This week AEA had the privilege of being invited to transport WIRES executives and attend to the launch of an enormous chunk of conservation land on the Tomalla Station (bequeathed by the Packer family) high up on the Barrington Tops north-west of Newcastle, NSW.

Tim Faulkner

Tim Faulkner, conservationist and TV presenter, has been the brainchild of this brave and amazing endeavour for its 10 years of existence and has built a team around him to work with endangered species such as the Tasmanian Devil, The Eastern Quoll and the Rufous Bettong.

Initially Tim proposed the idea of a breeding sanctuary only for Tasmanian Devils. In his work at the Australian Reptile Park he had become aware of devastating disease known as Devil Facial Tumour that was impacting numbers of devils on the island of Tasmania. So he set about trying to find suitable cool climate landscapes on the mainland to rehabilitate the species free of the disease for ‘rewilding’ on Tasmania.

In his search he happened upon a state forest area in the Barrington Tops that was in rehabilitation after years of logging. Through viewing this property he happened to meet with manager of the neighbouring property – Tomalla Station – a plateau top block sitting at over 1200M above sea level and part of the sprawling 27000 hectare Ellerston Cattle, Sheep and Horse station that Kerry Packer acquired in the 1970s. The manager Robert Teague happened to mention that there could be suitable wilder, undulating rocky & tree covered tussock grass blocks to use next door, which was not so suitable for cattle.

Teague facilitated negotiations with the Packer family to allow donation of this parcel of land for a newly created non-profit organisation set up by Tim called ‘Devi Ark’.

Running for 10 years now and with the success of the Devil programme Tim led the transition to becoming ‘Aussie Ark’ to focus not only on Tasmanian Devil rehabilitation, but also other endangered species such as Eastern Quolls, Rufus Bettongs and Potoroos.

The purpose of our visit this week was to witness the opening of the Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary, a newly created and completely fenced 400Ha sanctuary to allow such species to breed naturally in a diverse gene pool, without the threat of foxes, wild dogs and cats.

We were told that it was only a few weeks ago that the last of unwanted feral animals were removed from the sanctuary to allow a new release on the day of the opening of around 20 young animals, some – such as the Eastern Quoll – already considered extinct on mainland Australia.

WIRES Animal Release

WIRES (Wildlife Information Rescue and Educational Service) has been in operation since 1986. Established as a network of volunteer wildlife carers and rescuers they were thrust into the spotlight during the 2019/20 bushfires that ravaged the east of Australia due to their agility and reach in mobilising their branch crews for injured animal support.
With their increased profile since the bushfire incidents of 2019/20 they have decided to partner on projects to improve long-term outcomes for native animals.

WIRES Animal Release 2

Aussie Ark is one such project they have partnered up with, contributing funds and focussed species project support. Hence, it was fitting that they join the Aussie Ark team in assisting with release of endangered species in the new Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary.

Equally fitting was the fact that AEA luxury Tours escorted the WIRES executives to the site for the launch. Offering visits to this special facility has been part of the plans for AEA in the aftermath of the restrictions placed on travellers due to the pandemic of 2020. If you can’t travel internationally right now, why not let us handle the tricky navigation and travel in comfort to visit and tour a world-class conservation facility in your own beautiful ‘backyard’ of the Barrington Tops. AEA will happily customise a trip to the facility or guests can join one of our scheduled tours in 2021.

Open Road Hunter Valley. Credit: Holger Link

If you have ever spent time away from Australia in a foreign country you should know about the joy of travelling. Travelling educates, entertains and alleviates stress built up in the mind due to that feeling of ‘getting away from it all’. Here’s evidence from the US to prove it . Travelling is also a chance to reunite with family friends that you may or may not have met face to face – a video call is nowhere near as powerful as an embrace and the chance to absorb the aroma of that fond family member or friend.

Australians really love travelling. Anywhere you go in the world you come across some other Australians. Being a nation founded on immigration and still very much fed by immigration – around about a third of us were born elsewhere than Australia – we seem to like to go back to our ancestral roots and have a poke around.  

