ASI Tours Update













January 9, 2020


Almost all of our 2020 Around Australia group members are arriving in Melbourne 1-3 days prior to the first official day of our tour; Tuesday March 10.   This provides the opportunity to be rested for the official beginning of our tour and to explore one of Australia's great destinations on your own.   

Melbourne is generally regarded as Australia's cultural capital being a city with seemingly unlimited offerings.  There is an opportunity to partake of Melbourne's plethora of museums, galleries, gardens, entertainment venues and the spectacular Victorian architecture for which the city is known.   Melbourne overflows with culinary excellence featuring cuisines from around the globe.  The multi-cultural makeup of Melbourne's population will be readily apparent on arrival.  Our centrally located apartment hotel, Mantra on Russell, is located at the edge of the cities expanded Chinatown district with scores of appealing restaurants within a few minutes’ walk.   

Make no mistake about it, Melbourne is a city made for walking.  Its layout is in the form of a rather civilized grid system and you can easily walk to most Central Business District venues and somewhat beyond from our hotel.   Do make sure you have comfortable walking shoes as you will need them not only in Melbourne but throughout the tour.  

Melbourne is also regarded as a great value for visitors with many prime attractions, admission free and accessible by free tram.  The following link will provide more detail regarding the attractions on the list below.

  1. 1. City tram is free in the city green zone.
  2. 2. City Circle Tram -You can tour the city on the free City Circle Tram which includes commentary.
  3. 3. Explore the unique city Laneways featuring bright street art.
  4. 4. Stroll along the banks of the Yarra River.
  5. 5. Wander through or inspect in detail the impressive Royal Botanical Gardens of Victoria.
  6. 6. Visit the somber Shrine of Remembrance across from the Botanical Gardens.
  7. 7. National Gallery of Victoria
  8. 8. Parliament House Tour
  9. 9. Old Treasury Building
  10. 10. Australia Centre for the Moving Image
  11. 11. Victoria Market (visit TU day, 6AM - 3PM and/or WE night 5PM - 10 PM
  12. 12. St. Paul’s Cathedral
  13. 13. State Library of Victoria
  14. 14. Federation Square

Another good resource for Melbourne things to do is:


You have different options for staying connected to friends and family in the US or elsewhere, while on the AAT.  Many, perhaps most of you will have a smart phone or tablet that you will use to check emails.  You will have access through most of our hotels and coaches to an internet connection at no charge. 

You can easily make free calls on your smart phone using Skype or the app we use, WhatsApp.  With the app, you can call, video call and text with pictures, for free.  You do need to be connected to the internet to make the free calls or video calls.  It is important to keep your settings for roaming to the off position or you could incur very hefty charges from your phone company in the USA.  Much of the time you will be connected to the hotel or coach wi-fi.  In addition, you may hook up to hot spot in many locations free.  You must be careful when using Hot Spots however as they can be a haven for hackers to rifle your emails for passwords and account numbers, especially in airports.  

Should you desire to have an unlimited phone calling capability to the USA with your current ‘unlocked’ smartphone or cell phone, then a sim card is an option.  There are two major phone companies in Australia with the widest coverage. This sim card will give you an Australian telephone number. 

  1. Optus
  2. Telstra!/filter/brand//os//features//type/simstarterkit/sort/featured

Optus has the most store fronts available to help if there is an issue with your phone while in Australia, while Telstra seems to have the widest coverage in remote areas.   Both companies have a $40.00 AUD sim card that will allow you unlimited international calls to several countries, including the USA.  If you elect to get a sim card and if someone needed to call you from the USA, they must use the Australian telephone number that is connected to your new sim card.  For couples, you may choose to have one smart phone with an Australian sim card, using that phone to call the USA using unlimited minutes while the other phone retains the US number for emergency calls from the USA to you in Australia.  It is advised to purchase this card on arrival in Melbourne, so either Optus or Telstra can install it in your phone and make sure it is working.  They can also answer any questions you may have, in person.  Both companies have stores not far from our Melbourne hotel,  Mantra on Russell.  In addition, the unlimited plan is only good for 28 days without adding another full month.  When you have the new sim card installed and your new phone number, you can then email, SKYPE or What'sApp people in the US with your Australian number. They must call that number, not your USA number to get through to you. 


Any tour members that would like to have an Australia sim card for your phone while on tour, can get one at the Optus Store at 253 Bourke Street or 345 Bourke Street in Melbourne.  Both locations are only a short walk from the Mantra on Russell.

For a 28-day Sim Card the options are as follows: (Prices are in Australian dollars)

 $30 sim plan with 10 GB data and unlimited calls (national)

$40 sim plan with 20 GB data and unlimited calls (national and international calls)

$50 sim plan with 30 GB data and unlimited calls (national and international calls) and 2 GB roaming data

3. Timeshifter® - The Jet Lag App® FOR YOUR SMART PHONE OR TABLET -

Randy is currently doing a series in ITN consisting of favorite on-the-road travel tips, submitted to him by readers. A very recent reader submission, as per the text below, is one he is going to try himself.  We are providing the link for tour members to investigate.  This is the actual statement from the reader - not a commercial.  Travel apps we have posted on the ASI Tours website have all been free.  There is a charge to the Timeshifter® - The Jet Lag App®.  You would download directly from the Timeshifter App company, not ASI Tours. 

Quote from ITN reader:

“Timeshifter "beat jet lag" app - This smartphone app is getting a lot of love in travel media, and now I know why! I tried Timeshifter on my December trip from the United States to the Middle East, a 10-hour time zone difference. I experienced almost no jet leg on arrival and nominal jet lag on the more challenging east-to-west trip home. The first trip is free, then it's $25/year or $10/per trip  Timeshifter® - The Jet Lag App®





 Melbourne Airport Transfer Options 

 January 8, 2020

 Melbourne Airport Transfer Options:

 Due to the taxi unions in Melbourne, hotels do not have shuttle buses to and from the airport.  Your transfer options are as follows.  

 Current exchange rate as of 1.8.20 is 1.00USD TO 1.46AUD.   

 * Tour members please note that international passengers arrive at Terminal 2 at the Melbourne Airport.

1. Taxis: Current taxi rates from Melbourne Airport to central Melbourne hotels range from $55 to $65 AUD (apx. $38-46 USD).

This is the easiest and fastest way to get to the city and can be the best choice for two or more people, especially if you are a bit tired from the long flight.   Taxi rates depend on the amount of traffic so morning rush hour will typically be more costly than mid or late morning. 

2. Uber:  Uber is another option from the Melbourne Airport to the city.  There is currently a $4 airport surcharge.  The average ride costs tend to be about 3/4th of the regular taxi fare.  For the International Terminal, terminal 2, the pickup zone is located between the bus lane and short-term car park.  You must have the Uber app on your smart phone.  

The link for Melbourne Uber is:

Airport Shuttles:  This is a shared ride service and can range from $20 to $25 AUD per person from the airport to city hotels. 

3. Starbus Airport Shuttle – Melbourne Airport – Terminal 2

The link for Starbus Shuttle is:


“Our service is Door to Door, that means you don’t need to change buses, drag your luggage around unassisted or wait in a cold bus terminal for another bus. We are a quicker, smarter, more cost-effective option to get to or from Melbourne Airport. Our rates are better than Taxi’s & Ride-share .”

The link for Starbus Shuttle booking page is:

When booking a transfer from the Melbourne Airport (Terminal 2 – International Terminal) to the Mantra on Russell or hotel you are staying at before the AAT 2020 begins, you must click the down arrow in the box “Available Drop Off Locations” - Select “Melbourne CBD”.  A new box will appear that will allow you to select the Mantra on Russell or another hotel.  See screen shot below. – This is only a screen shot.   Please use the address for the website above to make your booking.





















 January 02, 2020


Regarding the current rash of bush fires in Australia that are being reported in world news:  

Bush fires are an annual occurrence in Australia and currently it is mid-summer which means the hottest temperatures with lowest humidity in much of the country.   This is one of the worst years to experience bush fires due to temperatures and wind.

We expect this situation to be well under control before we arrive in Australia two and a half months from now and nearly three and a half months before the finish of our tour in Sydney.  It is not likely we will be affected by bush fires anywhere at the time we visit Australia.  In any case, we remain current with the situation and have the ability, as always, to make itinerary adjustments should such be necessary for the safety and well being of the tour group. 

ADDITION TO HOBART DAY TOURING – Day 06 – March 15, 2020

Farm Gate Market - Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Every Sunday, come rain, hail or shine, a busy street in the heart of Hobart transforms into a bustling farmers’ market. It’s all about Tasmanian produce and getting to know your farmer, and it always has been. An essential Sunday ritual for locals, this has become one of the top ten farmers’ markets in the country.

Trestle tables are laden with our island’s freshest seasonal produce from the sea and the land, heritage and heirloom varieties, seasonal foodie treasures and pantry staples.

