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5 amazing ways to experience Australia’s Aboriginal culture

See Australia through the eyes of its traditional owners with these five Aboriginal cultural experiences.

By Lee Atkinson

Australia's indigenous culture is the oldest living culture in the world, one in which the land and the spirits are intertwined. Experiencing Aboriginal traditions, gaining an understanding about Aboriginal beliefs, and travelling across the landscape with an Aboriginal guide will give you a whole new view of the land.

Australia's Aboriginal culture

Cruise Sydney on the Tribal Warrior

The local Aboriginal people, the Eora, call Sydney Harbour Birra Birra, as you'll discover on this two hour cultural harbour cruise, along with an eye-opening alternative history of Sydney. A highlight is the visit to one of the islands in the harbour, where you'll be treated to a cultural performance and learn all about what Sydney was like before Europeans arrived in 1778. You'll also learn the original Aboriginal names for Sydney's landmarks and listen to stories of the Eora, Cadigal, Guringai, Wangal, Gammeraigal and Wallumedegal people, who all call Sydney home. 

Glamp it up at Kooljaman in the Kimberley

Snorkel with tropical fish, explore the magnificent Kimberley coastline and see the famous horizontal waterfalls from the air on a scenic flight. Go whale watching, sail into the sunset and catch the biggest fish you've ever seen. Learn how to make a spear, catch a mud crab and how to survive on bush tucker. Or you could just sit back and soak up the jaw-dropping views of azure waters and white sandy beaches flanked by red cliffs. There are many ways to enjoy Kooljaman, a wilderness camp on the tip of the remote Dampier Peninsula, north of Broome at the top of Western Australia, which is owned by the Djarindjin and Ardyaloon Aboriginal communities.

Dreamtime walk Through Mossman Gorge

Join a Dreamtime Walk through Mossman Gorge in the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park, north of Cairns in tropical Queensland. You'll soon discover there's much more to the rainforest than meets the eye. With the help of an Aboriginal guide, you'll learn how to find bush food and medicine and make soap from rainforest plants. You'll learn about Kuku Yalanji culture and visit sacred sites on Kuku Yalanji land. A highlight is the traditional smoking ceremony that cleanses and wards off bad spirits at the start of the 90 minute tour. There's traditional bush tea and damper at the end.

Learn artful secrets at Ayers Rock Resort

Join a Maruku Arts Dot Painting Workshop at Ayers Rock Resort and, over the course of a couple of hours, under the watchful eye of a local Aboriginal artist, you'll learn all about the different symbols and the Tjukurpa (Creation Time, sometimes called Dreamtime) stories that they depict. You'll then record your personal creation story on canvas as you create your own dot painting, a unique and very special souvenir to take home.   

Take an Animal Tracks tour in Kakadu

Get a taste of living the traditional way, roaming across Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory with a Jawoyn guide. On a full day tour with Animal Tracks you'll meet one of the traditional owners who grew up in the bush, living off the land. He or she will show you how to dig for yams and water chestnuts and teach you about bush medicine and law. The tour finishes in style with a feast of magpie geese, barramundi and buffalo cooked in a paperbark oven as you watch the sun set over a billabong alive with thousands of birds.

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