Embark on guided bush tucker walks, experience sophisticated outback dining, try your hand at traditional hunting and more.
Karrke Aboriginal Cultural Tour
The breathtaking Kings Canyon, located in Australia’s Red Centre provides the ultimate backdrop for the one-hour Aboriginal Cultural Tour, by Karrke. Learn about dot painting, tools, weapons, bush tucker and medicinal plants used by the Central Australia desert people during this hands-on experience; be introduced to native foods such as bush tomato, discover the significance of dot painting, and see how mulga wood is shaped into tools such as spears, hunting clubs and boomerangs. There is also opportunity to ask as many questions as you can about Luritja and Pertame (Southern Arrernte) language and culture, and how people have thrived in this extreme but often bountiful landscape for tens of thousands of years.
Three hours south-east of Darwin lies a network of 13 towering gorges, through which snakes the Katherine River. This is Nitmiluk National Park: home to the Jawoyn people and a riot of rugged beauty. Nitmiluk Tours, a 100 per cent Aboriginal-owned company, lets you enjoy the best of Jawoyn country and culture via its smorgasbord of cruises, hikes, cave tours, swims, canoeing trips and scenic helicopter flights – not to mention its accommodation offerings, which include everything from a camping ground and chalets, through to luxury lodge Cicada. Be sure to walk to the first gorge lookout point for sunset or sunrise – or, if you find yourself closer to Katherine, join one of Nitmiluk Tours’ guided walks through the fascinating Cutta Cutta Caves.
RT Tours Australia
Step away from the mainstream tourist scene, and embark on a richer, quieter journey through Central Australia on a lunch or dinner experience with RT Tours Australia, both of which whisk you beyond the township of Alice Springs through to the grand, red cliffs of the MacDonnell Ranges. It’s here that Aboriginal Australian man Bob Taylor – founder of RT Tours Australia, and a member of the Aboriginal Arrernte nation – sets up his bush barbecue and invites you for a relaxed chat about his culture. Your host also leads extended tours with an art, birdwatching and bushwalking focus. In addition to homing in on the Alice Springs region, Bob’s longer journeys travel through Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park.
Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia – Ayers Rock Resort
In the sand dunes beside Uluṟu, rests Ayers Rock Resort, an accommodation and cultural experience collective comprising five different stays and more than 65 tours. The resort offers a restful base from which to explore the awe-inspiring Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park and its famous monoliths (both 860-metre high Uluru and the lofty domes of Kata Tjuta), as well as to connect you more fervently with the rich Aboriginal culture and landscape of the Red Centre. Take a camel ride into the sunset; meander through the lush greenery at Uluru’s base – viewing rock art illustrating the site’s creation stories as you walk; or dine under a canopy of stars at a Sounds of Silence dinner, an atmosphere-laden evening of food, culture and astronomy, held amid sand dunes and silent surrounds.
Adventure North Australia – Daintree Dreaming Tour
Adventure North Australia offers close to a dozen experiences departing from Cairns and Port Douglas, from daytrips to three-day journeys that take you to hard-to-access areas of Cape Tribulation. If you’ve ever wanted to know how to spear fish, catch a crab or fossick for bush tucker, here is your chance. After learning these techniques with guidance from Kubirri-Warra brothers Linc or Brandon Walker, you’ll cook up your haul and enjoy it with damper in a local family home. Go off-road in 4WDs to access some of the most important sights Tropical North Queensland has to offer, including excursions to far-flung corners of the state. The Walkers share their knowledge of the environment and traditional foods while following in the footsteps of their ancestors. Full-day and multi-day trips take you through the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, to sacred Aboriginal beaches and ancient rock formations.
Flames of the Forest Aboriginal Cultural Experience
Flames of the Forest’s Aboriginal Cultural Experience involves heading into the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics rainforest, near Cairns, for a seven-dish banquet dinner served under a silk canopy illuminated by hand-made crystal chandeliers. Cultural experiences are interwoven with the dinner, as your Kuku Yalanji hosts share music, ceremony and storytelling, as well as inviting guests to spend some time sitting quietly, listening to the sounds of the rainforest at night. The food is modern Australian, locally sourced where possible, and features plenty of bush tucker ingredients: the night’s signature dish is a lemon myrtle-infused kangaroo loin, served on a bed of wild rocket and toasted macadamia nuts garnished with homemade fig chutney.
