8 Incredible Indigenous Australian Travel Experiences to Book

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Indigenous rights activist and professor Marcia Langton has written an essential travel guide for those who want to learn more about, and experience, Australia’s indigenous culture and history. Welcome to Country outlines nearly 200 activities, festivals, events, tours and performances and includes a guide to indigenous customs, history and etiquette. Here, we highlight some of our favourite Aboriginal Australian experiences taking in culturally significant sites across the continent. 

Bangarra

Bangarra

Dance is an important part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life. It is an ancient form of storytelling that connects people with their spirits, ancestors, community and traditional lands, and it is a vibrant part of Indigenous culture today. Since it was founded in 1989, Bangarra has inspired audiences nationally and internationally. Its performances of powerful and emotive dance and music bring together the contemporary and traditional duality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. For the artistic director, Frances Rings, the dance company’s relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and respected Elders remains at the heart of Bangarra. Stories for the company’s productions are gathered from around the country and performed by highly skilled artists – each with their own proud Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander background that drives their passion and influences their styles of dance. Bangarra tours nationally in the major cities and in regional Australia, and also regularly tours internationally. Each production displays the wonderful diversity that is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia.
For dates, locations and ticket prices visit: bangarra.com.au or call +61 2 9251 5333.

Bremer Island Banubanu Beach Retreat

Bremer Island Banubanu Beach Retreat

Banubanu Beach Retreat is an eco-resort in East Arnhem Land, built in partnership with the Yolŋu Yolgnu people on whose land the retreat is located. The resort offers a peaceful island getaway offering guests the luxuries of space and solitude. There are accommodation options to suit all tastes: the Deluxe Beachfront Bungalows and Exclusive Beachfront Penthouse accommodation. Day visits to the retreat are also available, where guests will receive a welcome drink, use of the facilities and a 2-course lunch. Banubanu Beach Retreat offers a range of tours and experiences, such as fishing charters, guided mud-crabbing tours, bird watching, bushwalks and swimming.


WHERE: Bremer Island is located just off the coast of Nhulunbuy in East Arnhem Land, and is accessible by light aircraft or boat from Nhulunbuy.

Venture North Safaris


WHERE: Bremer Island is located just off the coast of Nhulunbuy in East Arnhem Land, and is accessible by light aircraft or boat from Nhulunbuy.
For more information visit: banubanu.com or call +61 8 8987 8085

Venture North Safaris

Dreamtime Southern X

Family-owned Venture North Safaris is a multi-award winning tour company that specialises in small-group tours exploring the rich cultures and environments of the Northern Territory. Venture North offers a range of multi-day, 4WD tours around remotes areas of Arnhem Land, Kakadu, Garig Gunak Barlu, Litchfield and Nitmiluk national parks and the Kimberley. For those who love fishing, there are also multi-day fly in/fly out fishing charters available, where guests are flown from Darwin to the Cobourg coastal camp (flights take 1 hour), and provided with an exclusive fishing experience, all equipment, meals and accommodation and shown the best places to fish in one of Australia’s true wilderness areas by experienced guides.
TIPS FOR VISITORS: Venture North offers the chance to create completely customised private charters as well. All details and booking forms can be found on the website.
WHERE: Venture North tours operate out of Darwin.
For more information visit: venturenorth.com.au or call +61 8 8927 5500

Dreamtime Southern X

Ngaran Ngaran Cultural Awareness

Operating out of central Sydney, Dreamtime Southern X is owned and run by Aunty Margret Campbell, an Indigenous woman who was raised in Dunghutti country on the northeast coast of NSW. Margret was educated from age 5 in her traditional custodianship, the Baranbyatti Mirra Buuka (Dreamtime Southern Cross), and encapsulates the living wisdom of her ancestors’ Dreamtime. Margret has had a long career as an accredited teacher and has applied this knowledge to Dreamtime Southern X, which offers The Rocks Dreaming Aboriginal Dreaming Tour for individual tourists. The tour departs from Cadman’s Cottage and makes a total of 7 stops at significant sites during a 90-minute walk around The Rocks. Tours give insights into the ancient heritage of the Aboriginal people of Sydney Harbour and their use of and connection to the Harbour’s waterways and foreshores.
WHERE: Cadman’s Cottage, 110 George St, The Rocks, Sydney.
For more information visit: dreamtimesouthernx.com.au or call +61 403 686 433, (+61 403 686 433 for international)


Ngaran Ngaran Cultural Awareness

Grampians National Park

Ngaran Ngaran Cultural Awareness (NNCA) was established in 2011 and is an Aboriginal-owned and operated business and Tourism Australia accredited Indigenous Tourism Champion located on the NSW far south coast on Yuin country. Owner and operator Dwanye Bannon-Harrison created NNCA to pass on the legacies left to him by his family over 17 years of traditional teaching in Yuin country. Ngaran Ngaran offers a range of workshops, performances and multi-day tours, including their ever-popular Yuin Retreat, which gives participants a 2-night, fully guided walking tour departing from the Narooma region of the south coast. It includes traditional performances, ceremonies, a fully guided tour of the Djirringanj Dreaming Trail and Indigenour inspired meals. 

