca visiting the most wonderful places, with vibrant music and arts scene, colourful regional markets, world-renowned cuisine and the stunning beauty of the surrounding valleys.

Continue your travel to San Cristobal de las casas and the mesmerizing Sumidero Canyon. Visit traditional towns of Chamula & Zinacantan . Visit the most impressive ruins in The Yucatan Peninsula which yields a wealth of natural and man-made wonders- Uxmal, Kabah and Chichen Itza ruins are reminders of the heights Mexico’s ancient empires reached. You will end this beautiful trip relaxing at the stunning Riviera Maya


  • Walking tour of Mexico City including the murals of Diego Rivera and Museum of Anthropology – rated one of the top 10 museums in the world
  • Visit historical Coyoacan and the Frida Kalho museum, housed in her former residence
  • Visit Teotihuacan pyramids, walk along the Avenue of the Dead and climb the pyramids of the Sun and the Moon
  • Walking tour of Puebla home to the famous Talavera ceramics
  • 4 nights in UNESCO Cultural Patrimony city of Oaxaca to explore this gorgeous colonial town. Including Market tours, a traditional cooking lesson and a visit to Santa Maria Tule
  • Visit Monte Alban & Mitla Archaeological sites
  • Stay in charming San Cristobal de las Casas and visit the Sumidero Canyon
  • Explore the jungle swathed ruins of Palenque and the famous Chichen Itza ruins
  • 2 nights to relax in Rivera Maya


  • International & domestic economy class airfares & taxes
  • Contours Travel professional locally based English-speaking Tour Director
  • Unique hand crafted travel wallets & luggage tags made in Bolivia exclusively for Contours Travel
  • Guaranteed fully escorted departures maximum of 16 passengers
  • 19 nights accommodation in First Class hotels
  • 31 Meals: 19 (B) Breakfast, 11 (L) Lunches, 1 (D) Dinner
  • Expert English-speaking local guides
  • Ground transportation in private air conditioned vehicles
  • Exclusive Discovery Walks with your Tour Director
  • Tips for local guides & drivers
  • All entrance fees to local sights and national parks

For more information contact us on 03 9600 1482 or email us at

Weird and bizarre festivals in the USA


On your next trip to the USA, why not see if you can plan around one of many crazy festivals that take place in this country. Something for everyone out of these pearlers!

1. Roadkill cook off – Marlinton, West Virginia – September 29-30


Ever driven past some roadkill and had the urge to eat it? Well, every year in Marlinton, you can. This roadkill cook off festival allows locals and visitors to enjoy a day of tasting strange cuisine e.g squirrels, opossum, raccoons and groundhogs, shopping for local crafts, tasting local wines, and enjoying live entertainment. The only rule is the kill must be freshly dead warm and no gutting on site.

2. Testicle Festival – Clinton, Montana – 2-6 August


Held from August 2-6 in Clinton, locals gather to celebrate…well, testicles. The Testy Fest includes several different events, the main one being the ball-eating contest. You are given four minutes to see how many bull testicles you can consume. Male and female nudity is encouraged; bull riding and wet T-shirts are the norm. They also have an Undie 500 race which is pretty much what it sounds like — people racing in their underwear.

3. State Cow Chip Throw and Festival – Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin – September 2-3


For those of you that don’t know, cow chips are dry, odourless pieces of cow dung. Yay! This festival, held every year in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, includes a cow chip parade, a cow chip-throwing contest, crafts, food, and of course, beer! The current cow chip-throwing record stands at 248 feet.

4. Keep Austin Weird Festival – Austin, Texas – June 24


This is a city that celebrates weirdness – it’s their city motto. Participate in the slowest 5 km fun run on the planet with tempting stops en route to taste ice cream, whiskey, pies, cakes and do the limbo. They have big toe wrestling and armadillo races + smelly chambers? (not sure what this is…)

5. San Fermin Festival – New Orleans, Lousiana – July


This festival, held each year in New Orleans, is based off the traditional San Fermin running of the bulls racing festival in Spain. However, this festival doesn’t have any bulls chasing after you, they have roller derby girls. The girls chase runners and if they catch up to you, they are then allowed to whack you with a foam wiffle ball bat. The festival, in typical New Orleans fashion, begins with a party and ends with a party.

