Sand Dune Adventures, Port Stephens, New South Wales © Sand Dune Adventures
From kayaking, quad-biking and hiking to luxury 4WD safaris, choose the outdoor Australian adventure that best suits you.
New South Wales
Bundyi Cultural Tours
The Riverina region of New South Wales holds millennia-old Aboriginal secrets, many of which are revealed on a Bundyi Cultural tour with local Wiradjuri man Mark Saddler. Experiences can last from a couple of hours to a full day – whichever one you choose, you’ll gain eye-opening insights into the Aboriginal communities who hail from the Wagga Wagga region, around a five-hour drive south-west of Sydney. Discover “scar trees” and ancient shell middens, and then glimpse sacred sites including Galore Hill Scenic Reserve and The Rock Nature Reserve – Kengal Aboriginal Place. This spiritual Dreaming and ceremonial location is believed to be where the Creator of all things, Baiame, left his dingoes before ascending to the sky. Your adventure will also give you a taste for bush tucker, whether in its raw form (try saltbush) or infused in Mark’s wattleseed damper; pick a longer tour and he’ll also prepare a delicious barbecue lunch.
Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness – Yuin Retreat
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 Yuin Retreat invites guests to come, walk and listen to a sacred dreaming of Djiringanj country, heartland of the Yuin people. Experience ceremony and Dreaming stories that have been passed down to connect to Country with tour highlights including a traditional smoking ceremony, sunrise beach ceremony and traditional reflections yarning circle. Enjoy resort-style accommodation and Aboriginal cuisine, including local seafood and kangaroo with a range of native spices. This tour is based in Narooma and the neighbouring village of Tilba – about four-and-a-half hours’ drive south of Sydney. Transfers are available from Moruya, Sydney and Canberra airports.
Sand Dune Adventures – Quad Bike Tour
Enjoy exclusive access to a sandy adventure wonderland on this exhilarating quad bike tour of the largest mobile sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. Sand Dune Adventures, located at Port Stephens, is run by the local Aboriginal Land Council, so while there’s plenty of action, there’s also lots of bush tucker and cultural lore thrown in as well, and all proceeds go back into the local community. Learn about the history of the Worimi people who called this area home for thousands of years. Guides will point out huge middens – mountainous piles of pipi shells and animal bones – half-buried by the sands that move between one and four metres (three and 13 feet) every year.
Wajaana Yaam Gyumbaynggirr Adventure Tours
Feel the sand between your toes, hear the sound of water lapping against the shore, and see the fish darting through the crystal-clear water as you paddle through the spectacular surrounds of Gumbaynggirr Country, on the New South Wales Mid North Coast, with Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours. The 100 per cent Aboriginal-owned and operated company offers 2.5-hour stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking excursions on three idyllic waterways within the Solitary Islands Marine Park: Coffs, Moonee and Red Rock Creeks. You can also sign up for a full-day cultural experience, which includes a paddle, morning or afternoon tea, lunch and a guided walking tour at a culturally significant site in the Coffs Harbour area. Experience the language, culture and traditional bush tucker of the Gumbaynggirr people as your Aboriginal guide brings the Dreaming to life by sharing ancient stories written in the extraordinary natural landscape.
Bremer Island Banubanu Beach Retreat
Bremer Island Banubanu Beach Retreat is located on Arnhem Land’s Bremer Island – one of Australia’s most remote and untouched wilderness areas. Home to pristine beaches, scores of sea turtles and flocks of colourful birds, this truly is the place to unwind and reconnect with nature, with a retreat experience designed around an appreciation of the therapeutic and uplifting benefits of stepping away from the hustle. Choose from guided experiences showcasing local marine life, fishing and Aboriginal culture; take chartered fishing voyages in seas teeming with mackerel, red emperor, jewfish and coral trout; experience traditional, immersive mud-crabbing with spears; or enjoy cultural encounters including a day tour of the cultural sites of East Arnhem Land, or a Yolŋu healing ceremony. Only 20 guests stay on the island at any given time, ensuring a memorably intimate experience.
Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris
Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris is located at Mount Borradaile (a 50-minute flight east of Darwin). This iconic eco-lodge, and its accompanying suite of activities are sanctioned by the area’s Traditional Owners, whose link to the area dates back 50,000 years. Tailored tours capitalise on the immense splendour and tranquillity of this pocket of Arnhem Land, especially its water-filled features such as the billabong beneath Mount Borradaile and nearby wetlands, alive with crocodiles and long-legged water birds. Your stay includes all meals, tours and activities, as well as permit fees (this land cannot be accessed publicly, so all visitors must have a permit). The lodge serves fine-dining fare in a relaxed communal space fringed by a serene pool.