WHERE: Narooma and the Tilba region are 4½ hours drive south of Sydney, or 3 hours drive east of Canberra. Bus transfers are available from the local Moruya airport as well as Sydney and Canberra airports at additional costs.
For more information visit: ngaranaboriginalculture.com or call +61 408 272 121

Grampians National Park

Wilpena Pound Resort

The Grampians National Park is a must see if visiting Victoria. The landscape is timeless, rugged and beautiful. The Grampians (Gariwerd) is and has always been a significant place for Victorian Aboriginal people, and their incredible rock art can be seen throughout the park, and at Bunjil’s Shelter in particular.
ABORIGINAL CULTURAL HERITAGE: For the Aboriginal people of this area, Bunjil is an essential spiritual figure and the creator of life. Bunjil created the land, the trees, the people, the food and resources, the waterways, religion and Law. To see Bunjil’s Shelter is to gaze upon rock art that is thousands of years old and yet the spirit and beliefs of Bunjil the creator are still evident in Victorian Aboriginal culture today. Many Victorian Aboriginal people continue to respect the stories and artworks about Bunjil that have been passed down through the generations and preserved in art galleries and museums.
THINGS TO DO: To discover more about the park’s natural and cultural landscape and to gain the most up-to-date information about the Grampians, visit the Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre. Visitors can go to the spectacular Gariwerd Dreaming Theatre and take in the interpretive displays at the centre. Cultural rangers take groups on bush-tucker walks and rock-art tours.
WHERE: The park is located in Western Victoria, 3-hour (260 km) drive from Melbourne; and 5-hour (460 km) drive from Adelaide. It is easily accessed from the villages of Halls Gap, Wartook and Dunkeld, and a scenic day trip from the regional towns of Hamilton, Horsham, Stawell and Ararat. The Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre is located just south of the Halls Gap township.
WHEN: The Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre: 9 am–5 pm daily; closed Christmas Day.
CAMPING: A variety of campgrounds are located in beautiful forest surroundings. All have basic amenities including pit toilets, fireplaces and picnic tables; they do not have power. Drinking water is not provided so bring your own. Book early during busy holiday periods.
COST: Park admission is free.
For camping fees and more information visit: parkweb.vic.gov.au or call +61 3 5361 4000

Wilpena Pound Resort

Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tour

The only accommodation located within the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, Wilpena Pound Resort was purchased in 2012 as a joint venture by Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) and the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA), to provide a sustainable economic future for the local Adnyamathanha people. The resort offers a number of activities to visitors to Adnyamathanha Country, including Aboriginal culture walks, mountain biking, and scenic flights around the park and over Lake Eyre. Accommodation ranges from hotel rooms to luxury safari tents and camping grounds; check the website for details.
WHERE: Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is located 429 km north of Adelaide and accessible by car or scenic flight transfer (must be arranged in advance). Buses run from Adelaide to the town of Hawker, with transfers available from Hawker to the resort if booked in advance.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Partial park closures are implemented during the summer months. Check the resort website for changes to activities.
For more information contact resort reception: +61 8 8648 0004; reservations: 1800 805 802; campground bookings: +61 8 8648 0048; wilpenapound.com.au

Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tour

Welcome to Country, Marcia Langton

Beautiful Cooya Beach (Kuyu Kuyu), a 15-minute drive north of Port Douglas, is the traditional fishing grounds of the Kuku Yalanji people and home to Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours. Both the Coastal Beach and Mangrove tour and the Coastal Beach Night Time walk focus mainly on fishing. A Kuku Yalanji Traditional Owner will meet visitors at their traditional homeland on Cooya Beach where they continue to practice their cultural activities and maintain their cultural heritage. After explaining the importance of this country, guides will introduce guests to their traditional fishing activity of spear throwing and handling as it is still practiced here today. Visitors can try their hand at fishing with a spear, and learn about traditional medicinal and food plants along the way. In the night tour, visitors can walk or row into the waters to fish. The Tradition Owners, the Kuku Yalanji people, operate and conduct the tours, providing visitors with the opportunity to see how the Kuku Yalanji people have hunted for thousands of years, and how they have mastered and adapted to using technology to continue hunting.
WHERE: Cooya Beach, Mossman.
For more information visit: kycht.com.au or call +61 7 4098 3437

This is an edited extract from Welcome to Country by Marcia Langton published by Hardie Grant Travel ($39.99). Available where all good books are sold.

Image credit: Jacob Nash (Bangarra)

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