Jellurgal Cultural Tour, Burleigh Heads, Queensland © Chris Proud, Tourism and Events Queensland
Experience Aboriginal culture in Brisbane and the Gold Coast
Uncover the history and culture of this beautiful region through the eyes of its traditional custodians.
By Allie Metz
You don’t have to visit the outback to discover Australia’s Aboriginal culture. It thrives in all major cities, on land where Indigenous peoples have lived for tens of thousands of years. Listen to Dreamtime stories as you learn about their traditional ways of life and how their people have adapted to the changing landscape of their custodial lands.
Spirits of the Red Sand
Set in an authentic pre-European Aboriginal village, Spirits of the Red Sand is an immersive cultural and theatrical experience. By day, guests can participate in all aspects of Aboriginal life, including tasting bush tucker, boomerang painting and listening to Dreamtime stories. In the evening, enjoy a three-course dinner as you watch a masterpiece of Aboriginal storytelling. Through traditional song, dance, culture and community, witness the experience of three Aboriginal brothers and their families as they are confronted by the arrival of the first Europeans. The two ways of living collide and audiences will be captivated by this unforgettable story.
BlackCard Cultural Tours
Where: Brisbane city centre
Walk in the footsteps of the ancestors of the Turrbal people as you explore Meeanjin (Brisbane City) with an Aboriginal guide. Learn about Aboriginal art in the city, hear ancient knowledge passed through generations and watch meaningful cultural performances. BlackCard Cultural Tours gives you the opportunity to go beneath the modern city and discover a truly authentic, warm and culturally inclusive welcome to Brisbane.
When to go
Come in August to experience the Quandamooka Festival which features a program of live music, dance, art and cultural workshops.
Where: North Stradbroke Island, a 25-minute ferry from Cleveland near Brisbane
Join Quandamooka Coast on Australia’s only Indigenous-operated whale watching cruise. Tours operate from June to September in the waters off Mulgumpin (Moreton Island) and Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) and guides provide cultural and scientific knowledge about the whales and their migration. If you prefer to stay on dry land, join a cultural walk to identify bush tucker and medicinal plants and hear traditional Creation stories. You will gain a first-hand understanding of how the Aboriginal people of Minjerribah have lived for at least 25,000 years.
Birrunga Gallery and Dining
Where: Brisbane city centre
Art gallery, performance space, café venue and a licensed wine bar, Birrunga Gallery and Dining is the only Indigenous-owned and operated cultural hub in Brisbane. The gallery supports First Nations artists, and visitors can view the art while relaxing in the café and enjoying a modern meal with bush tucker influences. The gallery also hosts their First Nations Artisan Market on the second Saturday of every month where visitors can purchase unique wares by local artists.
Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre
Where: Burleigh Heads, about 20 minutes from the Gold Coast
Burleigh Heads is a culturally significant area for the local Yugambeh people, having once been a feasting ground for Indigenous travellers passing through the region. Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre offers guided walks of the local area with a focus on Aboriginal history and culture on the Gold Coast. You’ll hear the Dreamtime stories of Jellurgal (Burleigh Heads) as you stroll the picturesque beachside walkway and discover culturally significant sites. Learn about traditional life in the area, including where to find bush tucker and the ecological practices employed by the Yugambeh-speaking people for thousands of years. The centre also operates an art gallery showcasing works from local Aboriginal artists.
Tweed Eco Cruises
Where: Tweed heads, about 40 minutes from the Gold Coast
For a chance to forage your own food, join Yugambeh Aboriginal Tribe Member Luther Cora as he retraces the footsteps of his ancestral people through the Terranora Lakes mangrove system in search of mud crab. On this unique tour, you will learn about traditional hunting methods and try your hand at using a bamboo spear to catch mudcrabs, stingrays and fish. The morning’s catch will be cooked on an open fire as your guides tell Yugambeh stories and play the didgeridoo. The tour also explores modern commercial fishing practices as you cruise through oyster leases, taste freshly shucked oysters and try yabbie pumping and fishing.