Kakadu Cultural Tours
Kakadu Cultural Tours specialise in the broader Ubirr region, including one of the most sacred and stunning sites at Kakadu National Park, Ubirr itself. In the company of predominantly Aboriginal guides, guests can take a cultural cruise along Alligator River; embark on a one-day 4WD culture and heritage tour of Arnhem Land and Northern Kakadu; or take a two- or three-day stay at Hawk Dreaming Wilderness Lodge, a beautiful abode in an otherwise restricted area of northern Kakadu National Park, or Anbinik Kakadu Resort, architecturally designed accommodation in Jabiru township. Kakadu Cultural Tours take guests beyond the main ‘galleries’ (large conglomerations of outdoor rock art) to restricted-access billabongs, secret art sites and living floodplains.
Brimming with thunderous waterfalls, verdant wetlands and ochre-toned escarpments, Kakadu is the world’s largest terrestrial national park, equal in size to the nation of Switzerland. Amplifying the power of Kakadu’s natural beauty are its Aboriginal culture and traditions, as nurtured by Traditional Owners. Kakadu Tourism, a collective of accommodation and tour offerings including two excellently positioned hotels and several tour options, offers guests the ability to tap into these twin features of the park. The signature experience is Kakadu’s must-do Yellow Waters Billabong cruise. Mostly led by Bininj Aboriginal guides, this experience puts you face-to-face with the magnificent wetlands, home to 60 species of birds and a plethora of buffaloes and crocodiles.
People often speak of undiscovered parts of the world. But Arnhem Land, a vast region in the north-west of the Northern Territory, is the real thing: 97,000 square kilometres (37,450 square miles) of barely touched wilderness, equal parts beautiful, daunting and mysterious. The Yolŋu people have been custodians of this land for millennia and, on a tour with Lirrwi Tourism, visitors are immersed in an authentic encounter with this ancient culture. Single and multi-day tours explore aspects of Yolŋu life, from song and dance to art and the yidaki (didgeridoo) – all against the backdrop of the wondrous parallel world that is East Arnhem Land. Here, the calendar is divided into six seasons, and songlines – or Dreaming tracks – run through the landscape.
Lords Kakadu and Arnhemland Safaris
Swim in clear pools serenaded by waterfalls, trek through ancient rock art galleries, and uncover Aboriginal cultural stories of the Northern Territory’s Top End, alongside one of the state’s most lauded and experienced guides. Among many other sites, Lords Kakadu and Arnhemland Safaris takes in Arnhem Land, gems within Kakadu including the lesser-known Koolpin Gorge, and indulgent retreats such as Bamurru Plains, Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris’ eco lodge and the 100 per cent Aboriginal-owned and operated Cicada Lodge in Nitmiluk National Park. Lords also incorporates its own accommodation into trips with an exclusive ‘bush camp’ for 12 guests set within Kakadu. It’s furnished with comfortable beds and a fire pit for night-time meals and tale-telling.
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 cabins, through to the luxurious Cicada Lodge. 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.
SEIT Outback Australia
Uluru’s Traditional Owners, the Aboriginal Anangu, have called the park home for 60,000 years. SEIT – which stands for Spirit, Emotion, Intellect and Task – serves to share this heritage with visitors via small group tours and off-the-beaten-path experiences. SEIT’s powerful Patji tour takes you beyond the main park’s boundaries to the homelands of Uluru’s traditional family. Over afternoon tea, sit with Aboriginal people to hear stories of their epic fight for land rights in Central Australia, plus other intimate accounts of Aboriginal life in the region.
Venture North Safaris
Design a private trip, or join a four- or five-day safari in luxury 4WD vehicles: Venture North offers multi-award-winning luxury 4WD safaris, which travel to Arnhem Land, Kakadu and Garig Gunak Barlu National Park from Darwin. Take in a visit to the art-mad Aboriginal community of Gunbalanya, where you’ll embark on a moving rock art tour with an Aboriginal guide, traverse the stone country and wetlands of Kakadu, and stay at Venture North’s exclusive bush bungalow campsite, which features views across the clear waters of Cobourg Marine Park, plus rustic, comfortable rooms dotted among native foliage.
Adventure North Australia – Daintree Dreaming Tour
Adventure North Australia offers close to a dozen experiences departing from Cairns and Port Douglas, from day trips 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, a traditional bread. 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.
Far North Queensland is a spectacular amalgam of rainforest, reef, beach and outback, and Culture Connect, a tour company based in Cairns, offers visitors wonderful ways to connect with ancient Indigenous culture in the region. At Normanby Station, a vast cattle property outside Cooktown, Traditional Owners the Harrigan brothers introduce guests to their way of life as cattlemen and as guardians of extraordinary galleries of Aboriginal rock art. Back on the coast, another pair of brothers, Linc and Brandon Walker, invite visitors to join them on Cooya Beach, traditional Kuku Yalanji fishing grounds, to learn everything from how to throw a spear to search for plants used to create medicine.
Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel
Queensland’s Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel experience offers guests a rare opportunity to explore the Great Barrier Reef accompanied by Aboriginal guides from the region, whose traditional ownership of sea country stretches from the Frankland Islands south of Cairns to Port Douglas in its north. Departing from Cairns, guests embark on a day-long adventure of guided snorkel tours and learning about the ancient relationships between people, marine creatures and the ecosystem they’ve shared for tens of thousands of years. Launched in late 2018 by Reef Magic Cruises, it is the first – and only – experience that celebrates north Queensland’s Aboriginal maritime heritage.
