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 amongst 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.
Professor Roberto Cuba Álvarez
MSc. ROBERTO CUBA ÁLVAREZ is an experienced Cuban professor who has taught many different courses in several universities in Cuba and, for the last 15 years, he has been involved in developing and delivering various training programs for the hospitality and tourism industries. He has also lectured groups from Britain, USA, Australia and other countries on different topics related to Cuba’s history, education, tourism and development. He has many diplomas and certificates from Cuban and foreign universities and institutes as tour guide, PR officer, quality customer service provider, event organizer, teacher-trainer and others. He has developed several research works on the teaching of English to different professional and technical fields and has written more than 30 books, workbooks and papers on different subjects related to these areas. He has been member or president of different professional, scientific and methodological boards. He is also an experienced translator-interpreter on different topics in conferences, investment projects, business and negotiation meetings, books, papers and others. He loves working with people and introducing his tour groups to the people, places and ways of Cuba.
Melanie Pitkin graduated with a Bachelor of Ancient History (Honours) majoring in Egyptology from Macquarie University and a Master of Museum Studies (Merit) from the University of Sydney. She is currently studying for her PhD in Egyptology, again at Macquarie University. Melanie has worked on a number of archaeological sites in Egypt, including Tell el-Amarna (the famous site of King Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti), Saqqara and Deir el-Gebrawi. Melanie also works as an Assistant Curator of Design and Society at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.
Dr Brian Brennan is an historian who has specialised in the history of Lake Antiquity with an emphasis on Roman contacts with other neighbouring peoples. Formerly a lecturer in history within the University of Sydney, Brian has taught many courses on ancient history for the university’s Centre for Continuing Education. He has led a number of tours to Italy, France, Tunisia & Libya and has himself travelled widely in Africa and Middle East. This will be the second tour that he has led to Ethiopia and his own independent travels there have also strongly influenced him in the selection of the places visited on tour.
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.
Tour Leader, Owner
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.
Terry Bisley first visited Burma at Christmas 2001 with a group of friends and was so entranced that she organised to take her first tour there in March 2002. She has subsequently visited privately and taken seven tours there. Consequently she is very familiar with all aspects of the country and its people. She has always enjoyed travelling and has travelled extensively in Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East as well as Europe. Since 1987 Terry has been involved in a company which imports handicrafts and textiles from Thailand and Vietnam and has made regular visits to those countries. Terry has been collecting Asian Textiles for over 20 years. She is a member of TAASA and has given lectures on Burmese textiles. She is also a member of the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation and the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney.
Vicki Berglinden is a native Swede currently living in Australia. She is a professional Artist and Interior designer with a broad knowledge of Scandinavian history and culture. Vicki has also studied archaeology and worked on several excavations in Europe. Vicki’s combined knowledge of design and history will certainly be able to give you a unique and informed glimpse of these magical countries. Vicki is delighted to share her knowledge and love for her home country with Alumni Travellers.
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.
Dr Karen Kool
Dr Karen Kool, is an ecologist and traveller. She is interested in the people, culture and natural history of the places she visits. Her research in Asia and the Pacific involved strong participation from local communities, the caretakers of the wondrous, and often fragile, natural environments which hold a fascination for her. Karen has organised and led group tours to remote places in the Pacific as an extension to her interests in conservation and education. She has worked as a biologist/ecologist in Asia and the Pacific at various times since 1984. Tropical forest ecology, with a focus on primate ecology and conservation, has been a particular interest and she has been involved in projects with The University of New South Wales, University of Sydney, the University of Cambridge, UK, University Malaysia Sarawak, the New York Zoological Society and Indonesian Institute of Sciences. Karen has taught at tertiary level in New South Wales and in New Zealand and in Malaysia. She has also taught in schools. More recently, she has been co-ordinator of a cross-faculty research Institute at The University of New South Wales, spanning the disciplines of Medicine, Science and Engineering. Her interest and enthusiasm for places of biological fascination and for learning about, and participating in, other cultures will contribute to your enjoyment of the tour program for Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
Yvonne Chang PhD was born in Malaysia but finished her studies in Sydney. She held senior positions within the State’s Health system specialising in Medical Diagnostics, IT and Forensics. She has explored 110 countries concentrating on Arts/Culture, Music and Adventure and has been part of many group tours. She looks forward to sharing her insiders understanding of Malaysia with you.