Australia is rich in magnificent scenery and unique attractions, but few experiences compare to learning about the country from its original custodians. Taking tours run by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander guides is an excellent way to get a unique, authentic view of the land.
In Queensland’s north, for example, you only have to walk a few metres into Mossman Gorge before your guide points out leaves which can be used as soap when rubbed with water – they foam up and create a fragrant lather. He will point out the trees that the make the best good canoes. He will show you which berries are good to eat, which nuts can be lit like a candle and even leaves and berries that are highly poisonous.
There are a wonderful range of Indigenous activities and tours on offer with the chance to taste bush tucker, experience the healing powers of nature, immerse yourself in music, dance, ancient traditions and hear stories of the land. You can even learn to throw a spear, collect wild mussels and catch mangrove mudcrabs.
If you’re seeking a unique and truly memorable experience on your next Aussie holiday, why not add an First Nations tour to your next itinerary?
Even in the heart of metropolitan Melbourne, you can experience a guided Indigenous cultural interpretive walk. You can take these tours at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens, where you can discover plant lore relating to food, medicine and tools; you can also participate in a ceremony on a site that was once a traditional camping and meeting place for the Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung people.
Cooya Beach is a traditional fishing ground of the Kuku Yalanji Bama people. This unique coastal area has three diverse ecosystems – beach, mangroves and coastal reef – that are connected to each other by the ever-changing mudflats and tidal lagoons. Today, brothers Linc and Brandon Walker follow the traditions of their ancestors who, for thousands of years, educated visitors about the Kuku Yalanji culture. On a Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat tour you can learn how to throw a spear, hunt and observe wildlife, and learn how to track coastal resources as Linc and Brandon share some of their extensive knowledge of this special area.
The Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks, conducted by Kuku Yalanji locals, are a must-do for any visitor to Mossman Gorge. As you journey along private tracks past the crystal-clear streams and rock pools, your guide will take you to significant cultural sites, past traditional bark shelters and tell fascinating stories of the Kuku Yalanji people and their connection to country. Highlights include a traditional smoking ceremony, and a natural soap- and ochre paint-making demonstration.
Sydney Harbour may be one of Australia’s most famous landmarks, but you can experience more than nice views on an Aboriginal harbour cruise. Step back in time to take a glimpse into the lives of Sydney’s original inhabitants, the Gadigal people. Your guides will teach you the Aboriginal names and meanings of some of Sydney’s most famous landmarks, and share information about the tribes that once lived in New South Wales. A traditional welcome and bush tucker lunch on Clark Island is an experience to remember.
The Blue Mountains
Walkabout into the Dreamtime offers guests insight into the traditional, local Darug culture. The song line (story of place) leads you through bush land and rainforest to sacred sites of the Dreamtime. The six-hour tour consists of two hours’ walking coupled with four hours of relaxation and interpretive activities. During this time, you’ll discover ancient art sites and artefacts, learn about bush medicine, taste bush tucker, see wildlife and stunning scenery, experience ochre bark and body painting and connect with the Dreamtime through story, art, ritual and dance. In summer, you can swim under a waterfall in a crystal-clear billabong. In winter, you can enjoy lunch in a sunny sandstone cave by a warm, crackling log fire.
Koomal Dreaming Tours provide an opportunity for Dunsborough visitors to experience Wadandi and Bibbulman country through the eyes of the traditional owners. You’ll be given the opportunity to taste native foods, learn about bush medicine, and meet the animals, plants and Dreaming spirits sacred to the Wadandi and Bibbulman people. Journey into Ngilgi Cave and be mesmerised by a live didgeridoo performance, deep inside the cave. Take a bushwalk and learn how to identify traditional plants, foods and medicines relating to the aboriginal six seasonal changes. Discover the art of traditional fire-lighting and tool-making, and participate in a Didgeridoo Music Session. This tour has all the highlights from the Ngilgi Cave Cultural tour, plus the opportunity to taste seasonal foods around the campfire.