Ann Clancy is an inquisitive and intrepid traveller who has made her way through more than 45 countries. But Iran, she says, beats them all hands down. After falling in love with Iran and its people during an Alumni tour in 2013, she has tracked the Persians through central Asia, the Caucasus, Oman, India and Pakistan. Still utterly besotted, she is keen to share the story of Iran with you.
Ann has a BA and a post-grad Bachelor of Social Administration. She has studied fine arts and architecture, literature and the social sciences. The author of three best-selling historical novels in English and German, Ann also won a Centenary Medal for directing a historical commemoration of the Overland Telegraph, which attracted more than 10,000 visitors and one million people online.
Karen Hendrix graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours – thesis was on Predynastic Egypt) majoring in Middle Eastern Archaeology and Physical Anthropology in 2003. Early on in her career she studied Predynastic Egyptology at the University of California at Berkeley.
Karen has travelled extensively in the Middle East, excavating in Egypt, Syria and Jordan on numerous occasions over the last 25 years.
She has been an excavator and the volunteer co-ordinator of the Jordanian Pella Excavation Project for the last 20 years. Karen also works for the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation at the University of Sydney.
Dr Robert Mitchell
An experienced and popular opera and concert tour leader, Dr Robert Mitchell has a background in both performance and education. He is a veteran of almost 5,000 performances in over 120 operas, mostly with Opera Australia, and is the only opera singer to have sung every year at the Sydney Opera House since its opening in 1973. Robert has sung with operatic greats including Sutherland, Pavarotti, Te Kanawa, Milnes and Kaufmann. Notable among his recent roles is The Captain in the world premiere seasons of Kate Miller-Heidke’s The Rabbits.
Before joining OA, Robert taught in NSW high schools and has since lectured at Western Sydney and Macquarie Universities. For his Master of Creative Arts (Wollongong) he researched and performed French mélodie and for his PhD (Sydney) Robert created a critical edition of Offenbach’s La vie parisienne at the behest of conductor Richard Bonynge. He also regularly writes program notes for OA and the state symphony orchestras.
Helen Nicholson is an experienced, well-regarded tour leader and had led more than thirty tours to Europe and Asia, including Alumni’s Egypt, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia tours. She holds archaeology degrees from the University of Sydney and has delivered numerous lectures, courses and study days for adult, school, museum and professional audiences.
Helen spent several years working at the Powerhouse Museum and has been a casual lecturer and tutor at the University of Sydney since 1995. She has worked on archaeological sites in Greece, Italy, Jordan, Cyprus, Cambodia and Uzbekistan. Helen now works as an archaeological consultant in Sydney.
Christina Sumner is Vice President of The Asian Arts Society of Australia, and formerly Principal Curator of Design and Society at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Christina has a background in Middle Eastern archaeology; she is, primarily, a textile historian whose research interests span the arts of West, Central, South and Southeast Asia. She has curated numerous exhibitions for the Powerhouse Museum, co-authored their associated publications and lectured widely.
Rob Lovell studied at the University of Durham (MA) and at the University of Sydney (BA, Dip Ed, MED Hons) and taught English and History in secondary schools and TAFE colleges in NSW before lecturing in Education at the University of Sydney. In 1989 he established Alumni Travel, one of the few travel companies in Australia dedicated to special interest, educational and cultural tourism and led the first tour which was to Viet Nam in 1990.
This has enabled him to indulge in three ongoing passions: the pursuit of life long learning, international exchange and of course travel. Rob has led at least one tour every year to Vietnam since 1998, as well as tours to Cambodia, Cuba, Eastern Turkey, Western Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia.
Dr John Tidmarsh
Dr John Tidmarsh was previously Tutor and then Part-Time Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sydney and is currently President of the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation of that University. He is a Co-Director of the University of Sydney’s excavations at Pella in Jordan and is also the co-director of the ANU/University of Melbourne excavations at Jebel Khalid in Syria.
He has previously excavated in Greece and Cyprus. His main areas of interest are the archaeology of Alexander the Great’s conquests, as well as the Hellenistic and Islamic Periods in the Near East and Asia. He has led numerous tours to Iran, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Oman and other countries in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.
Lucia Parrella is a visual artist and the founder of ART INCONTRO. Established in 1999, ART INCONTRO offers cultural programs in Italy for people with an interest in visual art and craft and a desire to find time and inspiration for their own creative projects and interests.
ART INCONTRO’s philosophy is based on small, slow and responsible travel, with a focus on personal interaction with Italian artists, artisans and local residents.
Combining excursions, studio visits and hands-on workshops, ART INCONTRO programs are open to all skill levels, including people with no previous art experience.
Michael Newton was bitten by the archaeology bug when studying for his first degree, in Ancient and Medieval History, at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. His travels and study took him regularly to the Eastern Mediterranean at that time, and he then worked in the Middle East for several years.
He joined the University of Sydney in 1984, working towards his post graduate qualifications in archaeology. He has excavated widely with Sydney University and other teams in Jordan, Syria, Greece and Italy. He began lecturing with the Centre of Continuing Education at Sydney University in 1988, and continues to do so with many institutions, including WEA Sydney and ADFAS.
He has led many study tours around the Mediterranean, introducing the history and culture of countries such as Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Morocco and Tunisia to travellers and students. Michael is currently Executive Director of WEA Sydney.
Carole Douglas has been on the move since her early 20s when she travelled overland from Panama to Northern British Columbia.
An educator, practising artist and curator, Carole has worked on numerous international and local projects. Her company, DesertTraditions, specialises in tours with a focus on the arts and the cultures from which they spring.
Her tours are immersive and hands on, and follow the Gandhian philosophy of tolerance, compassion and understanding of all people and our shared environment.
Len Amadio AO
Len Amadio AO has had a distinguished career in music administration in the ABC and subsequently in senior arts positions in the South Australian Government. He has served on many National Boards and Committees including the Adelaide Festival, Opera Australia, Australian Youth Orchestra and the ABC. He has travelled extensively in Europe, North America and South and East Asia, and led nineteen tours for Alumni Travel including sixteen in Europe.
Peter Gibbs describes himself as a ‘restless’ soul and this probably explains his life in travel, having visited over 60 countries. Peter was originally drawn to travel in the 80’s when he worked as an overland tour guide on the route from London to Kathmandu. He describes these as exciting journeys going through places like Afghanistan during the Russian invasion, even being in Iran during the rescue of the American hostages.
He eventually settled down when he met his wife Liz on his last overland trip, had three children and then had a career in the travel industry.
He was originally an owner of the company Venturetreks and then eventually an owner/manager of The Adventure Travel Company in Parnell. He sold his travel company some years ago and is now semi-retired. Peter is the honorary counsel for Nepal in New Zealand and has a close association with the Hillary family. Peter lives in Northland and is very well travelled both in New Zealand and overseas, he has led many groups around New Zealand and looks forward to sharing the magic of Northland with you.