Artisan producers display state olive oil, cool climate wine, spirits from boutique distilleries, healthy treats, artisan breads, cakes and sourdough donuts, jams, mustards and preserves, locally roasted coffee and hand blended teas.

At 8.30am sharp the big brass bell rings and trade begins! Market regulars are there bright and early, getting the word on what’s been freshly dug and picked. With community at its heart, the market hums along as conversation flows, buskers and street performers fill the street with color and melody, kids and families play and friends meet up.







December 10, 2019

Please read the two important Tour Member Advisories below.





On Day 20, March 29, 2020 our Around Australia Tour group has an included full day cruise tour to the Great Barrier Reef.  As listed in our tour itinerary for that day,  any tour member who does not want to participate in this reef cruise tour, for any reason and instead have a free day in Cairns, may opt out and receive a cruise tour credit of $125 USD on their final tour invoice.  Final tour  invoices are being prepared currently and will be forwarded to you as soon as we have your answer.  Please let us know either way, (yes to no) so we know you received this email.    The tour payment balance is not due until Jan. 10, 2019.   If any tour member decides to opt out of the reef cruise tour at a later date no cruise tour credit will be available.    This is the only included tour activity for which this opt out option is available. 


One of the unique features of our Around Australia Tour is, in some locations we are using apartment hotels.  Compared to hotel rooms they provide more space, partial or full kitchen facilities.  In Perth, Darwin and Sydney,  you will have an in-room washer and dryer.   While these apartment hotels all have 24 hour reception, swimming pools and other  hotel features, the properties in Perth and Sydney do not have an in-house restaurant.    What we do in this case is give tour members a breakfast credit of $20 per day ($27 AUD) for the included breakfasts listed in the tour itinerary, three in Perth and two in Sydney; which is  a $100 USD tour credit. 

This breakfast credit will be reflected in each tour members final tour invoice.   Inexpensive breakfast options are available very close to our Perth and Sydney apartment hotels.  With full kitchens, tour members can enjoy morning coffee and dining in, if they wish.  Additionally, on nights where dinner is not included, tour members can enjoy evening dining-in with food from take-away or delivery service restaurants.  Grocery markets are nearby in both locations.   Overall this represents both increased flexibility and a financial savings for tour members.   






November 13, 2019


Below are some of the most popular options available for our tour free day in Hobart, Monday March 16, 2020.  Please note that in a smaller city like Hobart many tours are only offered on certain days of the week.   Fewer organized tours tend to operate on Mondays than some other weekdays.  Since we will have had five consecutive days of touring, some to perhaps most tour members may want to just relax in Hobart, do some housekeeping and try some of the great local cafes and restaurants.

Self-guided walking exploration of Hobart  

Guided Walking Tour of Hobart – Hobart History, People and Places (2 hours) 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM  $38 AUD

Huon Valley Tour – Grayline   8:15 AM – 4:00 PM   $180 AU

Tahune Airwalk and Hasting Caves – Tours Tasmania  (small coach tour)   7:25 AM – 5:30 PM  $150 AUD

Free Day Touring Note:

Both of the above, Huon Valley Tour and Tahune Airwalk and Hastings Caves Tour, include the Tahune Airwalk experience.  Currently, the Tahune Airwalk is closed due to last season’s bush fires. Both companies advise they expect the Airwalk to re-open in early 2020 by the time of our visit to Hobart.   We suggest however you wait to book either of these tours until about Feb. 1, 2020 at which time you can inquire as to whether the Airwalk has re-opened. 

Dining in Hobart:

We are in Hobart four nights.  Three of those evenings you will be dining on your own. While Hobart is famous for its fresh seafood, a variety of dining styles and cuisines are easily walk-able from our centrally located hotel.   We can recommend a few of our favorite Hobart icons to try.  Drunken Admiral - seafood and beyond in a casual and inviting seafarer setting.  Mure’s Upper Deck and Mure’s Lower Deck – great seafood with a choice of two formalities and pricing – Hope and Anchor Tavern – pub and bistro food featuring beef cheeks in a casual Tassie pub setting.   Kin Japanese BBQ – great reviews, informal, tasty and inexpensive.  Finally, there is famed Salamanca Place which features numerous restaurants and café cuisines, a great dining row for new discoveries. 


For those that have not obtained your ETA (Visa) for Australia, Neli at 1-800-252-6239, our Qantas Vacations group agent, can assist you in obtaining your required ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) for $20USD. If you call Neli, tell her you are on the ASI Tours, Around Australia Tour and would like to apply for the ETA. You do not have to purchase your international ticket from her for her to assist you.

If you would like to apply for your ETA, on your own, information and the link is available on our tour website,, or go to From the home page go to TOUR DETAILS then the page to US PASSPORTS and ETA and follow the directions.  If you need assistance in obtaining your ETA through the ASI Tours website, please call us.  We will be more than happy to walk you through the steps.






July 26, 2019


ASI Tours is happy to announce that our March 10 - April 02, 2020 Around Australia Tour is officially sold out with a maximum of 24 tour members. We will now begin a waitlist in the event there is a cancellation prior to departure.

In addition, we have just announced new dates for our 2021 Around Australia Tour, March 23 - April 15, 2021. If you know anyone who may be interested, we would greatly appreciate it if you would refer them to our ASI Tours website at:


IMPORTANT ETA UPDATE: Our Australia domestic flight booking for the AAT group is with Qantas Vacations. Therefore, Neli at 1-800-252-6239, our group agent, can assist any of our tour members in obtaining their required ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) for $20USD. If you call Neli, tell her you are on the ASI Tours, Around Australia Tour and would like to apply for the ETA. You do not have to purchase your international ticket from her for her to assist you.

If you would like to apply for your own ETA, information and the link is available on our tour website,, or go to From the home page go to TOUR DETAILS then the page to US PASSPORTS and ETA and follow the directions.

The ticketing agent for our Australia group domestic flights is Qantas Vacations. Any ASI AAT tour member who has not yet purchased their international air to Melbourne and returning from Sydney can contact Nelida Reyes at the Qantas Vacations Group Department. She can offer competitive air fares. Call 1-800-252-6239 and ask for Neli.


TOUR UPDATE 5 – July 23, 2019




July 23, 2019 - Tour Update 5


Our unique Australia itinerary is only possible by utilizing Australia domestic flights.  Periodically will need to make an internal itinerary adjustment due to airline flight schedule changes.   Therefore, we wish to advise all AAT 2020 tour members regarding an exciting change to our itinerary.  We will now have an extra free day in Tasmania, based in Hobart, where previously there was no real free time. 

Removed from our itinerary will be the free day in Cairns.   On balance this is a very positive change as there is much more to do with a free day in Hobart as compared to Cairns.    Essentially this means that everything we do between our departure from Tasmania through our three days in Cairns will happen one day later.  Our final domestic flight from Cairns to Sydney remains on the same day and neither the beginning or end of the tour dates are affected.    


Tour members need to remember that we can have changes to our itinerary as a result of unforeseen airline flight schedule changes.  Therefore, if you book tours in advance for your free days during the tour be aware of refund/change policies in the event you need to cancel or change the tour due to forced itinerary changes. 


TOUR UPDATE 4 – July 15, 2019


July 15, 2019-  Tour Update 4 


Tour members book their international air to Australia using many different sources. One option some may wish to consider is getting a fare quote from Qantas Vacations who serves as the ticketing agent for our group domestic flights in Australia. You can contact Neli Reyes at Qantas Vacations Group Department. Neli is available from 12 pm - 8 pm ET or 9 am - 5 pm PT, as they are located in Los Angeles.

Call: 800-252-6239 (Group Dept.) When the phone is answered, if it is not Neli, ask for Neli and tell her you are a tour member of the ASI Tours group. Depending on your preferences you can ask Neli to quote you a fare to Melbourne and returning from Sydney from either your USA gateway city or your home city.


Our ‘Group Tour Member Orientation’ on March 10, Day 1 of our tour, will be held at our hotel; Mantra on Russell at 6 pm. The orientation will be followed by a ‘Group Welcome Dinner’. Having our orientation at this time will allow tour members to make full use of the day in Melbourne. If you sign up for a day tour for March 10, please make sure you will arrive back to our hotel in plenty of time for the orientation.


 TOUR UPDATE 3.5 – July 11, 2019



July 11, 2019 – AAT 2020 UPDATE 3.5

Correction:  The OAT NZ tour we mentioned in Tour Update 3 – July 10, 2019  has a starting date in New Zealand of Feb. 23 finishing in Auckland on March 8.  Tour members interested in this program would need to depart the USA on Feb. 21 and on March 8 fly from Auckland to Melbourne to begin the Around Australia Tour, officially starting on March 10.    