Rainforestation Nature Park – Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience
If you’re keen on learning to throw a boomerang or want advice from experts on how to play the didgeridoo, Cairns’ Rainforestation Nature Park is the place to come. Set amid 40 hectares of World Heritage-listed rainforest, a 30-minute drive north of Cairns city, this eco-friendly, family-owned nature park has called the jungle home since 1974, working with Aboriginal communities to develop tours and performances inspired by the land that has sustained them for thousands of years. Their signature offering, the one-hour Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience, stands out for its dedication to preserving and sharing the stories of the Pamagirri people. During the activity, you’ll be led into the Daintree Rainforest to attend a ceremonial dance in a rainforest amphitheatre, where the tropical trees, vines and fauna act as the theatre’s living walls.
Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
One of the largest employers of Aboriginal Australians in the country, Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park has offers an expansive showcase of Aboriginal culture and community through song, dance and theatre. Their facilities near the tropical city of Cairns are expansive: in addition to the main high-tech theatre and museum, there’s a movie theatre, dance space and gallery, as well as a restaurant with an emphasis on native foods, and a cultural village where you can learn to throw a boomerang, play the didgeridoo and sample bush tucker. The park’s commitment to telling Aboriginal stories across 40,000 years of history offers a powerful insight into Australian culture, through song, dance and native bush foods.
Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia – Mossman Gorge Centre
Aboriginal-owned Mossman Gorge Centre is located 20 minutes’ drive north of Port Douglas in the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, where the Kuku Yalanji people have lived for centuries. It is also the starting point for their multi-award-winning signature experience, the Ngadiku Indigenous Guided Dreamtime Walks. Ngadiku means ‘stories and legends from long ago’ in local Kuku Yalanji language, and that’s exactly what you can expect on this memorable rainforest exploration. Learn about bush foods and bush medicine, pick up skills such as how to make ‘bush soap’, and experience a traditional smoking ceremony. The guided experience ends with bush tea and damper.
Walkabout Cultural Adventures
Discover where two World Heritage sites meet – the Wet Tropics Rainforest (home of World Heritage-listed Daintree) and the Great Barrier Reef – and learn about the environment and wildlife from an Aboriginal perspective on tour with owner of Walkabout Cultural Adventures, Juan Walker. Walker’s parents and grandparents (and many generations before them) were born in the region – he will point out where – making this a deeply personal, intimate experience. Cruise mangroves scanning for mud crabs in tidal flats, forage for pipis in the shallows, and learn how to throw a spear to catch your next meal. Juan is the ideal guide for tours highlighting the Daintree Rainforest region. Half-day, full-day and private journeys are all available.
Cape Cultural Tours
Cape Cultural Tours offers explorations of one the world’s major biodiversity hotspots, the bucolic Margaret River region. Gain insight into the land’s natural history from two perspectives: through millions of years of ecology, and through generations of Aboriginal eyes. See rare wildflowers, taste fragrant native plants such as bush celery, learn the purpose of the six Aboriginal seasons, and hear Dreaming stories that bring the past and present together. You might choose to hike around the rocky tip of Cape Naturaliste, explore Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and its surrounds, or go fishing for salmon, herring and bream inside spectacular Meelup Regional Park, where whales and dolphins often bob in glass-clear waters. Some tours begin with a ‘welcome to country’ ceremony and include a mesmerising didgeridoo performance and interpretation of Aboriginal artefacts such as hand-carved boomerangs and firesticks.
Kooljaman at Cape Leveque
Solar-powered wilderness retreat Kooljaman is run by the Bardi Jawi people. It is found on a 4WD-only road in the vast Kimberley region, on tip of Western Australia’s saffron-hued Dampier Peninsula. Accommodation offerings include the rustic comfort of ocean-facing cabins, or large hillside safari tents blessed with far-reaching views. Cultural and nature-based experiences on offer range from four-hour coastal walks through mangroves, mud-crabbing and fish-trapping adventures, to meeting with local Aboriginal people, and day-long fishing cruises to nearby Sunday Island, where traditional owners will show you an old mission settlement and tell stories over billy tea.
