Mossman Gorge Centre, Daintree, Queensland © Tourism and Events Queensland
Unique Aboriginal guided walks in Australia
Ancient caves, rock engravings, native wildlife and oyster foraging. Experience it all during these immersive, First Nations guided walks in Australia.
By Amy Fraser
Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are incredibly unique, and their lifestyles are largely reflective of the land on which they live. Whether it's within rainforest, ocean or dormant volcano, an immersive guided walk brings together natural beauty and ancient cultural knowledge. Here are some of Australia’s most unique First Nations guided walks.
Explore the world’s oldest living rainforest
The Daintree Rainforest, about two hours north of Cairns, is – in a word – breathtaking. This World Heritage-listed site is home to the Kuku Yalanji people, known as the true rainforest people. To the Kuku Yalanji people, the rainforest is more than trees and vines; contained within its canopy are traditional medicines, delicious native foods and sacred stories.
How to experience it: Join a full or half-day guided Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk to meander through this enchanting environment, learning about ancient traditions – from medicinal plant use to foraging techniques and ochre painting. The tour begins with a traditional smoking ceremony.
Discover ancient works of art
Aboriginal rock art is one of the oldest forms of art in the world, so witnessing these ancient depictions is like looking straight into another time. Some of Australia’s most impressive Indigenous artworks can be found in South Australia’s Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, a mecca for Aboriginal cultural sites including the Sacred Canyon, home to the Adnyamathanha ‘rock’ people.
How to experience it: On a Yura Mulka Cultural Walk from Wilpena Pound Resort, you can discover the rock engravings of the Sacred Canyon, while your guide talks through the significance of the site to the Adnyamathanha people.
Forage for oysters
The traditional custodians of the Dampier Peninsula, the Bardi (land) and Jawi (island) people, have been working with their natural environment for tens of thousands of years, using sustainable hunting techniques, fishing practices and bush tucker for both food and medicinal purposes. Here, about two hours north of Broome, you can combine a cultural experience with world-class seafood.
How to experience it: Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm’s Borrgoron’s Coast to Creek Tour will open your eyes to this unique Aboriginal culture that revolves around the land and sea. Join a walk across the farm where you’ll be able to put your learnings to practice as you forage for fresh oysters.
Embark on a life-changing journey
Lutruwita (Tasmania) is steeped in First Nations culture, and one of the best ways to experience it is by traversing the land with an Aboriginal guide. wukalina Walk is more than a walk; it’s a spiritual, cultural and physical journey. On this experience, you’ll be invited to ‘takara waranta’ (walk with us) across your guides’ homeland in Tasmania's east, including remarkable sites such as the Bay of Fires and Mt William National Park.
How to experience it: Book in for the four-day/three-night wukalina Walk, departing from Launceston. Expect luxury accommodation and native food alongside cultural activities, wildlife encounters and breathtaking landscapes.
Wander through ancient caves
Looking for an experience you can’t find anywhere in the world? Among Australia’s fascinating ancient landscapes is the phenomenal Cutta Cutta Caves National Park, just 30 minutes south of the Northern Territory’s Katherine. Just like many things in this country, these tropical cave systems – formed millions of years ago – are unique to Australia, as is the array of wildlife that calls them home.
How to experience it: Wander deep into the caves on a one-hour guided tour with Nitmiluk Tours to feast your eyes on dazzling limestone formations while you listen to the history of this remarkable ecosystem.
Walk where the wild things are
Worn Gundiji @ Tower Hill is a must-stop along the Great Ocean Road. A guided walk through the nature reserve offers more than just close-up encounters with iconic Australian animals, but a glance into 65,000 years of the Gunditjmara Aboriginal culture, the Traditional Custodians of this land. If that doesn’t blow you away, the landscape will. Tower Hill is one of Victoria’s oldest dormant volcanoes believed to have erupted over 32,000 years ago – an event known to have been witnessed by the Gunditjamara people.
How to experience it: Immerse yourself in the history on a two-hour walk, where you’ll learn to identify native plants, meet wildlife including koalas, kangaroos and echidnas, and learn to throw a returning boomerang.
Get back to nature in the city
Even in the heart of Australian cities, you can experience the wonders of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens are home to stunning native plants and traditional bush foods – not to mention unparalleled views of the harbour.
How to experience it: Go on a one-hour Aboriginal Bush Tucker Tour. You’ll learn about native plants and bush foods used by the Traditional Custodians of Gadigal Land. After, you’ll be served traditional damper bread and tea – the perfect way to round off your urban First Nations experience.
Feel the forest come to life
There’s nothing quite like the sight of Canberra’s National Arboretum’s immaculate landscape; a scene that encapsulates the connection between nature, culture and education. Across 250 hectares sits over 44,000 endangered trees, an abundance of native Australian plants – commonly used in Indigenous culture – innovative sculptures and forest walking trails galore.
How to experience it: Join an Indigenous Ngala Tour to experience the National Arboretum’s fascinating landscape. Listen to ancient stories of the forest, weave native plants into a piece of art, and gain a greater understanding of the benefits of bushtucker for medicinal and culinary purposes.