AEA Luxury Tours is now supplying JUST WATER included for guests on every tour.

The JUST WATER team designed a receptacle that results in 74% less harmful emissions when combining the steps of manufacturing and distribution and post consumption.

Their bottles are mostly made from plants… The bottle part is made mostly from paper. The cap is made from sugarcane. The bottle is 100% recyclable, but we are encouraging our guests to keep the bottle and reuse as they come with a nice wide neck to allow easy refill (and even include a place to label them).

Another step toward reducing our impact on the environment whilst running our Sydney tour company for discerning travellers.

 

JUST WATER

Australia is the driest flattest continent of earth which, due to its long-standing isolation, has led to some unique fauna, but also some extremely unique flora.

The Blue Mountains region, our most popular day trip, is just a couple of hours from Sydney. In the region we bear witness to the many types of Eucalyptus trees (around 100 of the 900 or so species that dominate Australia but are also scattered in to neighbouring Papua New Guinea and Indonesia).

Eucalyptus are evergreen and for many species we see in the Blue Mountains their unique attribute is that they lose their bark in yearly cycles rather than their leaves. The bark that trails off the tree and falls to the ground is welcome tinder when time comes – and it inevitably does – for Bushfire. Naturally occurring and man made fire is a fact of life in the bush-land environments of Australia.

Because fire is such a consistent force in the landscape of Australia certain trees and shrubs have evolved to resist and some even rely on fire to spread their seeds.

Banksia trees are a common tree we see in the region that do just that….

However, not all types of the 170 or so that exist. Some species of Banksia will release whatever seeds that are ripe when available, often helped along to new locations by flying foxes and birds. Others wait (sometimes years at a time) for the heat and smoke of a fire.

The fruits of the flowering Banksia are hard and woody, and the seed lies encased inside. Like all seeds they require water, oxygen and the right temperature to germinate – move from seed to seedling or, put another way, dormancy to life.

The right temperature and conditions for some Banksias is often due to fire. When a fire arrives a parent Banksia may be killed but the fruit will open from the follicle. The ready to go seeds fall and the fire clears any competitors and fertilises the top soil with ash.

However, there is one key ingredient required with several Banksia trees to ensure germination happens after fire – where there is fire, there is smoke!

It took until the year 2004 for scientists to nail down the process of smoke germination on several Australian trees and shrubs, including the Banksia. A team based in Western Australia deciphered that from the 4000 or so chemicals that reside in smoke a molecule they named karrikinolide (a local indigenous word for smoke), which is scientifically known as one of the butenolides molecules. These master molecules, as they have been labelled, are a by-product of the combustion of cellulose (fibres of the seed) together with other organic compounds in the plant tissues.

So there you have the unique story of the flowering Banksia, which loves the inevitable fire and the smoke that comes before and after it, as well as the flying foxes, birds and insects that live on their nectar and spread their seeds.

We should also mention that the famous botanist Joseph Banks, who travelled on the Endeavour expedition in 1770 with James Cook is where their name comes from.

Following are some pictures of flowering Banksia fruits in different states.

Come and see them in the flesh on a day trip or overnight experience to the Blue Mountains.

 

Banksia Flower 1

Banksia flower drying

We, AEA Luxury Tours, are only a drop in the ocean of tour companies across the world. However, under the leadership of our director Don Rosenfeldt we have taken a small step which we believe will help encourage other bigger players in the tour operation game to make steps toward a change in behaviour.

For the 27 years we have been operating, we have seen the trend of single use plastic water bottles take over society. Due to the practical nature of single use plastic water bottles we have been offering them to our guests on tours for quite some time.

We have now made steps to change this. From October 2018 we will be offering all of our guests a reusable plastic water bottle with our logo as a reminder of their wonderful experience with us on a Sydney, Blue Mountains or Hunter Valley small group tour or private tour. So, it’s an environmental exercise and a branding exercise all wrapped up in the one movement.

This is a costly decision for a small touring operation such as ours, which cuts into our profit margin. However, the alternative of continuing to offer single use plastic bottles maintains that we are a guilty party in the action of plastic killing our oceans. Plastic is ending up as chemicals in our food due to fish and other animals eating plastic unintended for their consumption.

A comment from Don on the step we have taken:

“Plastic is a problem of my generation – I feel a responsibility to at least play a small part in changing and fixing the problem. Reusable water bottles are the strongest environmental message we can send to our industry and those we carry on tour”.