Another New Zealand pre tour option is with Moa Trek,,  877-796-0415.  This 21-day tour operates Feb. 16 - March 7, 2020.   Check their website for details.   This would involve departing the USA on Feb. 14 and flying from Christchurch to Melbourne between March 7 and March 9 to begin the Australia tour officially March 10. 



 TOUR UPDATE 3 – July 10, 2019




July 10, 2019 – AAT 2020 UPDATE 3

Melbourne Pre Tour Advisory:

The anticipated dates of the 2020 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne have now been officially confirmed as March 12 -15.    This is a formal reminder for all Around Australia Tour members that have not yet booked their planned pre tour nights in Melbourne, to do so as soon as possible.  We anticipate that hotel rates and occupancy will increase as we get closer to the Grand Prix dates.  Our tour officially begins in Melbourne March 10-12, with two nights at the Mantra on Russell Hotel.  We depart Melbourne for Tasmania on the first official day of the Grand Prix.   You can book your pre tour nights at the Mantra site on-line or other on-line booking sites.   Some tour members may wish to book other hotels and switch over to the Mantra on Russell on March 10.  The room category for our tour nights at the Mantra on Russell is Studio Suites.  If you do book a larger one-bedroom apartment for your pre tour nights at the Mantra you may need to switch rooms for March 10/12.   


Some of our group members have asked about the possibility of adding a pre or post tour visit to New Zealand to fit with the dates of the 2020 Around Australia tour.  Below is some general information and options that can work with our tour dates.  You can book these tours on a direct basis with the operator.    With New Zealand, we generally recommend doing a two-island tour of at least 14-17 days.

Touring New Zealand late Feb. to early March - before the AAT 2020:

Many departures are operating as it is still prime summer season in NZ.  Prices can be higher during the prime season than shoulder season, after our tour.   Weather is warmer in February and March than April, after the Australia tour.

Touring New Zealand in early April after the AAT 2020. 

The NZ coach touring season runs from April 01 to March 30 of the following year.  Therefore, some, to many, of the tours that will be available during this period are not yet listed by tour companies and likely won't be until September or October; depending on the company.  There are fewer departures to choose from in April after the AAT 2020. There may be fewer people on April departures because the tour is operating during the shoulder season instead of prime summer season. The weather is cooler than during the prime summer season although still generally pleasant.   

Some current NZ touring options:

AAT Kings is a very good Australia and New Zealand based tour company.  We work with their charter division using their coaches in several areas visited on our Australia tour.  

Post Australia Tour: AAT Kings has a 14 - Day (Travel Marvel) or 17 - Day (Travel Magic) two island tour of NZ beginning in Christchurch and finishing in Auckland.  They have a departure set for April 6, 2020 four days after the completion of the AAT 2020, on April 2.   This would allow spending a few extra days in Sydney after our tour and also an extra pre-tour day or two in Christchurch.  Contact:

Pre Australia Tour:  The AAT Kings, 14 - Day (Marvel) and 18 - Day (Essence) could both work as they each finish March 8, two days prior to the beginning of the AAT 2020, on March 10.    


Pre Australia Tour:  OAT has a (New Zealand Natural Wonders North and South) that begins in Wellington, NZ on Feb. 20 and finishes in Auckland on March 5.  This currently has only a few spots remaining.   Contact OAT:


Post Australia Tour:  Holland America has a 14 – Day (New Zealand Discovery) loop cruise that departs Sydney on April 2 (our tour departure day) and returns back to Sydney on April 16 at 6 AM.  This has a very good and creative itinerary. 


Please Note:  Two of our very experienced traveler tour members, Ron and Debbie Hutchinson are doing both,  the OAT New Zealand pre tour and the Holland America New Zealand cruise after the AAT 2020.   Ron is involved with arranging unique small group private shore excursions at some of the cruise stops.  He has indicated that he is happy to share information with any of our tour members who may be interested in either program.    You can contact Ron at: (352) 775-2723, email:   

Additional Note:  Ron and Debbie are planning to continue with Holland America when it returns to Sydney on April 16 on an exciting trans Pacific crossing to Vancouver with several island visits along the way. 

This Update #3 will be posted to the website under ASI Tour Updates, at the link below:

As always, please call or email with any questions.

More tour updates will be coming to you shortly.



June 17, 2019 – AAT 2020 UPDATE 2 


TOUR UPDATE 2  - June 17, 2019


 Around Australia Tours 2020 - Airport to hotel transfer options on arrival in Melbourne, Australia

Our Around Australia tour officially begins in Melbourne on March 10, 2020 with a late afternoon tour orientation at our tour hotel, Mantra on Russell. 

A Reminder:

Most Australia flight itineraries involve departing the USA in the evening and arriving in Melbourne in the morning two days later as a result of losing a day when crossing the International Dateline. Passengers wishing to arrive in Melbourne on March 10 would therefore have a departing flight from the USA on March 8.  Most of our tour members plan to arrive in Melbourne one or two days early so must schedule their international flights accordingly.   For arriving one day early this means departing the US on March 7 and two days early, March 6. 


Due to the taxi unions in Melbourne, hotels do not have shuttle busses to and from the airport.  Your transfer options are as follows.   This information is as of 6.17.19.  We will do an update in early April 2020 for current information.  

* Tour members please note that international passengers arrive at Terminal 2 at the Melbourne Airport. 

Taxis:  Current taxi rates from Melbourne Airport to central Melbourne hotels range from $55 to $65 AUD (apx. $38-46 USD)

This is the easiest and fastest way to get to the city and can be the best choice for two or more people, especially if you are a bit tired from the long flight.   Taxi rates depend on the amount of traffic so morning rush hour will typically be more costly than mid or late morning.  

Uber:  Uber is another option from the Melbourne Airport to the city.  There is currently a $4 airport surcharge.  The average ride costs tends to be about half of the regular taxi fare.  For the International Terminal, terminal 2, the pickup zone is located between the bus lane and short-term car park.  You must have the Uber app on your smart phone.   The link for Melbourne Uber is:

Airport Shuttles:  This is a shared ride service and can range from $15 to $20 AUD per person from the airport to city hotels. 

One shuttle that has good reviews is

Jayride:  This company books all the major shuttle services from Melbourne Airport to city Hotels.

This update will be posted to the ASI Tours website:


May 22, 2019 - AAT 2020 UPDATE 1


TOUR UPDATE 1  - May 21, 2019


Dear AAT 2020 Tour Member,

This is the first Tour Member update for the AAT 2020 March 10 departure.  You will periodically be receiving updates from us with information pertaining to your upcoming adventure.  Once this information is sent to the group, we will post it on the ‘ASI Tours Update’ page on the website.  You will find the link to ‘ASI Tours Update’ at the top of the ‘Home’ page of the website.  It will be the sixth link under ‘Tour Details’.   We post every update, for the tour, on this page so you have all of the information in one easy place to refer back to.   Please carefully read all updates and call or email us with any questions. 

Kind Regards, Gail


While the dates for the 2020 Melbourne Grand Prix have not yet been officially confirmed, there is an increasing likelihood, the race will take place Mar. 12-15; beginning the day after our group departs Melbourne.   It is, therefore, very important that all tour members reserve the desired Melbourne pre-tour nights very quickly.  If you plan to stay one pre-tour night, this will be ‘IN March 9 – OUT 10’ and for two pre-tour nights it will be ‘IN March 8 OUT 10.’  
At this moment, the best current on-line rates for our tour hotel, The Mantra on Russell, are listed with at $119 USD for one-night Mar. 9/10 and $307 USD for two nights, Mar. 8/10, both not including breakfast.  This rate is for the Studio category room which is the type of room we will have on the tour.  The rates with are very good rates and currently much better than booking directly with the hotel. The rates are likely to increase when the official Melbourne Grand Prix dates are formally announced.  Therefore, again, we recommend booking immediately.  Also, keep in mind that it is no problem to book pre-tour nights with another Melbourne hotel, then move to the Mantra on Russell on our official tour start date of March 10. Randy arrives in Melbourne several days early and connects with tour members, prior to the beginning of the tour, whether they are staying at the tour hotel or not.  




    September 03, 2018 - AAT Update 9


TOUR UPDATE 9  - July , 2018



Final tour packets will be sent out in tomorrow’s mail.  When your packet arrives please review the enclosed documents carefully and email or call us with any questions. Our delay has been due to another flight change from Qantas airlines and receiving new QF individual flight E-Tickets.  

MEETING WITH TOUR DIRECTOR RANDY KECK ON SEPT. 21.  You will have a tour orientation briefing at 11:30AM in the Lobby Bar of the HI Old Sydney Hotel.  This space will be reserved for our group.  Following the briefing we will commence our afternoon tour of Sydney.  Please wear your name tag so tour members can quickly get to know each other by name and home city.   Your tour packets will have a tour member name and home city list.   Please be prompt as the day is tightly scheduled.