We like to see where we came from, learn what others think of us, see ourselves in the people on these foreign shores and understand why our ancestors left those foreign shores to make a new life in the ‘lucky country’ of Australia. Also is the desire to see completely new places, disconnected from our ancestral identity, and understand those rich cultures to compare with our relatively cringe-worthy lack of culture – seeing that we are such a young nation.

However, it takes a long time for us to get anywhere else in the world due to our geographical isolation ‘down under’. So you’ll often hear Australians say: “Since we are so far away from everywhere else we may as well make a trip of it”. Yet, how can we afford the expense and time to ‘make a trip of it’ in such abundance as we do?

To answer that you have to look at some statistics. Australians are wealthy people when compared against our fellow wealthy western nations and we are also generally wealthy in terms of time and education. Most Australians have a generous four weeks of paid leave if a full-time worker and additionally there are eight national holidays to use up for gallivanting the world.

We are in the top ten of global nations when ranked for educational attainment so Australians can relatively easily transfer their skills to become expatriates for stints of time in other nations. Now, Australian expats don’t waste their weekends sitting on the couch at home while living on foreign shores, they get out and about – using their time in foreign nations to absorb the environment.


A spanner has been thrown in the works of Australian traveller joy. The current world-wide Covid-19 crisis has closed the opportunity of Australians to go to foreign shores, which we so love to do. Our government has banned all overseas travel unless travellers have a justified reason to seek exemption.

Additionally – for the first time in most of our lives – Australian state border controls are in place. It’s very hard for Aussies to accept state border restrictions being in place, thwarting any ideas of a weekend trip to Melbourne or a bit of sunshine on the QLD Sunny coast.

Expatriates have had the pain also, whereby they have been steadily returning back to Australia to escape economic calamity on foreign shores, to reunite with family and be safe in the support of our world-class public health system, but are locked up in quarantine and also restricted within states.

So where to next for the travelling Aussie? As of August 2020 your options are to ‘make the most of it’ and see your own state – your own backyard.

As a touring company based out of Sydney we’ve ridden waves of tour interest from Aussie travellers in the past, but in more recent years we’ve been serving the wanderlust of visitors from foreign shores to see Sydney and NSW surrounds, with our learned guides at the wheels of comfortable luxury vehicles.

But with doors closed to foreign visitors we are again ready to serve you our Aussie friends and families for private touring adventures closer to home, to realise why we have it so good here, with an Australian Discovery.

We take all the pain points of travel away by making the logistical plans and itineraries, doing the driving, providing insight and anecdotes and getting you fed and sheltered at some of the best places on offer in some of the most attractive locations on offer. Our intention is make it easy to get out and experience the joy of travel – albeit closer to home.

Mudgee Scenery

It’s So Close, Yet So Wonderfully Far away

Just shy of a 4 hour journey by road from Sydney, crossing the Blue Mountains, Mudgee is so close to Sydney. However, when you arrive in Mudgee, you feel so wonderfully far away.

The People

The people of Mudgee are down to earth, welcoming and proud of their charming country town. They welcome people visiting from the ‘Big Smoke’ by offering experiences that meet with city folk expectations, while holding true to their rural roots.

The Scenery and Nature

The setting and scenery of Mudgee is astounding. A big broad valley is surrounded by mountains. It’s a place of wide open spaces, rural allure and exceptional natural beauty. All the variations of the seasons are to be experienced with joy, as well as the surrounding national parks and pristine waterways.

The Food and Wine

Mudgee is the third largest wine producing wine region in the state of NSW. There are a selection of over 40 wineries in and around Mudgee and the surrounding country side. However, Mudgee is not just known for the Wine. Mudgee is also known for the production of honey, lamb, beef, cereals and fruit and vegetable produce. The offerings the local Mudgee community put together with the produce are exceptional.

Image Credit: Destination NSW

The History

The Wiradjuri Aboriginal nation has an ancient connection to the land around Mudgee. The word Mudgee, originally spoken as ‘Moothi’, is said to be sourced from their dialect and describes the place as a ‘Nest in the Hills’.