Koomal Dreaming adds another dimension to Margaret River’s winemaking and gastronomic appeal by connecting you to the Noongar culture, which stretches across the southern third of Western Australia. Short tours for groups of up to 30 people run from 90 minutes to three hours, or there’s the option of a private, full-day tour. Guests may learn the art of rubbing sticks together to make fire, savour seared kangaroo meat cooked in a tranquil bush setting, learn how to make Aboriginal tools or ascend Cape Naturaliste lighthouse for ocean views that stretch to the horizon. All experiences include a walk through Ngilgi Cave, where tour guide Josh Whiteland plays the didgeridoo, and run from January to June and September to December.
Learn generational knowledge and ancient stories of Broome’s saltwater Yawuru people through the fascinating daily tours with Narlijia Cultural Tours. Sample bush tucker, visit significant sites such Didirrgun, see a massive shell midden or trail 130-million-year-old dinosaur footprints; founder (and local Yawuru man) Bart Pigram has created a range of unique experiences that offer fascinating insight into the past and present of this beautiful outback beach town. Sail a 42-foot catamaran at sunset, explore a mangrove forest or take a comfortable walking tour through the town centre as Bart recreates a timeline of Aboriginal way of life, the pearling industry and Broome’s morphosis from a lively frontier settlement to the diverse and multicultural town it is today.
Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Cultural Adventures
Wula Gura Ninda Eco Cultural Adventures offers a terrific array of tours ranging from two-hour to multi-day experiences in the Shark Bay World Heritage-listed area. Owner Darren ‘Capes’ Capewell offers an insider’s view of local Aboriginal culture through animal tracking, tasting bush tucker and traditionally caught seafood, and identifying the uses of various medicine plants, as well as didgeridoo lessons and Dreamtime stories. More active experiences include bush-tucker walks, kayaking and snorkelling adventures, stand-up paddleboard tours, camping safaris and fly/drive expeditions.
The guided multi-day wukalina walk combines culture, nature and luxury in one of Australia’s most scenic landscapes, Tasmania’s magnificent Bay of Fires wilderness area. Stay in bespoke luxury accommodation, meet palawa elders, hear creation stories and learn about traditional medicines and foods, feast on mutton bird, wallaby and doughboy dumplings (as well as plenty of seafood and some of Tasmania’s finest wines), try your hand at kelp and reed basket-making, learn how to belt out a tune on the clap sticks, and see kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, possums, whales, dolphins, and birdlife including black swans, sea eagles and arctic terns. The only group of humans to evolve in isolation for over 10,000 years, the culture and heritage of the palawa people is distinctly different from mainland Aboriginal cultures. Tours include guides, accommodation, meals and Tasmanian wines, and depart from the centre of Launceston.
New South Wales
Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness – Gulaga Creation Tour
See some of the prettiest coastal scenery of New South Wales while gaining an insight into traditional culture, on a two-night Aboriginal experience with Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness. The two-day, two-night Gulaga Creation Tour offers guests the opportunity of climbing a sacred mountain in the company of a cultural custodian willing to share an ancient way of knowing – a privilege indeed. Enjoy resort-style accommodation and Aboriginal cuisine, including local seafood and kangaroo with a range of native spices, followed by a traditional ‘yarning circle’ listening to the yidaki (similar to the didgeridoo) and sharing stories with Yuin elders and community members. This tour is based in Narooma and the neighbouring village of Tilba – about 4.5-hour drive south of Sydney. Transfers are available from Moruya, Sydney and Canberra airports.
The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney – Aboriginal Heritage Tour
The 90-minute Aboriginal Heritage Tour through Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden is located just behind the Sydney Opera House. It explores the garden’s rich Aboriginal heritage through the many uses of the plants that grow here. Forage for and taste Australian bush foods as you walk and talk, and identify plants used for medicines and shelter. Collect seasonal fruits, berries and seeds in a traditional coolamon (a shallow dish made of bark), learn traditional methods of cooking and how to incorporate the bush foods into your own meals at home, as well as tasting some recipes inspired by bush foods. The Royal Botanic Garden also holds Aboriginal art classes where you can discover how to use the plants and other elements of the garden – sticks, ochre, grasses and bark, as well as paints and natural brushes – to create the ultimate souvenir, a unique piece of art to take home with you.