Jarramali Rock Art Tours
When Kuku Yalanji man Johnny Murison stumbled across a gallery of Aboriginal rock art while four-wheel driving in outback Queensland a few years ago, his life changed forever. The former carpenter set up Jarramali Rock Art Tours in 2017 to show visitors the so-called “Magnificent Gallery,” part of the world-renowned Quinkan rock art outside the tiny town of Laura in far north Queensland. “I can show you the whole structure of our society by looking at that gallery,” says Murison, who is just as interesting as the 20,000-year-old rock art he loves showing off to the world. Guests travel to the Magnificent Gallery in his four-wheel drive, nicknamed The Beast, along one of the wildest roads in the country and, if they’re on the overnight tour, get to sit around the campfire listening to his yarns and listening to the sounds of the didgeridoo echoing in the night.
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.
Wilpena Pound Resort
If you want to visit one of the oldest landscapes on Earth, a good place to start is Wilpena Pound Resort in South Australia's dramatic Flinders Ranges, the only accommodation within the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park. The Resort, owned and operated by the Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners, offers a range of guided Aboriginal cultural tours that include 4WD tours to visit 550-million-year-old fossil sites and ancient rock engravings, walking tours to Old Wilpena Station and scenic flights over extraordinary Wilpena Pound, an 800-million-year-old natural amphitheatre. Located 430 kilometres (267 miles) north of Adelaide, the Resort provides a range of accommodation options from motel rooms and safari-style 'glamping' tents, as well as powered and unpowered bush campsites.
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 rhythm 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.
No-one knows Western Australia’s ruggedly beautiful Kimberley region quite like its Traditional Custodians. Kingfisher Tours only uses local Aboriginal guides to lead its single and multi-day explorations of this extraordinary wilderness area in the state’s north-west. This allows you to gain a deeper understanding of its key places, from the World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park with its beehive-shaped Bungle Bungle Range, to the jaw-dropping four-tiered Punamii-Uunpuu (Mitchell Falls), and the lonely islands scattered along the wild Kalumburu Coast. Tours typically depart from Broome, Kununurra or Darwin and most begin with a scenic flight over the spectacular Kimberley landscape, followed by a traditional Welcome to Country ceremony. The greeting sets the tone for meaningful hikes to rock art, 4WD adventures to a remote Aboriginal community, and forging unforgettable connections around the campfire. These all-inclusive, small group experiences run from April to September.
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 the 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.
Wadandi man and guide Josh Whiteland adds another dimension to Margaret River’s winemaking appeal by connecting you to its Noongar culture. Expect your skin to tingle as Josh plays the didgeridoo in Ngilgi Cave’s natural amphitheatre. He may share his knowledge of bush foods and medicine, show you how to make Aboriginal tools and fire, take you on a short walk on the Cape to Cape Track or to the top of Cape Naturaliste lighthouse for stunning ocean views. He could cook you a BBQ lunch where you can savour meats such as kangaroo seared by flames, with tangy native herbs in a tranquil bush setting. He could also take you to the spectacular Meelinup Regional Park, where dolphins and whales may be seen from its coastal ridges. Fish for species including herring, salmon and bream and forage for your salad for a sumptuous ‘catch and cook’ BBQ lunch. A day with Koomal Dreaming is unlike any other.
Narlijia Experiences Broome
Local Yawuru man, Bart Pigram, shares generational knowledge and ancient stories of Broome’s saltwater Yawuru people through the fascinating Narlijia Experiences Broome Mangrove Discovery tour around Roebuck Bay. In Yawuru Aboriginal language, Narlijia means ‘true for you’ and Bart embraces the opportunity to create a deeper connection between cultures. Learn about the traditional use of mangrove wood, visit Buccaneer Rock and hear the Dreamtime stories of the region. There may be an opportunity to taste some bush tucker sourced from the mangrove forest and foreshore or an amazing oyster fresh off the rock. View the remnants of (Asian) fish traps and be regaled with stories from historic Broome’s pearling days.
Ngurrangga Tours’ Clinton Walker is a descendant of the Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi people, Traditional Owners of the West Pilbara in the north of Western Australia. And there’s no better tour guide to this vast swathe of red dirt than Walker, who holds deep knowledge of his country – ngurra – passed down from Elders and is passionate about bringing visitors to the Pilbara in general, but to the Birrup Peninsula in particular. The peninsula is virtually unknown yet is home to an estimated million Aboriginal rock carvings, some dating back as far as 40,000 years. He’s also armed with lightning-quick humour: on Ngurrangga’s Instagram feed, he describes a goanna scurrying away from the sound of his boots as “fast food”.
Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Cultural Adventures
Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Cultural Adventures offers a terrific array of tours ranging from two-hour to multi-day experiences in the Shark Bay World Heritage 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.