This age old aboriginal history coupled with the European history of colonialism, and the race to secure fertile land in the early 1800s to progress the NSW colony make for an incredibly interesting story to experience in visiting Mudgee.

What’s so special about AEA Luxury tours to Mudgee?

AEA Luxury Tours have known for many years just how special Mudgee is. We have put together a couple of tours, departing from Sydney, to showcase Mudgee and the surrounding region. Our tours are special because they focus on making you and your travelling partners feel special.

We take the hassle away of planning and booking multiple experiences and venues. We are your designated drivers, in the case that you may wish to indulge and imbibe. We provide personal knowledge and insight to the region and we get you access to wineries, dining venues and experiences that the average visitor cannot get.

So join us for a private Mudgee Gourmet Weekend away or get the gang together to Escape to the Country.

Or simply contact us direct to customise an Australian Discovery.

Mudgee Region Partner Banner

Round up the family and friends, your private experience awaits you! – Australian Discoveries are here.

AEA Luxury Tours is a well-established family owned Tour Company who have been making day trips and overnight discoveries out of Sydney for 30 years.

Now things are gradually opening up again we want to ignite your imagination. We bring to you a range of enticing and experiential tours that will create your desire to escape from the boundaries of home.

Come away with us on a private guided tour and experience the wonder of New South Wales. From beautiful beaches and spectacular national parks to historic towns, delicious wine and food regions and dazzling snowfields.  Let AEA Luxury Tours take the effort of planning your perfect adventure by choosing one of our carefully designed series of personalised tours, vehicles comfortably seat from 2 to 10 guests. (up to 16 guests once Covid restrictions are lifted) These not only showcase the incredible beauty on offer, but also help support our regional towns and communities that need some love. 

Here’s a couple of itineraries to get you imagining:

Gourmet Mudgee Weekend

Image Credit: Destination NSW

South Coast Splendour

Image Credit: Destination NSW

The full range is here….

Or get some ideas at Visit NSW and come to us with your custom itinerary

Contact us direct to plan your discovery:
E: info@localhost/aea/
P: +61 2 9971 2402

After just coming through one of the most severe summer seasons that saw drought leading to bushfires burning all around Australia and particularly in our most popular touring destination – Blue Mountains – which is bursting back to life:


We at AEA Luxury Tours now optimistically rise to a new challenge – the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This virus is unparalleled for AEA luxury Tours because the vast majority of guests that we carry come from foreign shores. And, as of Sunday 16 March 2020 our federal government, with good reason, shut the doors to foreign visitors getting out and about in Australia.

Since Sunday we have already seen a cascade of cancellations and we are acting reasonably to cancel bookings without fees in the hope that once the travel bans are lifted people will re-book from foreign shores to see spectacular Sydney and its surrounds.

Since the bushfires of 2019/20 our state tourism body – Destination New South Wales  – has been promoting the idea of staying local and booking a getaway that gives back to drought and bushfire affected regional communities. Now, with the impact of the virus, it’s more important than ever to stay local and support local businesses.

AEA Luxury Tours are well equipped to assist you in giving that support. We have a shiny fleet of  super comfortable vehicles and a learned team of guides ready to roll if you or someone you know wants to get out and about.

Please see our local product offerings or make a request for custom touring

by phoning:  02 9971 2402

or email:  info@localhost/aea/

and we will happily put a tour package together for you.

Happy (local) Travels




WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.) have been rescuing and caring for wildlife for over 30 years and is the largest wildlife rescue organisation in Australia. Every year WIRES provide rescue advice and assistance for tens of thousands of native animals. In just the first 3 weeks of January 2020, WIRES volunteers accepted over 2,600 rescues.

WIRES mission is to actively rehabilitate and preserve Australian wildlife and inspire others to do the same.

