Discover Australia’s Aboriginal Experiences
Bibi Jellema, Airguides
1 September 2020
Australia is home to the oldest living culture on earth. Australia’s first people — known as Aboriginal Australians — have lived on the continent for at least 50,000 years. Some theory even suggests that Aboriginal Australians migrated 70,000 years ago. How remarkable is that? We’re pretty lucky that we are able to experience and learn from the world’s oldest civilisation.
Today, Australia is home to 250 different language groups spread all over the country. There are the Aboriginal peoples, those who are related to people who already lived in Australia when the British started to colonise the island in 1788, and Torres Strait Island peoples, whose descendants are of the Torres Strait Islands, a group of islands that is now part of Queensland.
Here at Airguides, our mission is to include Aboriginal experiences as part of all our Australia trips. Aboriginal Australia is such an important and rich part of modern day Australia, we don’t want our travellers to miss out on what’s probably going to be the highlight of their trip. Let’s be honest, an Australian trip without an Aboriginal experience is like going to Egypt and skipping the pyramids.
Immerse yourself in the art, dance, history, spirituality and journeys of Aboriginal Australia. This is your chance to experience the world’s oldest living culture for yourself. We’ve curated a list of Aboriginal experiences offering you the kind of life changing, memorable and authentic experiences.
Importantly — all of the below experiences are proudly owned and operated by Aboriginal people.
Be inspired and leave transformed.
Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness
Photograph by Visit NSW
New South Wales
Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness — Yuin Country (Narooma/Tilba)
A 2 Day/2 Night experience, this is a special journey that takes you into the traditional Yuin Country. Walk and listen to the stories passed down for thousands of generations, led by the land’s traditional custodians. You can choose to discover either Gulaga National Park or the Bega Valley and Bermagui region, which holds sacred significance for the Yuin Aboriginal people from New South Wales’ south coast.
Both the Gulaga Creation Tour and the Djirringanj Dreaming Tour start with a welcome to Yuin country, dance performance and a dinner. Day 2 kicks off with a sunrise beach ceremony, followed by a full day of sightseeing. On your last evening, you get to enjoy an Indigenous flavoured dinner accompanied by the sound of the Yidaki (didgeridoo) set against the spectacular natural scenery. Your tour ends with a farewell beach ceremony on the morning of day 3.
After a bit more luxury? The Djirringanj Dreaming Tour includes luxury tent accommodation and a more exclusive dining experience.
“Our spirituality is a oneness and an interconnectedness with all that lives and breathes, even with all that does not live or breathe.“
RT Tours Australia
Photograph by Tourism Australia
RT Tours Australia — Alice Springs
Bob (Penunka) Taylor is an infamous guide and a local legend. His experiences combine culture, country and cuisine. Bob offers a day tour, the Mbuntua Gourmet Bush Lunch Tour, and an evening tour, the Mbantua Starlight and Bush Dinner Tour. We highly recommend the dinner tour, as it’s a very special one set in a magnificent bush setting.
Get picked up before sunset and drive to the beautiful Western McDonnell Ranges. Enjoy a 3 course meal with flavours of the bush foods while marvelling at the sunset, changing the colours of the rock. As a qualified chef, you get the chance to learn from Bob’s cooking style and the foods of the Aboriginal people. Some say this is the best restaurant in Alice Springs!
Did you know that Indigenous people were the first astronomers? Lucky you, as you eat your dinner under the Milky Way, you get to indulge in some night sky talk. With Bob’s camp fire, bush taste, sounds of the desert, night wildlife spotting and a starry sky, this is an experience you will never forget.
Jarramali Rock Art Tours
Photograph by Tourism Tropical North Queensland
Jarramali Rock Art Tours — Laura, Cape York Peninsular
You probably won’t find a more engaging storyteller than tour guide, Johnny Murison. His tour is up there with the very best, one of the most remarkable experiences Australia has to offer. Our team was lucky enough to meet the legend and Kuku Yalanji man himself in Cairns and we highly recommend you do too.
Perfect for small to medium groups, Johnny has the flexibility to tailor tours to your needs. The Magnificent Gallery – Rock Art Tour can be turned into a day tour, a multiple night tour or even a helicopter tour, taking you to special, archaeological significant places not many people get to see.
