Connecting with Australia's Aboriginal Culture


While we're celebrating the Winter Solstice and pulling out our sweaters and winter coats, our friends in the Southern Hemisphere are basking in extra sunlight today. And since I've been pondering lately how First Peoples across the globe lived in tune with nature for so long, I thought you too might enjoy daydreaming of these meaningful ways to learn about the history and culture of Australia's First People. Plan ahead now, and you could be spending your next solstice in sunny Australia!

Excerpt of 1/20/2021 Virtuoso article produced by Tourism Australia can be found HERE.

In Australia, Discover Aboriginal Experiences connects travelers with Aboriginal peoples whose spiritual connection to land and sea dates back 60,000 years. In Western Australia’s Shark Bay, north of Perth, Darren ‘Capes’ Capewell, a descendant of the land’s First Peoples and the guide of Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Cultural Adventures, shows travelers around the spectacular bay as part of the Kayak & Wildlife Adventure, while sharing ancient stories passed down to him.

One of Australia’s best-known "dreaming stories" is that of the Rainbow Serpent. A giant serpent slithered across the land, gouging out what would become the rivers and streams. In the Northern Territory’s vibrant Kakadu National Park, this story takes on a more tangible dimension as Kakadu Cultural Tours guides travelers into spectacular locales left over from when the Rainbow Serpent, known as Ngalyod in this area, carved through the landscape.

Ancient Aboriginal art featuring unique symbols and linework can be found etched onto rock faces and other natural canvasses, detailing lessons of Creation, clan heritage, and coming-of-age rituals – all recording moments in time. One of the most prolific sites showcasing this is the Quinkan rock art, dating back some 20,000 years, surrounding the Tropical North Queensland town of Laura.

On Western Australia's Pilbara’s Burrup Peninsula, travelers can experience what is believed to be the highest concentration of rock engravings, and the earliest examples of art, in the world. This area is best explored with Clinton Walker, a descendant of the Pilbara’s traditional owners, from Ngurrangga Tours. Clinton shows how his ancestral lands are home to up to a million Aboriginal rock carvings, known as petroglyphs, some dating back 40,000 years, and explains the figures, fauna, and symbols that they depict.

An immersive musical experience is offered by Josh Whiteland, a Wadandi man and talented musician who runs Koomal Dreaming Cultural Experiences around the coastal town of Dunsborough, 250 kilometres south of Perth in Western Australia. A guided bushwalk to the spectacular Ngilgi Cave, showing native foods and plants used for traditional medicine, is a must-do.

Australia’s only rain-forest dining experience, Flames of the Forest, takes place under the canopy of the Daintree Rainforest in Tropical North Queensland, the traditional grounds of the Kuku Yalanji people. This gourmet, seven-dish banquet experience features a soulful didgeridoo and traditional song and storytelling.

A common thread across the hundreds of Aboriginal clans, or nations, across Australia is the cultural distinction between women’s business and men’s business – the division of responsibility, insights, and customs. With distinct but equally important roles, this cultural separation of the sexes is all part of the delicate balance between Aboriginal people and the land to which they belong.

Female travelers can deepen their experience of Aboriginal culture in the Northern Territory’s Kakadu National Park, with the six-night, female-only Aboriginal Weaving Experience with Kakadu Cultural Tours. Aboriginal weavers will share their knowledge, skills and stories handed down over generations. Guests may also collect pandanus and other plants on guided bushwalks, dye and prepare fibers for weaving, and experience the pristine wilderness of East Alligator River on a leisurely cruise.

Over in East Arnhem Land, home to wild coastlines, soaring escarpments and monsoon rainforests, Yolŋu culture continues to thrive. Here Lirrwi Tourism offers gender-specific cultural experiences according to Yolŋu tradition, such as the Yidaki Master Class with Djalu, inviting men to learn the didgeridoo (yidaki in the Yolŋu language). This five-day experience provides one-on-one expertise from yidaki master Djalu Gurruwiwi, from the process of sourcing and crafting a yidaki through to playing it.

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