6. Tarantula Awareness Festival – Coarsegold, California – October 24


Held on October 24 each year in Coarsegold, Califorina, locals gather for a day of tarantula-themed fun and learning. All kinds of arachnid displays, tarantula races, and contests for everyone covering hairiest legs contest for men and women 16-99 yrs, tarantula poems, screaming, dress up costumes and bubble gum blowing.

7. The Wayne Chicken Show – Wayne, Nebraska – July 7-9


This Nebraska festival was hatched (sorry) in 1981 and has grown into an enormous, lighthearted celebration of all things chicken. It begins with All Hen’s Eve (Henoween) and includes chicken humour, chicken games like a cluck off and rooster crowing, chicken costumes, chicken dancing, hard boiled egg eating contest and naturally finishes with a chicken dinner.

8. The Juke Joint Festival – Clarksdale, Mississippi – April 19-23


This is a great authentic blues music festival held in the clubs and streets of Clarksdale. It’s famous for Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads. Nowadays it is a sleepy backwater and this festival covers mainly music, adding a pig race and monkeys riding dogs just for fun. Something for everyone.

9. The Frog Festival – Rayne, Louisiana – May 11-13


Rayne is a small town in the swamps of Louisiana claiming to be the frog capital of the world. They celebrate all things frog with beauty pageants (got to love them), frog racing and jumping, Bullfrogs in costume, frog eating contests, parades, cajun and zydeco music + lots of fun.

10. Frozen Dead Guy Days – Nederland, Colorado – March 10-12


Held from March 10-12 in homage to a dead guy ‘Bredo Morstol’, who is frozen in a state of suspended animation in a shed above the town. Lots of frosty hilarity occurs with a parade of hearses, coffin races, frozen t-shirt contests, costumed polar plunging and frozen salmon tossing. Plenty of music and warm nights as well.

If you’re interested in attending one or more of these bizarre US festivals, get in touch with us on 03 9600 1482 or email

USA Music Tour 2017

Total Tennessee and Blue Ridge Mountain / Appalachian Experience


A 16-day, fully escorted tour for music lovers, including Memphis – the cradle of Rock ‘n Roll, the Americana festival and other attractions in Nashville, recording studios in Alabama, Elvis Presley birthplace, Loretta Lynn’s ranch, Tennessee distillery whiskey tasting and…time for shopping.

Tour dates – 11 September to 26 September 2017

A five day add-on, again fully escorted, to the Blue Ridge Mountains/Appalachians including the town known as the Birthplace of Country Music, The Crooked Road Heritage Trail deep in The Appalachian Mountains, music centres that showcase the unique character of this magical place, live radio, jamming and dancing, and home of the first family of country music, The Carter Family.

Add-on experience dates – 27 September to 1 October 2017

First-come basis, six places available. Tour and Experience both start and end in Nashville.

The escort Rob Dickens is a music writer and frequent visitor to the USA, covering festivals and music heritage sites. He is editor of the Listening Through The Lens website and is ready to share his experiences of the stopovers on the Tour and Experience.

For pricing and to express interest, please contact us or the escort, Rob Dickens at

Rockies explorer & Alaska inside passage cruise

Start Victoria on 23 Aug 2017 and finish Vancouver 9 Sep 2017.

Special limited offer partner fly free including taxes. Cost $7195 p/p twin share.


Full Itinerary:

Day 1 Arrive Victoria
Welcome to Canada! You will be met at Victoria International Airport and transferred to your hotel. This evening meet your Tour Director and fellow travellers for a welcome dinner at your hotel.

Two Night Stay: Chateau Victoria
Meals included: Dinner

Day 2 Victoria – Butchart Gardens
This morning visit the world-famous Butchart Gardens, a 22 hectare showplace of magnificent, colourful gardens. Learn about the history and flora while exploring the gardens. Afterwards enjoy an orientation tour of Victoria’s Inner Harbour, Bastion Square, Beacon Hill and residential areas. There is free time to explore Victoria or allow Evergreen to assist you in discovering more about this historic region.

Discover More: Discover Victoria, go whale watching, or take a culinary dinner tour (additional cost)
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3 Georgia Strait – Whistler
Opportunity to view this spectacular landscape from the air with a one hour floatplane flight over the Georgia Strait to the alpine resort of Whistler (seasonal, must be pre-booked, additional cost).