FULL AND HALF DAY OPTIONAL TOURS:  It is advisable to pre-book any formal tours you know for sure you want to do during free time on tour, previous to the day of the tour.         

Please note:

Hervey Bay: On the free day after arrival, ASI Tours will be offering a recommended optional morning whale watching tour to tour members at a discounted rate.  This will be paid directly to ASI Tours in Australia in AUD. 

Gold Coast:  Those who are planning to visit the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary do not have to pre-book this visit.  A discounted rate however is often available if booked in advance on-line.  Those who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of the Gold Coast on their final day may wish to partake of a 4wd adventure to the fabulous hinterland behind the Gold Coast.  We recommend either the Full Day Tamberine and Lamington tour to or the afternoon half day Natural Bridge and Springbrook tour, available through Southern Cross Scenic Tours:  email: and telephone, 07-5574 5041.  If you are interested you would book this on a direct basis.  


In a previous update we stipulated the largest carry on for Qantas flights is 41 total inches due to overhead and under seat size capacity on the airline. Qantas now advises it allows   45 total inches on all flights except Dash 8 aircraft that limits the size to 41 inches.  Our last flight on tour is a connecting flight from Brisbane to Hervey Bay after arriving on an earlier flight from Darwin.  This final flight is on a Dash 8 aircraft.  If your carry-on is larger than 41 inches Qantas gate staff may gate check your carry-on.  Prepare for this in the way you pack for these final two flights on Oct. 8.   Please keep in mind anything that is of high value or medicines, you have in your carry-on, you may want to have in another small carry-on for the last leg, such as a purse of purse type piece of luggage which qualifies as a personal item. 


Most tour members will need an airport transfer from our Gold Coast hotel to the Brisbane Airport on Oct. 14.  Your Tour Director in concert with the hotel tour desk will assist in arranging your airport transfers.  These will be paid either to the hotel tour desk or directly to the transport company.          


While a seldom discussed topic in tourism, we live in a time of greatly increased allergies and allergic reactions.  When we are traveling together by coach we ask that you restrict the use of perfumes and colognes to a minimum in consideration of any of tour members who may be prone to such allergies. 


Australians have a colorful way of expressing themselves and have developed a slang of their own.  This link, below, lists the most commonly used words and will help you to know what is being said.


For those of you who will be snorkeling while at Fraser Island or on your free day in Hervey Bay, we advise you to bring a T-shirt to wear over your swim suit, while swimming, to help prevent sun burn.  You will also want a very high SPF sunscreen to apply liberally to the back of your legs, arms and neck. 


Proud Mary River Boat:  Individuals are not tipped on the Proud Mary.  A tip jar will be on the counter as you depart.  The tips are divided by all service crew on the Proud Mary.  If you wish to tip the crew we suggest $5 to $10AUD for the two-night cruise.   

 Café Server:  If there is a tip jar by the cash register, it’s a nice gesture to leave a couple of coins. For exceptional table service tip 5-10%.

Restaurant Server: There is no obligation to tip as waitstaff receive a livable minimum wage. For service that exceeds expectations, feel free to tip 5-10%. Servers sometimes don’t receive tips included on a credit card, so always try to tip in cash whenever possible.

Taxis:  A tip isn’t expected, but is always appreciated. A good rule of thumb is to tip up to 10% of the final bill for a smooth and courteous ride. You can also let the driver “keep the change,” if that’s easier.

 Airport Shuttle:  It is not necessary to tip your driver, but feel free to give $1 per bag if they help with your luggage.

 Porters:   Porterage is included on our tour.

 Housecleaning staff:    Tipping is not expected but you can leave coins or $1 per day if you wish.


I will be creating a carousal, and/or photo album, on the home page of the ASI Tours website.  I would be very grateful to any of you taking pictures of the group, selfies, and short videos of the group or tour activities, if you would please email them to me as soon as you are able, after you have taken them, so I can post them to the website with the caption, “TOUR IN PROGRESS” while the tour is out.  They will then remain on the website as the 2018 AROUND AUSTRALIA TOUR MEMBERS ON TOUR.   You will need to tell me if you want your name on the picture/s or not.



    August 28, 2018 - AAT Update 8


TOUR UPDATE 8 - July , 2018 




 Greetings Around Australia Tour Members,

As we get close to departure we want to update you on several items that will help insure your trip to Australia will be easy, successful and memorable.  Please have a look at each topic and contact us if you have any questions.


You will be receiving your final tour packet in approximately a week.  This will include a final daily itinerary, Domestic Qantas E ticket and flight itinerary, luggage tags, names tags, list of tour members and originating cities, instructions for the time to meet Randy in the hotel lobby for the beginning of the Sydney day tour, a final update and more.


You have different options for staying connected to friends and family in the US or elsewhere, while on the AAT.  Many, perhaps most of you will have a smart phone or tablet that you will use to check emails.  You will have access through most of our hotels and coaches to an internet connection at no charge.  You can easily make free calls on your smart phone using Skype or the app we use, IMO.  With the app, you can call, video call and text with pictures, for free.   It is important to keep your settings for roaming to the off position or you could incur very hefty charges from your phone company in the USA.  Much of the time you will be connected to the hotel or coach wi-fi.  In addition, you may hook up to hot spot in many locations free.  You must be careful when using Hot Spots however as they can be a haven for hackers to rifle your emails for passwords and account numbers, especially in airports.  

Should you desire to have an unlimited phone calling capability to the USA with your current ‘unlocked’ smartphone or cell phone, then a sim card is suggested.  There are two major phone companies in Australia with the widest coverage. This sim card will give you an Australian telephone number. 

  1. Optus
  2. Telstra!/filter/brand//os//features//type/simstarterkit/sort/featured

Optus has the most store fronts available to help if there is an issue with your phone while in Australia, while Telstra seems to have the widest coverage in remote areas such as the Murray River, and the Outback.  Both companies have a $40.00 AUD sim card that will allow you unlimited international calls to several countries, including the USA.  If you elect to get a sim card and if someone needed to call you from the USA, they must use the Australian telephone number that is connected to your new sim card.  For couples, you may choose to have one smart phone with an Australian sim card, using that phone to call the USA using unlimited minutes while the other phone retains the US number for emergency calls from the USA to you in Australia.  It is advised to purchase this card on arrival in Sydney, so either Optus or Telstra can install it in your phone and make sure it is working.  They can also answer any questions you may have, in person.  Both companies are not far from the HI Old Sydney.  In addition, the unlimited plan is only good for 28 days without adding another full month.  When you have the new sim card installed and your new phone number, you can then email, SKYPE or IMO people in the US with your Australian number. They must call that number, not your USA number to get through to you. 


The tour hotel list with telephone contact information will be in your final packet.  If you want to give this list to friends, family and business acquaintances prior to receiving the final packet, you can download it from the website.  We have not changed our original hotel line up, therefore the hotels on the website are current and the contact information is correct.  You may want to provide a website for time differences or at least a printout of the best time to call Australia from the different time zones in the US.   The link for Current Local Time in Australia is at the end of this update.  

We will be giving you two contact number that we will not list on the website.  This is for the Proud Mary River Boat and my personal cell number.  The number is a cell number for the Captain of the River Boat and is ONLY to be used for EMERGENCY purposes.  The company does not give this number out, but as a special request, agreed to extend the number for this sole purpose. 

I will, also, be available 24/7 during the entire time the AAT is in progress, for emergency calls from friends or family.  I will be accessible using the office phone and 800 phone number at all times.   The only exception to this is unforeseen power outages.  In that event my cell phone will take a message and I will be able to retrieve and call back.  Theses numbers are as follows.  Proud Mary and Gail’s cell will not be posted under updates on the website. 



Office – 1-401-560-0350

Toll Free – 1-800-925-7122



Around Australia group members are advised that Qantas domestic flights inside Australia operate a bit differently than most domestic flights in the U.S. in terms of preassigned seating.  They typically hold back a sizable block of seats in the forward part of the economy section for assignment at the airport.  Our Qantas Vacations Group Air agent has and will continue to do everything possible to accommodate, in advance, the specific advance seating requests of our group members but this likely will not be possible for some seats on some of our eight Australia domestic flights.  They also advise it is not possible with standard three wide seating for them to pre-assign window and aisle seats in the same row for couples with an empty seat in between.  They further advise that generally changing seats upon check in at the airport is not a problem.   We ask you to be aware of these policies when you receive your E-ticket and during the tour.


Many of you are packing for your upcoming Around Australia Tour adventure. We want to remind you of the luggage allowance Qantas Domestic adheres to.   They do take away carry-on luggage they deem to be too large or heavy and will check it in.  If you will be carrying prescription medicine or valuables in your carry-on, you will want to make sure your carry-on is not in any jeopardy of being taken from you.  We suggest you have your valuables or medicine in a personal item carry-on.   Also, as a note of caution, please have copies of all prescriptions in a separate place.  A good option is having photocopies of prescriptions in a file attached to an email that could be retrieved from any smartphone, tablet or computer.