Catastrophic fires, the worst drought in history and record high temperatures are taking a tragic toll on Australian native wildlife. Many animals were already struggling with a lack of water and food due to the drought. With the fires destroying unprecedented amounts of habitat, food shortages have increased, and lack of suitable habitat will be a significant long-term challenge for surviving wildlife

Thanks to the incredibly generous support provided by the national and international community in the first week of January, WIRES is now able to offer national emergency support to assist groups working with wildlife affected by these emergency events. WIRES has established a national $1 million emergency ‘WIRES Wildlife Relief Fund*’ for frontline wildlife rescue and volunteer groups. The fund will provide immediate assistance to cover the costs associated with the rescue and care of animals affected by fire, drought and extreme weather conditions. Also, WIRES will be working with the Australian Veterinarian Association (AVA) to provide $1million in funding to support vets and specialist wildlife veterinary practices treating animals that have been affected during this crisis. These two grant programs are in addition to the $1 million WIRES has already distributed over the last eight weeks to the 28 WIRES branches across NSW. There are also further initiatives being worked on at this time.

By choosing to travel on an AEA Luxury Tours or Mount ’N Beach Safaris tour from the 1st March to 30 June 2020, we will donate $3.00 from every person travelled directly to WIRES. Guests can also make a personal donation on board the vehicle on the day. All funds raised will be given directly to Wires – one of the Key Head office Staff is a close personal friend of our CEO Nicole Flanagan and we are committed to supporting this amazing charity.

So please book with us and help support our native wildlife!


Australia, or should we say, certain parts and many residents of parts of Australia have been seriously impacted by bushfires over months of November 2019 through December and in to the New Year 2020.

As a Sydney-based tour operator we have had to adapt operations around the impacts, the most difficult of which has been bushfires that have burnt through swathes of the Greater Blue Mountains region.

The most threatening time for people in the towns of the Blue Mountains was just as the new year approached and, due to the Blue Mountains National Park closing and smoke blanketing the region, we made a call to offer a ‘Plan B’ day of touring still including our visit to the wonderful Calmsley Hill City Farm for Australian wildlife interaction, but then heading north to visit the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park and the Northern Beaches coastal region of Sydney.

Feedback was very positive, with most guests choosing to take up the offer of an alternative itinerary that still touched on some of the majesty and beauty of Sydney and its surrounds.

There are still some areas of Australia that are suffering through bushfire ordeals, but if you are to scan foreign media coverage of this bushfire crisis it would appear that the entire landmass of Australia is ablaze. Nevertheless, respect and gratitude must be offered to the emergency services personnel who have so diligently and humbly supported the communities through this crisis, most volunteering their time.

The Blue Mountains region has gone through the worst of the bushfire danger and we are now happily touring back up to the region. To that end, alongside AEA Luxury Tours advising all that we now are moving on as normal, we wanted to provide you with an update from our relevant tourist bodies so that our clientele know what they are advising:





Some recent images of touring in the Blue Mountains and Sydney surrounds:


Through November 2019 the state of New South Wales, of which Sydney is the largest city and the capital, has been suffering from a spate of unseasonal bush fires (also known as wildfires). December through to March is normally the season for bush fires and it is inevitable that somewhere in the forested areas of Australia that bush fires will occur at that time. However, this year they have started much earlier in late October and through November in to December.

They start naturally from dry and thunder storm lightning strikes and this has been an integral part of the ecology of the Australian bush land for thousands of years. However, add to the mix the human introduction of cars, electricity poles, cigarettes and arson activity and it means more fires are triggered and burning out of control.

The impacts on humans is more apparent for that fact we in Australia now have a relatively small population of 25 million people but the vast majority of our population is concentrated in major population centres on the eastern coastal strip of the country. Surrounding all of those population centres is thick forest on rural properties and national parks.

The Rural Fire Service of New South Wales does an amazing job to coordinate and take on firefighting efforts, but they are a mostly volunteer organisation so they do the best they can with the people and resources they have available.

They also rely very much on weather patterns and unfortunately weather patterns have not been very favourable to the service over the last month. Strong winds and lack of rainfall has meant that east coast towns and cities have been blanketed with smoke. Embers from existing fires continue to spark new fires so until we get some substantial rainfall we will have to suffer with smoke moving across Sydney.