After breakfast drive north along Vancouver Island to Nanaimo. Board the BC Ferry and travel through Georgia Strait to HorseshoeBay. Journey inland along the Sea to Sky Highway as the road follows the rugged coastline with views of Horseshoe Bay on your left and forested parks and mountains on your right. You will have the chance to stop at the awesome Shannon Falls before arriving at the charming alpine resort of Whistler Village. This evening you are free to explore the village’s cobbled pathways and plazas.
Overnight Stay: Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa

Discover More: Undertake a bear viewing tour with a local expert (seasonal option), or have dinner with a twist on a tasting tour (both additional cost)
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 4 Whistler – Sun Peaks
Travel through the historic farming village of Pemberton, along the scenic Duffy Lake Road lined with thick forest, into the town of Lillooet. In the afternoon we head into the mountains to the picturesque ski resort village of Sun Peaks. You’re Invited: This evening our highlight dinner involves an authentic Fur Traders presentation and feast.
Overnight Stay: Coast Sundance Lodge
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5 Sun Peaks – Banff
Today you will be rewarded with astounding views as you reach the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies. Travel through British Columbia and into Alberta, enjoying glimpses of the soaring mountains as you make your way through the three spectacular national parks of Mount Revelstoke, Glacier and Yoho. Travel from primeval forests to Ice Age glaciers, waterfalls and mountain peaks. Late this afternoon we arrive into Banff National Park.
Two Night Stay: Elk + Avenue Hotel
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 6 Banff at Leisure
This morning you will have breakfast with one of the best views Canada has to offer. Take the Banff Gondola to the top of SulphurMountain where you will witness inspiring views and enjoy a sumptuous buffet. The rest of the day is for you to enjoy Banff and its many sights and attractions.

Discover More: Spend time with magnificent wolfdogs, take a breath-taking helicopter flight, enjoy an outback dinner and wagon ride, or relax on a float trip along the river.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7 Banff – Emerald Lake
Enjoy a morning sightseeing tour including Bow River, the Hoodoos and Bow Falls. On the way to Emerald Lake see the ‘Diamond in the Wilderness’, Lake Louise and the spectacular Natural Bridge which has been carved by Kicking Horse River. Emerald Lake is so called due to the vibrant turquoise colour of its waters which is surrounded by majestic peaks. This afternoon you have free time to explore this beautiful lake or relax and take in the amazing scenery.
Overnight Stay: Emerald Lake Lodge
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8 Glacier ‘Ice Explorer’ – Jasper
This morning we travel north along the Icefields Parkway, acclaimed as one of the most spectacular journeys in the world. Enjoy breath-taking mountain scenery as you pass rugged peaks and glaciers fringed by thick forest and shimmering lakes. We make a stop at the Columbia Icefield, North America’s largest sub-polar ice pack, where you’ll climb aboard the ‘Ice Explorer’ for a once-in-a-lifetime journey onto the mighty 300 metre thick Athabasca Glacier. The day’s end finds us in Jasper National Park, an alpine wonderland of pristine wilderness and an abundance of wildlife where you will be taken through the park to the beautifully carved Maligne Canyon. You’re Invited: This evening we journey to the foothills of Pyramid Mountain and experience an authentic Canadian Rockies Western style dinner.

Overnight Stay: Lobstick Lodge
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9 Jasper – Kamloops
Make our way out of the beautiful Jasper National Park and enjoy views of the towering 3954 metre Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Weave through thick forests, winding rivers and jewelled lakes before arriving at your riverside inn.

Overnight Stay: South Thompson Inn
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10 Kamloops – Vancouver
Travel through lush countryside before reaching the peaks and valleys of the coastal mountain range. Follow the fertile Fraser Valleyand pass an abundance of rural scenery before arriving in the exciting city of Vancouver.