Your carry-on luggage should not exceed 41 linear inches, measured by adding length + width + height.  The maximum weight is 15lbs.  It must easily fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you on the aircraft as well as on the motor coach.   You are allowed to bring a quart-sized plastic bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.  

In addition to your carry-on baggage allowance, you may also carry onboard one small personal item such as a handbag, laptop computer, overcoat, small camera, a reasonable amount of reading material or a small amount of duty free goods (where permitted).

Check-in luggage is restricted to 61 linear inches which is measured by length + height + width.  Your maximum allowance without incurring excessive weight charges from the airlines is 50 lbs.  ASI TOURS LLC is not responsible for additional costs due to overweight luggage. 

Although it is very unusual for luggage to be delayed on domestic flights in Australia, we suggest you carry a change of clothes with you.


There are several apps on the ASI Tours website at

Having these apps will help you know where you are in the city at any moment and what is near you as well as a dollar conversion and time of day app. for making call to the USA and more.  

If you have a travel app that you have found exceptionally helpful, I would appreciate if you would send me the information so I can post it on the website and let our tour members know about it.  Also, not everyone is tech savvy. We do, however, have some tour members that have dealt with phone apps for traveling internationally and will be happy to try to assist you with your phone.




    July 13, 2018 - AAT Update 7


TOUR UPDATE 7 - July 13, 2018 


By design we do not offer and sell 'free time' optional tours for the Around Australia Tour.   This is because we want tour members to have maximum flexibility of scheduling for their valued free time right up to the last minute, especially during the latter part of the tour.   Tour members can schedule and book any free time activities either before departure or during the tour on their own, such as a dinner at a specific restaurant such as the Tramcar Restaurant in Melbourne or a performance at the Sydney Opera House.  Advance bookings are especially encouraged if there are specific special interests that you wish to follow up on during the tour.  Please be advised that while many free time activities that require a booking can be arranged at the last minute, some may not.  

Your Tour Director will advise, during the tour, regarding available day tours, booking options and self-guided exploring opportunities which tend to be of greatest interest to international visitors.   In cases where a number of tour members are interested in the same free-time activity the Tour Director may be able to assist with arrangements.  

Listed below is a guide to some of the free-time options on tour, including, in chronological order, the corresponding tour dates.  Nights are not included.   The many informative links included are to assist you with advance free-time research and planning.   If you do your pre tour homework it will pay dividends.  

SYDNEY – Sep. 22 (SA) Free Afternoon in Sydney

Free time exploring in Sydney will be on pre tour days for those spending an extra night or two in Sydney and for the afternoon of Sep. 22,  after our morning Sydney Harbor Cruise.  Our cruise begins and finishes in Circular Quay which is a short walk from our hotel.   Afternoon options include: a tour of the Sydney Opera House, visiting the Botanical Gardens or generally exploring the Circular Quay and historic Rocks area.   Some may wish to take a harbor ferry to the seaside village of Manly or the Taronga Park Zoo.   On Saturday afternoon Sydney Harbor is usually awash with sails providing a visual feast for visitors and locals alike.  Please see - AAT Update 2 - December 29, 2017  for an interactive Map of Sydney and several links to the Sydney attraction websites.   

 MELBOURNE - Sep. 27 (TH) – Free Afternoon in Melbourne 

Our AM city sights tour will finish at the famous Victoria Market where you can explore, on your own, and begin your free afternoon and evening.  Those who wish, can be dropped off at our tour hotel.  Your endless options this afternoon include the National Gallery of Victoria, the Royal Botanical Gardens, wandering the alley ways, lane-ways and arcades for which the city is known and hopping on and off the free tram which operates in a circuit around the city.  In the afternoon and evening there is often free entertainment along the Yarra Riverfront.   Melbourne is always full of discoveries for visitors.  A fun, special evening, dining experience in Melbourne is the Tram Car restaurant.  The early seating is recommended due to our early morning departure for Adelaide.  See the links below.

PERTH – Oct. 2 (TU) - Full Free Day in Perth

Today is a bountiful free day in Perth to explore the many attractions of the city on your own or choose from a wide variety of day tours.  Touring options include wildflower tours and Swan River winery cruises.   Perth has an amazing system of free buses that can get you around the city very efficiently.  The Perth Mint is always a favored stop.   Please note that some of the longer full day tours from Perth return late in the evening due to the distances covered.   Also note that our flight from Perth to Alice Springs is currently scheduled for a very early departure the following morning.  If the current flight time holds we may have to depart for the airport around 5:00am.  See the following links regarding Perth exploring options.

ALICE SPRINGS – Oct. 5 (FR) – Free Morning and Early Afternoon in Alice Springs.

This morning you may choose to sleep-in and enjoy a leisurely breakfast or explore quaint Alice Springs on foot.  You will have had a late return last night from Ayers Rock.   There are several interesting galleries in Alice which feature indigenous art.  Some may wish to partake of morning half day tours such as visiting the West MacDonnell Ranges or venturing to the Desert wildlife Park. You are free until mid-afternoon, when we transfer to the airport for our flight to Darwin.   Check the following links.

DARWIN – Oct. 6 (SA) –   Free Afternoon in Darwin

Options for your free afternoon and evening include, afternoon and sunset harbor cruises, the Deck Chair Cinema, the attractions of the colorful Waterfront Precinct and exploring this unique multi-cultural tropical city on foot.  Some may also wish to visit the tropical George Brown Darwin Botanical Gardens.   Check the links below.

HERVEY BAY - Oct. 9 (TU) Free Day in Hervey Bay

This morning there is a recommended whale watching tour departing near our hotel as it is prime whale watching season.  See the link below.  If enough tour members want to go, it might be possible to get a discounted rate.  Attractions within walking distance of our hotel in Hervey Bay, include strolling along the seafront via the small but interesting Reef World Aquarium to the scenic Urangan Pier.  A 25 minute walk of 1.2 miles directly inland from the hotel and seafront is the relaxed Hervey Bay Botanical Gardens.   It is possible to go and return on different walking routes.   Pay attention to your time today as in early evening we are hosted by the Hervey Bay Rotary Club for an Aussie BBQ at a park, a short walk from our hotel.

GOLD COAST – Oct. 13 (SA) Free Day in the Gold Coast

Today is free to explore the many attractions of the exciting Gold Coast including strolling on the endless world class beach and perhaps doing some last minute shopping.   An option for wildlife aficionados is the famed Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, about 30 minutes by taxi or Uber from our hotel.  Consult the Currimbun schedule for feeding times and shows; and plan accordingly.  

Some may prefer an escape into the beautiful, scenic hinterland and mountains of the Gold Coast instead of a day at the bustling seafront.  Southern Cross Day Tours offer several excellent itinerary options in 16 passenger vehicles ranging from half day to full day tours.  Our tour farewell dinner tonight will be at 7:30pm., at our hotel.


    July 6, 2018 - AAT Update 6



Travel Items for Trip 

Greetings Around Australia Adventurers,    

It is now two and a half months prior to departure for your great Australia adventure and time for an update and pre tour advisory covering a number of topics.   Please review this advisory in detail as it may add some items to your personal pre-tour to do list. 


Australia is a remarkable, fascinating and highly diverse country and travel destination.  Every destination we visit on our exploration around the island continent and Tasmania is deserving of more time and most will likely leave you thirsting for more.  This is a good thing.  This Around Australia Tour could easily be 35, 40 or more days in length instead of 26 days.

Perspective is everything.  You will have the opportunity to experience many of the prime attractions of  each state, territory and region we visit.   Combined you will have a comprehensive and balanced tour experience of Australia unlike any other available.  Many of you are also undertaking pre and post tour extensions of Australia on your own arrangements which will further enhance your overall experience. 

Australia Domestic Flights:

Our Around Australia Tour is made possible only by the utilization of Australia domestic flights between the destinations we visit.  It is important to understand that many of these flights operate only once or twice per day.  This means that our tour itinerary is built around these flights and is also subject to change when the airlines change their flight schedules.  While this can happen with little advance advisory we are usually able to adapt our itinerary around the flight changes. In getting to the far corners of Australia, flexibility can indeed be the key ingredient in achieving our touring objectives.   


As experienced travelers each of you will have special travel related devices that assist with your travel and touring.  We would like to suggest a few specific items to consider including for your Australia tour.  While many of these items can be purchased in Australia they are much less costly in the USA.


Collapsible Walking stick – There will be several occasions on tour when you will be walking on uneven terrain.  A good lightweight collapsible walking stick can definitely increase your walking stability. Earth Trek Gear is a recommended choice because their model collapses to a packing friendly 12 inch length, is inexpensive, comes in two sizes, standard and small and includes a handy traveling pouch. Cost: apx. $30.00   Check the sizing charts on their website as below to determine your best fit.