For outsiders the Australian political system must seem like a farce. We have just seen the governing party of Australia – The Liberal National Coalition – change its leader, which means Australia has a new Prime Minister, Australia’s 7th Prime Minister in 11 years. The new head on the chopping block is Scott Morrison. Last week his party held a ballot to decide who their new leader would be. It seemed they weren’t happy with Malcolm Turnbull, who had only been in the job for a couple of years, and as we are coming to an election year (they happen every 3 years in federal Australian politics) the party wasn’t polling well, so they purged him

So what does all this have to do with a tour operator in Sydney?

Well firstly, our guests will often ask us how it is possible that we change Prime Minister so often before the term is up. A quick explanation is that the Australian political system is the same system as the British system – a Westminster system.

This system is a form of government that has two houses, in Australia’s case the Lower house is the House of Representatives and the Upper house is the Senate. Legislation is raised by the lower house executive members, or the dominant party, and the dominant party elects a leader – The Prime Minister. The Senate, a collection of members from each state of Australia, takes legislation raised in the lower house and signs it off after debate. So you see, we don’t elect our Prime Minister, we elect our local member of parliament who represents us in the lower house and puts their vote in at the party meetings to decide a Prime Minister.

Secondly, Australian politics has a lot to do with a tour operator in Sydney because we are part of the Australian economic engine and passion for life of this country – and we would like to present ourselves as a loyal and stable place for people to visit – somewhat unlike our current crop of policy makers.

We at AEA Luxury Tours start the engines in our luxury, leather-seated vehicles each day with an enthusiasm to meet new (and return) visitors to this country and give them exclusive experiences, impart knowledge about Australian politics, lifestyle and culture with passion and zeal.

Our guides are of varied ages and temperaments with back grounds in a range of industries. The ‘Prime-minister’ of our team is the obsessive Don Rosenfeldt. He’s not elected by us, but is obsessed with collecting the best guides and putting them in to the most comfortable vehicles to impart the widest range of knowledge on the most enjoyable itineraries of any touring company in Sydney.

We Australians love to participate in our democracy… However, the fact that it is compulsory to vote means, in a way, we are forced to love it!

In contrast, we members of the AEA Luxury Tours team have a natural urge to offer the best service to visitors and demonstrate that we really to love taking guests to our signature destinations of the Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley and Sydney surrounds on small group and private tours.

The fact that we have been offering these services in Sydney for over 27 years demonstrates why we are the essence of loyalty to our cause and industry, something that can’t exactly be claimed by our fickle federal politicians.

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. In 1975 the organisation set up a process concerning the protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

Australia has 19 sites of natural and cultural significance including the spectacular Kakadu National Park (listed 1981) and The Sydney Opera house (listed 2007).

In the year 2000 Sydney held the summer Olympic Games and our harbour city was on show to the world. The Blue Mountains region was recognised that very same year with UNESCO listing. Already well known to Sydney-siders (Sydney natives) for many years as the cool climate escape to pure wilderness and welcoming townships, the hosting of the Olympics shone a light on the Blue Mountains located next-door to the 5 million people metropolis as Sydney’s go to day trip or weekend destination.

Eight protected areas make up the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area which was listed in the year 2000. The size of this region is 1.03 million hectares or 2.4 million acres.
It is hard to fathom just how large that is so you might compare it as roughly half the size of Wales in the UK.

The landscape of the regions is best described as a deeply dissected plateau dominated by temperate eucalypt tree species (the oils of which make the Blue Mountains blue). Criteria for listing of the region include the outstanding and representative examples of genus the Eucalyptus (approximately 91 species) and the diverse plant communities and geological environment that supports 400 vertebrate species (of which 40 are threatened) which breaks down as 52 mammal, 63 reptile, over 30 frog and about one third (265 species) of Australia’s bird species.

The geology and geomorphology of the region, which includes 300 metre cliffs, slot canyons and waterfalls, provides the physical conditions and visual backdrop to support these outstanding biological values.

Understandably the Blue Mountains region is our most booked destination. AEA Luxury Tours offers products to give visitors to Sydney a day or an overnight experience of the region. Whether
that be our small group Wildlife, Deluxe day or Hiking day or you may like to book our Blue Mountains Luxury Charter where you can customise the day according to your desires.

We pride ourselves on our superior itineraries, our luxurious vehicles, the exclusive locations we visit and the high quality of tour guides that give our guests a second-to-none
experience.

We welcome you ticking this world heritage listed site of your bucket list with AEA Luxury Tours.

