Join us for this great opportunity to explore and experience parts of Australia that tourists seldom see, traveling in small 10-seater mini buses along roads the bigger buses cannot negotiate. We will visit coastal, mountain and inland plains gardens joining in on their spring festivals and staying and eating at historic old pubs. This is a unique chance to immerse yourself in true Australian culture!

Home Hospitality

Provided by the Friendship Force club of Blue Mountains and FF Newcastle.

Live With a Local

  • Enjoy a three-day homestay with the Blue Mountains club and attend their Spring Garden Festival.
  • Eat at a couple of 150-year-old historic pubs, sharing country evenings with the locals and some special guests.
  • Take over the historic Hill End Pub for a whole evening.
  • Spend three days in the Hunter Valley, a prime wine growing area, during a three-day homestay with the Newcastle Friendship Force Club. Don’t pass up the exciting opportunity to toboggan in local sand hills.
  • Celebrate new friendships during our final meal together at the Lord Nelson Hotel in the historic Sydney Rocks area.

Sightseeing Highlights

  • Visit Sydney Botanical Gardens and the magnificent Sydney Harbour.
  • Journey to Jenolan Caves for an overnight stay in the historic Caves House and enjoy our own personalized tour of a cave in the evening.
  • Experience Mayfield Gardens, where the whole gardens are opened up to the public for the spring display.
  • Travel to Cowra for the magnificent Japanese Gardens and partake of the Bathurst Spring Garden festival.
  • Stop in Hill End and Gulgong where you will experience a bygone era - these are old gold rush towns where once there was a pub on every corner… we’ll even go down into an old gold mine!
  • Visit two native gardens that exemplify the Australian bush, go hiking through Capertee Valley to remote water holes (bring your swimmers!) and view ancient aboriginal hand paintings on the rocks.
  • Enjoy wineries, old pubs, and a truly spectacular garden in Hunter Valley.
  • Take a short trip down the coast to Sydney and enjoy a couple of surprises along the way!
You will experience the outback culture away from the big cities in places you won’t see in the travel brochures. This is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Australian coastal and inland gardens and festivals. - Russell, Host Coordinator, FF Southern Sydney

Australian Pubs and Country Gardens

16 Days / 15 Nights Program and Itinerary:

October 22, 2017 – November 6, 2017
Coordinator: Russell Veitch, FF Southern Sydney

All Friendship Force Itineraries are subject to change.

October 21

We will meet at your accommodation in the historic Sydney Rocks areas for two nights, handy to everything.

Tonight we will get to know our fellow travelers over dinner.

October 22

After breakfast we will walk through the back-lanes of old Sydney Town and then across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, looking over Sydney Harbour to the Opera House and down the full length of the Harbour to the ocean.  

We’ll catch a train back to the city and walk through Hyde Park and Sydney’s Botanical Gardens, along the Harbour foreshores and arrive at the Opera House.

We have an option to catch a ferry across to iconic Manly beach for dinner at the Manly Skiffs Club then catch then a ferry back to our hotel experiencing the spectacle of Sydney lit up at night.

October 23

An early departure in our small buses out of Sydney and up into the Blue Mountains.

Along the way we will visit Richmond and the Mt. Tomah Botanical gardens then to overnight hosting in the Blue Mountains with FF Blue Mountains.

October 24

Today we view the wonderful Jamieson valley at Katoomba, see the Three Sisters rock formation, cross the valley in a cable car, then descend to the bottom of the valley by the steepest cable trolley car in the southern hemisphere to walk through the rain forests.  

In the afternoon we will visit the Everglades National Trust Gardens.

October 25

Today we will visit the spring time cool climate gardens of Mount Wilson and the Rhododendron Festival at Blackheath including scenic lookouts at Govett’s Leap.  

We will stop at scenic spots to view the beautiful colours of the sandstone cliffs of the mountains.

October 26

We leave the Blue Mountain this morning, passing the steep descent to the western plains, through historic Little Hartley and via some tortuous mountain roads to visit the Jenolan Caves where we will inspect the main Lucas Cave.  

We will stay overnight in the historic Caves House and after dinner we will enjoy a private night caves tour of caves not normally open to the public.

October 27

After breakfast we will drive along some back roads, unsealed at times, visiting picturesque look outs at Kanangra Walls before we arrive at Mayfield Gardens, which opens fully to the public once a year.

We will experience the expansive Private Garden beyond the Water Garden – spanning over 160 acres (64H) across the hillside. Features include: The Rose Garden, Creek Garden, Aviary, Walled Kitchen Garden, Mayfield Cascade (80m cascade with temple source).

We will return to the Royal Hotel, Oberon for a special dinner and entertainment and a good night’s sleep.

October 28

After a country breakfast this morning we will continue on back roads to Bathurst, set in a wonderful natural environment with beautiful spring colours, Bathurst is one of the region’s most beautiful cities, offering a diversity of attractions, activities and facilities, including historic sites and architecture, cultural facilities, and the growing wine industry.

We will visit Machettie Park, Abercrombie House and the National Trust property, Miss Trails garden.

October 29

Today we will enjoy a leisurely day at Bathurst Spring Garden Festival.

October 30

Today after breakfast we will make our departure for a drive of about an hour to the town of Cowra where we will visit the Cowra Japanese Gardens and hear the story of the internment of Japanese prisoners and their breakout during World War II.

After lunch at the gardens we will drive back to Bathurst and the rest of the afternoon will be free.

October 31

Back to the backroads again to drive through our gold rush areas, which experienced a massive population explosion in the mid 1800s but are now almost deserted.

On arrival at Hill End we will do a town walk and visit some sights.

We will stay in the historic Royal Hotel at Hill End with some special entertainment tonight.

November 1

This morning we will visit Bald Hill Tourist Mine where we will descend into an old gold mine before we travel north to Gulgong where we will stay in the historic Commercial Hotel for three nights.

November 2

Today we will walk around this quiet little town and visit the Gulgong Pioneers museum to see what the early settler’s life was like.

Later we will visit the Sculpture in the Gardens and other gardens in local Mudgee.

November 3

We are on the road again to National Parks stopping in at Munghorn Gap then lunch at the Cassilis Royal Hotel, take an excursion into the Capertree Valley, one of the largest natural canyons in the world.

November 4

Today we have a full day of driving crossing some pleasant country of rolling hills as we head back towards the coast where we will be hosted by the Newcastle Club for three nights.

November 5

Today we visit the Hunter Valley Gardens’ over 60 acres of spectacular international display gardens that will amaze you with sensational sights, colours, fragrances and adventures. Exploring over 8 kilometers of walking paths, visitors are able to experience each of the ten individual feature gardens with a range of statuary and superb feature gardens, all of a standard you won’t see elsewhere in Australia.

Lunch will be at Wollombi Pub, a quaint old fashioned pub in a small village

In the afternoon we will visit some local wineries for which the Hunter Valley is famous.

November 6

We leave our Newcastle friends behind, to drive south stopping at the Mount Penang Gardens, we’ll have fish and chips for lunch at Berowra Waters, before we arrive back in Sydney to your hotel for your last night in Sydney.


$2200 USD

Price Includes: FFI and host fees, all accommodations, garden entry fees and most meals.


Wait list only

Active Challenging

Know before you go

  • This is a themed Journey focusing on gardens and pubs.
  • The exchange will start and finish in Sydney, Australia.
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Our Mission

Friendship Force International provides opportunities to explore new countries and cultures from the inside by bringing people together at the personal level. Through the signature program of home hospitality, local hosts welcome international visitors into their culture, sharing with them meals, conversation, and the best sights and experiences of their region.
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