Small Binoculars – For best viewing of birds, mammals, reptiles and distant vistas we recommend a small, lightweight pair of binoculars.  Nikon Aculon T01 is a very affordable option with reasonably good optics.  These are available on eBay and other sites.  Prices generally range from $45 -$60.

Day Pack – It is advisable to have a small, lightweight, pack-able water proof or water resistant day pack for our tour walking excursions and your free time exploring.  Packs that have a water bottle pouch are recommended.  Keep in mind that it is safe to leave any items you wish on our motor coach as the coach will always be secured when we are not on board.   

Camera options – If your smart phone has a good camera this can be a good space saving option for documenting and recording your journey.  Small point and shoot cameras are also a good option and not expensive these days.     

Rain gear – While our tour is operating outside of the primary rainy seasons in the areas visited, we advise that you pack a light weight water proof or water resistant hooded nylon parka for use if necessary in cooler areas such as Tasmania.  We also strongly advise you pack a small, light weight umbrella for use in warmer and humid areas where a parka can be too warm. 

Insect repellent – While we are not traveling during seasons when mosquitoes, flies and other insects tend to be most bothersome, it is important to carry effective insect repellent in case the need for use arises.  

Skin Protection - Australia is a very sunny country where sunscreen protection and the use of hats for the prevention of burning and skin cancer is taken very seriously including in the schools.  We recommend you liberally apply sunscreen protection of SPF 50 or higher daily while on tour.  We also strongly recommend you carry a lightweight broad brim hat for sun protection particularly in the most sunny areas.  Hats that have mesh areas for maximum air circulation are best.   

 Motion Sickness Prevention – On tour we do not have any long open water journeys where motion sickness is a common occurrence.  We do fly to and from the Great Barrier Reef in a small aircraft and of course are undertaking a lot of coach travel.  If you are prone to motion sickness we suggest you carry either ginger tablets or non drowsy Dramamine as a preventative.



March 5, 2018 - AAT Update 5
Applying for your ETA (Electronic Travel Authority - Visa)
Verifying Your ETA 
Greetings AAT 2018 Tour Members:
If you have not done so, we want to remind you to apply for your Entry Visa for Australia. (link below)  This is a new online ETA process for the Australian Government and we are urging our tour members to  double check to make sure their ETA has officially been granted and properly linked.  It is important to obtain the approved ETA early then check a couple of times prior to departure to make sure nothing has changed with your status.   
If you already have your ETA,  please verify that it is linked to your passport.   You will need your Reference Number and information from your passport.   The link to check your ETA is at the top in the white bar, third from the left.  (link below)  
If you have any questions or need help, please give us a call at 800-925-7122

February 3, 2018 - AAT Update 4



Greetings AAT 2018 Tour Members:
We hope this finds all of you well and preparing for the Around Australia Tour, a little more than seven months from now.   We wish to update you on a few topics.  
AAT Domestic flights in Australia:
Our amazing tour is made possible due to the utilization of particular flights in getting us to the far corners of the continent in a timely manner.  Utilizing non stop flights for all but our final flight sector is essential.   Between some of our destinations there is only one suitable non stop flight per day.  Therefore we are subject to any time changes Qantas makes, and must adjust our itinerary accordingly. 
Our air agent just advised us that Qantas changed the time of the one daily nonstop flight we must use from Perth to Alice from early afternoon to a very early morning departure.  In this case any discomfort from this early departure is more than balanced by having valuable extra time in Alice Springs; a clear net gain.  The point is simply to convey to tour members there is always a sound rationale for why our flights are when they are.  Again we never know when changes in flight times might happen but we are always ready to adapt.   We have just had 4 flight time changes and  each  provides us with additional opportunities we did not have before. 
In terms of the itinerary, we have now added a visit to a lavender farm in Tasmania as well as a unique goat, cattle and cheese making family farm operation. I have updated the daily itinerary on the website and will post this update on the ASI Tours Update page.  So you do not have to figure out which days are changed,  I have copied them below, exactly as they appear on the website.   
Day 6
Sep. 24 -   MO - PORT ARTHUR
This morning visit historic Port Arthur, the site of Australia's most famous and rugged convict settlement.  An educational guided tour and harbor cruise of the UNESCO World Heritage Site settlement will provide great insight into early Tasmanian and Australian history.  Lunch is on your own.  
After lunch we meet the chocolate makers of one of the finest artisan chocolate mills in Australia.  Enjoy demonstrations as they use methods and equipment reminiscent of yesterday. Tasting of their delicious treats is included. Our next stop is the Pt. Arthur Lavender Farm for an informative look at this unique Tasmanian industry.  There will be time for a self-guided tour and to enjoy interactive displays describing the lavender farming process as well as sampling lavender products.  Return to Port Arthur for a relaxing evening at your charming inn. Dinner is on your own, tonight. 
 (B)  Fox & Hounds Inn
DAILY ACTIVITY: Port Arthur walking tour apx. 1.0 miles. Lunch break free time walking at Port Arthur. Short walking time at chocolate mill.  Short walk at Australia Lavender Farm.
Day 7
After departing Pt. Arthur we have an exciting stop at a small working goat and cattle farm.   Meet with the owners and learn about their fascinating lifestyle and the many facets of their operation including cheese making.  We then continue traveling northward along the scenic east coast of Tasmania to the seafront village of Bicheno with stops enroute at a special coastal vineyard and cottage industry sites. We head to Freycinet Peninsula and some of the most breathtaking ocean vistas in Australia.  On entering the Freycinet National Park we stop at the Tourville Lighthouse to undertake a short scenic walk to a lookout with sweeping views of the pounding sea far below.  Continue to our overnight accommodation. On arrival check into your sea-view accommodation. This evening experience an up-close nature encounter on a captivating Fairy Penguin Tour on the Bicheno seafront.  Dinner is included tonight.
 (B, D)  Beachfront Bicheno
Daily Activity: Short walk at Goat and Cattle Farm. Scenic walk .60 miles at Freycinet National Park. Evening Penguins tour requires a short walk.
Day 8
Depart this morning traveling to Tasmania's heartland, visiting the historic colonial towns of Campbell Town and Ross before continuing south to Brighton and the award winning Bonorong Wildlife Park.   Bonorong provides an exciting opportunity to get up close and personal with a wide array of Australian native wildlife including animals, birds and reptiles.  This amazing wildlife encounter is a heart capturing experiences. We then continue to the Hobart Airport for our flight to Melbourne and transfer to our city center apartment style hotel.
 (B)     Mantra on Russell
Daily Activity:  Possible short walk in Campbell town and Ross.  Walking tour and free time walking at Bonorong Wildlife Park .40 – 1.00 miles
Day 10
 Transfer this morning to the airport for your flight to the capital of South Australia, the festival city of Adelaide.  On arrival, commence a sightseeing tour of the expansive surrounding parkland's, charming Adelaide Hills and some of the enticing wine country for which South Australia is so well known.  There will free time to visit the multi-cultural City Market, the National Wine Center and Adelaide's beautiful Botanical Gardens.  In the afternoon we have an exciting visit to the Aboriginal Living Kaurna's Cultural Centre which will include a walking tour of the Warriparinga Park and Wetlands. We will be introduced to the history, language, dreamtime stories, seasonal bush tucker, traditional bush medicine and music of the Kaurna people.  Learn about the native plants and animals of the wetland’s reserve.  
Continue on to Murray Bridge to board our 18 cabin, purpose built, riverboat for a relaxing but highly educational two night cruise on Australia's mighty Murray River. The River Murray forms the greater part of the 3,750 km (2,330 mi) long combined Murray, Darling River system which drains most of inland Victoria, New South Wales, and southern Queensland.  Our cruise adventure will be on the lower course of the Murray where, tonight on deck, you discover the magic of ‘cruising the river at night’.  The ships powerful floodlights unveil a nocturnal wildlife environment including birds such as owls, coots and night herons.  On the cruise, all meals are included and your on-board culinary indulgence begins with dinner tonight. 
  (B,D)   Proud Mary - Riverboat 
Daily Activity:  Guided walking tour at Aboriginal Reserve .5 – 1.0 miles.  Riverboat stairs between lower and upper decks Days 10, 11, 12.
Day 12
 This morning, cruise downstream to Mannum and Board a waiting coach for a tour to beautiful Reedy Creek Environmental Park.  On a guided walk the ecologist guide will explain the effects of this unusual ecosystem on the surrounding countryside and original aboriginal inhabitants. Back on board, we continue to cruise downstream with more amazing lens friendly scenery.  An informative Murray River ecology documentary will be shown on-board to further your River Murray education.  We disembark late afternoon at Murray Bridge and transfer to the Adelaide Airport for an evening flight to Australia's West Coast and its inviting capital city, Perth. On arrival in the beautiful river city transfer to your apartment style hotel. Dinner in-flight.
 (B,L,D)     Mantra on Murray 
Daily Activity: Reedy Creek walking tour.
Day 15
 Early transfer to Perth Airport for our flight eastward to Australia's isolated desert and gateway to the Red Center, Alice Springs. Alice is a most unique town; a true mixing of colonial heritage, aboriginal culture with the many challenges of isolated outback living.  On arrival, commence a sightseeing tour with an overview of Alice Springs from Anzac Hill. 
 Continue on to visit three important Northern Territory landmarks including the historic Overland Telegraph Station; an outpost which served as the vital link in connecting frontier settlements across Australia.  Enjoy a tour of the impressive Royal Flying Doctor Service with its impressive history of providing medical services throughout remote Central Australia, and tour the famed School of the Air that has been delivering air schooling to children on remote outback stations for decades.  After checking into our centrally located hotel the evening is free to begin exploring outback Alice on your own including observing the desert locals at work and play.  Breakfast in-flight. 
 (B)     Mercure Springs Resort 
Daily Activity:  Evening free time walking in Alice Springs.
Day  17
 The morning and early afternoon are free to relax and explore some of Alice's attractions on your own.  Among your many choices are the Alice Springs Desert Park, Kangaroo Sanctuary, Road Transport Hall of Fame, Women's Pioneer Museum, the Araluen Arts Centre and Yubu Napa Art Gallery both featuring Aboriginal arts and culture.  In late afternoon we transfer to the airport for our flight north to the tropical top end of the Northern Territory and its colorful multi-cultural capital, Darwin.  Transfer to your apartment style hotel on arrival.  
(B)    Mantra on Esplanade
Daily Activity:  Morning self guided exploring.


