Welcome to Country: Eight fascinating Indigenous experiences

Traditional dance is a highlight of the Tiwi by Design tour.

Traditional dance is a highlight of the Tiwi by Design tour. Photo: Tourism Australia

The oldest living culture in the world has a lot to share, so joining a tour with an Aboriginal guide – whether it’s a walk in an urban park, or camping on a remote coast with the area’s traditional custodians – offers a unique perspective.  

Here’s just a small selection of the hundreds of Indigenous experiences out there.

Tiwi by Design, Tiwi Islands, NT

Take a two-and-a-half-hour ferry ride from Darwin to the Aboriginal community of Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island, one of the remote Tiwi Islands to immerse yourself in that culture. The Tiwi by Design tour starts at the arts centre with a Welcome to Country by elders, traditional Tiwi dance and homemade damper for morning tea. Meet the locals and try your hand at screen-printing, which is not as easy as you may think. The Islands are renowned for their artwork, and weaving, carving and printmaking are some of the activities at the centre. Lunch under the trees, visit the historic timber church, St Therese’s (which appeared in Top End Wedding) and explore the Patakijiyali Museum. There’s also time for storytelling – from Dreamtime to the island’s role during WW 11 – and some talk about Tiwi Islanders’ great love of Aussie Rules football.

One day, from $429

We all going Cape Tribulation, Qld

A full-day tour in the remarkable rainforest-meets-reef coast of Far North Queensland, We all going Cape Tribulation is led by a guide from the local Kuku Yalanji people, revealing a diverse and fascinating ecology and rich cultural history. This Indigenous experience, including two World Heritage sites, the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, provides a First Nation insight into seasonal bush foods and bush medicines. You can walk in the mangroves, see bush tucker (with luck, freshwater mud crabs) and hear how closely caring for Country is woven into the lives of the Kuku Yalanji. There’s time to swim in the freshwater streams, walk on the beach (watch for crocs) and enjoy this precious environment.  

One day, from $245

Aboriginal Heritage Walk, Melbourne, Vic

Go walkabout through the sprawling Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne (Narrm) with an Indigenous guide and discover the significance of this site to the people of the Kulin Nation. You will find native plants and learn about their traditional uses for food and medicine and the ongoing link between the Kulin people and Country.

Two hours, from $40

Aboriginal Heritage Walk

Discover some of the native plants used by the people of the Kulin Nation on the Aboriginal Heritage Walk. Photo: Visit Victoria

Connect to Country, Eurobodalla, NSW

Follow Yuin Nation elder Patricia Ellis along the Bingi Dreaming Track in the magnificent Eurobodalla National Park on the NSW south coast, to learn about the region’s bush food, bush medicine and traditional practices. Find out how foods were found and used, and discover Dreamtime stories related to the saltwater people of the Yuin Nation.  

Two hours, $80

Wilpena Pound Cultural Tours, SA

The traditional owners of this land, the Adnyamathanha, have lived in the Flinders Ranges (Ikara) for millennia. On this Aboriginal cultural tour, about 450km north of Adelaide, your Yuru guide will share the significance of this sacred place in their stories. The Akarroo Adnya (Rock) tour takes visitors through the magnificent bush country to the ochre paintings recorded by the Adnyamathanha’s ancestors. The scenery is vast, ancient and beautiful – a fabulous setting for understanding the stories of the Yura Muda, or Dreaming. And if you like this, some of their other tours include to Brachina Gorge and Yura Malka or Sacred Canyon.

Three hours, $85

Wilpena Pound Cultural Tour

Explore the scenic Ikara with Wilpena Cultural Tours.

Kooyang Walk, Budj Bim, Vic

The traditional lands of the Gunditjmara people in the south-western corner of Victoria, about 340km from Melbourne, take in a dramatic coastline, forests, extensive wetlands, Tae Rak (Lake Condah) and Budj Bim (Mount Eccles) an extinct volcano. On a full-day Kooyang Walk in the northern section of the region you will see historical kooyang (eel) traps and stone house sites and learn about aquaculture techniques used by the Gunditjmara over centuries. World Heritage–listed, the region is of enormous cultural, archaeological and environmental significance. The countryside supports plentiful wildlife, including a large koala population. At Tae Rak Aquaculture Centre you will find out more about the region. The café, overlooking the lake uses regionally sourced foods infused with bush herbs and spices – and yes, smoked kooyang is on the menu. 

One day, $199

Borrgoron Coast to Creek Tours, WA

At Cygnet Bay (Borrgoron) on Western Australia’s Dampier Peninsula, north of Broome, Terry Hunter, a fourth-generation pearler and proud Bardi man, leads the Coast to Creek tours that explore the Bardi Jawi people’s special relationship to their Country. Having lived in harmony with the land for centuries, they understand the importance of caring for the environment. Terry demonstrates traditional coastal hunting techniques, foraging for oysters along the coastal flats and sharing his deep knowledge of bush foods, bush medicine and survival skills. Tours leave from the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm.

Two hours, $85

Borgorron Coast to Creek Tours.

Terry Hunter of Borgorron Coast to Creek Tours. Photo Cygnett Bay Pearl Farm

Wukalina Walk, Tasmania  

A four-day hike from Mt William National Park (wukalina) to Bay of Fires (larapuna) in the north-east of Tasmania, across the traditional lands of the palawa, offers a unique perspective on the past and the present. The First Nations people of Tasmania (lutrawita) lived here for thousands of years. You will hear cultural stories of the palawa, and learn about the bush foods that were part of everyday life. You might even get to try a favourite tucker – mutton birds. The walk is also about how the palawa live today, and their ongoing connection to Country. 

Four days, three nights, from $2895 

For more information, two excellent sources on Indigenous experiences are Welcome to Country and Discover Aboriginal Experiences 

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