Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Australians Across the Great War – Anzac Day 2010 Tour

With interest in Australia’s wartime history at the forefront following the discovery of the Centaur hospital ship and the reburial of the Australian dead in a new Commonwealth war cemetery at Fromelles in northern France, specialist French travel agency France @ Leisure and Tour Escort Kieran McCarthy are pleased to offer a boutique tour to France to retrace the steps our Australian soldiers took in The Great War.

Following the highly acclaimed maiden tour in 2009, Brisbane family lawyer and military history aficionado, Kieran McCarthy and France @ Leisure’s Christian Blondeau once again take to the battlefields of France to retrace and commemorate Australia’s invaluable contributions in WW1.

“In no other theatre or conflict have Australians played such a decisive role, yet paid such a harrowing price, as on the Great War battlefields of The Somme and Flanders,” Tour Escort, Kieran McCarthy said.

“Culminating in the 2010 Anzac Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux, this tour will retrace the steps of nearly 300,000 Australians – the ordinary and extraordinary, who answered a young country’s call to the colours.”

“We will visit places redolent of a ‘distant grief’ – Fromelles, Pozieres, Polygon Wood, Bullecourt – and those synonymous with the long march to victory – V.B., Le Hamel and Mont St Quentin.”

A boutique tour such as this provides the opportunity for travelers to tailor their trip to include personal experiences such as visits to the graves of family members.

“On last year’s tour, we watched as the granddaughters of one digger walked the road between two villages where the man met his end from strafing German planes, and later visited his grave at Villers-Bretonneux,” McCarthy said.

“We also visited the grave of a young doctor who had done his training at the Royal Children’s Hospital Brisbane prior to the onset of the war. His great nephew, a Brisbane solicitor, was the first member of the doctor’s family to visit his grave – 93 years after his death when a shell hit his Regimental Aid Post.”

It is these special moments that McCarthy believes sets the France @ Leisure Anzac Day 2010 tour apart from the more mainstream travel package offerings.

“Last year at Queant Road Cemetery, near Bullecourt, we read tributes prepared by the school children of St Joseph’s Bardon, in memory of the dead of the 14th Battalion – “Jacka’s Mob”. For many this was the most moving experience of all,” McCarthy said.

There is an additional option available this year for an extension tour to the Normandy beaches of WWII.

It was McCarthy’s voracious passion for military history that formed the partnership with long time acquaintance, Christian Blondeau of France @ Leisure.

“Kieran has travelled with us through France @ Leisure and in the course our continued association I began to realise what an incredible guide he would make,” Blondeau said.

“I could see that his specialised knowledge and enthusiasm, which had taken him to the Somme, Flanders and beyond well before our first tour, coincided well with my commitment to providing highly personalised and boutique service.”

Blondeau established France @ Leisure, Queensland’s first and only accredited travel agency specialising in French travel for Queensland. As a native of France, Christian has been committed to giving Queensland travellers experiences of France unique to his local contacts around the country and his emphasis on personalised, blue-chip service.


Tour commences in Paris on 22nd April and concludes back in Paris on 29th April. The tour cost is $3,800 per person twin share. Inclusions are accommodation, transport, breakfast, some lunches and dinners.

Air fares are additional and can be booked through France @ Leisure at group rates (if applicable).

For more information, visit http://www.franceatleisure.com or phone 07 3220 2200.

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