January  22, 2018 - AAT Update 3



 Dear AAT tour member,

 Many of our tour members are currently planning their pre-tour days in Sydney.  We want to update you regarding hotel check in and time to meet up with the group; for the first time.

 Some of our tour members may belong to the Holiday Inn Rewards Club, allowing you free upgrades when checking into a HI hotel.  If you are not a member, it is free to join.  I have copied the website below, for you. 

 ASI Tours group hotel rooms are booked as ‘standard rooms’.  When checking into the HI Old Sydney, if you identify yourself as a HI Rewards member, you may be given an upgrade, but only on a space available basis. If you are upgraded for any pre tour nights this does not guarantee you will have the same upgrade extended once the tour begins on Sep. 21.  If you are in an upgraded room for pretour nights it is possible you may be required by the hotel to change rooms.  If you wish to avoid the possibility of having to change rooms please do not request an upgrade upon your initial check in. You should inquire about the upgrade situation when you check in. Be advised that our tour hotel is in a premium location in the Rocks, adjacent to Circular Quay on Sydney Harbor and tends to be at full occupancy much of the time.    

 We have set the group meet-up time for 1:30 PM on Sep. 21 to allow tour members to have the full morning for activities such as the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb or other organized or self directed exploring.  We will depart from the hotel on the afternoon sightseeing tour of Sydney about 2:00 PM.  


Please email or call us with any questions or if you need assistance with any of the above items.



December 29, 2017  -  AAT Update 2

Pre and Post tour information

 Dear AAT tour member,

We hope everyone had a joyous Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year filled with new destinations and friendships.   We would like to provide you with the following update and information to help plan your upcoming trip to Australia in September 2018.

This update will include both, pre and post tour information and advisories as well as Australia arrival and departure information. 

ETA – An Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is required of American citizens for travel to Australia.

If you have not yet secured the ETA, see the ASI Tours website under Tour Details and Passport and Visa information -


The easiest transfer option from the Sydney Airport  to our tour hotel at the Holiday Inn Old Sydney, 55 George St, Sydney, NSW, is by taxi.  The taxi fare currently averages around $35AUD, apx. $28USD.  This is easily the best option with two or more people sharing the ride.  An airport shuttle which may stop at several hotels can be pre-booked by single travelers for apx. $16-18AUD, $12-$14USD. 

Website for Airport Transfer: 

If you go to the ASI Tours website, then Tour Details, then Featured Hotels you will be able to click on the button below the picture of the hotel.  It will take you to the HI Old Sydney’s website.  You will see a map, information about the hotel and the area and be able to contact the hotel directly for pre tour booking and information.  You can also use other booking sites to book the hotel such as Trivago, or other booking sites.

Holiday Inn Old Sydney website:

Click on 'Show' button for full update.

Australian Money on Arrival     

You will need to have some Australian dollars once you arrive in Sydney, to pay for your transfer to the hotel and have as spending money. All major credit cards are accepted in Australia but you will want to have local currency for smaller shops, some restaurants, taxis and drinks in pubs. There may be minimum purchase amounts in smaller stores, in order to use a credit card. 

Using your Bank ATM card will usually give you the best exchange rate.  It allows you to withdraw in local currency.   You will want to check with your own bank to see what branch in Australia they may have a banking relationship with, in order to save on ATM and exchange fees.  For example, Bank of America is a member of a banking partnership called Global ATM Alliance, with WestPac Bank.  By using the WestPac Bank ATM to withdraw money in AUD there is no ATM fee or international transaction fee, by either bank.

To easily determine the conversion of  your USD into AUD, use the XE Converter.  You may want to download the app to your Smartphone, which is free.  The current exchange rate is apx. $1.00USD = $1.30AUD.

The following link is to the list of banks and ATMs in the international terminal of the Sydney Airport.  You will know ahead of time what terminal you arrive at so you will be able to determine where your closest affiliate ATM or bank is located.


The Around Australia Tour spends only two nights in Sydney.   We recommend that tour members arrive in Sydney a day or two prior to the beginning of the Around Australia Tour which starts on Sep. 21st.  At this point almost all tour members are planning to arrive early.   We also recommend spending the extra night(s) at our centrally located hotel in the historic Rocks area; the Holiday Inn Old Sydney. The hotel is ideally located to walk to The Rocks area, restaurants, downtown, many attractions in Circular  Quay, including Sydney Opera House and pickups for tours.

Most flights to Australia from the USA arrive in Sydney in the early morning.   Normal hotel check-in time is apx. 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM so it is unlikely your hotel room will be ready on arrival at the hotel, mid morning unless the previous night has been pre-paid.  Most people choose not to do this because of cost.  If your room is not available upon arrival you can request an early check-in subject to availability.  Your bags can be secured in hotel storage and you can freshen up using hotel facilities. You can then spend time exploring the Rocks area and the attractions of Circular Cay until your room is ready.  A plethora of varied, convenient dining and snacking options are available in these areas and also at our hotel.   The hotel front desk or concierge will have local maps and suggestions for restaurants and help with a walking route for you.  You will also be able to get brochures of attractions in the area, at the hotel.

Some tour members arriving early may wish to experience a tour, performance or combination tour and performance at the famed Sydney Opera House.  

The link for Opera House bookings is,

You may want to sign up for new updates from the Opera House, at:

The following performances are currently scheduled prior to and for our scheduled nights in Sydney.  Keep in mind that we have a group welcome dinner shortly after the completion of our Sydney city tour on Friday September 21.  


Most of the tour members on the 2018 AAT are traveling to Sydney 1-2 days in advance of the beginning of the tour.  We are, therefore, compiling a voluntarily list of tour members who would like to be in contact with fellow tour members prior to the tour.   This is primarily for those who may be interested in participating in pre-tour activities in Sydney with other tour members before the group convenes for the tour orientation and city sights on the afternoon of Sep. 21.  Examples of these activities, particularly on Sep. 19 or 20 are activities such as doing a specific guided tour, independent sightseeing or attending a performance at the Sydney Opera House.  If, as a result of contact, you find that you are traveling to Australia on the same flight as other tour members on the list there may be an opportunity to connect up at the airport prior to the outbound flight. 

If you are interested in being included in this pre-tour contact list, advise us by email or phone with your contact information.  Please let us know as soon as possible to give tour members time to contact each other and work on their plans.

Once our tour begins you will find you are traveling with a very cohesive group of friendly, experienced world travelers, most of whom are long time ITN readers.  On evenings when dinner is not included tour members often choose to dine with other members.  It is difficult, on tour, to tell who is traveling with a roommate and who are traveling as singles. Tour members also often participate together in free time activities of mutual interest.  Your tour director will, also, always be available to assist.     


