Australia’s most inspiring indigenous experiences

Australia’s most inspiring indigenous experiences

Bush tucker, rock art, multi-day walks and more.

Words by Ute Junker

Photos Shaana McNaught for Tourism Northern Territory

First published in Law Society Journal

It’s never been easier to immerse yourself in indigenous culture. Travel almost anywhere in the country and you will find First Nations people offering activities and experiences that introduce you to the local culture. Whether you want to discover ancient sites, meet contemporary artists or try some bush tucker, these experiences are real eye-openers. By Ute Junker

Walk Tasmania’s indigenous trails

Where: Bay of Fires, Tasmania

With its eucalypt and grass tree forests, its granite outcrops and its pristine beaches, the Bay of Fires is just made for hiking – and the area’s most memorable walk also takes you deep into Tasmania’s indigenous history. The three-night, four-day wukalina Walk is guided by members of the local Palawa people, who share plenty of stories and cultural insights along the way. There’s nothing hardcore about this walk: daily hikes range from 5km to 17km, dinners include scallops grilled in their shells over the fire, and guests sleep in timber huts under cosy duvets. Guests also get to try their hands at a range of activities including making clap sticks and reed basket making.

Feast on bush tucker

Where: Margaret River, WA

There are no restaurant bookings required to enjoy one of Margaret River’s most memorable meals. Simply join Josh Whiteland of Koomal Dreaming for a gourmet barbecue lunch and enjoy a smorgasbord of seasonal indigenous flavours, anything from salt bush to emu plum. The barbecue is available on a number of Whiteland’s tours which explore the region through the eyes of the indigenous Wadandi and Bibbulman people. Visit one of the area’s dramatic limestone caves, home to a powerful spirit, or go foraging and fishing in Meelup Regional Park before cooking up the catch for lunch.

Visit Australia’s art island

Where: Melville Island, Northern Territory

A ferry ride from Darwin takes you to Bathurst Island, part of the Tiwi archipelago and a place where art is found everywhere. On the walls, in the shops, on the backs of passersby, distinctive Tiwi motifs are captured in colourful murals and printed on even brighter scarves. Tiwi islanders excel at turning anything into art, from pandanus that is woven into baskets to ironwood trees that are carved into burial poles. AAT Kings offers a day trip that includes the opportunity to meet local artists as well as to see a totem dance.

Hear campfire tales under a starry sky

Where: Flinders Ranges, SA

The Flinders Ranges is more than just one of Australia’s most spectacular landscapes: it is also the terrain in which the tales of the Muda (Dreaming) of the Adnyamathanha people are inscribed.  At Iga Warta, guests can experience those tales firsthand through guided walks, through visits to ochre pits and painting sites and, perhaps most memorably, around the campfire. As the aroma of damper drifts from the fire, hear the songs and stories of this resilient people – or stretch out the experience with an overnight camping trip.

Gaze on a hidden rock art gallery

Where: Laura, Queensland

Nestled under the towering sandstone escarpments that surround the outbacktown of Laura is a series of rock art galleries listed by UNESCO as among the top 10 rock art sites in the world. Along with ancestor spirits and hunting scenes, the rock art depicts the entire lore of the traditional owners, the Kuku Yalanji. As well as visiting many of these galleries, Johnny Murison’s Jarramali Rock Art Tours introduce you to some of the area’s other memorable experiences, including bathing in natural clifftop pools.

Plunge into the saltwater life

Where: Cape Leveque, WA

Set back from one of the Kimberley’s magnificent beaches, Kooljaman is a wilderness camp run by the local Bardi Jawi people. A number of elders lead immersive tours that take you deep into traditional culture and ways of life. Bolo Angus leads a Lullumb Coastal Walk that introduces you to the mangroves, mudflats and creeks that form part of the Bardi Jawi land. As well as sharing tales of how this land was created, Bolo will teach you some essential survival skills: how to find fresh water, how to build a shelter and how to survive in the bush.

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