Aboriginal tourism is flourishing all over Australia, as international visitors become even more fascinated by the ancient wisdom of the world’s oldest living culture. These eight Aboriginal tours are key members of Tourism Australia’s Indigenous Tourism Champions Program, which represents the best of the best indigenous offerings all over this vast country. There’s something for every traveler, with offerings like bush tucker walks, didgeridoo and weaving lessons, guided tours of rock art, and multi-day cultural immersions. Check out our eight picks below, and head to Tourism Australia’s Aboriginal tourism website to find even more fascinating tour options.
Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours, Mossman, Queensland
Enjoy a Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat tour of the traditional fishing grounds of Cooya Beach, which is not far from the southern entrance to the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Daintree National Park. Linc and Brandon Walker of the Kubirri Warra clan lead walks across three diverse ecosystems—beach, mangrove, and coastal reef—which are connected by mudflats and tidal lagoons. Learn how to throw spears and use woomeras (spear throwers) to make spears go even further, and discover how to track and hunt seafood. Catch blue swimmer crabs, mangrove jack fish, and pearl fish, and dig mud crabs out of, well, the mud. The brothers also explain the intricacies of the mangrove mudflats and share their knowledge of local plants and wildlife. Afterward, at the family home across the road from the beach, see some Kuku Yalanji artifacts as you enjoy freshly baked damper (camp oven bread) and taste the seafood delicacies you have just helped catch.
RT Tours Australia: Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Enjoy a Mbantua (the Arrente word for Alice Springs) lunch or dinner tour in the West MacDonnell Ranges with chef and indigenous guide Bob (Pernuka) Taylor. After a long career in hospitality, Bob decided to combine his indigenous heritage, chef’s training, and love of the Red Centre to offer insights into local Aboriginal culture through feasts of bush-tucker-inspired meals. He picks you up at your Alice Springs hotel in his four-wheel drive. Lunchtime tours feature a bush food walk and tasting, and dinner tours include spotlighting for nocturnal animals under the constellations of the Southern Hemisphere. Dishes might include mulga-wood barbecued kangaroo fillet; outback beef stew with bush chutney, yam fritters and stir-fry vegetables; and for dessert, quondong (bush peach), white chocolate, apricot, and wattle-seed steamed pudding topped with caramel and coconut sauce. Bob also offers customized multi-day tours of the East and West MacDonnell Ranges, Uluru, Kata Tjuta, and the Kings Canyon.
Guda Nyinda Aboriginal Eco Adventures: Monkey Mia, Shark Bay, Western Australia
Go on an Aboriginal Eco Adventure tour with Darren “Capes” Capewell to explore Gutharraguda, which means Two Waters and is the indigenous name for Shark Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Learn about the deep spiritual connection that the Nhanda and Malgana people have with this ancient land, where the red sands of the desert meet the white sands bordering the Indian Ocean. Capes gives fascinating insights into “the way country talks to you,” which includes animal tracking, tasting bush tucker and traditionally caught local seafood, and identifying medicine plants and uses. Along the way, he also gives an insider’s view of local aboriginal culture, stories, and traditions.
Relax at the multi-award-winning eco-beach camp of Kooljaman at Cape Leveque, which is owned and run by the Bardi Jawi communities on native title land. Kooljaman, which is the Bardi name for Cape Leveque, is set on striking cliffs of red ironstone on the tip of the Dampier Peninsula surrounded by the aquamarine waters of the Timor Sea north of Broome. You can stay in a wide range of accommodations, from luxury safari tents on wooden platforms on the hill to log cabins and palm-frond shelters by the beach. The Hub building offers an al fresco restaurant, shop, and tour guide desk.
Go swimming and fishing, learn about the seven seasons calendar, and take a self-guided tour of the boardwalk where signs identify the uses of local flora in both Bardi and Latin, and enjoy a range of cultural tours and nature-based adventures with local Bardi guides. On the multiple-award-winning Tagalong Tour with Brian Lee at Hunters Creek, you’ll taste seasonal bush fruit, hear ancient stories, go spear fishing and mud crabbing, and then cook up your catch on an open fire.
Brambuk Cultural Centre: Grampians National Park, Victoria
This striking cultural center celebrates the Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung culture of southwestern Victoria at the gateway to Gariwerd, the indigenous name for the Grampians National Park, three hours’ drive west of Melbourne. Brambuk also manages all information and bookings for overnight hiking in the park. Buy artifacts, study the six seasons of the Gariwerd calendar through informative displays, and in the Dreaming Theatre, watch two informative presentations, one on the Gariwerd Creation Story and the other illustrating the geology, flora and fauna plus Indigenous and European history of the region.
Choose from a host of terrific cultural experiences including didgeridoo workshops, bush-food tasting, and boomerang painting and throwing. You can also arrange to take guided walks to Aboriginal rock art sites. Enjoy bush tucker–influenced fare at the Bushfoods café. Brambuk Backpackers also offers smart budget accommodation for individuals, families, and groups.
Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours, Adelaide River, Northern Territory
Named after the freshwater hibiscus tree used to make spears, Pudakul offers cultural and nature-based tours on Aboriginal-owned Limilngan-Wulna land on the Adelaide River flood plains, just 45 minutes from Darwin. Take a bush tucker and medicine walk with an aboriginal guide. Learn how to play a didgeridoo, make and throw spears, and try basket weaving with expert instruction. Enjoy damper (bush bread cooked in a camp oven) with billy tea cooked over a fire. These tours can easily be combined with a wetland discovery cruise or Jumping Crocodile Cruise and are also a good way to break the journey en route to the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Kakadu National Park.
Ingan Tours: Tully, Queensland
Experience the unique culture of the Jirrbal people on walking and kayaking tours through dense rain forest in the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Wet Tropics of North Queensland. From their base at the Tully train station, the Grant family of Ingan Tours help you see the rain forest through the eyes of its traditional owners. They base their tours on their ancestors’ trading routes, which were used to cross densely forested mountains and rushing rivers to hunt and to gather for ceremonial rituals. Learn about bush tucker, practice string making and weaving from rain forest resources, and hear ancient stories of this remarkable land.