However, we as a tour operator still wish to give our guests who have arrived here from far and wide the best experience possible. We can still access all the areas we normally tour to, we just need to make some slight modifications to the routes and locations we normally visit due to some closures. If authorities judge that we should not be visiting a certain area our policy of safety first is aligned with those judgements and we will make steps to adapt or alter touring accordingly.

Now, with that in mind, we wanted to present to you some images taken in recent days while the fire activity has been occurring to demonstrate that we can still give you some great touring experiences in Sydney, The Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley and beyond.

This grand and historic hotel in the town of Medlow Bath has been the venue for many a family holiday, wedding, honeymoon and has also been a sneaky sojourn for Sydney residents and international visitors escaping the Sydney city hustle-bustle to enjoy the splendid Blue Mountains atmosphere.

Originally opened by Mark Foy in 1904, as a health retreat for well-heeled Sydney-siders, it has evolved into a sprawling and lavish cliff-edge property that has ridden the ups and downs of economic booms and busts.

Foy was a retailer who ran department stores in Sydney who saw an opportunity to expand his retailing empire by building the leisure facility in the Blue Mountains region that he loved so much to visit.

Strategically building the property next to the main road and the train line that would carry settlers and holiday makers across the Blue Mountains from the mid-1800s, through the heyday of domestic touring in the pre depression of the 1900s, Foy adapted the offerings to the clientele and their desires as a young country started to realise an identity. He would often have lavish costume parties and was one of the first people in Australia to import and drive motor-vehicles, which he would use for touring around the property for his distinguished guests.
Famously, the property was used during World War II as a hospital for soldiers and was the location of the death of Australia’s first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton.

When Foy faded out of the retailing and leisure industries the property passed through to his family and later would change hands multiple times to finally be closed for some time during 2008-2014.

While closed the property fell into a sad and forgotten condition but was revitalised with a $30 million facelift by The Escarpment Group, run by hotelier and financier Huong Nguyen.
AEA luxury Tours are proud to have engaged with the Escarpment Group shortly after the property reopened so that guests joining our Blue Mountains tour products could experience the glory of the revitalised and historic property.

For our Blue Mountains Deluxe Day product a superb lunch is offered at the Boilerhouse Café (the wonderfully adapted original powerhouse of the resort) on the Hydro Majestic property or guests can opt for the Blue Mountains Hiking product with a delicious packed picnic lunch prepared by the team at the Hydro Majestic kitchen.

Another option offered by AEA is to visit another venue in The Escarpment Group’s stable – Echoes Restaurant and Bar for dining as part of our Blue Mountains Luxury Private Charter. No matter which option you choose, you will be sure to be amazed by the properties and feel welcomed by their fabulous staff.

One of the truly best things about Sydney is our seafood.

In Springtime (September – November), as the weather warms to very pleasant temperatures, Sydneysiders (Sydney residents) start getting outdoors and eating alfresco. And seafood is very often on the menu.

Moving along to Christmas time (the height of summer in Sydney), this is the peak of seafood consumption in Sydney with our iconic Sydney Fish Markets staying open for a marathon 36 hours straight, prior to the Christmas day closure, to ensure as many people as possible can pickup some wonderful fresh seafood.

We take our guests to some wonderful venues around Sydney when private touring so that guests can sample some of our splendid seafood culture. Restaurants such as Jonah’s @ Whale Beach, Public Dining Room @ Balmoral, Corretto @ Dee Why and North Bondi Fish @ Bondi Beach all serve up tasty seafood dishes – from the humble, yet iconic Fish ‘n Chips (which might just be Shark – called Flake in Australia when served as fish), to a plate of Ocean Trout from the cool southern waters of Australia.

Other iconic seafood species that you might find on a menu in Sydney include:

Sydney Rock Oysters


King Prawns








John Dory


King fish


Balmain Bug


King George Whiting




We welcome you to come and join us on a small group or private tour in Sydney – where we get you to spectacular harbour and ocean viewing points to see where our fabulously fresh seafood comes from!