Uncover an ancient side of Australia with these 8 Indigenous tourism experiences

By Kathryn Chung, Jane Nicholls, Jocelyn Pride and Joanna Tovia

<em>The wukalina Walk is a three night, four day Aboriginal owned and operated guided walk, credit: Tayla Gentle</em>
The wukalina Walk is a three night, four day Aboriginal owned and operated guided walk, credit: Tayla Gentle
From sampling bush tucker under the Southern Desert sky, to hiking ancestral trails along the Tasmanian coast, First Nations communities across Australia are creating rich, fascinating and unforgettable experiences for visitors.

Tropical North Queensland

Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours, credit: Tourism Tropical North Queensland

You can experience the oldest living culture in the world direct from Cairns with the opening of new indigenous tours in Tropical North Queensland. The only region with two distinct cultures, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Tropical North Queensland is home to more than 20 tour options.

Wunyami Cultural Walking Tour offers a guided journey around Wunyami (Green Island), an ancient coral cay with an equally fascinating cultural history. Join indigenous guides and learn about the fascinating ancestorial tales of the island.

Wunyami Cultural Walking Tour journeys around Wunyami (Green Island), credit: Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Mandigalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours offer 3-hour tours exploring ancient rainforest, coastal and estuarine landscapes. For something different, large groups are able to participate in a Deadly Dinner or overnight stays.

Strait Experience – A Strait Day, credit: Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Strait Experiences – A Strait Day is a new tour to the Torres Strait Islands. The one-day tour allows you to explore two of the more populated islands, Thursday (Waiben) and Horn (Ngarupai) as well as enjoy a scenic flight along the Cape York Peninsula.

Gallery of Central Australia

Credit: Joanna Tovia

With the borders open and a trickle of visitors returning to Uluru, those who live and work here are welcoming them back with open arms. The newly opened Gallery of Central Australia (GoCA) has been dubbed the ‘MONA of Central Australia’. Located within Ayers Rock Resort, the gallery’s paintings, weavings and sculptures have been sources from remote communities throughout Central Australia and the Western Desert – and they’re incredible.

“Art is our story, of Country, of waterways, of sky,” says Rhoda Roberts AO, GoCA’s newly appointed Arts Ambassador. Roberts, a Widjabul/Wia-bal woman from the Bundjalung territories, is an actor, producer, writers, arts advisor and artistic director whose work is widely recognised as having elevated the Indigenous arts scene in Australia. “What we see in this gallery is vital for our future; it’s these stories that will continue the transmission of knowledge to future generations.”

Credit: Joanna Tovia

Tali Wira, run by Ayer’s Rock Resort, which means ‘beautiful dune’ in Pitjantjatjara encapsulates the magic of fine dining under the Southern Desert sky, with views of Uluru. It runs from October to April and limited to 20 guests.

Budj Bim

Credit: Visit Victoria

The world’s oldest aquaculture site and a dormant volcano lead the way for vibrant Indigenous tourism in south-west Victoria. Budj Bim Cultural Landscape is Australia’s most recent UNESCO World Heritage listed site and the first based completely on Aboriginal culture. Located in a south-west pocked of Victoria and around 3.5 hours from Melbourme, Budj Bim Cultural Landscape covers 6,300 hectares.

Credit: Visit Victoria

In addition to witnessing the world’s oldest aquaculture system, the area is rich in remnants of stone huts the Gunditjmara people lived in for thousands of years. Budj Bim Cultural Landscape offers a range of two-hour to whole-day guided tours to the various component within the vast expanse of the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Worn Gundidji at Tower Hill runs Indigenous culture and bush tucker guided tours twice a day from Monday to Saturday.

wukalina Walk

The wukalina Walk is a three night, four day Aboriginal owned and operated guided walk, credit: Tayla Gentle

The palawa guides of wukalina Walk like to explain that if you’re walking through Indigenous land without Indigenous guides, you’re missing 90 per cent of the knowledge. wukalina Walk is a 4-day guided walking experience, led by the palawa people in Bay of Fires, lutruwita (Tasmania).

Credit: Rob Burnett

As you explore their cultural homeland of wukalina (Mt William National Park) and larapuna (Bay of Fires), you’ll hear stories from the First Nations guides about their ancestors, the history of colonisation, language, native food and crafts.

Accommodation includes a purpose-built camp with beautiful domed huts, a short walk from the picturesque beach, and a charming lighthouse keeper’s cottage.

“wukalina Walk is about cultural expression and providing an opportunity for community members interested in expressing their culture in that broader way to people who they don’t know. To walk them across Country and interpret the culture,” says Clyde Mansell, palawa Elder and founder of wukalina Walk.

Arnhem Land

Credit: Lirrwi Tourism

Arnhem Land in the north-eastern corner of the Northern Territory was largely closed to outsiders for almost a century, preserving the precious culture of its people. Now visitors are welcome to experience and understand the culture of the traditional owners who have lived here for thousands of years.

Around 100,000 square kilometres of this precious part of the Top End of Australia was declared a reserve for Aboriginal people in 1931, taking the name Arnhem Land from the one given it by a 1600s Dutch explorer. It’s wilderness rich with the sacred sites and songlines of at least 60,000 years of continuous living culture, the oldest on earth.

Credit: Lirrwi Tourism

Aboriginal-owned Lirrwi Tourisn offers cultural stays. Guests are welcomed like family into whichever homeland is osting them for a gloriously unstructured few days in a stunning landscape. Timmy Djawa Burarrwana and his wife Rita Wopurruwuy Gondarra welcome guests into their home of Bawaka, which boasts six pine cabins for guests to stay. Nearby Lonely Beach – or Nalarrk – is a postcard-perfect spot where two beaches meet at a spit fo sand and a tiny island.


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