Overnight Stay: Sheraton Wall Centre
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11 Vancouver – 7 Night Alaskan Cruise
Today enjoy a sightseeing tour of Vancouver including Stanley Park, the waterfront, Gastown and Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Make your way across this spectacular suspension bridge, 70 metres above the Capilano River, and join the award winning Treetops Adventure along a series of elevated walkways. This afternoon we return to Canada Place Pier to board your luxurious cruise ship. Check into your comfortable Outside Stateroom (upgrade to Balcony Stateroom additional expense) on the luxurious Holland America Cruise Ship ms Nieuw Amsterdam and settle-in for an unforgettable 7 night voyage through the famed Inside Passage.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12 Cruising the Inside Passage
Spend the day cruising the Inside Passage, one of the world’s most spectacular waterways passing forests of spruce and hemlock, mountains, islands and inlets.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13 Tracy Arm Fjord – Juneau
This morning we cruise into the spectacular Tracy Arm, a narrow, 56 kilometre long fjord, another of Alaska’s most dramatic glacier settings. The panorama of 7,000-foot mountain peaks and nearly vertical rock cliffs is astounding. Tucked away at the end of this remarkable waterway are the twin Sawyer Glaciers, calving icebergs into the jade-coloured inland sea. In the afternoon arrive into Alaska’s scenic capital city, Juneau.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14 Skagway
Established in 1897 as a trading post for prospectors headed to the Klondike Gold Rush, Skagway was an untamed, violent town controlled by organised criminals. Today, of course, the town is civilised, though its colourful past is carefully preserved in the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. For a truly memorable excursion, take an optional ride on the narrow gauge White Passand Yukon Railroad (shore excursions are at own expense).
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15 Glacier Bay National Park
Early this morning your cruise ship enters the iceberg-strewn waters of Glacier Bay National Park, where thirteen spectacular glaciers flow from surrounding mountains into the waters of the bay. A National Park Service Ranger will help you spot wildlife, while pointing out sights and explaining glacial activity. Perhaps you will be lucky enough to see a pinnacle of ice ‘calve’ or break away from the face of the glacier, and with a thunderous boom land in the bay.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16 Ketchikan
Welcome to the salmon capital of the world! Part of the town is built along a steep hillside and part is built on pilings over the water, where bald eagles watch from waterside perches. An outstanding collection of totem poles makes the town an essential stop for anyone interested in native art.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 17 The Inside Passage
Today is a day of relaxation. Take advantage of the ship’s many outstanding facilities, or simply relax on deck with a drink and watch unmatched scenery glide by as you travel south through the Inside Passage.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 18 Depart Vancouver
Disembark early this morning and transfer to Vancouver International Airport to board your homeward flight (book flight after 2pm) or consider taking in more of Vancouver with some post tour accommodation (enquire for details, additional cost).
Meals included: Breakfast

For more information contact us on 03 9600 1482 or email us at


Cuba Cruising

With the continuing opening up of tourist opportunities in Cuba, announcements have just been made that two cruise companies MSC and CARNIVAL will be putting together cruise itineraries involving Cuba.

Carnival corporation

Due to US government rules currently in place these cruises will need to comply with the strict cultural guidelines required for any travel from the USA into Cuba. They have created a new brand called Fathom using a P&O ship called Adonia with an approximate capacity of 700 passengers sailing from Miami. Carnival will have travellers focus on humanitarian and cultural experiences like volunteer work.

Cuba starts at USD $2990 per person, including on board social impact immersion experiences and certain on the ground cultural immersion activities. Excluding taxes, port charges and government fees. More details are still to be finalised.


They will have the MSC Opera a 2120 passenger ship newly refurbished based in Havana from 22 Dec 2015 till 6 Apr 2016, running 7 night cruises with two nights / two and half days in Havana plus visits to Montego Bay for a full day and Georgetown in the Cayman Islands for one day and Cozumel in Mexico for a full day. Pricing starts from AUD $1299 per person.

For more information on these new travel routes, please contact us on 03 9600 1482 or email us at

Music Festivals

Combine a music festival into your trip

Here are a diverse range of Music festivals in different locations worldwide to consider. Plenty more to suggest as well.


Held in late April out in the desert close to Palm Springs in California. Largely aimed at a younger age group. This is a 3 day festival held over 2 weekends and camping facilities are provided. A great diversity of musical genres. Crowds of approx 50,000 per day.


Held in June in Sarawak approx 40 mins from Kuching. This is a 3 day festival and invites musicians from all continents plus many Indigenous musicians from Borneo. A small intimate festival in a unique environment. This is an event for all ages.


Held in October in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco over 3 days. This is a free festival and was started by a venture capitalist Warren Hellman initially focusing on Bluegrass music but has now expanded to an Americana/Roots music festival.


Held in September in Rio De Janeiro. This is a massive event and will be over 7days with possibly up to 700,000 people attending. What better combination can you get. Major rock groups will be on the bill.


Held in June at Pilton in the UK. This is a very large outdoor festival and camping is the attraction with potential for lots of mud and fun. Long running festival of 42yrs duration.


Held at the Fairgrounds racetrack in New Orleans over 2 weekends from late April to early May. 11 stages with a great mix of music styles for everyone. This is a music city and lots of night gigs also on in combination with the event.


