Travelplan – A Century of History in Travel

Travelplan has been operating for nearly 50 years, however travel and touring has been in the Withers family for over a century. The photo shows the return of a Central Australian tour in the 1920’s by ‘Pioneer Tours’, founded by ancestors of the Withers family who own and founded Travelplan.

The first coach tour from Melbourne to Sydney was operated by Withers Pty Ltd – The White Charabancs in 1916. The Charabanc was driven by Percy Withers, David’s father, and Toby’s Grandfather. Percy was 17 at the time and later enlisted and went to England to join the AFC (Australian Flying Corps). The company changed its name to Pioneer Tours in the 1920s.

A century of history in travel | From 1916 to now

The photo above is of a tour by the company in 1918, with a stop in the Snowy Mountains town of Kiandra. Kiandra has an important place in the history of skiing in Australia and the World.

Below is an extract from Wikipedia:

The Kiandra Snow Shoe Club was founded in the gold-mining district of Kiandra, New South WalesAustralia by three Norwegians — as early as 1861 by some accounts— and reportedly became the “world’s longest continuously running ski club” as it evolved into the present-day Kiandra Pioneer Ski Club in Perisher Valley, NSW. Whether the club is the first of its kind has been subject to debate. In this case, “snow shoe” is an archaic term for “ski”.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) recognized the club “for having organized the first Alpine races in the history of the sport”.


Some have claimed this was the world’s first ski club, and the sport of skiing was invented at Kiandra.

Central Australian travel in the early 1920’s was a challenging adventure through vast wilderness. Often there were no roads and the passengers had to push the vehicles out of bogs or sand. There was a baggage/catering truck, usually driven by the cook and one or two basic coaches for the passengers.

We look forward to bringing in your more stories of ‘Pioneer Tours’ in the future.