Search for mud crabs, swim in tropical rainforests, explore beautiful beaches or embark on a fishing adventure.
Banubanu Wilderness Retreat, Bremer Island
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 art and customs; 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 with local Aboriginal guides via a three-hour 4WD journey around the island. Only 20 guests stay on the island at any given time, ensuring a memorably intimate experience.
Davidson's Arnhem Land 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.
Intrepid Travel – Journey into East Arnhem Land
East Arnhem Land was inaccessible to visitors until a 2017 partnership was forged between Aboriginal Australians and adventure company Intrepid Travel. Ideal for open-minded, adventurous travellers, the special and distinctive seven-day Journey into East Arnhem Land has an immersive focus on the belief systems, art and traditions of the Aboriginal Yolngu people’s Nyinyikay lands. Stay in a mix of camping, beach cabin and lodge accommodation and spend time absorbing local cultural lessons and workshops before travelling onward to the immaculate Bremer Island. Here, you’ll embark on a chilled-out retreat of unplugged relaxation, paired with a discovery of the island’s rich assembly of wildlife, including nesting sea turtles, water birds and schools of tropical fish.
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, paired with meals and two atmosphere-laden cruises through a landscape believed to have been ‘sung’ into existence by the rainbow serpent during the Dreamtime. This company offers guests the ability to travel beyond the main ‘galleries’ (large conglomerations of outdoor rock art) to restricted-access billabongs, secret art sites and living floodplains.
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.
SeaLink NT – Tiwi Islands
Explore the extraordinary tropical Tiwi Islands on tour with Sealink NT’s Tiwi Island experiences. Located near Darwin in the Northern Territory, the islands are home to a unique, Polynesian-influenced Aboriginal people, whose traditional artwork is internationally sought-after for its distinctive style. Meet artists, be welcomed to country with a smoking ceremony, make your own screen-printed textile, visit a museum and a church with a difference and experience the remarkably laidback way of life during the course of your visit; you may also have the chance to purchase artworks on site.
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 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.
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 go on a day-long adventure, embarking on guided snorkel tours and learning about the ancient relationships between man, 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.
Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia – Mossman Gorge Centre
Aboriginal-owned Mossman Gorge Centre is located a 20-minute 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 (cockles) 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 an interpretation of Aboriginal artefacts such as hand-carved boomerangs and firesticks.
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.
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.
Poornarti Aboriginal Tours
Run by Noongar Elder Joey Williams, Poornarti Aboriginal Tours brings the country of the Noongar people around the town of Denmark to life through deeply immersive, intimate and interactive experiences. Fascinating full-day tours and overnight camping tours involve hearing Dreamtime stories, stepping upon the earth to dance, embracing the elements, sharing stories by the fire, tasting bush tucker, experiencing traditional ceremony, and learning about Noongar ways of life, spirit and art. Poornarti also offers a range of shorter tours including a 90-minute Vibrational Healing Tour – which includes a traditional smoking ceremony, water nurture and vibrational healing at a significant water location – as well as half-day tours learning about the Noongar culture and history of the area.
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). You'll also 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 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 (cockle) shells and animal bones – half-buried by the sands that move between one and four metres (three and 13 feet) every year.