Held in Austin at Zilker Park in October. Big festival set over 2 weekends. Good mix of all music styles presented on 8 stages. Excellent time of the year in this unique music city. Plenty of night gigs to attend as well.


Held in August in Tel Aviv over 3 days. Largely aimed at Alternative rock music. This festival has been in operation for 20yrs now and is placed in different cities each year. This location would provide a terrific opportunity to explore the Middle East as well.


Held in Clarksdale, Mississippi 11-14 April. This is a festival like no other. Small town fair combined with a celebration of the blues. Lots of free entertainment, even pig races. Visit up to 20 odd juke joints with lots of local performers in action.

To book, call us on (03) 9600 1482 or email us at

Southern USA’s Famous Music Cities

Our current travel feature is focused on the music tour routes of southern USA.

Let us put together a tailor made American trip for you, with a focus on these famous musical cities, so you can experience the major music festivals that make these places so unique.

New Orleans, LA

This is a place like no other. You are in the USA but it offers such a different atmosphere to most American cities.New Orleans is best visited in April/May, when one of the biggest and longest running music festivals “Jazzfest” kicks off.

The event is held just outside the French Quarter at the racecourse, and runs for a total of 7 days across 2 weekends. A total of 11 stages present every style of music covering jazz, blues, gospel, rock, cajun, zydeco, country and Americana roots. The city is alive with gigs taking place every evening at venues in and around the French Quarter. The intimate nature of the local clubs allows you to get up close and personal with the local artists, an experience not to be missed for any music lover.

To take a timeout from the festival between the two weekends and take in other attractions like the Mississippi river boats, Congo Square, Louis Armstrong Park, the historic cemeteries and the Garden District. Make sure you visit the House of Blues for a gospel brunch.Go to the Rock and Bowl which combines ten pin bowling and music. Now that’s different. Day trips out of the city include a Plantation tour and a swamp trip to see some alligators.

Austin, TX

With over 200 music venues in and around the city, it’s no wonder Austin is called the live music capital of the world – with quintessential clubs like Antione’s, The Continental Club and Thredgills just to name a few.

Two major festivals occur annually: the Austin City Limits Festival in October (over 3 days), with a diverse range of music and over 100 bands across 8 stages, and SXSW (South by Southwest), which is held in March and showcases both Indie music and film.

Given it’s close proximity to Mexico, Austin gives you a great blend of texmex, with loads of Mexican food options in some great dinning establishments. Top music attractions to visit are the Stevie Ray Vaughan Memorial, Collings Guitar Factory, the Texas Music Museum and the Cosmic Cowboy Tour.

Memphis, TN & Clarksdale, MS

These cities go hand in hand for the best experience of Southern Rock and Roll and Blues.

In Memphis, be sure to take the tour of Elvis’s home ‘Graceland’, then visit Sun Studios, the place that launched the famous four: Jerry Lee Louis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley. Pop by Stax, the studio that gave the world the soul music of Otis Redding, Booker T and the MG’s and the Staple Singers. Make sure to also visit the National Civil Rights Museum built around the Lorraine Motel. This was the location of Martin Luther King’s fateful shooting and is an important and emotional place to see.

124km south of Memphis via the highway is Clarksdale, Mississippi – the birthplace of the blues. Famous American artists to come out of this region were Muddy Waters, BB King, John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson.

Make sure you stay at the Shack Up Inn, a unique and charismatic abode that consists of weathered shacks and a cotton gin.This was originally part of the Hopsons Cotton Plantation.The location is full of history and those train tracks run right by the Shack Up.Take a tour of the Delta Blues Museum, dine at Morgan Freeman’s restaurant Madidi’s, visit the crossroads site and see a gig at Ground Zero. Like New Orleans, the best time to visit Clarksdale is in April during the Juke Joint Festival.

Nashville, TN

Nashville is the home of country music, and a must on any music tour of the US as it just oozes music history. Many musicans travel to Nashville to stake their claim, hoping to be the next big thing.

Be sure to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, Music Row, the Walk of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry and The Ryman Auditorium. Top venues in town for live music include The Station Inn,The Wheel and Cannery Ballroom.

If you’re heading out of the city, take a drive to experience some of the southern stately mansions and sites of the Civil War battles. The best time to visit Nashville is in June during their major festival: The Country Music Association Fan Fair.

To book, call us on (03) 9600 1482 or email us at