How to sum Johnny’s tour up in four words? Exploring, 4WDriving, camping and adventure! You will be picked up by Johnny’s “beast”, a 4WD that can seat 11 passengers, showing you around the local highlights, rugged country and telling you Dreaming stories about how the landscape was created. Finally you get to witness Johnny’s very own discovery — “Magnificent Gallery” — a part of the world-renowned Quinkan rock art located outside the tiny town of Laura in far north Queensland.
Wilpena Pound Resort
Photograph by Wilpena Pound Resort
Wilpena Pound Resort — Ikara (Flinders Ranges National Park)
The ancient Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is not only known for its spectacular sunsets and rugged beauty. It’s also the home of the Adnyamathanha people who can connect you to over 100 million years of tradition, culture and this unforgettable land.
From a Welcome to Country experience to a full day tour, don’t miss out on the opportunity to witness an extraordinary 800-million-year-old natural amphitheatre. Situated in the heart of the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, the amphitheatre is known as Wilpena Pound and it’s the traditional homeland of the Adnyamathanha people (Yura).
As one of the very few Aboriginal owned and operated resorts in Australia — the Yura people own and operate Wilpena Pound Resort — Wilpena Pound is about 430 km north of Adelaide. If you get a chance to visit, you can stay overnight in the park and sleep in a hotel room, glamping safari tent or on a campsite. In any case, scenic sights and breathtaking views are guaranteed.
Photograph by Rob Burnett
wukalina Walk — North East Tasmania
The wukalina Walk is a 3 night, 4 day Aboriginal guided coastal walk showcasing the beautiful natural landscape of the larapuna (Bay of Fires) and wukalina (Mt William) areas in North East Tasmania, the cultural homeland of the palawa. It also includes sleeping in some very special accommodation.
A genuine cultural experience that will immerse you into the unique palawa culture and community. As the only group of humans to ever evolve in isolation for over 10,000 years, the palawa culture differs a lot from Australia’s mainland Aboriginal cultures. The walk is extraordinary but not very hard. Everyone with a basic fitness level should be able to do it. You get to spend two nights in style in a bespoke palawa inspired (domed) hut and one night in the beautifully renovated Lighthouse Keepers Cottage at larapuna Bay of Fires.
This is a true authentic experience with world-class accommodation, food and the opportunity to experience a unique culture. Meet the palawa guides, hear Creation stories and join cultural practices that have been passed down for centuries.
Koorie Heritage Trust
Photograph by Visit Victoria
Koorie Heritage Trust — Melbourne
A brand new, free experience right in the middle of Melbourne. Based at Federation Square, this one hour long walking tour takes you along the Birrarung Marr (River of Mists / Yarra River).
Accompanied by an experienced Koorie guide, the Birrarung Wilam Walk takes you around Federation Square and down to the Birrarung Wilam (Common Ground) Aboriginal art installations, experiencing the Aboriginal history of the Birrarung Marr (beside the river of mists) and Aboriginal Peoples of the Kulin Nation. Amazing for locals and travellers alike, this is a fantastic experience to get a deeper understanding of Aboriginal Victoria. You will discover how the land Melbourne is located on has changed over time and learn about the significance of the Birrarung Wilam to the local Kulin peoples.
Dale Tilbrook Experiences
Photograph by Tourism Australia
Dale Tilbrook Experiences — Perth
Dale Tilbrook is known all over the country and internationally for her expertise on Indigenous bush foods, known in Australia as “bush tucker”. It’s no surprise this legendary lady gets called the bush tucker queen. Dale also happens to tell the best cultural stories, which makes her an extraordinary tour guide.
Great for groups, Dale offers two signature experiences. One evolves around “food is our medicine”, a hands on journey into Aboriginal native edibles as food and medicine. Taste the bush food yourself and deepen your understanding of the nutritional value of bush food and medicine plants. The other experience evolves around art and tells the history of Aboriginal art and dot paintings. You also get to create your own piece to take home.
Also make sure to visit the Maalinup Gallery, an enterprise Dale started with her brother, that is all about bush tucker, culture and Aboriginal art.
Nyinyikay Yolngu Homeland
Photograph by Tourism Australia
These are just some of our favourite Aboriginal experiences in Australia. Of course there are many more! To deepen your understanding of Aboriginal Australia and discover other experiences, Tourism Australia has a great resource here.