The official end of the Around Australia Tour is after breakfast at our Gold Coast Hotel, the Mantra Legends which is apx. a 55 minute airport shuttle ride to the Brisbane Airport.  A number of tour members will be commencing their own post tour arrangements in Australia or other destinations.   For those not extending the most convenient return option is the Qantas #15 nonstop flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles which is currently scheduled to depart Brisbane at 10:20AM and arriving LAX at 6:00AM, the same day.  You re-cross the International Dateline gaining the day lost enroute to Australia. This is a daily flight.  This may be an additional motivation for doing your international flights to and from Australia with Qantas Airways.   Qantas is a member of the One World Alliance and an alliance partner with American Airlines and Alaska Air.  If you are traveling to Australia on another carrier you may be required to connect via Sydney, or in the case of Air New Zealand, Auckland. 

Our tour members book their international air either directly with their airline of choice or one of the on-line sellers of international air.   You may contact ASI Tours if you have any questions or need assistance.   


Post tour airport transfers are easily arranged from our Gold Coast Hotel, The Mantra Legends, to the Brisbane Airport, an apx. one hour ride.  The standard airport shuttle transfer rate per person is apx. 54 AUD (39 USD) per person.  It is likely that many of our tour members will be returning to the USA on flight - Qantas #15 departing from Brisbane currently at 10:20AM on Oct. 14; our tour departure day.  When we know the number of tour members departing the same day, it is very likely we will be able to arrange a discounted group transfer rate.  Airport transfers can also be arrange with the concierge at our hotel.  


Some tour members are planning to extend their Australia holiday by spending a few extra days at our wonderful beach located hotel. 

Additional nights can be booked directly through your favorite on-line booking site such as  You can also book directly with the hotel at, Tel: 61-7-5588-7888.  Click on the button under the hotel picture on the ASI Tours website in the Featured Hotel list.  Or copy the following into your browser:

Contact us if you need information and advisory regarding other post tour arrangements.


Many of you have already booked your international air from your home city to Australia and return.  Others have not yet done so and may or may not have determined your booking source.  Some are also planning to use frequent flyer miles for their international flights.

Qantas Airways offers the most frequent service to Australia from the USA with, currently, five daily non stops from LAX, two from SFO, one from DFW and a one stop service from JFK.  Qantas has connecting service and fares in conjunction with its One World Alliance partner American Airlines from cities throughout North America. 

Qantas flights can be booked on-line through the following link:

If you prefer to book with an agent, Qantas through fare flights can be booked with our Qantas Vacations, booking agent Rozelle at 800-252-6239 ext. 1016.  Qantas Vacations is the booking agent for the domestic flights included in our tour. 

Alternatively you can call the toll free number for direct Qantas reservations is 800-227-4500, but we recommend using Rozelle as she is familiar with the Around Australia Tour.  When securing a quote remember to ask for the best through fare from your home (originating) city and be aware of the rules and restrictions of the fare.   


On arrival at the Sydney International Airport, take a moment to visit the Sydney Airport Tourist Information Centre, where you can pickup brochures of day tours, the Red Bus brochure and ask where to catch a taxi or other transportation.  

Below are just a few websites of the most famous attractions you won’t want to miss.  

1. Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

Opened in 1816, the garden is the oldest scientific institution in Australia and one of the most important historic botanical institutions in the world. It is open every day of the year and access is free. It enjoys a stunning position on Sydney Harbour, immediately adjacent to the Sydney central business district and the Sydney Opera House. 

For detailed information about the Gardens – click on the link below.


 If you would like to sign up for updates about what is going on at the Royal Gardens, click on the website below and type in your name and email address and hit the send button. 


2.  The Rocks, Sydney -The Guide to the Rocks –

The Rocks area features a variety of souvenir and craft shops, as well as many themed and historic pubs. The Rocks Market operates each weekend, with around 100 stalls. During the week, shopping options include galleries exhibiting Australian artists, such as Ken Done and Ken Duncan, as well as Australian clothing and Australian opal shops. There are numerous historic walks through the area, visiting historical buildings such as Cadmans Cottage, Sydney Observatory and the Dawes Point Battery which was the first fortified position in New South Wales.

Two separate pubs in The Rocks claim to be Sydney's oldest surviving pubs: the Fortune of War and the Lord Nelson. Others in the area include the Observer, the Orient, the Mercantile, the Palisade and the Hero of Waterloo.

3.  Sydney Taronga Zoo

Discover the home of over 2,900 animals at your own pace with an entrance ticket to Taronga Zoo. Reach the zoo in Sydney Harbour by rocket ferry from Circular Quay and then ride the Sky Safari cable car on arrival enjoying the  spectacular views of Sydney Harbour.

​You can pre-purchase your Taronga entry ticket to save time and avoid queuing at the ticket booth. By public transport - Take the ferry to the Taronga Zoo wharf and then the bus or the gondola to the entrance at the top of the hill.  Buying a ticket that includes the return boat trip from Darling Harbour, the gondola ride and the entry to the park is the best way to experience this attraction.  You can also book this at your hotel.  Wear good walking shoes and carry some water - it is set up on a hill!

Website for Taronga zoo:

 4, Art Gallery of New South Wales -

The Art Gallery of New South Wales, located in The Domain in Sydney, is the most important public gallery in Sydney and one of the largest in Australia. The Gallery's first public exhibition opened in 1874. Admission is free to the general exhibition space, which displays Australian art (from settlement to contemporary),European and Asian art. A dedicated Asian Gallery was opened in 2003.

 For updates -

 For more information on the Gallery - 

         Website: - 

5. Interactive map of Sydney’s attractions:

           Website: -

This interactive map will take you to each attraction listed on the left side of the map, by placing your cursor on a name of a place, a picture opens up on a map.  If you click on (most) of the names, the website will open and will give you information about that site.  There is a + and – on the lower right side of the map.  Hitting the + several times, will enlarge the map to the point names of stores, banks, restaurants, art galleries, etc, will be appear.

6. Downtown Sydney

To find your way to the heart of downtown Sydney make your way to Martin Place - on the interactive map (above).  Martin Place is a pedestrian mall in the central business district of Sydney.  It has been described as the "civic heart" of Sydney. As home to the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Macquarie Bank, Westpac and other corporations, it is also a centre of business and finance. The Sydney GPO (General Post Office) and the Seven Network's Sydney news centre are also located on Martin Place.

Martin Place has become a national Australian icon in popular culture for attracting film and television productions and actors to the area. Martin Place runs between George Street and Macquarie Street, and provides entrances to the Martin Place railway station below street level; an underground city of magnificent restaurants and shops - a must see stop.  Other cross streets includes Pitt Street, Castlereagh Street, Elizabeth Street and Phillip Street.

The history is of Martin Place is fascinating.  For more info:




The Red Bus is the ideal way to get around to all of the attractions you want to see during your pre tour time in Sydney.  You can purchase a 24 or 48 hour pass.  The website above will show the route the Red Bus travels with a brief description  about each stop. You will be able to obtain a brochure at the airport before you catch your transportation to the hotel, or at the hotel information desk.

First tour starts at 8.30 am. Frequency 15- 20 minutes* Bondi Tours: depart from and finish at Stop A - Eddy Avenue (Central Railway Station) First tour starts at 9.30 am. Frequency 30 minutes All services terminate at 7.30 pm in peak season and 6.30 pm in off peak season

We hope you will find this information helpful in making your pre tour time in Sydney educational and highly memorable.  It is a beautiful city and very easy to navigate.  

 Please email or call us with any questions or if you need assistance with any of the above items.


December 18, 2017 - AAT Update 1

Itinerary Changes in Sydney and Tasmania

Dear Around Australia Tour Members,

We are excited to announce the following Around Australia Tours 2018 UPDATES.

To date our group has 20 tour members confirmed plus your tour leader, Randy Keck.

We are thrilled to announce the following itinerary changes which will allow another full day of touring with additional exciting educational visits in beautiful Tasmania.  These added visits will include a working Australian sheep farm, a unique chocolate mill, a coastal vineyard and more sightseeing time in historic towns.  This also changes a previous one night stop at Pt. Arthur to two nights.  These changes will not affect the tour cost or duration.

Click on 'Show' button for full update.

To do this we are changing our Sydney stop from three nights back to the original two nights.  Most tour members are already planning to go to Sydney one or more days early, so you can plan your Sydney arrival accordingly. 

Our Sydney city sights tour will be in the afternoon of the first tour day in Sydney, Sep. 21.  The Welcome Tour Dinner will be on the first night, Sept. 21.   Our included Sydney Harbor Cruise will be on the morning of our second day in Sydney, Sep.22, with the afternoon free for exploring on your own.  With our itinerary change we now depart the following morning, Sep. 23, for Tasmania.

Please visit our official revised itinerary, on our website, at: details/itinerary/

Our new additions with an extra night at the charming Fox and Hounds Inn in Port Arthur, will allow a more relaxing and in-depth experience in Tasmania.   We continue to update as part of the Aussie Specialist program with the Australian Tourist Board while exploring possible options for inclusion in our tour. 

If you have any questions, please call or email me.  I am happy to answer your questions regarding the tour.