The main river that feeds in to Sydney Harbour is called Parramatta River. Sydney’s existence is due to this waterway for the fact that the leader of the First Fleet, Arthur Phillip, found a protected deep water cove, with fresh water draining down in to it that was not populated by indigenous tribes-people of the place he would name Sydney, in respect of politician Thomas Townshend aka Lord Sydney.

Desperate endeavours of the ‘starvation years’ (the first few years of convict settlement of the NSW Colony where new arrivals meant more hungry people to feed from scarce resources) led to Parramatta river being explored extensively and farms being established alongside the river 25kms inland from Sydney cove at the place the Governor Phillip named – Rose Hill (modern day Parramatta).The farms that were established by the Parramatta river weren’t enough.

Governor Phillip went and also sent men on missions to find more land to open up for growing crops and grazing live stock. This quest to find new lands would require leaving Sydney Harbour and sailing north up the coast to the next inlet which had been named Broken Bay by James Cook when he visited on his Endeavour expedition of 1770. Draining in to Broken Bay, a wide, navigable tidal and salty water-way was discovered with steep rugged cliffs covered in abundant Eucalyptus trees and native shrubs.

That waterway would be named Hawkesbury river by Arthur Phillip in 1790 in respect of Charles Jenkinson, aka Lord Hawkesbury, whose role was a president of the Board of Trade. The indigenous Aborigines that used the river for fishing, leisure and transport had the name Dee-Rubb-in. This word translated as ‘Yams’ in the local Aboriginal dialect, which was an indicator that the Aboriginal people may have been accessing food grown from the flood plains of the Hawkesbury.

A separate earlier expedition by a man named Watkin Tench overland in a south-westerly direction from his posting at Rose Hill saw the upper reaches of the Hawkesbury river system being discovered but given the name Tench’s river firstly, and later the Nepean river. Then in 1791 Tench led a further expedition on which it was confirmed that the river system given two different names was actually connected together as one.

Today we know it as the Hawkesbury-Nepean River system. The river gave life to Sydney for the fact that its flood plains were and still are superbly fertile for farming things like nuts, fruit, vegetables and live-stock. Many free settling families used the river to gain access to lands for farming and would then transport their produce down the river, out through Broken Bay to Sydney Harbour.

Seafood from the river has also been significant to keeping Sydney communities fed and additionally important – up in the narrow reaches of one of the tributaries of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River – a river was damned to store the majority of the water-supply for the bustling metropolis of Sydney.

AEA tour products are graced by the existence of this mighty river in many ways. From the coast at Dover Heights on our Panoramic Sydney sights small group tour we can see all the way to the Blue Mountains on a clear day. Those Blue Mountains are where a great majority of the waters that drain in to the Hawkesbury-Nepean begin. When we visit the Blue Mountains for our small group Deluxe and Wildlife tour, as well as private tours, we cross the river system twice, firstly in the morning at the Nepean crossing at the foot of the Blue Mountains near Penrith and secondly in the afternoon on the way back to Sydney at the foot of the Blue Mountains near the historic township of Richmond, where it is called Hawkesbury.

When visiting wine country on our Tastings in the Hunter Valley small group tour it is hard to miss the grand river as we cross the very broad Hawkesbury River Bridge near Greater Sydney’s northern most township – Brooklyn – where the river is so close to draining out to Broken Bay, and ultimately to the Tasman Sea.

The river crossings we make on these tours allow you to look down to a water-way that reminds us of another time when river transportation was the most efficient and luxurious way to move through the landscape of Greater Sydney.

We welcome you to join us in one of our modern luxurious vehicles to savour importance of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River System as the life-blood of the Greater Sydney region.

 

Spacious and surrounded by natural bushland Calmsley Hill City Farm provides the unique balance between native animals and a working farm environment that you are searching for, right on the edge of suburban Sydney and conveniently located on the route out to the Blue Mountains wilderness region.

On entry to the farm a handler will bring a Koala to you for an exclusive photo opportunity for NO extra fee while you enjoy a delicious morning tea. Calmsley Hill City Farm includes Australia’s best-known native animals. After meeting a Koala, you can sidle up to free range Kangaroos, Wallabies & Emus.

This new attraction will be included in our Blue Mountains Deluxe Day, Blue Mountains Hiking, Blue Mountains Wildlife & Blue Mountains Luxury Charter products.

Book now for a taste of Aussie farming life and wildlife so close to Sydney at Calmsley Hill Fam.

Here are some images and a video of this unique attraction…

Wallaby kiss Kangaroo Koala chest Wallaby petting Koala petting  Lizard petting

Calmsley outdoor tables  Koala & keeper

 Emus

Koala in tree

When visiting Sydney there’s 2 iconic structures that you can’t leave without seeing, shooting & being shot in front of. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to not see them or snap a picture of them while you are here.

We are talking of course about the money shot of The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. When you see them together in a photographic frame it’s as if they were always there and were put there for aesthetic photographic symmetry.

Yet, when you break it down these two structures represent such different eras and ideas in design and construction. The bridge from an industrial era of steel & stone works and hardworking labourers painstakingly slotting it all together. Rigid but magnificently grand Sydney-siders affectionately know it as the Coat-Hanger.

The opera house represents the limits of the combination of architectural engineering and abstract design and you would be hard pressed to find a building constructed after it that attracts so much attention. Thanks must go to Danish architect Jørn Utzon for his abstract forethought and serendipitous experimentation – it is said he was inspired by segments of a cut orange peel, we Sydney-siders call them the Opera house ‘sails’ in an attempt to portray that he was actually thinking of sailing boats on our harbour.

The other concept one needs to grasp is that as well as being aesthetically pleasing to view and photograph, both the Bridge and the Opera House are massively important to the beating heart of Sydney transportation and arts culture respectively. If we didn’t have them Sydney would feel naked and deformed.

AEA Luxury Tours run a morning and afternoon small group tour called Panoramic Sydney Sights and the Bridge and the Opera House play a starring role as we move to different vantage points around the harbour allowing you to take short walks to enjoy and photograph these 2 icons, amongst other iconic elements of Sydney. We’ll happily drop you off near the Bridgeclimb office or the Opera House if you wish to get more up close and personal with the money shot icons.

On a private tour called Sydney City Luxury Charter (half day or full day) we can get you to even more angles to view, to shoot and be photographed in front of. These experiences also include a drive over the Sydney Harbour bridge to the Northern suburbs. Seeing the icons from the north shore of Sydney adds a whole new  wonderful perspective.

Following are just a few examples of the money shots taken while out on tour with gleeful visitors soaking in the glory and making the Sydney money shot dream a reality. We welcome you to join us in Sydney for a luxury small group tour or private tour to let us make it a reality for you too.

A recent report from our senior guide Lindsay…..

What a wonderful and warm family the Boris party was for their private touring to the Hunter Valley and Blue Mountains on 27 and 28 April 2018.

Day 1 – Hunter Valley

The visit to the Reptile Park was fabulous. They loved it! The kangaroos were hungry!

They felt it was one of the best parks they have been to saying it was wonderful to combine wildlife with a wine tour and their 21 year old really enjoyed the experience.

They loved Pepper Tree Wines – a wonderful setting with excellent wines. Next, Leogate winery pulled out all the stops and attention to detail was perfect. The birthday cake they prepared for Mrs Boris was fantastic.
We sang Happy Birthday (probably out of tune!) It was a great experience for them.

On Friday night I rang the Merivale group that own Fred’s restaurant to wish Mrs Boris a Happy Birthday. The reception said the booking had been cancelled. I thought that’s odd and maybe they chose another restaurant.

Next day they said that the Lunch and Birthday cake at Leogate was so filling and fantastic that they couldn’t eat anymore!

Day 2 – Blue Mountains.

We covered all lookouts in the lower mountains. This even included the only Beach in the Blue Mountains, a very pretty spot since the rest of the Mountains very foggy. They really enjoyed the very professional Aboriginal Show and loved lunch at Echoes restaurant.

Govetts Leap was foggy when we arrived but I suggested we wait a few minutes and it might clear! Well as luck would have it, it did. Just that little window of opportunity, it opened up then closed again.

We had Champagne at Mt Banks. All clear and perfect. As we left it started to rain and the weather closed in. We were very lucky weather-wise.

Great 2 days with a great family.

 

We’ve been running our new Blue Mountains itinerary for a few weeks now.

Here’s some recent images out on the the tour captured by Guides Lindsay, Matilda and Scott….

        

This new itinerary sees us no longer stop at Featherdale Wildlife park but instead head direct to the Blue Mountains national park, with the first stop being Euroka clearing.

Euroka is a splendid natural clearing in the lower Blue Mountains with abundant bird life, and sometimes we see wild Kangaroos.

Near Euroka is the Tunnel View and Portal lookouts.

In the afternoon we head down in to Hartley Vale, a valley that time forgot on the western side of the Blue Mountains plateau.

We welcome you to join us on either a small group tour or private tour from Sydney out to this natural wonderland of the  Blue Mountains just an hour and a half from Sydney.